I frequently joke about having a seat on the train to crazy town. While it is, in some ways, a convenient way to excuse some of my quirks, there is more than a grain of truth to it.
I mean, when I tell people my family history - the full on version, I generally get shocked silences. In some ways, because it is what nurtured me and produced THIS Dawn, I forget what it can look like on the outside.
I tend to laugh at my stories. Most other people do not.
It was during my first years in therapy that I started to catch on that my "funny family stories" weren't particularly funny to others. Maybe it was the horrified face of my first therapist that clued me in, or my first real room mate listening wide eyed and stricken to some memory I recalled.
Let's just say that by 1989, I had figured out through a combination of therapy and interactions with other people outside my family that we were different.
I will spare you the full list of the various diagnosis of my both branches of my family tree. Suffice it to say, we have every major mental illness and/or addiction WELL covered. You name it, we got it. Going back generations even. We are not a family who "discovered" mental illness in the age of Prozac, oh Hellz no. Genetically, We are the reason pharmaceuticals were invented.
I have had at least 5 major clinical depressions since 1996 not to mention a few minor ones that we pulled me out of with medication and some intensive patching up. One of those lasted nearly three years - the one after Emily was born.
I have had one full blown Manic episode too. I alluded to it back in 2006-2007, but didn't so much name it, as I was still pretty well smack dab in the midst of it.
Does this make me officially a bi-polar? No, I don't think so. In tandem with my doctor, we figured out that a combination of medicines did some really messed up things to my brain. Now, had I been under the care of ONE doctor who I saw every week, I suspect she would have picked up on it much faster. However, because I moved while in the "phase in" period of the second drug...and had yet to find someone here in Montreal to treat me, I was able to happily spin off the rails for a good 8 months before I crash landed in the McGill Health Center, crying on a cot, my throat completely closed by strep in January of 2007. By the summer of that year, I had stabilized and been weaned off the second drug and was doing much better.
Mid 2008, when my medication needed adjusting again, I started to long for the mania. My depression was creeping back in and anything - ANYTHING- was preferable to the sludge of living inside depression. I had leftover pills from long ago and began to take them - hoping for a jump start out of the sand trap.
And here is where we all say "Dawn. What the fuck? If you KNOW these combination of meds are going to cycle you into a Mania...only to crash BACK down into a worse depression, WHY would you do that?"
Um.... Cause? It isn't logical. It makes no sense, except to say that I knew something was going wrong and I was trying like hell to fix it before it got worse and that your rational mind just doesn't tune in the way it should when all the chemicals are balanced and the neurons firing in the right way.
I had taken them for about 2 weeks before I confessed to my therapist and we weaned me off of them again, while boosting the dose of my primary medication. He asked me why too.
I am going to try and explain it the best way I can and maybe it will make more sense to you than I think it did to him. And I will preface it all by saying maybe no one who hasn't lived through one can understand it. Maybe people with balanced brains can't fathom what I am about to write. And I get that, because 60% of the time when my brain is balanced I am disturbed by that epoch in my life.
But the other 40%? Misses it terribly.
*Part II - Coaster, up next