I miss the mad me

 

It sounds, I imagine, unbelievable if I were to say that I miss madness. Time is on its side, after all; 55 years until I sought help for what, by then, I knew well enough had to be bipolar disorder. Manic depression. This was three years ago.

I exist now with no medical or psychiatric help; all I have is a small cauldron of medications to keep me sane.

My moods are indeed more stable, with the top and bottom of them clipped. That still leaves an awful lot of space in-between for, well, potential insanity.

Something of me has gone. Maybe it’s me? After all, you live with someone long enough you get to know them, maybe very well – or what you imagine to be so. What’s gone for me is my creativity first and foremost; I am a poet, novelist, photographer, painter. Or at least I was. No, I still am. I just don’t do it as much. I’ve started to write a small amount of poetry again and I’ve always taken photographs. I’ve written no fiction in a few years and as I say, a piddling amount of poetry that I don’t know the value of. Is it any good? Well, it gets published – is that an indication in these days of online magazine and journals? Depends which one I suppose.

Madness gave me a sex life. Rather too much of one I suppose. And with it, some confidence and a way around the crippling social anxiety I have now or when sane. Luckily I escaped the uncontrolled spending that may people with bipolar have. I’ve had no inclination to go out and buy a Harley Davidson or a sports car. I did buy several Fairport Convention albums and a load of cheap watches. I am holding down a good job (I have no idea how) and I can handle this limited expenditure.

After all, in the past, whilst manic, I’ve got married soon after beginning a relationship. And bought a one-way ticket to India (and used it).

I read a lot of blogs and articles about bipolar; I’m pretty much a textbook case, though one of my psychiatrists (when I had some) said I was an ‘unusual case’. This, I assume, is because I have both ultra- ultra rapid cycling (ultradian) bipolar as well as a more typical cycling form that has varied from rapid cycling to a longer cycling model.

Some things are much easier for me now, medicated. I had several months of CBT but it didn’t seem to have worked for me. Maybe if I’d been medicated at the same time it would have helped? Some things surfaced during that therapy that I didn’t like, didn’t feel at all comfortable with. Specifically, bipolar dissociation and even DID itself. One of the more ridiculous things my therapist suggested was that I free the other self inside me (and in the mirror) to see what happens. No, thank you.

I can’t honestly say the ‘extremely intrusive suicidal ideations’ are any less present. Maybe a little less severe though. Maybe not.

You might have by now a sense of what I mean by missing madness? When manic or hypomanic – and especially when in mixed moods – I often have no idea what I’m doing. Sometimes I know afterwards, often not at all. I have memory lapses (dissociation?) that scare me. My short term memory is wrecked. I live a separate life in dreams, though I’ve not slept through the night even once in decades.

I’ve put on a load of weight since starting the meds – I usually sum up the choice of being medicated or not as fat or mad? I seem to have chosen the former, though as I said at the beginning of this piece, I’m far from convinced that I’ve made the right choice.

 

 

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Those manic moments

A few things I’ve done whilst manic:

 

  1. As a young child, had a ‘vision’ that Jesus had leprosy. Also, at nursery school, had another ‘vision’ with depersonalisation.

 

  1. As a teenager, had other religious ‘visions’ including psychosis.

 

  1. As a teenager, the planet Venus told me (in compressed time) the philosophy of Plato’s ‘Symposium’.

 

  1. Got married. (It didn’t last.)

 

  1. Bought a one-way flight ticket to India. (And used it.)

 

  1. Been a total slut.

 

  1. Marched up and down the living room wielding a large kitchen knife, frequently stabbing the dining table.

 

  1. Had various delusions, most of which I still have (to some extent) despite meds.

 

  1. Bulk bought: cheap wristwatches; USB pen drives; clothing; etc.

 

  1. Written what I estimate to be more than a million words since my teenage years: fiction (several novels), poetry (thousands – many published), reviews, plays, etc.

 

  1. Wrote a 70k word autobiography in two weeks at the age of 20-ish despite nothing actually having happened in my life at that point.

 

  1. Made 20+ ensō paintings in 10 mins or so (total). The lawn was covered with them.

 

  1. Driven up to the Black Mountains obsessively, 3x a week for a couple of months.

 

14. Danced on a table in the staff room at lunchtime. No-one seemed to notice.

 

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A testing time (again)

The next 10 days are really going to test my mental (and physical) strength and resolve. Bipolar mood swings can be rapid and unpredictable. Stress is one of just several things that can cause depression, hypomania – or mixed mood.

I’m not a sociable person. Though I have done many poetry readings without stress, the thought of having to take a school Assembly this coming week is beginning to hit me. I could probably get out of it but I’m going to give it a go if at all possible.

And during the week after this coming one we have a re-Inspection; this is without doubt the most stressful time for any teacher. During a previous inspection, in a different school, I worked a 92 hour week leading up to it.

These two things really aren’t going to put anyone with a mental illness in a good frame of mind. Consciously, I’ll do my best to, well, do my best. But I’m not in charge of my bipolar with its depression, hypomania, OCD, anxiety and often dissociation.

