Hello all, I'm new to this whole forum, but I'd like to already thank you folks for opening your hearts to perfect strangers. I've been flipping through the posts and find a great deal of comfort in knowing there's an entire of army of people who share similar struggles. I'm (about to be) 25 and have been diagnosed Bipolar II for almost two years now. I think that I've been struggling with the whole thing since I was 17, but its only once I got into the real world that it came to the forefront when I was having trouble functioning at work. I was originally diagnosed with moderate depression and prescribed effexor which was a god-send at the time. The dose was increased three times and epival was added as a mood stabilizer when I was diagnosed BP. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have a stupendous support system of family and friends and a well paying job with benefits to help take care of the medical costs and give me a little spending buffer during my hypomanic sprees. I'm lucky that I've been relatively responsive to medication and have not been plagued by the darkest depression since I started the antidepressant. Physically, I'm doing well all things considered. I'm growing to accept the fact that there is no "normal", but rather "average" where the bulk of the population lives on a daily basis.
My problem lies in balance - I still have an infinitely difficult time maintaining some semblance of balance in my life. Somehow keeping it all together. I work closely with my psycologist and psychiatrist to be sure that meds are right, but it seems like as soon as something starts to work right, it all falls apart again, and I either end up feeling low, or hypomanic. A good portion of my troubles are related to the Seasonal Affective component of BP II - I live in Northern Canada and the swing between long and short days is severe - the usual outcome is mild depression starting about November and then another mild mania that starts about late April. I feel like I'm running a race and I've only just started since the longest day of the year is still almost a month away. My frustration stems from the fact that I do all the things that I'm "supposed to" - I don't drink, I avoid caffeine, I don't smoke, I exercise, I eat well, I take my meds at the right time, etc. etc., but it seems that inevitably I end up as I am today - and I'm completely beat after a night of restless sleep hiding from the daylight. I go to bed early and then I wake up unrested and am a zombie at work - I feel great by the time the end of the day rolls around, but then am unable to have a decent rest at night and then the whole thing starts over.
I don't know where the balance should be. My medication keeps me feeling as "average" as can be expected and I do ok at work, and I can function more normally and generally keep the pieces of my life together, but it tends to make me numb and saps all my emotion and makes me rather mechanical. I'm content with the way I am at this point since its helping me to achieve some of the professional goals I've set for myself, but it has wreaked havoc on my relationship with my boyfriend. At the end of the day - he has me, (a shadow of the person he started dating before I started the mood stabilizer) buzzing around the house, high-on daylight, not having a care in the world, and oblivious to the fact that we share a (tiny, little) house together. I have zero interest in sex which only drives us further apart and I end up more focused on making sure the floor is free of crumbs, than if he is happy in our relationship. He is a loving caring person who has tried to come to terms with the way I am, but is still as confused as when I first told him (that's a whole other epic post).
I guess the question I pose, is whether there is ever a balance to be found, or is this the challenge we will forever face as people with BP. Has anyone been able to strike the proper chord between a professional life and private life all while waging an all out battle against the chemicals that rage in our heads? If there is - send me a post.
Thanks for giving me a place to vent and share my struggle...