All Mixed Up

I’ve been cycling.  As a matter of fact, I’m still on the downswing.  It started with hypomania that I didn’t even recognise.  My therapist pointed it out to me.  This went on for roughly two weeks (which is why I haven’t posted).  My thoughts raced madly, and I wanted everyone to shut it so I could keep talking.  *Nothing* moved fast enough.

From there, the mixed state set in.  The latest DSM did away with mixed episodes.  The disorder, on the other hand, did not.  This is the dangerous stage for me.  All the despair and suicidal ideation of depression with all the energy of mania.  I had racing dark thoughts.  I didn’t want to talk anymore because I didn’t want anyone to get in my head.  My paranoia shot up.  *Everything* was dangerous.

Now I’ve fallen in to a light depression.  It’s inconvenient and uncomfortable, but I feel I can cope with it safely.  If not, I’ll definitely phone up my therapist.  This completes my cycle, though. A couple of weeks of mania, followed by a week or so mixed, followed by sometimes months of depression.  Here’s hoping this stage passes as quickly and as easily as possible.

New Directions

It occurs to me that, since I have started blogging again, this blog will likely take on a new direction.  I’m not the same person I was when I first started the blog, and I haven’t got the same concerns.  Back then, life was all about finishing graduate school and coping with the recently-divulged secret of my multiplicity.  Now, grad school is a distant accomplishment, and I am fully integrated.  Life has definitely changed.  Looking back at old posts, even the tone of my writing has changed.  Frightening and exciting all at once.

So what am I doing now?  Glad you asked.  Now, my life focuses primarily on bipolar disorder– something that can’t be resolved via therapy– and veganism/animal rights.  As well, I am proudly Wiccan and involve many Pagan practices in my daily life.  These are the pieces of me that remain post-integration.  I still deal with trauma flashbacks and will likely write about that subject from time to time.  It’s no longer a daily focus, though.  Now, my life is about using my beliefs to walk as gently as possible on the Earth.  I feel whole in my mind and spirit, so my focus is sharper on the causes I support.

That’s the funny thing about change– it’s ok!  We all change as life progresses, but we never lose our value.  Thanks for following along with this new leg in my journey, dear readers.  I hope you continue to share parts of your journey, as well.

Crashing Down

I’ve been in a bipolar depressive episode for five weeks with about two days’ reprieve.  Things are black.  The sun doesn’t even look bright.  I’m so tired of feeling like this.  My doctor is trying me on an anti-depressant with the thought that the potential for a manic episode is not worth letting the depressive episode carry on like this.  In the meantime, *everything* is falling apart.  I got in trouble at work, gained weight I’d lost, and just generally stopped caring enough to take care of myself.

This lands me where I am today.  I feel disgusting inside and out.  My disordered eating patterns are back.  The self-injurious behaviour is back.  I just generally don’t care what happens to my body right now.  My mind is too far from settled to give it thought.

I stay around for those I love and those who love me back.  I stay for my cats who are my little furry children.  I stay for my family-of-choice who I couldn’t hurt the way being a survivor of suicide does.  I’m just tired of staying right now.

Here

I came home unexpectedly today.  A few nights ago, I woke up unexpectedly in hospital after having taken what I thought was a fatal overdose.  The combination of a lengthy depressive episode and a bad living situation that I can’t escape got to be too much for me, and I attempted to end my life.  Yet now I’m here, typing a blog post I never thought I’d write on a day I never thought I’d see.

Even though the attempt didn’t work, I hurt a great deal of people.  Most of all, I hurt my FOC.  These are the people who taught me family and who expect me to be there for them.  I let them down, and I’ll have to live with that.  How do you apologise enough?  How do you win back the trust of those who never deserved to be put in this situation?  How do you learn to live with the guilt?  I’m wrestling with these questions now.  Nothing I can do will make up for what I put people through, but I’ll do my best.

