Tag Archives: anxiety

Stuck between depression and dysphoria

If you read my previous post, you’d know that last week was a bit rough. This weekend I went to a cousins wedding, which I really didn’t want to do. Mostly because I needed time by myself and loads of sleep. I am working two jobs at the moment and I am just not getting around to everything. I have clients treating me like dirt and my multi-tasking muscle seems to be broken. I was already emotional about all of this, plus the anniversary and something and old friend of mine, who’s a beauty queen, wrote about her own bipolar struggle. Then I had to pretend to be all fine and then attend the wedding the next day.

Our family is massive and everyone was there, including my brother and friends I hadn’t seen in ages. So it was okay. But there was also this woman there, a friend of my sister’s, who I had previously tried to make friends with when we sat next to each other at a wedding, and which really failed in the end. I asked her if she just liked guys (she’s a hunter after all and basically only has guy friends), and when she said yes, men all the way, I just said oh because I’m bi, I always just wonder. Somehow when I was my clingy self which is what borderline personality traits along with a good dose of anxiety make you, she got it in her head that I was in love with her or something. Even though she said it wasn’t that and I just had too much drama. This was after she had ignored me for about a month, which made my anxiety shoot through the roof. I tried to explain. She didn’t care.

So I said a few things because I felt hurt and rejected, and left it at that. A month or so later I thanked her for helping my sister with stuff left over from my dad’s will (the Chartered Accountant and the Lawyer, so important). I never discussed her with ANYONE, least of all her friends. But as my sister mentioned, she knew everything. And at the wedding, the woman had the audacity to gossip about me to my brother. And he came straight to me. I tried to talk to her but she said that there was no reason and she had no issues. So in the wee hours of the morning I sent her a text about how she’s in MY house and here she is the outsider and I will not tolerate gossiping to my family etc. And the next day I felt like the worse human ever, because I am not actually a bitch like that and maybe she didn’t deserve is. I blocked her of facebook and she block me off messenger. Probably for the best. Yet, if she shows up somewhere and starts talking to me, I’d have a conversation. I don’t know if I’M the asshole or if SHE’s the asshole. I do feel aweful, but trying to make peace just won’t work. I’ll make everything worse yet again.

Bear with me, it all fits in together. As the night past I became more and more furious, drinking more and more jager bombs and brand and wine and whatever. Knowing I had to stop but not doing it. Falling of my heels a few times, because all the meds. My brother got my key when it was time to leave, but I was so angry I wanted to drive the 2 hours home. So I slapped him through the face. Twice. I shouted at him and his friend who is a girl who he loves about why they weren’t together. My whole body is full of bruised. I twisted my ankle and somehow I ended up with my head behind the toilet and I didn’t even know how I got there. I completely blacked out, like I hadn’t before I started taking Lithium. Plus I haven’t had more than 2 glasses of wine in like…months.

I feel really stupid. For everything I said and did. I’m never an angry drunk, but it was obviously reflective of my mood. And now I’m raging and irritable and depressed all at the same time. I want to pack a bag, load my cats and my dog, and disappear. But my sister will have the whole ‘you skrew up everyone’s live’s speech.

Has anyone watched NCIS New Orleans where the one guy is bipolar and he disappears for years at a time? I’d really love to just do that.

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Unexpected triggers

In my case, I guess no news is good news. I obviously don’t have much to say when I’m doing well. Which I was. I guess I’m still okay. Normally this time of the year is bad. We are after all on the eve of my 2-year suicide attempt anniversary. But this post is not about that. It’s about how you are merrily going about your day for a month or two, almost forgetting about the whole bipolar story, except for all the pills. When it looks like things are coming together with work and personal and life in general, and then BAM!! something happens that throws you completely off balance. In my case, the BAM came last week Thursday.

A colleague decided to just up and resign effective immediately, throwing everyone for a loop. I didn’t really care, until I realised that she hadn’t even told her clients, that she possibly stole and that her admin was such a complete and utter mess that it took me two days to figure out her client list. Then I had some of her clients just trampling all over my boundaries, another one cancelling her contract because she didn’t feel comfortable with me, and one of my clients peppering me with insults about something that was her fault. And this is only my one job!

