This is NOT a dog blog. If you have no interest in Bipolar, please skip. Also, it may mention suicide, so tread carefully 🙂
This blog has been prompted by a few things. Firstly I am irritable as hell which, coupled with sleeping significantly less and struggling with extreme boredom, probably means I am going manic. Secondly if I have one more person tell me I am lucky to have Bipolar, or that it’s a sign of intelligence or creativity…I may just punch someone. This is not a constructive blog, it is a vent.
I remember when I first researched Bipolar, and the majority of what I read was ‘it can be managed, you can be just like everybody else, you can have a successful career’. I hate that. Sure, plenty of people with bipolar can do all those things…but some of us can’t.
Bipolar is different for everybody. Here’s how it is for me.
I was around 9 – 10 years old when I had my first major depressive episode; the manics didn’t start until I was 19. When I was younger, between episodes I would have months of stability. This lessened as I got older, and now I’m lucky to enjoy any stability.
For me, manics mean
- In the beginning, I sleep significantly less than I normally would
- As the mania prevails I sleep less and less, until eventually I’m surviving on an hour’s sleep a night
- I’m irritable. I want to throw things, scream; I silently fume at and hate my dogs and snap at my partner. It’s horrible.
- My thoughts jumble, race and I have trouble concentrating
- I don’t enjoy anything, the boredom is like a form of torture
- I don’t understand how to act socially, I often say inappropriate things
- I spend money, lots of it. I don’t need a reason.
- I get psychotic. I see things that aren’t there, I hear voices telling me to do things
- I believe stupid things, like that I can fly or build a time machine
Low episodes result in me
- Feeling numb / sad / hopeless / worthless
- Start sleeping more. Like 18 hours a day.
- Struggling with small tasks; getting out of bed is like climbing a mountain and showers are impossible
- Isolating myself. I don’t go out, I don’t see friends. Contrary to what every MH professional says, I find this a very helpful way of coping
- Being unable to see a way forward or a reason to live…oh hi suicidal thoughts!
Each episode is unique, but in general a manic lasts between 2 weeks and 4 months (usually the longer it goes on, the worse it gets) and a depressive episode lasts around 3 – 9 months. Mania and depression are both equally dangerous, especially when coupled with psychosis.
My partner is my full-time carer – wherever he goes, I go. When I’m manic he’s the one who fights off sleep to make sure I don’t sneak out in the early hours of the morning and walk 7 miles to buy a pet we don’t need from the nearest town. Yes, that happened. It was last winter, and I was out in a t-shirt. When I’m depressed he’s the one who hides the pills and doesn’t let me out of his sight.
There’s virtually no help available; I get taken to A&E and the Dr’s send me home – no need to take you seriously, you have a carer who can watch over you, nevermind that he had to wrestle a knife off you the other night. I call Crisis Team late one Friday because I can’t take it any more and think I’m going to act upon my thoughts, and get told they can’t help me but to go see my GP on Monday. I get referred to Single Point Of Access and am told that I can’t be experiencing hallucinations unless I’ve taken recreational drugs.
Then there’s the meds. I have tried six different drugs, all with disastrous results. My first psychiatrist bullied me into taking my first ever anti-psychotic and within 3 months I’d gained 2.5 stone. He couldn’t see why I chose to come off the drug. The second anti-psychotic I was prescribed helped control my mood somewhat but gave me terrible akathisia; I was left on it for 2.5 years.
The professionals leave me and my partner alone, to rot. I get seen every 2 weeks – one month, but nothing is ever done, nothing changes. They sit and listen when I say I’m suicidal, or attempted an overdose or think I can read minds. They suggest nothing, then send me home. Life goes on.
Would I get rid of my bipolar if I had the chance? Of course, it has ruined my life. I’m not saying bipolar is like this for everyone, I know it’s not…but it is for me.