Saturday, 28 February 2009

Another Voice from Beyond 9pm

Two nights in a row I have stayed awake until 10pm. I did almost crash in the early evening but I weathered the storm. My great theory about why I was waking early? It was rubbish. I thought the room was getting too warm. I have turned off all heating and just the same happened. What happens at 2am? Maybe a minor earth tremor. I know I awoke in a very odd state, sort of a Groundhog Day in my head. I just couldn't close my eyes so I got up. I have been up about 2 hours. I have been twittering to myself mostly apart from a couple of brief convos. I have played some music (on headphones) that had been blipped by other night owls. The time between 2am and 6am really gets to me. By 6am it is showing signs of getting light. I have already had breakfast and made a pot of herbal tea. The latter has replaced my coffee habit. I still allow myself one cup in the night.

I have been talking a bit on msn to balance the rather random nature of twitter. It sometimes seems like you are talking to yourself on Twitter. Especially in these hours unless the Aussies are about. It is nice to receive emails when I wake up but it is the usual spam and phishing stuff.

It's different to when I was manic in the past. Then again it is very similar. I walk around quickly with thoughts jumping occasionally. I seem to do everything fast with great impatience. I have to take not to cut myself when preparing a bagel. I am so careful not to disturb anyone. I learned to avoid noise when doing anything. This was even more keenly done in mania.

My big mania was in 1992. I called it my Flight of Fancy. I didn't go into it in my story in order to protect other people's feelings. One incident demonstrates the care to be quiet. I was staying with friends and it had gone quite well. I don't know how much they were of my illness. Eventually anyone thinks its personal and reacts. I questioned my host's faith in a rather blunt way and caused an obvious reaction. I knew I had done this and I decided to leave. I decided at about 4am. I got my things together without disturbing the house. I approached the eldest son who was about 12 years old. He was sensible and I explained the situation. I asked him to tell his parents in the morning. I left the house and made my way to a phone. I called a taxi and went to the railway station. I moved on to annoy someone else. This pattern was repeated several times during my mania.

It is a singular illness that causes friends' reactions to mask their need to care for you. That's why it causes so much trouble in families. If I can get one point across, it is that it is not personal. The personal who is ill is just that, Ill and can't help it. It takes a special person to see past the illness and care for the patient. I have had some people like that in my life and I am grateful. Some did it instinctively.

That's enough for now. I hope my nightime ramblings give a new insight into Bipolar Disorder. I am now fairly stable but I recognise that I am different even when well.

Friday, 27 February 2009

A voice from beyond 9pm

I never thought it would happen. It is passed 9.30 pm and I am still awake. I am functioning pretty well. I have chilled where possible for a few days and it is paying off. I enjoy twittering but I have to moderate it. If I go too far, my mood starts to get uncomfortable. I can see my goal of 10pm being possible. That has been my "bedtime" for quite some time. It means that I can in theory push my wakeup time out a little. I am due for a really good night or the "crash" as I call it.

I read my bipolar story straight through this evening. One thing was that there were only about 6 minor corrrections in 16 pages. It felt like someone else had written it because I wrote most of it when hypomanic in the dark of night. It felt like automatic writing. It had to be because I can't type very well. I could only write a maximum of 3 pages before feeling exhausted.

I impressed myself with my writing. That is a new sensation for me and I am very proud. I see why my neighbour enjoyed reading it. I have about 8 other people who have a copy and I hope they can also give feedback. It might not be an easy read unless you distance yourself from the subject which is 27 years in a bipolar person's life.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Obsession with the News

I have always selpt poorly and I have ended up awake in the early hours. I used to watch the crappy early morning TV and passed time. I discovered Twitter a month ago and it revitalised my interest in cyberspace. I haven't watched much TV in that time. Wars still go on. People are still stabbed and shot. Planes crash and natural disasters do their best to wipe out people. It makes no difference whether I know or not. I was just taking it all in and getting depressed. I don't need this extra input as a Bipolar sufferer. The news channels look for the most negative and upsetting stories. They seem obsessed with finding the worse in everyone and everything.

