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Thank you guys!

A huge thank you to all who voted for me in the art competition – I actually won!!

I’ve never entered or won a competition before, so that was really really cool 🙂

The $100 gift card had to be used on amazon.com, so finding things that would ship to the UK and where the shipping didn’t add $20+ was a little tricky, but we got some great things nonetheless.

For anybody interested, here’s what I got with my prize money!

Two kits for hand stamping, which is a new hobby I’m trying out. Currently I only have the alphabet, this was today’s attempt (the heart at the bottom was made using a Y!)

handstamp

The stamps I bought (I’ll be able to make my own dog tags with the numbers!)

A 6ft light dog lead and an easy clean treat bag for the pups.

A Pokemon cap for me, because I fell in love with it XD

prizes4

And I got my partner some t-shirts too…he’s an even bigger Pokemon fan than me, so yeah 😛

Today I have been floored by the worst cold.

My nose is a tap, my throat is covered in sand paper. I fought valiantly for less than four hours sleep last night, and exhaustion combined with being physically ill has lead to a high number of seizures today. Being a spoonie AND being ‘normally’ sick sucks XD

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Unwell in every way

Uuuuugh.

Alongside bipolar fun, I’ve been feeling crappy physically too recently.

I’ve had a lot of migraines and a lot of neck and back ache (which usually happens daily in a depressive episode but I haven’t been depressed recently!), and then today was the icing on the cake.

I’m sleeping more atm (12 hours up from 8-9 hours). At the beginning of this week I had a two day migraine, which left me in so much pain I couldn’t do anything.

Ever since that I’ve had ear ache in my left ear and just felt really tired. Then today I woke up with a really sore neck which leeched into a headache.

Since early morning I’ve had a really bad allergic reaction ALL DAY to something in the house…I should add I don’t really have any allergies, I’ve tested allergic to tree pollen but nothing else. We don’t have any trees in our house haha and nothing’s changed over the past few weeks, yet today my body is claiming I am allergic to everything in the house. Outside I’m better, little snuffly-sneezy but nothing like inside.

This seems to happen with me, every other month or so I have a day or two where allergies cripple me and I don’t know why.

So all day today I’ve been sneezing, big painful sneezes with a tickley throat, nose and itchy eyes. The sneezes result in a bloody nose and a very sore throat. 24/7 irritation is awful and I feel sorry for people who have allergies this bad daily!!

I feel absolutely exhausted. Totally drained. My head is all muggy like when you have a cold and I still have ear ache. I ended up sleeping until early afternoon so I’ve only been up 8 hours and I’m knackered and definitely ready for bed.

*sneeze*

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Everyone with Bipolar can work

Apparently I filled in a survey about Bipolar disorder at the end of 2014.

I don’t remember the survey or what it was for, but it’s somehow tied into the NHS.

Yesterday I got an email with some follow-up questions; they asked me to rate some questions according to how important I thought they were.

Filling the survey out I got more and more depressed and angry at how they were marketing Bipolar – I wish there had been a comment box at the end of every question so I could have added my thoughts.

The entire thing was geared towards people thinking that you can recover from Bipolar, it is the person who has Bipolar’s job to manage themselves and their symptoms, and people with Bipolar can lead ‘normal’ lives with jobs etc.

One question asked how important I thought it was that the Bipolar person be “trained” to manage their recovery using the following methods:

diet, exercise, sleep, yoga, meditation, rest, routine, sunlight, change of job, avoiding alcohol and recreational drugs

Uhuh, yep. Because if I eat right, exercise, sleep well (in a mood episode? How can I magic myself into that?!), meditate, rest, have a routine, sit in the sun, manage a job (HA!) and don’t drink or do drugs…I’ll be fine, all my symptoms will disappear!

As someone who has Bipolar, I am so tired of constantly having this belief that I can and should be working shoved down my throat.

Almost every book on Bipolar I’ve read talks about the fact I should definitely be well enough to work. Websites list staggering percentages of people with Bipolar who are symptom-less and work a gazillion hours every day.

Everything is pushed towards making sure the Bipolar person *knows* that recovery is possible and they can and must work.

Work is good for them, work needs to be what they do, if they aren’t working they are lazy…blah blah blah, it’s all bullshit.

Fact of the matter is Bipolar is a lifelong illness, and those with severe Bipolar probably can’t work. Isn’t it obvious that those who have no stable episodes obviously can’t hold down a job? Or those who have tried a dozen plus medications, and none of them have helped long-term, are going to lose their job when depression or mania hits?

I’m tired of this illness not being taken seriously.

When I read things or am told about how well people with Bipolar do, or the fact I should be able to work, it literally never helps…it makes me sad and lonely, because if everyone else is fine why am I so fucked?

It also makes me anxious because if most people with Bipolar hold down impressive jobs, that’s gonna mean even more pressure on me to get working before I’m anywhere near ready. The rest of the world already sees me as a lazy, scrounging shit muncher and it’s not pleasant.

Although my last social worker and I ended on bad terms, the one thing I really appreciated was her ‘get back to work plan’ (I asked about getting a job whilst hypomanic).

She said I’d need to be stable for around two years before I should think about getting a ‘proper’ job

After 6 months stable I should start attending a group one day a week and slowly build it up to several days a week; after another 6 months stable I can start volunteering once a week and slowly build it up; after another six months I can get a part-time job one day a week, and then after a further six months I can think about building up days or getting a few days of a full-time job.

