Dear Wendy Updates: “Excited But Lost” Responds

It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing today. After the jump, we hear from “Excited but Lost,” who was eager to start dating a year and a half after being diagnosed bipolar and working on managing her disorder and getting her life on track. After the jump, find out how it’s going.

Oh Wendy, how right you can be. Not two weeks after writing in to you I fell into a depressive episode, though thankfully not as bad as others have been. I withdrew from EVERYONE in my life; I went to school, then home. Little to no time left for the one friend I hadn’t pushed away. Working with my therapist, my life in recovery was about trying to find some kind of connection with other people, foregoing the dating aspect. Since my subsequent med change I’ve regularly attended support groups for both Bipolar Disorder and Coping Skills. In addition, I’ve started sort of hanging out with other Chemistry and Education majors (they’re both pretty tight-knit groups). As of now, I consider myself having emerged from the shade of this episode.

Unfortunately, this is the cycle of my life (fine, not-fine, fine, not-fine) from which I will never be “cured”; I can only learn to cope with it and figure out what triggers it. For example, I’ve learned from this last episode that A) birth control has SOMETHING to do my episodes. I’m not sure what, but my episodes, depressive and hypomanic, correlate to when I’ve started packs after being off for a while. B) Don’t experiment by going off my meds. Four days off was enough to make me want to die, so I don’t want to go there again.

The trade-off to this lovely episode is the realization that I’m not ready for an intimate relationship. Regular, superficial ones are hard enough for me to deal with. Maybe a year from now things will be different, or maybe I’ll never be ready. I’ve begun to accept the fact that I’m not going to be able to have biological children (nine months off Lithium with roller-coaster hormones?? Recipe for DISASTER!!). It sounds defeatist and whiny, I know; but I’m learning how to accept my limitations. Perhaps this is an area in which I’ll eventually need to admit defeat.

As far as my values go, it’s been more about figuring out what the hell I DO value. I didn’t mention this in the letter but when I was hypomanic last year I had a bout of evangelicalism brought on by my time as a Christian camp counselor. This was part of what drove a wedge between my friend and me. Although Jesus is my Truth, I too closely associate church and youth groups with that time in my life and am frankly afraid of religion. I don’t want to catch the “bug” again. It offered me only trouble in the past, and I currently disagree with a lot of their views on a variety of subjects. Questioning my sexual orientation this past year hasn’t made my views on Christianity any easier to muddle through either.

So, I guess I wouldn’t say that I’m back at square one (since we take something away from all our life experiences), but that’s the best way of putting it. However, I have a clearer view of my personal limits and where I want to go in life. We never know where life takes us or to whom we are taken, so I guess I’ll just “keep on keepin’ on.” Because what else can you do?

Thank you for your update, although I’m sorry it isn’t a happier one. But I’m proud of you for being responsible — for taking care of your emotional well-being before rushing into a relationship. I have personal experience with bipolar disorder (someone very close to me has it) and I know just how debilitating it can be. But I also know it can be managed, and those with it — as well as many other mental illnesses — can experience rich, successful, happy lives. Yes, keep on keepin’ on. Stay on your meds, keep seeing your therapist, lean on the support of your family and support groups and stay positive. I wish you all the best.

If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at {encode=”[email protected]” title=”[email protected]”} with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.

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