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Happy World Bipolar Day

Bipolar is a mood disorder characterised by periods of intense mood episodes.

Generally Bipolar mood swings last several months at a time, and rapid cycling Bipolar is characterised as someone who has 4 or more mood swings in one year. The idea that people with bipolar are constantly up and down, with moods changing many times a day, is generally untrue and more associated with other conditions, eg Borderline Personality Disorder.

The mood episodes caused by bipolar disorder are not ‘just’ feeling happy and sad, although that is a common mistake.

People with bipolar 2 have episodes of major depression and hypomania. People with Bipolar 1 have episodes of major depression, hypomania and mania.

Some people only experience mood episodes when they have experienced a ‘trigger’, whereas other people can recognise triggers that cause episodes, but are also hit out the blue. Common triggers for mood episodes are:

  • Late nights (eg. going out to a party)
  • Lack of sleep
  • Bright lights (eg shopping centres) or busy city centres
  • Chaotic life events, from losing a loved one to Christmas
  • Physical illness

What do these feel like, if they aren’t just being happy / sad?

Major Depression

This is far, far more than feeling sad. It’s having no energy to do anything, and spending days in bed because you can’t force yourself to get up, eat or shower. It’s feeling entirely hopeless, thinking there is nothing to live for, and everybody would be better off if you were dead.

It’s crying for hours every day, or feeling too empty and disconnected to cry, and so you just lie and stare up at the ceiling, wondering if you’re already dead. 

It’s planning how you would kill yourself, to the very last detail. It’s trying to kill yourself.

Hypomania

Hypomania is feeling a rush of energy, confidence, creativity and power. It’s thinking you are the best at everything, and that everything you think or say is amazing. It’s not sleeping for nights on end. It’s getting frustrated when people don’t agree with your outlandish ideas.

Some people experience a feeling of elation with hypomania, whilst others feel incredibly irritated. Hypomania often includes visible changes, such as talking super fast, darting from one subject to another, and being unable to sit still.

Mania

Mania is the same as hypomania, but cranked up. People can usually continue a ‘normal’ routine with hypomania (eg. going shopping, to school, work etc), albeit with difficulty, but mania will smash that routine to pieces.

When I am manic, my sleep is reduced to practically nothing. I will sleep 3-4 hours a night, for weeks on end. My appetite will be non-existent, I can’t concentrate on anything for more than a few seconds at a time, and I’ll think all my ideas are genius. I’ll go on huge spending sprees (or would if my partner didn’t take control of spends!!), and instead of buying things I want / need, I’ll buy things that are most expensive. Before we knew how to deal with manic episodes, I would often leave us virtually penniless. I try get jobs, create my own business, sign up to university. Before I experienced psychosis outside of a mood episode, manic episodes were also when I would hallucinate.

Bipolar disorder is a very individualistic illness, it can vary so much from person to person.

Some people with bipolar experience a mood swing every few years, and are able to lead fairly ‘normal’ lives. Others swing from one episode to another, and are ravaged by the illness.

Treatment generally relies on medication, at least in the UK, although a two-pronged attack of medication and behavioural therapies works best. Medications range from mood stabilisers (including anti-epileptic drugs) to anti-psychotics and anti-depressants. There is controversy on whether or not ADs actually help those with bipolar.

Different medications work for different people, and all carry a range of potential side effects. For some people with treatment resistant bipolar disorder, they will try a vast number of medications with barely any improvement in their illness.

Bipolar disorder is an incredibly hard illness to live with, and today is dedicated to spreading awareness and smashing stigma.

Please excuse if this post is crappily written, I’m living off very minimal sleep for the past week, am full of cold and have had a rough day for seizures.

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No Mother’s Day for you

Anyone who has followed this blog for a while will know how my relationship with my parents upsets me, and how it always has.

My childhood was awful, and I’m confident a lot of their behaviours pushed me towards a fair chunk of my mental health issues now. Since leaving home at 18 they’ve been just as bad, but thankfully I don’t interact with them much anymore.

My parents entirely lack support for any of my issues.

It’s always me chasing after them to talk with them, making sure I phone on Mother’s Day, remember birthdays etc. They never get in touch with me to ask how I am, and for the longest time when I tried to talk about seizures I was met with silence or whistling as they watched TV. Insulting…

I am hugely pissed off right now because today is Mother’s Day.

