It was supposed to be my final year at University. Instead I flat lined with an ear deafening label…. Institutionalised. It was a banner that was being lifted above my head; suffocating and blinding. Clinical depression came to brand me 2 years prior and I thought that was going to be it. A daily fluoxetine intake and weekly visits to a psychologist where we would talk about my ‘messed up childhood’. Little did I know that this was only the beginning of a journey filled with tears, partying, recklessness, deep dark depression, suicidal thoughts, self-harm, extreme doubt and sleeeeeeeeeeeep. Mania completely confused me. Why am I soooo happy and chatty and uninhibited at times and others I just want to be left completely and utterly alone?
That question was answered on the first day of being a patient at a stress clinic. Being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder gave me an understanding of why I feel like I am crazy but it also stole all my confidence. ‘Hello I am Ilze’ disappeared and ‘Hi I am Ilze and I have bipolar disorder’ took over. It was as if I didn’t know who I was anymore. Was it my personality or was it the illness? I was told that I was like a diabetic who needs insulin and would need to drink my medication as instructed – or else!
Years later I found out that going off medication was not a death sentence. It is a personal choice which should be taken with the precious guidance of the correct psychiatrist; AT THE RIGHT TIME. I was told to go cold turkey when I fell pregnant. I miscarried and held onto so much guilt. I failed at yet another thing – motherhood.
I proudly went without meds for 3 years. Thinking that this was an accomplishment and delved very deep into all sorts of alternative viewpoints of what happens to us on a spiritual level. Needless to say, I had lavish ideas of grandeur and it almost swallowed me whole. I remember sitting in a parking lot one day; balling my eyes out because I couldn’t understand how all this new deep knowledge connects. It was too much and I didn’t know what to do. Sounds absolutely loony! Yet I love the fact that those are the type of memories that has shaped who I am today. They have shaped how I take care of myself; body, mind, soul and spirit.
Like so many of us bipolaroids, we have enough stories for a lifetime. But this is supposed to be an introduction to Ilze, the person – the writer at heart. I have always said that the reason I write poetry is because I want people to feel less alone. To have that feeling of ‘I am not alone, someone else feels like me’. I’d like to share a few things which have helped me to where I am at today…
Support and understanding is so important. It took years for my mother and sister and I to find the rhythm of dealing with a loved one with bipolar disorder. Now the three of us are the bestest of friends and it warms my heart when I see them noticing my highs and lows. I’ve been married for 2 months and it’s an indescribable feeling of home in the heart. My husband is a blessed gift from above. Support! It is the most important to me. I need to feel that even though my loved ones don’t always understand, they still love and support me. They are willing to ride the storm with me. Even if that means patching up the raggedy old boat which I am in.
Sleep used to be my best friend and worst enemy. I could sleep for hours, I still can if I just let myself go. Forming a sleep pattern is part of establishing a daily routine which is tailor-made for you. Routine was my enemy, I hated being so predictable. But life just requires it from us. I have come to a realization that we must work twice as hard as ‘the normals’ because our brains just work differently.
This is one of the most irritating statements I have heard throughout my journey with mental illness – Exercise helps to release happy hormones, you need to exercise! I have tried and failed miserably at this one. Mostly because my habit is to do things halfway and give up before it becomes a new healthy habit. Which brings me to my amazing husband, who has showed me that working out can also be therapy. I’m still forming the habit but the amount of accomplishment I feel is amazing! Even if my glasses get all foggy and I cannot see where I am going.
There are a lot of things I would like to add but I will stick to the most important ones for now. The last one is strengthening your spiritual life. Whatever that may mean to you – be it using Tibetan singing bowls, meditation or any type of prayer and singing. It really helps in reminding me of who I am and where my confidence comes from. It’s deeply rooted in love and cannot be taken away. The opposite of love is fear and perfect love drives out fear!
Until next post ladies and gents. Promise that it will be shorter….
Blessings and Balance
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