the depression is so bad you feel like you have failed everyone and everything and as much as you want to go to sleep and not wake up you have to keep on breathing.
Such was me a few weeks ago, me before coming off the Zoloft.
The Zoloft that made life worst. The Zoloft that made me feel crazy. The Zoloft that made me want to harm myself. The Zoloft that made me put the breaks on while driving because I thought someone was crossing the road and when I blinked no one was there (among other stories), The Zoloft that made me dream dreams that I thought were real, absolute. The Zoloft that did not mix well with alcohol. The Zoloft that did not let me sleep but yet made me feel like I wanted to go to sleep and not wake up. The Zoloft that made me paranoid. The Zoloft that changed me.
Now I am off the Zoloft, and in just a couple of weeks I already feel a ton better, not ‘normal me’ better, but not Zoloft crazy.
Back one one of my old faithful medications, Tegertol.
I am calm, yet I am frantic. Some of the manic madness from yesterday has subsided in some ways but heightened in others. My brain is a mess. My thoughts are chaos. But my speech has slowed down some, or when I catch myself speeding up I try to suppress it.
This, most often does not work. But still I try. This is a weird time. I normally do not have this much self-insight into what is going on with me when I begin to get manic. Lately I have been more in tune to my mental illness.
It has been over 3 years since my diagnosis. Maybe things have just fallen into a place where I can see it for some weird reason or another. Most times I am pretty far into a hypomanic or manic episode before I know. Looking back I can see it, because retrospect as you all know, can be a very powerful thing. Looking back I can almost always pinpoint the first signs, however subtle they are.
But last time and this time I have been more noticing of what is happening to my mind. I have noticed the speeding up sooner than I have in the past. I guess a large part of that is the no sleep thing that is going on with me right now.
I have no choice but to notice things because what else am I going to be doing all hours of the night? Except pick apart what is going on inside me and write, and then write some more. Or cleaning at 3:00AM can be a nice big flashing red light. Like some indicator beacon going off inside my head warning me of where this is headed.
Writing seems to be the only thing that is really keeping me grounded lately. From one extreme to the next. I cycled a lot faster this time than I have in a really long time. My mania back in March came and did not stay as long as some other times, but then I guess I was sick, and my doctor and I managed to manage it faster than the last time.
Then depression crept crashed in, instead of balance.
No nice little neat balanced mood before cycling back into mania or depression. Or at least not much balance before the switch.
This past month or so, probably closer to 8 weeks have brought more anxiety than I have had since 2013. I have no idea where it came from initially. But I guess I know with the family things we have going on, I can understand why it has stayed. It is every day now, no days break. I hate the feeling.
I feel like I want to check out of my body and brain for a day. Just crawl right out of my skin and not have to deal with what I am feeling. No tingly feeling just under the surface, getting stronger. No insomnia. No intrusive thoughts. No manic brain, where everything seems to be occupying the same space at the same time, all vying for my complete attention.
The only thing benefiting from my hypomania/mania right now, is my writing. And I am not even sure if that is benefiting or if it is just me believing that my manic writing is better than my every day writing. If it is because I tend to churn out more writing when I feel this way.
It’s almost like when manic and talking too much, I find myself posting to Facebook more often than I normally would, and I seem to not be able to help posting to my blog once I get something written.
Then I get nervous that I am irritating my readers because of my frequent posts. I then try to remind myself that my readers read my blog for a reason, because they can relate or they enjoy my writing or some other reason within themselves, which means I most likely am not irritating them as much as my mind tells me I am. So I try not to worry about that. But worrying is something I am good at, and I apologize if I am indeed irritating anyone.
The mania is keeping me completely drawn in to the writing. It is making feel like I really do have some sort of talent which in turn is making me want to publish so bad that it almost hurts.
And so begins the manic chore of researching publishers, types of publishers. Would I self-publish or otherwise? Do I even have enough manageable, coherent articles to even begin to think about this idea in a more possible way….or am I delusional in thinking I could even possibly bring my writings together in book form?
Is this some manic brain idea forcing me to start a project that I know I will not finish? Getting excited over the prospects only to have them dashed and squashed once I begin to get balanced again?
Sometimes I hate this part of this disorder. Because I get such good ideas, or maybe good is not the word I am looking for. They are intrusive ideas that I act on, only to completely abandon them once the balance comes back into play.
But mania is where all my good ideas are concocted.
Being bipolar means I am a mixture of several different things at once. But doesn’t being a person without a mental illness mean the same thing? Where do we begin to know which aspects of ourselves are who we are or what aspects are the mental illness taking over? Where do I end and my bipolar disorder begin? Or my other diagnoses begin? Maybe there is a fine line between them.
Some things are obvious. I know anxiety is a part of my mental illness. I understand that once I feel the familiar squeeze of my heart, the butterflies fluttering, all trying to escape the cocoon at the same time, while my heart is skipping a beat and a weight is squarely on my chest. Even though in the moment I feel so bad, I know this is part of my mental illness and I know it will pass. Even if in the moment I feel so terrible.
I understand that when I go days and weeks with only sleeping 1-3 hours each night, that this is also a part of my mental illness. I also know that this lack of sleep will cause more problems for me and will change me for a while, but eventually with the help of prescribed medications I will get some sleep, maybe not what someone would call normal. But normal for me, for my circumstances. It always comes full circle with my illness, from no sleep, to normal sleep (normal for me) to sleeping too much and back around to no sleep, or very little sleep (maybe not in that order).
When the mania hits, it is surprisingly not always obvious in the beginning. Because I feel so good that I finally think I am doing wonderful. The cloud is finally lifted and I am no longer in that deep dark pit, struggling to breathe. Sometimes the mania comes after a nice long bout of stable balanced mood. I still do not realize I am beginning a manic episode right away. Usually, it will depend on the spiral up. How fast it is, how hard or bad it is. Or if either of my friends or family actually tell me that I am becoming manic or “getting sick/not well”.
