A pattern emerges

 

It’s 11 pm as I am writing this. I have just been watching The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive by Stephen Fry, probably one of the best known bipolar person. Interesting program. I had seen it before but I thought with my recent acceptance of my diagnosis I’d better watch it again. I’m glad I did. I saw he struggled with some of the same issues I did, mainly whether or not to take medication, and the people he “interviews” for the program have also gone through similar experiences as I have.

A pattern has emerged though these last few days. I wake up starting the day as low as I can get and slowly but surely, my state of mind improves during the day, the closer I get to bedtime the better I feel. I don’t know what it means, but it’s better than feeling low the whole day.

I have also noticed that sometimes when I feel really low in the afternoon, I need to rest my head, doze sort of, for a few minutes and I “wake up” feeling better.

I guess it is important for me to understand how the illness is affecting me as I will need to adjust my life in consideration to how I feel.

I am slowly, very slowly, coming to terms with having bipolar now. I have looked back at my life thus far and realised that it was always there in the background. When I was a teen, I would have quite severe mood swings, so severe that I left home at 19 to move to a different country because of fierce arguments with my mother.

Talking of which, she worries a lot about me at the moment. If she can’t get hold of me when she calls, she freaks out. I have to carry my mobile phone with me at all times so I can text her to reassure her that I am still alive, or that I am not in hospital, when she can’t get hold of me at home. I try not to let this state of affair worry me. I cannot. But it does. I cannot reassure her I am ok, because the truth is at the moment, I am scared shit of my future. Will I be able to hold my job? Will I be able to carry on keeping my house? Will I ever be happy again? Questions I cannot answer. Questions that are constantly on my mind.

I have also realised I may never find love now. This bipolar is most likely the reason why I never had the “right” relationship in the past. When I look back at past relationship, I see a blurry picture. Because I drunk so much. I drunk to self medicate. I smoked pot too, for the same reason. None of those relationships were real, even the one with the man I married. Especially the one with him. Oh yes indeed, we stayed together 10 years, yet, the drinking took place every day. I don’t know his reasons, but I now know mine. Without the alcohol, I would have been a completely different person. Who though? Well I guess I am on a path to find out.

I went to an AA meeting tonight. I felt I needed to as in the past week, when I have felt particularly down, I have bought some alcohol. Not enough to get drunk or tipsy, but enough to “take the edge off” the pain. And that, in my eyes and experience with alcohol is bad news. It was also something to do truth be told.

It was weird to find myself in that environment again. I had attended one of those in Canada three years ago when I stopped drinking after the big split but hated it. It was all very religious and people seemed quite “up themselves” that they were better than the rest of them for having the ability to quit booze. I really didn’t like that. I didn’t like the fact that some of them had been coming for years and years either. I didn’t want alcohol to have had such an impact on me that I couldn’t do without those meetings.

I found myself pretty emotional at the start. “There I am again, facing yet another problem in my life” I thought. During the first break, I went out for a ciggie and broke down. One of the chaps had a chat with me, he was quite pushy, an australian fellow, but I knew his heart was in the right place, I knew he cared how I felt.

The thing that hurt me most during that meeting was that all present, apart from my friend and I, had their life in order now they are not drinking, all had partners, jobs, were settled in life. And there I was, lost, life in shatters, and not even because of drinking. Well….I guess if I hadn’t drunk all those years I wouldn’t be where I am now. I hope one day, I will be one of them. I really hope so.

What felt good though about going to this meeting was being around people again. These past few weeks being a prisoner in my own home have been so tough, I started to fear I was starting to suffer from social anxiety. I have shied away from people, retreating in my low. I have forced myself to carry on going out, don’t get me wrong, but everything feels alien to me. I don’t have any connection with people and I feel so low I’d rather not be around people. You know that saying “smile and the world smiles with you, cry and you cry alone”? Well, I am not smiling much these days and so being around people, strangers, makes me really uneasy, like my despair shows on my face. I don’t look people in the eyes anymore, I barely speak, I just about responds when they try and make small talk. It’s like I have forgotten to be. Me, who just a few weeks ago was the friendliest person you would ever meet, back in the days when I was manic.

I read the blog of a bipolar woman earlier today who has suffered the illness for over 20 years and she said every night when she goes to bed, she gives herself a pat on the back that she has got through another day. Really? Is it how bad it gets? Is this why I feel happier when the evening draws in? Is it because the bulk of the day is over and I can rest I only have a couple of hours to get through before I can close my eyes and my mind to the world, my world, my fucked up world? Sigh. Bipolar really sucks.

