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Today’s a struggle

Everything is weighing me down.

My mood, psychosis…just when I think I’m doing so good, the *tiniest* amount of stress tips me over the edge.

Today I was bobbing between ‘just about coping’ and ‘struggling significantly’, then I started trying to work out what to do about my dogs’ harness…and even though it shouldn’t have been stressful, even though it wouldn’t have been stressful in the slightest to most people, I hit the end of my tether.

I’m tired, tearful, and hallucinating…as ever. I’m feeling very panicky and pretty sure I’m starting to dissociate. And I’m on my own…lucky our foster pup is with me, just keep her close, it’s all fine.

I wish things were a little easier.

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Day 6 of Citalopram

Gog here.

I think today is day 6 of Anon taking Citalopram to try help her panic. I can’t say I’ve noticed any improvement in her mood or her anxiety, BUT we haven’t had a day of entire panic since. Hmm, coincidence?

It’s probably too early to tell still, but we can hope.

Side effects include weird sleep (struggling even more than usual to get to or remain asleep, although maybe this was happening before she started the drug and we didn’t notice properly) and nausea. Lots of nausea. And weird having no appetite, then getting instantly ravenous (which she has always done) but then filling and feeling sick after just a few bites of food.

The nausea and the sleep sucks, and what makes it suck more is she has taken Citalopram three different times prior to this, if I remember correctly, and it’s never once given her side effects before.

We have had an immensely stressful week, so I am relieved we are doing as ‘well’ as we are, in that Anon’s mood hasn’t hit crisis levels in either direction and, although she has cried a lot, she is managing better than I could have ever expected.

To cut a long story short we have had several completely unexpected pet deaths, and then the new kitten we adopted less than two weeks ago, well…he has a congenital health issue that is very serious.

We could put him through surgery, but it is immensely high risk. There’s an extremely high chance he would die, recovery would take months and months, and even if he recovered (because what he has is so rare) vets can’t be sure the operation would even help, or be sure the condition wouldn’t just return.

The condition is so rare our vet has never seen it, and none of the vets at our surgery are equipped to treat it, he would have to go to a specialist.

So our options were an operation that would cost around £3000 and could result in our kitten dying or not being at all improved, or return him to where we adopted him from and they would almost definitely have him put to sleep.

This was horrible. Devastating.

After talking with our vet and a friend who is a long-term cat owner, we have decided we will keep our kitten, and just love him and dote on him for as long as we have him.

He is the best cat in the world, and as long as he is happy, we will love him. If his symptoms worsen, or he becomes seriously ill, we will help him cross to rainbow bridge.

 

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Migraines + headaches

Ugh.

So when I was having really bad psychosis outside of a mood episode, it obviously caused me A LOT of anxiety, and this caused numerous headaches just from stress. Then factor in that the constant adrenaline meant I became light sensitive, and using a lamp indoors or walking outdoors on a normal, not sunny day, also caused headaches…and it wasn’t a good time 😛

Since going manic around three weeks ago, I have had no headaches.

My anxiety has almost all gone, even though I’m still hallucinating, because I feel confident and good and happy.

But now the lack of sleep is starting to affect me :/

For the past three weeks I have been getting anywhere between 3 and 8 hours sleep, averaging I’d guess about 5 hours a night. I normally sleep for 9-10 hours a night, so after 3 weeks I’m running on one hell of a deficit now!

I started off for the first week getting around 6-7 hours sleep, for the second I had 3-5 hours sleep, and for the third I have a couple of nights with 2-4 hours sleep and then seem to get a nice night’s sleep lasting 7-8 hours.

Today it caused a tired headache, migraine, whatever it was. I started off fine and then out of nowhere got hit with a crippling headache. We came home, I took some Codeine & Ibuprofen, managed to sleep for four hours, and when I woke up I just had a niggling headache and felt nauseous.

Thankfully in the hour I’ve been awake that has faded too.

Ever since I started having psychosis outside of mania (used to be the only time I’d have psychosis) I’ve really noticed the toll it takes on my body…

I was having lots of headaches, usually one a day, and at least one migraine a week. My back hurt and my neck was extremely sore. No matter how I sat, slept or held myself, it hurt, and then my neck pain would inevitably lead to a headache!

Nothing has changed since then but, up to today, I’ve had no pain in mania.

The body is a strange thing…

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Low Mood Musings

Hello, it’s Gog here.

I want to discuss the trials that face people with mental health issues trying to cope with an episode of depression. For almost 6 years I have been caring for my partner who suffers from Bipolar Disorder. I’ve tried my utmost to learn and adapt to making her life more manageable during the low side of her mood swings.