I haven't given up news for the first time. I get enough from the brief hourly bulletins on radio. People on Twitter will post anything of extreme importance. I know the world is in financial crisis. I don't need to hear about it every 5 minutes. I don't need to know how many soldiers were killed in a futile war. I don't need to know how many new jobs were lost or how many companies went bust. Life goes on. Restaurants and bars still do business. Do the media types want the world to go to hell?

I have struggled to find a job over 10 years and finally gave up. I live alone and don't get out much. My illness drove away most of my friends. I am making do. I am not depressed about the financial crisis. Am I depressed? Sometimes. It's mostly about the crappy news we are constantly fed. Get over it.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Twitter and Celebrity and stuff...

My Brain on Twitter

I refer to real celebrities and those that are celebrities in their own mind. The truth is that celebrities have so many thousands that they are following. There is also a huge number of people trying to Tweet them. The chance of getting a personal reply is minimal but we try and try. It doesn't seem to matter that the Dalai Lama or Stephen Fry doesn't reply. It seems that you have their ear.

I think we are all guilty of being star struck. Twitter offers the apparent chance to make a 140 character exchange with someone famous, sometimes with someone who pretends to be a famous person and sometimes with someone who thinks they are famous. Maybe I am cynical. I am.

Twitter is like a manic chat room with a stream of consciousness that you can tap into. The thoughts are sometimes every day, sometimes banal and sometimes profound. It is real people expressing their immediate thoughts. It shows how much sleep patterns are important all over the world. It is a recurring issue. People are strangely levelled. In concept, you can talk to anyone on the same level. You gain followers on the basis of your character or lack of it. You also gain followers when your friends promote you on #followfriday. I was struggling to make 100 followers on Saturday morning. On Wednesday, I have 215 followers. I hope it is because I say some interesting and thought provoking things. I have a particular insight into mental health because I am a sufferer. When I am suffering, I have a different but valid insight. I hope I can keep up my blog. It is probably more valuable than my personal story although my story might help some people understand bipolar disorder and help sufferers to avoid my mistakes.

I seem to have lost the plot but that's the nature of Bipolar Disorder, even when you are stable. I was kidding myself that stable means normal. I am not normal and I don't want to be. I dismissed Tim Wootton's "Bipolar Advantage" but I think he had a point.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Trying to Get Back on Track

My conscious efforts yesterday to chill more seem to have worked. After talking to a fellow twitterer at length, I decided to push my evening meds back to bedtime. In recent months, I have taken them earlier for convenience and to avoid forgetting. My friend said that the meds, particularly carbamazepine, might help with my sleep.

Over the day I took plenty of chill breaks and avoided over stimulation. I did watch the last dvd of 24 series 6 and quite enjoyed it, more than the previous one at least. Jack Bauer saved the world yet again. No surprise there.

I will check in with my pdoc about the sleep problem when my meds changes have settled down. I have no idea how the lithium contributed to my sleep. I don't think it's known for it. I may need a boost in my carbamazepine dosage to compensate.

I feel a lot more "normal" today, whatever that is. I am not dashing around like a headless chicken. I would like to write and I might try later. I wouldn't say it is harder but it is different. I slept about 5 hours last night, having managed to stay up until nearly 9pm. I always used to go to bed at 10pm like clockwork.

I am going to try to have a couple more chilling days. I have a delivery of groceries tomorrow and that's about it. I have a massage scheduled on Wednesday and I am really looking forward to that. I don't get out much so I must make the most of this sort of thing.

I feel like I am rambling a bit. This is not one of my streams of consciousness. It's harder work.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

The Loneliest Time

I consider myself a very lonely person. Most of my friends have backed off or disappeared because of my bipolar disorder. Some just heard about it. I just heard from a friend of 26 years and that was a relief. He was there for me before I was diagnosed. There are exceptions and I have a lot of bipolar friends. These are friends that I don't see or talk to between support group meetings. I don't do myself any favours by being so reclusive but it is self perpetuating. I have got back into the online community and it is a joy. I have reconnected with a friend who I known for a few years.

You would think that bipolar folk would be more sympathetic to bipolar friends but that isn't always the case. Being lonely in the daytime is not good but you do see people walking and driving around. There are the sounds of the day. The night time is a whole different story. It easier when you are manic because you are single minded and have your own agenda. It still gets lonely in a strange way.

