rear view

I was looking back at my posts from early 2021 that followed the arc of a long manic episode. The posts from that time aren’t scary like some of the deep depression posts from the old blog, but they are interesting to me.

My episode started with the side effects of starting on Latuda in November of 2020; I felt pretty good for a few weeks, but I started climbing the hill in December. By January 2021, I was frequently staying up in the middle of the night, my anxiety was climbing, and my OCD symptoms became overwhelming. I couldn’t concentrate at home or at work, I was having panic attacks, and I almost left my job out of frustration. After quitting Latuda and returning to Abilify, there was a long downslope where my symptoms were decreasing steadily, but were still there. I was afraid something had permanently changed in my brain. It wasn’t until May when a solo mini-vacation brought some relief from the storm.

Looking back from a year later, I am reminded how much I was struggling. This manic episode seems odd because on one level I knew what was happening and how dangerous it was, but at the same time I was very much caught in its uncontrollable grip. I didn’t think I could fly, but I believed that my life would be better if I tore everything down at work and at home. Had I followed through with my late-night schemes, it could have damaged my family relationships, cost me tens of thousands of dollars, and jeopardized the continued treatment for myself and for Nicole. I think I escaped the episode just in time, because I don’t know what I would have done if I had remained manic for a longer period.

My bipolar experience has been mostly depression, with very brief manias or mixed episodes followed by a deep spiral. This episode was different in that it had a long buildup and a long letdown, and I didn’t crash in the same way I had in the past. Since that time I have had no mania and a few depressions, and not with the abruptness and intensity as in the past. I know mania will happen again in the future, but I think having been through this most recent episode makes me better equipped to deal with it.

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3 thoughts on “rear view

  1. Meghan

    On some level it’s nice to know what’s coming and what to expect from it. It does make you better equipped to deal with it. That doesn’t mean that it sucks any less. I think the hardest part of dealing with the disease is that you think you know what you’re going to get, but the path of the episodes can change at any time. I’ve personally been lucky in that I haven’t had a true manic episode since I was in my mid-20s. But I get hella bad mixed episodes and depressions. Sometimes they follow a normal path, sometimes they’re out in left field making daisy chains.

    1. Yeah, the mixed episodes are the worst – you’re depressed enough to want to hurt yourself, and agitated enough to make it happen. But I think my years of experience with the disease has made me better prepared than someone who is new to the club.

      1. Meghan

        Agreed, they’re the worst. I would almost take full blown mania over them.

        You have a point, but with me at least, every episode brings some fresh new hell that I have to learn to deal with from square one. Maybe it does make you more resilient, though.

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