Hi! My name is Michelle (Lulu for friends), I'm 25 and I have what's called bipolar disorder inside of me. A bipolar disorder like mine is characterized by two poles: depression and mania. The highs (mania) are exceedingly high and the lows (depression) are incredibly dark. It has only been a year since I have been able to put words into what has been going on in my head for several years. Today I take the time to understand the disease and find tools to improve my daily well-being.
I have been through several depressions in a short period of time. I felt lonely and scared. I did not understand. I felt so different and I couldn't stand the judgment of others. It was heartbreaking for me not to be able to find some happiness in my life. Who says depression, also says mania. At first glance, mania may seem less damaging than depression because it is often in very positive emotions and times of extreme joy. However, it is at the height of mania that relapse is approaching. And vice versa. Instead of falling into a balanced state, it leads me straight to depression. That’s why I had to accept a drug that would stabilize these two extremes. Lithium. Basically, I am not in harmony with the drugs. Over time, I realized the need to take them. I wanted natural remedies or grandma's stuff and my psychiatrist made it clear to me that I lack lithium in me. So I had to take lithium, nothing else. I could alleviate my anxiety very well with essential oils of hemlock or lavender, but the disease must be treated.
On February 7, 2020, I returned to the hospital with psychosis. It was a huge mix of stress with college, fear of death and the situation with the coronavirus. I broke. My head was no longer mine. Suddenly, I had become someone else. In a few hours, I improvised like a Chinese doctor, a clairvoyant, a virus victim even a spiritual guide… Everything made sense in this state of mind. Even if it really was just me, who was delusional. I remember the end when the medics injected me with a dose of Ativan so that I could fall asleep soundly. At that point, in my psychotic head, I thought they were injecting me with the coronavirus and I was going to die. I was in a panic. Seriously, at that point, I can almost say I was close to death. Maybe not in a car accident, but in my head. It's like my brain has snapped in two. The next day, it was strange how much I recognized where I was but not what had happened. It was difficult to understand and to be calm. I recognized faces and voices, but I was still scared. I was afraid to talk to anyone. Gradually, thanks to the nursing staff, I was able to put my ideas back into place.
We imagine hospital psychiatry to be dark, strange and negative. For my part, my stay in psychiatry made me grow. I am now able to speak openly and positively about it. I have met people who have marked my life forever. As many, patients, nurses and attendants. After a while, I started to want to help others. However, I took more care of others than myself, which was negative for my well-being. So that's when I got my leave.
After two weeks in the hospital, I walked out with new medications, an accurate diagnosis, and strong confidence. I was fine and couldn't wait to take on the world.Soon the darkness caught up with me. I felt empty. I saw neither happiness nor future in front of me. Only fear. Another depression? No! And then, it was the worst. When the disease takes over you it's really hard to get over it. Suicidal ideation, anxiety in the carpet, incomplete multiples at school, failure, shame, fear, the great void… These are moments that come back with every depression. Excitement, restlessness, excessiveness, rushing gestures, ideas of grandeur and intensity are in excess when it comes to a manic pass. My equilibrium is in the middle of its two extremes. It's the work of lithium that works.
2020 has been an incredibly difficult year for a lot of people. Me included. Looking back, I was able to take charge. I haven't worked for over a year now. Since March, I started volunteering at a thrift store. I feel useful and I make a difference in my community. I create a little routine for myself. In addition, I have a follow-up with an art therapist who allows me to let go of my creativity and channel my emotions.
For your sanity, the best advice I could give is to take the time to take the time. No matter where you are, who you are, how you are, I think it's important to take a break, put those feet on the ground, and breathe. Then you look at the more rational aspect, which is a solution or a step you could take to soothe your soul. Slow down, breathe and react. The three R's. It's my way of putting my energy in the right place.
A more concrete tip is to find small projects and / or goals for yourself. Whether it's fixing the hole in your jeans, sowing seedlings in the spring, counting the number of spots on your cat, drinking a liter of water in your day, eating a green vegetable a day, collecting rocks, coloring mandalas, buying washable toilet paper with little foxes on it, singing so loud the neighbor asks you for a reminder, finding the perfect t-shirt, not wearing a bra, to let go of your hair, to cook tofu, to write your own book, to learn astrology, to roll sushi, to grow your vegetables, to say hello to people on the street, to say thank you more often, to play the tam-tam on your beads to love them, to learn to paint, to listen to your favorite series in German, to dance in the rain, to drink less coffee, to look at yourself in the mirror smiling, to count the needles on your cactus, spoon sleep with your dog, find the nicest word game people, to pick up trash on the ground, to eat a big poutine, to make a cabin for your rats, to make your own shampoo bar with chamomile, to read a book that is much too big, to grow salad on your windowsill or to buy macaroni in bulk ... Whatever your project, tell yourself that it is worth it if you give it your energy and your willpower.
Welcome your emotions as they are. Accept the mistakes you can make. Nourish the little light in you. Raise your head when you walk. Look around you. Don't stop smiling. Collect the little moments that life has to offer. Share your values. Welcome sweetness with open arms. Honey the relationships that make you feel good. Express what your heart is telling you.