I am doing some freelance work for my previous employer too and while I enjoy it, it is a lot of work. Everything falls into the ‘urgent and important’ category, you spend your time problem solving crisis on crisis on crisis. You really have to concentrate and multi-task; skills that are a bit rusty. And so I’ve been freaking out since, well, last week Friday I guess. My major problem is that I lose my filter and I get the bipolar rages, not good when working with clients. Especially when I know I’m right.

Basically, I’m not hypomanic or depressed, but I can see things moving into dysphoria if I don’t get it under control. We have our care plans and our everyday checks and a whole lot of things we do to stay balanced, but an unexpected trigger is, well, unexpected. It doesn’t give you time to prepare. If you are not with someone who understands you really well, no one will notice the anxiety, rage and general mood shift taking place until it’s too late.

Here are a few tips that I have found helpful:

  • always have an emergency script or emergency meds with you; something that you know chill you out.
  • Stay away from alcohol and other drugs. Yes, normally it will chill you out, but it can also flip you. And you lose the little self-control you have and do something stupid.
  • This one is very important: STAY AWAY from your phone and especially social media and email for at least an hour. As long as you have to.
  • If you don’t have a wedding every weekend like I do at the moment, take a day or two to chill out and unwind. Order your favourite food and beverage, and spend the day on a hobby in front of the TV or with a book. I normally prefer to be alone, but if you know you need someone to just hang with you, phone a friend or family.
  • SLEEP. Whatever you do, make sure you get your necessary hours of sleep; it give our brains time to process and keeps you from doing something stupid.
  • Write it out, on a blog or in a diary. There was a time that what went on in my head was SO dark that I avoided any writing in any form. Do what works for you.

By no means do I have it all figured out. Yesterday and today I communicated in very snotty ways, and sometimes to people who didn’t deserve. I get super irritated and mean. Not a nice person. But the things above help eventually.

What do you do when you realised that you have suddenly been triggered unexpectedly (ie not on Christmas or the anniversary of someone’s death)? Please share what works for you, so we can all help each other to be healthier, more stable humans.

Subcontracting responsibilities to survive your bipolar

If you’re bipolar, you know the story when it comes to being semi-catatonically depressed. I’m talking about those days/weeks/months where you feel like you are actually fusing with your bed. Dishes pile up. laundry piles up, the sandbox doesn’t get cleaned. In fact, nothing gets cleaned. Not the floors and not the coffee table and not your bedroom. You spend everyday barely moving through dirt and chaos, wearing the same pants you’ve worn for the last three days. If you have to go to work you get yourself to look semi-presentable, but if anyone scratched even a millimetre below the surface, they’d see how you’re coming undone.

The thing with a situation like this is, the deeper you go, the deeper it gets, the deeper you go. It become an uncontrollable cycle of despair. The more dishes, the more useless and helpless you feel, the more dishes you use, until there are organisms growing on things and you actually just want to throw all your belongings on the sidewalk. By now, you probably also feel like a completely lazy waste of oxygen.

It was on one such occasion that I finally realised things could not go on like that. I needed help and I needed it fast. The first thing I bought the second I saved enough money, was a washing machine. Here in my country, it doesn’t come standard with apartments. So finally my days of slogging to the laundromat, rinsing underwear in sink and wearing my jeans until they fell off, were over. In my country it’s also not frowned upon to have a cleaner at least once a day. It’s something that alleviates poverty somewhat, and creates jobs. I ended up paying my cleaning lady, a wonderful, sweet woman, about triple the minimum wage, because to me she wasn’t just cleaning, she was helping me to keep my sanity.

I recently didn’t have a cleaning lady for over a month. Even though I tried my best to keep my place clean and tidy, it felt like my life was getting completely out of hand. I just don’t have the capacity to work, have a hobby, attempt a social life, sleep enough, walk my dog AND scrub my bloody toilets. I just can’t do it. Not even to mention the dishes. So I finally got a lovely lady to clean for me and it’s going well. I’m actually using my study for the first time since I moved in. What also really changed my life was getting a dishwasher. Yes, I am only one person. I don’t care. Washing pots and pans with pieces of food and soggy mince freaks me the fck out. Seriously. I don’t have OCD, but it still causes too much anxiety that I just don’t need.

