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.