Backpacking and Bipolar II. Taking Manic Depression on tour.
#bipolar #manicdepression #mentalillness #mania #depression #irritability #mixedstate #grittingmyteeth
It occurs to me that the reason a diagnosis eluded me for so long is that I (and my family/friends) had a view of Bipolar that was completely stereotypical. Manic Depression was seen as an illness with binary settings.
These settings were : [Manic=Happy] and [Depressed=Sad].
It has only been since my diagnosis that I have really begun to understand just how many shades of grey exist in each of these states. This differs for a lot of people. But for me:
Mania can simply mean:
Racing thoughts and easily distracted
Depression/Down can simply mean:
A general absense of appetite for life
For the last few days I have been in bed. It’s true to say that I was, in part, sad. I was lonely and self-loathing as well. I felt very isolated. These elements to my mental state were moon-cast-shadows however when put next to the overwhelming irritation and disquiet.
There is a peculiar emotional nausea that can come with either mania or depression. It manifests as heightened irritability and a constant sense that things are slightly ‘off’. Everything annoys and disturbs you. At the very beginning of feeling this it could be confused with restless boredom. It doesn’t take very long though before I feel as though I am physically shaking with spiny, prickling irritation and discomfort. Nothing feels right and there is a queasy reluctance to EVERYTHING you do. It is the feeling you get when a wrong thought joy-rides through your mind, smashing mailboxes and ruining lawns.
In the way that nausea makes your stomach feel light and easily disturbed, so this affects your mind. Thoughts that should be perfectly innocuous and safe become tainted and take on a sickly quality. They annoy you and make you feel guilt, shame and remorse. The closest I have ever heard anyone describe a feeling like this is when pregnant relatives have described that their hormones have given them cravings to eat soap e.t.c. It makes absolutely no sense – nevertheless, it has you in its jaws.
The worst part about this is that, so far, I haven’t found a way of decisively dealing with it. The only peace I’ve had has been when distracted from it (thinking about not thinking, try it). Unfortunately the distractions are never something that I can consciously provoke. If I try to distract myself, I know I’m doing so and it falls flat on its arse because of it. I spend most of the time burying my face in my pillow or just gritting my teeth and racing my thoughts against each other until I’m exhausted enough to sleep. I actually growl out loud when these thoughts fizz into climax and I can’t just sit thinking anymore. I occasionally spasm the way you do when remembering something particularly embarassing. I pace up and down, holding onto myself or other things tightly.
Yesterday I had about 25 minutes of peace just listening to my friends talk shop about the newspaper they run together. I don’t know how or why this provided a balm to the irritation I’d been feeling for the past few days. I just knew I was glad that it had. I’ve never been so glad to hear anyone talk about their job and rule me out of the converstation temporarily.
Do you understand what I’m (probably clumsily) trying to describe here? Do you have a method of dealing with it? Is there a specific medication designed to help with this sort of state? I want to hear from you.
All the best,