The Bipolar Bum

Backpacking and Bipolar II. Taking Manic Depression on tour.

Trapped by television? Trapped by mental illness. @postboxadam @Australianstory

One in four people experience some kind of mental illness each year.

One in four people experience some kind of mental illness each year.

 

To all my brethren, bipolar or otherwise – You are not alone.  Read ANY of our blogs and you’ll find a thread which spans all continuums of wealth, influence, physical prowess and beauty, ambition and popularity.  That thread being the nature of our self-talk whilst depressed.  The same sentiments echo out from every nook and cranny of the internet.  You can predict almost word-for-word what we will write when the Black Dog digs its way into our yard.

 

Having watched Australian Story last night with Adam Boland, I stand (well, sit nursing a coffee) ever more convinced that it doesn’t matter how little or much you achieve in your life – The nature of depression is that you will have re-occurring thoughts along the lines detailed in the toon above.  Everyone suffering from an illness involving depression and anxiety does.

 

The most difficult part of a diagnosis of any mental illness is that you have to accept that you are not the originator of all the thoughts going through your mind.  NOTHING in the world can be as counter intuitive as this.  It is the most difficult concept to grasp and internalize.  I remember saying “I am my thoughts.”   This is simply not the whole truth, however.  I am most of my thoughts but there are some that are spat out by the random-negativity-generator of my illness.

 

No-matter how well a person sits on the power/wealth/beauty continuum – If they are depressed they are tasked with enduring the exact same self-loathing and self-assassination that we all go through.  The most empowering lesson I have thus-far learned is that these thoughts aren’t born of any external stimuli.  If you could remove your eyes, ears and give yourself nerve damage so as to not have any tactile sensory feedback at all – these thoughts would persist in exactly the same format.  They are nothing to do with the wider world.  They’re weeds in your mental garden.

 

I was a little bit disappointed last night that Australian Story reported that it was A.Boland’s specific industry and career that led to his undoing.  The truth is that a breakdown for someone yet undiagnosed and therefore unaware of their illness can happen anywhere and at any time.  Mine occurred when I was visiting a wonderful woman, in a very romantic and remote location.  I had no reason to be unhappy, I had great company, great views, it cost me nothing and I was meeting fantastic people whenever I managed to leave the house (rarely).

 

I was at the opposite end of the continuum of external stressors to A.Boland.  It didn’t matter at all.  Prince or pauper – When these illnesses come a-knockin you really know about it!

 

Nevertheless; break down I did and in magnificent fashion.  I rarely left the bed, I thought of suicide every few seconds and I cut myself off from communicating with the wider world.  My universe had shrunk to the bedroom I was in and I had already given in to the belief that no one other than my lady friend was even interested in hearing from me.  They were probably glad I was out of the way anyway, I thought.

 

If not for the intervention of a close friend, responsible for my diagnosis, I would have become homeless in the first instance and, I would imagine not long after, one of the 2000 people who commit suicide and make a good job of it in Australia every year.

 

I am glad that Australian Story worked with Adam Boland to put his story into the public domain.  I only wish that the program had been more to do with mental illness and less to do with celebrating a career in television.  If someone yet undiagnosed with Bipolar was to watch the program, I fear that they may evade a diagnosis further when they see mania characterised purely as happiness, spending sprees and insomnia.  For many Bipolar II sufferers mania doesn’t manifest as happiness at all.  Rather it shows as heightened irritability and a confrontational bent.  Depression may not be absolutely crippling the younger you are.  You may deal with it remarkably well and shrug off a suggested diagnosis because of it.

 

Unfortunately the program’s exploration of even Bipolar I seemed a little shallow.  Seeing headlines such as “Trapped by Television” pop up in the press this morning also prompts the thought that really, the boogey-man of mental illness is sidelined completely, in favour of a more romantic and easily sensationalized antagonist.

 

My hopes are high, having heard Adam Boland’s sadness that he didn’t use his profile to combat mental illness stigma, that he will yet prove a significant figurehead in that battle.  One thing I would say is that he shouldn’t feel a moment’s guilt for not opposing this stigma before he was diagnosed, or immediately afterwards.  As with anyone else dealing with a mental illness – his top priority HAS TO BE making himself well.

