Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Ive Lost My Much-ness, I Used To Be Much More Muchier

There is always someone worse off than yourself; interesting statement and when used correctly its good to sit back and put things into perspective because we all have a tendency to get wrapped up in our own petty arguments, niggles and lives. Thinking about what makes me most happy can also bring perspective as can reading books, opening a newspaper or thinking about people like my brother-in-law that will be heading out to Afghan to fight for his country leaving behind my heartbroken sister and nephew for 6 months; But this isn't a good phrase to use when overcoming a mental illness as knowing that there are people worse off doesn't directly help my problems and adds to the guilt factor.
lets make something else clear... I don't wallow in self pity - yes I write about it but i don't discuss it and quite frankly its my right to seek help and feel shit about feeling shit.

SOME people think that depression is an attention seeking illness. This I find hard to understand - why would someone want to go from being a fun loving party gal with a HUGE social network to hiding away? Another argument Id like to put forward is that if someone is depressed and they are finding it hard to communicate then what is wrong with seeking attention? Surely the BEST thing a depressed person can do is seek some attention to help overcome the illness? When I'm feeling low I hide away from attention and do everything I can to hide the fact that I'm feeling low. This is partly because I don't know how else to deal with it and because you don't want to burden other people. I would argue that its anything but attention seeking and more about hiding the suffering....and in my case making it worse. Add a few issues into the equation and BAM! You hit crisis point.

Let me make something else clear. BiPolar is NOT a fashion statement and the last thing you need is people thinking you are a fake attention seeking, psycho. Why would someone want to fake a mental illness and even if you could (which I doubt the best actress could) Its loaded with stigma, why the fuck would someone want to do that? Just a thought but would faking a mental illness signify a mental illness?

So lets move on... I'm definitely a dust yourself off and get on with your life kind of girl. I rarely dwell on things that are out of my control. I put my party shoes on, grab my mates and hit nearest gay club. I get absolutely wankered, talk shit and dance. I basically have two speeds; High and very low. The past is always with us so I guess its time to stop running so i can enjoy middle age. Lets be honest, a "normal" person has bad habits. There are people I know that are rude and obnoxious, there are others that are arrogant and bitchy. I have a chemical imbalance and hope that I'm none of the above I'm seeking help to turn my life around...what are the "normal" peoples excuse for acting like a complete c***?

Like recovering alcoholics who avoid drinking or diabetics who take insulin, healthy lifestyle choices for bipolar disorder are a must along with finding out my triggers and patterns. It doesn't mean that I will never go out again BUT maybe its the wake up call i need to grow up a bit. I will still have my holiday to Jamaica and Corfu. I will definitly do my annual trip to sitges (my happy place). I will have some weekends in Manchester and Im sure that you will still find me dancing at 5am in Cruz 101. Im not going to run off to my local convent and become a nun and I will still social drink (once Im used to the meds) BUT I have to give up the binge drinking. BiPolar and drinking seem to go hand in hand...Did you know that up to 60% of people with BiPolar struggle with alcoholism or substance abuse? But I need to find things to replace my bad habits with.

I have been shown an over whelming amount of support with this and the few people that I feel havent are in the minority. Ive said it before and I will say it again...I treat people with the same respect as they treat me. I havent asked for anything and I wont be asking for anything, I seeked help off my own back. I don't expect people to understand but I do expect some respect. If I haven't been in touch its not because im being rude...Im focusing on getting better and surrounding myself in a positive environment. If that looks selfish then so be it. I need to get out of my cycle; I lie in bed, I cry, I feel sad and then I get help cos I know its not right and everytime I feel sad I sink that little bit lower. I get help but its still there only this time I hide it because I want everyone to think Im alright. But its not fine and IM not fine...Im a roller coaster ride of emotions. Slowly I start to feel better the dark mist lifts and I feel happy. I love my life and I love the world. Then CRASH! The cycle starts again....

I'm not saying that people lives should stop because Im unwell or for the world to revolve around me BUT, what goes around will come back around and there will be a time when you need that support back. BiPolar is a lifetime illness but depression can happen to anyone so think very carefully before you judge me. depression can happen to the happiest person on earth so don't think your immune...cos your not!

