It all started one night when I stayed up all night with no sign of sleep or fatigue and all I could do was race my mind through what I would want my life to be like and what I wish I turned out to be. Mark you am just 32 years young and I know I will inspire someone who has been through my phases in one way or the other.
My name is Fridah Njoki and I was first diagnosed with Clinical Depression then after several episodes of unwanted but fun mannerisms my diagnosis was finally concluded to BIPOLAR 2 MOOD DISORDER and this is my butterfly journey!
One afternoon it was raining heavily and I was sat all alone in my place of work staring at the grey skies and the rain pouring when this huge feeling of hopelessness crept in. I left the place of work and ran towards the car park and got into the car and I literally broke down in tears. You would wonder why? I also haven’t figured out until now what triggered it but all this thoughts kept popping in my head. I started the engine and in the middle of rain traffic I stopped and cried my heart out not realizing I was causing traffic. I couldn’t hear the loud hooting from the noisy matatus and cars behind me all I wanted was to cry and cry some more. Weird right?
After five minutes of causing traffic and people staring at me from their car windows and cursing at my stalled car I drove to the house and was feeling a bit relieved. Turns out my car was ok I just reacted to an emotion I had no control over.
After battling with whether to seek help or not, I gave in and walked into my doctor’s office and as soon as she said hallo, I literally broke down and cried as much as I could as I finally felt that I had found a platform to be myself without fear of hurting anyone, or be hurt or rejected. She sat there and watched me wail and then she uttered the words I can imagine all that is going through your head and I started mumbling words. Mumbling everything that I felt weighed my heart and then she told me I think you need a break and I know just the place that will give you the time out you need.
Weirdly I thought she was going to pay a spa date for me to go get my shoulders and head rubbed but she handed me an admission letter to a mental institution that was very equipped in handling people who have broken down and needed a fix.
As I held the letter in my hand I wondered how on earth I can be sent to a psych hospital. (Mark you I have a Post Graduate Degree in Counseling Psychology) so in my head I thought there is no way I can be a patient to psychological issues as I was well equipped to assist others in the situation but shock on me this time I needed help. I drove all the way home to gather a few things I needed and throughout the drive I kept asking myself why did I let myself get here? Why? But clearly I had no answers. But it turned out to be the best decision I ever made. TO SEEK HELP!!
Bipolar disorder is a confusing condition, especially for someone viewing it from the outside. It has two phases to it and here is the simplest way I can explain to you.
PHASE ONE: MANIA
The mania part is amazing. It’s the time I have tons of energy and don’t want to stop anything whether it’s talking or anything I’m doing and I mean anything… I can go on for hour’s hehe crazy right?
The best part of mania is that I’m so optimistic about everything. You could pour red wine on my favorite white trousers and I’d reply, “What a great time to buy a new pair!” I’m very creative during this time, so I would do as much as possible to capitalize on it. Easy or Tough, I’m up for anything.
I have the most fun running around and entertaining people, making them laugh, and acting like a big clown this are the times even my family loves my company the most. I get a lot of satisfaction from the laughs and smiles I can get out of people. It makes me feel invincible or some type of wonder woman.
Every morning I wake up ready to go, even if I didn’t get much sleep the night before. I don’t really need that much sleep anyway, so I just go and go and do so much. I can call all of my friends just to “check up on them”, I can pester my kid(s) for cuddle time and kisses even if they don’t want to, I can have a blast in any situation, get everything done on my to-do list, and more.
And boy don’t I talk. I’m all over the place, dominating every conversation. I’ve been told I talk too much and switch topics so quickly that it’s hard for others to keep up with me. Sometimes, I can’t keep up with myself.
Unfortunately, this is when I spend all of my money on things that I don’t need. I’ve been in a few self-fights during my mania, but it’s not because I was really angry.( self-fight is the time am fighting with someone in my head) but according to me it’s the greatest form of entertainment because it’s raw, tough, and totally dangerous. An upside to the mania is that my sex drive goes haywire. I crave a lot more sex during this period and sometimes it’s a bit much for my partner (Honey if you read this know I still love you and am not complaining just explaining a point hehe).