I tried to call them first thing in the morning to wish my mum happy mother’s day. With having seizures I never know how my day’s gonna be, or how cognitive I will be in the evening, so I try do important things as soon as the day starts.

Both my calls went unanswered, so I waited until evening to get in touch again as I knew they’d have sunday lunch with my dad’s mum, and then go to my mum’s sister for a family meal in the evening to celebrate mother’s day. It’s been this way for years.

I sent my dad a message at 7pm asking when they’d be home so I could ring, and he said soon.

We exercised our dogs so they’d be tired for a call, and I shut all the curtains and sat under a blanket so my seizures would hopefully not make an appearance (light changes at dusk and the added brightness of lamps and screens are a huge trigger).

We’re waiting and waiting, doing nothing but hanging about so I can wish my mum happy mother’s day.

At 9.15pm I send my dad a message saying we have stuff to do now; my puppy on crate rest needs toileting and sorting, my dogs need letting out, feeding etc. I can’t sit under a fucking blanket any longer and my dogs can’t wait any longer…we waited two damn hours and he didn’t even let us know when he’d be ready -__-

He messaged back saying he was ‘just about to message us’ and ‘would ring in five minutes’.

Too late. Sick of your bullshit. Wish mum a happy mother’s day from me, I guess. Or not. I am beyond caring…

Someone please tell me how to cut ties with my parents, because I always go crawling back to them and I just want all this crap to stop.

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Screwed up kids *trigger warning*

I was one of those kids that was obviously a little messed up.

I had my first suicide attempt at 10 years old; I tried to flush my head down a toilet. A teacher found me, and it was never mentioned again. I began self harming around the same time, and sustained injuries including a dislocated thumb whilst I was still at primary school and broken wrist at 13. I was totally unaware of the idea of self harm, cutting as a way to hurt etc.

I never had any confidence. I always thought I was a disappointment, I was excruciatingly shy, I hated my weight and began restricting my calorie intake whilst still at primary school.

My Grandad fought lung cancer for several years, and for a child I was too involved in his care. I was 11-13 years old, the responsibility was huge!

Around that time, I began restricting what I ate in earnest. I would go all day eating nothing, then binge mid-afternoon before anybody returned to the house. By sixteen I was eating under 200 calories Mon-Thurs, binging on Thursday, restricting below 500 up until Sunday, and then on Monday the cycle would repeat.

Compulsive exercising snuck up on me too; what started as ‘just walking home from school’ (a 45-60 minute walk) progressed to hours of exercise every day. At my worst I was eating less than 500 calories a day and exercising for a minimum of four hours.

I lost close to 3 stone over a period of about 5 months, and I was slender to start with. Despite the obvious transformation and my clear struggle with food, my parents seemed oblivious, with my mum even feeding into my disordered thinking by complimenting me on my weight loss.

At fifteen my parents accidentally saw some self harm on my arm. I was lying on a bed and my pyjama sleeve had ridden up far enough to expose cuts. Instead of support, I was ridiculed and called ’emo’. That was one of the lowest points in my life.

At school teachers knew I was battling demons, but nobody did anything.

Throughout my teenage years I had a dozen suicide attempts, wasted years starving my body, and was filled wityh despair, darkness, lonliness and self hatred. Shying away from family events, plans with friends, and instead holing myself up in my room thinking about how much I despised myself, how I’d be better off dead, and exercising crazily.

I received zero help until I was 19, when my boyfriend said I needed to go to the Dr’s as I had been suicidally depressed for several months. Despite my first suicide attempt being at 10 years old, I wasn’t pushed for help until 19.

When you’ve been dealing with mental illness so long, and since you were so young, you don’t realise a) how sick you are, or b) how ‘wrong’ your emtotions and thoughts are.

I didn’t realise that the depth of my despair wasn’t normal. I didn’t know most my peers didn’t feel this way.

The NHS is a shambles with MH support, and I basically never received adequate care. My bf has done more for my mental health than the NHS ever did. I still have extremely poor body image. I still have periods of battling suicidal thoughts, I have unchecked bipolar, I’m often overwhelmed with anxiety…and now I have psychosis and seizures thrown into the mix too!