There is one thing that really really puzzles me about Bipolar. Why is it most people who suffer manic episodes/psychosis usually think they are special, as in a godly way, even thinking they are the second coming, Jesus, or this type of special individual. Really weird that. Don’t you think?

(I have looked up how Stephen Fry is doing these days btw, and he tried to commit suicide in 2012, now takes medication)

Feeling numb

More bad news landed on me today.

Those past few weeks have been quite tough as it was, I have been trying hard to keep myself from falling into deep despair and today I find out that instead of the three months sick pay I was expecting from my work, I was only entitled to 20 days. On top of that, they messed up the payments and continued paying me and so I got overpaid. I now owe them more than half a month’s salary. They never advised me of any of this, I had to find out for myself when I noticed I didn’t get paid this month.

There’s still no firm date on when I am going to be back at work, and they are being unhelpful when I suggested using my holiday entitlement towards my now unpaid sick leave.

Seriously, how much more can I take?

By newpaz

The Power of Words

I had previously written an entry on why I blogged. Basically, it helps me fix my thoughts.

This blog started when I was finally free from depression and enjoying life again following my break up from my husband, nearly 3 years ago now.

It was positive, inspiring at times, deep…and meaningful. I recently decided to revive it in the hope that I will find that positivity back.

Today I learned that I won’t be seeing the work doctor for another two weeks and my world took a turn for the worst for a while.

I was out when I saw the news via email and had a breakdown when I came home: how could I cope with another two weeks of nothingness? And I started to look around figuratively and just couldn’t find a good enough reason to stay alive.

Above my fake fireplace, rest my dog’s ashes, and above it a photo of him, enjoying himself in the river, with the words cherished and pampered. Above this, a wooden heart I carved when I was in hospital, with the word Frodo burnt across it.

He was my world my everything and, as I mentioned in a previous entry, the reason I am still here. If he hadn’t been around in my life I would have surely taken my life away when I went through my depression two and a half years ago.

He is no longer here for me.

I am holding on to dear life any way I can at the moment. I have a couple of friends who are there for me, but it doesn’t feel enough to help me through.

Stress is building up every day. Little worries to big ones, all rolling into one big pressure for me.

Yesterday I had to cope with a lodger who left it to the very last minute before leaving after I had given him notice. His behaviour had been pretty disrespectful, like a 20 year old who had little respect for my home. His girlfriend was rude to me and treated the house like hers. 30 minutes before he actually vacated, he threatened to kill himself, and so I found myself playing psychiatrist to help him through this moment. I succeeded.

I have a week to get my house ready for my new lodger, a friend I made in hospital who has been unstable in the past and I am a bit unsure how this is going to work out. She has it tough, real tough, yet she seems to be coping ok. As long as she isn’t drinking. 

I share my house with a chap who is schizophrenic – although I must say he is a great lodger, he and I really get on. We have common grounds: we understand about psychosis.

Today I also found out I didn’t get paid by work.

Add to that that my licence has been revoked. You get a pretty good idea of what living my life feels like at the moment.

BUT…I am soldiering on the best I can. Without professional support. Because I just don’t trust them. Ultimately, they put me where I am today. Three years ago. In Canada. Mr Psychiatrist who chucked me out of the mental health place 2 weeks after being admitted, when I wasn’t ready. When I wanted to stay longer because there was a safe place to process what had happened with my husband, and my best friend, and my friends, and my life.

I can hardly bear each day that I am not at work at the moment, imagine if I go to see my psychiatrist and tell him I can’t cope, how much longer my return to work might be delayed? I’d lose everything.

What is everything? My home, my future, my life.

Is it worth saving though? Today, I wonder….

Tonight though I have had two chats about this with two different friends. It helped to talk. I hope it’ll help to write too.

By newpaz

The Crash

When I saw my work doctor a few weeks ago, to be assessed for my return to work (which he denied me in the end as he wanted to see how I got on with the meds first), he asked how the crash was following my manic episodes. I said, “what crash? I don’t have any crashes.”

Well, I think I understand what he means now. Here comes the crash. Damn. So it looks like I am due another depression.

I can’t help thinking though, wouldn’t you be depressed, stuck at home days in days out, waiting to be allowed back to work, with nothing to do all day, with no transport apart from your legs?

 

By newpaz

Some light.

Well there is some good news this today, I think I am finally over American guy. I woke up this morning realising if we had carried on in our relationship, things would have got tough when it was time for him to be posted somewhere else, usually a different country. So it was definitely for the best things ended now so I wouldn’t need to deal with this in two years’ time.

Another good news, a friend I have been helping clear up her house has offered to take me floating today. I haven’t been able to go since my last psychosis as the floatation centre is some 20 minutes away from my house and my license has been temporarily revoked.

