Sunday, 29 March 2009

My Book

I began a quest to write my life story in a book. It is not an autobiography. How can I compete with all the celebs who have someone writing for them? It is about my experiences as a bipolar person. I have covered my whole life for completeness in order to give some some sort of base line. I started writing just over two months ago. I have had the advantage of not sleeping a lot and of being hypomanic. It is likely that I wouldn't have written my story without the help of my hypomania. I was able to get through some difficult parts of my life.

The publisher that I chose has been marvellous. They are professional and very prompt. I received the first set of galleys (proofs) on Saturday. I didn't know what a galley was until recently. I have found about 15 more typos (my fault) and a couple of layout issues. I am not sure if it is possible to ever read though a manuscript and be totally happy. This time the typos were all very minor but I want the best product possible. Because it is self publishing, I have to settle on a very good final script. One round of corrections must suffice.

It is exciting to see my book coming together. I already have an ISBN number and the whole thing seems real. It is good to see the first layout of the book even though it is in a pdf file.

The publisher has done a good job in placing my 39 colour photos. It makes the book come in at 70 pages. My only concern is that the retail price is set by the number of pages. Being a full colour book, the price will be higher than that of a regular paperback. I have the option of buying copies at a good author discount. This may be my best avenue. I can try my hand at some marketing.

I am pleased that I have written my story. It has pushed me into the world of publishing and it has broadened my horizons. My years of IT experience come in very useful indirectly. After all, book production is now very much a computer application.

Making money was never a big factor for me in this endevour. I can now see there may be possiblities to make money as well as getting a good message out. My first objective is to cover my up front costs. That would be satisfying in itself.

I'm sure my blogs have been different to my book's writing. They have been largely written in a spontaneous and unplanned way. I am forcing myself at the moment and I am curious to see how it compares to previous blogging.

I was amazed to find that I had blogged almost 40 pages in the last two months. I seem to have opened up a valve that had been stuck closed for quite some time. I always thought that I had stuff to say but I was such a withdrawn person. I feel like myself for the first time and I am happy in my skin. That may sound strange but it's the way it is.


Friday, 27 March 2009

I Need to Ramble On..Led Zeppelin

Sorry folks but I seems to have gotten off the hypomanic bus for the mean time. I do feel remarkably good after four and a half hours sleep. Yesterday, my book entered the design/production stages. That was quite satisfying. I look forward to the book appearing in print by about July.

I saw my consultant pdoc on Thursday. She wants me to stay on the low dose of lithium while I am still not sleeping well. I can live with that because it's only a tiny tablet. Different to the days when I took 4 x 400mg tablets. She also advised me not to do so much in the night when I wake early. That might be a hard one. She has also referred me to the physical therapy people at the the day hospital. That is a good thing. I just can't get a handle on my weight and I I need help getting a little bit fitter. It's good that I live quite close to the hospital and I can walk there. I await the first appointment.

There seems to be a surge of interest in matters bipolar on the interweb. I know of several new initiatives that are setting up websites. James Leard has set up bipolarblues, the subject of my last blog. Colin Spencer Wood is starting up something similar in a month or so. There are also a spate of groups on FaceBook with similar objectives. We have a powerful voice but I suggest that we don't spread ourselves to thin. We need one central vehicle for fighting the bipolar cause and that of fighting mental health stigma. Maybe someone could volunteer to set up one central website. I don't have the required skills but I know we have a lot of talented people in the bipolar community. I am curious how many bipolar folk and their loved ones are floating around in cyberspace. I seem to meet so many people on Twitter and Facebook.

I sense that there is a common will to really get on top of stigma. The way forward is to demonstrate that we can be contributing and talented members of society. We only hear negative stories about bipolar folk. This is not who we are. It doesn't define us. Society may not want us in the workplace, despite Government complaining that we don't work. It's time that the government realised how hard it is to get a job. Add to that mental health and age issues and it is nigh on impossible. I am a reasonably intelligent graduate with lots of IT experience and I can't get arrested. There is a huge pool of talent out there who won't work , who can't work or who aren't allowed to work. I tried very hard to find any kind of crappy admin job. It was bad enough trying for jobs that are paying a third of my previous salary. Having to grovel for them and not getting an interview most times made it worse. I am quite a modest person but I am worth three times most wipper snappers, regardless of being mentally ill and an old fogie.

If the government wants us back to work, do something about it. Making anti discrimination laws is absolutely futile. An employer doesn't have to employ you. They see your messed up employments history or see you are a bit too old for them. They do not not have to say why they excluded you. They just say they found someone more qualified. I don't know what the solution is. Positive discrimination is not a good thing and it is not generally popular. How about employing a complete workforce of the disadvantaged ? After all, the current workforce is made up of the advantaged in society.

I am really angry that I don't really exist in the government's eyes. I am not unemployed because I am forced to self fund myself. I don't qualify for any benefits. I have to run my life and manage my finances despite being bipolar and old in the tooth. I would like to bet that I manage my finances better than anyone who is younger and working. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

I must say that I am well supported by my consultant and my GP's. I was refused a CPN on two occasions. I am living in the community with no real support. No one is keeping any eye me. I go for days without human contact and I have become increasingly isolated. I survive quite well now I have found an online community, many of whom are in similar situations.

I recently watched the dvd's of "Takin' over the Asylum". It was an excellent portrayal of life in a mental hospital. That is not necessarily the story of all bipolars. The character Fergus was a typical example. Stuck with a label of Schizophrenia, a very intelligent, clever and qualified man was refused admittance to society. He ended up commiting suicide out of frustration. It is no wonder the suicide rate among bipolars is very high.

