Juggling life through a bi-polar lens. Sometimes up, sometimes down. Mostly trying to tread water in the middle. Creating a likeness to a normal life. Whatever "normal" is...

Sunday, 19 April 2009

A Beautiful Mind

It's been like a roller-coaster, these last few weeks.

First, there was my partner investing in a franchise, then meeting Julie (nerve wracking before, wonderful during!!) the trip to Lincoln, then home for Easter, then to Mum's for a few days... and for a couple of days this week I completely crashed!

It began Tuesday, while I was still at mum's; I felt myself really slipping downwards. I said I was tired, made a few excuses and took some time out up in her spare room, catching some sleep. We got home that night and I took one of my "emergency blue pills". These are trifluoperazone, for when the bi-polar zig-zag pushes me a little too far either up or down.

Wednesday night I sat up, on a diet of diazepam and chocolate muffins :)

Thursday morning I felt better, but gradually wore down through the day. So I took another catnap. Then I had an email from an old school friend, Josephine, asking to come up. I explained how I felt, and she said that I needed "a dose of silliness" and prescribed herself and her 10 year old daughter, who promptly arrived Friday morning :)

I didn't feel up to it, and wanted to defer for a few days, but focused on what nice things I could get for them to eat. I made a chicken and bacon pie and Luvbug bought banoffee pie and doughnuts. In the afternoon, with full tummies, we all went off to a garden centre and chose plants for our respective gardens.

I have no idea where this one came from. Then in an email Julie very kindly suggested that maybe it was the number of things I'd had all at once- this labrynthitis virus that I'm still fighting, a trip away from home, worrying about Fluffy, worrying about my partner, .... all sorts of things. Yes, I suppose so.

*** *** *** *** ***

Scary bits............

Photo taken from my back, upstairs window a couple of years ago... it was a great storm!

It's hard to descibe how it feels but imagine your brain telling you that you have too much stimulation around you, and so you have to go and lie down for a few hours in a quiet spot. The longer it takes to go and do that, the worse it gets, until it becomes a physical pain, like a belt tied tightly around your forehead. The inner tension slips down to your chest and feels like an empty vacuum. You start to go "zombie-fied", when even finishing a sentence is mentally exhausting and painful. Sleep, sleep, rest. Then try to distract yourself when you wake up, don't just lie there. Do something till you have to rest again. Takes a bit of willpower to get up and do that though.

This time the flunk brought with it the more disturbing, hallucinary symptoms. I saw shadowy shapes running past the window, heard what sounded like a group of people chattering behind me, and the non-auditory but "sensory" things, these are the scariest- feeling someone walking into the room, turning to say hello and no one is there. Or feeling watched. Or not being able to get out of bed because of that child-like conviction that SOMETHING is on the stairs.

I always tell myself it isn't real, it isn't true, and make myself walk past it. Or occasionally run. But what makes it difficult is that it doesn't come when I am feeling at my worst. It comes when I am calm and thinking that the ill phase has gone or is passing- so these things take me by surprise. Just as I am pootling about my day, I see or hear or sense something that isn't there, and it is always threatening, mocking or evil....... never mind. Another week and I'll be clear, I'm sure. Just have to pace myself now.

I watched A Beautiful Mind again the other week. That film always gives me courage. Look at what John Nash lives with, and look at what he's achieved. He doesn't have bi-polar, he has schizophrenia, but he copes by just letting the hallucinations be, and just ignoring them. My mind doesn't play anything like the tricks his does, but then my brain can't do anything like the maths he does either :)
But his story always gives me a bit of strength: to know you can have a normal, even successful life despite having a mind that does odd things at times. I find myself thinking, well if he can do it, so can I.

I realise that some people will see my decision to post about this as a little risky. And yes, I have lost at least one friend over this thing. But the only way to counteract people's fear of this is to say exactly what it is and what it does. If people can't cope with that, ok, I'll understand if you want to keep away. I'm not hiding it though. I'm not sure I can. So the more people understand the inner workings of it, the better.

Also, maybe someone out there has the same but can't put it into words. They can point at the screen and say to their loved ones, "Look, read this."


Angel said...

Helena., This is a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your nightmare. My first son-in-law was bi-polar ans we had to watch his moods spiral out of control because he refused to stay on prescribed meds. He felt he could self medicate and survive. My daughter and granddaughter moved on because he became destructive to the whole family. I watch her in the teen years and fear her 'normal' mood swings are just that ans nothing more.

Take care of your self. You have friends out here that you can vent to and we will understand. I do nor know or understand your pain, but i will listen and offer support!

Michael House said...

what a beautiful, moving post, expressed so clearly, I'm sure lots of people will recognise themselves in parts of it and feel less alone.

Stardust said...

My thoughts are with you.

Julie said...

Helena, I am so sorry I don't know how but I missed this post yesterday. Thank you for sharing how tough things get for you when you have these episodes of ill health. I can identify in a small way with some of the things you describe. My chronic fatigue also affects my speech so that I stall part way thro a sentence and can't finish what I am trying to say or can't find the word I want (my friend is worse, she has full blown ME and sometimes speaks in half sentences. It can be very difficult to keep up with her then). When I am feeling particularly upset or stressed I often think I have seen someone go by, it's like a dark shape seen moving out of the corner of your eye. Sometimes I catch sight of a shadow and think a small animal has come in or out of the door. I wonder why the brain does this? It must be very alarming for you to have these feelings so intensely.

Do take care of yourself and have a really good rest. I'm sure that's what your body is telling you to do in its own way. Maybe you can enjoy some of this lovely sunshine we are having this week? xx