 

Here’s hoping that he comes back to Cairns and spearheads an attack on mental illness stigma.  I stand as a ready foot-soldier.  Until that time, I wish him all the best.

 

H&J

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10 comments on “Trapped by television? Trapped by mental illness. @postboxadam @Australianstory

  1. Another great educational post!

    Like

    • drheckleandmrjibe
      25/03/2014

      I’m not sure if anything I write can be qualified as ‘educational’ but thanks again for the support! Having only known about my Bipolar for a few months I’m probably less well-versed in dealing with mental illness than most of my followers. I just try and document my experiences honestly in the hope that others will correct me when my thinking is wrong and get a bit of humour out of the blog every now and then!

      All the best,
      H&J

      Like

  2. J
    26/03/2014

    First time blog reader, what I have read is interesting, thanks. I have bipolar II.

    “For many Bipolar II sufferers mania doesn’t manifest as happiness at all. Rather it shows as heightened irritability and a confrontational bent.”

    Bipolar II symptom is hypomania not mania, and what you describe sounds like a mixed state, to me, not hypomania?

    Look forward to reading through the rest of your posts.

    Like

    • drheckleandmrjibe
      26/03/2014

      Hi J,

      Cheers for reading. I’ve been using ‘Mania’ as a general term to mean whichever is applicable to the disorder being discussed, I didn’t mean hypERmania in this context. Just trying to cut down on syllables for the longer posts! 🙂

      I rarely feel irritable from mania (hypomania), just a little impatient that people aren’t taking my ideas seriously etc. A work colleague of one of my friends, however, becomes quite aggressive, extremely confrontational and irritable during her ‘Ups’. She describes it as an abundance of energy and very quickly she becomes frustrated that others aren’t percieved to be working at the same pace or with the same commitment.

      My initial point was purely that when the term ‘mania’ is used, it cannot be substituted with words like ‘Happy’ automatically. I dodged a diagnosis for about four months because I didn’t get “manic”, because everyone who spoke to me only had the stereotypical understanding of any kind of mania.

      Hope that clears up what I meant. Thanks a lot for the support and for the contribution!

      All the best,
      H&J

      Like

  3. chrs
    15/10/2014

    im bp2 and id like to add i HATE hypomania. id much rather live in depression, life is more manageable, realistic and relationships are easier. i either smoke a ton of weed and tobacco when im hypomanic or just accept that i will be edgy and need to be not be myself around others or just avoid people and work on something until i finally crash.

    hypomania might be annoying but a mixed state is suicidal hell. only escape is if i can trust a loved one to hold on to, hard cardio and sometimes the right weed or valium.

    depression is just, whatever, at least i still feel sorta normal emotion and with a journal i can observe when my depression becomes severe i should not act myself around others. usually i play guitar or find some way of expression or distraction when im severely depressed.

    hurray bp2!! after being alone and trying all the legal and illegal drugs i’ve found nothing works better than a consistent high protein diet with regular exercise. some days walking a couple miles is okay but a couple days/week i have to bike or walk like 25 miles. its just as effective as iv painkillers in curbing symptoms. i cannot stress cardio enough!!! makes bp2 much more tolerable and allows me to utilize some of the benefits of the ‘disorder’…instead of being a slave to them

    i also think learning to regularly (at least once/week) consume cannabis helps a lot. weed causes many issues and isnt the most socially accepted but neither is bipolar but imo if you can dance with both, its much easier…

    tho if pharms work for you then great! consider yourself blessed!!

    Like

    • drheckleandmrjibe
      23/02/2015

      Heya there,

      I’ve seen a strong and vocal minority espousing the benefits of self medicating with pot, for me personally though – it isn’t effective. Nor is extreme cardio, unfortunately. I’m still finding ways of avoiding the mental self-assassination and my illness seems to be finding ways of avoiding detection and eradication too. I’m part of a 1 man psychological cold-war, haha.

      I dropped my dose and then upped it again back to 600mg/day of extended release Seroquel and whilst I still swing, the effects of the hypomanic episodes are severely blunted. I should probably be investigating a dedicated mood-stabiliser by now as the anti-psychotic works at reducing instances of mania but hasn’t moderated my swings as much as I had hoped it was going to.