I think I have rambled on enough for one night. I hope there was some sense in what I have written. It should hopefully make you think.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Bipolar Blues Community

There is a new website in town. I encourage bipolar folk to support this new enterprise I have joined as bipolarfella. Please encourage your bipolar freinds to join as well. Let's build a good size community:

About BiPolar Blues
Aim to Combat Stigma, Misunderstanding, and Fear of Bipolar Mental Illness
BiPolar Blues is a social networking utility; it's main purpose is to provide a centralized, virtual meeting place for anyone dealing with manic depression. The ability to connect and collaborate on a global scale greatly increases ones chance of understanding the disorder and living a more balanced life. If you or a loved one were diagnosed with a Bipolar Disorder and want to learn from others experiences, then this site is for you.
Some of the topics to be discussed within the site include:
Bipolar Symptoms
Bipolar Treatment
Downfall Triggers
What helps individuals cope with Bipolar?
Bipolar and Children

Active on Twitter as @bipolarblues

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Thoughts on lithium and other stuff

My story was never going to make a conventional book. I hope it portrays something of the bipolar mind and my sometimes chaotic life. In many respects, I am amazed that I came out of it in some sort of shape.

Before I started writing again, I was not suicidal but I had no view of the future. I didn't really care whether I woke up next day. I have written parts of my story in the past. I have inflicted it on unsuspecting friends by email on forums in various places. I never addressed the whole of my bipolar experience (at least the last 27 years). I never delved into the crevasses of my earlier years.

I had issues in spades. I knew that they were holding me back but I never found the right therapist. I find that my personality is such that I always present to professionals as up and positive. I can't access the hurt. Once I addressed my more recent issues, I felt a real inner peace come over me. The secrets of my first thirty years were holding me back. It is hard to imagine the effects of 27 years of lithium on top of that. Lithium may have kept me free of manias but did it suppress my ability to address the past?

I have no regrets. I can see that lithium has let me lead a full and mostly successful life. It is sad to say that I owe my current financial stability to my parents thrift and good planning. If my mom had not passed away in 2007, I would still be living on government handouts. I would
have been very unlikely to write my story, let alone publish it as a book. A little financial freedom and a reduction in lithium led to my writing.

I am not a writer but I have things to say, maybe things that I have wanted to say all my life. I rely on rewriting to produce something reasonably polished. I will never write flowery prose. It is the content that drives me. My mind seems to save up all sorts of stuff. I am now more able to transfer it to the computer. Thank God for spell check.

I am sure my writing is different when I am "inspired" from when I sit down to write without preconceptions. I am often writing without thought, simply transferring stuff from my brain. This reminds me of automatic writing. It is exciting and exhausting. It is usually more accurate and more insightful. This kind of writing leads me to thinking that it is connected to mild hypomania. I may have been in a heightened state for a couple of months. Alternatively, I might have been in a suppressed state for most of the past 59 years.

Most psychiatric medications come with side effects. Most are bearable. If you read the blurb that comes with medications, you would soon become paranoid. There is nothing subtle about treatment of mental illnesses. Most meds were discovered by chance after they were developed for another disease. Ironically the other illnesses do not share the stigma attached to mental health. Not many meds were designed for purpose.

Why are we as a people so scared of mental illness? Is it the fear induced as the news people delight in connecting a murder to Schitzophrenia? When did you last see the headline " Cancer sufferer murders young lady" or "Diabetic shoots up school" ? We are constantly given suggestions that mentally ill people are a danger to society. Is it not possible that their very illnesses stem from their inherent violent makeup. I have not seen any stats on the backgrounds of all violent criminals. I am sure that only a small percentage have a mental health problem.

We are right to worry about un-treated violent schizophrenics wandering the streets. We shouldn't translate this to a fear of anyone who has a mental illness. I have no remote connection to a schitzophrenic who gets life in prison for a grizzly murder. I have been in the "system" for many years and I have never met anyone who showed signs of violence.

Please can we start to treat the mentally ill amongst us with respect and dignity. It is bad enough living with a lifelong illness with out friends, family and society treating you like outcasts.
We used to treat the mentally ill with no respect in the early twentieth century. Have we come far from that? The asylums look better but how have we improved?

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Back to the blog coal face

Two whole days without a blog. I have been concentrating on finishing my book materials and I plan to pass everything to my publisher this week. I am definitely going to do it ! I have also been trying to chill more and trying to take the edge off the tendency to mania. I have been reaching a point where it is just my personality. I have no idea what my personality is any more.

My scheme where I go to bed later is working. I am waking with the birds rather than way before them. The sun comes up quite soon after I wake up and have breakfast. Now my story is soon to be in the hands of the publisher, I might be inspired to blog more.

I see my chiropractor and massage therapist on Wednesday. They have done wonders for me in the last nine months. This time last year, I was a physical wreck and I could hardly get around my flat. On Thursday, I see my psychiatrist. I brought forward my appointment because of recent sleep problems. As usual the symptoms have subsided while I await the appointment. That is often the way.

I hope to finally get off lithium this week. I don't think my dosage can be reduced any more. Falling below the therapeutic level of lithium has really changed my life. I noticed it as long ago as November as my dosage was reduced. My friends always said how lithium dulled your brain. I was never convinced until my dosage was reduced in a controlled way. I led a reasonable life in the first ten years of lithium but maybe it could have been better.

I am now buzzing with creativity. I have never experienced anything like it. I have written 34 pages of blogs in the months of February and March. Most of it was written in the wee small hours and some of it even makes sense.

