I went on medical leave from work, and checked myself into an intensive outpatient (IOP) program for mental health on January 16th of this year to help me cope and attempt to overcome my bipolar diagnosis. I decided to enter into the program because, I had an episode of hypomania, perhaps full on mania that lasted about three days. I was also cycling between ups, downs, and mixed states much more rapidly than I’m used to. So, I decided that I needed something more structured and intensive to have my “episodes” more closely monitored – this allowed the psychiatrist to better understand how my diagnosis is manifesting and allow for more precise management of my medications. In addition to all that, I was very resistant to therapy – essentially I’m a pretty good bull-shitter, and so I BS’d my therapist with what I know she wanted to hear, and with examples of coping skills that I knew would help, but that I never utilized. The IOP program offered me tons of therapy, including traditional one-on-one, but also group therapy. The groups are really what wore down my therapy resistance and opened me up to processing my past traumas and current struggles more freely.

My (hypo)manic episode,the reason I checked myself in, occurred over a three to four day period in which I did not sleep – at all. In fairness, I probably slept a total of 6-8 hours over the three days, enough to keep me from dying I suppose. During the episode I was functional for the most part. I was overloaded with energy, despite the lack of sleep – and I made some very careless decisions. For example, I spent about 2,000 dollars on I’m not quite sure what. I engaged in some risky behavior, like having a string of anonymous sexual partners, and I also took out a loan for a couple thousand dollars, that I didn’t even need. I just found it to be exciting. My behavior became erratic, and I suffered from racing thoughts that impaired my ability to function for a few hours at a time. I also strained relationships with close friends. I can only liken the experience to being on some sort of “uppers” drug for days on end – without taking any substances. Eventually I came down from the high, hard. My entire body was in excruciating pain, and I lost mostly all motivation to do much of anything.

That’s just a quick summary of the experience – it’s far more complicated and nearly indescribable.

The point is that I feel better now than I have in a long time. I will always have this condition, and I’ll always cycle up and down – but  highs are less high and the lows are less low. I feel empowered and more in control of my life. I feel comfortable again.

I’ve still got a lot to learn, and I probably always will. Stressors may become triggers, and triggers may become episodes, but I’m no longer worried about them. I’m focusing on the here and now, and that’s big. So, what am I actually trying to say? Am I cured? No. Am I worried about it? No. What I am is alright.

Here, and now – I’m alright – and when I’m not, I will be soon.

I have the answer – but no question.

It’s been an interesting couple of days. I’m not quite sure where I am in my recovery from bipolar. I mean, I’m definitely somewhere on the spectrum. In some respects I feel better, but in others I feel worse. I do know one thing: I feel differently than when I started… that much I know.

Perhaps I’m looking at this all wrong. Maybe recovery isn’t linear. Who said that sickness and wellness belong on a sliding scale? Maybe it’s more like a scatter-plot, where our days are spread across the spectrum randomly.

Perhaps it’s just not something to be measured. I mean, how does one even define “wellness”? Better yet, how does one define “sickness”? They’re only words meant to fit experiences into a tidy little bubble. Sane and insane are two words that confuse me. It seems that sanity can only be viewed from the outside. You can’t just waltz into sanity… or many you can. Yet, if one manages to make the walk through, then maybe he’ll reach sanity. He’ll be inside of sanity. He’ll be in sanity. Insanity… maybe insanity is just a byproduct of fully diving into sanity itself.

I forgot where I was. I think I was talking about how I feel.

I feel mixed. Tinges of anxiety, but mostly tinges. I still have issues focusing and with my memory. Maybe that’s just my personality, or co-morbid ADHD. Maybe I just don’t pay enough attention to detail. Who knows? I sure don’t, and I don’t really give a fuck anymore.

I went into this to get better – to be well. All I’ve seemed to do is flip the scales into the opposite position. Where I once felt bad, I feel good – and vice-versa. Am I better off than before? Maybe… maybe not. I have no idea. Should I be looking for a balance? Is there even a balance? There sure is a lot more medication.

I’ve fallen down and I’ve asked for help, but I’ve been overloaded with so many answers that I forgot the fucking question.

I want to get better. I want to be well, but I’ve lost the definition of wellness. All I want, all I truly want… is to just be myself.