1. Going dotty
2. Leaf me alone
3. Cracking up
6. Darkness and light
7. Time out
9. Stamping out
12. Washed out
15. Not happy
22. Thank you
24. Mum and Dad
25. Old and new acquaintances
27. Trying to stay positive
My Thing-a-day this year has followed a theme.
I was unsure whether I would be able to fully participate because of illness.
Viewing it as a self imposed Occupational Therapy helped me to strive each day. A problem was that I wanted to achieve a completed piece each day. I couldn’t accept anything less as I would view it as a failure.
Each title has a link to Bipolar Disorder. Bipolar disorder is a life-long and potentially life-threatening illness.
It is not a trendy label. It is severe and enduring. Periods of stability inbetween relapses are tainted with the fear that a relapse will occur. The only uncertainty is that the nature of the relapse and its onset is unknown … Will it be high? Will it be low? Will it necessitate another admission?
“Lows” are deep, dark depressions. Not washing, changing clothes, wanting to be ‘invisible’. Feeling hopeless, worthless, suicidal. Hating life, being angry at the parents who gave it, wanting to end it, attempting to end. Seemingly there is no way out.
When stable, resenting medications that can minimise severity and frequency of relapses. Being tempted to, and actually, play with doses to avoid side effects. As a change in mood occurs beyond the norm, trying to hide it, being exhausted by wearing a mask, putting on a front … yet that exhaustion is not rewarded by restful sleep.
Both “highs” and “lows” result in lack of concentration, poor sleep, poor appetite, altered perception and dangerous behaviour. Occasionally, mood is “mixed” a combination of mania and depression. This is difficult to describe and for someone else to imagine …. Crying uncontrollably, feeling suicidal, yet laughing and (literally in one case for me) doing gnastics down the corridor.
In a hypomanic phase I can hear music, feel paranoid, be disinhibited, spend money on multiples of the same item (that Only one of I wouldn’t even want), be unreasonably irritable, have racing and muddled thoughts.
What is an ‘upside’ at the time of what I refer to as a “happy” high
(one where I’m not nasty, superior to others etc) is the enhanced perception of things. Everything is brighter, more colourful, vivid, larger, more intense. Tiny detail is awe-inspiring and magnified. It feels as if veins on leaves, each blade of grass and each particle of sand is visible all at once. I have never taken/used illicit/recreational drugs but I can understand why people do if their “highs” resemble this. It must be addictive.
A high will always top out … Just as a low will bottom put. Trying to maintain a window inbetween is difficult. Medications cannot cure Bipolar Disorder. They can only reduce symptoms. There are anti-psychotics, anti-depressants and mood-stabiles. I take a combination of all three. Within these groups are many different medications. Finding a combination that works with minimal side effects is the goal. This is a very unexact science as it is different for all.
My aim in opening up like this (and this has taken quite a while to write in as concisive manner as possible) is to try and dispell myth and stigma and to increase awareness.
I am extremely fortunate that I have the love and care from others. My family are there for me always. They, reluctantly, understand and try to be patient when I want to temporarily sever contact. I have an excellent health team. I have a very good care plan and am contacted twice daily by family. My care co-ordinator (keyworker) allows me to contact in whichever way I feel comfortable (but at the same time has an advance directive drawn up while well) to intervene further if necessary.
Thank you to those who have read this to the end. It’s long and rambling.
Participating in Thing-a-Day has given me a creative goal. The collaborative nature of the challenge has maintained a focus and it has been wonderful to feel a part of something larger. For the last few years, New Year has meant a new TAD on the horizon. I hope that continues.
Best wishes and an arty/crafty/creative 2013 to all ….. and hope to meet again 2014