I need to concentrate on the physical issues for a while. My weight creeps up gradually. I feel and look really fat. My fitness level is at an all time low and it doesn't seem to respond to any work. My mental state has never been so much at odds with my physical state. I am sure I would have approached full mania apart from my lack of fitness.

Now my book is on the way, I must concentrate on the physical side.

Friday, 20 March 2009

A note of thanks

I am overwhelmed with support for my blog. I try to be as honest and open as I can. Thanks for all the kind comments on here and on Twitter. It makes it all worthwhile.

Now my book is getting into publishing, I should have more time to blog. I just hope the inspiration is there.

Take care,

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Being manic... An extract from my book

Being manic

People ask me what it is like being manic. They also ask why I have lost most friends and family. I hope my friend has helped with the last question.

I don’t think anyone will understand until they live with someone who is manic. People who work with you may not have enough contact to spot the differences. The manic experience can be very isolating. Much of the activity happens at night in the hours of darkness. It only impacts friends and family when their paths cross.

Being manic is a very lonely experience because no one is going at your speed. This appears to be impatience. The manic experience varies from person to person. I can only describe my perceptions.

Floods of ideas. The manic person has lots of ideas and lots of schemes. They will pursue many of the ideas but equally they can switch boats mid-stream.

Hunger. I have experience terrible hungers when manic. Other people have indicated that they lose appetite. I had to keep plenty of burger material in the fridge for midnight snacks.

Sleep. The manic person doesn’t sleep much. This is both a precursor and a result of mania. I used to have 2 hour power naps which recharged my batteries. Management of the long dark nights is crucial in self management of the illness. It depends on your circumstances. Money or no money. Living in the city or a rural town. Fit or unfit. Car owner or not. All these factors affect your ability to use or abuse the night time hours. In LA, I would cruise freeways or hang out in 24 hour diners. The latter are the best thing invented for a manic person. At least for me. Before diagnosis, I would trawl round hospitals at 4 am.

Sex. There is definitely an increase in libido. It is ironic because mine has been absent for several years. I am not tempted to get manic to resurrect my libido, but the thought occurred to me. I have been reckless in my manic episodes. That’s all I will say.

Being in people’s faces. The manic person is always in you r face and can be very demanding. Equally, the manic person can be totally self sufficient, not bothering anyone.

Stealth mode. I could always operate without bothering people. If I felt that I had bothered friends, I would leave quietly without notice. This made sense to me but not to friends.

Empathy. The manic person lacks empathy towards friends and family. They have no sense of what their friends or family feel. They will say the most hurtful things with no idea of the impact and they don’t care. This is one of the worse things for friends and family. They know their loved one is ill but they react to the hurt just the same. It takes a special person to detach themselves from the illness.

Speed. Because the Bipolar person rushes around everywhere, there is a great risk of causing an accident. I almost hit a Police car in LA when dashing to an ATM machine.

Travel. If the Bipolar person has sufficient funds and a passport, the world is their oyster. I flew long haul three times when manic. London to USA. LA to London. LA to Singapore. The three trips all had seemingly logical reasons. In truth, they all stemmed from the mania. They all seemed perfectly logical to me at the time.

Money. Some Bipolar people spend huge sums of money. I am not a willing shopper normally, so I spend on flights, nice hotels, sex and stuff. Things you have nothing to show for.

Talking. The manic person can talk incessantly, sometimes incoherently and rarely sensibly.

Psychosis. When things get really bad, the manic person can have grad delusions such as thinking they are the son of God or that they can fly. This is obviously not healthy and hopefully ends in a section (in the UK).

Mania is well named. You are absolutely barking mad. You may not appear so to casual contacts even to friends who know you. You can be immensely charming and convincing, as in my 250 mile taxi ride with Santa’s Cars. Basically, you are not in you right mind.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Oh Lucky Man !

Two months ago, my life was exceedingly dull. I used to wake up quite early and turn on the TV most days. I would find something mind numbing or sit through endless repeats of the bad news. I do care but I don't need to know the woes of the world. The fact that I know them doesn't make any difference. It just numbs my brain.

I have hardly watched a news programme in these two months. Life still goes on. I get enough news from the radio's hourly bulletins or the breaking news on twitter. I was aware of Twitter because it was mentioned a lot on the show "Working Lunch". It got my interest and I eventually tried it. I have never looked back. I was never a fan of chat rooms but Twitter is in one sense a chat room. Each persons view of Twitter is different because you only see posts by people you are following. If someome doesn't meet your standards, you can un-follow them and they are gone. I am following 400 people and that may sound chaotic. Not everyone is on at the same time, so you only see a subset of the people you follow.

I find it fascinating how you can follow a variety of people. Some may be nice people, some may be amusing, some may be controversial and some may be OTT. You can reply to anyone but there is no guarantee that they will see it. Celebs with hundreds of thousands of followers are unlikely to see your message unless they are following you. For a celeb to follow you takes a stroke of luck, a fluke of timing. I now have 330 followers and I am very proud of that. Not long ago, I was struggling to reach the 100 barrier. Some people follow me because they might sell me something but a good number like what I am saying. They like my integrity and maybe my humour.

I have rambled on as is my habit. Yesterday I finalized my life story. That is unless one of my readers finds something glaringly wrong. In the time I have been on Twitter, I have written a 14,000 word story from scratch. It has always been floating about in my head and it feels good to have gottten it out. This is largely due to the support I received from my new friends on Twitter. Friends vary from the casual to those who you want to say hello to. Most satisfying are the occasional unsolicited messages from someone you don't know. They may have seen your blog entries. That makes me feel so good because I basically like to help people.

