Friends of Mania

All of my bipolar blogging buddies. I really, really need your help.

I wish I could write this more smoothly, and with a lot less pressure and distress. I hope this doesn’t come out a jumbled mess. I’m writing texts and emails to people and leaving out whole paragraphs, because somewhere between my head and my fingers, it slipped away. And I don’t mean it dissolved. It disappeared, though I do remember the thought process. It’s pretty confusing for a lot of people right now.

I’m a virtual stranger to mania. I mean, mania itself, not the watered down hypomania version. Hypomania and I have seen some good, bad, and ugly. There were giddy periods of time filled bubbly optimism and boundless energy. It was as if gravity had released some of it’s grip on me, and I could float free and light like a feather. The good.

The bad. The dysphoric hypomanias. Some see them as mixed episodes. I always thought of it as an angry, energetically, bad mood. They didn’t qualify as mixed, because there was no mania. Those were dark times, often short lived.

The ugly. Screaming fits, aggression, hostility, anger, resentment, the whole nine yards. But, they were just so brief. I never went through with most of my destructive, impulsive urges. Mostly, I’d internalize my anger and let it run a rampage in my mind. Turning the glass cannon toward myself.

Hypomania. Mild manic symptoms. Instead of not sleeping for days, I’d sleep between 4-6 hours each day in a week and go on better for it. Impulsive urges weren’t centered around spending hundreds of dollars on something I don’t need. They were simpler, like stashing $20 so I could buy a new blouse. Or grabbing a handful of dollar journals. It was never a make or break situation.

The rest was always there in some varying degrees of severity. Sometimes, the flight of ideas was so overwhelming that my conscious thought would turn into a detuned radio. It would fracture, and I’d have to spend some time piecing it back together. It’s always been like that. I have dozens of notebooks with scribbles all through them. Dozens of drafts sit in my queue here on WordPress.

The flight makes me ambitious. Overly ambitious. But, never so much that I ever chased an unattainable goal. I could still have a realistic view of my strengths and weaknesses. And I know where my talents lie.

I’ve hardly ever been distractable. Although, I have to laugh while writing this. I’m so far off course, I’d be surprised if anyone is still following. I may go off on a tangent, but at least I think I’m still developing my point.

So, back to the point. I’m treading deeper into these waters of mania. I didn’t realize it at first. But, I see it now. Sleep is always the first symptom. When I see my sleep dropping off, or getting to sleep is impossible, even while medicated, then I know. It’s coming.

This time was worse than ever. It would’ve taken elephant tranquilizers to take me out Thursday. I had a 30 hour day. I could have gone on, but I promised C.S. that I’d sleep. That day clocked about 3 hours. I was drinking Saturday night and still only slept 4 and a half hours. Everything seemingly went back to normal, until last night.

It was one of those nights where I glanced at the clock. 2:30AM. I’ll get 5 hours. Whatever. 3:45AM. I should probably get to bed. 5AM. Maybe I shouldn’t sleep at all. 6:30AM. I have to sleep a little.

2 hours and 15minutes. 8:44AM I woke to a text. And there was no problem.

I’m mental health counseling a friend in crisis. I’m watching my son. I’m folding and cutting inserts for my journal, and having email conversations with my husband. I’m writing this, and there is no end in sight.

What about my mood? I’m not euphoric, but I’m not my now typically temperamental self. I’m not gloomy, and I’m not expecting storm clouds. There’s no happiness, giddiness, bounciness. There is an air of superiority, a nice solid stance, and a good, sturdy grip on things. I can take on the world. I can take on my life.

And no one is going to stop me or change my mind about anything.

Mood? I don’t feel anything. I am thinking brain. I am analyzing brain. Robot mind. Not unaware of emotions, but just not feeling anything. No flatness. Just plain nothing. Because maybe I don’t have to feel anymore.

And maybe, just maybe, I am pulling through all of this after gathering my reserves. Maybe, I’ve broken free of all of my chains. Maybe, I’m free.

And maybe, just maybe, it’s possible that I’ve completely lost it.

That’s not the half of it. Not even close. Doesn’t scratch the surface. Maybe I’ll write a rambling post later. I just wanted to get some opinions on whether I should concern myself just yet or not.

Yours always,

Loony, Lovelyñ Lulu

Unfair Game – Part One

The time stamps don’t lie. I watched the time race by in the bottom right-hand corner of the grey bar on my monitor. 10:39PM: “C.S., are you awake?” No answer.

My intention? To reconcile my email and produce an update. My email has been hovering at around 45 unread. My posts have become sporadic on Pendulum. I do have an audience, whether I want to acknowledge it while writing my posts or not.

Note: I do not acknowledge my audience, because I am continuing with the original premise of a monologue. This is purely in the sense that I am not writing to an audience, but more performing for an audience.