So I unashamedly used other people and appliances to literally do my dirty work. Sometimes it gets expensive and I have to cut on other things. I would rather not eat (and I already quit smoking) than not pay my cleaning lady.

When I can’t pay for help, like eg when I’m moving (again) in two months’ time, I have learned to lean on my family. My mother is a master packer, my new brother-in-law has a trailer, my stepdad can round up a bunch of workers and my sister can pretend she’s got way more important things to do (may she never read this). When my washing machine was broken, I took my clothes to my mom’s and did it there. I’m still borrowing her vacuum cleaner once a week.

The point is that, even when we don’t have extra money for extra help, we all have people around us that care about us, even if it doesn’t feel that way. If you have kids, make them help out with chores. My biggest challenge has been making my loved ones understand why I need help, and a dishwasher. Just having my environment feel clean and organised helps my brain to feel a little more clean and organised, and it’s a great feeling. Ask for help, or don’t be ashamed to pay for help if you can if it helps make you feel a bit better, it’s worth it 100%.

When isolating myself is for your own good

Whether you read a list on the internet, in a book, receive the lecture from you doctor, one of the first things they will tell you is that when you feel depressed, don’t isolate. They make it sound so easy, like just inviting someone over for a cup of coffee is not a big deal. Hello? Do you not know that depression usually goes along with crippling anxiety?

I’ve decided to make this work for me. I started singing in an ensemble at the beginning of the year. I like choir singing and it’s great to get my voice ‘back in shape’ to hit those high notes. But it’s in the evenings and often inconvenient. Since we’ll be taking part in a pretty big competition, we are also practising the same pieces over and over and over with a metronome at a very slow pace.

The last two weeks I haven’t been doing so well, including driving my car into a pole this week. I have stress about money and moving, I’m not sleeping without something pharmaceutical. Generally, things are not going as they should and I can feel the person sitting on my chest getting fatter and fatter.

So I’ve been thinking of a thousand excuses not to go to choir practise tonight. I feel kind of bad because I had to miss a couple due to physical illness. But the thought of going to a house with 30 people, where I only really know two, repeating those songs, and worse of all that bloody metronome that feel like it’s knocking against my skull, just wouldn’t have worked. And then you have to be all chirpy and keep the sarcasm in check, which becomes a problem with irritability. I just couldn’t do it.

The idea of having to just talk to people along with my social anxiety just made it impossible for me. So I let the conductor know that I have some chronic health issues that are flaring up and so I can’t be there. And actually saying made me feel so liberated. I wouldn’t have gone two days before I broke my arm or something, so why go when depression is starting to rear its ugly head. No one has to know what is wrong with me, that is my business, but just because I don’t look sick from the outside doesn’t mean I’m not sick

Post-festive season bipolar coping feedback

Feliz Navidad and a happy, shiny new 2018 to all. I hope you survived

As you probably know yourself and have read in every single bipolar article or heard in every support group, the holidays can be a bitch for the mentally unstable. There are of course a number of reasons: breaking routine, the stress of travel and getting kids and spouses ready if you have those. Organising kennels and a hundred other things that make your head want to explode, and then you don’t even feel festive anymore. And of course, there are those who can’t celebrate with family, or don’t have any.

Unfortunately I cannot relate to the latter so I won’t pretend to know what I’m talking about, but I can probably teach everyone about dealing with a 40 person family. Yes, 40 people. We know we are blessed but it becomes terribly overwhelming. So what I realised was that I needed to create some kind of ‘safe space’ for myself. Instead of sleeping in the house like most of the others, I pitched my little single person tent outside. We were so hot it was unbelievable, but every time I felt overwhelmed or offended or anxious, I went to sit in my little sauna until I felt ready for all the people again. I did the same when I went away with my parents, sister and her fiance. I went reasonably well until my sister smacked me with a backhanded sarcastic remark which, since I am overly sensitive, ruined my day. But I had my room, my own room, and I could close my door and create a safe haven for myself with books, blankets, chocolates and drinks. I could just walk away and go decompress.