But mentally, I am stronger. I feel better in myself.

Who knows if having support when younger would have helped me now -would I have been a fully functioning member of society? Idk. What I can tell you is that I would have loved someone to help me back then.

I would have loved someone to sit me down and say “look, you’re not okay. I know you need help and I’m going to make sure you get the help you deserve.”

I would have loved anything to make me feel less alone and scared.

It’s a crying shame that CAMHS (the children & adolescent MH services) are a sack of shit in the UK. We are doing a huge disservice to young people by brushing them aside when they are asking, crying, begging for help. How many adults are still battling such fierce demons because as children they were ignored?

It’s not enough to say that every childhood has rough bits, that every teenager goes through periods of being ‘sad’…that’s not okay.

  • Kids can have mental illnesses, kids can need support.
  • Teenagers can be lost in the darkness and need someone to guide them back to light.
  • Eating disorders are hell, no matter what your weight. Not everybody battling a severe ED is underweight!!

Everybody deserves to be listened to, and to be supported

That is a *huge* thing lacking in the NHS. They don’t want to listen, they want to wash their hands of you and move you along as quickly as possibly. You won’t feel heard, you won’t feel validated.

Hell, I had a GP appt last week to talk about my seizures. The GP let me say two sentences about them, said they didn’t sound like ‘typical’ seizures as I wasn’t convulsing on the floor (oh I’m sorry, have you never heard of simple / complex partial seizures?!) and told me I’d have to wait 9+ months to be seen by someone with knowledge about seizures…she blamed my MH entirely, and didn’t want anything to do with that.

We shouldn’t be ignoring these ‘broken’ kids…we should be reaching out to them and helping to glue them back together.

When I was a teenager, nobody knew where to turn for help – not me or my friends. They were scared for me at various points, and desperately wanted an adult to help out – when I fainted due to not eating enough, when they saw my arm and it was laced with dozens and dozens of cuts, when I’d taken an over dose…they were frantic to help, but had no idea how. Who could they tell?

Not a teacher, who wasn’t approachable and would just tell my parents without trying to help me at all. Not my parents, who (at the time) reacted to everything with either ridicule or anger…where do you go? Who do you tell? What do you know at 13 / 14 / 15 years old?

There needs to be more understanding. More information. Mental health needs to be taken seriously. There needs to be adequate support and treatment for those struggling.

The world keeps talking about how much money is being poured into the NHS for mental health. Celebrities are all coming out saying they have depression, anxiety, bipolar, and there’s no need to hide it…but there is.

There is SO MUCH stigma in the world. People are disgusted by mental illnesses. People are scared by anything other than anxiety or depression. People think you are faking it. The NHS doesn’t want to help those suffering from mental illness; benefits won’t believe you need assistance if you look physically well.

We need a huge overhaul here.

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Seizures

I have had so many seizures today that I have absolutely zero memories of the day.

It’s after 6pm and I don’t remember any of it. I won’t remember writing this.

I have a few snapshot memories (not a technical term haha, just what I call them), which are still images, like photographs, of things that have happened today…and sometimes I will know what has happened without knowing / remembering. But yes, that is today.

On a walk earlier a car had its’ full beams on as it’s really foggy here. The headlights gave me a seizure.

I was having a seizure on / by the side of a road, and my boyfriend was having to manage our 13 week old puppy and my 5 month assistance dog in training, AND alert oncoming cars that I was there. All in the fog!!

And that is why I never ever go out on my own 😉

Ugh. I’ve been filling my seizure diary in for almost four weeks now! No patterns to identify.

seizurediary1

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manic

I. CAN’T. SIT. STILL.

This has come out the blue I ahven’t been manic in so damn long and yep the last few months have been really stressful and this week has been really really stressful, but really, I haven’t been manic 8in so long so what the hell?!

This week one of our dogs was killed which was awful obviously. Yesterday I took my assistanc dog in training to a puppy obedience class, our first time, went with my partner of course…first time I’ve been actually outr in public in nmonths and months, and I guess that combined with grievbeing = manic me.

My partner’s podcasting and there has never been anything as hard as trying to hold rthis energy in