I have been in some strange mixed state for several days now. I don't get the power naps of the manias. I sleep some hours but I awake exhausted in the wee hours. My days are endless apparently and by my early bedtime I am totally exhausted, almost falling over. I go to sleep and wake up before midnight sometimes. If I go back to bed, as last night, I have distinctly unpleasant dreams. Mine always seem to include getting lost. I have no idea what that means. The nights are so lonely. You can't make a noise in fear of waking the neighbours. There is no one to talk to except for online friends, many of whom i've known less than a month. They are there for me wherever they are. There is always someone awake. The world is full of people with strange sleep patterns. I wake up before most of my friends go to bed, and they are in the UK.

I don't think the muggles appreciate what it is like to suffer endless waking nights, the exhaustion, the elation, the hunger and the loneliness. No one knows or seems to care. They can't relate. That's why the friendship of other sufferers is so important. It is hard to accept but we shouldn't expect much from anyone. I hope this blog helps and triggers a discussion.

I am incredibly productive in this state. I did my weekly financial checks and ordered two weeks groceries in less that 30 minutes before 7.30am. My mind races and my fingers fly over the keyboard. I still feel exhausted. That's strange. Writing seems to spew from my brain onto the keys. This is not a urban myth. Please comment if you feel interested.

I feel like an Extra in the Thriller Video

How can you sleep, albeit 3 hours, and wake up feeling like an elephant's armpit? I'm not even manic. That might be fun but dangerous. I'm stuck in this horrible mixed state, mental energy to spare but physically exhausted. I went bed after 8pm because I was totally exhausted. I woke up before midnight. The realization is terrible. I think the pattern becomes ingrained but why can't I stay asleep. I fall asleep readily enough with the help of Seroquel. To be fair, I suffered like this before I started Seroquel in 2007. I am getting off Lithium and this may be affecting my sleep. Whatever the truth, I am determined to handle the transition. My cholesterol meds are being changed so my meds regime is in total flux. I have to give it a few weeks. These mixed states are the pits followed closely by rapid cycling. The only time I tried suicide was after a very fast period rapid cycling with several cycles in each day.


Friday, 20 February 2009

No one said bipolar meant two poles at the same time!!

I have never been more aware of my moods and my physical state. I always thought that being physically unfit would curb the effects of mania or the slide into mania. That's not an excuse for being a slob. Today my mind has been going at 100mph and my body has the handbrake on. It's a curious sensation, but it is strangely safe. I don't feel great but I am in control of things. I am still quite productive and I am thinking farely clearly. Manic folk always say that ! The proof is in the reading. It is either brilliant or total gibberish. I think I have learnt to express my feelings in mania with a slight amount of distance. I think this is well worthwhile and it might give a certain insight to non-bipolars. Other bipolars might not give a damn. As long as I can write reasonably clearly, I think I am ok. I am spending time Twittering on The best thing I ever did was to sign up. That was just over two weeks ago. I have 99 followers and I am a bit obsessed with making the 100. A bit like England cricketers. I know the chances are that I will lose some after that but what the heck? I think I have begun to ramble so it is time to sign off. As usual, feedback is appreciated.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Back on the Surfboard !

I survived the night but woke way before 4am. The night was disturbed as usual despite 200mg of seroquel. ONE cup of coffee and a few exchanges on Twitter leaves me more hopeful. The cloud has lifted. I am eating porridge having exhausted all my forms of bread in the flat. It doesn't taste bad with Banana, honey and sultanas. It is 6.16am and twitter is down for maintenance until 7am. I have already updated my Norton software and Java this morning.

I really enjoy DJ'ing on and posting songs on Twitter. I get a few props for my choices.

I was getting over confident with my riding of the hypomania. I did too much and it led to a mild crash. It is a strange feeling being up yet still in a cloud. I haven't been aware of it before. I may have been a bit reckless in view of my medication regime changes. I have new cholesterol meds and I am almost off lithium. It is a joy to feel again, albeit with the help of a bit of hypomania. I am still confused by the question of where I begin and where does the illness start? I would like to think that I have a spark which has been suppressed all of my life. I always thought that behaviour in mania reflects your basic character. For example, if you are non-violent, you won't be violent in mania. That is my untested opinion. I would appreciate any thoughts on that suggestion.

