How Do You Know If You Need Help?

tiger family

1. Suicidal Thoughts

If you’re having suicidal thoughts of any kind, get help. Suicide is permanent in the extreme, and if you’re feeling like it’s the only solution, you need to go and tell someone immediately. I recommend having a safe person, like your best friend, partner, shrink, anyone who is available to you no matter what and can be trusted to believe you when you tell them “Right now I am thinking about killing myself.” or “Lately, all I can think about is killing myself.”

2. Self Harm

If you’re thinking about harming yourself, or if you’ve already harmed yourself, get help. In a healthy state of mind, no person would harm themselves, so you must assume that you’re not in a healthy mind set if you’re in a self harming space. Contact your safe person, right away. See a doctor, and get a referral to a shrink. Keep on seeing shrinks until you find one who listens to you and respects you.

3. Hallucinations

If you’re experiencing hallucinations, whether auditory or visual or other, get help. Healthy people don’t generally have hallucinations. Never follow the instructions given to you by an hallucination, always seek help. Contact your safe person immediately if you can see or hear anything that’s just not there. Tell your doctor, so they can help you find a path to a healthy mind.

4. Extreme High, Fast, Elated Moods

If you’re having super-moods that make you feel as high as a kite, unstoppable and smarter than the average bear, get help. Go to a doctor, explain your moods and let the doctor be the one to decide if you’re having manic episodes. Mania is often described as feeling euphoric, but it can also make you feel really angry, really agreeable, really willing to spend money or sexually unbeatable. Contact your doctor, definitely. Listen to your doctor, and if it makes you more comfortable, take your partner or a good friend to the doctor with you. I know that sometimes it feels safer that way.

5. Deep, Dark, Depression

If you’re depressed, go to your doctor and get help. Never ignore depression, it’s a nasty little bitch and it can try to make you its slave. I just want to say it again; if you’re depressed, go to your doctor and get help. They have a huge range of treatments for depression now, from meds and therapy to meditation, happiness training and a load of other non-traditional methods. Go get help. Truly, go do it. xx

These are my top 5, but there are other things in your life that can be definite indicators that you need to get some help from a safe friend or a doctor. Feel free to add anything I’ve missed, in the comments, so I can include it in another post.

take care,

be you xx Rachel

Advertisements

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.

owly redblue

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

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.

free candle

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

Mixed State With A Serving of Grief

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

magic3

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

Maybe Suicidal Thoughts Have a Half Life of a Thousand Years

I’m in that head space again. The one where I’m contemplating suicide.

This is a hard one to own up to. It seems so crazy, just writing it there for you to read. It’s like owning it to the maximum degree, which is pretty huge considering I’ve kept it a secret all my life.

I was preteen the first time I thought about killing myself. I stood at Echo Point in Katoomba, NSW, and looked out over that huge gorgeous valley, the long drop to the bottom, and wondered what it would feel like to hop over the wire fence and jump. I remember having very matter-of-fact thoughts at the time: Would my family even notice I was gone? Which of my five brothers would get my bedroom? Would it be much easier for Mum and Dad to pay the bills and feed everyone?

Over the years, I’ve created a few categories in my mind for suicidal thoughts;

  • Feeling like I’d be better off dead
  • Feeling like the world would be a better place if I was dead
  • Fantasizing about how to kill myself
  • Deciding which of my suicidal fantasies are actually viable
  • Choosing a suicide method and wondering when the best time would be to execute it
  • Setting a time/place to kill myself
  • Starting to put my affairs in order
  • Writing a new suicide note and letters to family

These are pretty much all the categories. I have never actually, physically tried to take my own life. I’ve come close a fair few times, though, like sitting in a bathroom with a knife, and standing outside the guard rail at a few lookouts.

I have kept a journal for many years, and as you’d expect, my Bipolar Disorder up up ups and down down downs have featured regularly. Journaling is incredibly therapeutic for me, and every time I buy a new journal I write the same thing on the first page: This journal is a place for me to write my truth, in the moment, and that’s the only thing that matters.

Writing down suicidal feelings and thoughts, seeing them on the page staring back at me, has kept me sane in many a dark hour. When I read back over my words, I’m often reminded of the classic quote “and this too shall pass”. The lowest lows come and go, if you hang in there and remember that tomorrow is another day. Easy to say now. My dark hour has passed and I’m buzzy and wondering if I’ll sleep tonight.

Sharing this with you is surprisingly easy. Keeping my MI a secret for so many years seemed like such a right choice. Maybe it was the right choice, for those times, and now it’s time to share and see what comes of it. I’ve been amazed already, at the response I’ve had from fellow sufferers and people who know someone who lives with BD. The only sense I can make of it is that the older I get, the more I realise I have lots left to learn. A great reason to hang in there for another few decades.

be you xx Rachel