Anniversary,  Anxiety,  Bipolar Disorder,  Dan,  Depression,  Leah,  Raine

One Year Later: Bipolar Disorder and Chocolate Chip Cookies

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As the one year anniversary of Dan’s diagnosis came and passed, I had nothing to say. My world that I created to survive his diagnosis was not stable; it was darkly fracturing. Pins of pressure were poking at me from every angle–The anxiety about Dan’s condition and prognosis, trying to be a good mother, trying to be a strong and capable wife, starting a new graphic design business, and the revolving anxiety about my mother’s condition.

To everyone who has asked me, Leah, How do you do it? I could no longer provide an answer. I can’t do it.

I had to explain to Dan how I had self-medicated and coped with his illness by riding the highs of mixed mania episodes–spending with credit cards catastrophically–and abusing alcohol. I could reside equally in a 24 hour period of both delirious pleasure, believing I could do anything (I am f*ing Superwoman!) and atrocious apathy and irritability. I felt like a monster. I wanted to throw things, weep, drink it all away, cut myself. All the old habits of the past rushed back, lining up so quickly I was dizzy. And they all felt so familiar and tempting! I made poor choices that put myself and others at risk, as well as poor choices that jeopardized our already fragile household.

 

My doctor and therapist worked fervently to help me out of my newly diagnosed Bipolar (rapid cycling) state–a condition that I have denied for nearly a decade. They added Lamictal to Lexepro, then Lithium, Zyprexa, Seroquel, and back to Trazodone for insomnia. Each medication change made me feel either more like a monster or completely dazed and staring at the wall.

I was exhausted.

I stopped writing. I stopped taking photos. I stopped smiling. I stopped working. I stopped feeling any pleasure or hope in anything. It was painful to be around friends and feel so detached.

I am spending a lot of time watching TV and binge-eating chocolate chip cookies.

But today, I am hoping this is a turning point. Maybe if I tell the world what is really going on, I can get out from under the oppression of it. I have to try.

Truly, this is not the picture I planned to paint of myself and our marriage at the 1 year mark. In the photo above, Dan looks SO happy and healthy. I can say that I felt happy, too, but I also felt drugged and somewhat broken. It goes to show you that you never know what is really going on when someone shares a photo on social media.

Please continue to keep us in your thoughts as we address my medical needs in addition to Dan’s. <3

 

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18 Comments

  • Joel Bove

    So well written, Leah. I’ve been following indirectly but with great interest through my wife, Jess Vetter. As both a consumer and practitioner of mental health services, the diagnosis and experience you describe is incredibly familiar. The parade of medications and attempts to ‘fix’ can eclipse what has meaning so effectively that it’s akin to climbing a mountain just to start the day. Well done. Thank you.

  • Mariam Briggs

    Oh, Leah! One truly never knows what goes on behind closed doors. I applaud you for being so brave in expressing your very candid words with the world. In doing so, you never know how many you are helping along the way. My prayers for your family have not stopped and will continue to send up positive thoughts your way.

  • Melissa

    Leah – you and Dan’s courage and strength through all of these medical obstacle courses is truly inspiring. I feel like I have some small insight into what you must be going through because of the graphic novel Marbles by Seattleite Ellen Forney, who has a bipolar diagnosis herself. I hope you continue to write and agree with the comment that you are surely helping so many by sharing your family’s journey. I love you guys and am so glad I have your writing to keep me connected to you on a deeper level through all of this than could possibly happen through a Facebook post. XO

    • Leah Ruth

      I will have to read Marbles! A friend encouraged me to read as much as I can. I’d love to see her perspective through a graphic novel. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Melissa. We love you guys, too!

  • Rebekah

    Oh Leah, My brave and beautiful friend. I am so proud of you! You continue to amaze me with your courage and truth. YOU INSPIRE ME TO BE A BETTER PERSON! I am sharing this blog with my friends and I am sending lots of love to you, my dear!!! XOXO

    • Leah Ruth

      Thank you for the encouraging words, Rebekah. And THANK YOU for sharing the blog. It means so much to me to see people share it…It is super validating. It encourages me to keep on. :)

  • Anna

    Leah,
    Again… you have thourghly impressed me with your writing that is so raw and open. I can’t begin to imagine what this ride must be like but you paint such a graphic picture with your words. I love you all and pray for you. Please give love and hugs to Dan and Raine.
    Anna

    • Leah Ruth

      Thank you Anna. We loved having you here …It was such a ray of sunshine for me to spend so much time with you and Hattie! I truly appreciate your compliment. When you all take the time to comment and encourage me, it helps me feel brave enough to share and cope by writing. xoxo

  • Alex

    You and Dan have both been on my mind all week. I hope you’re doing well. Leah, I admire your courage both in standing by Dan through his illness and in your honesty about seeking help for yourself. It takes enormous bravery to make a change. You are a wonder.

    • Leah Ruth

      Thank you so much, Alex. All of the encouragement I have received has been getting me through the days lately. Our trip to Disneyland helped, too. :) I will be sharing about it soon!

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