Saturday, February 14, 2015

Woman with a Dream

Most people don't go to see a therapist when they feel great, typically, it's when they feel depressed or need help and motivation to get through some temporary problem. Bipolar can be tricky to diagnose. I wasn't diagnosed until I was 45 years-old. And I was only diagnosed because I shared with my therapist some embarrassingly bad decisions I made in 2006.

I had a mini break down, waking up at 5:00 am in tears because I was so scared to go to work. I had made a mess of my job by my goofing off, and a general lack of understanding about what my job entailed. I was a case manager at an agency that helped people living with Aids. Case management involves a lot of paper work and is a left brained sort of job, just the type of job where I flounder. I am more right brained and do better with creative work, like writing.

I abruptly quit my job, although I was a single mother and didn't have another source of income (not a good move). As soon as I quit I felt this tremendous peace and joy come over me that lasted for four months and didn't end until I was forced to get a job as a secretary. At that point I fell into a deep depression. I had gone to graduate school so that I would never have to work a desk job.

One day as I was listening to NPR's bi-annual pledge drive, I had the brilliant idea that I should hold my own pledge drive. I thought it was a brilliant idea. With a good amount of help from a dear friend and her uncle in Chicago, I created a website Woman with a Dream. I asked people to send me money to live on for one year so that I could take the time to learn everything I needed to know about making movies. I don't make movies.

I sent my link to all the major players in the movie the Secret, all the radio stations in Atlanta, and to Oprah Winfrey. One disc jockey thought it was a great idea, but apparently her boss didn't, so that lead went nowhere. Another woman agreed to interview me for her radio show, but that didn't work out either. Then I contacted gyms and bookstores asking if I could come speak. I don't know what I would have done had anyone taken me up on this "brilliant" idea.

During this time, a friend got a job interview for me with a social work agency. The job would have been perfect for me. I would work from home and drive to see my clients. When I was in my right mind, I had wanted that job, but I wasn't in my right mind, so I went to the interview and told them that I didn't want the job anymore, I wanted to work with companies to inspire people. I didn't have a concrete plan, I just felt that I was so extraordinary that people would benefit just from seeing me. I was grandiose.

My credit cards were all maxed out and my car was repossessed, since I no longer had a salary to pay my bills. My outer world was falling apart. I had made a mess of my life, gotten myself into an unsatisfying and ridiculous romantic relationship and yet I still felt exhilarated. Nothing brought me down, I was on top of the world. Eight years later and I'm still left to clean up the mess from that period of my life.

When I confessed this to my therapist she said it was a hypomanic episode and asked if I had ever shared it with my psychiatrist. I asked, "why would I?" It was the greatest four months of my life. I was bigger than life and people were drawn to me then. She suggested that I had Bipolar II.

This summer, eight years after A Woman with a Dream, I've graduated to Bipolar I. I had a full out manic episode. Wrong medications helped lead me there, but I was probably going there anyway, because regardless if anyone else or I thought I was bipolar, I was. 

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