There’s also therapy– loads of it.  I’m having daily sessions, at least by phone, and working hard at setting things right.  It will take a while; I’m not completely happy to be here yet.  I can, however, say that I’m not a danger to myself.  My therapist told me to hold on to the feeling of pain brought on by putting my FOC through this, and that is a great motivator for staying alive.  In the past, it’s always been enough to see me through.  This time, however, my current situation won out.  My FOC do *not* deserve this.

I’m not sure how to move forward from here.  Slowly, of course, but the path is unclear.  I’ve given my word to two of the most important people in my FOC for the first time, and I keep my word.  Suicide is no longer an option.  In a strange sense, that leaves me feeling helpless.  What can I do if things get to be too much again? That question might well go unanswered for a bit.  Much therapy yet to come.

So I’m here.  And I’m working on it.  For now, that’s all I can do.

Obstacles

Since my mood episode has passed, we’re back working on grief issues.  Specifically, we’re working with my sister’s death.  I asked the therapist if she found this repetitive, as we do keep returning time and again to this one loss, but she said we deal with another aspect of it every time we discuss it.  This time, we’re dealing with the extremes.

I have a tendency to bottle emotions (gasp from crowd).  As it turns out, merely intellectualising my feelings or stating them as fact does not count as actually expressing them and processing.  My therapist told me that I’m merely doing circles about them and will have to open them up in order to heal them.  Then, we discussed obstacles to that.

Obstacle one is easy to understand:  culture.  The stereotypical English stiff upper lip isn’t as stereotypical as some might think.  I’m not accustomed to overly emotional displays.  I’m more accustomed to the quick acknowledgement and subsequent containing of strong feelings.  This is separate from abuse issues or any kind of disorder.  This is simply culture.  Overcoming it is probably a question of pride and modesty.

Obstacle two *is* the trauma issues.  I grew up in a cult where people were literally killed for showing emotion sometimes.  Funnily enough, I have trouble with that now.  Then, Dr Freud, there’s the abuse my mother handed down.  On the day of my sister’s funeral, she was kind enough to remind me that, since it wasn’t my daughter, I had no right to be upset.  When I was a child, she taunted or hit my sister and me for showing emotion.  Again, small reason I have trouble with that.  Overcoming this is my biggest challenge.  No idea where to start.

Obstacle three is something I’d never considered: bipolar disorder.  My therapist pointed out that, given bipolar disorder is a condition of extremes, we spend some time attempting to keep me from giving in to strong emotions.  My emotions can’t always be trusted; some result from psychosis or other bipolar symptoms.  To overcome this, I guess we’ll just have to be overly cautious about the pace at which we attack the pesky little emotions.

There’s a danger in opening this box.  Sometimes, I follow down the path of wanting to be with my sister and follow her lead.  I don’t think that is a problem now, though, as I seem to have got a decent amount of control over the suicidal feelings.  Self-injury is the more likely problem, but I’ll deal with that when/if it happens.  It’s time, regardless of how much my mind fights against it, to at least begin the raw work of true mourning.

Crawling Out

I spent most of September in the haze of mania and depression, sometimes mixing the two.  In fact, a great deal of the month is a blur.  What stands out clearly is the fear, darkness, and complete overwhelm that followed me through rapid cycling and a meds change.  Now, thankfully, I’m pulling out.  I still feel somewhat timid and afraid, worried that the next step will take me back down *that* path.  I’m also very easily triggered right now and trying to be careful in those terms.  It’s hard when the world is filled with such bad news, though.  I’m grasping at straws, albeit with more ease, at the moment and crawling out one more time.  Hopefully, that means I’ll blog with more regularity again.  Thanks to my devoted readers who keep coming back, even when there’s very little to see.

That Bipolar Thing

Lately, bipolar disorder is reminding me that it has, in fact, got a place in the chemistry of my mind.  I work very carefully to manage the disorder.  I take my meds correctly (with a few exceptions that we all seem to have), I keep appointments with my psychiatrist and therapist, and I am diligent about monitoring my symptoms.  Lately, however, I’ve been riding through a chaotic storm of bipolar swings.

