I was released yesterday and didn't even look at email or blogs or anything until today...and there I found 30-something messages of (mostly) support, camaraderie, and confessions of similar diagnoses. What a pleasant and heart-warming surprise!
My meds have been completely reworked and I'm feeling more balanced than I have in years. I'm still having highs and lows, but they'll be manageable with periodic med tweaks - so no more total medication revamps. And I've learned that if I ever need to do a total overhaul again, I'll do it inpatient to be a safe and watched over as much as possible.
My stay taught me many things - not the least of which is that I was too snobby at first - I felt a graduate student with bipolar disorder couldn't have *anything* in common with alcoholics and drug addicts and schizophrenics and anorexics, many of whom didn't even have a high-school level education. Boy howdy, was I wrong! We didn't have the same life experiences, but we had similar fears and phobias and concerns for how to live better, more functional lives. It is amazing to stop feeling alone in your pain - and the posts from many of my CM buds here helped in that department, too.
I also learned I need to seek balance in my life and that if I'm gung-ho on one thing, then I'm mediocre at best on everything else in my life that makes me human. I don't have huge ambitions when it comes to my career because of my disease and the limitations it imposes on me, so I'm having to work through the idea that I can either (1) keep my 4.0 in grad school and lose my boyfriend (who I so wish were my husband) and my financial security and my friends and my sense of humor and my ability to have a normal conversation (you know, the kind that doesn't center on dissection of a cadaver?) or (2) start accepting a few B's, slow down, enjoy my good days, work through my bad days, and have the life I desire: being a biology teacher with a loving family and circle of close friends. I now choose path # 2. :) (But don't think that means I won't bring the snowflake smackdown here when I need to vent!!!)
As for Jim's comment: "...would you want to take this person on for a thesis project?...I'll bet they suddenly find their labs full when time to consider this individual joining their teams and using up grant funding?" First, thanks to those who jumped on Jim and had my back. Second, this is exactly the kind of ignorant comment I'd expect from someone who obviously hasn't had to deal with the ADA and who doesn't know how many people in his own lab have a mental disorder. Just going by the most recent stats, if there are 10 people in Jim's lab, 3 of them are on a psychtropic drug for something or other. So, because it's simple ignorance rather than hostility, I want to say to Jim: Would you feel this way if I came to your lab and I were diabetic or hypertensive or an amputee? If so, you are one sick puppy. If not, then you simply need to learn about mental illnesses. Oh, and understand that if you tried to keep me out of your lab based on the original post I'd made, I'd have your ass in court and would win a HUGE lawsuit against your university. So, who would be losing the grant funding then??
Furthermore, of the few people at my uni who know of my disorder: one is my thesis advisor; one is a lab director/instructor who I've taught 3 labs under; one is a lab coordinator I've taught 4 labs under (and who calls me her most responsible TA); one is head of the anatomy labs and has let me teach 2 labs under her and do 2 independant projects; and one brings in the single largest grant the biology department gets (and who has promised to give me a section or two of his lab next term if my hospitalization slows me down in my Master's pursuit). So, I would have to say, most people are highly understanding and willing to work with me (not that I felt that way when I posted 2 weeks ago). The only person I'm reluctant to discuss it with is the Program Director, simple because I'm not sure yet if I want the whole department to know or if I want to hold my proverbial cards to my chest.
As for Angry Archie, April, BlackDog, Clara from Cleveland, Dr. Cranky, EnglishDoc, Great Lakes Greta, JaneB, Meany, Midwest May, Online Ophelia, PickyHistorian, Professor Snugglebunny, SnarkyGeekChick, SocioConvert, V, and Wombat of the Copier - wow. I didn't mean to start a confessional, but knowing we're not alone, even in our tiny corner of the blogosphere, is therapeutic in and of itself, isn't it? *HUGS*
In the Ivory Basement - You aren't alone (see above) :)
Academic Monkey - One of my best friends is epileptic, so I understand your pain, too. And I know the fear of lost memories - although mine are due to rare dissociative states. At least you don't have to worry that you went on a shopping spree while having a grand mal... *HUGE HUGS*
April - Start the blog and I'll co-admin with you. I love the idea!! And I'm sure CM would let us post links and we can get a lot of CM peeps to blog over there - but in a more serious fashion and only about their diseases and how it affects them in the Academy - a kind of online support group. Although I agree that it should be anonymous like CM. Our students already have too much ammunition to use against us in our evals. I'd hate to see some of them displace their hatred of me as a teacher onto ALL people with mental disorders. I'd rather they just think I'm the bitch I am. :)
Oh, and Wombat of the Copier? (1) I now wanna be called Wombat of the Anatomy Labs for some reason... and (2) alcoholism is frighteningly like bipolar disorder - I learned that from my hospital stay - consider people with mental illnesses your friends and equals in your fight for normalcy. There's a HIGH incidence of substance abuse in people with psychiatric disorders, so we definitely feel your pain. *HUGS*
And now, can we return to the fucking snark?!? Puhlease?????
BPB out (of the loony bin) and outtie