Friday, 23 December 2011

How do I feel today?

This is the perpetual question I find myself asking as a bipolar sufferer. If I feel good, is it inappropriate? Is it a mood swing? Do I ever get anything that I would consider "normal"? It is bad enough to suffer the stigma of others and society as a whole. We end up putting a lot of doubt onto ourselves. I have had a very long period of mostly anxiety and depression. I can't pinpoint it but started about May in 2010. I managed to get away on a vacation in October of that year. It was touch and go whether I went in the end but I went and enjoyed it. Apart from the vacation, I have suffered mostly from anxiety. When my mood switched suddenly to elated and then manic in January 2011, it is not surprising that it felt good. If you read my blog posts from January onwards, it shows how I became delusional. I thought I had found the "answer", some kind of Nirvana. I went for weeks on 2 hours sleep or less. The only saving grace is that I didn't leave the house. I confined my night time activity to the computer. Being awake all night became the "norm". I am not sure if anyone really recognised that I was sick. New friends probably couldn't tell. I still related to people including doctors and no one noticed. Unfortunately I had no regular contact with a cpn at this time. I made grand plans to visit friends in Canada and the USA. I arranged flights and hotels to make it more "real" when doubts crept in. I wasn't getting the encouragement I wanted from my friends. Nobody wants to tell a bipolar sufferer they are wrong. They just let them get on with it. The phrase "tough love" comes to mind. The longer the manic episode, the bigger and longer the crash. My crash came in April or May. The realization about the trip I had planned sank in. I had to dismantle the trip best I could despite entering a deep depression. I was so embarrassed to tell people that the trip was off, even though I knew they understood. This led to a bad period of anxiety and depression. In the lowest point, I attempted suicide. I got support from the crisis team and it got me past the crisis. It was only really deferred because I am only just getting past it. I seem to have rambled on. Blogging is so much easier when you are hypomanic. It may not make total sense but it flows easier. I was meaning to talk about the perception of friends and family to sufferers. It is understandable why they would back off when you are down. It is less understandable why they back off when your mood lifts. They seem to assume that you are ill ( as my wife did on occasions). She would blame any assertiveness on being manic. it was very frustrating and hard to combat. There is a middle ground called "NORMAL" even though we find it hard to define. Please give us a break. It is bad enough being bipolar without stigma, whether it is from society or self.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

A New Strictly Come Dancing Fan - a definite sign of a mood swing

I was never a fan of Strictly Come Dancing. I admit to watching the weekday updates on occasions in the past. I have watched the latest series religiously and also the weekday updates. It was amazing how quickly I got hooked. It is certainly not due to the geriatric Bruce Forsythe who should have been pensioned off by now. I can't tell a Waltz from an American Smooth or a Pasa Doble from a Tango. Maybe it's the nice outfits? Maybe it's Holly Valance' legs? The latter is more likely. I actually enjoy the show. The exceptional dances make me smile, not for technique but for the performances. The judges are hilarious. I find myself caring who gets eliminated. I never vote, by the way. I don't know why I am blogging about Strictly. Maybe I have finally lost the plot. it is just a demonstration that I still find joy in something in my otherwise anxious mess of a life. Something can still make me smile and even get emotional. I am just saying that you should stick with things you like. It can brighten otherwise dark days.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Time for some honesty

I often say I am okay-ish. That is on a good day. The truth is that I am not okay. I have not been okay for over 18 months. I struggle to get out of the house unless it is essential. That's if I have an appointment or I need to do something important. I use on-line shopping to avoid running out of food. My sleep is very disturbed. I was relying on zopiclone to get a reasonable night's sleep and even that began to be less effective. I now rely on Vallium to take away the anxiety that takes over most days. I don't like to rely on medication to survive. I take enough medications as it is. I have no problem taking the extra medications to get me through a few weeks. I don't want them to become part of my life. My typical day is as follows. I usually feel better by the evening and take my evening meds. I turn into bed at 10pm or maybe a bit earlier. I feel quite okay at this time. I have a very restless night and usually wake at about 1am. I toss and turn through the night and finally "wake up" at 5-6am. I usually dream heavily and feel more tired than when I went to bed. When I wake up, it is rare that I can just get up and start my day. I usually have a degree of anxiety that varies from mild to severe. I toss and turn, and it can take up to an hour for me to get out of bed. It is at this time that I can get dark thoughts of various degrees. I eventually get up and about, turn on my lifeline (my computer), make coffee and have breakfast. My mood usually lifts over the morning, especially if I have taken some vallium. The vallium makes my mornings a lot more bearable. I usually do not get out of the house unless I need to attend an appointment with doctor, cpn or pick up medications. I am quite aware that I need to get out more and to get more active. This has not changed in the last two years. My cpn is helping me to find resources that could help. It will not help to say "Pull yourself together", the usual advice to someone who is depressed. I don't have any solutions. If I did, I wouldn't feel so lost, scared and hopeless in various degrees. It is very frustrating being clearly able but apparently locked up in some terrible inertia. I appreciate support from all on-line friends but I need help from people I can actually see in person. Isolation leads to isolation. If I had cancer or a life-threatening disease, it would be different. I would suggest that bipolar disorder is life threatening, given the amazingly high suicide rate. The difference is that bipolar sufferers are often left alone in the community, having to cope for themselves and fight for DLA benefits ... I can't blame lack of money for my inactivity but it is a factor while I live on savings. The government love their low interest rates but they don't consider people who live off savings. They say it benefits people with jobs, house and LIVES... (sorry for the burst of UK politics) Thanks for reading, Clive

