NaNoWriMo 2017 for Rochdale and District Mind

 

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As November closely approaches, we are also getting geared up to dive in to the madness that is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) – a major annual event which sees published author’s and aspiring writers amongst us preparing to face the challenge of undertaking 50,000 words during the course of November.

That’s averaging 1,667 words per day, and provides 100% commitment from the participant to meet that target.

To give you a vague idea of the amount of work 50k is, that’s pretty much just over the word count of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby… (47,097!)

This year, I have geared myself up for my first ever NaNoWriMo challenge, and took the sensible advice to start prepping early. To say I started three months ago, it certainly has come around quickly!

Whilst taking this challenge, I also thought it a great opportunity to do some fundraising for a charity that is very close to my heart.

Rochdale and District Mind is a local mental health and wellbeing organisation who primarily relay on donations and sponsorships to keep the Charity afloat. The volunteers work tirelessly to support and assist in recovery for those in need – myself being one of those seeking help when I turned 18.

Mind was the first services that I braved to access on my own. At the time, I was severely struggling with depression, cripplingly low self esteem, bouts of mania, self-harm and addiction after suffering in silence from my early teens. This pathway ultimately lead me on the right pathway to get my diagnosis of Bipolar disorder – from which I received the treatment I needed to get back on my feet, go back to university and raise my beautiful young daughter.

As of many people who I have to be thankful for, the kindness and the efforts of the service workers at Rochdale Mind saved my life.

As much as I feel I can’t give enough back, this is my way of saying thank you. For my NaNoWriMo project 2017, I will be undertaking my first fiction project, a novel, which focusses on the realities of mental health.

Please help support Rochdale and District Mind (and also encourage me in my word count!) by visiting my just giving page below and giving a small donation.

 

DONATE HERE!

 

I’d also love to hear from those who are taking part with NaNo this year!

 

Thank you!

 

To find more about the incredible services and support that Rochdale Mind do please visit their website: https://www.rochdalemind.org.uk/

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Tick, tock…

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Tick tock, tick tock
No time for time on this mania clock!
Seconds minutes that’s how I operate
Hours, days, weeks, mind tossing back and forth on an endless debate!
Don’t you dare trigger me, I walk recklessly along this tight rope
And I dare you to think you’ve figured me, these thoughts slide along a slippery slope
The cunning confidence of grandiosity, protects that vulnerable “stable” me,
disguising my true identity with a thick cloak
They really can’t get enough of me, but their ignorance has ruffled me
I talk circles until I choke
But they’ve not seen the last of me, no argument could baffle me
I’ll feed on my dreams til there’s nothing left to hope
The weak they refuel on sleep, but I’ve got the water beneath my feet
The wind beneath my own wings, no song your soul knows that mine can’t sing!
My ears they begin to ring, the unhinging of my mind, my subconscious has knowingly foreseen…
Better luck catching me when I’m in between.
 – Bipolar poetry, by Stephanie G. 
Image rights; ‘Killing time’ – Joel Robison photography. 

 

What Happened to Eleanor – Part 1.

rosary

 

I walked in to the room and was immediately alerted by the wild look which had taken over her panicked face.

 

‘What’s happened?’

 

I looked around the room for some clarification of the unexpected welcome. Everybody was silent, their heads bowed in ignorance. I looked back at her. She didn’t offer any words, just widened her eyes and shook her head in defiance.

 

‘What? Will somebody tell me what the hell is going on?’

 

More shaking of the head. Eyes as big and glassy as two large blue moons, her skin bagging underneath with exhaustion.

 

‘It’s bad Megan.’

 

She spoke as if I should have known the full context of what she was talking about. My face crumped in confusion again, I pursed my lips for a preliminary ‘what the fuck’ and scanned the room for another clue. Nothing. I looked back at her again.

 

‘Haunted.’ She said sternly.

 

‘Oh for ffff-‘

 

‘No.’ She stopped me in my tracks, holding her palm in front of me in attempt to block the words pouring out of my mouth. My mind was still on loop – ‘Not this again…’

 

‘Bad. It’s bad… I’ve had to get my sister up here because I just couldn’t be on my own, I just can’t –‘

 

Then, the rambling began.