It started with irritability and restlessness that I didn’t put together as precursors.  Last weekend, things started getting particularly interesting.  The world stopped moving at the right pace; it was far too slow.  Things started magnifying to the point that the entire world and everything in my life was a trigger.  I just wanted to cover my head and pretend that nothing other than soft, plain dark colours existed.  Evil voices kept telling me of horrible things I had done or would do, none of which were true.  Things continued to decline from there, and by Thursday, I wanted to dissect the veins in my forearm to get out the shiny things in my blood that I knew would protect me.

Throughout this, I missed work which means financial problems abound.  It’s left me feeling selfish, lazy, and more than a touch mad.  Things are still big and mean and scary, in that the slightest thought of negativity gets magnified to the point that it seems a personal crisis.  I’m not willing to spend a cent, simply because I feel undeserving of anything because of missing work.  I don’t have the energy, really, to do anything anyway.  I feel like staring in to space for the next few decades just to avoid anything that might send my mind back down the path of horrible scenarios and hallucinations.

Things have fallen apart, due completely to bipolar disorder this time.  I feel incapable of do anything productive, as I feel like a complete waste of space and oxygen.  My mind, when it does become lucid, takes so much time to process information.  I fluctuate quickly between the depths of despair and the terror of psychosis.  *Everything* is a trigger these days.  Ironically, I have no idea of what actually triggered the bipolar symptoms, but I don’t remember purchasing a ticket for this particular ride.

Descending in to Madness

Things are bad.  Very bad indeed.  I’m having miserable luck which would almost be tolerable if I were not also having mood issues and psychosis.  The food problems returned a few weeks ago, and they’ve hung about to some extent.  They’re better, in that I’m not doing the binge/purge thing on a daily basis, but they’re still in place.  I have a feeling they might be in place for a while.  This feels like it did when I was first diagnosed at aged 19.  I know, logically, that this is very damaging to mind and body, but I can’t quite fend off the behaviour.  Which probably led to the next bit.

The weekend before last, I started getting extremely paranoid.  This is never a good sign.  By that Saturday night, I was incredibly stressed.  By that Sunday, I was suicidal.  Staying alive was quite honestly a fight.  I was awake most of that night debating whether to stay alive and fighting with a very strong urge to swallow every pill in my side table.  The thought was ‘what if my only hope is just to hope it doesn’t get worse.  The SRA component means it never will get better.’  I still feel like that, but I’m trying to ignore it.  My mind flirts with suicide, but I don’t feel a critical danger.  Last week I set the plan and wrote the letters.  This week, I’m just overwhelmed and aware that I could very easily slip back in to that suicidal mindset.

This weekend, the psychosis started.  It started whilst I was driving, and I thought I might have an accident.  A dead woman with solid white eyes and wet, stringy black hair leaned between my best friend and I.  Eventually, her eyes turned dark, and worms started crawling out of her mouth.  I told this to my best friend and said I hoped she didn’t stay once he left.  Next I knew, the hallucination gave me a sardonic smile and nodded her head yes.  On my one hour drive home, I could hear the voice of the dead woman sitting in the car behind me.  Only when I phoned a dear friend did the voice stop.  I don’t typically hold phone conversations whilst driving, but that night it was a choice between trying to drive whilst minding an hallucination or talking with a friend to drown out the voice and (partially) the image.

I went home briefly, but the hallucinations continued.  Once again, the man who calls the dead people stood in my room and told me he would bring them if I didn’t give a blood sacrifice.  Once again, I cut my arm until the blood flowed down it.  Finally, I managed to escape and walked the half block or so to my friend’s house and stayed with her, watching carefully for the man and dead people because I knew they’d be angry with me for hiding.  The psychosis has passed.  The depression is still set firmly, interrupted only by hypo-manic symptoms and hypervigilance.  I have therapy on Thursday and am slightly afraid she’ll put me in a crisis unit until things calm.  The repercussions of that, given my SRA background, could be severe.   I just want to get help, though.  I’m at my final tether now.

