Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bipolar and getting sick

द्विध्रुवी Dvidhruvī
דו קוטבי
バイポーラ Baipōra

At home, when I tell someone I am bipolar, I usually get 8 out of 10 people responding with "Interesting! My friend/ex/second cousin fourth removed is bipolar too!" They have a context to place me in whether good or bad. But they have some inkling of what it means to be bipolar. And that it is a very hard disease to live with.

When traveling that number drops to somewhere around 3 out of 10, sometimes less. And I have to explain what being bipolar means. Many cultures are very dismissive of or not understanding mental illness. India seems to be one of them. A very nice guy I met while couch surfing in Mumbai saw me in the middle of a massive panic attack. His subsequent review of me on Couchsurfing described me as "a little emotional by heart." He had no basis to understand what it is like to be bipolar or suffer from major anxiety attacks. And couldn't understand why I reacted so intensely to something he found relatively trivial.

Last week I suffered from a near debilitating depressive episode. The kind where even the thought of venturing from my hotel room left me in a pool of tears so going for a walk was out of the question. Thinking about it I think it was just everything bad that had happened those first few weeks here all caught up to me at once and I couldn't bear it any longer. I had reached a place to stay put for a while so I had the time to completely fall apart.

I emailed the group of people I have been sending more private and frequent updates to and cried the whole time I wrote. I just felt so alone! I got immediate responses from Pasta and Kim and from my parents. Grateful to have people I can cry to when I need it.

Then the next day my boyfriend more or less broke up with me. By email.

It was just one thing after another. I fell apart over the omelet I had ordered for breakfast. I wrote in my other blog and I am grateful for all the comments from my friends there. And my best friend wrote me from Russia to tell me she loved me. I love my friends so much.

Ultimately, I chose the right place for this collapse. Not only was I here for the continuous four night street parties celebrating Ganesha that made me light up and be thrilled to have gotten to be here to witness and be a part of it but I had finally met a solid group of people and they helped me a lot. They got me out of my shell, forcing me to put on the mask I wear when I don't want people to know how much I am hurting but that eventually wears off when I begin having fun again. I opened up to them. They told me to go have sex. Sex would help. The girls suggested the hot Portuguese guy who was staying at my hotel. Unfortunately every time I saw him after that he was surrounded by these tanned young cute things and here I am sunburned and sniffly. Oh well. I have other options. *Grins*

I have finally, with help, reached a place where I can now treat this resting place as a reset button. Forget the emotional wreck that was most of my first few weeks here. Forget the boyfriend. From now til December 3 I have a clean slate. A better understanding of what and what not to do. I still have two months to marvel at the fact that I am in India! To explore. To dream. To discover. I still have the Pushkar Camel Fair to be excited about!

The depression lifted.

Then I got sick. *Laughs* I have spent the last few days drinking copious amounts of water, taking Sudafed for my poor sinuses, and trying not to do too much and taking it extra easy. Because I can't take either of the two anti-malaria pills (one gives me such bad dreams I can't handle it because of the bipolar and the other makes me violently ill) I am in constant fear of getting malaria and am always watching out for symptoms. But so far this is just a sinus cold. No signs of a fever or nausea or any of the other flu-like symptoms that would have me scurrying to a doctor.

So there! You see why I haven't written much lately! I don't have much to say about my time so far here in Palolem. Mostly my time has been spent reading, writing in my journal, meeting interesting people, laying on the beach, playing in the water, and eating really yummy food. But I do want to tell you about dancing in the street and puppies and the awesome people I've met. So I'll update again later.

Unfortunately on a low note - my food budget is dwindling. I'm down to 300 rupees to last me til Thursday. But that's enough for one simple meal a day plus water (I could save money by eating more street food type stuff, but my sister and others have strongly advised me not to do that so I spend the extra money for higher quality and safer food). I'll be fine. I am due to receive my refund from that tour company in Delhi by the end of the week. Once I get that I believe I'll be set again for the rest of my trip.

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