1.1.2 Ego

Before we get to the heart of the matter, I need to speak about myself. This is quite an unusual exercise for me; however, after all, I’m the star of this blog. Let’s start with my illness: I am a bipolar type I with anxiety disorder. Anxiety bears this beautiful name of comorbidity. It means that it is often linked with mood disorders. Alcoholism and addiction are also common comorbidities of bipolar disorder but, fortunately, I’ve escaped these. My psychotropic treatment consists in two molecules. Lithium is supposed to diminish the extent of my ups and downs. Diminish does not mean suppress. I’m so used to side effect that I don’t notice them anymore. However I’ve had recently problems with my thyroid. They are taken care of by another drug. Once you start a career of bipolar, you’re bound to end up being a chemical factory. I find it a high price to pay to remain “normal”. So much so I wonder if it is worth to go on with the lithium medication. My shrink tells me to keep taking it. I obey for there is nothing to gain but pain thinking you’re cleverer than science. I also take a neuroleptic. I’m not usually psychotic but this is just a matter of “do I want to sleep or not”. 6% of the maximum is not a very big dose. I’ve got a comfortable margin. It is used by my pdoc to manage my ups and downs. The neuroleptic is extremely efficient. After intake, I feel myself coming down when I’m slightly manic. The acknowledged power of Tercian is an emotional insurance against anxiety however, on the long run, nobody can tell me whether there will be side effects.

I’ve got a simple opinion on all substances affecting your brain chemistry: don’t expect to swallow a magic happiness pill. Their only ambition is to make you “functional”, the rest is all yours. Therefore I don’t want to multiply molecules. My Pdoc attempted once to add a second mood stabilizer. I stopped this additional medication with doctor’s approval because I did not see any added value in it. I will always refuse antidepressant. They trigger a very strange state that I cannot describe and I don’t see any improvement. Moreover studies have shown that they can cause a manic swing and also rapid cycling. All in all, I want to be an actor in my illness and resort to pills only if it is absolutely necessary. Maybe I like the feeling that I’m controlling something in my swaying life. When I see the treatments of other bipolar patients, I’m sometime appalled by some pdocs who seems more interested in getting their patients more smashed than functional. From a society’s perspective, they manage a risk in the name of the sane majority. We are perceived by the public as a major risk. The more a bipolar patient will be drug-controlled, the less he will be able to cause serious damage to society. Life mandatory treatment would make the real world look like an extension of the psychiatric hospital. In any case, if one day someone decides that my treatment is obligatory, I will act like someone who has nothing to lose. I’m getting too dark here, things are not that bad. As long as I can wake up every morning and go to work, everything’s fine.

My professional life would not be recommended to a bipolar patient with anxiety disorder. I’m an IT consultant. I spent several years in so called Big5 consultancy and then decided to turn to free lancing. Anxiety has improved with age which is fine considering that my job consist in being put under constant pressure to deliver on time and on budget. I remember that I was subject to panic attacks being younger. They were very impressive. They fortunately disappeared. I made many years of study. I am a member of the French intellectual “elite”. This to counter the popular prejudice that the mentally ills are either immediate danger for society or congenital idiots. If I was unfit intellectually, company would not pay a high price to hire me in their teams in which I behave like a duck to water: I am not a sociopath either.

However, I must admit I’m a bit of a loner. I meet a lot of people in my line of work. Private life is a necessary breathing interval. This temperament is not devoid of advantages. The main one is that it shields me from artificial paradise substances temptation. Alcohol and other drugs are poisons. They are even worse for people in my condition. Sometimes I wonder if a social life is in general possible without alcohol.

I am someone used to dealing with problems in a rational and not ideological way. I believe in what I see but contrary to most people (99% of the population), it was given to me to see extraordinary things. From there, two paths are possible. Either you keep it for yourself naming them god or madness or you try to analyze them in order to find a sensible communicating perspective which allows sharing with the rest of the world.

Logic is a component of rationality and I’m not deprived of it. When I was a teen ager, I use to spend my life in front of a computer screen while others socialized and began their affective and emotional career. This was due to devouring passion which requires a perfect proficiency in IT programming. I was capable of binding a behavior of the program with its underlying code. In some way, I could connect a phenotype to a genotype. I still have this special gift and it is sometimes useful in my work even if I am not directly involved in the development of programs. When something screws up in project, I’m always the one who saves the world. I find it a little bit tiring but you can’t avoid this reputation of being a Rainman of code.

From my recollection, I know that Saint Augustin asserted that truth is not immediately given to us. Some training is needed to reach it. In computing, you design a program. Then you test it in order to reject what is not compliant with the expectations or requirements. You do so until everybody’s fine with the execution of the code. A good IT specialist is not an ideologist, what does not work is mercilessly rejected and corrected. This way of thinking ensures that what you think is what you get. Somehow, it is a good Augustinian training which requires a perfect fit between what you think and what is. In between me and truth, there is an error. If I cannot reach the former, I can act on the latter. Between me and error, there is this self who refuses to acknowledge its own mistakes. I doubt therefore I think therefore I am.

I’m highly logical but I like life too. And I think I’m not devoid of any sense of humor. The subject that I will address is serious, but sometimes I hope I will not be too much of a boring blogger. I’ll try to restrict the size of my article to max 3000 Characters so that I’m not tedious.

Radiohead / iron lung
My brain says I’m receiving pain
A lack of oxygen
From my life support
My iron lung

Aha / The sun always shine on TV
I Reached inside myself
And found nothing there
To ease the pressure of
My ever worrying mind
All my powers waste away
I fear the crazed and lonely looks
The mirror’s sending me these Days
Please don’t ask me to defend
The shameful lowlands
Of the way I’m drifting
Gloomily through time
I reached inside myself today

Thinking there’s got to be some way
To keep my troubles distant

Robbie Williams / Feel
Come on hold my hand,
I wanna contact the living.
Not sure I understand,
This role I’ve been given.
I sit and talk to god
And he just laughs at my plans,
My head speaks a language,
I don’t understand.
I just wanna feel real love,
Feel the home that I live in.
’cause I got too much life,
Running through my veins,
going to waste.

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