I think too much. It’s a well known fact. Well lately I’ve been thinking about something, and it’s a rather strange thing to think about.
If I asked you to describe your personality in 3 words, what would you say?
I would say loving, calm and intellectual.
Now here is my thought…
I have bipolar disorder, rapid cycling to be exact, I have for many years. I remember realizing I was having symptoms around 12 years ago, I was diagnosed 8 years ago and have been very well stabilized on medication for the last 6 years. The medication I take is great, I don’t really have any side effects and it works very well. I’m not like the bipolar people you see on tv and in movies who are constantly going off of their medication because they don’t like it and complain that it makes them “slow” or “dull”. I like my medication, and even more so I don’t like being bipolar, so I think I’ll keep taking it…thank you.
But I have been thinking lately about personality and what makes our personalities what they are. From what I’ve learned in school personalities are made up of genetics, and childhood situations. They occur in our brains as neurotransmitters that dictate feelings such as happiness. I realized recently that I have no idea what my personality is. For as long as I can remember I have been bipolar; before I was on medication I was going from manic to depressive and back again every few minutes or hours, without any real breaks in between, meaning that my neurotransmitters were completely out of whack! Since I’ve been on medication I am very stable, I don’t get manic, and very rarely get depressed…but I have realized that I don’t very often have “normal” emotions either. My friend described me as “very even keel”. The medication is designed to calm the neurons in my brain so that they do not release as much of their neurotransmitter, this leads to less neurotransmitter floating around in my brain, and fewer moods. So it’s not a stretch to think that this would lead to fewer moods in general, not just fewer bipolar moods…this is a pretty normal effect of bipolar medication, it’s referred to as a “flat affect”.
I’ve never thought that I had that problem, and I really don’t. People with true flat affects never smile, or frown, or cry, or have any sort of emotion. I do, it just doesn’t usually show…if that makes sense. I feel things, although sometimes I do have to remind myself of what I should be feeling in a certain situation; and when I do feel things, I don’t cry, if I smile a lot of the time it is a halfhearted one. I’m just, calm.
Don’t get me wrong, I like being this way. Knowing what it feels like to be on the emotions roller coaster that is bipolar disorder I have no complaints about being this calm, it’s a relief actually. It’s just strange to think that if our personalities are made up of neurotransmitters and the emotions they produce, and my neurotransmitters have been manipulated by a disorder and then a drug for so many years, what is my real personality?
Is this me? Or is this the me that the drug makes me?
** DO NOT by any means freak out over this post. I have NO intentions of going off of my meds or doing anything crazy like that, I am simply pondering…I do a lot of that, it’s ok.