doin’ the dance of millions

I cannot be the only person feeling this way.  It is not possible.  I am not special nor am I unique.  The feelings I have are not bizarre.  They are not ‘just mine’.  For some reason I feel comfort in that.

It has been awhile since I wrote.  I had been ‘doing well’.  I spent the first nearly 10 weeks post hospital in a great place.  Then as per usual it all swirls about and I am in the middle of some kinda Soda Stream whirlpool.  I have energy.  I don’t.  I want to be there, with those people who are friends and care.  Then I don’t.  I wonder if that is normal.  I fucking hate it.  I am right now overhauling my house.  Again.  For who?  Because I have few visitors.  Because I am paranoid.  Because mess.  Kids.  House.  Crumbs.  Under the lounge is filthy.  Again.  HOW.  Then all of the other things.  The freaking dog pissed on the carpet again.  I am excited that I get to use my carpet shampoo machine.  I have so much going on.  Yet nothing.  I don’t want to die tomorrow  because honestly I know I have not lived nearly the life I need to live.

So my partner went for a partners interview with my psychiatrist.  I now see my doc fortnightly.  Which is good on one hand – I freaking need it.  On the other I feel helpless.  Like I am unable to make confident and just decisions about my mental health.  Ultimately I am grateful that I have my partner looking out for me like this.  I don’t know how he stays with me.  How he puts up with me.  I am hard work.  I know that.  I am even hard work for myself.  If that is even possible.

So, yeah psychiatrist fortnightly.  Dietitian because I have put on 9kg in 12 weeks and cannot stand to look at myself in the mirror.  I might seem confident but I feel like utter shit and look like a fat balloon.  And I feel bad  because once upon a time, when I was thin, I judged people who were well rounded.  I fucking JUDGED THEM.  And now I am ‘well rounded’.  I feel like shit.  I judge myself.  All day.  Then I feel like a selfish bitch.  Usually I just feel like shit.

I am feeling like the blog posts will be coming on hard and strong in the next while.  I just hate, hate, hate myself and feel ridiculous.  And awful.  There is no way to explain it without sounding like a complete fuckhead basically.  I put up a wall and I sit on my fat ass behind it, ignoring what is going on, on the other side.

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the puzzle

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All of the puzzle pieces were put in place. Most of the patients in hospital sat at that very puzzle, slowly but surely putting it together. It was finished today, the day I got to go home. I find that alone was such a bizarre coincidence.

I’ve been back home for a couple of hours now and I’m tired. So so tired. I baked muffins for my three gorgeous kids and just about cried when I went with my partner to pick them all up from school and Kindy. It feels strange to be on the ‘outside’ after nearly a month of being in hospital.

I feel like I stayed in hospital *just* long enough to get my medications stabilised and to learn what I could from the daily group therapy. Being admitted into a psych ward isn’t what most people think – it is hard work. Our therapy sessions basically went from 8:30 through til 3, with lunch and morning tea thrown in there. Add being medicated (often on new meds, weaning off old ones etc), to that also you have got to appreciate that trying to use a brain that wants to basically shut down at least for 1/2hr when the meds kick in, it’s challenging.

I can’t and will not complain though. I learned a lot. When I say that I learned a lot, I mean ALOT.

I made some amazing friends. I feel like we have such a deep connection. I know for sure that these connections and friendships will continue to grow on the ‘outside’.

I also learned a lot about myself. I learned that I can cut myself some slack sometimes but having bipolar isn’t a hinderance. It also is not an excuse. It won’t stop me from fulfilling my every dream and desire. So long as I keep it real, so long as I keep checking my self, I can conquer anything. Just like the puzzle, piece by piece, step by step, I can achieve anything. Anything at all.

your job is to just be a friend

So, you have just found out that someone you know, or even love, has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  You might feel confused, you might feel worried.  I try to remember how I felt before I was diagnosed how it felt when a good friend told me that she had bipolar.  I know for sure that I had no idea what it was and it did kind of scare me.  What should I do with this information?  What is the expected response?  What is the response she needs?   What kind of attention do I need to give to this, in order to ensure that our friendship didn’t change just because she happened to have a little extra ‘something’ that lots of others don’t?

Mental illness is taboo.  There is no other way to put it.  Nobody wants it and those that have it are most likely to hide within their diagnosis.  Usually they will be very wary and careful about who they share this news with.  There are underlying reasons for this – the first being the most obvious.  People don’t understand, and what people don’t understand can scare them.  The many other reasons pretty much stem from that very one reason.  It is taboo.  It is scary.  You might feel like you never really knew this person at all.  However, chances are that they are still the same person they were the day before they were diagnosed.  Chances are that they’ve been living with this all of their lives.  The only thing the diagnosis does is give that person the chance to get well, the access to medications and services that they haven’t had access to in the past.  They have been given the chance to finally, maybe, stabilize.