I signed up yesterday with Xlibris of Philadelphia to publish my story in a book with supporting colour photos. I don't think self publishing is a cheat. It is a not a work of fiction. I hope that my story informs and helps people. I hope they can see how a chaotic life can be made worse by a chaotic illness. I have lived for 27 years in a world of my own. Only I knew my innermost secrets and thoughts. Now that others know everything, I feel so liberated. I have nothing else to lose. I have lots to gain. My book should hit the market in 3-4 months depending how the process goes. I am not the world's best writer. I am not even a good writer. I do have a talent for expressing my experience in words. What I lack in flowery prose, I make up for in insight. My excerpts from the book have already generated a lot of interest. It may be a short book in the long term, but every sentence will count.

Not long ago I was trying to find a reason to get up next morning. I could see no future in my life. I was not suicidal but I lacked a core of hope. On one hand, I was quite comfortable. On the other, I didn't care if I woke up next day. Writing my story and making many online friends has given me a new hope and confidence. I am lucky because I could still be vegetating in my recliner listening to how many troups were killed or how the markets are in a tail spin.

It was a pure chance that I got onto Twitter. I feel so lucky to have written my story. My story is a roller coaster ride. It may sound odd to the non-bipolar. It was odd. That's the whole point. I wasn't on some 27 year flight of fancy. I didn't want to wreck my life and a very good career. I am ill and I have been for at least 27 years. It does not show when I walk down the street, when I buy groceries, when I meet new people. I am as ill as anyone with cancer, diabetes, epilepsy or any number of physical ailments. I don't get full remission like some people. I am Bipolar for life. It is life sentence. People as a whole don't care. They will back away rather than engage with you. Some people are special and they can empathise, even when they are being hurt. I have had several notable people in my life who stayed with me through thick and thin. The sad truth is that even these people drift away in the end. I have been lucky to have special friends at key points of my illness, especially now. Now I have got the story in a good shape, I hope I can get my sleep into shape and spend some restful days.

In the words of Led Zeppelin, I need to ramble on. My blogs may be "different" but I hope they are entertaining and thought provoking. I think I have a lot to say but I have never said it. I may have quite a back log.

Bye for now. Enjoy.

p.s. I only came out 56% mentally ill in a Facebook test. Maybe there is hope.

Bipolar Fella

Monday, 16 March 2009

My story - The Conclusions

I thought my book should have a conclusion. I talk to the publisher tomorrow to get the show on the road. I am so excited and positive. I hope you find my conclusions helpful and not too preachy:


I have written my story for a variety of reasons. One of these was an attempt to exorcise my own demons. In this respect, I have been successful. I was always blocked on certain parts of my life. This prevented me from getting to the crux of my life. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from my chest.

I sincerely hope that my story will be of help to fellow sufferers and their loved ones. I have gained a lot of insight over the years and I finally feel that I am the master over the illness.

I encourage all sufferers to take responsibility for their illness and their behaviour. It is a cheap shot to blame the illness for everything. It may be the root cause but it does not have to lead to chaos. You all take decisions regarding your illness. Some would say that the highs are good and hard to give up. Remember the down moods and remember the shattered friendships. It is almost impossible to build bridges after you have hurt so many people. ?It is the Illness? doesn?t cut it in the long term.

Medications don?t help everyone fully but they are a start. Please take them religiously. I have learnt over the years how to spot my mood upswings and I can take the sting out of them. It involves an interest in helping yourself. I always looked for a diagnosis and a solution. This started weeks after my first manic episode. I never sought to prolong my elated moods. They may have been intoxicating but ultimately they were destructive. In mania, you don?t empathise with others. This doesn?t mean you have to act that way in all situations.

Friends and family will be loath to support you if you do not control your illness. It is not easy but it is possible. Take responsibility.

I have just managed to prevent a hypomania from escalating into mania. I have pushed myself hard in writing this story. I think it has been worth it and I am much calmer as a result. As I approach the publishing process, I feel a great hope. Unfortunately I am exhausted. I think it is worth it because the result will help many sufferers and their families. The story had to come out. I know that because of the way I feel now.

I hope you enjoyed the story. I lived it. Good luck, everyone.

The Book Summary for my Story

This is my first cut at a summary for the publishers:

Book Summary –
This is the life story of Clive Edwards who is also the author. It is mostly about his struggle with Bipolar Disorder, firstly in finding a diagnosis and then in living with the Illness against a chaotic relationship backdrop. The story begins with a foreword which helps to educate the layman about the illness. It is critical for the reader to have some insight in order to understand some of the behaviour. Clive’s early life is described in enough detail to give a picture of his personality and character. It is possible that early experiences had an impact on his later life after he suffered from Bipolar Disorder.

Clive was a seemingly intelligent youth. His general sad demeanour led to him being an under achiever in academic work and in life generally. He drifted through until he was thirty two. The exception was a relatively happy time at University. Even there, he didn’t come out of his shell. He started an IT career and progressed to a good job as a systems programmer with Warwickshire County Council. His life was all about work and he was still at a loss in social situations.

He took a job in Saudi Arabia in an attempt to kick start his life. This endeavour was successful. The ex-pat life suited Clive and he made some good money. He managed to get to the USA for a three week vacation. He had a lot of good friends and they spent a lot of time together.