During my mania, I feel like a goddess. I feel like I can do anything, so my self-worth is at the peak. I am so grandiose even the queen has nothing on me; I can’t explain it, but when the mania burns out I’ve got nothing left. Without the highs of mania how will I be able to tolerate the lows of depression?
This is the toughest part of it all and it’s the part I wish I could detach from completely; unfortunately it’s a part of me and there is nothing i can do about it.
SECOND PHASE: DEPRESSION
When I’m depressed, I want to be left alone. It’s not that I want to be by myself but I just want to be left alone; I want everyone to disappear. I don’t want to go anywhere, see anyone, or do anything. It’s like no matter what I do, people are telling me I’m doing something wrong. So the easiest way to feel better is to hide.
Seeing all those people carrying on, living their happy little lives is an annoying reminder of my bipolar disorder and how I’ll never have that kind of stability. What’s worse is hearing all the people I “entertain” while in my mania talk about how quiet I am and that I’m not entertaining. Do they try to cheer me up, or do something to make me laugh? No. They just want their clown back. It’s annoying. I remember once being told by a special someone that I am very unattractive and hard to understand when am at this point of my life. I looked into their eyes and in my head I said I wish you could just hug me and tell me it shall be well. But oh well I was having the conversation in my head so I got none of that…
No matter what it is:- work, hanging out with friends, being a mum — I don’t enjoy things because the smallest details annoy me. If friends invite me out, I imagine getting into the car, being stuck in traffic, fuel running out or even punctures, and all the other negative things. I think of every possible downside of something, which leaves me dreading the idea of doing anything.
I turn into this grumpy pretty lady. I’ve contemplated suicide but never had the balls to go through with it (guess I love myself after all). But the more I understand the problem, the more I know that the depression is temporary and I don’t always think clearly during it. That self-reminder helps me from doing anything stupid.
When I think about the future, I don’t like what I see. I can only envision more troubles, endless work, and an endless string of letdowns.
But at the end of the day I know that these feelings shall pass and I will feel slightly “normal” at some point.
I can say that my psychiatrist is very helpful during this time particularly and the fact that am on medications, I have hope that I can stay sane at least for a while. My medications which I call happy pills play a very big role in keeping me stable. I take Camcolit 400mg and when necessary Lexotanil to avert anxiety or panic attacks.
All I can say is that there are a few things that play a role in keeping a person with a mental illness stable and sane. Particularly what keeps me in check with my condition of Bipolar 2 Mood Disorder are:
- Consistency with my medications and at least trying not to miss a dose.
- Knowing my symptoms so that if an attack is in the pipeline I can know what to do.
- Support from my family.
- Acceptance that I have a condition and learning how to live with it and not let it be in charge of me as I am the boss.
Avoid negative people or people that make you feel bad about yourself.
One of my greatest fears besides being a failure is passing on my mental illness to my children but I always draw hope in the fact that children are the heritage of the Lord and the fruit of my womb is blessed. I pray endlessly for myself, my 7 year old daughter and my future children. I cannot say that getting kids is very easy while on mood stabilizers as I have miscarried twice, but I know that someday soon it shall come to pass because I have not given up and as at now my Daughter is my best friend as young as she is.
To anyone reading this that is going through the same, I want you to be encouraged that there is nothing wrong with you and you are not crazy. Sometimes people will not understand you and will wonder how and why does a grown-up have a mood disorder and some will even tell you that we all have bad days why not get a grip of your life; yes we all have bad days but remember that we are slightly different and a bad day for someone can be a world crumbling down day for you so be cool and you owe nobody an explanation “unless they really want to understand you to be of help.
Always remember that “Jesus loves you” and you are special in your own weird way.
Love and Light