At the Crossroads
I have been living with Bipolar Disorder for about the last 7 years. Well that’s not really true…I have been living with Bipolar Disorder all my life but I only learned of my condition 7 years ago. Since then I have been surrounded by a number of professionals: psychiatrists, a family doctor, psychiatric nurses, a CB therapist, and of course the pharmacists. All of these individuals have played an important role on my road to stability. I would say that I am much more stable now than I have ever been in my life. I don’t drink, I don’t take illegal drugs, and I don’t smoke cigarettes so I feel stable…but bored. The problem is that I am dealing with some very powerful urges to go back to self-medication, the street, to return to the world of addiction. These feelings even invade my dreams. So now I find myself at the crossroads.The first prescription drug I took made me fly so high and yeah it was great and I loved it. I have never had so much fun as I did that summer. On the downside though, I also completely freaked out on a very good friend a couple of times. I am lucky she understood and forgave me. So they took my off the lamotrigine. And to be honest I miss it.
Now when I go to the pharmacist I pick up 13 bottles of pills, and every day I swallow 23 pills. So I have no more highs and the lows are manageable. Instead of flying high I have gained a lot of weight, about 80 pounds in 2 years. My self-image and self-esteem have gone awry. I used to run 2 kms a day and now I do nothing. I also had plantar fasciitis for about a year which was crippling so even walking any distance was extremely painful. I still managed to do 40 sit ups most every day, but somehow that got lost to. My healthy routines were shattered.
Now I watch a lot of TV but it is just a way of passing time. I don’t feel any interest or motivation to do the things that I used to love doing: writing, reading, photography, woodworking, walking. Even my sex drive has been adversely affected; I just have no libido. In fact, I just don’t feel much at all. The only thing that gets me excited for a few moments is online poker and online sports betting. Fortunately I am not gambling high stakes…I do understand how to win…or at least not to lose too much. But how long will that last?This isn’t the life I thought I would have. Lots of people live off my salary…a very respectable one but one that I only see of about 30%. My present spouse cannot work (bipolar disorder and fibromyalgia), and I have 4 children who have all pursued post-secondary studies (and I’m so proud of them all) so I still have a very high child support payments to make every month and I pay the taxes on that. It’s depressing because I can’t put away much money for my retirement. I am 52 and I want to retire when I am 60…I just don’t know if I will be able to afford that. I have spent 23 years of my life in small rooms filled with 25 teenagers and with only one door out (the escape hatch). Such is the life of a high school teacher. Maybe I can get a job as a greeter at Walmart when I retire.
So what is this crossroad? Well, this is the way I see it:
If I turn left, it leads me back to self-medication. The urge to drop all of the prescription drugs and go back to self-medication is very strong…wrong but strong. The consequences would be huge…it would destroy my relationship with the woman I have been living with for more than 4 years. She would be immensely hurt if I decided to turn left. It would destroy all the years I have put in to regain my children’s trust. And to be honest, I don’t know if I could survive that nether world either. I don’t want to die and I don’t want to go to jail either. Fortunately the closest big city from my home is about 1600 km (1000 miles) away.If I stay the course and just go straight ahead, I will just have to accept that I am obese and bored, the status quo. I hardly take showers anymore because that means I will see myself in the mirror and see that old fat ugly guy staring back at me. I will continue to provide for all the others and continue to countdown the years to go until I can retire, ennui being the flavour of the day.
If I take a right turn, well, it is the most daunting of them all. It requires motivation. I will need to improve my diet, exercise more, pick up my camera and go for walks even if it is painful, make a workshop in the basement, read, and take Viagra if need be.
As I read over this blog with my therapist I noticed something, something important. Subconsciously I think I decided to make the best choice, a right turn…right because perhaps it would be the right decision. But I am just so tired of fighting with myself.
Do I have the strength? Should I just grin and bear it? Or do I go looking for desolation row…