The Adventure Begins

 

The Adventure Begins


I am finally getting back to normal, and I love it! I was in such a bad spot with that depressive episode. Sleep was impossible, but that was all I wanted to do. I couldn’t sleep because my mind would not stop racing with all these horrible negative thoughts. I didn’t want to do anything, go anywhere, or even see anyone. I just wanted to disappear, and I was making plans to do so. I don’t think I ever felt that low in my life. I thought it was going to last forever, that I would be trapped inside my own mind thinking all these crazy things. Continue reading

Looking Up: For Today

Looking Up: For Today


I am too scared to say that my depression has lifted because I don’t want to get my hopes up. What I can say is that, for today, things are looking up. Just because I have had one good day, for the first time in weeks, does not mean that I am miraculously cured, but I guess it’s a start, right? Continue reading

Depressive Episode Part 2: My Bipolar Ride

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Depressive Episode Part 2: My Bipolar Ride

July 20, 2017


Sometimes I don’t even know where to start word wise. I will have so much to say or have so much going on inside my head but I will be at a loss of where to actually start… and that is what is happening to me right now. My emotions are on overload. When I think that things are getting better, or that maybe things will be okay, reality slaps me in the face and laughs at me and reminds me that nothing is okay. Nothing will ever be okay.

Yes, I know, this is just a depressive episode. Key word being episode and that things will get better. I get that, I really do. But when I think about it, and look at the bigger picture, technically nothing is ever okay because no matter what, there will ALWAYS be ANOTHER depressive episode to follow at a later time. It’s guaranteed in my life. Thanks, bipolar disorder… I love you too.

So I get to go on and think that things are getting better and that I am getting better and that life is full of laughter and joy, and all is fine and dandy… and then one day… it’s just not. Then I am back to this. And I am sad again. I will hate life again. I will want to just run away from everything, and everyone again. I will lose my spark for life. So wtf is the point if it will always turn back to this in the end? This is total nonsense to have to continue to deal with this every couple of weeks, or months, or however long this disorder decides to give me before it decides to knock me down again.

I was having a really good day hanging out with my best friend again, and then I went home and had to deal with the unnecessary bullshit that made no sense at all. I was told that if I did not start going out that I had to leave my home, so I went out and had a good time. Afterward, had come home to get yelled at because my boyfriend didn’t want to come home to an empty house… after he told me he didn’t want me to isolate… I was just doing what I was told.

So the argument began… the tears began… the depression worsened… I wanted to fade away, to just disappear or become so small and unnoticeable. A friend sent me a text message and just said hey and asked how I was doing and I said not good and we just started talking and she calmed me down a little, which I want to thank her for because I was hysterical. I tried selling her my books. (I don’t know what it is with my books lately. I think it has something to do with the fact that they are something that means the most to me and to get rid of them signifies how done I am with everything… not sure but maybe.) 

I am so up and down today. When I am up, I’m UP… but when I’m down… I am so down that it isn’t even funny. I don’t even know where I am, mood wise, right now as I write this. I feel lost in some kind of limbo. I am not okay, but I not bad either. I don’t know what I feel. I don’t even know if it would be classified as numb. A part of me wants to laugh and the other part of me wants to cry and then another part of me feels nothing. I feel like I am broken into sections.

Then… hearing about the suicide of Chester from Linkin’ Park is like surreal and freaking nuts. I love Linkin’ Park and almost every song they came out with is f-ing amazing. Their song “Heavy” that they came out with not too long ago, hits home for me all too well. It is like they cracked open my head and peeked around because that is exactly what goes through my head half the time. If you have never heard that song before, you seriously need to listen to it and look up the lyrics. And this Part:

“You say that I’m paranoid
But I’m pretty sure the world is out to get me
It’s not like I make the choice
To let my mind stay so f**king messy”

That is me 100%. I do always feel like the world is out to get me, and I sure as hell don’t make this choice to like my mind stay so f-ing messy either, and it is messy. My whole mind set is screwed up. I just don’t want to be me anymore. I am sick of being me. Can’t I be someone else now? Can’t I have a new life now? I broke this life, and I really don’t think that I can fix it anymore. It’s not like I haven’t tried because I have. I just can’t do this anymore. I don’t want to do this anymore.

Wow, some people argue with me about this but I think it takes bravery and courage to be able to actually follow through with a suicide. So, I guess I have to give Chester credit for that because a lot of people get scared and back out at the last second. It takes guts to be able to follow through with that little voice in the back of your head nagging at you, telling you that it is not too late to turn back or that maybe things will get better even though you know they really will not.

