I rolled into my shrink appt this morning 1 minute late. I am never late.  Almost never.  I got stuck at home looking at houses on zillow and I had to finish my zip code.

Driving in I planned my plea.  I’m manic. I need your help. Driving, listening to pats radio, fidgeting with the window and the ac I chewed on my knuckle and twirled my hair. I don’t know how many hands I had, but they felt infinite.  I knew I wasn’t concentrating enough on the road, but really people should be pleased that I wasn’t texting.  Or checking zillow.  Because I wanted to.

I’ve been on an anti depressant for a few years, and last month I thought we had finally dialed in the dose.  I was thrilled and supportive about my mom’s new adventures, creatively working with my kids on their lego structures, connecting with my mother in law, partying like a 20 year old with our soccer coach, shipping things for refresh, advising several new businesses, enjoying each of my friends and even their kids.   I should have known it was too much pleasure.  All while on the fucking diet.

I blame the mania on the diet in fact.

1. I lost 20 lbs so my biochemistry has changed
2. I have to consume something, so if it is not going to be food it might as well be real estate. I’ve always done well in real estate.

I mean, I only bought one house in a city I have never been to. That’s not so bad, right?

Wait.

Let me give you my well thought out rationalization.  The market is down, so I can buy it in cash. It’s carrying cost is less than 5k/year including pool maintenance (I know,labor in Florida is frighteningly low, right?) and my mother in law may one day want to live there. It has an outbuilding so when she lives there we can still visit. Totally rational. Or rational enough.

Is rational enough, enough?

I haven’t yet gotten our family into a financial crisis. Sure I bought a ticket to fly to sarasota to shop for furniture on a work day, leaving my husband alone with the kids on days that he is running a conference…but he didn’t have that conference in the calendar.

I wrote yet.  I haven’t yet gotten my family in a financial crisis. I’m not sure that is a testimony to executive control rather than my good fortune. I don’t mean to sound flip.  I know that I shouldn’t be flip.  This is serious stuff.

As I learned when I started describing my zillowing and other behavior to my shrink. I totally expected him to want to back me off of my anti depressant. Instead he suggested a mood stabilizer.

And started using the term bi-polar.

It has taken me 15 years to feel comfortable with depression, and being medicated for depression. Being in therapy I wear like a badge of honor. Any intelligent person belongs in therapy. If we aren’t trying to understand and improve ourselves we are not living our best life.

But bi polar. That is different. If I’m going to be honest with myself. (Which is the goal) I have probably spent more time being manic then being depressed. Which makes bi-polar a pretty good description of what I am struggling with. For some reason that term is so much more loaded than depression.

Being impulsive is me. Bold, unfiltered (does it sound like I am a beer(maybe thats why steve loves me)) decisive.  Those things are wonderful.  The idea that everything that I have built is a series of impulse control failures , and symptoms of a mental illness is not a welcome one, and of course hyperbole. But is enough of it true to give me a diagnosis and a medication?

Sitting in his office I felt the mania melt away. I had two arms again, and neither of them were twisting my hair, they were folded in my lap as I leaned against the couch. So calm. So me. So able to make clear choices. The difference in the 20 minutes between the car and the couch was either evidence of mania or evidence of my ability to turn it off.

I asked us. Is consumerism a symptom? Can consumerism be cured? Do I want it to be?

Booking the flight without checking with my husband was impulsive. The feeling that I get on fab.com as I buy screen printed hipster tv posters (yes they are as cool as they sound) “hurry up before you catch yourself” is an impulse.

The feeling that I have right now. Put this up online quickly quickly before you decide not to post because you are worried about seeming unfit for select board. What is that? Is that impulse control?  Or is it being brave?

But not now. Now it is an hour later, and I am reading this over, seeing questions without answers. I am not feeling a rush to post. Like dropping the love letter in the mailbox in those olden days of courtship. Sometimes my blog posts feel like that. Close my eyes and hit publish. Is that a leap of faith, or a symptom of mania?

I wouldn’t take the prescription.

I’ll think about it. I wouldn’t want to make a big decision like that rashly.

OK that was the last line the first time around…but I keep coming back to the confusion between outcome/behavior and the impulse itself and who is driving the bus. I wonder if other people have impulse control issues. I mean I know they do. My mother clears the glass of water practically out of your hand so she can run the half full dishwasher. Compulsion. If the effects are neutral or positive do we need to tame our compulsions? The vast majority of the time I feel a rush of impulse and do tame the rush. How do you determine what is a style and what is an illness? I certainly prefer being unfiltered and decisive to bi-polar.

Speaking of bi-polar: Here are the kids going to school to day.

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Anna Rosenblum Palmer is a freelance writer based in Denver, CO. She writes about sex, parenting, cat pee, bi-polar disorder and the NFL; all things inextricably intertwined with her mental health. In her free time she teaches her boys creative swear words, seeks the last missing puzzle piece and thinks deeply about how she is not exercising. Her writing can be found on Babble, Parent.co, Great Moments in Parenting, Ravishly, Good Men Project, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Playpen, Crazy Good Parent, and YourTango. She also does a fair amount of navel gazing on her own blog at annarosenblumpalmer.com.

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