      A friend of mine spoke of the benefits of some mental illnesses today and if you’re in the right mood to hear it, it can be useful. You’ll appreciate as well that if you’re not in a particularly receptive mood that such knowledge isn’t of much use, haha! When I first started on Seroquel I thought that I’d struck oil and could keep my hypomania in a useful degree whilst shedding depression. Sadly, it doesn’t work that way.

      I’m not completely sold on Pharms as miracle pills but my intuition and experience so far tell me that they’re useful tools to start and maintain your journey will.

      Cheers for commenting, talk soon.
      All the best,
      H&J

      Like

      • chrs
        23/02/2015

        hey have you tried acetyl l carnitine or n-acetyl cysteine? i’ve been taking these supplements since december and near all of my symptoms have gone away, only some days i have a lack of energy. alc is the most helpful and helps with mania while nac helps with depression, sad thoughts dont bring me down as much, i can process them and get over them instead of dwelling or feeling worse. i have since quit weed and tobacco, all drugs really, tho sometimes i drink some coca tea on days i have no energy, it seems less habit forming than caffeine.

        the only side effect from alc is that is slows me down, less than any drug, but after getting used to the extra energy and power of mania, it’s a change. when i stop taking it for 2 or 3 days my mind and body speed up, nothing near hypomania, i haven’t stopped for more than 4 days since it works so well. i might experiment with a lower dose. i can’t find any negative side effects from nac other than i have lost my comfortable self pity, hah. it makes me think of that nirvana song: “i miss the comfort in being sad”

        i also started taking a bunch of other supplements like probiotics, fish oil, super greens, tryptophan, gaba, taurine, based on the theory that bipolar is from or exacerbated by malnutrition/nutrient absorbtion problem. tryptophan or 5htp used to make me manic but not anymore… i havent experienced hypomania all year, which is the longest time i can remember. i’m in best physical shape ever

        i don’t do super cardio but about 5 days/week i will bike 5-10miles and most days i will do http://7-min.com/ and lift 50 reps, i have better vitality

        1g acetyl l carnitine and 1.2g n-acetyl cysteine are better than weed or opiates or any pharmaceutical ime. after 5-7 days i take a 1-2 day break. i can’t recommend them enough. i’ve rekindled old relationships, my family and therapist are surprised i’m so level and lucid while sober at the same time. everyones bipolar is different but i’m sure these two supplements can help a lot of people.

        now im interested to hear what you have to say

        Like

        • drheckleandmrjibe
          23/02/2015

          Heya there,

          I’ve not tried any supplements yet specifically to tackle the Bipolar. I took red Kryill pills for a while but they’ve gone the way of the Dodo because I don’t have the money to spend on them anymore.

          I remember reading some rather convincing evidence last year that B12 deficiency specifically can mimick/provoke Bipolarity to some degree. It had me concerned because I had changed diet to be largely plant based with very little animal matter at the time. I’ve been carnivorous again for about a year now and really, my diet didn’t cause or banish my symptoms entirely. Eating well fostered better sleep hygiene among other things though and I reckon that really helped.

          I’m currently jobless and really feeling the financial strain as a result of that. Perhaps when I’m back on top financially I’ll give your supplements a good go and see if they make a marked difference for me too.

          Cheers for the specifics! If you’ve written a post with these details on it and your work out routine I’d be happy to share it on here and put the word out so others can try it. Just reply here with a link to the post. If you’ve not made one yet and feel like it – just send me the link after and I’ll share it. I’ve seen plenty of people give vague advice on diet and it’s role in the illness but I’ve not seen anyone yet nail it down to specific supplements like this.

