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.


Sunday, 7 August 2011

Where do I want to be in 5 years?

The answer is that I have no idea. I struggle with knowing where I want to be in one year or even next week. I don't mean where physically. I mean in terms of various aspects of my life.

The second session of my Managing Depression group was about increasing activity. Part of the "homework" was to brainstorm on this subject. I find it very difficult to know what I want. I think this is a big factor in my depression. I think that hope comes from having goals. Even though I was not having luck finding work, it was a goal. I gave up on job hunting because of the stress it was causing. I had failed to realize that job hunting had been my major goal. I am sure it is more complicated than that.

A lot has happened since I stopped job hunting. I am not sure it is as simple as restarting job hunting. I do have to review my options.

Friday, 29 April 2011

New Blog - please follow if you want to stay in touch

I have frozen this blog. If you want to carry on following my posts, please follow the new blog. It will still mention bipolar and mental health issues, but it will be more general.


Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Buddy, can you spare some time?

Everyone in the modern world seems obsessed with how busy their lives are. Give me a break!! Try living for 4 months on 2-3 hours sleep a night. I have time in abundance, made even more apparent by having no job, and not through want of trying. Doesn't this sound wrong somewhere? I am reasonably intelligent, IT literate, published author, lousy at Suduko, quite healthy having lost 84 pounds and I can't even get arrested {in job terms}. I am angry and I think I am right to be after being thrown on the scrap heap of life prematurely. Enough of my rant. I have to move on.

What frustrates me most is that all these people wit such busy lives have no time for us, the long suffering people with a mental illness diagnosis. Because of the insomnia that is commonly associated wit Bipolar Disorder, I have a lot of time on my hands. Most of it is spent alone. Much of that is in the long nights, made bearable by the internet and on-line friends. I just can't remember how I managed before the internet. It probably explains some of the nocturnal wandering that accompanied manic episodes. The internet can now keep the most manic person reasonably occupied.

The on-line community and support system can work well. Even on-line, it is easy to find yourself alone despite there being millions of people on at any time. I am at a loss to explain this phenomena. There is often no one to tweet to, message on facebook, talk to on skype or simply chat to. Everyone goes MIA. This is understandable in the Mental health community but maybe not in the wider population. I guess I am pleading to those who are logged on and not talking. If you see a friend who posts at some ungodly hour, please say hello at least. They may appreciate a quick chat. In my most anxious periods, an early on-chat could turn around my day and often did.

I have time on my hands so I have been idly thinking about time zones. The UK must be one of the most unfortunate time zones for the insomniac who is awake between midnight and sunrise. The stragglers in the USA and Canada drift off to bed as rime passes. There are a few Aussies and Kiwis who are around but there are far less of them. The area in between is a bit of an internet desert, at least there is no one in my circle of friends. I think it must be good to live down under if you are an insomniac. There is more chance of finding someone awake. Just an idle but totally useless conjecture...

Monday, 18 April 2011

If You Can't Stand the Heat .....

I care for all my on-line friends. Most of you have an interest in Mental Health issues and that is no coincidence. Others of you shared my eight loss journey over what is now 2 years. I have never hidden away my bipolar disorder, some might say to the detriment of my life. I don't feel like I have lost out. I feel like I have gained far more than I have lost and I hopefully continue to be a good role model.

I am at a crossroads in my recovery. I am not as arrogant as to claim a cure is possible. You might hear that from a certain Catherine ZJ in coming weeks. Bipolar is for life not just for Christmas. I put down my progress to working hard over the 28 years since the onset. There have been downs, the most sever of which came this year. I have always bounced back from illness setbacks and life's setbacks. I have some resilience.

Before I ramble on, as is my style, my point! A lot of my progress was made possible by my isolation. I had no one second guessing me, no parrot on the shoulder saying "Take Your Meds", "Get Some Sleep", " I am Busy Now" or other inane suggestions. Let's face it, no one ever has time. Muggles, as my friend calls them, have busy lives. Why should they put off their plans to support a sick loved one? They have worked hard all year and deserve some R&R. I have been very much been left to my own devices, even in my lowest suicidal moments. I manage my finances pretty well. I have always taken pride in the fact that I work on problems. I never take the elated moods for granted and rarely use them (except for maybe in writing my book). Every manic or hypomanic experience has been less of a problem than previous ones. That is my commitment.

All I ask is that friends accept my intelligence and my commitment to get better if not well. If you don't understand, just ask but don't second guess me unless you have walked in my shoes. Only fellow sufferers know what it is like to be bipolar. I have tried to explain in newspaper articles and in radio appearances but i am not sure how well I did? My book hopefully helped to a point. My best feedback comes from the intelligent questions from those who read the book.

I don't ask for much. I am not a government statistic except maybe as a winter fuel payment recipient or someone who gets free prescriptions. Everyone won't "get" bipolar. If you don't, let me get on with my life. To quote a very old phrase "If You Can't Stand the Heat, Get Out of The Kitchen". It is bad enough that mental health professionals don't understand, without everyone and their dog having an opinion.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

My isolation ... and hope for the future

Okay, I am a grumpy old man. Maybe 61 isn't old, but go with me on this!

It is my weekend for self reflection and having a good moan. Please allow me that indulgence. I have got out more recently and enjoyed the nice spell of weather. I have enjoyed taking my camera out to the parks and around town. This is all good, but i still don't talk to anyone for days on end. This excludes my excellent on-line friends who keep me sane. It also excludes the mental health professionals, pharmacy staff and fellow MH sufferers who I meet now I get out.

I need to do something. I have been saying this for 40 years, maybe longer. Not a lot has improved except my ability to put it in perspective and not stress about it. I find myself feeling better than ever in my whole life and totally isolated socially. Someone said I was admired recently. I said I would exchange admiration for a nice hug. I was serious but there was no response. In view of who it was, it could have been considered stalking. Okay I am busted. I like to have some good looking ladies in my friends list!

I thought it might be interesting to list my face to face contacts this weekend. That is since I bitch about weekends and holidays meaning nothing to non-working unpaid people. We have a spate of Public holidays coming up.

• Day Center staff and fellow attendees
• Guy on Cheese and Cooked Meats stall in market
• Nice lady who serves in the health food store
• My neighbor
• Surprise phone call from my friend in Canada
• Guy sitting on a bench who I passed in the park.

This was a good weekend. I am making progress. I am a normal guy who happens to be bipolar. If I accept that and put bipolar behind me, will all the friends I have lost do that also. Will my friends and family want to spend time with me? Do I have to re invent myself and go back to being Clive Edwards? Clive Wild will be that bipolar guy who wrote a book. I like being Clive Wild and there will be at least two more books. I am not a willing writer, so don't worry.

I hope this rant/vent helps to put me in perspective. I have been a lonely isolated introspective shy invisible guy for much of my life. That guy has gone. I think I can thank my recovery process and the fact that much of it was done in isolation. I maybe alone and unseen, But I think clearly and you wouldn't believe how productive I can be. That is mostly when most people are tucked up in bed. The days have been 20 hours and longer. I don't take a breath unless I get over tired.