Its my birthday in a couple of days and I have decided to ignore it and anyone that knows me will know that this is very unlike me. I love birthdays and especially love mine. I was going to have a "Dont be gay be a ganster" themed party at a local club but its all come around very quickly and I dont think its right to go out (especially as i dont have the willpower to not get absolutly wasted). Im not cancelling because I want to hide away...I just want to prove to myself that even though my bday is on easter weekend I can have a good day without drinking a ridiculous amount of alcohol. I know people care and I appreciate the effort that the lovely Joel was going to but I dont think a massive night out will do me any good.

Im feeling really good today. I might look like a pile of shit but Im feeling well. the medication is not particully agreeing with me but I need to stick with it for now. Jamaica is two weeks away and this winter seems to have gone on forever. Sunshine is medicine for the soul!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Dumping the Stigma and Focusing on Recovery

This is going to be the hardest blog to write yet. I dont normally care what people think of me but I hate the fact that people see me as "mentally ill" as it paints the picture of me being in some institute wearing a straight jacket. I havent been sectioned but I was ill, I did seek help and I did go into hospital but it was voluntry and informal. I know that there will be alot of so called friends that will read this and still have thier own view on this but that shows more about thier lack of compassion and thier own niave and uneducated small minds. understanding, love and compassion really are the best medicine! Untill you've lived in my bipolar head...dont judge me!!At the end of the day...the ones that will mock, joke and gossip about this need to remember. I have a chemical imbalance in my brain...whats your excuse?

For those of you that read the last blog you know that I have been experiancing one of my depressive episodes.

What's It Like Being Hospitalized for Bipolar? first of all let me make it clear that I wasnt "sectioned". I was feeling in a really dark place and under the calm exterior was a very unquiet mind. In my experience, it's a strange occurrence to be on a locked psychiatric ward. They tell you that the locked aspect of the ward is for safety purposes. It's odd not to be able to come and go but when your in a critical state, I suppose it is safe to be "locked in". I dont remeber alot about arriving at the hosptial. I got a taxi and cried the whole way there (I remeber it feeling very surreal and feeling very alone). I was very spaced out due to the 12 valium I had taken in the last 48 hours. They then evaluate you and then give you a physical examination...I remeber having high blood presure and having blood taken. They then take away anything that you could potentially harm yourself with (hair strightners, phone charger, can of coke) and I was shown to my room. The first day being in hospital is the hardest...and even with further valium and zoplicone I couldnt sleep. I was there for three days and everyday I woke up at 4am. I didnt shower til my last day which sounds awful but when you feel dont care. My family where fantastic and in a weird way I think it was harder on them than it was on me.

For years, Ive suffered with a mental disability. No one has found a cure for manic depression (bipolar disorder). During those crisis years, nobody knew anything was really wrong with me. I was experiencing a wild rollercoaster ride of frightening highs and lows that put my life in jeopardy, but my disability is completely invisible. Most people that know me wouldnt have a clue what goes on inside my head. Granted, I was behaving rather erratically. At the same time, I was drinking heavily, partying hard, being VERY spontenious, engaging in sex with complete strangers, staying up for days on end, and in general living on the edge ... But that was my highs and its completly invisable.

Alot of people are quick to say "Do this" "try that". "cheer up" "focus on positive things" "Just remeber that there are people that are so much worse off than you". IT DOESN'T FUCKING HELP!!! Ive tried this for years and now ive got to crisis point! Its like cooking... Its no good just having the right ingredients, you need to have a recipe. I KNOW WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE! Its no good walking in the kitchen and critizing me (its even worse doing it behind my back). It takes effort and sometimes you need to recognise that you need help otherwise the meal will never get cooked! This is basically what happened...

Once I was re diagnosed and hospitalised I realised things would have to change. And no, friends did not come rushing to my side to support me in battling against my illness. All of a sudden I realized the stigma of having a mental illness - it hit me smack between the eyes. And the stigma was almost as bad as having to come to terms with the fact that I was mentally ill and needed treatment. I was diagnosed in 2008 and Ive stupidly thought that I could handle it and treat myself...If other people dont think I have a problem then its fine. Yes I get "depresseded" every now and then but i know that the dark mist will lift and the highs will return... But the highs are just as damaging!