Things started to go wrong when he hurt his back later in 1982. It required surgery and it is possible that the trauma of surgery triggered his first manic episode. It was a curiosity at first but he consulted a GP. This led to a week locked in a mental ward of a hospital. Everything had gone pear shaped in a few months. While convalescing and still manic, Clive visited America again, on a whim this time. In Denver he crashed out and returned to England, barely in one piece. He returned to Saudi, saw out his contract and returned to England.

After some IT contracts, he moved to America with his first girlfriend. Within a month, Clive became manic again and quit his job. He spent several months searching for a diagnosis and a new job. He found both of these things early in April, 1983. He found a good doctor and a job with someone who would sponsor his green card. He was on medication and found stability until early 1992.

Clive had trouble with the dry mouth side effects of lithium. Early in 1992, things came to a head and he stopped the lithium. It shouldn’t be stopped abruptly. He became manic in a short time. He flew to England and disrupted the life of friends and family. After a few weeks, Clive was hospitalized. The benefit of the hospital wore off and he called to his wife to rescue him. He returned to LA and restarted work. He was totally open about his illness,

1992 was a year of riots and Clive was burnt out by November. He left his first wife and hit the single scene. He found his new girlfriend by answering a personal ad. This was how he found his first wife.

The next seven years were anything from ecstasy to chaos. This involved numerous separations, job problems, some good times and another manic episode in 1996. This led to Singapore briefly and a resulting bad depression. This led to a suicide attempt in 1997. Clive was really lucky with jobs. His ex-manager called from LA and offered him a job in LA.

Clive struggled through two years of medication problems that were not directly related to his illness. He lost a lot of time from work and hardly left the apartment on Sunset Boulevard. Eventually he left the job abruptly and moved to Mexico. This was in order to get off most of the medications. Five months on the edge of the jungle was just what he needed.

Clive returned to England yet again. Apart from another attempt to work in LA in 2000, and a short admin job in England, he has not worked since. He became a bit reclusive and found it harder and harder to get out. His life is relatively stable but uninspiring. At the time of writing, Clive has been using his Bipolar advantage to finish his story. He has refreshed his interest in cyberspace and is more positive than he has ever been. Writing his story has been enormously therapeutic.

The story is a roller coaster ride of a bipolar person struggling against the chaotic background of his personal life. Sometimes it is hard to see where one ends and one begins. Mostly Clive comes out more positive and calm than ever.

He has a good respect for the illness and he has good insight which others can benefit from. He is recovering well while realizing that it is a lifetime commitment and medication is required.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

The author summary for my book

Author Summary: Clive Edwards

The author led an orthodox but controlled life until the age of 18. Clive Edwards was not physically abused but his demeanour was affected by his early home life. He was to been seen but not heard and he eventually believed that. It planted itself in his psyche. His university years brought some joy but he was still that shy youth. This continued into his twenties and he had no girlfriend by the time he was 32. He made a brave decision to work in Saudi Arabia and that shook his world. He made some real money and visited the United States for the first time.

During his time in Saudi Arabia, he had back surgery, had his first manic episode and was locked in a mental ward. This was within a two month period. He returned to England but later worked in the USA for fifteen years.

In the first months in LA, he sought a diagnosis and found one after a three month search. He moved to LA with his future first wife who he later divorced. He met his second wife in LA and married/divorced/remarried her. He survived a chaotic personal life against a background of Bipolar Disorder.

He returned to England and tried to find work. It became too stressful and he settled for early retirement after his mother passed away in 2007. He lives alone in a small flat in his home town. Most of his friends are in cyberspace. Despite all this, he has never been more positive and hopeful for the future.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

A foreword to my story...

I have added a foreword to my story. It will hopefully make reading the story easier for the non-bipolar who has little or no previous knowledge. Please feel ok to feedback by any means.

The following is a true account of my life, mostly as it relates to Bipolar Disorder, an illness that I have lived with for 27 years or longer. Sometimes life imitates the illness and it can be destructive. There is not a clear line between life’s problems and the illness.

Please do not judge my behaviour on the evidence of this story. I made some bad decisions regardless of my illness. That’s not the point. Decisions made in a full-blown manic state are not based on insight. It mostly based on what seems right at the time. The thing that is right one minute can be discarded and replaced without regrets. The bipolar in a mania just thinks of things and then does them, sometimes repeatedly changing tracks. They have lost touch with reality and they have no interest in how it affects other people. This includes family, friends and doctors. The bipolar person talks incessantly and quickly, sometimes incoherently. In the worse cases, they can become psychotic, delusional and think they are superhuman.

Hypomania is the first stage of an episode but it doesn’t have to escalate. Good self management can keep it in check. It is a mild mania in which the person can be highly creative, surviving on little sleep. This is where I have been for many weeks while writing this story. The style may be a little odd but I think it is readable. I have never used my hypomania deliberately before and I have had a great time. I doubted the thinking of Tom Wootton in “The Bipolar Advantage”. I think he may be over the top but I take my hat off to him. I only recently gained the insight and control to ride the waves of hypomania. It is like automatic writing sometimes and I feel someone else is typing.

I am just trying to clarify the context. I don’t mind if you judge the work or even me. I am not after a Pulitzer Prize. I just want to inform in as clear a way as possible. I did some weird stuff under the influence of the manias. Things I would not do normally or even consider. On the other hand it was mostly fun and intoxicating. It can be hard to give up the highs, especially when the meds leave you zombie-like. Please try to read it and understand me a little more. More important, please try to understand the illness. It is only an illness like cancer but it is a life setence. I have done my share of apologising and I regret the loss of friends. I regret the effect on continuing relationships which are jaded. Mostly, try to enjoy and understand more about Bipolar illness. However the way it presents is different in all people. There is a common thread.
Cheers, Bipolarfella

Just an update on my life...