Is it not likely that my sort of mind goes MAD if unstimulated or under used ??

The hope for the future? That starts here. It will get a big kick start when I visit Michael in Toronto in September, my on-line family in the US/Canada and extended family in New England.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Hero or Zero?

Are bipolar sufferers crazy or special? I think it depends on your perspective. The general public would probably lean towards “crazy” because it is easier to marginalize someone you don’t understand. It is easier to control someone who is treated as an aberration. I am afraid this view might extend to family, friends, doctors and other mental health professionals. This is because no one really understands what it means to be bipolar. How could anyone without direct experience as a sufferer?

I think this situation is responsible for most bipolar sufferers being thrown on life’s scrap heap and often prematurely. I have met a lot of other bipolar sufferers in my 28 years as a sufferer. I can say without a doubt that the majority of sufferers are very intelligent and have hidden talents. For the most part, bipolar sufferers are treated like other mental illness sufferers. They are medicated heavily and sent home to get on with their lives. Many of their friends, family and former colleagues have backed off, especially if they came face to face with a manic episode. This is the true stigma, not that by the general public or even the media. Highly intelligent people are left isolated and often unable to find work. I am convinced that many problems of bipolar sufferers are caused by a lack of meaningful activity and a feeling of not being wanted.

I believe that many bipolar sufferers have much to offer society. Society would rather they were medicated and seen but not heard. There are exceptions such as celebrities. Sufferers like Stephen Fry would argue that it is the same for them to be bipolar. They may suffer the same traits but money and fame do make life easier. While Stephen Fry is fighting off work all the time, many sufferers can’t find any kind of work. When was Stephen Fry asked for a CV or resumĂ©. His checkered past is a badge of honor. For most bipolar sufferers it is a sign of mental illness.

Many bipolar sufferers have written their experiences in a book. Very few have sold many copies, I would wager. Publishers are only interested in celebrity authors, even if they are C-list or D-list. The book stores are filled with piles of discounted celebrity biographies. People like me find it hard to get their book discounted and it will never appear in a book store. Publishers and retailers don’t seem to want to sell books by unknown people?

The bipolar sufferer’s main support comes from other sufferers, either in support groups of on-line social network sites. At least other sufferers truly understand and listen without judging.

I asked the question “Hero or Zero?”. I would suggest that many bipolar sufferers have the potential to be heroes. Instead, they are treated as zeros and stamped “reject”. I am doing myself to be a hero but it is a constant struggle. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Thoughts on getting out of the pits....

I had a couple of terrible days where nothing made me happy. I was wallowing in self pity, at least that's the way it might have seemed. I have a lot of internal energy which no meds seem to dent. If the energy works for me, that is all for the good, and I approach a kind of hypomania. I say "kind of" because I am not sure it has made the text books yet!! If the energy turns in on myself, then I am in trouble. I might sleep for 2 or hours and wake close to midnight. I try to stay in bed to avoid the hyper activity. This is fine for 4 or 5 hours. Then I get anxious and increasingly messed up. Any thought of getting up disappears and thoughts of not getting up take over. I start doubting everything including my planned trip to Canada and the US in six months time. There are no doubts other than those conjured by my mind. I hate that this happens but insight into it doesn't seem to help.

I eventually got up and turned on my computer. I made coffee and breakfast, the ritual that I go through most mornings. I felt happy soon because talking to friends on-line dragged me back into the world. I felt quite cheerful if a little edgy. I was okay apart from the continued exhaustion and the thoughts that another night will leave me back in that pit.

I felt happy because I have good friends who care about me even when I may not care about myself !! It is amazing how often "On-line Therapy" saves my bacon. I just need to get on and do it. The rest of my day was amazingly good. I attended the planned introduction to Relaxation class. It was enjoyable and useful. I even made it to my slimming group in the evening, and walked both ways. My wallowing on the previous evening seemed to have given me a chance to recharge because I stayed up later than usual.

My choice is to get up and fuel the hyper tendencies or wallow at the risk of fueling the anxiety!! I decided to split the difference and set a daily alarm for 4 am. I treat 4am as my threshold of morning. Before this time, it is that place we call "middle of the night". On most nights I have done with sleeping by 4am. Typically on the first night trying this, I found it hard to fall asleep and the alarm woke be abruptly from sleep with "Planet Rock..." rather too loud for 4am. I might revert to a regular alarm bleeping sound !! The theory is that I get out of bed soon and get on with stuff. If I am struggling, I will try on-line therapy. If all else fails I will text a friend for some human contact... I think this might be a good strategy might be a good one. I am starting a relaxation class on Friday. Hopefully I can incorporate things I learn into my coping routine?

This post started as a post to a bipolar forum and became a note on Facebook. I thought it was worth extending into a blog post. I hope it might help someone else.

Clive {{hugs}}

Saturday, 19 March 2011

I was happy yesterday because..

I was happy yesterday because.. I was just happy !! I don't need a reason at the moment. It is a change from last year when I didn't need a reason to be anxious or depressed. I don't know what changed but I took it with both hands. I have taken the chance to work on myself and on my moods. It is going on 3 months now, with the odd blip mostly when I get over tired. Touch wood, I bounce back after rest or a sleep. I feel happy, PERIOD!!

It is only just into today. I mis-read my alarm through bleary eyes and got up at 12.30. If I had read it properly , it may not have kept me in bed. That is irrelevant. I was happy yesterday because it was a good balanced day. I went out to town in the morning. I picked up some pills from the Pharmacy, bought groceries from two shops and stopped off for a large skinny latte at Costa Coffee. I kept busy all day but took time out to watch TV and run weekly computer scans. It was a Saturday as I remember them. Lately, I couldn't be bothered to get up.

I have realized that one of the secrets of happiness is to set your goals realistically. If you have achievable goals for a day or a week, you have a much better chance of achieving them. Achieving them will hopefully make you happy. If you set unrealistic goals, failure is likely and you will feel unhappy or worse. It is simplistic but it has helped me a lot. If I expect to have a great life as I remember, it isn't going to happen in a hurry, and I will continue to feel miserable. I think it is best to set yourself realistic goals and work towards them. Baby steps !! You should start doing things that might help you in the long run.


Thursday, 17 March 2011

Feeling very good .. is it legal?

I feel ridiculously good. I am sure it would illegal, except that herbal tea and coffee are legal , as far as I know? You can say I am manic. Good friends have asked politely.. I am not even in the manic spectrum. I feel good. This may be a new sensation but I like it. Elevated mood without the assistance of some chemical imbalance or screwed up brain functioning. I did feel similarly in the brief honeymoon period of my last marriage. That was a few weeks in 1993. That is pretty sad in 61 years. There must have been other periods but not many. After the bipolar appeared, I increasingly began to doubt good moods. This was a necessary side effect of becoming more insightful.

