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Roatcap Fire Smoke

Well, after all that whining I did a while back about how there is no support system for people living with bipolar illness in my area, a wonderful thing did happen. A new therapist came to town, and decided that starting a bipolar support-or therapy- group would be a good idea. And boy, was I happy. I’ve been to every single one so far, because it is so wonderful to sit and talk with others who know exactly what it is like to live with bipolar disorder, things that people without it simply cannot understand, no matter how willing they are to let you try to explain it to them.

I thought I was alone. I thought no one could possibly understand how it is to feel trapped by this illness, powerless (at times) to control thoughts or behavior or decisions. . .we’ve been exploring what it means to be manic, depressed, psychotic and found that we can all relate to the ways in which bipolar illness has affected one another’s lives. We may not share the identical circumstances, or have had the same experiences, but yet we can all relate. We can all understand what the other person was going through at the time. It is impossible to express how refreshing that is.

It has also been a wonderful time of learning. There are so many things to know about bipolar illness, and no one knows it all, not even veteran sufferers like yours truly, who has had the diagnosis for decades and been on every medication known to science. . .there is always something new to learn.

For example, I had a psychiatrist who, for many years found my happiness to be signs of hypomania and therefore took me down with more mood stabilizers. This went on for so long that I began to long for “hypomania” just so I could function like a “normal” person, do things, finish them, make plans, be happy.

Over the years, I began to think of mania as a positive state. Okay, maybe not a safe one, but a positive one. Famous actors, writers, other accomplishers of great things operated in this state. Great periods of creativity and grandiosity. These seemed terribly desirable to me. I longed to be manic, despite the dangers.

And I stayed just on the up end of depressed for, it seemed, forever. I came to group thinking, I must not be Bipolar I anymore. I must be Bipolar II, because my disease doesn’t swing toward mania at all. No mania, just deep depression. Periods where I experienced irrational rage or horrible sobbing misery I called “Mixed Manic” states, not sure what that clinically meant either, but applying it to myself.

So when we in group went around and said what mania was, I was enlightened.

Mania is not necessarily positive at all! Good and bad news for me, I guess.

The handout says: 1. Profuse and rapidly changing ideas, exaggerated sexuality, impulsivity, gaiety, or irritability, and decreased sleep.

2. Violent abnormal behavior.

3. An irrational but irresistible motive for a belief or action (been there!)

and at least a week of psychotic behavior.

Characteristics of mania as complied by our group included:

  • Anger
  • impulsivity
  • poor judgment
  • No self-control
  • Racing thoughts
  • Paranoia and delusions
  • Inflated ego, sense of self, or abilities
  • Hallucinations
  • decreased need for sleep
  • talking more
  • unforgiving, can’t let go of things

Wow.  Mania comes in many flavors, and even more than these. . .and some of these symptoms also overlap with depression. I am sure that if you are bipolar and reading this you can think of more characteristics of mania.

I have lived with many of these things for most of my life. Not positive at all. On the mood chart I would mark times of fear, paranoia, anger, impulsivity as “very depressed” when actually I was manic. So I do experience mania, a lot. It’s just not the good kind. I wish I knew how to get ahold of the good kind, heheh.

When I am manic, I tend to talk more, laugh more, become more social, become more consumed with paranoia and negativity, make plans I can’t keep, set unattainable goals for myself, think I have better ideas than I actually do, believe my writing is better than it actually is, and am absolutely sure I am right about everything. I am also absolutely sure I am wrong about everything, and everything is my fault. I get highly emotional, and anger has become a problematic emotion for me. So has anxiety. I become extremely anxious and full of doom. So when I think of mania now, I see that it encompasses a greater part of my life than I ever thought before.

These symptoms affect the people around me as much or more than my depression symptoms do. My husband wants me to come up with a “safe word” or an “off button” that can be pushed when he sees my symptoms getting out of control. Unfortunately when he sees that, I’ve already noticed it too, and have sadly realized (with that bit of rationality that sits in the corner watching myself in horror) that there is no “off button.”

Usually I can break myself out of it, but not before I’ve said or done at least one regrettable thing.  (such as post last night’s entry on this blog!)

The best cure for a manic episode that I have found (and I am talking about the kind I have) is to get off by myself as fast as possible, drink a bottle of water laced with homeopathic aconite, slather myself in calming essential oils, and/or write in my journal until all those feelings are down on paper. If I find myself on the cusp of an epic, grandiose gesture, I picture the cliff I am about to step off of and flash forward to what it will feel like, for me or for my family, when I land. That usually does it for me.