Don’t offer unsolicited advice.  Don’t diminish their feelings.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it is happening to us so therefore it is a reality.  It may sound irrational to you but sometimes, some things sound so completely right and rational to us that it is better to just open your ears and shut your mouth.

Up until I decided to share my truth with the world (sounds dramatic eh?  Well, if you know me you know that I have a knack for the drama) I was so terrified that I would be judged.  Actually, not judged – misjudged.  That people would back off and I would be left all alone.  News flash peeps.  The absolute opposite has happened for me.

So now you know this very personal thing about the person you know, or love.  What should you do next?  You could ask questions.  Listen.  Ask them about it.  Ask how they feel.  Tread carefully.  Most of all, don’t be scared.  The person who has this condition has trusted you with something that most people probably will never know about them.  Don’t tell other people.  Keep it to yourself.  If you are worried about them, talk to them.  Be straight up.  We have a sixth sense when it comes to this kind of thing usually and let me tell you, while I am more than happy to put myself out there in order to bring more awareness, 99.99999999% of others are not.  It is not your news to tell.  It doesn’t need to be the next 6pm news headline.

From time to time, if you are really close to the person who has shared this with you, you will notice different behaviour patterns.  This is normal and to be expected from bipolar.  Everyone who has bipolar is very different, so don’t put us all in the same basket.  If you do notice a behaviour that is out of the ordinary (increasing spending habits can be a big one, withdrawing from social events, there are a gazillion things that can be warning signs that things are on the up or down), don’t ignore them.  Talk about it with the one that trusted you.   Once again, tread carefully and no no no unsolicited advice.  The person who has trusted you will hopefully have a team of educated professionals that offer medical assistance to them to aid their rocky road to stability.

Your job is to just be a friend.

Vikings with Mustaches

My family just left – I sobbed as they walked to our family car, got inside and drove away from me. I cried because I missed them so much already. Even though we all know that I am in the right place for what I am going through right now, I have to admit that I felt like chasing them for one last hug, one last kiss. I wanted to jump in the car. Alas, I had to stand back and wave and ugly cry, and keep my resolve.  And just wait until tomorrow when they visit again.

Things in here are tumultuous for me. I am still rapid cycling and feeling like it is stepping up further. The strange hallucinations have started again. It is very rare for me to think that they are true, but today I thought that there must have been some kind of air vent underneath the carpet because it was moving in a wave-like fashion. So I put my foot down on it, just to check. Then the patterns in the carpet started to look like Vikings. With awesome mustaches. And I laughed because well, Movember is on its way I guess.

This is not a good state of mind to be in, especially when one starts questioning the reality of what they have witnessed. Now because of this, I feel fear about going to sleep because usually when I see things in the daytime it means that I see worse things during my sleep.

A very terrible thing happened in the last couple of weeks, and it has distressed me to no end. Only last night the issue came to a close, and I had to walk away from someone that meant so much to me. I don’t know how I would have coped with this parting of ways if I wasn’t in hospital. I just do not know. All I do know is that I have to have faith that things happen for a reason, and all people who cross your paths do so for a reason. Some stick around. Some don’t. Some are inspirational acquaintances. Some are just strangers that make you reflect upon your self. In any case, every single soul that you connect with does so for a reason. Always.

I know that the only reason I am here on this Earth is because of my partner and my children. That is all. The only reason I endure what I do is so that I can watch my beautiful children grow, with my amazing and supportive partner. I try to experience life through their eyes. Especially when I am struggling and feel like there is no way out. I try to close my eyes and see the world the way they see it – with wonder. With admiration of what the world has to offer. I try to see that I was that little child once, and I saw the world the way they do now, once.

I tell you what, if you don’t laugh sometimes, you will cry. In the state I am in I just take every day at face value and live through every second, every hour. Let the day guide me as much as possible.

admittance

The last couple of weeks have been hellish for me.  I have been incredibly let down by what I thought was part of my support network.  Simply put, that depression was the worst I have felt in my whole life.  It involved me obsessing, questioning myself, losing myself.  I was lost.

I very rarely endure the depression part of bipolar.  I tend to spend most of my time in hypomania, and a little in mania.  So I don’t really have great coping tools in place for those times.  