I have realized that you can be brought down by the doubts of nay sayers. No one really understands what mood swings are like. Even less understand how or why they occur. My theories are as valid as anyone's until they get some definitive tests and medications that don't "just work". Most psychiatric meds were initially used for another illness such as epilepsy. They just happened to help bipolar symptoms and they were used thereafter. I can't think of many meds that are uniquely used for treating bipolar disorder. Show me a bipolar patient who doesn't have medication issues. Most of them will say "It helps me, but ....". What I was trying to say before the sidetrack is that we have to ignore nay sayers in order to recover. Much of my life was on hold because I respected everyone else's feelings or opinions. I was never allowed to fly!! Very few people will encourage you to do your best and to push the envelope. They would rather you were in a chemically induced straight jacket. I am sorry .. I want more !! I want a life !! I don't want my life back.. that is about career and practical stuff. It is pretty well over.

In the words of Tom Wooton, in Bipolar in Order : "What is unfortunate today is that far too many people continue to cling to the old belief that it is impossible to live a full life with a mental condition."

I believe strongly that the way MH patients are treated causes most of their MH problems. If they allow themselves to explore the spectrum of moods, they will have a fuller and more fulfilling life. The majority of MH sufferers I have met are very intelligent. What a waste of potential? We are stigmatized and many are unable to work.


Wednesday, 16 March 2011

From Zero to Hero... **possible trigger**

This blog started as a post on a web site that I use often. I started to ramble on and I think it is a good time for a "feel good" blog post. I need to counteract some of my recent downers.

I know I am a mood swinger and it is easy to doubt my good feelings. I have been disappointed in the past and several times in the last 3 months. The difference is that I have been bouncing back after a good rest and on-line therapy. Thanks to my on-line community for the continued support. I am still embarrassed when I hear that I am inspirational but I am getting used to taking it gracefully.

I am really feeling good... Up early but it isn't so bad if you accept it will happen... Same with the mood swings.. It is a pretty simple realization but it has helped me. I think it came from reading the Bipolar in Order book, or maybe from some mindfulness reading, or maybe from both? [B]If you are prepared for something, it won't be so bad !![/B]

I feel a bit fuzzy from the seroquel hangover and I stagger a round around a bit first thing. I just don't like staying in bed when I feel good. That is opposed to my previous period when I couldn't leave my bed day after day...

I treated myself to a DAB (digital) alarm clock radio for the bedroom. It is great. I can now listen to Planet Rock Radio whenever I like, especially with the cordless headphones that I bought recently. I have spent a lot recently but it is no way a manic spending spree. I haven't spent much in ages and it is just a few treats. I need most stuff I bought, If you stretch the meaning of need!!! I especially enjoyed ordering some new clothes at my new reduced size. I have been making do and I was tired of not knowing what to wear. I am thinking of buying a suit, just because I want one !!! It might encourage me to attend stuff more...

I bottomed out last week mood wise. I have bounced back with a vengeance. This week has been great. I have gone from zero to hero on the mood scale. I get the odd blip when I get over tired, but I am managing to pre-empt it when possible. I won’t dwell on my recent crises. It spread over a couple of weeks and incorporated two crisis teams calls (largely fruitless), a call to my psychiatrist to get an early appointment, a call to the Samaritans crisis line and a final call to my GP. Speaking the “S” word was a major breakthrough. In my very disturbed mood (a definite and definitive zero on the mood scale), I wallowed for hours and couldn’t see the wood for the trees. I ideated about “S” and thought of ways I could do it. I dismissed pills after a previous failed attempt in 1997. I am too much of a coward for something violent. I kept thinking of the person who would discover me. I never concern myself with how it would affect family. I was more concerned about disappointing friends. After all, I have stuff to do, not least of much being two new books. I still have to get my first book to sell in North America.

To cut a long story short, I mentioned the “S” word to the Samaritans lady. It is amazing how a total stranger can help you by listening for a few minutes. Thank goodness I found the strength from somewhere to make the call. It was a brief call and she got me to call my GP. My big problem was in not knowing who to call. I had a bad experience of Crisis Team calls. The Psychiatrist was not readily accessible. “999” seemed inappropriate and would probably result in getting sectioned. I secretly wanted to be hospitalized but saw no “good” way of doing it. That is somewhere that the American system might be better.

I was so down that no friends’ names came to mind. How could I impose such a bad situation on a friend? Since the crisis, several friends have said I can call. Even the GP surgery manager said to call and “ask for her”. I probably wouldn’t but it was a nice gesture. I took the advice to call the GP surgery. This was just after they opened at 8.30 on March 10th . For a change I didn’t get the “Your call is important to us” bullshit. How frustrating is it to be to be told to call back at a quite time (repeatedly)? Some supercilious lady saying “if you have a genuine emergency , please call 9 : 9 : 9”. Thank god they are only a phone recording. If I had an old style phone, I would probably slam it down!!! No one seems to realize that you are struggling to even make a call when in crisis: you just need help fast with little bullshit.

Do you have to be so unwell that you can’t make a call? I feel so angry for other people when I think about the system. I live alone with a very serious mood disorder. I don’t see anyone face to face for a whole week sometimes. My on-line community of friends are my lifeline. No one hears me scream!!! I spend many sleepless nights passing time and listening to music on my cordless headphones. It is not perfect. Even my insomniac friends have to sleep sometimes. It helps to have friends in many time zones from West coast USA to New Zealand. UK peeps seem to love their beds more than most. My Facebook is often a wasteland in the wee small hours. Facebook must be the biggest social network in the world. It has a zillion users. I have close to 300 friends and that is deliberately kept down to people I know vaguely. 90% of my friends have some interest in mental health. Most of the rest are slimming friends or friends I met on holidays.

I hope I haven’t rambled too much. I tend to do that if I write off the top of my head !! In short, I often need someone to talk to. By talk, I usually mean chat on the interweb. When you are slight hyper or some degree of manic, it is healthier to talk to someone and on rare occasions, actually listen !!

I was calling the GP surgery. I mentioned the “S” word again. They got me an appointment within the hour. Impressive!! Luckily I only live 5 minutes walk from the surgery. In more severe crises, I am only 10 mins from the hospital!! I went early because I hate waiting around for anything. I sat in the surgery for 20 minutes. Dr M was nice although he didn’t recognise me. I have seen him a lot of times but I am not really a regular GP user (I am pleased to say). The surgery has about 6 doctors. I think I have seen them all bar one in the last few years. Dr M said the usual “I don’t know your case”. I am sorry but no one does. My psychiatrist knows a lot but even she is learning about me. When I see doctors, it is usually about something particular such as sleep, constipation, diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol or the cyst on my arm that wouldn’t go away. The latter was mostly treated by the nurse after initial mis-diagnoses by GP’s. My notes are a mishmash of anecdotes. !5 years of my bipolar history was spent in California and I was diagnosed there, My onset was during my year in Saudi Arabia. I did get my US notes sent over but I am not sure they shed much light on “what I am like”.