I am still attempting to chill more in my life. I am failing badly to be quite honest. As long as I have ideas and "things to do" I cannot rest. I know what I am doing but I feel compelled to do things immediately. This is in complete contrast to my experience over the years. I put things off to a disturbing degree. It feels good to be so driven but it is really exhausting.

Last evening I attended my support group. I went mainly to escape the draw of my computer and TV. I attempted to be fairly quiet but failed. I livened up the meeting. My friends all understood. I have bought a new TV, having survived with a second hand TV for years. I am extremely pleased with my purchase but I have been worrying about my expenditure generally. In my previous reclusive existence, at least I lived cheaply. Hopefully it will balance out. I have a secret fear of buying something outrageous online and forgetting when it arrives.

I am getting so much support from people online. Some people have no idea about Bipolar Disorder but they appreciate my stance on mental illness and stigma. Thanks to all those people. My confidence is still fragile and I rely on the boost given by friends.

I am still struggling with the identity crisis that I mentioned in an earlier blog. I like myself more now, but I can't help thinking it will fade away. I get vulnerable when I am tired so I start to doubt myself.

Just an update on my life

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Another post from elsewhere... sort of about stigma

Amazing what a shave and a hair brushing can do. It can't erase the tired look but I do look better than Saturday. Picture banned from publication. Last night I woke at about 2am as usual but forced myself to lay down again (after I turned on the computer). I napped a further 2+ hours for a total of 6+ . My change from 100mg seroquel + lunesta (zopiclone) to 200mg seroquel seems to have paid off. I don't feel like the undead this morning. I will confine my remaining few zopiclone to the storage cupboard. Can't see me needing them. Obviously they don't suit me. I knew that but I must do as GP says. She did call me at home, so that is worth something. She was very unsympathetic after all that. Never seen her face to face. I hate that.

Self management is best. It's all we have as bipolars. It is however tricky to handle manias by yourself. It scares people so you have to. It scares doctors too. Scares me sometimes. Thank god (or higher force) for all my online friends, most of whom I didn't know six weeks ago. I am most vulnerable between 2am and 6am. Who else do you rely on? I am building a good circle of friends on Twitter and Facebook. My blog is getting more followers by the day. My only regret is that I have not got many responses about my story. I put everything into it emotionally and it may not be an easy read because of the subject matter. It is true and I encourage people to detach slightly. It was me but in a way it wasn't because of the bipolar illness That's the whole point of the book. I am not after money. I can't say I couldn't use a few quid.

My aim remains the same, to demystify, debunk and de-stigmatise Bipolar Disorder. Sufferers are people too and can be very creative. Stephen Fry is one of thousands. Given that there are estimated to be 2.4 million sufferers in the USA, it is a great loss to compartmentalise them.

I have got off the point yet again but that is another aspect of the illnes. I hope I can edit my story in such a way that it helps both new sufferers and loved ones. To loved ones, friends and family and carers, please support your bipolar sufferer and don't back off. It is only an illness like cancer and diabetes. IT IS NOT THEIR FAULT , it is the ILLNESS. You can't see it like loss of hair from cancer or a cast on a broken leg, but they are suffering as much and for the rest of their lives. Meds are sometimes effective and I have been relatively lucky. However, I was smashed into the ground by lithium. I know that now I am being weaned off it.
Take care all,
Please support bipolars, the suicide rate among Bipolars is not extremely high for no reason. It is usually out of frustration, anger and desperation.

pls excuse any typos . I have no more emotional strength to do it.

Phew !!

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Sleep deprivation...first hand

I don't normally copy material from another forum, but I think it is worthwhile this time:

Another long day, and a very productive day, but I am running on the fumes. I have to sleep soon or I will crash in a big way. I have taken zopiclone with my seroquel for two nights. The only real effect was two foggy mornings. In my head that is. Tonight, now I have renewed my prescription with the new 200 mg dose, I plan to take the new 200mg of seroquel by itself. I don't think zopiclone agrees with me and my body fights it. It fights most stuff from past experience.

I really know what a zombie would feel like. After taking a self portrait yesterday, I know how one looks. I don't know what I hope to achieve here except to give you a look at the downside of hypomania and insomnia.

I keep trying to stay up late per my gp but it seems to be to no avail. My sleep arrangements are pretty good and I don't have caffeine after the afternoon. I fall asleep with no effort and I am not sure I need meds for that. Staying asleep and getting restful sleep have always been my problem.

I know I try to do too much on too little sleep but I have all the ideas right now. My neighbour came round to clean as usual. I value having someone nearby. She helped me clean up my act. She returned 2 dvd players, a vcr, and a full stereo system to the local recycling shop. She messaged me to say the stereo already had a new home! I'm glad someone else will enjoy it after my brother and myself. I now have room for my new 32 inch tv that comes on Monday. I hope I am making sense. I am typing on autopilot.

This is not the downside of bipolar. I am far from depressed although I have doubts. I hope to report soon that I have had a good night's sleep. Not much to ask.

Friday, 6 March 2009

A Great TV series...worth a look

This must be a first. A blog outside the hours of 2am to 6am. Two fellow tweeters recommended an older tv series that I had missed first time round. It was a six part mini series called "Takin over the Asylum" from BBC Scotland (thanks Karen) . I put it on my Lovefilm list and watched the first three episodes straight through today. It was probably the best tv I have seen in many a year. It includes two of my favorite actors, David Tennant and Ken Stott. David's performance as a manic depressive was eerily insightful and I should know, having been there more than once. I am not sure you can be so insightful about your own full mania, but it is possible with hypomania. He was representing the higher end of the hypomania range and I felt quite calm as I watched him. A curious experience.

