It really does feel like a roller coaster.
One minute I’m on top of the world, filled with confidence and hope that anything is possible. The next, my head is burried in a pillow and I’m crying about nothing in particular. Fast forward, now I’m angry with anyone who happens to be nearby. Later tonight, I’ll be laying in bed filled with anxiety and worry.
It’s not just emotions. My whole self concept is up for revision several times a day. When I’m up, I’m dreaming of a perfect future and the new life I want to build. There will be marathon running, new non-profits feeding the poor, and lots of beautiful grandchildren.
When I’m down, I think about my kids and everyone else I’ve disappointed. I imagine dying alone or moving back to my mother’s house only to waste away browsing Netflix.
When I’m angry, I just want other people to suffer for pissing me off. I picture myself going back to personally confront and humiliate anyone who insulted me during my breakdown.
In the anxious moments my mind is filled with worst case scenarios. I imagine everyone is using me for money, my girlfriend is going to dump me, and I’ve got some kind of cancer.
These extreme mood swings are something I’ve had for several years, but I’m much more aware now that I’m sober. It’s not that alcohol helped me chill out, it just made me less aware of what I was actually experiencing.
How do I know if I’m bipolar?
I’m not ready to blame my drinking problem on the potential that I am bipolar. Maybe everyone in recovery feels bipolar because the changes happening in their brain? Maybe my life is unmanageable because of all the stupid choices I made when I was drinking?
My family has a history of both alcohol abuse and bipolar disorder. After I blew up my life, people started offering their armchair diagnosis. Of course I resisted, I wasn’t ready to embrace any diagnosis especially from people looking at my life from a distance. Even more, I was working really hard to avoid excuses for the terrible decisions I had made.
Sometimes called manic depression, bipolar disorder causes extreme shifts in mood. People who have it may spend weeks feeling like they’re on top of the world before plunging into a deep depression. The length of each high and low varies greatly from person to person. (WebMD)
… you have a positive screen. All three of the criteria above should be met. A positive screen should be followed by a comprehensive medical evaluation for Bipolar Spectrum Disorder.
So that’s on my checklist for when I get back to the USA. Psychiatric help is not available in my current location. For now, I’m hoping things get better as my recovery continues. Already I can think clear enough to say, “OK. This is a mood swing. Let’s breath and not do anything dramatic. It’s not a surprise and it won’t last forever.”
Too Soon To Know Anything
I’ve heard from friends in my online support network – great group of people out there sharing recovery together. They consensus was wait-and-see. I’ve been dumping a toxic levels of an addictive chemical into my brain for many years, a few weeks is too soon to jump to any conclusions. Besides most of the symptoms of bipolar are somewhat normal for anyone abusing alcohol.
Today I’m feeling good. I’ve got 22 days sobriety and my recovery momentum is moving me forward despite the ups and downs. I’m 100% confident this roller coaster will make it back to the platform. It’s a wild ride but it won’t last forever.
If you have experience with type 2 bipolar disorder during your recovery, I’d love to hear your experience. Simply leave a comment below.
* April 2017 Update
I went to a psychologist for a consultation. After 90 minutes he confirmed what I’ve been suspecting. He called it a rapid cycling mood disorder and wanted to start me on a prescription right away.
There was only one problem
— Sober Tony (@sobertony) April 15, 2017
I’m still waiting… probably going to get a second opinion once I’m back in the USA.
Things have been getting much better. I’m connecting the dots with stress, sleeping patterns, and the mood swings.
TO BE CONTINUED …