I know this sounds incredibly simple, but I’m telling you to me, it was a revelation. Probably because I was never in the position to insist my own space, with so many people, but it really made all the difference. So this was the one thing I learned to survive the holidays. The second was to stick to whatever your poison is for anxiety, and even if you don’t feel anxious, take as prescribed. My doctor gave me Urbanol, one in the morning and one at night, and although I would have MUCH preferred Rivotril or Alzam (but family history of addiction, thanks dad), Urbanol seems to just take the edge off a little bit and make me act like a human being. Other obvious things that I should know but still got wrong was don’t get trashed, stay hydrated (Lithium) and  remember to fill your script BEFORE you go on holiday.

I’m clearly such a slow learner when it comes to this and would love to hear what you do/don’t do to cope with the festive season.

Flipping the Bipolar switch

I don’t normally post two days in a row, but I wanted to have a little rant on Facebook and realised it would be so pointless because no one would get the intensity of what I’ve been going through today. And how quickly the switch can be flipped from a ‘slightly depressed’ to ‘crazed rage’. Okay, I didn’t quite reach crazed rage; or I did, but it was not uncontrollable, so it didn’t seem that way.

I am busy with these ridiculous little projects as I think I mentioned, where my deadlines are insane and the pay is crap. I think the employer person hasn’t been able to get anyone else desperate enough to help her, so she hounds me at all hours of the day and night. Last night at about 20:00 she begged me to do a quick thing before 5am the next morning. So, working better at night anyway, I finished around 2am and was laying awake until about 3. Needless to say I snoozed my alarm until about 11, 12, and then had to fly up to start with the other project I have due in about 36 hours. And from the moment I opened my eyes everything just went wrong.

I have 0 cash, but I have money in a Paypal account. However, my country in general and it’s banks are SHIT, and turns out connecting my credit card to Paypal is theoretically easy, if my bank stopped telling me I was entering the wrong card number. Which it’s NOT. So because of this I am trying to feed my cats cheaper food and they are refusing to eat. I’m adding tuna to entice them and now my room, that has no ventilation, smells like fish, which I HATE.  I know this sounds minor, but when you don’t have time or money or energy, it starts grating. Then I realised that my dog’s whole food bowel, as well as the cat bowels, were FULL of ants. And as I look around, I realise that they are EVERYWHERE! And because of the animals I can’t use poison. So I’m drowning ants and fishing soggy pet food covered in ants out of the drain and I am so grossed out I feel like, I don’t know, my hands are going to fall off or something and I don’t know how to get rid of them and I feel like my head is going to explode and I’m going to throw something against the wall and burst into tears and slip into a puddle and cry while stomping on ants and screaming while washing my hands 10 times.

And I think this is kind of the part people don’t understand. Yes, there were a couple of things leading up to it, and someone else might also get mad and drown the ants or whatever. But when I say it feels like my head is going to explode, I literally mean it. The combination or rage and frustration and anxiety and feeling out of control is so intense and overwhelming, that it literally feels like I will spontaneously combust. It’s like my brain is swelling and my whole head is getting bigger and I’m waiting for it to pop open and for brains to splash all over the walls. I was freaking the fuck out, to be honest. I won’t just diagnose myself with a co-morbid something and maybe it’s also a bipolar thing, but I can’t stand my hands and feet getting dirty. So fishing soggy pellets covered in ants out of the sink really almost pushed me too far. As in I felt like fainting too far.

I packed my things and my dog, left everything just the way it was, and went to work at my mom’s house (who’s on vacation). My sister lives there too and she still wanted to give excuses for why I couldn’t come work there, but I had already positioned myself in the spare room. Finally I could focus and get stuff done. I only got back a little while ago and emptied a bottle of baby powder where I suspect the nests are, because apparently that works. I’m feeling calmer now. I still have so much work to do, but I think it’s shower and sleep for me. Nothing that can’t wait until tomorrow. I think this whole thing also taught me the lesson (again) about sticking to my sleep schedule. I think I still got enough hours, but it wasn’t exactly uninterrupted.

It is so difficult to describe to other people what I felt like on the inside today. Had I lost control I might have pulled my hair out or something. And this was AFTER I took Urbanol. It also shows that we don’t necessarily have those textbook episodes of 4 days hypomania/mania, months of depression, or whatever. I’ve had a psychiatrist tell me that rapid cycling isn’t real, but I think I disagree, if one just compares today with yesterday. And of course there were triggers, my switch wasn’t just flipped. I think the big difference comes in that if a non-bipolar person went through the exact same day as I did, they probably wouldn’t have felt like they were losing their minds. Or, maybe just a little bit and not the literal ‘my head is going to explode’ thing.

