I am not lucky to be Bipolar

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

  1.  In the beginning, I sleep significantly less than I normally would
  2. As the mania prevails I sleep less and less, until eventually I’m surviving on an hour’s sleep a night
  3. 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.
  4. My thoughts jumble, race and I have trouble concentrating
  5. I don’t enjoy anything, the boredom is like a form of torture
  6. I don’t understand how to act socially, I often say inappropriate things
  7. I spend money, lots of it. I don’t need a reason.
  8. I get psychotic. I see things that aren’t there, I hear voices telling me to do things
  9. I believe stupid things, like that I can fly or build a time machine

Low episodes result in me

  1. Feeling numb / sad / hopeless / worthless
  2. Start sleeping more. Like 18 hours a day.
  3. Struggling with small tasks; getting out of bed is like climbing a mountain and showers are impossible
  4. 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
  5. 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.

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18 thoughts on “I am not lucky to be Bipolar

    • Thank you my friend. I know everyone has problems, and I don’t have it worse than anybody else, but I can’t stand it when people try to make out bipolar is a walk in the park.

  1. The UK had abysmal mental healthcare provision – it’s one of the worst in Europe. It should be a source of national shame that the most vulnerable get the least support from the NHS. It’s one of the main reasons we left and moved to The Netherlands where it is much better.

    I don’t know why bipolar is glamorised so much because as you say, it’s a terrible thing to have.

    I’m glad you have your creatures around you and such a supportive partner 🙂 This is a great post.

    • I totally agree. I also hate how different MH support is in different areas. When we lived in Stoke it was utterly terrible; I was discharged from my psychiatrist and declared stable whilst having a psychotic episode! It’s not great where we live now, but it’s much better 🙂

      Thank you so much for your comment 🙂

  2. I also have such periods but only mild ones compared to yours. Thus, I’m in a different situation, of course, because the consequences are also considerably milder. The first thing that comes into my mind is that you should try to find others with bipolar on the net and discuss your problems as well as their experiences. Perhaps you could find useable pieces of advice, names of doctors in your neighbourhood, medicines – something that could improve your situation. What if there are meds that could help you but you simply haven’t met them yet? Don’t give up!

    • Thank you my friend 🙂 And I am sorry to hear you experience it too.

      In the UK a lot of the medications approved to treat bipolar have stinking side-effects. There are a few American medications that have less health issues and that I would happily try, but they can’t be used over here. I’m thinking about bringing this up with my psychiatrist again at some point, just in case things have changed! 🙂

      I think joining a bipolar forum would be very useful (thanks for the idea!) and there are some awesome blogs on wordpress that I follow, too. There was also supposed to be a bipolar support group being set up right in our area (which would have been awesome!) but I think it has been cancelled – boo!

      I have also emailed Mind, the mental health charity, to see if they have any more advice on how to reach stability…fingers crossed!!

      Thank you so much for your support, advice and comment, it really means a lot 🙂

      • You might make a table with the meds you used: name of the medication, date of its usage, positive effects, negative effects – concisely so that it is easy to read and analyse, and show your psychiatrist and on the online support forum if you find a reliable one. Perhaps somebody reveals some pattern in it and comes to a new and good idea. You could also make a systematic overview about things or events which make your situation better or worse – this could be useful for yourself, too. Sometimes writing down things makes it possible to distance yourself from your problems and see clearer. In this way, from step to step, you can make tiny steps forwards and arrive at a better life.

      • These are such great ideas, thank you *so* much! 🙂

        I tend to make tables of the medications I haven’t tried, and why I don’t want to try them – I have never done it with the medications I have tried and why I stopped them, and I think that would be really useful to share with mental health professionals.

        Likewise I mark on a calendar *when* I have mood swings, but not what we suspect were the triggers or what was going on at the time. An awesome idea, thank you thank you thank you 🙂

  3. You are very brave to write about this. I had a friend who was bipolar and she hated people knowing about it (took her years to confess even to me that she had problems). She exhibited all the behaviours you list but I didn’t know enough about this affliction to recognise them, and she hid away when on a low. She took her own life four years ago, causing great heartache for her family and friends. I miss her every day and really wish I could have helped her. I do hope you get some help soon.

    • I’m so sorry to hear that 😦

      I remember when my partner first prodded me into getting professional help, way before I was diagnosed with anything, I had a massive argument with my parents…I’d had to drop out of uni because I was really unstable, and they wanted to tell all my family that I’d dropped out and I was mentally ill immediately – obviously I didn’t agree! 😉

      I think it takes a long time to come to terms with an illness…I know it took me a couple of years to tell anyone other than my partner I was struggling, and had been for the past 9 / 10 years. I guess it’s hard with mental illnesses because there’s still a lot of stigma floating about, too!

      Thank you, your comment means a lot 🙂

  4. Thank you for sharing. It must be so difficult! I probably cannot even imagine what that must be like. Blessings to all the angels who have been sent to look after you. I wish you well with all my heart and soul. xxx

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