An Aching Body and Fragile Mind

When things start turning south and you feel an episode coming on, there are plenty of telltale signs that are like “early warnings”. Like when a thunderstorm is approaching, you can see it building in the distance, but as yet no thunder or lightening. It comes with time, practice and being aware of your own mind and body to fully appreciate and understand any “triggers” for changes in mood patterns.

Everyone is obviously different but the things that I pick up on when stress generally triggers a change in my behaviour is things like crankiness, irrittibility (those things that wouldn’t normally worry you), tiredness, body aches and pains (sore neck, shoulders and legs), you may even have headaches, you can’t concentrate as well as you normally would.

At this point I know I need to be kind to myself, remove myself from any stressful environment, medicate, medicate and medicate. During periods where I am heading into a “high” I find that having plenty of showers to relieve all the aches and pains, getting plenty of sleep is really beneficial.

Support network… family and friends

It’s important to have a network of support around you. People that can help you when times are tough. Not just medical support As in doctor or psychiatrist but close friends and family.

Family and a small group of close friends who know about your disorder sometimes pick up on a change in your mood before you realise yourself.

My colleagues at work also know about my condition, as let’s face it, we spend a lot of time at work therefore they pull me up if they notice any changes in me.

The quicker a change in mood is noticed, the quicker you can medicated yourself to ward off an episode.

Is Bipolar Hereditary or Bad Lifestyle Choices

There is no signs of any form of mental illness going back through either side of my family. Plus I think the jury is still out within the medical industry as to why some of us get the disorder and others don’t.

My personal opinion is that if you perhaps are susceptible to it, and a trigger in your life sets it’s off, then unfortunately that’s all it takes to bring the disorder to the forefront.

Similar to an alcoholic, if you have an addictive personality and continue to drink heavily then our actions and lifestyle factors must be taken into consideration.

I will be completely honest here and say in my early 20’s, before mental illness reared it’s ugly head, I used to smoke marijuana. I honestly believe that was to my detriment and played havoc with my mental health. Apparently marijuana has a very negative effect on women more so than men. I know people out there will say otherwise, but my poor choices back then I am sure did not help in causing me my mental health issues, particularly with several bouts of psychosis which I have had.

Heavy weekend drinking with friends also wouldn’t have helped my situation, binge drinking basically but you can’t change your past…. but move positively forward with the future.

Depression and the jumbled thought processes

When you are suffering severe depression regardless of what form of mental illness you have, the fact remains it is so hard to describe your thoughts to anyone. Unfortunately now that I am well I can now clearly remember every negative thought and frustration I felt when severely depressed. Here is some examples:

Waking up in the morning was a nightmare. You don’t feel like getting out of bed and struggle with thoughts of how the hell you are going to get through the day.

Showering – it’s sounds simple right? Think again…. we all have our routine eg. Wash your face, shampoo, condition….well when you have the shrouded fog of depression these simple stages of what to do, what order to do them in is a nightmare. I used to stand under the shower nozzle and be completely unsure of what to do. Half the time it was easier not to even shower at all. I would go for several days without bothering, until I forced myself to do it.

Eating – another easy task, make something and eat it yer. Not so easy when depressed. No appetite, no idea how to cook anything, the simplest of meals was all too hard. My mum used to force feed me grated apple just to get something in my system.

Reading – well that was just absolutely impossible. It felt like your brain was full, no more room for any information. Concentration level was below zero.

Watching television – I would lie in front of tv all day, unable to take anything in, just staring into the void…..

Sleeping – this was the only thing I was good at, I loved to sleep, it seemed to be the only thing that would soothe my weary mind.

Hijacked from Hospital

I can look back and laugh about this story but it wasn’t funny at the time. I was hospitalised for the last time in Sydney about 13 years ago now. Whilst there my mum and sister flew down from Queensland packed up my house, literally threw me in the back of my car after being released from a 2 week stay in hospital, and we drove to Queensland. I had no choice in the matter, was still high as a kite and didn’t really care at the time. It was all for the best in the long run. I just wasn’t coping living alone in Sydney.

My stint in hospital came about when I spiralled out of control yet again after going into an extremely high phase which then reached the ever so scary psychotic episode.

