October 19, 2015 by Courtney
This word. It’s only four letters, but it has so much meaning. During a time of darkness, I couldn’t mutter this word. I have been in darkness far too long, and today, this beautiful day, I could finally see the hope that I have been searching for.
This hope comes in the form of a doctor that took time to get to know me, friends that support me, and a family that loves me right where I am.
Today, I arrived at my new doctor’s office about 40 minutes early. My appointment was at 9:00, and they told me I had to be 30 minutes early, so, just to be sure, Robert and I left at 6:00 this morning. You see, because of where we live, we have to drive to San Antonio, which is almost 2 1/2 hours away. There are no psychiatrists in our “town” (granted, it’s an hour and 15 minutes away, but still), which really saddens and angers me. But that’s for another time.
I figured we would be waiting for the 9:00 appointment time, but I was pleasantly surprised when they called me back at 8:40. The man (the physician’s assistant that I will be seeing) greeted me in a warm and friendly way, and immediately started with the questions. He had just read all of my paperwork (28 pages worth!), and already felt that he had a good understanding of me, but he wanted to get to know ME. Who I am. What my struggles are. What my strengths are. He wanted to know about my history. From the time I could remember. How things got worse every time I had a baby. How my brother died from suicide (because of his battle with bipolar). How I have coped since then. The fact that I have had to quit jobs that I loved, numerous times, because of my battle. He wanted to know me. All while scribbling countless notes on his yellow legal pad.
After talking with him for about 45 minutes, he went to visit with the doctor (who owns the practice) about me. They were in the other office for 20 minutes, going through my history, talking about my lows and my highs. Talking about my struggles.
They came back in together with a very strong and united front.
After talking through my highs a little more (is this hypomania, or just “really good days?”), they decided. They had a strong diagnosis. Together. They both felt that I do in fact have bipolar II, with mostly low lows. They called it “soft” bipolar II. They knew immediately how it needed to be treated, and the first step is weaning off of medications that are doing nothing for me. The second step is slowly starting a new medication that is often termed “the miracle drug” (and I know first hand because my best friend is on it and she is a new person!). It has to be started very slowly because there’s a 1/10,000 chance that I could get an all-body rash because of it, but I’m willing to take that chance ;-). They also decided to go back on a medication that my old doctor recently took me off of because it’s the best mood stabilizer out there, and I have a good history with it. The biggest monster was to attack the depression, which will be done with the new medication.
Not only did they have all these new ideas for medication changes, they treated me holistically. They told me to start taking 4,000mg of fish oil. I need to get regular exercise. I need to stay out of bed during the day-no more naps. That will also help me sleep better at night. I need to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. And, very importantly, they believe I need to keep seeing a counselor weekly.
All of these things will help stabilize my moods. It takes more than just medication. It takes a holistic approach.
I asked about food, and they said that for some people food makes a difference, but the research shows that exercise is mostly important.
They even gave me samples of the mood stabilizer because it’s very expensive.
I left there feeling like I could breathe. Like I could laugh. Like I could jump up in the air!
I immediately messaged my best friend. My mom. My support group here at camp. And as usual received so much support and excitement for my hope.
So. I have goals. I have a solid plan.
I. Have. Hope.