A Day of Changing Moods

I was riding the hypomanic surfboard this morning and I seem to have fallen off. I felt so good this morning but I was awake before 4am again. I over did things and got too much stimulation. Now it is 15 hours after waking and I feel like a different person. Sullen, sad, paranoid. I reached out for online friends and I found one new Twitter friend and one I have talked to for a few years. I find that fellow sufferers are the best support. They know where you are coming from. I hope a good night's sleep changes things. The problem there is the word "good". I will probably take 200mg of seroquel. I am nervous of taking more because my meds are in flux. I watched 3 hours of 24 series 6 straight through. That might have been a mistake. I didn't enjoy it as I normally do. I had an insight into hypomania this morning. I feel like I am flitting around and doing things too fast. I realized that it was like Peter Pan flying around or more accurately Tinkerbell. Maybe I know why my friend is BipolarTink? I find myself rushing around from one thing to the next, impatient to get things done. I type fast and usually very accurately. That's why I like working on my story. I am still like that but there is an overwhelming cloud over me. I can still think and I function quite well.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

A Lucid Dream?

Yesterday, I could not wake up properly. I had more medication than normal but it does not usually affect me that way. I ended the day by having a lay down on my bed. I had the radio playing in the next room when I dozed off. I dreampt about driving three friends in a big city. I was fine until I reached a juction with a main road. I suddenly didn't know where to turn. One of the friends guided me to their house. My friend put on some music and I recognised where I had first heard it. I began to say where we had both first heard it and I woke up. The same song was playing on my television. I think that would count as lucid dreaming, bringing an external stimulus into your dream.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Creatures of the night

I wanted to write about the experience of Bipolars in the darkness of the night. I realized that I had posted something on a forum when I was manic, almost two years ago. Lots of Bipolar people have trouble sleeping or they have strange sleep patterns. See what you think about my nocturnal ramblings. It is a hidden world to the non-Bipolar. Just imagine being awake most nights from 3-4am:

"I think Bipolars are creatures of the night, and not always happily. I used to embrace the night but now I am scared. I can't go in the chat room because I find it is triggering. I learnt a long time back how to cope in the long waking nights. I somehow lost the knack. I haven't been manic in quite a while. It's a lot different having insomnia to being manic at night. The first is boring but the second is dangerous. I find myself coping well. The danger is that you cope too well and start thinking like a Bipolar.For example. I was manic in Los Angeles (and UK, Saudi and Singapore!). Los Angeles was well suited for the night lurker. That's what I did quite often. Driving the freeways, sitting in 24 hour diners, just killing time. Occasionally it was fruitful, as in looking for a diagnosis.

There are not many 24 hour diners in the UK, even less in my small town. I don't drive so I stay in my little apartment. Computer time, recorded TV from previous evening, breakfasts, try to sleep. In a way, I would like a 24 diner round the corner.

Many people have shared my fear of dark nights. Some can't even get out in the day. That's why the chat rooms are so valuable. It connects these Bipolars in many countries. The time of day barriers melt away.It's fun to post when I am manic. I tend to say too much when I am in chat. My usually nice British wit becomes caustic. I apologise for that. I mean no harm. I am a nice person, honest. I have this compulsion to shock people, not maliciously, almost playfully.

If anyone wants to comment. I just find myself with no one to talk to. I have to control myself and not call new found phone-a-friends. I once called everyone in my phone book, even the ones who were in bed. That was 27 years ago in my first pre-diagnosis mania. I hope this makes sense and I hope you like it."

That's much as I wrote it. The other thing about my manias was the incredible hungers. I used to stock the fridge with burger materials in case I needed a snack. It didn't matter what time of day it was. Then there were the power naps, 2 hour naps where you woke up fully refreshed and raring to go. Of course, after a few weeks you crash unless the needle in the bum gets you first. There is no free lunch and manias normally end with a miserable depression.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

My New broadband and TV

Today was the day I had a new cable service, broadband, tv and phone. Happily it works. I have only found one glitch on broadband but mostly I see a big improvement. I thought I might be overwhelmed by the speed of the broadband. I am pleased so far. I thought the huge number of TV channels might trigger me into hypomania. My main problem is finding what's on at any time. I have set a couple of programs to record this evening. I just hope that I can manage to play them back tomorrow. I have my work cut out to learn the remote control options.

