I have to think I am not the only one out there with the really toxic combination of Bipolar and OCD. The reason I think this particular combo is especially toxic is, I think some characteristics may be shared, hide each other (hurts assessment, diagnosis, then proper treatment plans), and then they make the other condition worse.
Bipolar lends to poor impulse control. It’s difficult and many times it’s hard to recognize this is even an issue until it’s too late. Not all sufferers with OCD have the same symptoms (like with all the various mental illnesses), but if you take away the OCD individual’s ability to control their impulses…what happens when faced with obsessions and compulsions? Down the freaking rabbit hole! How is there hope of stopping if there is no impulse control?
My mental health care workers thought I just had a hard time with managing impulse control. I don’t think they saw the level of obsession in anything I presented them with, despite me trying to explain it. Perhaps they didn’t consider dual diagnosis? Perhaps it’s my fault for not admitting to many of my symptoms, because well…I didn’t know they were symptoms. I had little idea my repetitive thoughts/thought patterns were…abnormal?
The way the Bipolar and OCD play off each other is just disgusting sometimes. Something, usually small, will trigger sadness/depression in me, and then *BAM*…that’s it. My anxiety ramps up and my intrusive thoughts are on overdrive. So on top of sinking into a depressive state, my mind starts its repetitive mission of convincing me I’m stupid and/or a horrible human being. So like last night I was literally singing to myself all evening, “I’m awesome, I’m awesome.”. I was trying to counteract the thought that wouldn’t stop of me being stupid.
Yes, I know I had mentioned trying the visualization technique of the swimming fish, swimming by the hooks of negative thoughts and NOT engaging. But under stress, when the thoughts just come and I feel overwhelmed by them, it’s very hard to think about doing what I’m really supposed to do. I fall back on what my first therapist taught me, which was counteracting the negative thoughts with positive reinforcement (that was before she knew they would then go on repeat and it became part of the vicious cycle).
This morning my thoughts attack me because of an email. I am stupid because I wanted to join a church group that is full. Why am I stupid because it is full? I am not. I KNOW I am not. This is not a matter of logic. There is no arguing with my mind. The issue is all the conclusions my mind is drawing that is fueling the internal stupidity name calling. “I should have asked to join sooner, I AM so stupid.” When I can find support for my uncontrolled and unbidden thoughts like that, it makes it a million times harder to ignore them (swim past). I start to believe them and wallow in them and just let them happen as they do (imagine standing in the rain with arms open wide). That fuels the depressed side of the Bipolar. I easily believe the lies because I am depressed, then I get more depressed because of the repeating lies.
I am 100, no 1000% terrified about going to church today. I missed last Sunday because the fear of my thoughts. The prior one, I just wanted to sit there in my seat and cry. I usually do tear up most Sundays because of my struggle for my mind to just SHUT UP, but luckily I think my husband thinks it’s because I am moved by the music or whatnot.
I am actually nearly in tears right now because I am so scared and that’s new. I enjoy church so much, I have the intense need to go (I understand why finally), and to be scared of my thoughts at a place that is supposed to be a safe haven, it makes me so very sad. So sad. But I have to stop crying because my eyes can’t be puffy, and no one can know. I am always the great pretender. Everything is ok. Everything is OK.