Just this year my psychiatrist discussed with me my 'bipolar tendencies' (read: "you don't really fit into our categories so I am just going to say you mostly have major depressive disorder but you sometimes have manic-y symptoms"). Its been an interesting (?) addition to my experience of mental illness. I had suspected that something like that had been going on but had never really spoken to an 'expert' about it. It was shocking how hard it was to deal with the 'diagnoses'. To me what it meant was: I will have to deal with mental illness for the rest of my life (a realisation I had denied for years and was some how forced to face then) and that it could all possibly get worse. But i digress
Lately, because my anti depressants were increased, and that can trigger manic episodes, I have been having hypomanic symptoms (I have never had a full blown manic episode). This weekend I decided to cut my hair - myself. Never a good idea. I had done that last spring but I spent a good couple hours on it and it ended up looking pretty sweet. Well this time, while I wasn't able to stop myself from doing it in the first place, I was so ashamed and embarrassed that I was doing it/had done it that after I chopped haphazardly at it I just left it. Tomorrow I am going to get it fixed (definitely going to tell my hair dresser what happened so that she isn't like "who cut your hair like this!?"). I had to remind myself that just like my depression, its not my fault that i feel this way sometimes. It is something that I should work toward controlling and avoiding, just like my depression, but not something to beat myself up over.
This is such a hard task. it took years to accept myself and my depression (and even this acceptance is quite superficial) and now i have to accept this too... grrr. I know that this is part of why mental illness creates shame - its hard to accept that you cannot be in complete control of yourself. I know another side of it is internalized stigma - I know that some people think its 'crazy' to act this way. But I think because I have no experience with these new symptoms I am having a hard time with how 'funny' these symptoms can be seen to be. My partner kinda laughed and while he had no malicious intent I was so hurt. I mean it is kinda funny... if I decided to cut my hair one day because i was too cheap to get a hair cut or something and it turned out bad that would be something worth laughing about. In this case, of course, its a bit different as i really didnt choose to do it. I didnt tell one of my friends cause i knew she would make fun of me. plus I just cant help but think how 'stupid' i am for doing something like that.
Besides repeating 'its okay, I am not weak, this is not something to beat myself up over,' what more can I do? This isnt the kind of thing that doctors often talk about - the mental consequences of the experience of being on drugs that change your behaviour in ways you cannot, and how your self perception changes when you have been dealing with mental illness and even diagnoses themselves.