4 Years of Christmas: This year, I just want to be me.

275mg (and staying there, for now)

It’s a slippery slope, when I begin waking up at 6am.

It’s what I wanted to do all winter, but struggled to, because even though I wasn’t depressed (mostly), I simply function like an 80 year old woman in the winter time.

6am is good – at first. It’s productive and I find I have more of a day. But as summer heightens, and 6am slips backward, to 5:45, then 5:30 and then 5, and it takes me longer to get to sleep and I wake several times through the night, that is when I find I have a problem.

It might be different this year. This year, I might sail through Christmas and New Year with nothing more than a normal level of excitement and fun. I might sleep 7-8 hours per night of unbroken and satisfying sleep. I might be happy and relaxed, with no signs of anxiety or paranoia in sight. I can only hope – and keep doing what I am doing.

But it’s a little hard to argue with the facts. Past occurrences are often the best predictor of future ones, and the last decade of experience, and particularly the last four years   suggest that it might not be all smooth sailing…

2007

Christmas time was the beginning of my major breakdown, as I like to call it. Actually. That’s not entirely true. November brought with it hypomania and that carried on into Christmas. I was abrasive and blunt, enjoying the sound of my own voice and completely and utterly bored by the conversation of anyone who was, well, not me. Interrupted, I was irritable. Questioned, I was irritable. Disagreed with, even more irritable. All I wanted was action, excitement, loud music, lots of drugs, lots of alcohol and incredibly sexy men to seduce. With those goals in mind, I had the best New Year of my life, not ending my partying until 11am the next day. Phew!

I thought at the time my escapes were indicative of a fantastic year ahead. Instead I became completely manic, cycled rapidly between mania and mixed moods, suffered delusions, the odd hallucination, engaged in a ridiculous amount of sex and failed at university.

2008

Christmas time I was mixed. I was abusive and angry, vicious and vindictive. If anyone ever had the right to call me a super-bitch, then this is the time I deserved it. So volatile, I picked a fight with everyone, including my best friend who I belittled for an insane amount of time for having a bruise on her arm – I have no recollection of this. I got drunk, told everyone they bored the hell out of me and rode my horse feverishly around the countryside to get my adrenalin fix (with my very loyal mother trapsing along behind me to make sure I didn’t hurt myself).

December 31st 2008 at 12am I cried when I watched the fireworks. I cried because my year had been the worst in my life. I cried for all that had been, all the confusion, the loss, and the pain. As if somehow this arbitrary marker of time signalled an end to the cycling of my moods.

2009

Mixed. This time I was fraught with anxiety, completely paranoid, and I was having nightmares within nightmares. Every night I spent apart from The Olympian I would dream of something horrific. Maybe a ghost, or someone murdering me, or some sort of monster. I would wake in my bed thinking I was safe. And then out of nowhere, whatever terrifying entity was after me would materialise and attack me again. The cycle repeated, with my breathing louder and louder trying to wake myself up because I was literally paralyzed. When I finally woke up for real, I thought I was still asleep. Horrible.

New Year I fought with my boyfriend and stayed up until 8am crying.

2010

Christmas was okay, but I got too drunk too often.

New Year I developed a mixed mood (I blame the drinking), and a viral infection when I was on holiday with a large number of people I didn’t know very well. On New Years Eve I had The Olympian tell everyone I was sick, and I put myself on a bus and went home. I was asleep when the New Year rolled in, and I didn’t mind.

This Year?

This year has by far been the best for me. I have not had a major episode of illness. Those I have had have been mild and/or short-lived. A week or so here and there of mild hypomania or depression is okay by me. It beats the rapid cycling and disruptive moods of the past four years.  It beats the long drawn out depressions and hard-to-reconcile “highs” of over a decade. I keep saying to myself:

“You’ve come this far”

“You made it through!”

“The less episodes you have, the less likely you will have more

I tell myself these things, and I want to believe them….

But I can feel it in the pit of my stomach; that tingle of excitement, anticipation and destruction; that lump in my throat. My mind is moving too, and it won’t slow down. It’s not racing, but it’s thinking, constantly thinking, and it just won’t stop.

It’s hard for me to believe that I will get through The Peak (December 31st) without even a glimmer of hypomania. I’d be so lucky. I’m much more likely to suffer a mixed mood.

I’m one for being positive, really I am, but how do I trust that everything will be okay when for the whole part of my life that I can remember, it just hasn’t been?

I’m scared.

So, Santa, if you are reading this: This year for Christmas, I just want to be me. 

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8 thoughts on “4 Years of Christmas: This year, I just want to be me.

  1. Well I say Keep thinking positively.. It has to happen some time right? Why not this year? I sending good thoughts your way and I pray you have a great remainder of the year.. Just don’t start drinking.. That messes me up every time! I haven’t had the best year but I am feeling better now so lets just hope we both get through it happily!! Im rooting for you.. 🙂

    • Thanks Shauna 🙂 You are right, this year has been a year of firsts and accomplishments so there is no reason why it won’t be smooth sailing. I did have a bit of a freakout there for a bit, but if I just stick to the plan (exercise, exercise, and some more exercise) I should be fine. And there will be no alcohol. I have no desire whatsoever to go anywhere near it. Even alcohol on other people’s breath grosses me out these days. Just reminds me of all the trouble it brings. Glad you are feeling better and I am rooting for you too. Let the good – but not too good – times continue!

  2. That is really great you are having your best year ever! I wish I could say that. I think you are managing your bipolar well (e.g., not drinking) and are in tune with your emotions. I hope some day soon you can say that you have mastered the disorder! Wouldn’t that be great. You are inspiring! Keep us informed with your crusade to live the best life possible.

    • Thanks Jeff – you are too kind. I am so honoured you find me inspiring! And you know what, I want to master it someday, and help others to do the same. I understand it’s probably not very likely to have absolutely no symptoms, but I do think it is possible to have very few, very infrequently. That’s my mission – and probably most people’s with illnesses like bipolar – and I will certainly keep you informed on my progress (and I will be following yours too!) 🙂

  3. I wish you all the best for this Christmas/New Year, reading your blog you are incredibly self aware and that must be half the battle with bi polar? trying to be constantly in tune with yourself. Hard work but maybe it will become more and more like second nature. Tell me if I’m talking b****x though LOL

    • Thank you 🙂 I believe self-awareness is essential to successfully managing many, if not all, mental illnesses. I am blessed to have self-awareness as a strength of mine. I have to admit though – I still constantly surprise myself. There seems to be more and more to be aware of!

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