 

‘ – Voices. Footsteps, walking behind me, following me ‘tap, tap, tap’. Taunting me, all night. Skeletons, Ouija board, books, videos – the lot! All in the bin, it’s gone, wiped. It’s not the house anymore, it’s me, it’s latched on to me and it is evil, it is evil Megan! It’s following me. Stalking me. All day, all night. Touching me, prodding me in the night. Taunting.’ Her words were rolling off her tongue and rang in to the room, I could barely keep up. Her nephew was sat in the corner sniggering to himself at the absurdity of it all.

 

Christ. I’d just about had enough of this heebie jeebie bollocks.

 

‘Where’s the tape?’

 

‘It’s gone. It’s not on the tape anymore, it’s in the bin. It’s gone – the voices aren’t there anymore. They are in the room now.’

 

I looked at her in bewilderment. Did she look  genuinely petrified?

 

‘Honestly Megan I am not pulling your leg even the priest that has come up and cleansed the –‘

 

‘You wha -?’

 

‘- place has told me that there’s a presence, and –

 

‘A priest? You have had a priest around?’

 

She nodded, expectantly. I looked over to her sister for confirmation. She looked up at me, closed her eyes and quietly nodded, before hanging her head back down shamefully.

 

‘Oh God.’

 

‘God can’t save me now…’

 

She had been at it for months. None stop talking about the paranormal and the afterlife, making her own Ouija board, voice recordings in attempt to pick up ghools that she believed were floating around her 19th Century block of terraces. She’s always had an interest, but over the past few weeks an interest had slowly evolved in to an obsession. In the past two week that lead to this moment, it was getting painful to come up to see her – all you’d get is ghosts and presence and ‘can you hear this on the tape? Listen, I can pick up a word!’ She was driving her son bonkers with all, he’d roll his eyes every time the subject was mentioned. Recently, it had been that bad that in a passive thought one night before bed a week earlier, I sat there thinking how she couldn’t seem to think of anything else, I’d be telling her important details about my life and you could just tell her mind was elsewhere, or she would interrupt at the most inappropriate moment. I shrugged it off as unnecessary worry.

 

I took another look at her and realised how sunken and haggard she looked. Had she slept at all? She appeared as though she hadn’t bathed in weeks, her fluffy fine hair stuck up all over the place in short blonde tuffs like a feral chicken. I looked over her chest to find a solid chunky metal cross, which hung around her neck and rested on her oversized jumper embedded with rips and holes. Her eyes were teary. She was genuinely petrified.

 

She continued to ramble on about how the priest was now on leave for a few weeks and that she couldn’t stay here, then tearfully began pleading for me to believe her.

 

‘Okay, of course I believe you.’ I said to her, gently. ‘Calm down, you can stay at mine for the time being, you don’t have to be alone.’ I needed to keep an eye on her, something was not right.

 

I had never seen her so jumpy in my life. Every noise, every shadow she feared. She was frightened. After an update form her sister, I’d also found out that she’d been hearing voices all night and tried sleeping with a bible over her face. At all hours of the morning, she had been jolted awake by her shouting ‘The power of Christ – Begone!!’ in to the emptiness of the room. Throwing salt about the place. Making growling noises that she swore was out of her control. This had gone on for a few days now, and it had pissed me off that I wasn’t told about this sooner.

 

I got her to my house and settled her on the couch. Her eyes darted around the room in alert, survival instinct charged up full force like she was being hunted down by a predator. She cling on to her cross and whilst she pulled on her chain, I noticed she also had rosary beads tucked in to her shirt. She got her bible out and stared reading. She is not remotely religious. Never had been.

 

My stomach churned as I dialled The Boy’s number – I needed some support. It was happening again, like it did during my young teenage years. I can’t go through this again, I just can’t. What scared me the most is that you could see this was factual it in her eyes, it was a dead cert, the adamancy that she was not going completely bonkers, but she was ‘in fact’ possessed by a demon.

 

I put a reminder on my phone to ring the doctor’s in the morning.

 

to be continued…

The Bad Week – A prime example of how external influences can affect my mood swings.

pingu

It all started when I woke up one morning and it hurt to pee.

Many females are familiar with the uncomfortable sensation, especially if you are one of the lucky ladies such as myself with UTI’s frequently occurring a few times a year (ouch), even more so, if you find them problematic to shift.