Understanding a low episode is incredibly difficult for somebody who has never suffered from such a severe mental health problem, and it has taken me years to gain any insight at all into the trials of a depressive mood.

One way in which a low mood can manifest is that living every day life can become near impossible. To say that small problems become huge, insurmountable issues is a massive oversimplification. Although this is true, it is not just problems (such as missing the bus or spilling a drink) that are an issue.

Decisions can feel strenuous to make and may only cause the depression to spiral downwards. Simple daily tasks that most people could barely consider an action are often unreasonably challenging. A huge stumbling point for my partner is choosing what to eat (eg. for lunch) and this often results in hours lost in misery.

As a carer for somebody suffering with these issues it can be easy to forget that the activities that make up our lives may not be possible for a depressed individual.

For some people, becoming more active in outgoing activities can help them through an episode…but it is a common misconception that this works for everybody. As much as this helps one person, it may be utterly miserable and an added stressor for another.

Very few blanket statements exist in dealing with depression and nothing is black and white with this complex health issue.

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Welcome to the Blog

Bipolar is different for every person. Their triggers are different, their cycles are different and the symptoms they experience each episode is different.

Anon has been struggling with Bipolar for six years (although it feels much longer!) and Gog is her full-time carer.

Here is a brief description about what my (Anon’s) Bipolar is like:

  1. Stability – I am not often stable, and when I am it is usually for less than a week. We recently worked out that in the last 18 months I have been stable for 3.5 weeks.

When I am stable, I can do things. I have energy, a positive outlook and am actually quite independant. I can cook, I can clean and I can care for my animals. I still struggle a lot with anxiety, especially anxiety in social situations (this can include things like talking to a cashier when paying for shopping) and over health issues, but I am much improved.

  1. Depressive episodes – these tend to last longer than my manic episodes, and they tend to start off fairly mild and increase in severity. In the beginning we will notice that I am sleeping slightly more, and that I get ‘sad’ easily.

As it develops I need more and more sleep (16 hours a day is not unusual) and struggle with even the simplest of tasks. Trying to choose what to eat can result in major meltdowns, and taking a shower feels like climbing Everest. I begin to think everyone would be better off without me, and suicide seems like the only viable option.

My depressive episodes tend to last between three to nine months.

Gog says: When depression takes hold of Anon it makes our lives incredibly difficult. Anon becomes an entirely different person; she withdraws from the world, she can’t make any decision no matter how easy it is, and the smallest of tasks are impossible. She gets into massive funks where she completely shuts down; she can’t maintain eye contact, she can’t talk and she is unreachable. I have to watch her 24/7, which makes sleeping both difficult and terrifying. I can’t even trust her to shower alone, as there are plenty of things in the bathroom that she could use for self-destruction.

  1. Manic episodes – my manic episodes don’t tend to last as long as my lows, and unlike my depressive episodes there is usually a pretty clear trigger. Triggers can include celebrations such as Birthdays and Christmas or any event that causes me to miss a little sleep…illness, late nights, you name it!

Just like in a low, my mania starts off mildly. I will feel happy and think to myself “omg, I think I am stable!” Over the next few days my need to sleep will decrease, and I will become more energetic and productive. My thoughts will began to speed and I will jump from one thing to another. I will start splashing the cash on anything and everything, and I am so irritable I will bite Gog’s head off if I think he looks at me the wrong way.

Pretty soon I will only be sleeping a few hours a night, I will be trying to start crazy adventures (moving house, going on an unplanned holiday at 4am, enrolling at university or starting a business endeavour I have no knowledge about) and will be suffering from psychosis. This is the state when I am at my most dangerous to others, and I can also (accidentally) endanger myself.

My manias can last anywhere between two weeks and four months. I don’t have anywhere near as many manic episodes as I do depressive episodes.

Gog says: Manic episodes can be just as dangerous as low episodes but are much harder to identify early on. Managing sleep is easier said than done, especially when medications that affect sleep are introduced and doses are changed. Once a manic gets into full swing there is no mistaking it; excruciating boredom, desperation to spend money and a constant go-go-go attitude are hard for me to keep up with. Then there’s the lack of sleep – how can I watch Anon 24/7 when she needs 2 hours sleep and I need 8?! When psychotic symptoms hit I know I’m in for a long and bumpy ride…

I tend to bounce straight from one mood episode to another, with no stability in between. Depressive episodes tend to last a long time, and when triggered a manic episode is always followed by a fall into depression.

We are writing this blog to try and educate people about how big an impact Bipolar disorder can have on people’s lives, be that the person suffering from Bipolar, their carers or even friends and family. We hope to add more information about Bipolar disorder to our blog, alongside resources we have found helpful and will also share the day-to-day struggles of our lives.