The New York Times ran an article about a woman sharing her experience with the mental illness, bipolar disorder.
At age 27, Linda Logan was married to her high-school sweetheart and had just given birth to her first child. Her young family was living in Florida, she was pursuing a graduate degree, and she recalls this as the last time she saw her “old self.”
Having Two Children
Although Linda had suffered from depression in her teen years, it wasn’t until after having another two children and starting a Ph.D. program that depression really took control of her life in any real way. She felt overwhelmed, but was in complete denial, she says, because the stress could be attributed to demanding school work plus taking care of a full household.
Nothing seemed right to Linda. She went to several doctors in search of answers. Could it be anemia, low blood sugar, or hypothyroidism, she thought? All tests returned negative as Linda continued to struggle. She completed her Ph.D. in geography, taught a class at M.I.T., and contemplated suicide. Linda began sleeping more, explaining to her kids that she was simply more tired than she was before, but eventually she had to be hospitalized for severe depression.
Life After Hospitalization
Linda returned home after three months. She was living her prior life, being a wife and mother, and trying to recover, but she then experienced her first hypomanic episode. Mania is characterized by extreme behaviors, which can be sexual in nature, can involve large amounts of money being spent, and most certainly take a toll interpersonally. Hypomania can still involve “having five grand pianos delivered to your house”, but is generally less extreme.
Linda felt she had another component to her personality. In her words, “By that point my vestigial self had grown used to my depressed self, with her somber mood and tenuous hold on life. Now a newcomer arrived. I seemed to have split into three: my shell-shocked self, my depressed self and a brazen hypomanic self. We could practically hear the new girl sizing us up, cackling. Under her reign, we slept two hours a night. We ate half a sandwich and two potato chips a day.
We packed the children’s lunchboxes at 3 a.m. We began to study for the MCATs (the fact that we had never taken a biology or chem class seemed irrelevant). We telephoned long-lost friends. The hypomanic self’s activities, from relentless lunch dates and impulsive spending sprees, left my tattered and depressed selves saying, That’s not us and We don’t do that.”
Linda was diagnosed with bipolar disorder II, recognized as depression and hypomania, not full manic episodes as is the case with bipolar disorder I. Her father was diagnosed with bipolar disorder II as well, so Linda was genetically predisposed to a mood disorder. After several hospitalizations, which confused her children and put strain on her family and marriage, Linda and her family moved to Chicago to be closer to the doctor that had treated her father.
Linda was put on all different medications; her doctor’s attempt at finding the right combination for her particular case of bipolar II. She experienced psychosis in many forms, at one point leading her to believe she was in a Canadian train station and the year was 1976 (it was actually 1991.)
When Linda returned to lucid understanding, she was once again discharged from the hospital, but as was the case before, Linda was then in and out of hospitalizations for the next six months. Gradually though Linda was able to reintegrate to the life of a wife and mother. Several years later, however, her husband very cordially let Linda know that he was leaving. She has since build a life for herself near Chicago as her kids have grown up, started careers, and found life partners. She looks forward to playing with grandchildren in Florida and continuing her writing career.
Linda Logan as an Example of Healthy Self vs. Ill Self
1. Going from “patient” to “person”
Figuring out who you are, with this disorder, in everyday life when you leave a hospital or mental health facility.
2. Is Ill Self gone when I feel better?
The two selves coexist and always will, so it can be hard for a seemingly recovered person to feel okay with the possibility of Ill Self coming back.
3. Embracing Ill Self.
Experts believe that accepting all parts that come out during depression and hypomania or mania, including the Ill Self, can work wonders.
4. Transformation of the Self
Allowing the Ill Self to grow toward the Healthy Self is beneficial.
5. Talking About Each
If your doctor or therapist do not address each self, bring it up.
Blog post by: Marissa Maldonado
photo credit: Swamibu via photopin cc