Hence, I gave a vocal sigh, started working out in my head the impossibility of how I could fit myself in to see the doctor around my busy schedule, and carried on with my day, little of knowing there was more displeasing incidents to follow. After a busy morning and afternoon running back and fourth from my desk to the Loo’s at work, 6pm finally came around and I kept up out of my seat eager to get in to my car and get home to rest. Silly me decided – that in the circumstance of which I longed to be in my bed – to make the practical decision to also run down the stairs, which the day in the midst of my decending gallop was made more entertaining by my iPhone –  item not insured – joining in with the fun and also leaping out of my hand, landing a rather impressive bellyflop on the marble steps below me.

I knew I had caused some significant damage to the screen before my eyes could dare to take a look at the wreckage, by the audible echo it produced up the stairwell. If anyone has damaged their iPhone screen before, they could easily draw up the mathematics here that I would at least be £50 out of pocket this month.

Hence, I gave another vocal sigh, started working out in my head the impossibility of how I could fit myself in to see the phone doctor around my busy schedule, and carried on with my day, little of knowing there was more displeasing incidents to follow.

I soon shrugged off the incidence as ‘Oh well, such is life,’ and finally got to my car to drive home. I popped my earphones in, and welcomed a voice of one of my many companions for my journey (this week it was a dramatic reading of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park), and got settled in to the story.

At this point I must defend myself here – yes, I am fully aware of the dangers of the distraction brought along with not only fully engaging in an audiobook rather than what I am doing on the road, but also using my earphones to drown out all sounds around me – but I do drive for three hours a day for work, what else is a girl to do in rush hour traffic?

On this occasion, I am ashamed to admit that it must have took me at least 50 minutes to realise the screeching, no – god awful grinding noise – that  was coming from my brakes. The absolute panic arose in me, followed by a frantic effort to type ‘WHY IS MY CAR MAKING A HORRIBLE NOISE’ in to a search engine on my phone and squinting through it’s shattered screen to find that the majority of advice concluded by Yahoo answers was; Stop driving.

Fortunately I made it home, gave a vocal sigh, started working out in my head the impossibility of how I could fit myself in to see the car doctor around my busy schedule, and carried on with my night, little of knowing there was more displeasing incidents the next day to follow.

By 8pm I was tucked up safe in my bed, and whether it was the infection or the build up of stressful events of the day – or both – made the conscious decision to take some time off work, and settled down for the night.

The following day, after many half-arsed attempts from The Boy to get me out of bed, I finally woke. It was 1pm. And I was absolutely exhausted, in pain and felt utter rotten. Yep, my water infection had succeeded in invading my system even further, and I could barely wake myself up. I had a painful day of recurrent fevers, sweating, nausea, and a headache from hell that a small handful of painkillers failed to shift. If I can recall correctly through my fog of a memory of that horrendous afternoon, there was even an episode of tears. The only good fate of the day, being that I had predicted my relentless state and decided to take action and notify work that for that one Wednesday at least; I was done for.

Of course, when you work in clinical research, the heavy workload demands you back on your feet when you get knocked down. With this requirement, having a fuzzy head and a car booked in at the local mechanics, I was driven in to work by The Boy the following day.

My only ever sickness day of the year and of course, shit went down. The emails were piled up, recent developments erupted on studies which had otherwise been laying dormant the past few months, people were panicked. I felt like shit and my kidneys were hurting. Whilst I was juggling three things at once, running to the toilet to throw my coffees up, and multiple people stopping me to politely tell me that I ‘looked at shit as I probably felt’ – I got a phone call of the mechanic.

‘Your brakes are sorted, we’ve also tightened up some jiggly bits [insert car related lingo here as appropriate]. That will be £160 please.’

Fuck.

Mother of actual fucks for this to happen on the month I was skint anyway -the very month of my Daughter’s birthday, the month my washing machine brakes down, the month where the floor deliberately decided to shatter my phone screen, the month where I also had to pay an unexpected £20 prescription charge for I’d realised my NHS exemption had expired. Fucketty, fuck, fuck, fuck. 

With my ever so pounding head, I ran to the toilet to chuck again after that, and kicked myself in the shin for not taking that additional time off to stay in bed.

The Boy picked me up after what seemed to be the longest 8 hours a person could ever endure, and I let out the biggest rant of life is not fair and why is it always me! that could be expected after the unfortunate past few days. We sat a typical two hours in traffic together, no audiobooks in tow, and played childish games of One or the Other. He made me smile, the first smiles of the week. We talked, told jokes, made plans. It was the best I’d felt for what felt like mini eternity, and I even forgot about the headache that had seemed to have settled in and made a cosy home in my temples.

