I’m bi. Polar.
Imagine you’re in an amusement park. There are slow-as-a turtle and fast-as-a-Ferrari rides. Some move on the ground, some will throw you in the air so high that you feel like flying and for others you need a swimsuit. They all have safety bars and belts in place. Even so, there is still the possibility of falling out of the ride. Depending on the height that you are falling from, you can either be disoriented for one hour, ten days or end up in hospital. But then you are up and running again, prepared to embark on another ride.
I was 18 when I took Prozac, so I became part of the Prozac Nation. This added up to my physical issues and years of being hospitalized due, but not always related to the kidney problems that I had been born with. Was I also born with the bipolar disorder? Most likely, I have been born with a predisposition for it and the last year of high school (sudden breakup and having the stress to decide my academic future) had triggered the disorder’s onset. Prozac helped me in focusing, but I became emotionally dumb. I stopped taking it and moved to Bucharest to start student life in 2013.
I still had mood swings and they weren’t going anywhere. I kept myself busy, being part of several NGO activities, switching degrees, travelling, studying and working abroad. I ignored my thoughts and moods for six to seven years, until September 2019, when I had major sleeping problems and stress due to academic doubts.
Coming from a country where private health institutions appear faster than mushrooms after the rain (you can see a doctor quite fast), having to wait one month for a first appointment with the TU/e psychologist seemed like an eternity. I turned out to my GP which made a referral to GGzE Eindhoven, but my student health insurance got in the way of getting treatment. I took a break from almost everything until March 2020. In April, I again couldn’t sleep at all. Again GP, again trying to get an appointment, again waiting an entire month.
I had to find a quick fix. I turned to an online Romanian psychiatrist which prescribed in ten minutes (!), guess what, another antidepressant. Mood swings need mood stabilizers, people. Now I have the basic health insurance and I am following several courses and sessions at GGzE Eindhoven.
Now, how’s bipolar disorder like? Imagine being in an elevator, on the ground floor. You can get to the 21st floor with the speed of either a Ferrari or a Blue Peel P50. You enjoy the 21st floor view for an hour, maybe two, and then an earthquake in Japan makes you drop not to the ground, but to the -10th floor in less than five seconds.
My life is an emotional rollercoaster, usually having multiple opposite emotions in the same time. In my manic episodes, I can get done in one week what others do in two months, but in my down periods, I can’t do in one month what others can do in one day. I either stay up all night working or can’t focus on even reading one single phrase. I am either overeating or starving. I am either the star of a party or a purely misanthrope. It’s tiring and frustrating, but this constant adrenaline is also exciting. These ups and downs moods and behaviours are applicable to every aspect, be that school, work, family or romantic relationships. Or even basic daily activities, like washing dishes.
Leaving asides jokes and memes, this is the first time I am seriously writing about (my) bipolar disorder on social media. It’s as overwhelming as it is liberating. I always made up excuses not to make this public, but given the fact that this is my last column this year, I found the courage to open up. I am dreaming (with a plan) of an integrative education and a health care system that can provide fast, but not rashly treatment. Meanwhile, I will still try to adapt the world to myself and find the perfect ride for me.