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Writing Is My Happy Place, Mental Illness Or Not

Welcome to my fog-brained, spinning-headed, dizzy-lizzy Saturday! Last night I upped the new meds, as per Pdoc’s directions, and now my head is spinning again. Twirling like a top, I have to keep deleting words that I have misspelled or just written in a completely bizarre way. The only thing I can think of to compare this to is a really big dose of laughing gas at the dentist, but without the laughing. I’ve never tried illegal drugs, so I don’t have anything to compare there.

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Each time you add to your meds, the side effects bloom and then, if you’re a good match, they subside to a more manageable level. You’re never truly free of the mental illness, and you’re never completely free of the side effects. You just hope you can drive a car, do something in your life that holds some meaning for you, and have relationships with the important people in your life without too much pain.

I feel like I’m made of wet sponge, my head all floppy, my arms and legs not wanting to move where I ask them. My mind is happily relaxed, free of voices except my own. I have a metallic taste in my mouth. I feel like writing.

Writing is my place of peace, joy, love, life, meaning. It’s the one thing that I can always do, no matter what my head is doing. I have a new story pushing its way out of my heart and head, through my fingers. It’s a novel, but I can’t tell you any more than that right now. To share is, sometimes, to mess with the flow, the process. I’m a head down, bum up fast writer once I have my main character.

be you xx Rachel

A New Shrink, A New Diagnosis, and New Meds

Hi. I hope I get to upload this blog post. The last two I’ve written were just too graphic and I didn’t want anyone reading them who might be triggered by such brutal honesty. Self harming has been a part of my life for a very long time, but photo’s of what I’d done to myself a few weeks ago were not right for my blog.

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It’s taken me a week to try to blog again, and I do have some news. On Tuesday I saw my new psychiatrist for the first time. He was nice, precise, questioning, listening, knowledgeable, and to my surprise, very open to being questioned about his opinions. That goes a long way with me. I detest ego for ego’s sake, and so to find a psydoc who is very human; this is a big deal to me.

My psychiatrist, I’ll call him Pdoc, says I have Borderline Personality Disorder and gave me a website address so I can read all about it and see what I think. He prescribed new meds, to be taken with my old anxiety/depression meds. The new meds are anti-psychotics and after taking only two doses, I feel very different. Dopey, dizzy, level, and the auditory and visual hallucinations have disappeared. This is a very good thing. I can hear myself think for a change. People love to say they can’t hear themselves think, but I want to say spend a day in my busy, noisy head and then come and tell me how hard it is to think.

This BPD is for life, apparently, and can explain the range of my symptoms. The meds have me flying low, thinking slow and I’m only on the lowest dosage. The dose will get bigger in the next few months.

I like the sound of my own inner voice. I’ve hardly heard it, all my life. Too many instructions from the voices, often about how useless or worthless or ready to commit suicide I am, in their opinion. Now I am having this weird experience where I start to think about what I will do next in my day, and I am able to keep on thinking about that and act on the thoughts. The dull, numbing effects of the meds are making me slow, very slow, and I am taking my time with everything I do, but not in my usual frenetic way.

Pdoc says it can take a while to get the meds right, and I’ll never be my old manic self again while I’m on them. I hope I can live with that. Two days in and I’m still in the honeymoon phase, the I’m happy not to be planning my own demise and that’s all that matters right now, phase. I’m not sure how much I’m going to like being slow-minded in the longer term, though. I’m used to bursts of energy to try to get things done, followed by little or no activity at all. This steady, slow, dopey head I’m wearing today is new territory.

I doubt I’ll be able to do calculus again, but maybe I can write the new book that’s on my mind. Slowly.

Time to take my meds and go to bed now. I’ll upload this post before I overthink it too much.

be you xx Rachel

Losing Weight, Bipolar Style

I’ve just realised something about my many attempts to lose weight in the past six years; every time I decide to lose weight, I’m in a manic state. This means I’m pumped, excited, ready to exercise and eat right and conquer the world. As soon as the depression or mixed state kick in, I immediately lose the momentum and completely give up. This is a huge aha moment for me.

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I’ve joined a gym a few times and in my normal or manic state I can really enjoy the gym. Of course as soon as my mood shifts to depression or mixed state, the Social Phobia accompanies it and I have no ability to leave the house, and I want to eat all day long.

It all seems so obvious now, but I had no way of understanding this before. So, and I’m just thinking out loud here, I have the usual amount of human inertia about eating healthily and exercising, with the added difficulty of unpredictable, uncontrolled mood shifts. Give me a break.