The beginning of mania/hypomania feels good. Maybe some of you are shaking your heads ‘no’. But for me, yes. I love the beginning of mania. I am much more active, I have projects that I am researching or completing, I am writing more and more. I am cleaning and cannot sit still. And I am losing weight. I feel so great.
But that soon spirals out of control. Talking so much and so fast that people are asking me to repeat myself because they no longer understand what I am saying. Jumping from topic to topic, such randomness in my speech. Not able to sit still at all, even when lying in bed I am shaking my leg or tossing and turning, which frustrates my husband.
Paranoia over things that are just ridiculous when I am stable. Shakiness. Sleeping less and less until I am sleeping an hour or less a night, but I do not feel tired, and I feel like I do not need to sleep. After all if I am sleeping, I cannot write, or clean, or do things. Not to mention that my body feels like it actually does not need the sleep, I am not tired, I am actually wired.
But the control that I think I am exercising is not me controlling the mania, but instead the mania controlling me. I do what it tells me to do. I know this now, as I sit here writing. But in the beginning I feel in control. I feel like I am controlling the mania, that I am doing what I want to do, when I want to do it. I feel like I am in such a fantastic place when the mania begins. I feel like my heart, soul, mind are beginning to spread wings and fly.
But then, the mania controls me. It begins to dictate what I do, when I do it. It makes sleeping near impossible. It makes my speech hard to understand, it makes my mind jump all over the place. It dictates everything that I do. It pushes me further and further to the edge, further and further from the balance line that I once walked. And I can almost hear the mania laughing at me, watching me spiral more and more out of control, becoming dangerously close to being hospitalized again.
The depression, for me, is the absolute worst. I hate how I feel. I literally feel like I am drowning and all I want to do is crawl under some rock and not have to do or deal with anything. I feel tired, I feel heavy and I hate myself. I begin having thoughts of self injury, and I mentally degrade myself. I find it hard to get out of my own way to do anything. It begins getting worst and worst. With the depression, after 3-4 days I know its depression for sure, it is much more obvious to me than the mania is in the beginning.
I know this is because the depression makes me feel so bad and because the mania feels so good in the beginning days, even weeks.
But I am not sure I even answered my own question, “Where do I end and my bipolar disorder begin?”. Because you know what, it honestly does not matter to me.
It is all a part of who I am, a giant part. And that is okay.
Not all bad days are depression. Not all fantastic days are mania. Sometimes it’s just a bad day, and the next day will be fine. Sometimes a fantastic day, is just that…..fantastic.
Tonight I am empowered. It did not start off that way, but it has gotten that way pretty quickly. It actually started with some hurt, some deep hurt within myself, one that I felt should not have been there. But it soon changed to disappointment. First at myself and then at someone else.
But now, now it is empowerment.
I learned something hard lately. That every person who smiles are you is not your friend. I won’t go into detail. But lets just say…..lesson learned, and learned well.
I have let it go. Letting it roll off my back like water off an umbrella. There was a time in my life where I would not have been able to let it go. Worrying about it, trying hard.
I know I am no longer that person and although I was pretty naive at the time, I no longer am. And it was a valuable lesson to learn. So I guess I should be thankful that I learned it now.
There has come this point in my life where I no longer care what any one thinks of me. I mean, I do, deep down to some extent. BUT the bitchy empowering person that I feel inside me right now….well she says “Fuck It”.
I have actually, FINALLY, let go of a lot of things over the past little bit, and I am going to be absolutely honest, It is the most freeing sensation I have ever felt.
I am happy, I am IN LOVE, I have a wonderful family and I love them, quirks and all.
I refuse to go back to the broken crumbled person that I once was. And I will definitely not let one person, and one person alone bring me there.
Right now I say, take me as I am, Bipolar and all. Manic, depressed, mixed, flat. I am who I am, and take me that way without talking shit behind my back, or don’t take me at all.
There are times when I am writing and my pen flows across the paper so freely that I re-read it days later and I do not remember writing it. Yet there it is, staring back at me in my hand writing or on my computer screen.
It is like my hands have a mind of their own and they know that the words are inside my head waiting to be formed into some semblance of coherent sentences.
Then there are the times when my mind is so crowded with thoughts and ideas that my fingers are going across the keyboard making mistakes while I am trying to form paragraphs that make sense. Like tonight, my thoughts are jumbled, I am sitting here my fingers flying over the keyboard, backspace is my best friend tonight as I am correcting the errors my fingers are making because they are unable to pick up the slack and write what my brain is thinking fast enough for my liking.
Half started ideas, fragments of paragraphs dancing across the screen. Black letters swirling, flying across the editor as I write, correct, fix the mistakes my fingers are making.
To say it is frustrating would be an understatement. But I am happy. Bliss. Writing.
I have to write, its like breathing, take it away right now and I will be nothing. Writing is so important to me, helping me to make sense of some of the jumbled thoughts that are inside my head. Getting them into some form that makes some sense. At least to me.
Each letter, each word, each sentence, each paragraph, all a part of my existential self.
Writing is a form of therapy for me. When I re-read what I have written I can feel what I have felt, or even feel what I wasn’t able to feel at the time it was written.
I have written pages and pages, books on top of books worth of my thoughts. I just never shared them, until now.
I still wonder at times if sharing them is the right thing to do, I wonder if any of the things I write makes sense to anyone else, or if it is just me that can pick sense into my jaded and jumbled thoughts.
But still I continue to write, to share, in hopes that someone will connect.