*Especially if you’re bipolar (but even if you’re not) I’d like to know if/how you agree or disagree with me. And if you’ve gone through these same weird combustion feelings, let me know. Would be great to know that I’m not the only one.*

When bipolar is keeping you just a little down

I try to really look at things objectively when I feel down-ish. It’s the end of the year, I am still dreaming of being on vacation, even if it’s just at home, and I am hating the work I’m currently doing. The deadlines are almost impossible, the pay is ridiculously low, the work feels kind of unethical and the woman I for is extremely temperamental and sometimes blames me for things I didn’t do wrong. But I have to do it because financially I’m a bit screwed.

It’s been a tough year; recovering from suicide attempt, quitting my job, moving back home, not really having a set job, deaths, family conflicts, moving, moving again, and moving again etc. In a nutshell. There have also been many marvellous moments, like my sister getting engaged and me getting to be part of the plans, seeing my friends on this side of the world often. Spending time with my grandparents. Getting a doggy. All magical. All special. Even though I really don’t like Christmas I look forward to the event of the whole family being together.

Here’s the thing, I’ve been feeling just a smidgen under then normal line. I’ve started taking urbanol on a more regular basis. I still try not to take it unless I really need to. Over the weekend, I just stayed in bed, not really doing anything and not really sleeping until 16:00. Twice! I am fine enough to go out and enjoy it but want to go home early. I’m okay enough to hang pictures and throw things out, but not to completely unpack. I’m fine enough to do all these stupid projects, but I’m procrastinating (which I don’t often do with work). I’m fine enough to look forward to the holidays, but the thought of interacting with people is pretty exhausting. I’m generally just really exhausted. And that I blame on all the end of year things. But I can feel it in my throat, I can feel it in my head and I can feel it below my diaphragm; the slight signs of depression. The trying to ignore it, but knowing it’s there.

Some of you must also feel like this sometimes? Like you’re just below the line of normal? And it terrifies you because staying there is crap, but you also don’t know if you are going to go back to that normal line, or just keep going down, down, down….

Am I being bipolar, ‘normal’ or just lazy?

From the forums, other blogs and articles I read, I think many a bipolar diagnosed person asks themselves this question. I certainly do, every bloody day. Since all the major changes in my life happened, it’s like I can’t quite seem to pull myself together.

The first month or so after my move it didn’t really matter, because I was okay financially, and I was happy to take the time I needed to recuperate, sort out my living arrangements and set up my business. My deadline was 2 May, because we had a lot of public and school holidays here in April. Until then I wouldn’t really care sleeping until noon (or past it) and just doing a little bit of work every day. And now, after the deadline came and went?

I gave up my 50mg Seroquel for sleep a few weeks ago and while sleeping was obviously hard in the beginning, now I don’t struggle so much and I can actually wake up at 8:00 or so. The problem is, I don’t WANT to. It’s way past noon on a Thursday and I am actually embarrassed to admit that I am still in my pyjamas. I have to start actively promoting my business which means handing out flyers and phoning people, but I just can’t do it. I am completely overwhelmed by the idea of interacting with strangers. Yet, on the other hand I am freaking out because I kind of need to start making money soon.

I’m pretty sure that the ‘oh crap what if this fails and I lose everything?’ part is ‘normal’. I’m sure that, for an introvert, anxiety about putting yourself out there and talking to strangers is ‘normal’ too. But what about the complete mental block? And feeling like I can’t breathe at the mere thought? What about the refusal each morning to wake up, shower and leave my house? Despite the fact that I (think) I WANT to work and stop feeling like I’m a lazy, unambitious, blob of a person doing nothing and going nowhere in life?

And the guilt, OH the guilt! I do nothing, yet I feeling incredibly guilty about it, so I totally beat myself up about being lazy, but it doesn’t make me get up and moving. So do I cut myself some slack and spend the day in bed without feeling guilty, or do I pick myself up by my bootstraps and just freakin get over it?

Am I being bipolar or lazy? That is forever the question.