One thing led to another. The devil is in the details. I glanced at the little clock: 1:06AM. At that rate, I would’ve only gotten seven hours of sleep. I bargained with myself. I could probably extend that out another half an hour.

1:42AM: I’ll be done in a couple of minutes and I could muster six and a half hours. I can be okay on that little sleep. I’ll make it up.

2:17AM: I’m right in the middle of something (different)! I’ll cut this short and go straight to bed.

2:50AM: Finally done. Wait! No! I still have to post on Pendulum!

3:16AM: Done. For real this time.

3:23AM, as I lay my head on the pillow: I’ll sleep in for however long my body tells me I need.

Less than five hours later, the alarm on my Blackberry went off. The universe is funny in the way that if I needed to get up, it would have been a struggle. The touchpad on my Blackberry was frozen. It only allowed me to snooze it for 5 minutes. After a drowsy battle, I managed to turn it off.

8:31AM: I am gently awoken with Breathe Me by Sia. C.S. was blasting it, anxiously asking himself, and likely me, where his belt had gone off to this time. The eternal struggle.

Losing sleep is dangerous business. I rarely wake up in a haze and spend my day in that condition. This is where external factors are counted the most. An uneventful day could mean I’d likely lose steam in the early evening with a geriatric bedtime. An action-packed, stressful day that ends with me conquering something, could pave the way for euphoric hypomania. An emotionally charged day could beckon dysphoric hypomania.

A dangerous game, indeed. Any which way, the stack of cards is eventually going to clobber me.

It was business as usual at the Sunshine Estate. C.S. left in the van-buggy, the house was a frosty 65, and T.D. and I were enjoying our Cinnamon Toast Crunch, with the company of Spongebob. Today was the first day in awhile that I actually witnessed the mailman deliver. So, I was prompted to retrieve it. Besides, we were still waiting on yet another continuance for the lawsuit.

That’s exactly what was amongst Tuesday Trash Mail Day. Our lawyer already informed us that the plaintiff retained council. Hence, the continuance. What I saw was un-effing-believable.

“This is an official notification from the district magisterial court. This document notifies the party of an official continuance of the hearing from said date to the new date.”

Okay, okay, I knew that. And at the very bottom of the tri-folded paper it read, “This was granted at the request of (insert name here) Esq.”

The passenger of the other party’s vehicle and the lawyer have the same last name!!!

This is where it gets hairy. We are uncertain of the nature of the relationship between the owner of the vehicle (the plaintiff), the driver, and her passenger. Mind you, the occupants of the vehicle are nowhere on these court documents. The only place that they exist is in the police report, and a vague threat of personal injury suit.

The passenger and I attended the same high school, and I recognized him at the scene. We weren’t well acquainted – he was a sports player and I was a musician. Those social circles don’t provide a wealth of opportunity to cross paths. Nor would I have wanted to. He wasn’t a terrible guy. I had a reputation to keep.

I immediately discarded my breakfast and ran to my computer. It was time to do some investigative work. It was too unlikely to be coincidence – it’s not like the surname was Smith or Johnson.

I’m handy with a computer. I’m one of those people I fear. With a first name, surname, and a city, I can find out a lot about a person. I made the connection pretty easily. I found both a positive address match from census information and a genealogy match. They are father and son.

It gets worse. The plaintiff’s lawyer is also a commissioner in my municipality. FML!

Isn’t there some kind of law against this?!

Antidepressants – Which Witch

“Can you turn the light off?”.

I touched the brushed metal lamp, and the dim light flickered off. There was a quick glance at the alarm clock – 12:38PM in glowing red numbers. Only a computer monitor playing Netflix illuminated the room. I was like a moth to a porch light in the summertime. It’s not the light you have to worry about. It’s just the attraction.

My eyes were fixed on the screen. I was entranced by the show, but it was just one screen in my mind’s eye. On another screen were stacks of paper and nameless faces of children. The tube next to it featured me, practicing endless monologues of the words no one will ever hear. Notebooks, pages flipping, with black cursive scrawled across each page. Blurry flashes of days, nights, people, and places past.

Yet, I was not compelled to do anything but sit idly and watch everything fly by at a speed that could’ve put a breeze through my hair.

This brain is entangled in itself while trapped in this useless body.

Another glance – 1:31. While my body was finally exhausted, my mind was still churning out the video feeds.

Finally, I let the screen go black. 2:14. And T.D.’s Developmental Therapist was scheduled for 9AM, which meant that I would have to be up at 8AM. Another less than 6 hour night. No dreams. Just darkness.

Why did I suddenly stop dreaming?

In A Mixed Bag, we determined that it was ultra-rapid cycling, probably brought on by a med change or an antidepressant.