Add to that ‘normal’ problems.  A cutback at work that will, once put in to effect, cause me to make less than I need to even pay my bills.  A crap review makes me think they might fire me soon anyway.  And, to be completely honest, I’ve missed a fair bit of work lately because the depression left me too tired to even get out of bed early in the week.  Financially, I have no idea what I’m going to do.  The Americans refer to ‘bleeding a turnip’ as the term for trying to get money from a person who has none to give.  I’m in that position right now.

So this is me: overwhelmed by even the smallest problem, on the verge of suicidal, depressed, psychotic, and hypo-manic all at once.  No idea of the path from here.

Alive

As I transition from the manic part of this episode to the depression part, cutting has become a problem again.  It’s not a way to self-soothe or express intense feelings.  It’s a way to *feel.*  Full stop.  Thursday afternoon, I felt like I’d stepped outside my life and was merely in the audience of a play.  One might think this is a good reaction to what had been the chaos of mania, but it’s too much of a change.  To go from feeling everything to feeling completely numb in a few hours’ time produces an odd sort of panic, at least in my experience.

I tried everything I could think of, but the numbness just got worse.  I went outside and concentrated on the feel of the wind and the sun.  When that didn’t help, I turned to the more physical activities.  I worked with clay, forcing myself to notice the temperature, texture, and even the scent of it.  I coloured intricate geometric-patterned pictures.  I even tried holding ice just to feel the sting of that.  Nothing.

When I finally did give in and cut my arm, it took a minute before I even trusted the cascade of blood as proof of my existence.    The razor was sharp and cut immediately, but I didn’t feel it.  I just cut deeper and deeper until my arm looked angry and the blood flowed steadily.  This has become daily, and both of my arms now look angry.  No one will ever see these cuts, and no one is meant to.  They are simply reminders to me.  I feel my shirt scratch them or feel them burn slightly, and I know that I am capable of feeling something, at least.  As those sensations lessen, though, more are needed.  More cuts, more blood, more proof that I am alive.

Reminders

I have the choice of being constantly active and happy or introspectively passive and sad.  Or I can go mad by ricocheting in between. ~ Sylvia Plath

 

Every now and then my wonky brain reminds me that, in spite of the myriad of other possibilities, I do have bipolar disorder.  This would be one of those times.  I feel like I’ve been sliding on a helter skelter since Saturday night.  Saturday was the top of the spiral.  My best friend and I had an *amazing* day.  Over the course of that day, I felt the somewhat manic pace of my brain bumbling about but decided it was probably just excitement.  By the end of the evening, however, my thoughts were coming so rapidly that I had to focus on small things like drawing just to be able to think at all.

Sunday started similarly.  About midday, however, the crash began.  It was one of those bumpy descents that threatened to even out, only to fall lower the next round.  By Sunday night, I was so depressed that texting my best friend seemed to take too much energy.  And I don’t miss a minute of texting him.  Not to be outdone, however, Monday brought back the helter skelter. In the bipolar vernacular, there is a debated pattern called ultradian cycling.  This is when a person cycles between euphoric highs and deep depressions over a 24-hour period.  Mental health professionals debate the existence of this pattern.  They would not debate it if they bloody felt it.

Mind you, things have settled back in to a lovely depression today.  The type that makes the sun seem darker somehow and any chance of happiness is destroyed by whatever thought it happens to bring.  Couple that with thoughts that still won’t stop racing and a variety of psychotic symptoms, and you get a semi-functional unfocused me who takes well over an hour to write a simple blog post.  I suppose that’s still loads better than not functioning at all.  Optimism at its finest (and most sarcastic).