So I shall be floating today, the best way I have found to meditate, this afternoon. Yes!

Pondering on love

If I remember correctly, my first post on this blog was about love, what it was, or should be.

My lodger, who is leaving tomorrow, has his girlfriend over as I write. They’ve only been together a couple of days and earlier, as he and I were in the kitchen, we heard her say “Babe, I love you”, in a tone of voice that required a response. Which of course, he gave.

Aaaah young love, ain’t it sweet. They are only 20, bless them.

I remember the days of falling in and out of love so quickly and easily.

I wonder when I will fall in love again. It’s such a wonderful feeling. And I am hoping it’s a question of when and not if. I am “only” 43, surely I will meet someone again.

I know now is not the right time though, my life is in shambles and definitely not the best time to meet someone. He’d probably walk out within minutes of walking into my life.

I am an incurable romantic though, I still have faith one day love will find me again. I just hope this time, I will be ready 🙂

By newpaz Tagged

What’s killing me right now

I have been signed off work since the beginning of February when I experienced a psychosis and had to be taken to hospital where I was sectioned.

Since being discharged, I have been facing long days with very little to do. To start with, I was still on a high and could handle it. Funny when you are on a manic stage, you can handle everything. 

Everything collapsed when I saw the work doctor and he decided I wasn’t ready to go back to work. I had been so looking forward to going back. Why? Because it would have given me some sense of normality again. Plus I love my job and I miss it, desperately.

Life without work and without my driving licence which has been revoked for 3 months is really tough. So tough I started to feel down, really down, edging on depression. I experienced depression once before and I don’t want to go back there. So I have tried to find stuff to occupy the long hours of each days. I am also finding I am starting to suffer from anxiety.

As you can imagine, when the manic episode stopped, one takes stock of what happened. And now the diagnosis has been made, trying to understand where I fit in all this and how my life will be from now on can be pretty tough.

The doctor said I should be fine with the medication. I have to trust this. I cannot imagine having another manic episode which will end in a psychosis, as mine seem to. It would wreck my fragile life.

Three years ago, I lost everything when my husband left me and have spent my time since then rebuilding what I could. Setting up my home, finding a job, finding friends, having a life of sorts again. I can’t risk losing everything again. I need to be back at work and function “normally” again.

Going back to work makes me anxious too truth be told. What will people wonder about my three months absence (only my manager and a few workmates are aware of the situation)? Will I be able to cope there? Will I remember how to do my job? And a whole lots of other questions which make me feel anxious.

I have to be patient, people tell me it will all fall back into place once I have started working again. Patience is something really hard to develop when you have days of nothingness, I can assure you.

To ease the boredom and loneliness, I am helping someone clear out her house. She isn’t a friend per say, a facebook friend really, but she has just come out of depression and her house badly needs help. I never realised quite how much until I went there for the first time yesterday. It’s a mammoth task really. I felt anxious at times looking around. It was hard to find where to start. But start we did and I am going back today.

I must say I am feeling brighter today. I had a real crappy night sleep though, it took me for ever to fall asleep, I have an issue with one of my lodgers who is leaving in the next two days at the moment, and I woke up quite early, after some strange dreams again. I got up soon after waking up, I didn’t want to lay there and get anxious. And I am now waiting to be picked up to carry on with the house clearing. We’ll start with walking her dogs too which will be nice.

I hope being back at work will give me some sense of normality again. I badly need to feel “normal”, whatever that might be. I hope normal means no anxiety, no boredom, no loneliness…I have also stopped eating in the past week. Along the way, I have lost my appetite. I need to start eating properly again. But it seems too much of an effort right now, and there’s a knot in my stomach that won’t undo. Bah, it’s not like I couldn’t do with losing weight anyway.

New reality with Bipolar

I thought the book was finished, the Problem with the World, but it seems it wasn’t, so here I am again.

It’s a strange world I am now finding myself in. I think it is time to face I have bipolar. 

It all started just under three years ago when my husband left me, I went through what I now know was a manic phase. I lived on nervous energy, barely able to take in the ampler of what had just happened, I stopped eating, stopped sleeping and my mind took me to places I had never been before. This led to my first psychosis.

I became utterly disconnected from reality, I sometimes wonder if it was my mind’s way to cope with the situation. This led to my first hospitalisation, in Canada, from where I was discharged too quickly – “you can’t treat the place like a hotel” were the words of the psychiatrist who saw me then before discharging me some 10 days after I had been admitted.

I was discharged with only 24 hours’ worth of medication and literally homeless. My husband brought all my stuff and my dog to me at the gates of the hospital, took me to a hire car company and off he went.