So here I am, I’ve been admitted into hospital.  I have been here for a couple of days and I can’t say that things are better.  Yet.  I am rapid cycling, moving from deep despair to utter elation and euphoria within a day.  Meds changed, they are all increased and I have now welcomed a couple of new ones to the family.  I feel safe though, because I am in a place where all of these changes are watched carefully, with like-minded (literally) people.  Ultimately yes, I feel safe.

And for the neuro typicals out there – the mental facility I frequent is NOT like One Flew Out of the Cuckoos Nest.  Or Girl Interrupted.  Not one single bit.  There are no chicken carcasses under anyone’s bed here.

The one thing that is different this time is finally I am not pretending.  I am not lying.  I have promised my self that this time, although it wont be the last time, will be the time I look at myself hard in the mirror and actually ACCEPT.  I want to welcome help.  I need to welcome help.  I am feeling pretty excited about learning more and more than anything, I am appreciating that my psychiatrist DOES know what he is on about.  I look forward to seeing him and telling him about my day.  There is a particular issue right now that has utterly broken my heart, and he has given me strategies and assurances that I actually listen.  My favourite quote from today was ‘You are a very generous person’.  I feel that my recovery will be successful because of my utter honesty.  I am not hiding or being self conscious about my mannerisms and speech (well, the words yes, but the loudness and speed, not so much) because that helps him understand where my mind is at.  How can I possibly expect to get better when all I do is pretend?  How??

I said today to someone that we are probably the best actors in the world.  Not many people would even guess that the face smiling at them is probably utterly broken inside.  Not many at all.

So now I am getting my power back.  I am grabbing the bull by the horns and facing this.  I am not going to fight it though.  Yet am going to succeed.  I am going to accept.  I am going to live with it.

a pattern forming

I spent the day cleaning and scrubbing my home.  Have had about 624 coffees.  Have obsessively checked, checked, re-checked and checked Facebook, I have made playdough, I have played with said playdough, I have done colouring in – I even took my youngest shopping to buy a mammoth amount of crafty gear.  I mopped, cleaned out my car, did stuff.  I have even crafted with all my offspring.  And it isn’t 4:30pm yet….  I can see a pattern forming.

My body feels light and almost dizzy.  My legs want to run a marathon, yet the skin on them is itchy.  I can almost feel the blood pumping through my veins.  My heart feels like it is doing double time.  My head feels slightly heavy and like it wants to sleep.  The ride upward is always fast for me, it is like I can feel my body ramping up.  It is a countdown to launch.  I can feel my energy levels rise.  It takes some time for my head to catch up, but it will.  And then I will have my mojo back.  In many ways.

I recognized the first inklings of an upswing the other night.  I had nightmares.  All night.  It was like I didn’t even close my eyes, and then there I was, in the middle of something that even Stephen King couldn’t imagine.  It was more than hardcore.  It was utterly terrifying.  Yet there I was, experiencing it.  Living it.  I woke up the next morning feeling like I had never slept.  Like I had never slept, ever…  My body ached, my soul ached, my heart ached.  I had seen things I never ever wanted to see.  And so comes the insomnia.   I am wondering now if the insomnia comes from being so shit scared of actually going to sleep.  So scared of the nightmares.  So utterly terrified of what is waiting for me behind my eyelids.

After I had sat down and collected my thoughts I thought I should look into this.  I have suffered from crippling nightmares all of my life.  I remember them starting when I was about eight years old.  Anyway, I check out Mr Google and he tells me that there have been studies into this.  That often bipolar patients talk about having nightmares before a period of mania.  Makes sense, yeah?

So I shared this little tidbit with my little awesome community of bipolar peeps and it was interesting.  Many, many of them spoke about their experiences with nightmares and night terrors.  Suddenly I felt like I had an answer to something that had been plaguing me basically all my life.  The nightmares MEAN something.  It is my body, and mind, trying to make sense of what is happening right NOW.  Is it fight or flight?  How can my brain process this information?  Is it because I tend to rapid cycle?

Right now, I just feel a pressing need to find out more.  More information.  More connections.  I need to find a way to enable OUR understanding.  I don’t want to ask ‘whyyyyyyyyyyyyyy’ anymore.  Everything is relative.  Our bodies and minds work together.  I want to put that jigsaw puzzle together.

eat me alive

I tremble

they’re gonna eat me alive

if I stumble

they’re gonna eat me alive

can you hear my heart beating like a hammer?

Help I’m alive my heart keeps beating like a hammer

hard to soft, tough to be tender

come take my pulse, the pace is on a runaway train

Help I’m alive my heart keeps beating like a hammer

if Im still alive

my regrets are few

If my life is mine

what shouldn’t I do

I get wherever I’m going

I get whatever I need

while my bloods still flowing

and my heart still beats

(Metric, Help I’m Alive)