Things Bipolar stole from me

1. The opportunity to enjoy my time at uni

When I left for university at eighteen, I was already pretty messed up mentally…I was struggling with severe depression and an eating disorder. Nevertheless I battled my way through first year and passed my exams.

Second year came rolling around and everything went to shit…my eating disorder returned when a family was diagnosed with a terminal illness and I experienced my first manic episodes, not that we realised it at the time.

My depression got worse, I started experiencing psychosis mixed in with my mania, and I had to drop out.

My parents were fuming, they told me I couldn’t stay at their house for the holidays, and because my partner was caring for me he had to drop out of uni too…I ruined it for both of us.

2. The ability to work

When I wasn’t mentally well enough to get a paid job, I did volunteer work. I volunteered in charity shops sorting stock, and I volunteered at several animal rescues…I walked the dogs, trained the dogs, socialised the cats and cleaned the cat kennels.

There were periods of time before my illness got really bad where we had our own small business, and I walked and trained other people’s dogs too – it was never enough to live off, we never earned more than £20 a week, but I LOVED it, and it helped me feel productive and keep me busy.

When I got too ill to help dogs, we had to drop out, even from volunteering.

3. My figure

I’ve struggled with my weight from the age of about 10. Throughout my life I’ve always been on the lower end of a healthy weight, and I’ve still hated myself for it and thought myself ‘fat’.

When I was 22 my psychiatrist started me on Seroquel, and I gained over 2.5 stone in less than 4 months. No matter how much I exercised or what I ate, I gained. I couldn’t lose this weight, and when I did manage to shift a little the next med brought it back up.

Even my last social worker said I might have to accept the fact that I’ll never get my weight down to anywhere near what it used to be. At 25 years old, this was incredibly depressing…

4. My friends

I have no close friends.

They all either left when I was struggling my way through the start of the illness, and couldn’t interact or socialise with them, or they get fed up that I can never plan things in advance because I don’t know how my mood will be.

I am SO LUCKY to have Gog, my partner, as otherwise I would be totally alone.

5. A sleep pattern

When manic I sleep 2-5 hours a night; when depressed I sleep 12-16 hours a night. Sometimes my body will insist that I am nocturnal, for no reason, and we have to adjust to sleeping all day and being awake all night.

6. My health

Not just my mental health, being mentally unwell affects me physically too.

Head aches, migraines, neck ache, back ache, eyes that can’t focus, blurred vision that constantly changes, tremors etc etc.

7. My hair!!!

When I was manic I cut all my hair off into a mohican. Then when my psychosis was really bad I cut all my hair off, because I thought cameras were being hidden in there. I have no hair now, none at all, and I have to hide it under caps or buffs whenever I leave the house.

In the past I have spent a year growing my hair and then, when I finally get it to the length I want, I hacked it all off when manic.

8. My confidence

I guess this one should go without saying…

9. My ability to be alone

Because I am always in a mood episode, and I’m always experiencing psychosis, it’s not safe for me to go out or be on my own.

It’s okay, because I love Gog and I love spending time with him, but sometimes I do just want to go for a walk on my own, or be able to chill at home whilst Gog goes to the shops instead of having to go with him.

10. My happiness

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2 thoughts on “Things Bipolar stole from me

  1. I can identify with a few of these. I think the ones that hurt me the most was having to drop out of college and my weight. I have always been an academic. I have always loved learning and loved school. So, when I got sick and had to withdraw for a bit, I was devastated. I did end up going back but I didn’t have the same fire. I more felt like I was going through the motions than feeding a fire for knowledge. It’s evident in my grades. You can see pre-breakdown and post-breakdown.

    The other I really identify with is weight. I also have always struggled with my image. I was extremely thin prior to medication and for the first time comfortable with my body. Then I started my regimen and gained a lot of weight. I am trying to lose it now but as my doctor toggles between putting me on Lithium or not, my weight loss fluctuates. When I’m not on the drug, I’m able to drop 4-5 pounds but when I go on it I likely gain it back. I read that those with bipolar are likely to have other psych problems and an eating disorder is one of them. That actually brought me a little comfort.

    I tell you this just to let you know that I know how it feels to go from feeling like you’re excelling to being the ward of someone. I’m sorry you feel this way, bipolar is a *&^%$.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I totally hear where you’re coming from, and it’s one of those times where it’s awesome to know it’s not just me, but it’s really sad to think how many other people feel like this too.

      One of the hardest things about gaining weight with the medication for me was that the first time I was on Seroquel, every single professional I saw told me that weight gain wasn’t a side effect, and that if I was gaining weight it was because I wasn’t exercising enough and I was eating too much. It was heartbreaking and just made me feel totally unheard, alone and LAZY!

      Alongside the ability to go to university Bipolar also stole my ability to write, and that was the worst thing…it took me years to get used to it because literally from when I could first write I was always writing fiction, I would write 5+ hours every single day. I loved it. Then it just vanished!

      I didn’t write a single piece of fiction for years, but with the last mania it came back, kinda. I started writing and, although I can tell it’s nowhere near the same quality, I was enjoying it…I can’t write as much, just an hour or two every few weeks and then it goes, but it’s nice to just write at all 😀

      Like

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