And then; he pissed me off.

For his God defying sake, I will not go in to the details of his selfish stupidity – but all in one I felt the wrath of the hellish week that had bestowed on me – much to his disadvantage. I cried. I just broke down and I sobbed. The boy had realised then, how much of a toll this week and him not making it any better and sat beside me (who was on the bed curled up in a foetal position, clutching at my knees like a child).

This is a scene that is expected of anyone, regardless of their mental health status, after such events. What is not expected, is the following…

Me; Stalling in my sobs and staring across the room startled.

The Boy; ‘Are you okay?’

Me; continues to distantly stare across the room, embarrassing display of emotion still on hold. 

The Boy; ‘Megan, what is it?’

He looks at the wall. Then turns back around to me. I break my gaze and catch his eye. Then, startling him in the most unexpected and freakish way, I burst out uncontrollably in the biggest fit of laughter.

I laughed. I laughed so fucking hard, that even more tears ran down my face. My body scrunched up even further; unable to breath through my uncomprehendable outburst of emotion, my body shaking violently next to him.

The Boy just looked at me in silence. He just sat there, bewildered at the manic mess that was myself, wondering why the hell I was in the state that I was when a few blinks before I was a blubbering baby.

A minute passed by, before I was even able to manage to compose myself enough to communicate with him.

Why the fuck are you laughing?’ He asked, a look of concern and confusion across his face.

For I was not laughing for the unfortunate events that had contributed  to my disastrous week, no. I was laughing because in that moment, the light switch which was on my wall across the room, looked like Pingu the Penguin’s younger Brother. 

And in my heightened state, I’d lost all control of my emotion. That guys, is a glimmer of Bipolar mania in all it’s glory. To conclude the night, I later realised that I accidentally had skipped a few of my meds the week before.

Here’s to hoping – for my sake and the sake’s of those around me – that next week bring better days.

The psych medication change – here come the unwanted side effects!

Writing has always soothed me in times of distress.

 

With long term psychiatric conditions, there is always the risk of your medication taking you along for a bumpy ride, particularly during med changes. This one for me is tuning out to be a miniature hell.

The switch from quetiapine to abilify ended up going in the wrong direction; So back on the quetiapine I went (only 25mg, but the abilify made me unable to switch off at night – when I say unable – I mean two hours of disturbed ‘sleep’) and I broke down the abilify to one every other day; as well as not sleeping, my irritability levels were through the roof.

If you can call it irritability at all, there must be some label for what I have been constantly feeling (I have been using the work ‘antsy” a lot)…

Imagine that feeling you get when someone scraped their nails down a blackboard. That horrible and unbearable energy which makes you clench your jaw. It’s like someone scraped their nails and then paused time – I am carrying around my antsy in my body all day with me.

I am drowsy, yet I cannot bare to sit still and have the constant pressure from my brain to move around to escape from it.

I am paranoid again. To say they are antipsychotics they are not doing a very good job at the moment, and with paranoia comes anxiety.

 

I am very tempted to just sack the new meds off all together, Lord help me.

“Sharing Stories” – Bipolar; The rollercoaster I didn’t pay to get on, By Allison Padgett

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“You’re crazy! You’re a bitch! You’re a mess! I wish you’d just get your shit together! Why can’t you be normal? Just get out of bed! It’s like you’re two different people! It’s all in your head! You’re just lazy! Good for nothing! Worthless! Pathetic!

These are just a few of the things I’ve heard over the years in my struggle with my mental health. Some of these things have been said by friends. Some of these things have been said by loved ones. And some of these things I’ve said to myself.

Have you ever had a bad day? I mean, a really bad day. You wake up late. Forget the most important thing that you needed for work at home, but you’re already late, so you have to make up and excuse not only about your lateness, but about your not bringing that important thing. Your boss calls you in the office to “discuss” your performance or lack there of. You then begin to cry, but it’s only eleven AM, so you have to keep working and act like someone didn’t just make you feel like an idiot, when you know you’re not. Then, you start doubting yourself and start believing what was said. Next, no one asks you to join them for lunch because you look like you’re having one of your “days”. You try to work, but the thoughts play in your head like a CD stuck on repeat. You accomplish nothing, but more failure and your closest coworker gets mad at you for not holding up your end of the bargain. You try to tell them that you’re sorry. You try to tell them that you’ll do better, but they don’t believe you and you start not to believe yourself either. Finally, you go home only to think more about being worthless and wishing you could just die. You think that you’re probably just a burden on everyone and should just quit. Quit your job and life, itself. You’re hungry. No, you’re not hungry enough to fix anything, so you sit in silence and try to go to sleep early. Ha! The Sandman laughs in your face. Sleep doesn’t come because you continue to listen to that CD. Over and over. You believe it. You know you’re just a pathetic human being. Then you finally fall asleep miraculously, only to be awoken by a nightmare that you’re being thrown in a dumpster filled with other people “just like you”. Then, much to your dismay, your alarm goes off and it’s time to start the struggle of life for one more day.