I stumbled upon an article from psycheducation.org about controversies with antidepressant treatment with bipolar disorder. Here’s the problem. The depression and fatigue were crippling before. I couldn’t hold a job or take care of my life. Now, I am hit with rapid cycling every three months for about two weeks as opposed to four month of depression and one week of hypomania.

Which witch is the good witch and which witch is the bad witch?

A Mixed Bag?

I am terrified of myself right now.

When I first began As the Pendulum Swings, I had started off with a post called, “To See If I Still Feel” which described a similar episode with self-injurous behavior that I blogged about recently in “Confessions of the Pain of Payment”. Soon after my original blog post, I described an incident which I thought was a mixed episode in “Shifting Gears”.  It was the first time I had ever experienced both hypomanic symptoms and depressive symptoms at the same time.

Last night, I didn’t sleep more than five hours.  I had taken three and a half milligrams of Xanax and 30mg of Temazepam.  I should have been knocked flat on my back.

My brain was buzzing, ablaze with thought and compulsions.  There was a sensation of vibration all throughout my body.  I surveyed my kitchen and drearily thought, “My house is disgusting.  It’s an absolute nasty, repulsive, filthy hut.  I wish I could burn this place to the ground.”  But that wasn’t my compulsion.  I wanted more than anything to clean.

First, I showered and scrubbed myself raw with a luffah.  Shampoo ran through my fingers and foamed as I clawed my scalp, three or more times.  My quest continued in the kitchen.  The skin on my hands was raw, red, and peeling as I ripped through the dishes.  I meticulously wiped down every surface with Clorox.

It wasn’t enough.  I gathered every piece of paperwork that had been piled up on my counter and threw it in a box.  I set it atop a large laundry basket and hauled it up the stairs.  Everything in it’s right place, everything in it’s right place, my mind’s voice frantically whispered.

I sorted through two months worth of paperwork, cleared two desks and organized their drawers, and cleared, then rearranged my dresser.  It was immaculate.  It was also 3AM.  I didn’t want to stop.  I had so much more I wanted to do.  But I feared that I would be too tired in the morning to even think about getting up.

My eyes opened in a flash when the first alarm went off.  And I didn’t even consider hitting the snooze button seventeen times this morning.  I laid in bed for a few minutes and felt the dread and dismay of my life.  Everything was still wrong.  It was all wrong.  And now, I was falling behind in my own life.

So, I sprang to action.  T.D. had Occupational Therapy at 9am.  I was compelled to clean the house some more.  I went through emails and started getting back on the horse and back into my life.  I went to work and disciplined sassy fifth graders.  I entertained Kindergarteners with new games.  And I rekindled old friendships with my third grade group.

Not once did I yawn.

I suspected that what was happening to me now was what happened three months ago.  Opening my web brower, I began my investigation into what a mixed episode is really classified as.  The NIMH states:

Bipolar II is defined by a pattern of depressive episodes shifting back and forth with hypomanic episodes, but no full-blown manic or mixed episodes.

What?

Again, I verified it. DSM-IV Criteria for Bipolar II specifically states that “There has never been a Manic Episode or a Mixed Episode”.

How is this possible?  I have never had a full-blown Manic Episode.  I don’t think, anyway, at least not diagnostically so.  But, I know that I am having feelings of despair and hopelessness while having boundless energy, racing thoughts, and pressured speech.

Bipolar II, as described by Psycheduation.org, is very fitting.  I have more depressive episodes than anything.  My episodes don’t really last longer than a few months, if even that long.  The longest hypomanic episode I ever had was for two weeks.  They usually only last about a week and then are followed by crushing depression for a few weeks to a couple of months.

What the hell is this?  I feel like I’m losing touch with reality.  At the same time, I don’t even think I want to be in touch with reality anymore.  I don’t want to take my medicine and I’d rather give in to my impulses than keep fighting this constant, tedious, exhausting battle.  I want to stay up all night and do whatever I’m compelled to do.  I want to lay in the yard in the middle of the night in the rain.  I’m being hit with all of these illogical and sometimes sinister thoughts at light speed.

I’m going downstairs to try to continue the conversation I was having with C.S. at dinner.  He asked what I cut with because he had already thrown out all of the razors.  I’m crafty, what can I say?  I’ve contended with worse than him.  I didn’t want to answer, partly because I want to hold on to my little box of lies, and partly because I didn’t think it was appropriate dinner conversation.  I asked if he rememberred to buy band-aids.  He told me that he refused to buy me band-aids because he’d rather shame me into not doing this again. He told me that he’s taking a tough love approach.

Do you know what happened the last time someone took a tough love approach with me?  I suffered while I bided my time.  I waited until I had a reliable and self-sustaining source of income.  And I ran like hell while never looking back.

I’m up to like 919 words.  If you’re still with me, please, help me with some of your insight and personal experience.  At least insight into what I’m dealing with here with this seemingly mixed episode.