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.