Dr M read my notes and made copious new notes in my files. I do like him as a GP and I would choose him to handle a crisis. That’s if I had a choice or was capable of making one. We discussed my lack of sleep because that seemed to be a key problem. I was dead on my feel but not tired. I knew that anything he prescribed would not do much and that they wouldn’t give me a big supply. I was suicidal after all and I had tried before. Most meds don’t touch me and if they say two can be taken, I will definitely need two. Very rarely have I ever been highly sensitive to medication. Haloperidol was an exception. I once took something called Serenace but it may not exist now. This gave me a lot of problems. Basically with me, it is like a vet knocking out an elephant !! I have seroquel on prn (to take as I see fit). Seroquel knocks most of my friends out. I take 100mg at night. For example, I recently took 200mg as a prn and didn’t even slow down. It used to help my sleep but the effect is not much now. I wake up a bit groggy after 4-5 hours sleep if I am lucky. I went off “happily” with the prescription for 14 tablets of temezepam. At two per dosage, this was 7 days supply. I was not hopeful but it gave me some hope. I always give new meds a chance.

My instinct was to return from the pharmacy, take two and sleep for hours. I knew the latter wouldn’t happen but I could dream. Dr M said to wait as late as possible, and the usual “go for a walk” speech. That had been the Crisis Team’s highly thought out suggestion. I got “really” exhausted about 3pm. I took two pills and lie down. I did not sleep but I got up in a cheerful mood before 4pm. Things can flip moods that way. Not sure why but I took it. Crisis was over. My mood swung wildly for a couple of days and then settled to a good level. “good” being 8 on the Richter scale !! I avoided all TV coverage of the Japanese disaster to avoid triggering. Not that I didn’t care, but enough people were worrying about it. One more might not make a difference.

I had a very high mood in January and February. I protested it was not hypomania. It was not in my definition but it was akin to hypomania. I am not sure what it was. It was probably just hypomania that has been modified by my years of insight and attempts to achieve that. My sleep was brief but regular but the crash came inevitably, most out of tiredness. It was different to past experiences because rest usually restored the good mood. It is almost 3 months now and I feel tremendous. I am very calm and the hypomanic jerkiness has gone. I maybe a bit over excited!!

I am okay as long as I manage activity, sleep and rest. I find it best to pre-empt tiredness where possible and I am getting better at doing that. I still struggle to take breaks and push myself too hard most of the time.

That is my story of the last couple of weeks or months.


Friday, 11 March 2011

My Mood - A Work-in-Progress

I feel great. Not powered by hypomania or random chemical imbalances {maybe a touch LOL}. Wednesday I hit zero on the mood scale. I still don't "get" these mood swings after 27 years plus. I do know they can work for you or badly against you. I told my psychiatrist recently that I sometimes wish I was a bit less mentally driven (tries to not be offensive).

I had one of those all too rare moments of clarity after I turned into bed yesterday. I was so excited that I got up and worked on the computer for an hour more. I even set up a new facebook group. I think it all came out of a good day of on-line therapy, mostly chatting with my recent friend Dale in Australia.

Sometimes talking stuff over makes it clearer. Sometimes not !!

My breakthrough may not be earth shattering but for me it was that "Eureka Moment". The apple fell well and truly on my thick skull. I realized that much of my malaize is due to an irrational need to have a regular life, to "have a life" in more brutal terms.. I had this Rose Tinted view of what life should be. Nothing else would ever be enough. Because of my situation, nothing was going to change unless I did something to make it happen. Friends were more likely to back off further, rather than come closer.

I have to make a life for myself. I have done this before when I lived in a new area and I have done it for a group of bipolar friends. The crux of my idea was a Facebook Group to allow 50 somethings to meet and arrange social and sports activities. Why should social networking be something for the young? I live on facebook, so why shouldn't I use it to my advantage. The trick will be in getting people to join !!

Have a great weekend !!

Welcome to the:

South Warwickshire Young Farts Activity Club S.W.Y.F.A.C.


Friday, 4 March 2011

What does Seroquel actually achieve?

I deliberately say achieve. I am sure there are numerous studies about what it does in "med speak". I am not too concerned with what it does to various parts of the brain. I am concerned with how I feel when on Seroquel.

In the honeymoon period, I guess I was blinded by the improvement in my sleep, but what price sleep? My mornings are a constant struggle, anywhere from general anxiety to depression. I very rarely want to get out of bed. If I manage to get up, I have no motivation to do anything. I am writing this just after noon. I couldn't have concentrated well enough until very recently. My evenings and often my afternoons are a different picture to my mornings. I feel like a different person. I suspect Seroquel because of my experiences last year. I reported to my doctor that I had the anxiety. The response was to increase my dosage from 100mg to 200mg and then to 400mg. The anxiety increased and I returned to 100mg, my current dosage.

What about the anti manic properties? I recently had a 7 or 8 week period of hypomania. I took my Seroquel regularly throughout. The only effect that I noticed was that I was physically impaired longer than I was sleeping. I was only sleeping 2-3 hours each night. I don't think the Seroquel did much for the mania.

I am beginning to wonder if Seroquel is causing more problems than it solves. My sleep is erratic. My mornings are a nightmare, And then there are the incessant dreams and disturbed patterns of dreaming. Does anyone else share my concerns?

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Knowing what I want

I have been struggling lately. I called my pdoc's secretary yesterday and managed to talk to my pdoc. This helped in itself and she agreed to see me today. At that point, I knew what I wanted to talk about at the appointment.

By a strange coincidence, I changed to Seroquel XL (extended release)last night. I am not sure if the doctor had requested this on a precription. This morning has been a lot better than recent ones, but it is only one morning.

Time with a doctor is limited and it is important to know what you want or expect. It is not always as simple as it might seem. I wish I knew the answer. I guess I need to work out my priorities, such as getting help with my sleep.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Maybe The Dulled Equilibrium of Lithium Wasn't So Bad

I took lithium for a long time. I took it regularly with notable exceptions. I finally had to be taken off lithium for medical reasons. It was then I noticed how dulling lithium had been. I was initially pleased to be off it. The theory was that Quetiapine and Carbamazepine would do a good enough job. If I look back, my life on lithium was much more stable and productive. I don't think that the new regime is doing a good job. My mood is anything but stable and I frequently suffered from general anxiety. I don't recall anxiety being a problem when I took Lithium.

I recently had a long period of something akin to hypomania. I would call it a mild hypomania, if any such thing exists. For all intents and purposes, it was hypomania. I talked about hoping to find some new "self". It was intoxicating to be productive and to think clearly. It is frustrating to think it was just a "mood swing".

I wrote well thought out blogs that declared I was not delusional. I think I was deluding myself. I have now "crashed" from the apparent hypomania. I am not sure how I feel. If I had to put a label on it, I would probably call it "depression". I would gladly take the equilibrium given by lithium. It enabled me to get on with my life.

I hope my thoughts help to express the contrasts of bipolar disorder and the frustrations that they cause. Writing a blog when I was in that pseudo hypomania was easy. I didn't have to think about it. Writing this blog has been really hard work.

What I really want is peace of mind. I want my mood to reflect reality and not be reliant on some chemical imbalance. I am curious to know what "normality" would be for me, but "Maybe The Dulled Equilibrium of Lithium Wasn't So Bad" .

Sunday, 13 February 2011

A new website

I have joined a new bipolar website. I am trying to support it and to help it get moving. Please check it out if you have time:


No More Mister Nice Guy !!

