Tag Archives: anxiety

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.

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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.