I’ll see you on the other side..

 

tree2-tiltshift

Been a while..

No news, as they say, is good news. And in this case, that’s correct.

I’ve been pretty stable all through the Christmas season. Minimal suicidal ideation, a little anxiety, some [bipolar] dissociation, and the usual (relatively) low-level OCD.

That’s how unpredictable mental illness is; a renowned ‘stressful’ time can have little effect, whereas a ‘manageable’ time can see symptoms escalate wildly.

The meds are working, it must be said. Talking therapy would be useful, but that’s not going to happen.

I’ve even been tempted to begin writing again (a 4th P.I. Wall crime novel) but I’m not painting; there has been some collage work and poem-writing however.

Work can be very stressful, especially with us waiting on ESTYN to re-inspect us.

I continue to become physically less fit, and the meds are still making me put on weight. Swings and roundabouts, I guess.

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Progress, or lack of such

To be honest, I thought I’d have seen more progress by now. Three years after CBT started (it lasted about 8 months) and just over two years since I began taking meds. These have changed and dosages upped several times to where they remain steady at the moment. Daily: 600mg quetiapine, 20mg fluoxetine, 500mg sodium valproate.

And yes, they’ve topped and tailed my more extreme moods. In that respect there’s been significant progress. I still get frequent – and fleeting – suicidal ideation, but I don’t have the strength and wherewithal to actually do anything about it. I tend to ere on the side of caution and add ‘yet’ to that statement. It wouldn’t do to think I’m cured. I know there’s going to be no such thing.

So two years.. I’m holding down my job and – I think – doing well at it. My team gives me some support by way of accepting and dealing with my many cognitive and memory issues that pop up daily more than once.

I have no-one to talk to about my illness; at least, not in detail. Twitter remains a source of support, albeit from people I’ve never met and never will meet. There are loads of us on there exposing our souls and craving help and attention. Whenever it’s good to talk, Twitter offers a (usually) one-directional ‘conversation’ outlet. I have no input from my GP or any other medical service. I saw a psychiatrist last before the summer but that was only because my GP referred me due to a down-turn in moods. I have no future appointment set.

It would be interesting to see if I could hold-down a relationship at this point in my treatment. Bipolar destroyed all the romantic relationships I’ve ever had, and I still feel so bad about that. Some of these were good for me, and I let them go through my – admittedly uncontrollable – moods. As it stands now, three years since talking therapy began and just over two years since meds started, I have no such relationship. Indeed, I’ve not had a girlfriend (or even a date!) in two and a half years. That’s the meds for you; I’ve been stripped of emotions, feelings, libido and effort. I create no writing work, and barely any art work – the things that I’ve always done and done well.

I don’t really live; I exist. And even then, there are occasions when I get hypomanic and don’t even believe that. I exist with moods and delusions, my physical health has taken a hard knock (illness and meds) and I generally ache all over 24/7. I still don’t sleep. My short term memory is f*$*&d, basically. I’ve put on a couple of stone in weight since starting the meds but from looking at other people’s experiences I could have put on an awful lot more. Who knows, maybe I will? I’ve had to get rid of a load of clothes and start acquiring from scratch. (Though that’s actually been quite therapeutic!)

The biggest shock to me lately has been a letter from the Pensions people; I still have 9 more years to work in this stressful job. Until I’m over 66. How the hell’s that going to happen? I’m living day to day. Small mercies.

 

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/e/e5/Magritte_TheSonOfMan.jpg/225px-Magritte_TheSonOfMan.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

When it happens, it will be

 

When it happens.

 

 

I will die on a Sunday, when the crisp
web of a dewy morning sparkles,
heavy as rope.

It will rain, and its perseverance will
hammer heavy on my soul.

I will die on a Sunday, and Monday
will be empty but for a silence; a
sadness that evades sentiment but

evokes melancholy amongst the few.

* * *

From depression to brief relief

I’m having a brief evening’s break from depression it seems and it’s such a relief. There are signs it’s coming, before I realise it’s here:

I’ll have a drink – not much left of that bottle of white wine. Small glasses, straight or tall glass of kir.

I’ll listen to familiar ‘up mood’ music: invariably this will consist of Underworld, Mew, maybe some Psychedelic Furs. But always Underworld. ‘Two Months Off’ especially

Such a relief; just to lift that mood that’s persecuted me for weeks, months. Try to forget that this break will more than likely last no longer than an evening. I’ll wake tomorrow filled with anxiety, low mood, suicidal ideation and OCD-driven thoughts and ideas I wouldn’t wish on my enemies.

An evening off.

The music in my head and in my body. Moving. Feeling. Being.

An idea that everything might be alright; not forever. Hell, not even for a day. But for now, it might be good. Shift those thoughts, overcome those blades and car crashes, live for another day.

Such a relief, so impermanent. A relaxing of muscles, a loosening of nerves. Just being someone, something, other than who I am. That can wait.

Breathe in, breathe out. Sleep, because tomorrow’s going to be the usual bastard of a day.