For me, learning about Bipolar disorder has been like surfing in a sea of confusion; wave after wave of facts and realisations hitting you in the face but no time to process the information before getting smacked with something new. Things are starting to ease a little now though, the sea of knowledge is calm – It is now time to decipher the information and work out how, where and when to put it to use.
A couple of days ago I noticed a manic episode in time to prevent it and pull it back before it got out of control. I have never been able to do this before, only ever noticing mania after I was too far submerged to come back from it. What I did seems rather insignificant, I was clearing my bedroom in preparation for my, much-needed, new bed which was being delivered that day and all of a sudden I had an urge to buy paint; before I knew it I had decided it was precisely the right time to paint my bedroom – I ran to my computer looking up paints whilst my brain raced furiously ahead planning and scheming… I realised it was a manic episode as soon as I sat at my computer, I had only a small amount of money in my bank account, probably enough for paint but it would wipe me out leaving nothing to keep me going for the rest of the week, I had no time to paint the room either – there was no logic to my planning. As soon as I realised what was happening I moved away from the computer and occupied myself with some housework (mania loves to be busy!)
Some people will read about my little manic episode and understand entirely and some will not. I know that anyone could get a little over-excited and decide to go and buy paint on a whim but I think what makes it differ from mere whim is the lack of control, the lack of ability to think it through logically. Most importantly, the difference between a normal persons whim and my small manic episode is the repercussions, the consequence of allowing myself that reckless moment, it would have facilitated the mania and my small episode would have turned into a big episode meaning the crash when that high inevitably came soaring down would have brought me lower. So, in preventing myself from buying paint on a whim I have also prevented a dangerous high and softened the low that will come later. Go me!!
I am very proud of myself, it finally feels like I can do this but even so, it can be difficult to know what is mania and what is just me finally being productive and functioning well, though if my perception of what is normal were better it probably wouldn’t be so difficult!
I have recently been seeing an occupational therapist assistant or OTA who is taking over my care now that my therapy is coming to an end, his job is essentially to help me integrate with society. It was daunting in the beginning and my mind fought against the help he was offering for a while, not to mention my body that really would rather be sitting on my sofa! We met for a coffee a few times, he is a man and I can sometimes feel intimidated around men but I think this is essentially why my therapist referred me to him and not the countless female OTA’s. He is a nice man and I am finally starting to feel comfortable around him. We have now been swimming a couple of times and last week he took me to a place called The Alma project which is an arts and crafts group specifically for people with mental health problems; It was nerve-wracking going to a new place and I felt sick the entire time but everyone there seemed very nice and I do enjoy arts and crafts so I will be joining them on monday for the first time, by myself. I have also been going to a zumba class the past two Fridays, which has been great fun but exhausting both mentally and physically! This is probably the most activity I have done over the past eight years and so it feels extremely overwhelming which is upsetting and embarrassing but nevertheless, true and so when it came to Thursday and I was supposed to go to my monthly Bipolar support group meeting, I decided to say no and pull things back a little. I initially felt guilty and disappointed in myself for not pushing through and just going to the meeting and then I realised that this in itself is a management of my illness, if I overwhelm myself and do too much to fast I’m essentially pushing my own swinging mood; saying no for one month does not mean I will never go again, just that it was too much this month and that’s ok, that’s normal!
Written down like this it all seems like progress, I never seem to notice how far I am progressing when looking in the harsh light of day. Perhaps if anything, this blog is good for a dose of perspective and a pick me up when things seem beyond hope. I can do this, I can manage this!