          All the best,
          H&J

          Like

          • chrs
            23/02/2015

            i havent written anything but ill quickly outline my regiment in hopes it will help others. i discovered these supplements looking up bipolar supplements. i bought them all on amazon for about $200, i started with only buying a few to save money. it took my body a week to adjust to these supplements but i’ve never been in better physical or mental condition. after that week my body felt better and better, healing itself from malnutrition and stress from bipolar mood swings, i guess. its fresh air to escape the neurosis that comes from expecting depression or mania and all the bs that follows. when diagnosed years ago i thought supplements were a joke and never tried them but the joke was on me. there is a theory that bipolar is caused or exacerbated by poor nutrient absorbtion (malnutrition) or the body cannot make a good ratio of brain chemicals, these supplements remedy that.

            fish oil x2-3/day (nutrients, mood stabilization)
            acetyl l carnitine 500mg x2 (reduces manic symptoms)
            n-acetyl cysteine 600mg x1-2 (reduces depression)
            probiotics (makes sure your gut can absorb maximum nutrients)
            amino acid supplement (nutrients)
            lecithin (nutrients)
            gaba 750mg x1-3 (nerve health, relaxation, hgh, energy)
            taurine 1000mg x0-2 (another amino acid, maybe least essential but i like it)
            multi vitamin
            vitamin b3 500mg x0-1
            vitamin b12 3000mg x0-1
            spirulina (super nutrients)
            chlorella (super nutrients)
            blue green algae (super nutrients)

            other supplements i take for other non bipolar reasons:
            cayenne (cold toes, better circulation)
            maca (testosterone, physical performance)
            l-tryptophan 500-2000mg x0-2 (for positive outlook, dominance..google studies w/ monkeys)
            goji berries
            melatonin 3mg x0-1 (sleep)

            diet:
            fish, chicken, organic ground beef, dark rices, gluten free flour, quinoa, many fruits and vegetables and nuts
            2 protein shakes
            daily green smoothie (delicious- 2tbsp hempseed, 2tbsp hemp protein, 1/2tbsp kale powder, 1/3cup spinach, pineapples, green apple, mango, peaches, vanilla, 1/2cup orange-peach-mango juice from trader joes, 1 banana)
            i try to avoid gluten entirely but once or twice a week ill have some, its very satisfying but i feel worse than if i ate rice flour
            this is just what works best for my body, i have tried lots of diets, i eat lots of other stuff like pizza but this is generally what id cook for myself
            i try to avoid caffeine including chocolate, i dont like the physical addiction of caffeine, sometimes ill drink caffeine socially or have a yerba mate. instead of caffeine i prefer coca tea, which is somewhat illegal but it gets through customs, no physical addiction like caffeine and many health benefits for you to google, great for fatigue concentration pain
            ill have 2-4 beers or some whiskey once or twice a week, my last drug of choice but i find its a necessary evil for socializing, gaba and taurine are great for hangovers or other side effects
            its just a high protein and high fat diet with minimal processed foods and minimal gluten

            exercise:
            about 5 days/week i will bike 5-10 miles (its only 20-40 minutes, effortless after a couple weeks)
            most days i will do http://7-min.com/ and lift 50 reps
            exercise gives energy and vitality, keeps me from being lazy, makes me more social and friendlier, i feel better so i am able to help others, positive vibes that attract others, focus better on writing, reading, working, studying, playing guitar, music sounds better, keeps me from getting in a habit of being lazy, something to do, better sex and masturbation… countless positives

            you could probably eat more gluten and exercise less but that is just my preference

            feel free to edit that however you see fit, glad to answer questions, just reply here or msg me at chris958gmail.

            Like

            • chrs
              23/02/2015

              i forgot to add:

              i have tried to see if i still have manic/hypomanic/depressive habits and that maybe im oblivious to them. i listen to a lot of music and use lastfm to record my listening history. when hypomanic i usually enjoyed listening to early rolling stones, david bowie, grateful dead records and when depressive, stuff like 70s neil young, nick drake, flying burrito brothers. anyway i haven’t had any trend of listening to the albums i would obsessively listening to during hypomania. still listened to depressive albums but not as much.

              same with socializing, usually i would have manic periods of super confidence and loquaciousness vs depressive periods of lonesome apathy, my communications seem to be relatively consistent

              drinking alcohol used to risk a depressive or manic episode and suicidal idealization but now i handle it fine, can drink as much as i want on occasion, without wondering if tomorrow will be the beginning of a week long mixed state. and again its only been a few months but i’d usually cycle every two weeks at the latest so there is a big change. the supplements are more like a very effective mood stabilizer with minimal side effects.

              Like

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This entry was posted on 25/03/2014 by in Depressed, On Suicide, Toon and tagged , , , , , , , .
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