Actually, it's more Mister Nice Guy. For too much of my 61 years, I have settled for second best. I went with the expectations of friends and family. I am talking about my emotional life. The expectations for my "career life" were always high. I never achieved what I was capable of because of the underlying emotional whirlpool. I did okay. I had average school exam results, average degree and a very good but not exceptional career in IT. Things did improve when I moved out and worked in Saudi Arabia and California. I regret that I broke out quite late at the age of 32. I was always a late developer!! I think my first book details the story well.

At the grand old age of 61, I have finally got the message. I should ignore the naysayers and doubters. It is worse for someone with a mood disorder. Everyone, include Mental Health professionals, wants to turn you into a zombie with stronger and stronger medications. In the preface of "Bipolar in Order", Tim Wootton says:

"I look forward to the day when we all rise above the ignorance that keeps us in fear and denial of a better life"

The asylum is a thing of the past but sufferers are often left in the asylum of their own mind. Out of mind, but maybe not fully out of sight. This must be the biggest stigma of all. Everyone wants cancer survivors, stroke survivors and heart attack survivors to recover into a good life. Who wants a good quality of life for the mentally ill? We often have to settle for second best. Worse still, we actively seek the second best option and we have no ambition beyond benefits and medication.

I have drifted off a bit but I think it is important stuff. I see so many talented people wasted and on the "scrap heap" of life. I have a lot of good friends, mostly in cyberspace, I regret. I think most of them are understanding and want the best for me. They appreciate it when I feel genuinely better and they don't treat it as "another" mood swing. This is an appeal for people to act that way. Give your mentally ill friends and family a bit of leeway. Life can be tough enough without the pressure of appeasing others. Unhealthy mood swings need to be handled but leave room for some joy. I will not ditch friends who try to bring me down. I rarely if ever will drop friends. I may choose to spend more time with those with positive and encouraging attitudes.

I have made a lot of new friends this year. They have all know me only as a positive and upbeat person. This is good for me. I don't have to constantly explain myself, to explain my not working and to explain why I don't always follow through on commitments.

I try to be a nice guy. I am just saying that I have my limits.

Thanks for reading.


Friday, 11 February 2011

10 Most Misunderstood Mental Health Disorders

This is just a link and their blog doesn't necessarily reflect my views.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Call me a radical .... if you like....

I am really tired hearing about the inevitability of mood swings, mania in particular. Even Kay Redfield Jamison, an eminent expert in bipolar disorder, talks as though the madness is inevitable. Maybe I am out there with Tim Wootton, but I don't believe it. I suffered my first full-blown mania in 1982. Granted, my manias have never been as severe as other sufferers but the disruption was just as bad. I can honestly say that each subsequent mania has been less severe than the previous one. I don't just take it when the hypomania clutches me. I work on it and I have developed coping mechanisms.

I may have flown off on a doomed mission to work in Singapore in 1996. It wasn't the impulsive manic flight of fancy like in previous manias. It was fairly well planned and considered, but just a little crazy. It was more about the frustration in my life and career at the time. The manic edge gave me the ability to convince some poor person to employ me unseen. I never actually met the poor person because he was out of the office in my brief stay at Citibank's Singapore offices. I behaved inappropriately in Singapore before I started work and I really burnt out. I wasn't at all welcome in the office and I jumped ship back to Los Angeles. I blew a lot of money on fancy hotels but that was the extent of my mania. The crash came in a miserable depression back in England. This was after another abortive job (acquired and started in Sacramento), a spell with my mother in law, and a flight to England without warning. The depth of the later depression far exceeded the heights of the mania.

My few manic periods since 1996 have been very mild. They may have gone beyond hypomania, but only marginally. My hypomanias have been milder too. I shudder to say controlled but I felt that in 2009 as I wrote my first book. I can't claim to have conjured up the hypomania but I didn't fight it and it facilitated the writing process. I came down on the day of the books publication, two and a half months after starting writing. That was my last real period of hypomania. I have become adept at spotting the upward mood swings and I can stop them in their tracks. The only regret is that I sometimes stop genuine good feelings. I feel as though I am getting past this as I gain insight.

I have just had 5 weeks of feeling great, with the odd blip due to over tiredness. It had tinges of hypomanic behaviour but it never crossed the line. I don't delude myself and I would admit it if I was wrong. I might be deluding myself that I have found some sort of Nirvana, but I will take it for what it is. I feel somewhat normal for the first time in years, maybe forever! I have worked hard for these 5 weeks as I think earlier blog posts demonstrate. I have documented the journey and I don't think any of it could be considered "crazy". I get moments of feeling guilty for feeling so good. I worry about being in the company of others who can't accept the difference. I certainly hope the Clive of recent months and years is not the real deal. I have been all shades of depressed, hypomania, anxious, but rarely happy, cheerful, contented... Choose your own word. I could worry for England and now I don't know what to worry about. I don't know what I worried about. Everything changed over night and I can't help worrying that I might revert the same way. I hope I have worked hard enough to give me a fighting chance.

I have been reading Tim Wootton's book Bipolar in Order in the last week or so. It is based on his theory of the Bipolar Advantage. When I read that book, I thought he was crazy. I think he is crazy but he admits it and he is happy being crazy. That is his basic premise. It is not the mania, depression, hallucinations and psychosis, it is the way we treat it as being really undesirable, to be stopped at all costs with pharmacology and maybe ect. Tim lives with his mood swings and delusions. He gives lecture tours. He seems very happy, happier than most people I know.

I hope I haven't rambled on too much. It just had to come out. I hope it makes sense. I really hate to re-read blogs that came out so naturally (without thought). Funny how my vocabulary improves when I am like this, maybe even my spelling.

As usual comments are much appreciated.


Saturday, 5 February 2011

Being Up Nearly All Night -but not manic or deluding yourself!

I have not had so many manic episodes, considering my 28 years of bipolar disorder. I can probably count serious episodes on one hand. Fortunately, each one has got less severe as I hopefully gained insight. I think that insight is often not included as a tool for recovery.

One of the key results of a mania is the loss of sleep or at least you "survive" or "make do" with less sleep. I can remember being awake between midnight and 8am for weeks on end. It might be a little irritating when manic but I think you can survive quite happily. The main thing is to find enough distractions. I don't think the internet was around or as popular when I had my most severe episodes. It makes hypomania so much more bearable and it must do the same for mania. It depends whether you have a car and or funds, how much mischief you can get up to. The world can be you oyster. I still remember cruising the LA freeways at 4am and eating huge breakfasts at 24 hour diners. In a way that was the upside of being manic. It was easier in LA as long as you had the use of a car.

My situation now is not a problem of mania, not even hypomania, but the jury may be out on that. My recent behaviour might be considered "manic" by some people. The similarity to mania or hypomania is that I am awake very early, typically at 2am. It is much harder to handle the nights when you are relatively "sane". When you are just awake a lot, it becomes tedious in the extreme. What do you do every night in the quiet of you own home. Apart from the lack of transport, there are no 24 hour diners in Warwick. I am sure I could find somewhere open if I tried really hard. The fact that I have not left my apartment during the night in these past 4 weeks, tells me that I am not at all manic. There are such things as taxis if I ever got the serious munchies.

