The Beginning of 'The Wonky and Wide'
"My diagnosis Nicola is that you have Bipolar Affective Disorder."
"Finally." I sighed in sheer relief and wiped my face with my sweaty hands that smelt like that nasty, hospital anti-bac you find in wall dispensers in these places. My consultant, Dr A (yes, that is his name because I cannot pronounce his name at-fucking-all despite numerous attempts so we agreed on Dr A), was staring at me like I was a zoo animal. "Well Nicola, most of my patients cry when I give them a diagnosis of Bipolar and you looked relieved and almost happy." I couldn't help but sit still for a moment and ponder on what he had said. Was I happy and relieved to have Bipolar? No. Was I happy and relieved I'd have to try medication after years of refusal because I was exhausted? Hell no. Was I happy and relieved to know I'd most likely experience the symptoms that came with this diagnosis for the rest of my life? Fuck no. So, why was I relieved and slightly happy about hearing Dr A give me this diagnosis? In short, because in those 6 words this man I had only met twice had validated what I had spent the last 7 years of my life saying. "Because Doc, you're the first consultant who has actually believed me." In that moment I cried, because I knew that from now on I didn't have to try and justify why I knew I had Bipolar. I didn't have to go to my therapist and vent about how no one would listen to me. I didn't have to try more anti-depressants that only made me feel worse despite how long I tried to take them. I could just breathe for once. I had always known what my diagnosis should be, but now I had the medical professional to back me up and I knew that those who doubted would not be able to do so in the future. That tiny voice in my head that told me I was going 'crazy', was silent. I now knew that I wasn't 'crazy' and never had been. To some, I guess the agreement of a consultant wouldn't be considered as imperative, especially if your self-belief is decent. To me, it was invaluable.
Mental Illness is a funny thing. Not "ha ha" funny, more "what is this never-ending horse shit" funny. Seven years in and I'm still poking around in the dark trying to understand my own head, which I'm about 98% sure I shouldn't even be allowed to be in without a responsible adult. Now, with a new diagnosis, I will continue to poke around my parfait of a brain to figure out how to live the best life I can possibly live. What is it like to have Bipolar? The only analogy I can give, is that sometimes I feel like I could rule the world. Other times I don't want to be on it. Sound scary? It can be. But my life is also incredible. I don't need to be 'fixed', and yes, I'm well aware that makes me sound like a vertically challenged Tony Robbins. Still, it is the most honest I can be. I am looking for ways to look after myself in order to truly experience my life. To live as opposed to just exist. I am very fortunate that my bipolar is on the milder side. To those without experience of this particular mental illness - on a scale of 1 to Kanye West wearing a MAGA hat, I'm about a 3 or a 4. Dr A's parting words to me were "Don't worry, we will get you on the straight and narrow." We all know that isn't in the fucking mental illness GPS. The road in front of me is not 'straight and narrow', it is wonky and wide. Full of different routes to take in order to move forward. My advice to anyone going through mental illness, don't put pressure on yourself to be on that straight and narrow path. Get comfortable with wonky and wide. You'll grow more as a person, have a greater empathy for others and find yourself enjoying the grind of it. You'll take life one day at a time and enjoy it more because you know how hard you have worked to get there. You will end up with the kind of life 'Influencers' on the 'gram pretend they have, and you won't have to post about the latest pile cream to keep followers. Win, win.