So maybe its a good idea to expalain a little bit about BiPolar. Bi-Polar Disorder is the modern name for what used to be called "Manic Depression". As the old name suggests, people with Bi-Polar tend to have severe mood swings between intense feelings of depression and despair, on the one hand, and wild bouts of mania where they feel "on top of the world", elated and bursting with energy.

When I feel down most people dont see this because I will hide away from the world. I litterally disapear for a few days. Emotionally I have feelings of unhappiness that don't go away, I lie in bed and burst into tears for no reason. I feel useless, inadequate and hopeless. I have zero self-confidence. I either eat nothing or binge eat..I have difficulty in concentrating and I find it hard to make simple decisions. I avoid contact with friends and family and have difficuly in starting and completing simple everyday chores. Its difficult to even get myself dressed and showered.

Then comes the mania (the bit people see more)... very happy and excited, I hate it when people dont share my optamistic look on life. Im full of new and exciting ideas and move quickly from one idea to another. I party HARD and talk alot. I recklessly spend money, Im over-familiar or recklessly critical with other people. Im spontenious and Im generally less inhibited.

(when your depressed you realise there is a problem when you are in a manic state you dont see it as a problem).

There are four types of mood episodes in bipolar disorder; so then we also have hypo mania and mixed episodes. (Hypomania is a less severe form of mania). There are also three types of Bi polar......... but this is getting very boring!

Alot of friends were ignorant of the many aspects of the illness. Bi polar is a lifetime chronic, relapsing illness. Medication alone is not enough to fully control bipolar. This is the main reason for this blog. it helps to empty my mind and keep track on how im feeling. I need to monitor my moods.

Having a surportive enviroment is massivly important and David (The Jew) has been my rock through this. Most people hope to make a diffrence in someones life and I can honestly say that I dont know where I would be without him. I hope that one day I will be able to help someone as much as he has heleped me. dont get me wrong.....Ive had messages of support off so many people and I genuinly appreciate it but his friendship and support has been lifechanging. he really is an actual angel.

Some people think that I shouldnt write this blog and quite frankly if you are reading this and you are one of those people I think you should stop reading this, stop judging me and sort out your own lives. Would you think the same if I had a "physical illness". of Course you wouldnt, youd be sympathetc and support me. I hate the stigma that goes with BiPolar!

BiPolar has affected my work, friendships and past relationships (Liam not Alex...Alex was just a cunt) as well as my family and was probably alot of the reason I ended up in care. I worry that im never going to have a normal life because of my illness and when I see "crazy people" I worry that I will end up like them.

On the plus side people with Bipolar disorder tend to have more passion, compassion and determaination than alot of other people. We make great friends as we understand lifes ups and downs.

After coming out of hospital I went to Hemel and spent some time with my family who have been absolutly incredible...there compassion and love has been unbelieveable. It was my sisters bday and hen do over this time. I attempted to have a vodka on my sisters bday which ended in tears...oceans of tears and lots of vomit (yuck). Two vodkas made me dizzy, sleepy and gave me extreme nausea (always read the small print). While I spent most of the evening on my mums bathroom floor with her holding my hair and rubbing my back her advice was " darling, your lifestyle is really going to have to change". At that moment I realised that I loved my mum but really fucking hate my life!

The next night was my sisters hen night in London. This whole episode has made me lose ALOT of confidence. Im a party girl...always have been and I feel like Im losing my identity (and this is a big deal). After last nights episode I decided NOT to take my mediaction (and before I get critised for this I did discuss this with the crisis team). I cant say it was the best club Ive ever been to but we definitly made the most of it! It was a hillarious night! I cant say I have my confidence back but I was with girls that I have known for alot of years and that know me really well. The theme was flappers and gansters. It was very girly and alot of fun.... I cant wait for the wedding! Jamaica in a few weeks!!

Unless I wrote this blog (or you lived with me) you really wouldnt even realise I was a manic depressive. But I do realise that things have got to change in my life. My Bipolar isnt the end of the world...Its the begining of a new one!