If I got too active in a mania, I would take power naps and wake refreshed in two hours. My recent naps are restless and not too refreshing. I find myself passing the time from 2am onwards best I can. The early temptation was to go at 100mph and burn out by early evening. I have realized the error of my ways and I am working hard to manage my time better. I also have had a problem "doing nothing" without getting very anxious. This has not helped. I am making ground and I am trying to take not of the coping list that I made. "Slow Down!", "Take Breaks" and "Quiet Time" stand out from the list. Time management and better pacing seem to be my key thoughts.

I like to write blogs like this. Blogs that express frustrations normally hidden from the sleeping world. I hope it helps to express the deep frustration, in the hope that non-sufferers will gain a little insight. Maybe they will say hi on facebook if they suffer a little insomnia?

Thanks for reading this. I hope you found it useful.

Withdrawal Symptoms... from computer

They say you don't realize how you rely on something until it is taken away. I didn't feel this intensely until my computer was taken away for repair. Actually it was still working, but overheating indicated it needed attention. It might just need a good clean, but I am not someone who likes to venture inside the computer case. (As it happened, it needed a new power supply)

On the first day without my computer, I was a basket case. I can't say I felt "bad". I just didn't want to be up and about. I spent the whole day under the duvet, with essential breaks and breaks to refuel. It was fortunate that I had made a large batch of melanzane parmigiana on the previous day.It made two very nice meals when re-heated. The breakfast that I had skipped became a supper. It was a surreal day.

It has brought home how I have become reliant on the computer for 99% of my human contact. I didn't realize how unhealthy this was until I lost use of the computer. I was looking a a few days without my computer. I was relieved when the repair guy said it might be ready the same day.

I know that I have to work on getting more human contact. I have become more and more isolated in my recent spell of general anxiety. Things have improved lately, but the urgency was never so clear to me.

I have only met a very small proportion of my online friends. Very few live locally and I rarely meet them in person. I need to find activities where I meet "real" people. I have to tear myself away from my beloved computer.

I have been going through a very unusual journey for these last four weeks, since waking one day from an anxious nightmare of sorts.

I was waking anywhere from midnight to 4 am. On most days, I would get up when I woke. I would turn on the computer almost immediately. My computer has been running until 9 or 10 pm most days for those four weeks. It might be a miracle that it hadn't overheated earlier. When it did overheat on Wednesday, it was very much a reality check.

The computer is so valuable when you are awake at anti-social hours. It is so good to find other people awake in chat rooms at any time of the day. More important, they are often fellow mental illness sufferers who truly understand.

It is interesting to write a blog on paper for a change. I think it is a new experience. I hope I have the patience to type it into blog space, when the the computer returns.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Walking through Jello, Molasses or Treacle (you choose)

This is the only way of describing my sensation right now and on many nights recently. I say nights because it doesn't qualify as morning in my eyes. I tend to treat4am as my start of morning!! The effects of my seroquel seem to last 7-8 hours. I sleep typically 5-6 hours lately , less on the last two nights. It doesn't need a maths genius to work that there is a discrepancy. Generously, I have 2 hours awake when the meds affect is still there. This might be 4 hours lately. It wouldn't be too bad if the latent effect was sedation. If I was sedated, I might be able to get more sleep or stay happily in my bed. Instead, my brain is working perfectly and going at 100mph. Physically I feel like Iam walking thru a vat of Jello. I think Jello is a more universal metaphor than molasses or treacle. I wouldn't want to operate heavy machinery as warnings often say on medications. I could probably tackle a crossword quite happily. I just listened to over an hour of an audio book without any apparent impairment. It is a most curious state. I am not sure if the added herbal sleep aid helped last night or whether it extended the period of grogginess. I walk around as if I was drunk but my mind is as sharp as ever, if not sharper?

I have been awake over 3 hours and I expect the grogginess to wear off soon. The change was quite obvious yesterday.

Looking for classic rock songs on a mental illness theme

I am compiling a list for the Planet Rock show, Listomania. What do you think ?? Remember it is primarily a classic tock station...

Asylum Supertramp
I am Going Slightly Mad Queen
Manic Depression Hendrix
Lithium Nirvana
Crazy Train Ozzie
Crazy Gnarls Barkley
Mad Season Matchbox 20
Breakin the Habit Linkin Park
Adam’s Song Bling 182
My Body is a Fire Arcade Fire
Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues Kinks
Climbing Up The Walls Radiohead
Fall to Pieces Velvet Revolver
I’m Deranged David Bowie
Looney Tune Alice Cooper
Paranoid Black Sabbath
Psycho Killer Talking Heads
Rehab Amy Winehouse
Shine on You Crazy Diamond Pink Floyd
Unwell Matchbox 20

Please comment with other suggestions for consideration. Thanks. Clive...

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Delusional? Possibly but I don't think so..

I have experienced several manic episodes over the years. I have had several periods of hypomania, where productivity increases for a while. The effects usually wear off or I drift into full blown mania. I have tried to learn from each experience, never taking anything for granted and never accepting that it can't be improved. Each mania was less severe than previous ones. Each hypomania was less severe than the previous ones. I wrote my first book in a state of hypomania. That started almost 2 years ago to the day. My life seems to have gone full circle. My mental state was valuable in my writing. While I felt in control, I was definitely in a state of hypomania and riding sort of tsunami. I was awake from 2 until 4am every day and most of the writing took place in that period. I was also blogging prolifically. It is 2 am as I write this!!

I woke up on January 5th feeling "normal" for the first time in months. "normal" is not a concept I understand, but it might be what I would like as my "normal". I seem to have woken from a waking nightmare of anxiety and worry. This may sound dramatic but I believe it. These past three weeks have been peppered with problems, sleep problems, hyper activity and a tendency to do too much for too long. It never felt like it was hypomania while it shared many of the traits. The edginess, the dashing around with no time to lose, the clear thinking and the feeling that there is no time to lose. My sleep has remained constant, even though it has been somewhat chaotic at times. I have gotten over tired at times due to doing too much.

I get to doubt my improved mood when I am very tired. This doubt has faded as I learnt that the mood dip was caused by tiredness. Once I accepted this, I have gone from strength to strength. The stream of negative thoughts has diminished to a trickle. They now come and go as the positive thoughts used to. I feel really calm and really at ease with myself. I was dreading the rest of my life when the New Year came. I can no longer see what that was all about. I can't see why I struggled to get out of bed every day, why I wanted to go back to bed as soon as possible, in short why I was an anxious mess.

Christmas came and went. I made the most of it but soon returned to my isolated existence and to my comfort zone. I cancelled a concert visit in May of 2010, a trip I had planned much earlier when I was more "normal". I was looking forward to my first concert in ages. The anxiety prevented me going and I was sad about that. I wasn't anxious about any aspect of doing it. I was just anxious. This is hard to explain to people, the same people who say "What are you depressed about?". They just don't get it and probably will never get it unless they suffer themselves.

