Bipolar 2 From Inside and Out

I was a bipolar child. I was a bipolar college student. I was a bipolar adult. And now that I am about to be able to get the senior discount card, I am a bipolar – what? – mature adult.

First, let me say that aging sucks. Except that the alternative sucks more. The problem is, I can’t always tell whether anything that happens to me is due to my bipolar disorder or due to aging. I fear that, since my bipolar is fairly well in check at the moment, what are left of my problems may be due to something else.

My hands shake, for example. This has been true for years, though. The neurologist called it “essential tremor,” which I think means it just happens and they don’t know why. But some medications have made the tremor worse, and one of the medications I’m taking now could be increasing the shaking. And the shaking gets worse when I have anxiety. So I think we can chalk that one up to bipolar disorder, mostly.

I forget words. Sometimes, when I’m talking, I forget the word that comes next and have to pause or talk around it until it comes back to me. Sometimes my husband fills in the blank, which is helpful, but really annoying. For a writer, losing words is scary, but the memory difficulties seem to happen more when I talk than when I write.

I know I’ve had memory lapses before that can be attributed to my medication, and those memories are gone forever. I’ve written about that phenomenon: But these seem to be single words that escape me, and that I can usually get back within a few seconds. It doesn’t feel like anything I’ve had associated with bipolar, so I suppose this one is aging. If it’s the onset of Alzheimer’s, I’m going to be so pissed.

I isolate. This I’m pretty sure is bipolar in nature, since I’ve been doing it for years, especially when I’m depressed. I’m also reasonably sure that I am getting less isolated as my bipolar disorder has eased. I still don’t get out much, though I did go to a fabulous (and large) party last Sunday. But I am active on Facebook and Messenger, and I write these blogs, and I talk on the phone.

On the other hand, I seldom leave the house, and that I think is an effect of aging. I have mobility and balance problems because of a bad back and some nerve damage in one foot. But bipolar is involved, since weight gain from medications also affects my mobility, and an aversion to crowds and noise is likely associated with my anxiety.

Side effects of bipolar disorder and bipolar medications are to be expected. So, for that matter, are side effects of aging. Teasing out which is which may seem futile, and perhaps it is. I just want to know which I have some degree of control over and whether some, especially the cognitive symptoms, are likely to fade, stay the same, or get worse.

Comments on: "Bipolar and Growing Older" (9)

  1. I isolate too

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have both the hand shake and the word recall problem. I’m 55 and have had bipolar since I was a small child. I only started in treatment for bipolar when I was 39.
    The hand shake is annoying, especially due to my electronics hobby, where I sometimes have to work with tiny parts. Oh for the steady hands I had in my 20s! I’m not sure if this is caused by my meds or age. Lithium made it far worse, maybe the other meds contribute too.
    The word recall is really irritating. Earlier today I tried to tell my wife that I’d put the Cokes in the refrigerator, and I just could not get the word refrigerator out. I finally had to say, “White thing.” She knew what I meant but it is so annoying. Now that you mention it, I don’t think it happens when I write either. I’ll have to pay attention.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, how I can relate to what you’ve written. Bipolar itself causes some cognitive difficulties and some medications just compound that. My memory problems are frustrating. I have passages I want to memorize and I can’t seem to do that anymore. I meet a lot of new people at church and when I play pickleball, and I make it a point to try to remember their names. I’m pretty good at that but I have to work at it a lot harder than I used to. I lose words when I speak too, and sometimes when I write. I chalk that up to a combination of bipolar, meds and aging. It’s frustrating for sure but I’ll put up with it–taking the meds beats having the severe swings I used to have. I’m trying to age “gracefully” 🙂 Good post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Rose Marir Thees said:

    Jan, I need your help in understanding. Andrew was just diagnosed with bipolar. I follow your blogs for a better understanding but I have questions.
    Rose Marie


  5. Thank you for your writing and your honesty. I am trying to find my way after my world exploded last year due to a manic episode and near fatal car accident. Many family members have punished me for getting sick and I feel alone in the battle. Your blog helps me feel less alone. Thank you.


  6. I will be where you are very soon.
    At the moment, my confusion rests between medication / bipolar / is this just me? And now you go and add age to the equation! Interesting thought.


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