The whole representation of a mental hospital was so true, the characters and the issues. It wasn't at all judgmental. It wasn't a caracature in the slightest. There may be reasons why it is not repeated occasionally but I say it deserves it. There are not many sympathetic portrayals of mental patients. I am doing my best to demystify and debunk the subject of Bipolar Disorder (formerly manic depression). This program does a lot of the things I am attempting from the Bipolar perspective. I can't wait until I get the second DVD early next week.

That's all I can manage since I am heading for a landing. Been up 19 hours again. Hardly stopped to draw breath. It's on Lovefilm if any one is interested in mental health or even good drama.
Take Care....

Thursday, 5 March 2009

The Importance of Music in Bipolar and in Recovery

Hey all,

I am playing "Touch me in the Morning" by Diana Ross on repeat. This is my song and has a calming effect on me. It made me cry a few years back. It takes me back to January 1983 as I walked round and round the compound in Saudi Arabia. Of course the weather was beautiful. It nearly always was apart from the occasional sand storm. I didn't know why I felt so good, especially since I had just had major back surgery in a foreign country. I tried to find out and ended up flying over the cuckoo's nest.

I don't start blabbing when I hear that song now but it affects me intensely. Now it is a joyful feeling. It's truly my song. How sad! It could have been Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb. I could live with that. I do like Diana Ross. I shouldn't sell her short. I still pick it out on my computer or my IPOD.

I believe strongly in managing moods through music. If you are in the depths of a depression, nothing gets into your brain, but it's worth trying. Choose music carefully and try different types. Sometimes GNR hits the spot. Sometimes Dido. Sometimes Gloria Estefan. Sometimes Anoushka Shankar. Sometimes the sound of silence. I am deliberately broadening my music collection. Recently I discovered an affinity with sitar and indian music. I always had an affinity with indian food. Just added a spanish langauge CD from Gloria. Even have buddhist chants.

You can always find some music to calm the savage breast or hopefully cheer you up. For me, Diana never gets boring. They should use it in Gitmo.

Cheers, Bipolarfella

The Wonder of Time in Cyberspace

I am drawn to online chat and stuff because it is relatively timeless. The sleep patterns of others in the world is largely so disturbed and there is always someone around. It doesn't seem to matter what your relative time zones are. It is tricky knowing what to greet with , especially when you have friends in 3 or 4 continents. Does it really matter. An Aussie night owl is equal to a pom who is up way too early. Countries like the US have multiple time zones, so they even confuse themselves.

When I can't sleep, which is nearly always, I take comfort in the fact that there is a friend out there. At times, I didn't have computer access and the nights were so lonely. I sat in a chat room a lot but it is not really my thing. I had some good acquaintances and I am still on good terms with many. Twitter rocked my world. It appeals to my bipolar brain. You can be as stimulated as you like. It is weird that with almost 300 followers and 300 + followees, it never gets uncomfortable. If someone hogs the bandwidth, I just un-follow, the same for un-real people who spout regurgitated information. It is a chat room with a volume control and tuning knob. I like that. I can follow a variety of peeps. Some titilate, some are mundane, some are deep and some are just darn right silly. I am fascinated with the things people say. It is not as trivial as you would think. The human animal has a remarkably common psyche. That's apart from the ones who speak languages I don't know!!

Another random dip into blogging. I sort of enjoy spitting out bits and pieces from my bipolar brain. I hope it entertains and provides interest.

Will The Real BipolarFella Stand Up.

I am not talking about the many fakes on Twitter. I would have no reason not to be me. I am talking of the identity crisis that many bipolar people suffer. I am only speaking for myself here.

I used to be a very quiet and shy lad. It didn't change much in my twenties. My university period was much more enjoyable but I was happiest in my immediate circle of friends. I was still basically shy. I went to work in Saudi Arabia in 1982. I was a lot happier but I wouldn't say I lost the shyness.

My bipolar disorder raised its ugly head in November of 1982. I didn't know what it was until April of 1985. My personality had changed but I was mostly around new people. They had no preconceptions of my personality. People do not feel comfortable when someone changes for no apparent reason. Reactions from friends and family were always most unaccepting.

In hypomania and mania, my behaviour was different to say the least. I was usually in my own little world but I decended on friends occasionally. This was most stressful but I was usually too aware of the problems I caused. I used to leave unannounced. It proved impossible to mend bridges after a manic episode and I did try my hardest.

Between bouts of mania, there were occasional depressions when I would lock myself away. I was fortunate not to suffer too many depressions. The one I had was quite enough. Eventually after a mania, I would return to something approaching normal. "Normal" was not what it had been. I had gained a new found confidence. People who knew me were suspicious of this change and sometimes backed off. I didn't know myself sometimes and unless I get some sort of good feedback, I can begin to doubt myself. What am I like ???

For example I went on a group holiday in 2007 with about 30 total strangers. By the first evening, we were getting on famously. I had no doubts about who I was and I had one of the best holidays ever.

I still feel that need to be validated in order to be ok with myself. I have recently been hypomanic for long periods and the lines are blurred. I start doubting myself. I am still creative and quite active but I feel reasonably well. My sleep is messed up and exhaustion plays tricks sometimes. I can feel a little depressed or sad and it feels real.