I am reluctant to express these feelings. It might well sound like delusions of grandeur. Nothing could be further from the truth. Given my previous M.O. , I would have been long gone by now on a flight of fancy to somewhere a long way away. I am no longer nervous of having a passport and available funds. If I felt any danger of a problem, I would place my passport in safe keeping. I am thinking of travel in a way that anyone else would think about their next vacation. Last year I was terrified by the thought of travelling alone. I am amazed by the range of mood variations. It is not surprising that others are frightened by them. They are incredulous to me some times.

I feel great. I am nothing like the "Clive" that long term friends and family have experienced. That is too bad. I can't do the same thing to myself that lithium may have done for so long. I have to be who I am meant to be not the largely messed up Clive described in my autobiography. If people can't go with me, it is unfortunate but unavoidable. I have held myself back all my life because of everyone's expectations which became my expectations. It has taken me until near to my 61st birthday but I was always a slow learner, a late bloomer. Fortunately, my weight loss has given me the physical health to match my mental well being.

What next? Who knows? I am going to work hard on maintaining a sense of self. I am going to work on the second book I promised ages ago. I have found my focus. I know what I want to write and I know why.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

I Need Your Contributions

Hello all. Thanks for reading this. I hope you get to read some of my blog posts. I have no angle apart from working for mental health and telling how it really is.

I wrote my biography My Life as a Mood Swinger in 2009. I started writing it almost 2 years ago in a slight hypomanic state. Patience was not top quality and I published by paying Xlibris. The book was published in 2 1/2 months from starting writing. I owe a lot to the on-line support from friends at the time, especially on Twitter.

I wanted to write a second book but the muse never struck me and I have suffered a lot of anxiety which pretty well wrote of 2010. My mood picked up magically on January 5th. I have found my focus at last. My book is provisionally called:
"Thoughts of a Mood Swinger - with a little help from his friends"
It will be a true compilation with contribution from myself, my friends and other mental health survivors. The scope is quite broad, mental health themes with a particular emphasis on coping skills, wellness and recovery. I will try to include a section on what it really means to be seriously ill. There will also be a section with manic anecdotes. I have posted threads in forums and the response has been enthusiastic and they hopefully will lighten the mood of the book.

I am asking for contributions. Stories, poems, W.H.Y ? It will all be anonymous unless you particularly want to be named. I will do any editing with help from friends, but it will be with a light touch, not to change the feeling of the work. Please send any contributions or questions to . Please send any ideas, suggestions or offers of help. I would like someone to look after the Facebook page "Mental health Stories". This will be the focal point of the project. Let me know if you want to be a friend on Facebook : .

Thanks for reading this. I look forward to hearing from you.


Thursday, 20 January 2011

The Frustration of Feeling Better

The really frustrating thing about battling up mood swings and feeling better. It seems such a change that even your friends and family back off. That's the very thing you don't need and the danger is you isolate more, either isolate or go off the rails. This has never been so clear to me. It is no wonder isolation and loneliness are such big problems for those with Bipolar Disorder. Even doctors back off to some extent. Thanks for listening !

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Feeling very good .. is it real?

This is one of the continued frustrations of someone who suffers mood swings. What is normal? Is my mood a function of brain chemistry, be it elation, depression, anxiety or plain old blah-ness. I find myself doubting my moods and I start wondering if it will last. Will it change back as fast as it became that way. This can happen over night for no particular reason. Mood swings, as in Bipolar Disorder, are not about something. This is a common misconception of the layman. They will say "What are you worried about?” or something equally meaningless to the sufferer. I guess friends and family mean well, but they probably won't get it. It is my goal to explain this issue in a way that outsider can understand. It's not like clinical depression. The symptoms are similar but the Bipolar person is rarely depressed about something when suffering a bipolar depression. The things that someone is depressed about may be a trigger of mood swings, but it is just a trigger. The mechanism of the mood swing is down to brain chemistry.

I became so good at controlling upwards mood swings that I was in danger of suppressing natural joy. This might a price that has to be paid but it is not good for the sufferer.

Recently my whole mood and outlook changed over night. I have no clue why it happened except that I had called the crisis team on the day before. I suspect that it made me realise that I was on my own. Subconsciously, I might have processed it over night. I'll never know, but I'll take it with both hands.

Since the epiphany, I have been a bit out of sorts. I have had a lot of the characteristics of hypomania. I dash about from task to task, as if there is no time to lose. I think it is a common characteristic of most manias. At least that is my experience. I have pushed myself hard all day from waking at 2am to 4am. Straight on to the computer, getting coffee, and really buzzing. It is on and on and on, without a break. It was as though it would fall apart if I took a break. I have been chatting in excess of 15 hours a day and I have been awake much longer, 19 hours on one occasion. It is not surprising that I have been getting exhausted by early evening. My appetite has increased significantly. I feel like I need to constantly refuel myself. Thanks to my slimming world experience, I am making mostly good food choices. Monday was a slight blip. I went to the store on a mission to treat myself. I came back loaded with pizzas, bagels, croissants, bread rolls and some deli cooked meats. I went way over the top. I did freeze most of the stuff and I haven't been over indulging. I really enjoyed the half pepperoni pizza for lunch. I couldn't resist eating the rest cold in the evening. It was just one bad day and I drew a line under it.

Yesterday I tried to get ready for slimming world by cutting back on food. I think my need for fuel wasn't met and I crashed prematurely in the late afternoon. I had to cancel my plans to go to group. I laid down for a couple of hours in the early evening. I salvaged the rest of the evening and managed to stay up until about 10:30. I committed in the chat room not to go in next day until 6am. I did this by having a lie in after I woke up. I was a bit restless but I made it. I entered chat at 6:01am.

I have been pacing myself today. The day is going a lot better. If I find myself going fast, I try to rein it back a little. I left the chat room deliberately to take a break from the intensity.

I feel really good. People might say it is delusion. I have suffered from bouts of mania and hypomania. While similar, it is also very different. I am sleeping fairly normally and that doesn't happen in the manias. It feels like I have the good side of a hypomania. I get stuff done. I think clearly. Washing up rarely stays around for more than 5 minutes. I have been cooking at 100 mph. I have been doing most things at 100 mph. Each time I have suffered a mania, I have gained more insight. Each time I have handled it better. This might be the final result of that process. I certainly hope so. I would like to think I can maintain something of this state.

I hope I am not deluding myself. I have 27 years experience of being bipolar and I think that counts for something. I have a very good support system on-line and my friends will tell me off if I seem out of control. It is good that many of my recent friends have only known me like this. Preconceptions are not helpful when supporting a bipolar sufferer. Friends and family need to recognise the vast swings that can happen in personality. They need to go with the flow if possible. I don't claim that it is easy. I sometimes feel that other sufferers are the only ones who truly understand. Even psychiatrists react to the manic persona.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive..

I am not talking about the depression , the anxiety or even the mania. Maybe I am talking about the hypomania? I think it is possible to achieve a state that stays below that edgy and jerky feeling of hypomania. It's sometimes productive, but sleep suffers and you are not fully in control.

