Monthly Archives: June 2014

Jagged little pill: has the recovery narrative gone too far?

Putting into words what so many of us seem to have on our minds.

purplepersuasion

I feel that in writing this post, which has been brewing for a long time, I am saying something that some might see as controversial. So let me start by making something clear. This post is not intended to criticise the work of the big charities – I am a proud member of Mind and Rethink Mental Illness and have undertaken both paid and voluntary work for both organisations. I have also volunteered for Time to Change and made a TTC pledge at last year’s Mind Media Awards. A huge amount of good work is being done on a daily basis to challenge public perceptions of mental health and to normalise discussions of the topic. Time to Change is entirely right to highlight just how peculiar it is that mental health stigma continues to loom so large given that a quarter of the population is thought experience some form of…

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Hell hath no fury like the enraged Bipolar

My life has been a bit chaotic the last couple of weeks. It’s not that I have experienced crazy amounts of stress and bad things that keep breaking me; it’s mostly been a break in routine. Things are back to normal again now and although it’s not very exciting, it’s comforting to be back in an environment that is predictable and mostly in my control. Then why oh why am I can I feel the raging monster bubbling just under the surface, threatening to break out. It makes very little sense to me that experiencing what feels to me like a delayed response. When I was changing medication, busy, sick, writing exams and travelling for work and doing work from home; the things outside my routine; I felt mostly fine (except for my first few days back on Seroquel). And speaking of Seroquel, I’m still working myself up gradually and am still on 25mg (but definitely increasing my dose tonight), shouldn’t I already be feeling LESS rage instead of more?

When I’m at home, watching TV and crocheting with a cat on my lap I feel like I can breathe, but in the office and out in the world I feel vicious and like I’m being smothered. I’m proofreading a psychiatry textbook and I don’t think it’s helping either. I’m currently on the chapter about bipolar disorder and even though it doesn’t contain any information that is new to me, it’s serving as a constant reminder. I read about hypomania and I get angry because I never feel inspired, goal driven, energetic and excited anymore. I find myself either in the realms of despair or fury.

I normally try to keep the tone of my blog posts upbeat and with a ‘can do’ attitude, and that’s probably why I haven’t written in a while. At the moment it all feels too hard. I’m exhausted from always trying to keep myself together and functioning. I’m tired of feeling angry at everyone and everything all the time.

How do you deal with your rage when you feel like ripping the world to shreds?

Accepting your Bipolar diagnosis. Again and again and again.

Initially my diagnosis didn’t come as much of a shock to me. It was more of a relief. I did show up at the emergency room in the middle of the night exclaiming “Something is wrong with me!” after all. I was just too happy to finally find out what that “something” was.

As I got better and changed back into something that resembled a “fully functioning” human being, there have been times that I wondered if I was really ill. It usually only takes about two weeks for my mood to shift, as if to say “Ha! And there you thought you were well and health. Mwhuhahaha!” So I haven’t wondered whether or not I was really Bipolar very often. But that doesn’t mean I like it one bit, or that I don’t become frustrated and even enraged by it.

As of today I am, very reluctantly, back on Seroquel (anti-psychotics), and I don’t like it one bit. I worked really hard to get off it a few months ago, and it feels like I’m taking a step back. Unfortunately it’s become very clear, even to me, that my emotional reactions are disproportionate to what triggers it. And sometimes life happens and you can’t have a meltdown and become suicidal every time something upsets you. Speaking of suicide, I said to my psychiatrist: “Surely every person thinks about how it would be to kill themselves at least once in their lives. In my mind it’s a normal thought.” He looked at my wide eyed: “You might be surprised, but it’s actually not. People don’t just think about killing themselves.” Being depressed for roughly two weeks every month is not working out so well and with a stressful time at work ahead Seroquel seemed to be the only answer. I am mad and it sucks and I am going to get fat again and only start functioning after 11 if I’m lucky. Even though I know that Seroquel basically saved my life, I stopped in the first place because it feels like I have to navigate my whole life around it.

To come back to accepting your diagnosis. Taking my pills have become a habit and mostly I try not to think about it. It’s only when it gets mixed up again and I have to remember what dose of what and break pills in half (I am the proud owner of a pill cutter…) etc that I really become conscious of it again, like today. Somehow it becomes more real again and I go back to being pissed off, frustrated and feeling rebellious about it. I go back to hating myself, my life, my illness, the world, everything. I become acutely aware of the fact that I will be struggling to manage this thing for the rest of my life. And then I get overwhelmed with feelings of guilt and self-loathing for acting like my life is so much worse than everyone else’s. Of course all these emotions make my condition even worse. I have to get use to the idea all over again. I have Bipolar Disorder. It is chronic. It will never go away. I will spend the rest of my life struggling with mental illness. I will get better but at some point it will get worse again. Life goes on. Until I finally, again, accept that this is my reality.

On that note, with the Seroquel kicking in and the letters starting to swim on my screen, I bid you good night.