"Look I probably should have told you this before, but you see.. well.. insanity runs in my family. It practically gallops." – Cary Grant as Mortimer Brewster, Arsenic and Old Lace I had expected to be well by now. I am no longer depressed. The mood stabiliser they prescribed while I was hospitalised has stilled the chaos and rage of mania without leaving me numb. Yet my mind is still not functioning properly. And it's making it almost impossible for me to live, let alone make a living.Last week, during a regular consultation, my psychiatrist took a typed form from his desk drawer. Reading from it, he asked me several long, detailed questions relating to anxieties, fears, phobias, family history, irrational beliefs, physical ailments, obsessions, dreams and nightmares, and responses to various types of social interactions. They were questions I'd never been asked before. And yet they interrogated experiences I've had daily – and intensely – since my mid teens. I had assumed they were symptoms of my bipolar disorder. Or, more simply, flaws in my personality. It turns out that they're something more than that.
Co-morbidities – additional psychiatric or medical disorders – are not uncommon among those diagnosed with bipolar disorder. But I've felt for a while that, when it came to my head, something else was wrong. I just couldn't figure out what it was. My psychiatrist now believes it's a type of severe anxiety disorder, if not a cluster of several. It is probably inherited, genetic, just as my bipolar is.
Frankly, I don't care what it is. I am desperate to get well. Cognitive behavioural therapy is a basic treatment strategy. But my psychiatrist believes that medication will have the most significant effect for me. The drug he has prescribed has potent side effects. As I write this , I feel like shit: nauseous, indolent, unable to think straight. It will take several weeks for any positive effects to become apparent. At first, the prognosis of a slow, unreliable recovery depressed me so much I was immobilised. But I refuse to let madness overwhelm my life any more than it has. I want to get back to work.