Each morning, the first thing I do after heading to the kitchen to switch on the coffee is take my daily medication, blood pressure medication, HRT, vitamins and a little tablet I've taken every day for the past 13 years to help with Bipolar disorder.
I was diagnosed as bipolar during my 3rd and last pregnancy, at the time I had postnatal and prenatal depression due to becoming pregnant after my daughter was only 7 months old, I was, to put it mildly, rapidly cycling between manic and morose, every facet of my personality was affected by bipolar and in the end it was a relief to be diagnosed and put on medication.
For over 12 years, no one bothered to check my medication levels, I spent at least 10 years in an overmedicated wilderness, I was, I thought, pretty much fixed, I was numb to any kind of massive emotion, I failed to be able to feel anything, no excitement, no great sorrow and I could adjust to the news of a death as easily as I could deal with the news that my favourite TV show had been cancelled.
When my husband walked out after 14 years of marriage stating that he could no longer be married to a robot, I couldn't cry, for the next 18 months I adjusted, I felt a little depressed from time to time but not once did I sit and sob and get rid of all of the emotion that was building up inside me and then one day around 6 months ago I took the decision to cut my medication by half, I told doctors, I told all of my closest friends, I practiced self-care, and we all went on mood watch.
Over the last 6 months I have slowly begun to feel emotions, at first I felt like a teenager, my moods were up and down and my sex drive started to return, it's quite weird to feel like a hormonal teen at the age of 42 but I decided to embrace the feelings returning and try not to worry about it.
One day just after I came back from a holiday to Barcelona with my best friend I suddenly had feelings of anxiousness, loss, depression and overwhelming sadness, at this point I'd been on the lower dosage of medication for around 6 weeks so I knew it was probably my body just adjusting as well as my mind and then I began to sob, all of the feelings and the loss from the end of my marriage came out and for a couple of weeks I retreated into my shell and refused to go out as much as I possibly could, I identified with the feelings of agoraphobia I'd had many years ago when I couldn't go past my back gate on my own for a 3 year period. For the first time since I'd dropped the medication levels I questioned if I'd done the right thing, I spoke to friends and advisors about what to do but in my heart I knew that if I ever wanted to feel truly healed from the loss of my ex-husband I had to go through this delayed mourning period I was experiencing.
For days I felt I couldn't straighten my head out or my thoughts and I was about to give up on the idea of less medication but then one day I felt the cloud lift, I started to experience happiness and laughter, I could laugh at funny things, something I couldn't do before, I laughed at comedy shows I'd previously watched without even so much as a giggle, I laughed so much I thought I would stop breathing and for the first time in over a decade I started to feel alive again.
It's been 6 months now and my emotions are settled but I can feel highs and lows without any of them being dangerous or feeling in any way bipolar, I've started dating, I've spoken to men, I've made new friendships and I've even been on one or two dates, I'm no longer a robot and I'm pretty fun to be around (even if I say so myself) I can smile now and be truly happy and if I need to I can cry proper tears and feel sorrow whilst still knowing I'm taking just enough medication to control the mania and the depressive states which are so destructive to the bipolar mind.
I don't know what the future holds but I do know I appreciate the way I feel now and I know that if things to get tricky again I have at least some options about upping my medication, of course, I still can't get a referral back to a psychiatrist, well I could but it would take 2 years, once you have fallen out of the system, it's very hard to get back into it unless something seriously goes wrong. For me at least I would hope that I'll be ok, at least for a while because there are so many adventures I'd like to have now and I'd like to be able to feel and fully experience each and every single one.