I feel like this black cloud is following me around, or this black shadow, and it is just waiting for me. It is consuming every ounce of energy that I have. It is trying to take me down further into this depression until I can see nothing but pitch black darkness. It will not allow any light to shine through. I honestly do not know what will happen if this shadow catches me because it is so close to me that I can feel its icy breath on my neck.

I don’t even know what part of this depressive episode I am in. I don’t know if I am in the beginning, middle, or end. I am hoping that I am not at the beginning because I don’t think I will be able to stand to feel any worse than I do and still make it out alive.

 

 

My Nightmarish Manic Episode

My Nightmarish Manic Episode

By: Samantha Steiner


 

A little over a week ago I had come out of a pretty bad depressive episode, only for me to jump right into a very bad agitated manic episode. I think I had maybe a day or two of baseline stability afterward, if that, before the switch over. I tend to be a rapid cycler a majority of the time, so after coming out of my depressive phase I was expecting to get slightly hypomanic or something but I did not expect full blown mania.

This episode was not the wonderful, euphoria with the excess energy and the happy outgoing personality that everyone normally associates with the clichéd mania. This was different, even for me, but it was still a manic episode nonetheless.

It started gradually and then hit all at once out of nowhere. Everything was a massive haze and I have to piece certain details together because I am unable to recall every detail still. It was almost like I wasn’t even there myself.

I became hyper focused on writing and anything to do with writing; from actually writing to techniques and everything in between. It was a very agitated manic episode. It felt like I could feel no other emotions other than agitation and feeling like that is not pleasant in the least.

I literally could not get myself to do anything else unless it had to do with the subject of writing. It felt like my body was physically controlled and I was only able to do and focus on certain functions. I wasn’t sleeping, and when I did sleep it was maybe for about two hours and then I was wide awake and ready to go at it again.

I wasn’t consuming much food or fluids and when I did, it was because my boyfriend physically made something for me and brought it over to me. But then I would devour my meal within a matter of minutes and I would instantly get back to my research, writing or outlining.

I just could not take care of myself. Nothing at all mattered to be besides what I was hyper-fixated on during this episode. Everything else agitated me and pissed me off, but even writing agitated and annoyed but it felt worse not to do it. I neglected everything. I lost track of time and would even forget to take my medications which probably made things that much worse.

The worst part of it all was the isolation and the fact that I could not, and would not leave my house or any reason at all. The house could have been on fire and I would not have even wanted to leave it then. I would have stayed right in front on my laptop and continued on with what I was doing. I avoided phone called and when I did answer, I would have to keep the conversations very short because that was all I was able to tolerate.

I missed three appointments because I would not leave my house. It wasn’t just that I did not want to leave my house; it was that I felt like I physically couldn’t leave. It was a completely suffocating feeling. It was as if I left my house I would cease to exist or something. It was like temporary agoraphobia. My mind was completely warped at this point. I was also experiencing psychosis and paranoia. At one point, my boyfriend was sitting at his desk and I kept telling him to hold on because I thought he was trying to tell me something, but after a moment he said that he hadn’t actually spoken to me in a long time. Things like that kept happening over and over again where I kept hearing things that weren’t there. My whole reality was twisting.

I, in all honestly, should have been hospitalized with this episode. I don’t think I let it show on the outside how bad it was on the inside since I was isolating to such an extreme. It was a very brief episode but it was a nightmare, and it felt like it lasted forever since I had no concept of time.

I had thousands of ideas flowing through my head at the same time and I felt like I literally had to do them all at once, otherwise, I would have forgotten them and they would be lost forever. Everyone recommends to write the ideas down when that happens but that would not have worked at the time because for every general topic, there would have been a subcategory that had another subcategory, and yet another subcategory. The list, or outline, would have been endless and pointless in the end. I thought I was being super productive.

Three or four days after this all started, my therapist called me when I didn’t show up to our session. I recognized the number and I was starting to gain some clarity at this point. I also couldn’t take the agitated feelings any longer because they were so overwhelming and overpowering. I didn’t know what to do with them other than to just sit with them.

So I answered my phone. Immediately, I started to cry out of pure frustrated agitation and explained everything and about how I couldn’t leave my house and that I refused to leave my house. My therapist advised me that she was going to talk to my psychiatrist and call me back.

In the meantime, I started to gradually fall out of the episode even more. It was like coming out of a bad trip. I started asking my boyfriend how bad I really was, what day it was, and how long I have been like this. Everything seemed so hard to process.