I’m wondering if I can create a plan that shifts with the moods? Sounds revolutionary, but that could be my current manic state speaking. One plan for each of my four states, and I act accordingly each day. The speed at which I cycle between moods could be an issue; at times I can experience four states in one day.

I’m going to work on this and get back to you. Maybe it’ll work. Maybe it’s a book in the making. Maybe I’m all hyped up on manic endorphins?

be you xx Rachel

Where I Talk About Bipolar and Writing About Real Life

Hi, my name is Rachel and I’m Bipolar. I know a lot of people hate labels. I’ve heard a few people say things like ‘I’m not Bipolar, I have Bipolar’. Fair enough for them, and I do get their point, but I have to say that right now I always find myself saying I AM Bipolar.

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When I say this I don’t mean that Bipolar is the only thing I am, of course. Bipolar is what I have found myself to be, to suffer from, to struggle with, every fracking day of the year. I can breathe so much more easily now, knowing I am Bipolar. I have over a hundred online friends who are also Bipolar, who I relate to in a way that I’ve never related to anyone before in my whole life. I really get their struggles, I totally understand their pain. I know how it is to be so depressed you can’t see any lights in any tunnels, there’s just hot, deep, black. I know how it is to be a million miles up, high as a kite, without any drugs, just high on manic life, making bad choices, saying stupid stuff, promising things you will never be able to follow through on.

Spending 47 years trying to find out what the hell is wrong inside my own head, made me yearn for the right label. Not telling any of the shrinks that I was depressed and suicidal for over 20 years turned out to be a barrier to that. Who knew? I thought suicidal depression was normal, or irrelevant or so similar to one of my close family members that it could pretty much be expected.

Becoming aware of my Bipolar has not boxed me, it has somehow released me. I know that must sound weird, but I’ve always tried to find out how to act ‘normal’ while my mind did the rollercoaster thing. Now, I find myself not trying to ‘be normal’ at all. I’m being me, and part of me is that I am Bipolar. Wow, feels so great to say it, own it, know it, and be able to find ways to cope with it.

I’ve started writing in a completely different way than ever before. I’m a copywriter by trade, and I have 5 unpublished book manuscripts of my own in my bookcase, but this time I’m writing the stuff that matters most to me. I’m thinking this will make it either much more tempting to want it published or the complete opposite and even more likely to be shoved into the back of a drawer.

Whatever happens to my raw, core-self writing, it feels very liberating to pour that stuff out on the page. I’m closely connected to these words in a way I’ve never been connected to my writing before. I always wanted to write about normal things, normal people, normal heads.

Now I’m going to write about how normal it is to be Bipolar.

be you xx Rachel

Home Is Where I Hide

I think I’ll be staying inside my house for the rest of my life. I like my house. It’s very old, usually messy and definitely needs renovating to bring it from well-loved/old to quaint/cute. I like it just the way it is, though, which is why I’ve lived here for about six years with no improvements except insulation and air con.

I need fences, though. Nice, high fences. So I can go out in my garden when I’m depressed/social phobic. It would be so nice to be able to tend my veggie garden any day of the week, and not just the ones where my mind isn’t as black and low and paranoid as it can get.

Mixed State With A Serving of Grief

My darling, sweet, fat, snuggly cat Magic was killed by a car two days ago.

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He was there for me whether I was high or low, manic or depressed, excitable or angry or whatever. He was a quiet, loving cat and sometimes boisterous and unlike any other cat I’ve ever owned. I love him so much and my heart is breaking.

I’m in a mixed state, with this grief on top of it. My head feels even more scrambled than usual. Thank god my hubby is here watching out for me. I feel that dark need to take my life. Last night I was so off my face I did something that I’ve never owned up to on my blog before: I cut myself. My arms. I hate sharing that. I find that it’s incredibly difficult for people to understand the self harm thing. Friends who can cope with my ups and downs and moody crapola still don’t know how to cope with the self harming thing. It’s a lonely nastiness that seems to help in the moment, but brings on disgust and shame.

I want my Magic back. I want to stop feeling like this. I want my head to miraculously clear, my mood to level out. I also want a house on 100 acres in the bush, a houseboat and a giant camper to travel Australia with my hubby, my dog and my parrot. All of these things are equally impossibly out of reach. I’ll take one hour at a time and breathe in and out. I’ll choose to live. I’ll check my Facebook messages, do the dishes if I can drag myself to the kitchen, watch DVDs, write in my journal, cook dinner, water my veggie garden, and wish for the billionth time that I could trade my mind in for a more peaceful, quiet one.

be you xx Rachel