I understand that this post may not be the popular, especially with men. None of us really enjoy talking about our menstrual cycles. I’m certain men dislike it more than women. However, I really think that it’s worth exploring the relationship between bipolar symptoms and that time of the month.
In my research, I’ve found some interesting articles. While reading an article on WebMD.com, I was able to find a validation of sorts. I’ve had people that read my book question the validity of my diagnosis or my story because I don’t focus a great deal on the mania side of bipolar. Even though I’ve chosen not to argue with people about that, I really would like to clear the air. During the time that I was writing my book, mania wasn’t really that much of an issue for me. I don’t generally have bouts of mania immediately following bouts of depression. It just doesn’t work that way for me. Here is an important paragraph that I found:
Bipolar disorder occurs with similar frequency in men and women. But there are some differences between the sexes in the way the condition is experienced. For example, a woman is likely to have more symptoms of depression than mania. And female hormones and reproductive factors may influence the condition and its treatment. www.webmd.com
I’ve stated clearly all along that I can only write from my experiences. Your path is not my path. Hence the title, It’s Not Your Journey. I don’t know how many more ways I can explain myself. Just because you deal with mania regularly, doesn’t mean I have to, or I’m not really bipolar. It’s a ridiculous notion. Why is it that some people that have cancer can be cured, and some can’t? Do you think the ones that can’t are waiting in the wings to criticize the ones that can? As if they really didn’t have cancer because it was cured?
Ever since I first got my monthly cycle, it has been absolutely brutal. Every month I deal with more migraines, horrific cramps, and severe depression. To the point where I will just start sobbing for no tangible reason. I’ve been on birth control pills in the past in an effort to manage the symptoms, but I’ve been told by a couple of different doctors that it’s not really wise for me to take them. Both times I was on them for any length of time, I was hospitalized for a mental breakdown.
I have an app on my phone now that lets me track everything. I’m really glad to have found it, because now it’s not a guessing game anymore. I know within a few days when it’s going to start. The cramps generally start at least a week before. By the time it actually starts, I find myself bed-ridden for sometimes 3-4 days. As soon as the worst of it hits, I’m an emotional wreck. Suddenly, even the smallest things have me crying my head off…and I’m in the middle of it right now. You may think, I go through all of that too, and I’m not bipolar. How is it different?
Studies have looked at the association between bipolar disorder and premenstrual symptoms. These studies suggest that women with mood disorders, including bipolar disorder, experience more severe symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).Other research has shown that women whose disorders are treated appropriately actually have less fluctuation in mood over the course of the menstrual cycle.The greatest evidence of a hormonal association with bipolar disorder is found during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Women with bipolar disorder who are pregnant or have recently given birth are seven times more likely than other women to be admitted to the hospital for their bipolar disorder. And they are twice as likely to have a recurrence of symptoms. www.webmd.com
That explains things a bit, but it certainly doesn’t make it easier. I’ve tried on many occasions to just put the symptoms out of my mind. I’ve attempted to get up and be productive more than once. Even if I find an extra burst of energy, it never lasts very long. I’ve listened when people say that exercise will help with your symptoms. That is not the case for me.
The worst part is the guilt. Your depression tells you what a failure you are if you need to put life on the back burner. When you combine physical pain with emotional pain, it’s often too much to handle. At least for me it is.
I am rational enough to realize that this is no way to exist. I’ve tried whatever home remedies I could. Now I think it’s time to hand it over to the “experts”. Next month when I see my psychiatrist, I’m going to bring this up. I’m sure at some point, I’ll have to give in and see a gynecologist. I’ve been avoiding that eventuality for several years now. It looks like it may be time to tuck my tail between my legs and just do it.
For now, I’ll just keep pushing forward and doing the best that I can. That’s all any of us can really ask for.