Bipolar Unplugged: Writings from my journal

275mg

I started a journal when I was about 9 years old. It was a small, pink pocket diary with flowers on it, and it had a lock that didn’t work. My cousins were visiting at the time, and I was boiling with rage and hate. The pages of that innocent child’s book were filled with poison. Malevolence coursed through my veins and onto those pages, in untidy capital letters that spilled outside the lines. Unfortunately for my cousin, she read about my dislike for her in that diary. So that put me off journal writing for a while. Years later when I read it again I was overcome with guilt and embarrassment, and I threw it away. But I wish I hadn’t.

The journals I do have go back until about age 14. Mostly they are filled with teenage angst. There is lots of sadness, despair, and an unbelievable amount of anger. There are limited writings during hypomanic/manic periods – I was too busy getting drunk, taking drugs and having sex to do anything else. Even though those writings are immature, and very badly written, they give a distinct impression of a kid struggling to understand who she is, and why she does the things she does.

This blog is separate to my journal. In my journal I write freely, without thinking, I name people, I vent, I share the thought of the moment, I’m irrational and unreasonable and I make no apologies for it. I give no thought to the quality of my writing, and I write without fear of someone reading it. I make plans and lists, and I tend to write a lot.

In a sense The Bipolar Project is a journal too. But it’s an edited, more reader friendly version. My posts are shorter – to try and prevent you from getting bored. I am honest in both places, but there are some things that Bipolar and I have done that I am not willing to share with the world. At least, not yet.

With that said. I want to share parts of my journal with you, because they are the raw form of me and Bipolar. So here goes…

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Friday 12th August

281.75mg (and staying there)

Saturday 6th August was followed by Sunday 7th.

I was irritable, enraged even, depressed and self-loathing, indecisive and irrational, and I was agitated.

It had been building all week. I was mega-stressed the Saturday before because I’d returned from two weeks away. One was for study, the other for my boyfriends birthday. And I had done practically no study the week before. So I was stressed out.

I sometimes get so stressed I can feel the cortisol in my veins. It tightens them. I feel constricted, and restricted, and poisonous.

So I’d hunkered down to my study. Only to find I couldn’t concentrate very well. It was hard. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t understand, or comprehend and my ability to do so deteriorated throughout the week.

I work as a personal assistant and transcription typist on a casual basis. So I type fast. Lots of words per minute, and I make minimal mistakes. Typing is like second nature to me. I grew up practicing my typing, and with my job, I get practice typing at great speeds very regularly.

But last week, I was making loads of mistakes. Spelling words incorrectly, pressing the entirely wrong buttons, and getting letters mixed up. I found my handwriting was getting mixed up as well. I was forgetting how to spell words, and often putting letters in the wrong places. This is not a normal occurrence for me.

This mistake-making got progressively worse as the week went on.

I’d managed to go to the gym four times. Good because I’d been away for two weeks and hadn’t worked out properly. But I couldn’t focus.

Friday night I decided to reduce the dose of my medication by 6.25mg. I don’t know why I did it, considering how I’d been feeling that week.

I woke up on Saturday late, as I wrote. And I struggled. Things only became worse on Sunday.

I felt depressed, for sure, but I was also incredibly agitated, and indecisive and this lead to an argument with my boyfriend, and a phone conversation with my mother that involved me screaming in her ear that I can’t do anything, I can’t do my studies, I can’t get into the Clinical Psychology program, and even if I do, I won’t be able to handle the workload. I truly believed what I was saying. I was so distraught I felt like I was going to throw up.

After I exploded, I calmed down. I lay in bed for 3 hours, practically catatonic. Just lying there. Waiting for it to pass. I think I feel asleep for a while. It’s tiring acting crazy.

I’d wanted to write, to capture whatever it was that was happening. But I was too agitated to begin with, and then too unresponsive.

Later, My boyfriend and I resolved our argument.

I was a bit quiet for the rest of the day.

But then Monday came and I was fine.

My mind came back, and bought my sanity with it.

So I’m back. I’m a little tired. I’ve had a big week. I’ve been in classes 9am-5pm everyday, and so I am not bursting with energy. But I’m here, coherent, reasonable, logical and me.

I don’t think it was a real mood episode. I think I was exhibiting signs of stress and perhaps early warning signs of depression. I think the reduction of the drug caused a withdrawal-induced episode of mixed mood. Although I’ve had plenty of time spent in mixed mood I have never felt exactly like that before. I’ve felt similar, but not exactly the same. And I wonder if that is because it wasn’t the bipolar causing the problem, but the drug.

They say these drugs aren’t addictive. And in the true sense of the word they aren’t. But my body is dependent on this drug to function normally. When I take it away, it doesn’t like it. It has to adapt, and change and figure out what to do to compensate for the loss.

I’m just lucky this is the first time it has happened. And I always knew it would be when I was under the 300mg mark.

Seems the road ahead may be a little more dangerous than I had hoped. But I’m determined. I’m focused. And I sure as hell don’t like a drug telling me what to do.

Saturday 6th August

281.75mg

I have accomplished nothing today.

I woke up late. Two hours after I scheduled too. I was tired.

I drank coffee. I spoke to my parents. I tried to study.

I tried to study for several hours. I read. I re-read. I focused and re-focused. I tried and I failed to comprehend. To process. To understand.

Three weeks into the semester. Three weeks gone, and three weeks wasted.

After a great performance last semester, how am I going to even maintain that now? How am I going to catch up on the work I’ve let slip behind. How can I make my mind understand what I am reading?

I’m slowly losing interest…or maybe that is the wrong word. I’m not losing interest, I’m losing the ability to care. I know what I want to achieve, and I push myself to achieve it on a daily basis. But the semester break killed me. Two trips away in two consecutive weeks killed me.

My drive is gone. My focus is gone. My mind is gone. I don’t know where, and so I can’t follow it and get it back. It’s just not here. It’s off…away…hibernating. It’s in my head. Of course, where else could it be? But it won’t listen to me. It’s retracting. It’s rolling into a ball, like a hedgehog, and its spines are impenetrable.

Maybe it’s all too much. Maybe my mind can’t take the pressure. Maybe my mind doesn’t want to work hard like it did last semester. So it refuses to cooperate.

It wants me to close up, it wants me to roll up too. To lock myself away, to pull-back, retreat, unfocus and collapse. It wants me to fail because it’s easier for us to do that, than it is to try and fail anyway.

Maybe it doesn’t want me to succeed. Maybe it’s afraid of the future. Of what could be. Of where things will go. Of what success and happiness and moving up and away from all that has gone before.

Too much stimulation, and my mind is closing in. Too much movement and work and stress and pressure and my mind is malfunctioning and pulling me down with it.

Too many responsibilities, commitments, expectations. Too much is being asked of me….but I don’t know who is asking these things of me. There is no one here but me.

It’s a quarter to five. In the evening. I am in my pajamas. I have an overwhelming urge to pull the curtains, get into my bed and refuse to get out again. To shut my eyes and wait until it passes. But if I do that, it won’t pass. It will linger. But it tries to trick me into believing it’s lies anyway. It makes me think this feeling is real. It makes me think my heavy eyelids, and my expressionless face and this sinking feeling in my chest are all real. But they are illusions, created by my mind, sent to destroy me.

It wants to get under my feet, to make me fall, so it can creep inside of me and consume me, once and for all.