Sounds like hell, doesn’t it? It sounds unreal.

It was a day in my life. On my “down” days, I felt like this. Sometimes even worse. So your worst day, is a day in the life of someone with bipolar disorder when they cycle down. Oh sure, I cycle up, too. Here’s what that feels like…

You are woken up by your alarm and today, you don’t feel like throwing it across the room. Could it be? You’re not sure yet. You get ready for work and today you feel like listening to the radio. What? You get to work and say hello to everyone you see. Good Morning, everybody!! You start your workday and do your work without interruptions of doubt. All of the sudden, while chatting with your favorite coworker you both realize that it’s almost time to go home. Already? Awesome! You drive home, windows down, singing your favorite song and thinking that sunlight is pretty great. When you get home, you cook your favorite meal and enjoy it in front of the TV, watching your favorite rerun of Friends. (The Prom Video, obviously) Then you take a nice warm bath, look in the mirror one last time and smile. Today was your day! Today was an amazing day! You pick up that novel you’ve been meaning to read and then fall asleep easily, without the constant feeling of worthlessness.

Sounds like a pretty good day, right? Sounds like what most people would call a normal day. For me, these days are precious. They are coveted. I yearn for these days. I beg for these days and when they come they’re gone too soon.

I haven’t always been bipolar. I’ve been to so many doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists. I’ve been told I’m depressed. I have anxiety disorder. I’m just hormonal. I need to exercise more. I should just eat better. I have toxic people in my life and if I rid myself of them, then I’ll be fine. Fine, they said. But, fine never came. Fine felt a million miles away.

So, I started doing research. I listened to some of those closest to me. One ex said I acted like two different people. He named them “Allison and Callison”. It took 10 years before I knew what that meant. I’m not two different people, but my brain just might be. So, I called an emergency mental health hotline. No, I wasn’t having a true mental health emergency, but I needed someone to listen to this epiphany. I needed someone to listen. I needed some one to listen to ME. Not judge me. Not try to over analyze me. And not throw the latest pill at me and tell me it’s been a miracle for other patients. So, he listened while I explained what I knew in my heart was finally right. I think I’m bipolar, I said. I had actually said it. Bipolar.

The next step was making an appointment with yet another psychologist. But this time was different. I had an idea of what to say. I’d never been completely open with any provider before, but this time I was. I explained my lifelong battle with my brain. And she listened. She gave me a test. It wasn’t long. I had to answer about twenty questions. I answered all, but a select few, with a resounding YES. I didn’t know what the test was for, but I knew whatever it was, it understood me. The results? Bipolar Type 2, with hypo-mania. YES!! I knew it. But, wait. What the hell do I do now? Another pill? No. That’s not why I came. Pills don’t work for me. I should know. I’d been on every single one. But, she was adamant that this pill was for bipolar disorder. This pill was “right” for me. I gave in. I went to the pharmacy and filled it.

Then, I waited. They always say to wait two to three weeks before you give up.

I waited three days. Yes, three days. On day four I woke up different. Good different. Something felt good. Not high, good. But, I just felt good. What? No self loathing this morning? No hatred of all things morning? Ok. That’s great. Now, I’ll need to go on and get up. I have things to do. I got up. I showered and dressed and then I had an errand to run. I hopped in my car and immediately turned on the radio. I rolled the windows down and began driving. About three miles down the road I came to a stoplight. One of those looong stoplights that if you don’t hit at just the right time, you’ll sit forever. So, I sat. I looked around at all of the other people in their cars. Some just sitting. Some on the phone. And some smiling at me. Why were they smiling, I thought. Oh, shit! I’m smiling, too. Then, it hit me! I’m happy. And I began to cry. I cried because I was happy. I cried because I felt what most people call normal. And right there at that stoplight, I knew my struggle had just gotten a little easier. So, I cried some more. I cried for the years I’d missed not feeling this way. Then, I stopped crying. I stopped because I wanted too. I stopped because I could.

