How I Achieved My Lifelong Dream of Becoming Bipolar – Part I

Reflecting Fatso Buddha

The road to being diagnosed as Bipolar 2 (now I don’t make that distinction, I just say Bipolar) was a long, rocky and painful one.  For me it started in college.  My greatest struggle has always been around impulse control, and the biggest painpoint has been money.  Money, you bitch!  But I love you, money.  There.  There’s my relationship with money in a nutshell.

I had ZERO control over how I spent my money.  As a very young child, I took that ten cents and spent it all!  And then I ate the candy in one fell swoop.  In Elementary School, I spent that two dollars a week as soon as I got it and then tried to borrow more from my sisters.  In High School, I babysat for money, which, can you guess?  I spent almost before it was in my hands.  In college, when I got my student loan money, it was just a spending binge until it was over.  And then, always, remorse.

In college I went on my first antidepressant.  It was a tricyclic, desipramine.  I went to the doctor with the complaint that I was falling asleep in class, hard, like with dreams!  ( I also was known to let out a honk or two when I really got snoozing.  This was not my sexiest co-ed moment).  Nobody at that time was diagnosing sleep apnea, which I had then and would have intense sleep attacks where I had to fall asleep immediately, no matter where I was.  So, not asking the right questions, the doctor diagnosed me as depressed.  Here, have a drug, he said.  I said ok.  I loved drugs!

So I went on my merry way with my new drug.  About a year later, I developed the theory that I had Bipolar.  THIS was the reason I couldn’t control my spending, which was getting worse and worse.  I was having manic episodes!  I didn’t know that “lack of impulse control” also fell under the classification of Bipolar, and that was my real problem.

In addition to the impulsive spending on shopping trips, I also was doing something else that was highly stimulation-seeking and impulsive on those same shopping trips:  Shoplifting.  It was always just one thing here and there, and I thought I was smart.  Oftentimes I’d take it in plain sight, as if I was just forgetting to pay for it.  I figured, who is going to accuse this white, upper middle class woman of taking anything?  I know now that I was stupid, and lucky.

Eventually I was causing myself so much pain with my spending that I went back to the college’s student health center and saw a psychiatrist and conveyed my concerns and my suspicions that I was Bipolar.  I must be really smart because the psychiatrist agreed and broke me off a prescription for Lithium, The Headache Giver.  I started taking the Lithium and not only did it have zero impact on my impulsivity, it caused about a two-week-long headache.  So, I quit the Lithium, thinking that was it for me and Bipolar.  If only I knew…

13 thoughts on “How I Achieved My Lifelong Dream of Becoming Bipolar – Part I

  1. I know how you feel, I mean the impulse spending and the knowing you are bipolar and that there is a reason for all of those things you mentioned. I have gone through a few Dr’s in my past and I told all of them I was sure I was bi-polar and one of them said maybe but he would have to do some further visits with him, but visit after visit it just never came up again. Then the next Dr, I said I thought I was bi-polar and he said, I am not going to discuss that with you. Just plain old, NO to me. Finally I found a good one. Dr. Yunker. I didn’t mention it to her cause I had just given up, but it took 2 meetings with her for her to diagnose me with it. She has me on good meds. Or at least I think they are good. I mostly have high’s now. I typically can sleep through the lows. I still go days without sleep sometimes, but I kinda enjoy it cause I am usually very productive. I also have OCD so my manic high’s of cleaning lead to some serious scrubbing of the house. I still shop compulsively, but now when I get my disability check each month, I put at the least, $100 in my savings and I do NOT touch it. Not EVER until this December. This way I will have Christmas shopping money saved up. I put $150 in there this month, and now I am down to about $40 for spending until April 3rd… cause I shopped a lot last week… but I did put the money in savings first so I guess it is ok.

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