That’s what we should be telling people who have a long history of severe Bipolar disorder.

There shouldn’t be a rush to get people working; their health should come before this need to get them in a job. We need to admit that some people with Bipolar might never be able to work, whereas for others it might be a breeze.

Bipolar is an illness where each case is individual.

I also found these questions from the survey laughable.

What are the most effective ways to train and support a person with bipolar so they are motivated and able to manage the condition themselves?

How am I supposed to manage my Bipolar? I do what I can, yet everyday is hell.

I try to eat healthy, I take vitamins, I get 1-5 hours exercise every day, I listen to my body, we monitor my symptoms, I colour, I read, I handle my pets, I take on my pets’ responsibilities when I am able, I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs…yet I haven’t had a stable day for years, and I experience psychosis every day.

Sometimes an illness is too much – would you expect someone with a serious physical illness to manage it themselves?

M4: What can we learn about managing bipolar from the people who are managing the condition well?

As I said earlier: Bipolar is different for every individual.

Even if you take someone with the same type of Bipolar…one person with Bipolar 1 might experience one episode every few years, whereas someone else might have rapid cycling Bipolar and switch every month or so. There are huge variations in people who rapid cycle; some of them have stable episodes between being ill, others have none.

Nobody is the same.

One person might be virtually symptom-less, yet if you had them tell someone who is very ill what they are doing to manage (exercising, eating vegetables, charting symptoms) the ill person might already be doing it and more.

Bipolar isn’t predictable, and it’s very unique to each person suffering from it.

I think Bipolar is one of the most misunderstood illnesses. There are very few people who actually understand its’ patterns – people think it’s a laughable illness (“I mean, everyone’s happy and sad at some point aren’t they, and that’s all Bipolar is!!”) or something to joke about (“the weather is so Bipolar!”) or they think it’s not that serious.
It’s about time professionals started taking this illness seriously and actually trying to help those who have it, instead of expecting the ill person to do it all themselves…
3

In which Anon is broken…

Me again. It was the day of Anon’s GP appointment yesterday.

Anon couldn’t think about anything else the entire day, despite the fact the appointment wasn’t until 5.30pm.

Half an hour before the appointment she started feeling increasingly sick, and by the time we were walking to the Doctors she couldn’t breathe easily.

The wait at the Doctors was short, and then our new GP called us through. Anon couldn’t look at him. She let me lead the way and sat on the chair furthest from him, then stared resolutely at the floor.

The Doctor introduced himself, which was nice, and then asked Anon if she wanted to talk about why we were there today or if she’d rather I began, which I thought was nicer still. Anon pointed to me.

I talked about the new symptoms and the Doctor asked a few questions, mainly directed at Anon, and when she struggled to answer or floundered or eventually said “I don’t know”, I was able to jump in.

“Can you hear what the hallucinations are saying?”
“Is it directed at you? Are they always saying unpleasant things?”
“Do you feel like your thoughts or movements are being controlled?”
“Do you think that people are out to harm you?”
“Are you having thoughts of suicide, or are you feeling suicidal?”

The last question proved very hard for Anon to answer. She said she wasn’t feeling suicidal as such, but she wanted to die or be dead. She said even if she was feeling suicidal she wouldn’t get the chance because I’m always with her.

The Doctor asked, if Anon was on her own, would she kill herself. Anon replied that it would depend on how bad she was feeling at the time.

After maybe ten minutes talking to us the Doctor made a few points:

–> Anon clearly wasn’t intensely manic or depressed, not enough to cause psychosis, and so it was weird that she was having psychotic symptoms outside of a mood episode
–> He didn’t have the expertise to deal with Anon or prescribe a new medication, so –
–> He would refer us to Single Point of Access and then we would be seen by a psychiatrist (cue uncomfortable look from Anon); it would be an urgent referral so we should hear from someone in a week
–> As Anon isn’t feeling actively suicidal he doesn’t want to send us to Crisis Team. He doesn’t think they would be of any help, as it would be Anon having to meet someone and explain everything all over again, then after a few days they would drop her and she’d have to see someone new

We couldn’t have agreed more; we have had nothing but bad experiences with crisis team.

The Doctor ended the appointment by reiterating that we can each phone him at any time, and to please do so if things got worse or new symptoms emerged.

He thanked Anon for being so honest and said he appreciated how difficult this must have been. We were both touched by this.

During the appointment Anon had been twisting her fingers so intensely that one had popped out a little, and was extremely painful. After the appointment Anon was truly broken. For the rest of the night she was irritable, close to tears, found it hard to control violent impulses and just totally stressed.

Today we have been talking and have kind of come to the conclusion that Anon can’t see a psychiatrist right now. I don’t know where that leaves us though.

The GP appointment was hard enough, and that’s only a short walk from our house and in a place Anon is fairly comfortable (for medical appointments, anyway). The appointment only lasted fifteen minutes, so Anon knew it wouldn’t be a long one. We also had just one day’s notice, which meant Anon wasn’t able to obsess and stress over it.

The psychiatrist appointment would be either a 30 or 90 minute’s journey away, which is stressful in itself. Then there’s the fact we’d have no idea who we were seeing, or how gentle they would be, as you can’t pick psychiatrists on their suitability like you can with GP’s. We’d have at least a week’s notice of the appointment, in which Anon’s stress levels would boil over, the appointment would last 45 – 60 minutes and Anon has an inherent distrust of psychiatrists anyway.