So, what now? I had a diagnosis and a medication that managed it. I felt like someone or something had given me back my life. No, wait. I felt like someone or something had finally given me life.

And, so goes the beginning of my life with bipolar disorder. Is it always as easy as it was that fourth day? No. Is it ever as bad as my worst day? No. I still cycle up and down. Just not as frequently and not as high or as low. I’ve had to add some medications and I’ve taken a few away, but right now I’m managed. I still deal with the stigma. How many times have I heard someone laugh at someone else’s expense and joke that they must be bipolar? A lot. I just kind of look down and smile to myself. They don’t know what they’re saying. They don’t know what it’s like. They don’t know that every single day is a battle. But, they also don’t know that I’m finally winning.”

– By Allison Padgett

Thank you to Allison for submitting her story. To read more of Allison’s journey upon Bipolar, homeschooling and living with her Husband’s Brain tumour diagnosis, please support her blog at https://immamabutimstillme.wordpress.com

 

WE NEED YOUR STORIES….

– Please drop me an email on themanicyears@gmail.com if you want to take part and be featured in “Sharing Stories”, if you have a story to tell or you just want to share your thoughts about your experiences with mental health. I am so proud of everyone who has contributed and who has joined me in this journey so far, and I do hope our army gets stronger. A bigger voice. A fight to speak louder. – M

 

 

“Sharing Stories” – How Bipolar type II has affected my life, by Jenna White.

jenna

 

“My personal story with mental illness begins when I was 13 years old. I began to feel different than the rest of my peers and I showed signs of both depression and mania. I was put on mood stabilizers, anti-depressants and sleeping pills to quell the mood shifts. I began to self-mutilate, choke myself with scarfs and pop different pills in the medicine cabinet. Neither my Mom or Dad understood mental illness and chastised me endlessly with a hint of concern.

I began high school and in grade 10, and found the worst boyfriend I ever had. He was mentally, emotionally, sexually and physically abusive to me for a year and a half. I had grown up with abuse so I knew this was over the top but I knew how to handle it…or so I thought. I began to snort hard drugs like cocaine and speed. The boyfriend, Kyle, didn’t want me taking my medication because he didn’t believe in it. I was being broken spiritually and not getting proper help for my mental state.

At 15 I attempted suicide for the first time. I had “tried” before by popping handfuls of random medication from the cabinet but it wasn’t a serious gesture. This time I was in the bath, note written, a full bottle of Tylenol in my stomach and I was on my way. But suddenly I changed my mind and threw the bottle at my mom, evidently she made me throw up and we never spoke of it again.

Fast forward to when I am 19. My mental state was so terrible I was having black outs with a different personality. I had been a drug addict for 4 years at that point and it was all getting to be too much. I quit drugs and moved to Toronto Ontario with a boyfriend and his kid. In Toronto I was admitted to a hospital ward for 2 weeks for a final diagnosis: Bipolar II.

From then I’ve been admitted 3 more times in two different cities. I constantly struggle with medications and dosages which cause me to go into manic and depressive states. My family, social and professional life suffers from my disorder.”

-By Jenna White.

Jenna writes about the personal struggles with having a Bipolar type II diagnosis on her blog, Brandnewbipolar.

 

Please drop me an email on themanicyears@gmail.com if you want to take part and be featured in “Sharing Stories”, if you have a story to tell or you just want to share your thoughts about your experiences with mental health. I am so proud of everyone who has contributed and who has joined me in this journey so far, and I do hope our army gets stronger. A bigger voice. A fight to speak louder. – M

Follow the Sharing Stories Facebook page! – The Manic Years – Sharing Stories of Mental Health

‘Forgive yourself. Share your experiences. Break the stigma’ – A journey through Manic Depression

I just wanted to share another opportunity I had to feature on a Guest blog The Order of The Dog, this time sharing my own story on mental illness.

I must admit, looking back in to my earlier adolescent years and answering Scott’s questions was a task I found more difficult to write than I expected. Nevertheless, it gave me some consolidation to what I otherwise remembered as a fragmented past. You can find the post here; A conversation with Megan.