Do Dreams Mean Anything?

I just saw a program about dreaming. One of the suggestions was that dreams don't mean much, as previously thought. In view of my repeating dream about getting lost, I hope they are right. Last week I fell out of bed onto my back and I couldn't move for a while. This could have happened in a dream according to the experts. If there is a meaning, I am at loss to explain what that might be. I take Seroquel at night after years of poor sleep. It does increase dreaming and dreams can be very "real". The intensity of dreaming seems to be proportional to the dosage. If I double my normal dose to 200mg, I sleep longer but dream more intensely. I have to decide between less sleep and more dreams. It is not an easy choice because the dreams are often disturbing. They are not nightmares however. I do sleep better in terms of hours, 6-7 hours typically but I do not feel rested. Today I feel sluggish and it is just past noon. I had a few days of hypomania and I suspect I might be paying from that usage of energy.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Friends and Bipolar Disorder

I have suffered the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder for 27 years. I was diagnosed almost 24 years ago after a long search for an answer. I have only had two major manic episodes since diagnosis, both caused by stopping my medication. The reasons for stopping medication seem trivial now. My biggest regret is the loss of good friends. At times, I tried to explain that I was ill but it didn't seem to help. Someone said recently that Bipolar sufferers tend to say sorry a lot. Some friends were hit full force by my manias. Some suffered the after effects but they all drifted away. Some may stay in touch at Christmas and some may send the occasional email. My friends now are either fellow sufferers or support workers. I am still inclined to be open with certain people, especially if I like them and I wouldn't want them to find out some other way. This may seem reckless but that's the way I am. I am still seeking email friends, if only to balance some of the spam.

Monday, 9 February 2009

My story

I have been writing my story for what seems like ages. Luckily I kept some of my writings in my computer. This has saved me digging into my old brain. I started writing on Squidoo but it quickly became too big too handle. Two lenses later, I reverted to Word. My two lenses are bipolar-777 and bipolar-778 . It is written straight from a hypomanic brain for the most part. I know writing is re-writing, as my wife kept telling me. I am going to put a book together. I have wanted to do it for years. I was blocked in 1994 by a particularly bad period but I seem to have got past it. It is slow going but I think it will be a cathartic experience. I have shared my story to date with a couple of people, one who is familiar with bipolar and one who has no experience of it. I plan to write now to completion and rewrite ad nauseam. I have already received some pointers to useful websites about getting published, finding an editor etc. I may not be the best writer in the world but I have a flair for recall and a good insight. Hopefully I can help some people avoid some of my pitfalls.

The NIce People on Twitter

How refreshing! Real people offering help for dinosaurs. My previous experience of chatrooms was very shallow. Twitter iniatially seems pretty random but I've met many people in just a week. I can see why Twitter is so popular. You can tailor who you see as you wish. I am still building up a follow/following list but people just appear out of the woodwork.

Hypomania - Curse or Benefit

Hypomania. It has been the precursor of a manic episode in my experience. This happened when I foolishly stopped taking my Lithium. It also happened at other times when I was stimulated by something good or bad. In the hypomanic state, you can be very creative. I produced some of my best work in this state. Unfortunately, I couldn't understand it when I returned to normality. The rush of hypomania can quickly give way to mania where crazy plans are made and executed. I believe that my lengthy experience of my mood swings puts me in a good place to catch hypomania early. It is dangerous to ride the elation of hypomania. It can get away from you and you are lost. I don't see anything good about mania. I never reached the realms of psychosis or religious delusions but I was truly lost.
This is a momentous moment. My first propper blog post. I am feeling really groggy this morning despite one cup of coffee. It is not quite 5.30am. I haven't slept well in years but it is getting tiresome. I started last week to Twitter away rather that watch repetetive Breakfast news. It has woken up my mood swings and I feel better for it. I have to be wary of the tendency to hypomania. That's the productive period before a true mania. I am on medication so I feel relatively secure.