Well, I don’t know what else to say, and I’m getting a migraine here, so quitting now. If anyone reading this has any more insights on mania, I would love to hear them. Good night! 🙂



…just little ole me, Underdog.”

Well this is fascinating. Just fascinating, to me, at least. I was about to commit hari-kiri on Facebook but I stopped myself just in time.

I find myself in a desolate frame of mind, trapped in my head by the pain of a stubborn migraine and what I can only describe as the fruit of rampant rumination…PARANOIA!

All I can think about is what a failure I am. And yet I don’t feel that this failure is my fault. For the first time in my whole life, I am starting to direct the blame for my self-destructive feelings outward. For the first time I am engaged in ideation of self-harm…but not because I hate myself. No, it’s because of THEM.

Them, them, them.  The twofaced people, the enemies who are trying to take me down.  I’m tired of worrying about the purpose of my life.  They have sought to negate that purpose, to reduce everything I’ve accomplished in seven years of heartbreaking and crazy-making striving to meaninglessness.  The good I’ve done is totally outweighed by my perception of their perceptions of my failings, (and my own confirmation of same).  My mind tells me I’m being ridiculous. So does my husband, on a daily basis.  But that changes nothing.

That doesn’t change my desire to tell THEM ALL to go to hell, and that on the way there THEY can CONGRATULATE  THEMSELVES for destroying me and everything I’ve worked to do, all the little differences I’ve made in people’s lives reduced to nothing and invalidated thanks to the things that they’ve said.  This is the first time I’ve wanted to kill myself not only to escape myself, but to SHOW THEM what THEY have done to me. I don’t know why this is.  I wish I knew, precisely, who THEY are.

This is so weird. My anti-suicide checklist is in my brain too, and part of me wants it to shut up. A trusted family member says I should stop pursuing the cause and pay attention to my family. But what about me? I’ve already failed as a family member. And as far as my work goes, I haven’t succeeded in achieving anything significant to me since last April. So what use am I????? In comparison with the epic heroism of  others, my efforts are a fucking joke. Why? Because I just can’t handle it any more.  In practice, I gave up months ago.  The helplessness of trying to operate in an environment that is so hostile. Last year’s newcomers to the cause, whom I trusted, but who were really just around to judge and find fault. They who think my family and I aren’t good enough to succeed in our cause, when we were succeeding just fine for six years before THEY got involved, THEY are the ones who have steered me, and my family, into crash-and-burn trajectory.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. You know who you are. You have all very possibly succeeded in removing another small resource from a population that needs all the resources it can get. And you have destroyed my family by destroying my life. Congratulations, you should all feel very proud of yourselves!

See, those are the thoughts in my head! Yuck! They are there all the time, but they don’t always enrage me.  They simply make me vulnerable to frequent anxiety attacks, have headaches, and lose sleep. But everyone has people they don’t get along with, and all people who are trying to do something have challenges, people ARE assholes, and life ISN’T fair and never has been, to anyone, and there is no reason that all of a sudden I should be so filled with rage and hatred over it.

So I am trying to look at these weird, hostile feelings with interest, as a curiosity, because suicide and/or self-harm doesn’t hurt your enemies. It simply gives them more ammunition, and you are no longer around to prove them wrong. Meanwhile, it eviscerates your family and pisses off your friends. So it’s never a good idea.

And I can’t let go of the need to go on doing my small, miniscule, apparently meaningless good deeds, despite what my trusted advisor says. Letting go of the desire to help people and animals isn’t so easy as the people around me seem to think it should be.  The very Idea that I should tell the few people whom I–perhaps mistakenly–believe depend on me, to go away, is causing me even MORE anxiety and self-devaluation. Don’t the people pressuring me to do this realize that if clients & volunteers are pushed away now “for six months,” they are NOT going to be lined up at the end of that time waiting to return? Because they are NOT! They will have hurt feelings at first, and then they will go on with their lives and find a more worthy cause to support. A “six-month hiatus for re-evaluation” will simply end our organization. I can’t believe that isn’t obvious.

What can I learn? What can I take away from this that will be useful to me, what to help me be there for my family, who apparently are supposed to benefit from this mutilation?

There is a lesson in here somewhere, if I only had the wit to see it.

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