Careful – Cycling through!

I woke up this morning feeling good and rested. Then I realized my alarm hadn’t gone off because my cell-phone had died (while charging) and I was late for work. Then, my first order of the day was to plug an Ethernet cable for someone who didn’t know how to. (It’s a nice person, I don’t  hold a grudge. Not their fault for not being Tech-savvy). But still, you can imagine how the rest of the day went.

All of this bad luck aside, I did come to an important conclusion. I’ve kind of figured out my cycle.

No, not that kind of cycling. The other kind.

I think I can mostly situate myself on my personal scale and know what’s to come in the next few days. I didn’t use to be predictable, and maybe it won’t last very long either. I think that even if lithium doesn’t stop the depressions or the hypomania it helps me see through it and remember who I really am.

So I think my cycle lasts between 1 and 2 weeks and goes like this:

Phase 1: HAPPY. Everything is great. Life is awesome. I can do everything. MUST MAKE PLANS.
Phase 1.5: Happy, enjoying my time. Stuff becomes a little dull or irritating but it’s okay.
Phase 2: GET OFF OF MY FACE. I will blow up this whole planet. I want out. Of what? How the hell should I know?!?
Phase 3: I’m angry. And I’m tired. More like exhausted. Please go away. I want to be alone and maybe sob a little.
Phase 3.5: I suck. I can’t do anything right. I’ll always be like this and I don’t deserve anyone or anything. I want to die. I can’t take this anymore.

Of course that’s just a scale, but I think it’s pretty accurate. Also, events/news/situations can come in and completely change it of course. But I think knowing my base cycling can help me. Maybe I won’t do certain things or go to certain events when I know where I am or will be in the next few days. It might help me prevent overreactions as well. Also, when I was writing it down, I realized that I don’t have a space for “normal” state. Maybe that’s why I feel so alienated with the whole concept of being normal “in between” episodes. Maybe it’s because I’ve been cycling like that for so long, normal actually doesn’t exist for me. To be honest, I also feel like I’ve lost something. I’ve lost the mysterious in one way. I guess it probably sounds weird or crazy -both of which describe me well. It’s for the greater good though, right?

What about you guys? Have you figured out your cycle, or do you even have one? How did you feel when you figured it out or how do you feel about not having one?

Have a great day!

I’ve been feeling good – and it’s scary

Hello there! How are you doing?

Personally, I’m doing good. I’ve been doing good for well over a week now. A normal person would say “Great! You’re lucky! You should be glad.” Except I’m not normal. Part of me simply wants to be happy and put all the worries away, but another part wants to be cautious and remain vigilant. Because when you have Bipolar Disorder, you must always remain vigilant. Know what you’re thinking, what you’re doing, where you’re going and most of all, if all of it makes sense. Is your reaction proportionate to the situation? Would you say/do this in a normal state of mind? Are you slipping into a depression/mania/hypomania?

Statue in Brussels
Sometimes, that’s what being Bipolar feels like…

I have rapid cycling, but the extremely rapid kind. I usually have small ups & downs inside of days/hours and big ups & downs every couple weeks. So when almost two weeks go by and there’s no sign of depression, it’s strange to me. There is a good reason for it though: my lithium has been working well enough and I recently started taking b12 supplements. My levels were way low, so there’s a good chance it was making my depression symptoms much worse. The lack of depression is good news. Still, I am scared. All my life, my biggest fear was that one day I’d  give up and commit suicide. I have to say I probably would have a long time ago if it wasn’t for the people around me. Today, my biggest fear is that I’ll one day have a full blown manic episode. I’ve always stayed within the range of hypomania. I’ve been cycling so fast the past year that I don’t even remember what it feels like to be normal. What is ok when all you know is either very happy or extremely sad?