About an hour after I talked to my therapist, a nurse from my psychiatric office called me and he advised me to increase my Vraylar dose from 3mg to 6mg and I did that immediately.

The increase ultimately seemed to help. I wish I would have asked for help sooner but the only thing going through my head at the time was, “I don’t want to go inpatient.” So that kept me from seeking treatment when I knew it was right there.

Everyone experiences different effects from mania and this is just my most recent experience. I knew coping mechanisms, I knew how to seek help, but I just couldn’t. The logical side of my mind was malfunctioning to an extreme and everything I knew went right out the window. I have been through this long enough to know what to do but that did not matter at the time to me.

While I was on the phone with my therapist that day she kept asking me questions to see where my mind was at and to see if I was a danger to myself or others. In the end, what it came down to was that I was not hurting myself or anyone else. I was not drinking or using drugs even in a severe manic episode which is hard to avoid for some people, especially me, because mania and using can go hand-in-hand.

My therapist told me that I did what I had to do. I was actually using one of my coping mechanisms to ride out this episode and it wasn’t like I was focusing on writing or researching anything bad. I wasn’t journaling about how much I hate myself or looking up suicide techniques. So even though I wasn’t all there, I as okay as I could have been at the time.

There is no way to explain a manic episode to someone who has never gone through one, especially these types of manic episodes where psychosis is involved. I hope someone out there can relate to this and see that there are not alone.

Common Early Warning Signs of Mania or Hypomania

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The list below is of common early warning signs that may help you recall the changes you experience when a manic/hypomanic episode is about to occur.  If you find it difficult to identify your early warning signs, you might discuss this with a trusted friend, family member, therapist or doctor. They can give you helpful feedback about what changes they notice in your behavior when you are in or beginning an episode of elevated mood.

Some of the most frequent early warning signs of mania have been found to be less sleep and increased activity.

Here are some examples of common early warning signs of elevated mood:

Changes in behaviour

  • –  more focused on goals and projects
    – start more new things, projects or plans at one time
    – making lots of new friends
    – more energy
    – more activity
    – more outgoing
    – disagree more with others
    – talk faster/more talkative
    – speech may be louder
    – changes in sleep – sleeping less than usual but not feeling tired, waking during the night, staying up later than       normal

Changes in feelings

  • – lots more energy
    – feel more self-confident and self-assured than usual
    – feeling like you can do anything
    – an increase in sex drive (hypersexuality)
    – irritable
    – anxious
    – feeling very important and special
    – feelings of euphoria and elation

Changes in thoughts and perception

  • – colors may seem brighter and more intense
    – lots of new ideas, projects, goals and plans
    – thoughts of being more attractive to others
    – experience hallucinations or delusions (in mania only)

The Difference Between Mania and Hypomania

The major difference between hypomania and mania are that hypomania is briefer and less intense than mania.  Hypomania is not associated with psychosis (loss of touch with reality or hallucinations) or hospitalization. Full blown mania is more severe and at times, requires hospitalization.

Elevated Mood in Mania or Hypomania

mania

The changes that occur when your mood is elevated (and when becoming elevated) happen in three related areas – in your thoughts, your feelings and your actions.  When your mood is elevated, your activity in these three areas can be very uncharacteristic of how you are when you are well (at your baseline/stable mood). Sometimes individuals who experience mania may report having hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that no one else can see or hear), or delusions (interpreting things in the world differently from ‘normal’ people).

These changes might occur gradually (building up a little bit at a time), or may be more sudden (out of no where).  For some they tend to occur following a depressive episode.

An elevated mood can be a seductive thing, with feelings of being overly self-confident and feeling elated. However, the fallout from an episode of mania can have devastating consequences. Such as realizing that you blew your whole life savings, noticing that you maxed out all your credit cards, and for women: finding out that you are pregnant or that you contracted an STD due to hypersexuality which tends to happen during manic/hypomanic episodes.

In mania and hypomania, there is a cycle of energy that can become more and more severe as your mood increases.

You can find yourself pursuing more and more projects and ideas. However, none of these projects usually get completed. the energy levels in a manic/hypomanic episode are such that it can be hard to stay focused on one task for any period of time. You might also find that you tend to do more things you find enjoyable, such as shopping, gambling, or socializing.  Doing more things increases the energy and fuels the cycle to spiral up even further.

Within this cycle, there are a number of factors at play that interact with each other, and the things happening in your life, to feed the elevated mood cycle. These relate again to three key parts of your experience:

  • How you think
  • How you feel
  • How you act