 

 

The Tightrope – the fight against Bipolar mania.

tightropecat

 

I am up in the clouds on a thin tightrope. Every move I make crucial to prevent myself from fatally tipping the balance; One side will rise me higher into the flight of a soaring mania, the other side down, down in to the deep pitfalls of depression.

This is the ultimate fight for sanity on the road to recovery in Bipolar disorder. And it’s my turn for my strength of balance to be challenged as I walk the rope.

The past few weeks haven’t been easy. I am rapid cycling like an absolute nutcase. From curling up in a ball on the sofa, paralysed with anxiety and the fight in my mind wanting to give up, to the spontaneous flight from my hometown in the car driven by the fuel that is an escape. Pushing my friends, family and all social contact bar my beautiful girl and my supportive partner, to chatty minds and flights of ideas and diversions, diversions, diversions that lead to insomnia. Us blemished souls too fully aware of how the poison of a sleepless night spreads and sparks the fire of mania. It’s getting better, I’m getting better. I have to do this, for at this moment in time the risk of my fragile mind crumbling is not an option for me right now.

I’m being as careful as I can. The depression is being quite sucessfully battled against – this week, at least, but i’m expecting a dip of course because you never know where this goddamn illness is going to take you – I’m eating well, I’m exercising, I’m writing. I’m preparing myself for starting my new job next week. I’m attempting to go to bed at a decent time, have enough sleep (reguardless of the chatty mind, the million Megan’s voices and the ADHD head – maybe a post on that to follow). An all rounder to looking after myself, doing it the way the Doctor ordered, in addition to the norm of taking my meds routinely.

 

But, here’s the catch.

 

Contraversally, when unstable in Bipolar disorder, motivation for us can be deterimental. I henceforth label this as…

 

… the MANIC DRIVE TO OBSESSION.

 

Manic Drive to Obsession 101: An prime example of this has brightly shone from inside me this week with the motivation to exercise. A twenty minute sprint, followed by the post workout rush of endorphins, has managed to tip my balance and harvest some unwanted energy that  struggle to contain, my head screaming at me “Exercise more! Exercise like crazy, GO! GO! GO!

Some light healthy eating for an afternoon has it screaming again, “Stop drinking carbonated drinks. In fact, chuck them out. No, chuck out ALL of the sugar! Fruit, don’t eat that it contains the Devil Sugar! Just live off leaves and chicken. But only 1,200 calories. No, you consumed 1,200 calories yesterday -from now forward MAKE IT 1,000 CALORIES!

 

“LIVE OFF ONLY THE LEAVES!”

 

Then the extreme dieting, which ultimately does not give you the healthy energy needed for ALL the workouts you are doing soon becomes “We don’t lose 1lbs a week! We lose A STONE IN A WEEK! PUSH, PUSH, PUSH!” Followed by obsessionally stepping on the scales every half hour of the day and cursing yourself because your manic mind cannot comprehend the logistical concept of ‘slow fat burning’ and gets frustrated why you haven’t dropped a single lbs since that same morning.

Then comes the lack of sleep. “Why sleep when we can workout more?! Sleep is for the weak!” – and guess what comes from lack of sleep? More lack of sleep. Guess what follows even more lack of sleep?

 

EVEN MORE MANIC DRIVE OF OBSESSION.

 

You see, it is a vicious cycle of craziness. All it needs is one little spark of that energy when you are unstable, and even when you think you are ‘getting better because everything in life seems GREAT! – you actually have a one way pass to board the Choo-Choo train of Loon.

 

TOOT, TOOT!

 

I feel the drive mainly when my thoughts multiply and I just simply cannot concentrate on one voice. It’s like I have a hundred Megan’s in my mind chatting away. Like when you’re in a huge crowded hall and everyones talking. Sometimes my conciousness find a voice and trails off, soon to be caught by the attention of another and shot in a completely different direction. It’s noisy. It’s crowded. Can you concentrate when someone is trying to have a conversation with you? Nope. Can you get in the car and concentrate on the road without you ending up at a totally different destination because it was a ‘ wayyyy better idea than the first destination?’ Nope.

I’ve felt this drive so many times this week, when I have had the good energy and it’s sored, and before I know it your mind takes off in a million directions and you lose control of your head. It’s like handling a kitten in it’s prime. All soft and cuddly in your arms, happy thoughts. Then the kitten turns on you and viciously writhes and wiggles and you lose control of handling it and you drop it and not only have you lost the motherfucking psycho kitten but you also have lots of bloody stinging claw marks on your arms.