Sunday, 20 November 2011

An update on my progress

I was getting pretty frustrated at waking up every day in an anxious state and struggling through the days. It was no life. The slow progress seemed to fritter away. I am very patient but enough already. I am nearly 61 and I want to make something of my remaining active years (I am not quite decrepit yet). However fit you are in body, a messed up mind makes it worthless.
Any ways, I got into see my pdoc early and expressed my concerns as strongly as I could. After asking for help with extra medication, I was finally given some diazapam for the anxiety. I have only been taking 4mg early in the day but my mornings have been a lot better. Maybe it's the placebo effect, but I'll take it. I still haven't got out more but I feel like I am working up to it! Apart from the brief interlude of a vacation in October 2010, I have been in much the same state since May of 2010, various degrees of anxiety or depression. I was making some good progress but now I feel worse than ever. April to June this year was a very low point and I needed crisis team support. I am better than that but not by very much. Sorry for a slightly negative post, but I wanted to be as honest as I could. I am tired of saying I am OK or OK-ish or fine or other euphemisms. We have to find a place where telling the truth isn't whining or complaining. That becomes part of the stigma. I just hope a few days of the extra meds will get me moving. I am seeing my cpn weekly and they want to refer me to a group. My pdoc is supportive but I don't think anyone can really relate to what it is like to lose a lifetime of friends and career. I used to have a great life in a great country and I miss it. This is far worse than being made redundant. No one seems to care. I am not in the statistics. I am not unemployed. I am not getting benefits. I live on savings and the government seems determined to keep interest rates at an all time low. Inflation is higher than it has been. I just wish I could be recognised. I don't spend much money. I just see myself spending my way through my savings and back onto benefits at some point. the trouble is I will be beyond benefits age by then. I didn't mean to drift into a political tirade but I want a voice, at least an an acknowledgement that I exist. I am tired of the politicians telling people to get back to work when there there are clearly no jobs, especially for people with long term problems. I have a degree and I spent 7 years getting knocked back by employers. I was lucky that I could call myself "retired", another convenient euphemism.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

The week ahead ...

This week is my time to get moving. I have been feeling brighter and I feel up to tackling a few things. I have the fasting blood test on Tuesday for my annual diabetes check. It's lucky I have no problem with blood tests. I guess all the lithium levels tests over the years makes it easier. The "fasting" part can be tough, especially because my appointment is not until 9.50am. My cpn is off this week. I have been seeing her on Wednesdays, so I have to keep busy on other things. I have recently got hooked on a game called Words With friends on facebook. It is very distracting and challenging, especially when you are playing 4 games in parallel. The beauty is that you can come back to games whenever you have time. Games can last from hours to days, maybe even weeks! I have friends in the usa and Australia who I play with. The big time differences are not an issue. We are awake at the same time on occasions. I want to use this blog more to track my attempts to get more active. I have written a lot about being bipolar and I have received a lot of nice supportive comments. I am still surprised to receive a comment on a blog post that I wrote ages ago.
I bought an annual pass to Warwick castle earlier in the year. I used it quite a lot in the early weeks when my mood was on the higher side. I want to get back now, especially to get photos of the fall/autumn colours. They were beautiful last time I saw them. Clive

Friday, 21 October 2011

Thoughts on a much better week

My sleep is still a work in progress but this week has been the best in some while. I have not got out much but i did get out one day and I have felt brighter. I am at least thinking about doing things! I am more aware how my sleep is critical to my mental well being. I have been waking up quite early all week. 5-6 am is okay but 3am is still the middle of the night. I am grateful that my Facebook friends on the West Coast of the US are up as well as my Australian friends. I try not to take a sleeping tablet at bed time (zopiclone), mainly because I don't have many. I need to ask the GP to give me the higher dosage tablet because I need two and they don't last long. I have been taking a tablet if I wake in the night but it doesn't always work. My cpn is off next week and I am on my own. My only commitment is to get a fasting blood test for my annual diabetes review early in November. I am pleased that my GP's are on top of that. My goal for the week is to get out more. Nothing new there!! I plan to get to Warwick Castle so I can get some photos of the autumn/fall colours. I hope they are changing by now. I have been thinking of day trips or short breaks and that is a good sign. I haven't done that in a long time. I get quite a few comments on this blog. Mostly they say how they have helped. I am pleased about that. The comments help me equally, so please keep them coming. As I said before, I plan to post more often as I move forward. Regards, Clive

Thursday, 20 October 2011

2011 : A Difficult Year

2010 was not a great year. I was taking new medication that didn't seem to be suiting me. I was suffering a lot of anxiety and I canceled a lot of important things. On a day in the first week of 2011, I went into a manic state. I deluded myself that I was "OK" and made some inappropriate plans. The manic state finally diminished in April or May. I got very depressed and I had to cancel the inappropriate plans. I needed support from the Crisis Team to get me through this period.

I have been a lot more stable since August but I struggle more and more to get out of the apartment/flat. As my sleep has improved, I have felt slowly better but I need occasional sleep medication. Several days of poor sleep leads to returning symptoms, especially in the mornings.

I won't be sorry to get into 2012. I will be able to resolve my personal financial situation. I seem to be a bit in limbo at the moment.

The good news is that I have been feeling brighter this last week. This is ironic because the mornings and evenings are getting darker by the day. I did get into town once this week. For me, this is progress. It has always been two steps forward followed by one back. I just need patience. Having a cpn (community psychiatric nurse)has been very helpful.