So recently I’ve been feeling energetic and happy. And ready to do all sorts of activity. Ready to start working in a new environment (same company). I have a list of things to do and I’m not even stressed one bit. I know I can do it. I am confident. I can think clearly. To me, it sounds both like a blessing and a curse. It is so amazing to finally be doing great on a regular basis. To be able to smile of such a true smile that even people in the street respond to it. It’s like my life finally has a meaning and it feels great. But it also feels like it’s hypomania. Not the one I’m used too, because the one I’m used to makes me dance for a couple hours and then get incredibly irritable. So I keep monitoring myself. Every day I think about how I’ve been and what I’ve done and if it looks like what a normal person would do. It’s frustrating and exhausting to always have to analyse your every thought/action. But it’s also necessary. I wouldn’t want to wake up in a prison cell because I’ve gone mad and tried to steal a pie from Rockaberry.

Sometimes I wish I could talk to someone who understands that. Someone who knows how scary it is to be sad and to be happy. Until then, I always have Internet. And you? How do you know when you’re slipping into a mania or a depression? What do you do to stop it/reduce the symptoms? Are you afraid of your emotions, or do you enjoy them while they last?

Have a great night!

Bipolar disorder and remembering to take our meds

Hi all,

Well, so I had filled this post and then wordpress ate it all and digested it so I can’t find it anymore. I’ll try and make it as good as before.

I have been reading articles about why people who have bipolar disorder tend to have difficulties taking their medication as instructed by their doctors or psychiatrists. I find it interesting how often people -and doctors- just put it aside as if the only reason why someone would do that is because they are “stubborn”. I mean the only “good” reason to stop is the side effects right? Wrong. I can say from experience that more often than not the reason is much more complicated than what people think. Yes, the side-effects are a big reason. Yes, sometimes the person IS stubborn. I guess the best way to explain it would be to talk about why I stopped, more than once.

The first time I took lithium I was 12 years old. I could not stand my psychiatrist and my parents, although supportive, did not know a lot about bipolar disorder, much less what it’s like to live with it. I was young, with my life in front of me and I was confronted to a horrible idea. The idea that I had an incurable illness for which I’d have to take pills for the rest of my life. I mistrusted people in general and wouldn’t accept the idea that my brain wasn’t right, that what makes me me isn’t really myself and I can’t control it, therefore I need medication. The dosage was too low and it wasn’t working; since I didn’t know what “working” looked like I just decided that I didn’t need those pills and stopped taking them on my own. The same thing happened again a couple years later.

Week pillbox

Later own, when I got really tired of the dark moments and the suicidal thoughts got too hard I decided to seek help again (my previous doctor was only for children so I could not see him anymore). I was put on anti-depressants, which worked to a point, quite surprisingly. I refused to accept that I was bipolar and thankfully the anti-depressants didn’t send me into a full-blown mania, but they could have. Later on though, I decided I was better and stopped going to therapy (it wasn’t the right type for me anyways). The psychiatrist left the city and I was once again left with no doctor. I stopped taking the medication because I had no doctor and they were giving me bad side effects.

Less than a year ago, I finally accepted what I have and decided to start lithium again, with a new doctor. I know that I need them. I hate that I need them. Every night, I am reminded that if I don’t take those little pills, my brain will take it upon itself to make me and other people live hell. And that is hard to accept. But I do it because I’ve seen hell. Because I really, really, don’t want to go back there. But sometimes, it’s hard to remember. You see, when you’re finally feeling good, you’re still bipolar. You know you’re well only because of the pills, but your head is already so full of so many things that you forget that you are sick. You’re so exhausted from just being that you forget to take that one dose. And the next. Because the meds may help, they don’t make it disappear. It’s still so much work, every day, to just stay sane and focus on the right things.

The doctors should understand that. When they ask you why you stopped taking your meds, they shouldn’t judge. They should understand that there is no one magical reason. It’s everything and it’s nothing. And it’s “I don’t know. I just stopped. It felt right”. Because it did.

Healthy Place has an interesting article about it. It’s a great website where you can find information about mental health and in-depth descriptions of mental illnesses as well as blogs and articles written by people who live with them. They also have a Facebook page where they have discussions and you can participate. You should definitely check them out.

And you, do you have trouble taking your medication as prescribed? If yes, why?