You may think me delusional but I have honestly not gone that far in any of my manic experiences. I am in a state of happiness, not elation of hypomania, a really nice relaxed place. It is true I have been a bit edgy, my sleep is a bit off, my appetite is higher. I find myself smiling a lot, even at 2-8am in the night. That is the secret life I am talking about. Those night time hours when no one can hear you scream.

All I can say is, "thank goodness for the internet, email, chat rooms and all that". I don't know how I would have coped in the past, even 15 years ago. I am thankful for my IPOD and a good set of headphones. I can keep myself entertained without upsetting the neighbours. This is a good secret life and it it can be nurtured with a little attention to coping skills. I just try to keep my mood from drifting into hypomania. I no longer see mania has a real threat. I have found lots of insight through the school of hard knocks.

I am in a good place. It is unfortunate that it happens mostly in the hours of darkness. I am not sure even my good online friends understand where I am. they might ask "Are you sure your okay?" At least there is little chance of a visit from the men in white coats, the MH police. I hardly exist in the eyes of the MH system. I see my psychiatrist on infrequent occasions and that is worthwhile. I have called the crisis team on rare occasions, most recently on Jan 4th, 2011. My mood picked up on the 5th. No rhyme or reason. I suspect it was the fact that the crisis team offered nothing of note. I just woke up next day as a different person.

I wouldn't go as far as saying I was normal. I am not sure I ever was "normal", whatever that is. if normal is what I was most of my life, I don't ever want it again. I want to to retain my current "happy" state. My sleep pattern is a bit odd right now, but I am sleeping, maybe 4-6 hours. I started getting tired early in the evening and turned in early quite often. This led to early waking (2-3am) and long waking nights. I have blogged about this in the past and I find it the biggest challenge.

In depression or anxiety, you can usually just plod along in a zombie-like state. In full-blown mania you can be away with the fairies. While this is not good, you can be impervious to any problems. My current state, or even hypomania, is a big challenge. I still think pretty clearly and need to keep busy, entertained, fed etc etc. I find that blasting music loudly in the IPOD helps. In depressed or anxious moods, I cannot even play the radio, and sometimes not the TV. I have recently found that I can handle audio books when reading wouldn't be an option.

I hope I am not rambling on. I will stop now in case I do.

Life is good. I found a really supportive chat room that I go to a lot. I have found someone who might be able to produce an audio copy of my first book. I have sent pdf's of the book to several friends and I await their feedback. I have found my focus for the follow up book and I have a working title. I am blogging again and engaging with people.

Thanks for reading this. I hope it is thought provoking? Please comment or send feedback by email, thru facebook or W.H.Y?

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

An open note to doctor, a review of 2010 and whatever

How it’s been:

I sometimes lose touch with how I have been, especially if my mood has recently picked up. I wanted to write a bit so I get across what I need.

2010 was not my best year. It was punctuated by long periods of anxiety. Anxiety usually starts in the morning. It sometimes clears by the evening but not always. I start off by not wanting to get out of bed. Once I get up, I struggle to get coffee and breakfast. I rigidly structure my days and that seems to help. I have a list of key things which I check off every day. Meds, etc, etc. It seems excessive but it helps.

I postpone a lot of stuff and worst still, I cancel anything that I can. I have become more and more reclusive. I manage to make appointments but they can be cancelled if I am not well. My “to do” list builds up and up, adding more stress.

The most frustrating thing about 2010 was the cancellation of a trip to a concert in Birmingham. I had booked it a while back and even arranged a hotel room for the night. My anxiety was particularly bad. Right up to the morning, I was trying to get there. I finally missed it. It wasn’t a money thing but I did lose over a £100 that I couldn’t afford.

I did manage to get away on my holiday to Lanzarote in October, but that was in the balance up to the last few days. It went off well and I need not have worried. That is not the point about worry and anxiety. It is never logical.

I didn’t leave the house much in 2010. I even cancelled several of my monthly trips to the support group. I usually make that. The good thing was that I made my weight loss group every week up to reaching target in October. I made that a priority and that kept me going. I think I would have been a real mess if I hadn’t had the focus on my weight loss.

I did get away for two night’s at Christmas. It was ok but I was not very comfortable. I was out of comfort zone and I returned home on Boxing Day. I avoided three social opportunities, one with family and two with friends. I was not up to it. The week before New Year was typically down. New Years Day was a “lost day”. I think I only emerged to eat.

The anxiety hit a real low point on January 4th. I called the crisis team. I don’t think they were very helpful and more or less said “What do you expect us to do?” They were not the exact words. They committed to call my doctor and talked about possible day services helping. The short chat helped. I suspect that it told me I was “on my own”. Next morning, I woke up in a kinder mood. I took the opportunity to work on my coping strategies. My mood improved and it has remained good ever since. I found a very supportive on-line environment on the Wednesday and also found an email pen pal who had responded to my blog. The nine days since have been my best in many months, if not years.

Before the day of improvement, I was gung ho to find new medication. I was convinced that quetiapine was the cause of my issues. I still think it leaves me open to much of the anxiety. The new 100 mg dosage usually gives me 7 hours sleep, but I did wake at 2-3 am on a couple of mornings this week. My mood bordered on hypomania but I felt happy that I was sleeping. I never crossed the line but I had that familiar jerky thing where I dash around, especially in the morning. My appetite has been normal.

This week has been particularly busy. It was a test but I felt up to it. I have made all appointments and I even got to the weight loss group. I have been to support group, dentist, slimming world and my psychiatrist. I have torn into my "to do" list and kept on top of things. I have read some of an audio book, watched a new music DVD and 4 episodes of a TV program on DVD. My life is as it should be, except that I need to find outside activities that involve people.

I want to be considered for a meds change because I don’t like quetiapine. Its initial attractiveness was due to the sleep I was getting. It is too strong a medication for that purpose. My moods seem to be very stable. I do think some day services might help to get me back into life and to get me out and about. The crisis team is helpful but there is a big gap between psychiatrist visits and losing it. I am on my own, my own support system, and I can’t always do it. If I am not able to call for help, I am lost. I was turned down for a CPN after I re-applied. I hope to return to the resource cafĂ© but it is only a band aid.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Crisis, what crisis?

I sometimes feel vulnerable. I have always felt well enough to look after my own affairs. Medication gave me some stability. 4 monthly or 6 monthly visits to the psychiatrist were enough. I no longer had a CPN (community psychiatrist nurse) because I was "too well". The CPN gives more personal support between visits to the doctor.

I have been struggling lately, for most of the previous year if I am honest. My only recourse was to call the crisis team and I did this earlier today. They were helpful but couldn't help directly. They would talk to my doctor who I see next week. Crisis suggests a major emergency, comparable to calling the emergency number for a physical problem. I need help to set up a support system. Some people do not have close friends or close family, at least no one they would call in an emergency. My only recourse seems to be the crisis team.

There should be a recommended course of action. Crisis suggests that you need immediate help, for example when you are a danger to yourself or others. Going through the motions until you see a doctor is sometimes not enough. I am scared that I might struggle so badly that I cannot call for help.

I am in the UK. I am sure it is different in the US and other countries.