Thursday, 7 November 2013

When your mind plays tricks on you

I have quite a few close friends in my life, you know the kind you have either known for years, or feel like you have. They have seen you at your best and worst ? Well, those are the ones I'm talking about.

One of my friends who falls firmly into this category, (I could go on and on about her, as she is pretty ace) has Bipolar. I asked her to write a bit about it for me to share with you all.

There is a wonderful trend in the blogging world at the moment to write about experiences of Mental health issues. Statistically 1 in 4 of us will encounter a mental health problem in some form or other during our life time, so talking about it is really valuable.

I will leave you with this little excerpt into my friend's experience of living with Bipolar. 

I was diagnosed with bi-polar a few years ago, but looking back I can see the sometimes wild pattern of crazy highs swinging to dismal lows has been the fabric of my life for as long as I can remember. These days I am medicated, so my symptoms aren’t so dramatic. So let me tell you about some of my pre-medicated days, as they were, I think, quite interesting…

I am talking crazy times. I wasn’t ‘crazy’ all the time – I had, and still do have, ‘episodes’. Times of mania when I temporarily lost my mind, and myself, for a while.  Here are a few examples of my crazy moments:
- Walking down the street with no trousers on.
- Deciding, in the middle of the night, that my town was a mess and so I went litter picking, on my own in the city centre.
- Knocking on my neighbours’ doors asking to borrow shampoo, wearing nothing but a towel.
- Going to the registry office to get a marriage license with a man I had just met, believing that God had sent him to be my husband.
- Visiting an armed robber in Strangeways for a cheeky snog.

During these times my symptoms vary. Sometimes my mind will race so fast I cannot keep up with it, and my speech and actions increase in tempo too. I need very little sleep and can stay awake for days at a time, being active throughout the night without requiring any rest. I get inspired by every tiny thing, enthusing about how amazing things are then later looking back and realising they are actually quite mundane. I can be ludicrously happy, drunk, out of control. It seems like my mind and mouth disconnect, I hear words coming out of me, my own voice, saying the most shocking things yet I seem to have no power to hold back. My confidence soars and I become fearless. At times I am super cranky and irritable, swearing a lot and flying off the handle at the slightest little thing. I have also, in my pre-medicated days, lost all sense of reality, I started to believe that I was magic and wore my head covered fearing that my powers would escape were I to uncover it.

My medication dampens down these symptoms and stops me from losing control, though I still have days when I know I need to stay home and not talk to anyone lest I cause trouble.

Then there are the ‘downs’. Here I am very fortunate, for my times of serious depression are few and far between. I have had really dark times when the world lost all its colour and I simply longed to be dead. But usually my down times are not so severe, and present themselves in lethargy, over-sensitivity and low self esteem. Friends have commented that my version of down ishow they function normally – so in this way I am fortunate indeed. And as the pattern of cycling continues, I always find comfort in knowing that whatever I am experiencing will in time move on to another phase.

I resisted medication for a long time, fearing that it would steal my personality. But following a particularly bad manic episode which wreaked havoc in my relationships and hurt those around me I agreed to give it a try. I have never looked back. I still feel the highs and the lows, but not in such great measure; they are dulled down, diluted. I have learnt to recognise the early warning signs and to adjust accordingly. If I feel manic  I clear the calendar and try to take it easy, be gentle with myself. I avoid people, and situations, which trigger me off, and I try to live as simple an existence as I possibly can.

When I look back on my path of life I am so grateful that I have been protected by a power infinitely greater than myself. Yes I have been in some crazy situations, some of which were hideous, but the consequences were not dire, I am still here to tell the tale. And as for today, I am smiling.

If you are interested in reading a few more things like this, here are a few I have found recently.

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