Since pledging on the Time To Change website, I have been thinking about how my experience with Mental Health can help others.
I have a lot to say on the subject but I would like my contribution to be helpful, so I am working on the best way to do this. I have some ideas that are forming, but it is a slow process. I want to do it right.
A couple of days ago, I received an email from someone who was upset with me. I had broken off our relationship as I felt it was the right thing to do. I had known from the beginning we were not right for each other, however I had realised we could learn a lot from each other so I continued seeing him. (I had written a post about it on this blog but sadly I deleted it a couple of days ago as I felt maybe it was too personal (for him) for me to share openly.
On Sunday I realised that we would be better off as friends and told him so. This didn’t go down well and he got rather angry with me (which happens).
I had told him very little about my experience with Mental Health, only that after my husband and I split up, “they” tried to diagnose me as Bipolar (it took a psychiatrist one hour chatting with me to decide I was Bipolar) but that’s a story for another post.
Yesterday, I received an email from that chap, listing the symptoms that go with the manic stage of Bipolar, blaming the decision I had taken to finish with him on this illness.
I was rather angry at first, it felt like a slap in my face “see, you are crazy, you are not thinking straight, that’s why you dumped me, you’ll regret it”. More so that his sister apparently has been diagnosed with Bipolar and he seems to have very little understanding of the problem, and even less empathy.
However, I have had signs of being manic recently so I decided to look at each point and see where I was on the Manic scale.
This is my findings (which I emailed back to him):
- feeling very happy, elated or overjoyed – yes, but for good reasons, my life has turned around, I am no longer reliant on drugs and alcohol or guys to be happy.
- talking very quickly – sometimes yes, when I get excited – who doesn’t?
- feeling full of energy – yes, probably due to too many teas in the morning though and the fact that my life is quite fun these days, no mopping about in bed for hours on end (reminds you of someone?). Most days though I feel quite tired towards the end of the day, pretty normal behaviour really. Also, apparently stopping alcohol does that to you (gives you extra energy)
- feeling self-important – no. Proud of myself for achieving what I have at the moment for sure (quitting drinking, successful launch of the social and other groups) but nothing wrong with that. But self-important no. I even had a debate with someone on FB who suggested I should “go down to their level” when approaching my neighbours about the noise issue. Told him I talked to everyone the same, apart from to kids when I might be softer.
- feeling full of great new ideas and having important plans – I do have good ideas and all seem to go down well so far, nothing “disorder-y” about that. Important plans are only important to me. For my own reason (ie figuring out where I went wrong in life and bettering myself). If they happen to matter to others, great. I am certainly not pushing my ideas/plans on anyone, I am just doing my thing and if people like it, then great, if they don’t then it doesn’t matter. My blog for instance, I haven’t told many of my friends about it.
- being easily distracted – not really, in fact when I concentrate on something, I tell people to wait before speaking to me so as not to be distracted. My boss actually laughed at me today because I was concentrating on something at work and hadn’t noticed he was sitting there waiting to talk to me.
- being easily irritated or agitated – no more than usual. Probably a lot less actually. Certainly not anxious at all these days (used to be a very anxious person)
- being delusional, having hallucinations and disturbed or illogical thinking – categorically no. (I suffered from that when I was sleep deprived before so I know what that’s like)
- not feeling like sleeping – I do sleep, maybe not long enough but I certainly like my sleep, plus I nap when I need to as well, so I have no problems shutting down my brain when needed.
- not eating – I eat plenty 🙂
- doing things that often have disastrous consequences, such as spending large sums of money on expensive and sometimes unaffordable items – no disastrous consequences from my actions – in fact, very positive ones, made peace (properly) with my husband, getting on better with my friends, making new nice ones, and work is getting better all the time. Money wise, hmmm let me think what my latest expensive, unaffordable item was….nope can’t think of any. Even managed to go round a whole car boot sale and not bought anything.
- making decisions or saying things that are out of character and that others see as being risky or harmful – all the people in my life are telling me they like this new “positive paz”, my mum in particular is very happy to hear how I am doing (and she would know if I was out of character)
If I am really Bipolar, I sure hope I will be able to see as clearly why I feel the symptoms that go with depression when that stage hits.
As an addendum, I am closely watching this seemingly manic phase, in particular the over excitement bit. This is what I do to make sure my overthinking doesn’t affect my life too much:
- Go on long walks with my friend’s dog. sometimes my friend joins us too.
- Meet up with people regularly, nothing beats interaction with people to level you (and they can tell me if I get too excited)
- Having a routine to make sure “normal” stuff gets done, such as tidying up, clearing up the dishes straight after eating, food shop so I don’t run out of food.
- Listen to chillout music
- Switched to decaf tea
- Spend time with my cats (cats have an amazing calming influence)
- And most importantly, I make sure I make my bed every morning 😉