I still wasn’t diagnosed at this point with bipolar, that actually took 15 years! Every hospital stay they just said, oh you have had another “nervous breakdown” or termed as”schizophrenia form of psychosis”. Did anyone explain that to me…..no…..did anyone explain to me that I had “depression” which I had for 12 months after the psychosis….no no no. You can imagine my frustration dealing with these debilitating illnesses and the fact that no medical staff sat me down at any point and explained anything. I struggled on all alone, but with plenty of support from my family, who were also in the dark.

Thank goodness there seems to be a lot more awareness about different forms of mental illness and people are diagnosed a lot quicker and therefore medicated correctly today.

I guess this is where those of us who decide to publish our own stories help not only ourselves but those around us. The more informed the general public are, the less stigma there is for mental illness as a whole, so congrats to all you bloggers out there who are voicing your illness and informing the world!

It’s a “full moon” tonight….look out

It’s a gorgeous evening on the Gold Coast, Australia tonight. Clear sky’s, the stars are out and it’s a beautiful full moon rising from the eastern sky.

So that means… battern down the hatches and take some additional medication to ensure I get a good night sleep.

I noticed the change last night, it took 3 hours to fall asleep, that was after I finally succumbed to taking a tablet to knock me out. One of my antipsychotic meds. And I then slept like a baby. All sorted, everything is good.

My stages of a bad episode -Normal, high, manic, psychotic, high…depression

The above have been my stages or types of episodes in order of sequence when an extremely bad episode appears. Luckily my last one was about 8 years ago and I hopefully won’t have anymore as I am now properly diagnosed, on the correct medications and able to nip any changes of my behaviour immediately. That is thanks to being trained well by my psychiatrist and being able to adjust my meds accordingly.

Previously after the above episodes, after a psychotic break and being hospitalised for 2 weeks, I would then be released into the care of family.

My next swing would be major depression. This could last from anywhere from 6 to 12 months until medication would take full effect and my mood disorder finally balanced.

The first stages of a bad episode

It all starts with a blocked mind. Your thoughts are scattered, it feels like your brain has been cross circuited.

One day you will be feeling fine, then the next your thoughts are jumbled. Maybe you had a bad night sleep, or no sleep at all. You continually get forced to get up out of bed and wonder the house, then back to bed….and do this over and over again. It’s too late now though, you are on the road to a bad episode and a possible “high”.

High mood episode – you have now reached the point of no return. Your mood is spiraling out of control and the high phase has kicked in. If you don’t grab your emergency meds to combat the high, and knock yourself down and get some sleep then you are on the road to a really bad episode.

A high mood can have you feeling wonderful for a while. Loads of energy, no sleep required, chatting too much, ringing everyone, excessive cleaning, spending too much money on unnecessary things.

The next stage is a MASSIVE high. Feelings of invincibility, you can do anything you set your mind to. Everything is wonderful. Anything is possible. No sleep you think you don’t need it, because you have too much to do….everything in your mind is processed at warped speed.

Psychosis – now you are heading into the danger zone. You start imagining things, you start hearing things, you start seeing things. You don’t know what day it is, whether it is day or night time. You start talking jibberish, nothing makes sense. Your mind feels damaged. By this stage you don’t know what medications to take. Have you forgotten to take them, your too scared to take more thinking you may overdose. You start doing one thing, then do another 5 at the same time. Your mind has spiralled out of control.

At this point seek medical help immediately. Don’t muck around. Call an ambulance.

You need medical intervention immediately. Hopefully your family or friends have noticed your condition and can call an ambulance for you.

You may need to be hospitalised for several weeks. This is so important. You need to rest and recover, so take advantage of others looking after you. You cannot look after yourself at this point.

Hay fever……

It’s spring time here in Australia and we haven’t had any rain for about 4 months. So what does that mean you may wonder…. well hay fever is rife. So much pollen in the air, as well as dust storms and smoke haze from recent bush fires. I don’t normally suffer from hay fever but this year I do.

Which means more medication. The thing to remember is you have to be extra extra careful when mixing over the counter medications with bipolar meds. Ingredients like sudoephadrine can keep you wide awake at night, and can cause a high mood episode. Other things like steroids with asthma attacks can do similar things to people with bipolar. So always check with your pharmacist.

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