I don't know whether I will ever feel totally comfortable in my skin. Being reclusive helps in a way because most of my contact is with new friends on the computer.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

The shameful thing that is stigma

Stigma is one of those unspoken words. People whisper " You know he/she is a bit funny, you know, in the head". It is an improvement from the early 20th century when apparently otherwise healthy folk were thrown in an asylum to rot, frequently never to be mentioned. A sister of my father was never mentioned until recent years, when my mother said something. I still don't know what happened but I hope to dig in the records. Where do I start? I do have her birth certificate.

Stigma seperates friends and family. Stigma prevents people from getting jobs and sometimes from pursuing careers. People with cancer or physical illnesses, even "D" list celebs get treated with such sympathy. Other people get no sympathy unless they are "A" list and decide to be open. Stephen Fry is a case in point. He is that good egg, bipolar by the way. Neighbours and friends don't know much but they hear things and the curtain twitching starts. Friends back off in a nice way and eventually Christmas cards stop. No amount of apologies or pleading convinces friends or family that you are just ill, like cancer sufferers. Often the suffering is worse and over a longer period. It often ends in premature death, whether self inflicted or by other reasons. Research shows that bipolars are more likely to die from a range of "normal" illnesses.

There are reputed to be 2.4 million bipolar sufferers in the US alone. That is not a small number and it should be reckoned with. Most of them don't "come out". If that is not a result of stigma, I don't know what it is. There must be many more millions around the world. China has none because they don't recognise that mental illness exists. Very sad for the many millions of sufferers in China, wherever they are.

I have no problem coming out. I have special circumstances which allow that. I do encourage anyone to be as open as they can. We have strength in numbers and a Facebook group is growing in numbers. 183 members and counting because of the hard work of Colin Wood. I do my best to promote it on Twitter but it has to grow through word of mouth referrals. Please join up if you haven't yet. Tell your friends who have mentall illness issues.

There is also a anti stigma group on FB.

There is a bipolar group on FB.

An excellent website for friends and family of bipolars is at :

Please help to stop stigma. I hope my bipolar story does something to help the cause by letting everyone know what I have been through in the last 27 years. No one really knows, especially my closest friends and family. My neighbour knows more about me than anyone in the world. That is sad. If you are a friend or family of someone with a mental illness, please care for them and take an interest. Please do not brush them under the carpet and never to be mentioned in polite company. Make stigma stop this year. Make your MPs, senators and congressmen hear. Make your prime ministers and presidents hear.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Feeling Sad or maybe just exhausted

I hope this works. I have had a few error messages today.

I typed all this into a forum on I see why there are no new entries! All is not lost. I cut and paste it to my blog.

I have started having heavy naps at about 2pm and I sleep 2-3 hours. I don't wake up very happy. Playing music doesn't break the fog. I have managed to stay up til 10pm for thre days straight. It hasn't helped my waking time. I have been up for almost 19 hours today. I must have something which wakes me up, whether externai or in my confused brain. I have had some odd Groundhog Day dreams and I felt like I had to wake up.

I feel a bit of an anti-climax after finishing the draft of my story. I am very happy and proud (not so much right now). I have about 16 copies out for reading and I have protected the copyright today. I have some responses and all positive. I just don't realise that everyone has busy lives and cannot dedicate time to read something. I guess I am very impatient.

I have some ideas for additions to my story where I had missed out important events. Not always bipolar related but important to the story. I need to maintain a balance otherwise I will sound like the last 27 years was totally miserable.

I have been going through a lot of photos with a view to providing more on They also fit in with the story. I found a lot of happy photos.

I am rambling more than normal so I will sign off and see if this saves.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Viva La Vida.

Not the Coldplay album but I really like it and It's playing on my ipod. I have realized that getting my story written and out there will let me draw a line under a largely troubled period. I am not saying it was all bad. In fact it was better in some ways than my earlier life. I have a draft finished and I already feel like I can go forward. A lot of things have been subconsciously holding me back. I don't yet know what the rest of my life holds, but I feel capable of finding out now.

I have started my story on numerous occasions. Not until I let someone see it , did I get past the roadblocks. I now have about sixteen people reading it and the initial reactions are good. I still can't tell if someone is being kind. I feel better if comments come in unsolicited. I posted my story excerpt on Facebook and got two good comments. These two people now have a copy of the draft.

I have never been shy about my illness. It is so liberating now I have gone the extra step. I think hiding your illness feeds stigma rather that lessening it. I don't care who knows. I have the advantage of not having a job and being a bit reclusive. I am a bit reclusive by nature but I miss the closeness of friends. I have lost a lot of confidence in socialising. I never really had that confidence unless I was manic.

Not many weeks ago, I was wondering why I got up in the mornings. I wasn't suicidal but I wasn't very happy. Now I feel a lot more positive. I still have moments of doubt when my energy begins to drain. I know this feeling from my earlier manic phases. I know it will pass although it sometimes worries me.

All I have to do is work out a future. I am better now I have replaced early morning vegetating with cyber activity. Not everyone likes Twitter but it has been the catalyst to my recovery. I have found new joy without drugs or having to go into a mania. Mania wasn't real. I know I was having fun but I couldn't share it with anyone. It was always a secret. Now the cat's out of the bag.

Getting my story finished, edited and published will be stage one. I may not be a "writer" but I think I will blog while I can. I always thought I had nothing to say but I was just very shy. I can't help wondering which is my true personality. I always thought my true personality was suppressed by my early life experiences. I guess I will never know unless I go in for a life regression.
Can the young man in the picture have become the miserable reclusive person of later years?
Viva La Vida !!!