Better

Tomorrow is a new month.  Maybe I can get it together and do better at work.  Maybe I can manage my diet and exercise routine better.  Yes, it’s a new month.  I will be better.

I have said this to myself at the start of every month for probably six months now, and it never comes true.  At this point, I’m actually frightened about work.  I need to do better there, but depression makes me forget there are real-world consequences to my absence.  I try to work, and racing thoughts drive away my concentration.  Mania causes me to not worry about whether I have a job.  Who wants to worry when they’re manic?

As for diet and exercise, these are closely linked to mood.  Manic Me can count calories and exercise with the best of them.  Depressed Me can sometimes barely get out of bed.  Middle of the Road Me does a decent job of things.  She just isn’t seen often these days.

I’ve had so much trouble with mood symptoms that my psychiatrist is frustrated and considering personality disorders.  He just can’t make me fit in to one of his boxes.  The therapist told him that maybe the problem was him and his medicines.  I wanted to hug her for that.

So here we are.  March.  The end of the year’s first quarter.  Maybe I’ll do better now.

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Fawlty Brains

We’re 25 days in to the new year, and I am still dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts.  I’m managing.  Work is getting done, bills are getting paid.  But I’m miserable.  I wonder sometimes how long the part of me that wants to live can fight off the part that has decided it’s time to die.  It’s a scary place to be.

The one thing that has been my refuge is Fawlty Towers, the John Cleese/Connie Booth comedy from the 70s.  For some reason, my darkened mind can concentrate on the show.  I can laugh and not feel terrible about it.  I can lose myself in the troubles of Basil, and for 25 minutes or so, I’m in someone else’s life.

My cats save me time and again.  People can understand the concept of suicide, even if they don’t understand the reasons behind it.  Cats will just feel abandoned when one of the people they love stops coming to see them.  This has been my life force of late.  I know that, as long as my cats are alive, I will not follow through with my suicidal thoughts.  I just can’t imagine outliving those cats for long.

Happy Bloody New Year

It’s January.  The start of a new year, full of promise and hope.  So where does this leave me?  Mildly suicidal and horrendously depressed.  It started yesterday and has just continued to get worse over time.

It occurred to me that, whilst I am perfectly happy to spend the rest of my life at the side of my best friend, he might well wish to spend the rest of his life at the side of an actual romantic partner.  My head spun as  I realised that things could change in a major way.  My entire lifestyle could be smashed.  It would be a good thing for my best friend, and I would never begrudge him of that.  I would just miss being centre stage in his life as opposed to an understudy.  I like us as us.  Not a couple, but definitely a unit.

So I recognise that part of this is situational; my big realisation isn’t helping my low mood.  I realise, as well, though, that this is a bipolar depression.  The sun is dimmer.  That’s a sure sign to me that I am falling in to an episode.  The sun looks noticeably dimmer even high in the sky.  In short, I am depressed.

Fortunately, I see my therapist later this week.  We will talk through my realisation, talk through the suicidal feelings, and make a plan for coping with it all.  She’s patient but firm, and I know I can hold on long enough to make this happen.

Numb

I’m starting to feel the numbness creep in that I thought I would avoid this holiday season.  It’s Chanukah, and, even though I’m not Jewish, I keep that holiday.  The burning candles comfort me and bring peace in to my life.  That’s worth celebrating.  Tonight is  the last night.  The entire row will be lit.  I’m hoping the warmth of the candles will take away some of this numbness.  It’s a feeling that you can’t feel anything.  Does that even make sense?

This year, I have done festive things.  I have participated in a Chanukah Shabbat service, attended a gift swap, and even have two Christmas parties on my weekend agenda.  These are better efforts than I’ve made in years past.  But the numbness is taking over now.

I have to be very careful with this numbness, as it tends to lead toward self-injury.   There’s a need to see blood for proof that I’m alive.  The warmth of the blood against my cold skin awakens me.  It’s a sick process founded by a sick mind.  I have to be diligent and aware.

As the numbness creeps in, the happiness and feelings of family and love begin to fade.  I am in a fight against my mind, once again, and I don’t know which of us will win.

Current Mood: Unknown

This week has been great.  I have worked many hours, completed student loan repayment applications, kept up with household chores, and generally felt well mentally.  This has all happened for the first time in months, and it leaves me wondering where my mood has been.  I feel good right now.  I can concentrate again, and life doesn’t seem so overwhelming.  I’m grateful for whatever shift has happened.

The one dark spot in this is that I have obviously been having mood issues without being aware of them.  I’m usually good at picking up on mood symptoms and dealing with them before things get bad.  The recent manic episode must have split what has been a months-long depressive episode.  That’s all I can think of.  Depression causes that soul-sucking overwhelm and inability to concentrate.  I didn’t particularly feel depressed, but apparently, my mind was acting in depressed mode.

Whatever it was, I’m just happy it has passed.  Does anyone else out there have mood episodes that you only see in hindsight?

Talking of Bipolar Disorder

Into A Pearl by the esteemed Justin Currie reminds me of what it’s like to live with bipolar disorder.  It’s not likely the inspiration for his song, but it really struck me.  The aspect of a ‘stranger in your world’ that ‘only you can smother’ speaks to me.  Justin is by far my favourite singer.  The front man of Del Amitri (my favourite band), he has a flawless solo career.  I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him twice in concert and would follow him all over the world if I could.  I never tire of hearing him.  Anyway, give the song a listen.  You might just relate to it, as well.