I had this when I was in a coffee shop today working on my novel.From a slow start suddenly came an idea, then flights of ideas, then they were flying out this way and that and then something happened that doesn’t usually happen with me.

I recognised the first symptom of the Manic Drive of Obsession, and I stopped.

I forced myself, to stop mid-ideas because I somehow clocked on that my mania had been sparked. I had too many voices, too many Megan’s to even make sense of what the hell I was doing or what I was writing and I found the strength to put a hault to it. I packed up, I got some fresh air, and I put some slow chilling music on – any glimpse of an upbeat song I knew I would lose my grip on the kitten again, this built up excitability that had somehow formed. Too much energy for any mind that is within the borders of insanity to handle.

From some harsh previous experiences I know too well that it is all too easy to get lost on the path to mania. You don’t walk down it. You slip. You lose your balance, before you have even conciously decided to run with it’s flow. It is too powerful, too forceful to stop against the rush of it’s current, before you end up lost in its infinate dark waters.

 

I don’t think my medication is working as effectively as it should be working.

 

 

 

~Image curtosy of ciderinthesun.com

 

 

 

 

The Road Trip.

The past few days have been a freakish blur to me, therefore I will have to excuse myself for how fragmented my writings will be.

I am not well.

I have not been well for about 3 weeks now.

Here is an encounter of what exactly I remember.

 

I woke up last Monday and decided to write a book. Not just any book. I had the plot, the story line, how in depth the main character was- in fact I think I wrote a whole A4 page dedicated to the ‘meaning’ behind her first name – I had it all planned out.

So I sacked work off and woke up early and wrote for two days straight. I went in to town and bought The Bible. The Bible was to decode the story.

On Wednesday it all went to shit. I cant remember what I was doing? Something happened and my mood just dropped. Seriously dropped. I was trying to explain to my partner that once my mood goes up, and up, it falls down a million times harder – the crash is always a shock to the system. I was sat on my stairs in my kitchen crying. I couldn’t understand why.

My mood began to decline, and anxiety took over.

On Saturday I wrote my latest post about ‘The Bad Energy’. I remember being so bad the anxiety that all I had been doing lately was writing. And Writing, and writing.

 

By Sunday, my mind had cracked.

 

I’d had a complete blow out at my daughter, I was so irritated I just exploded with anger. I screamed until my throat was raw and sore. I ended up in a ball on he kichen floor pulling my hair out.

An hour later I dropped her off at her Nan’s, then I sent this text to the Boy;

“I can’t do this anymore I need to see someone or do something. I feel like i’m at risk of hurting myself or doing something stupid I just cant cope with how bad I feel. I need to tell someone I dont know what to do. I don’t know whether to just go in to the hospital and tell them or not.”

So I set off in the car, but instead of going to the hospital I went to the chemist. I bought some co-codamol tablets to stop the anxiety, anything to stop it I was that desperate, then I set off back for home. Only I didn’t go home. I put my foot down on the pedal. And the further away from home I got, and the more the tablets begun to kick in the more I felt free. So I put my foot down even more, turned the radio up full blast and started to scream to the music at the top of my lungs.

 

The next thing I knew, I was in Wales. 100 miles away from home.

 

I can’t even remember what my thoughts were when I crossed over the boarder to another fucking country, but it sure wasn’t ‘what the hell am I doing?’

Flash forward a few hours later, The Boy found out where I was and freaked out. He had to wire me some money over for me to get home because I’d spent my bill money on petrol to get there.

It started to sink in properly a few days later, and I still can’t say why I went so far, on a whim, with no intentions. I must have just panicked and ran. All I can remember is the wind in my hair whist I was going fast down the motorway. I remember the anxiety dispersing in to nothingness. I remember feeling light.

The Boy stayed close by me for a few days after that. We even had a day trip out just me and him on Tuesday and I felt pretty normal and okay. I enjoyed my day. I started to think that maybe I was going to get better and that the worse was behind me. Then it came back that evening and I ended up flipping my lid again.

I’ve slept since, loads. Yesterday I could barely cope to be awake. It’s like my brain and body is paralysed with the Fear, of what I cannot say.

I don’t understand what is happening to me. I want to scream for help but at the same time I cannot bare to be around people. I have shut myself off from the world. I want to be alone.

But solitude kills.

And it has found me.