I spent a few days road tripping my way down the Rockies in Alberta making my way down to beautiful Waterton where I experienced my second psychosis. Again, I was hospitalised, two weeks later as I was making good progress on medication, I was discharged, took a flight to Paris where I met with my dad for a few days so he could see how I was, then started my trek back to the UK where I had to wait a while for the tenant who occupied my house to move out – she was waiting for council accommodation and had refused to move out until she got it, despite me following the proper channels. She wanted me to evict her to force the council to provide her with accommodation but I couldn’t afford to do that. 

Eventually though, a week or so after my return to the UK, she found somewhere to live and I was able to move back.

Still on medication, I suffered a deep depression. The first in my life. It was so deep I wanted to die. The presence of my dog actually prevented this to happen. I couldn’t find a way to “do away” with myself whilst still ensuring his safety. “If I die, who will look after him, who will find him?” I was living in a town where I was virtually a stranger. Who would notice me not being around and check on me? No-one.

Image

Tattoo I got to remind myself of my boy Frodo (F for frodo) strategically placed

as his presence in my life prevented me from doing the unthinkable 

 

I eventually got myself to the doctors and begged him for medication. Up until then my doctor had refused and sent me to CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) instead. I saw a different doctor and he prescribed me a low dosage anti-depressant which did the trick.

The depression lifted and I started to enjoy life again. I joined a couple of dating sites and, after a year of mourning the loss of my husband and going through depression, I started dating again. Except I also started drinking again (I had stopped a couple of weeks after my husband left me). Bad move. But it enabled me to drop my barriers and fears and throw myself into dating. I saw a few guys, had a few inappropriate adventures, until I met the American guy and decided to give that a chance.

However, I was riddled with doubt about that relationship and sabotaged it every step of the way, using alcohol again to hide behind. I quit drinking in April last year and I started to feel high, very excited about life, free from the booze, I faced my issues head on, and it felt good. I let go of American guy mid August and a couple of weeks later suffered another psychosis. He “threw” in my face that I was bipolar, see this previous entry, and I thoroughly denied that was the case. I simply didn’t recognise myself in the symptoms he highlighted.

I recovered from that psychosis quite quickly and was back at work within a month. I was medicated again but decided I didn’t need to as after all, I wasn’t bipolar, so I stopped the meds again soon after.

You can see from my blog where I was at, the next manic episode I suffered was probably clear. I got deep into myself again and over excited about life. I decided to stop this blog before Christmas and started a new one in the New Year. It was going to be a daily entry blog. Writing it contributed to my manic episode as I would try and write an entry every day, sometimes writing it during the night after a few hours sleep.

Just before New Year, the American guy got back in touch with me and we met up again. I guess we had some sorts of friends with benefits arrangement, except I fell in love with him during a two week blissful period we experienced. I was high, happy to be back with him, everything was going grand until I realised he wasn’t serious about us. It was a Sunday. I left his house and started crying on the way home. Things after that went from bad to worse between us and I suffered another psychosis a week later, on February 5th.

This time I was in hospital for 6 weeks as I was battling with the psychiatrist over the meds he wanted me to take. Eventually I got discharged, I am not too sure why, and a month on, here I am.

Three psychosis in 3 years makes me bipolar in the medical profession’s eyes. I have to accept something is definitely off balance with me.

Right now, I seem to be going through a down phase. It started some three weeks ago when I realised I wouldn’t be allowed back at work just yet. The work doctor finally managed to convince me to go on meds. He was quite clear: “do you want another episode?”. Well no. Well yes truth be told because those episodes take me to places I obviously need to go (issues I haven’t yet deal with in my soul) but I can’t lead a “normal” life if I carry on experiencing those episodes. I can’t go to work for starters and no work means no money, means no roof over my head means no life. I have also had my driving licence revoked for three months so I am now finding myself sort of prisoner in my own home.

I am now taking mood stabilisers and waiting to be allowed back at work.

When I think back over the past year, I can see I wasn’t “right”. 

The problem I have now is that I don’t know who I am. 23 years of drinking and smoking pot, three years off the pot and one year off the booze, during which I experienced two psychosis, I just don’t know what my normal is. It’s a struggle.

Every morning I wake up extremely low. I toss and turn in bed and dark thoughts invade me that I can’t chase. I get up, get dressed, and feel lost. Without work to keep me busy, I just don’t know what to do with myself, and every day is becoming tough to get through.

I have tried hard to find activities to get me out of the house though and manage to get through each day somehow.

I am reviving this blog in the hope it will give me my joie de vivre back….somehow….