Work

Like most adult humans, I have a job.  I’ve  had this job for almost ten years.  And I am burnt out.  My therapist pointed this out to me when I went to her with the problem of actually *doing* my job.  Getting through each shift is torturous.  The problem here is the job is perfect for me as a person with bipolar disorder.  And as a person who rarely likes to leave her house.  I telecommute.

Bipolar disorder dictates alot of things about my life.  I keep a regular sleep/wake routine, I keep appointments with my therapist and psychiatrist and I take my meds without fail.  My job allows me the flexibility of setting my own hours and taking days off as needed to cope with mania and depression.  It sounds like a dream job, and it really is a ‘sweet gig’ as they say here.

So why am I struggling with it?  Anybody care to answer that question?

Focus is a problem.  I’m not sure whether that’s a bipolar thing or just me having trouble forcing myself to do something that is causing me problems right now.  There’s a certain lack of confidence in myself in doing a job I’ve done for years now.  No idea where that is coming from.  This has left me financially in a mess, and even that doesn’t seem to be a motivator.  I have no idea what it’s going to take to set me right again.  I’m scaring myself, and that is saying something.  But my bipolar-addled, attention-deficient brain doesn’t care about my fear.  It just wants to stare in to space and think of other things.

What Have We Learnt?

We’re nearing the end of 2017, and the beauty of a grey Autumn day with colourful leaves everywhere set my mind to this blog, which really isn’t much of a blog anymore.  School is done, work is work, and my personal life remains relatively the same as always.  There really isn’t much to say these days.  But, as we are nearing the end of the year, I thought I’d  look back at some positives and negatives.

Politically, the world is a mess.  America has an idiotic prepubescent bully in the White House who would do better to be replaced by one of my cats.  The UK has a deluded Prime Minister who thinks she can keep the UK in the single market after Brexit.  These are our leaders, folks.

I don’t even have to remind everyone of the terrible shootings plaguing America right now.  And according to the ‘President,’ mental illness is to blame.  As someone with a mental illness and no desire to kill anyone, I take offence to that.  I own my disorder, and I work hard to keep myself stable.  I am probably the least violent person you’ll ever meet.  Yet in the eyes of the man who runs the most powerful nation in the Western world, I am the problem.

Times like these, we have to look to the positives in our lives.  I don’t get on with my housemates, but the centre of my existence lies outside my home, buried safely within my family-of-choice.  These people never fail to amaze me with their patience and love.  They deserve the best, but somehow they’ve ended up with me.  Then there are my cats.  Wonderful little beings who enrich my life every day.  Whenever I hear of yet another terrible world event, I just snuggle one of them, and things fade a bit.  It’s hard to be anything other than happy with a cat in your arms.

As this year winds down, I look to a comfortable ending and a bright beginning.  In fact, I wish that for many things.

All Mixed Up

I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder in late 2005.  At the time, I was out of my tiny little mind.  I was convinced that the groundskeeper at my best friend’s apartment building was working in cahoots with a four year old boy to lock me into a storage building and kill me.  All these years later, I can look back on that and almost laugh.  Almost.  At the time, I *did* think my life was in danger.  It’s scary to know that your mind can get that out of stride, so when it started happening this week, I got a bit panicked.

Friday was awful.  I was irritable, angry, and scared that my best friend was going to walk out of my life, something I was certain of.  Saturday was better.  Nothing around me could go fast enough, and my thoughts were coming at warp speed.  I had to work to keep the nervous laughter from spilling over and making me look like a fool.  I think I managed to keep things out of sight, though.

And then there was Sunday.  I slept maybe five minutes Saturday night, none at all on Sunday, and no more than a few minutes Monday.  All in all, I’d slept about a half hour between Saturday night and Tuesday morning.  Mind you I wasn’t the least bit tired.  Mania will do that.  They say some people enjoy being manic for that very reason, but I hate it.  It is frightening when your brain is moving at warp speed.  You can’t keep a thought long enough to process it, but you can’t stop the thoughts coming.  For me, the thoughts aren’t of beauty and happiness.  They’re typically about death and frequently bring images of decaying bodies.  Yay, me.  Actually, as I write this it occurs to me that I’d had hallucinations most of the week.  Definitely something to tell the shrink.

Yesterday (Tuesday) was awful.  I have an early class on Tuedays and made a relative fool of myself there.  My partner barely got a word in edgeways, as I couldn’t stop chattering, nor could I stop the peals of nervous laughter bubbling over.  On my 37-mile drive back, I felt like crying the entire time. Monday night I heard a helicopter and swore the people in it were coming for me. Deep depression following a way-too-high energy level, with a bit of psychosis mixed in. It sounds like a sort of psychiatric cocktail.

Today is a bit better, but I’m still feeling shakey.  I slept three hours last night, which is a *definite* improvement.  I’ve had no signs of psychosis today, either.  The depression is stronger, but to be honest, I’d rather deal with that than mania.  Mania scares me, especially when it’s accompanied by depression.  Depression alone is easier for me to deal with. Last night I was terrified. Fortunately, my best friend was there to text me a bit as I got ready for work and tried to calm down. Yet another tribute to what an amazing friend and person he is. The shrink is out until Thursday, and I actually couldn’t get anyone from the main clinic to phone back. Good thing this hasn’t been serious.

I am going to phone up tomorrow and see if I can get an appointment with the shrink soon. My next scheduled appointment isn’t until May, and I don’t want to put things off until then. It’s very unusual for me to phone the clinic in general, so they know things are more than a bit odd when I do. Right now I’m taking 200 mg. of Lamictal twice a day. There was talk of adding Depakote, as the atypical anti-psychotics and I do *not* get along. One caused a seizure; the other two caused dangerously low blood pressures and heart palpitations. I’d rather be crazy than dead.