This is not something I had planned on writing about, but last night I had a discussion with a friend of mine who has bipolar and BPD traits. We met on the STEPPS course and last year and have become good friends. She is someone I trust and who has been there for me a lot over the last couple of week with hugs, a listening ear, cups of tea and a chat over a cigarette or two!
If you were to ask me when was the last time I felt truly well in myself, the answer is I have no idea. Probably not ever. I have been battling with all sorts of things since I was 13, been on and off anti-depressants since then. Over the course of the past 22 years I have pretty much done the same things. When I have been feeling low, I tend to drink, self harm, struggle to get out of bed, have suicidal thoughts, shut myself off from friends and family and just exist. I have done this since I can remember. Not always to the same degree. When I was much younger, not sure of the age, I would sit with my back against the door/wall and rock backwards banging my head against whatever was behind me. I remember also pinching, biting and punching myself when I was upset. I remember doing this kind of thing a lot. I have a memory of being about 6 and in my room. I have no idea what happened, but I remember sitting on the floor banging my head against the bed frame. These things I am recalling are painful and sad, things which I have tried to block out but which have been becoming clearer and help to shed light on my thinking, behaviour. I’ve said before somewhere that when I told my mum about my diagnosis she said it made sense. I was kind of hurt with her reaction because I didn’t think that the diagnosis was correct and I didn’t want this label, nor did I think that I was that unwell.
Over recent months things have not been straightforward at all and to be honest I haven’t always understood my behaviour, thinking, emotions or the way I have reacted to things. Being depressed I understand, anxiety I get that too. The paranoia I experience has, I have realised, always been there. But there are other things which I haven’t understood and which until last night I have either been in denial about or simply have not talked about.
Today I met with the home/school link worker and she told me she wanted to meet my husband. I suggested that she should come to the house and meet him there. Which worked fine and she met with him earlier on this afternoon. It is the first time in several weeks that he and I have actually sat and really talked. It was interesting to hear what he had to say and I am aware that my mental health is causing him a lot of stress. Financially as well as in an emotional way. He said that we could be sat in the same room for several hours and its like I am not there. I am realising the way I perceive myself and how others do is mismatched and I feel really sad that this is the case. I feel incredibly sad at the degree that my mental health is in reality and that in fact I am far more unwell then I seem. He said that I was functioning at 10% on my good days…THIS IS HORRIBLE. I had no idea that for those around me, that simply put I am not me, or the me that they know.
In conjunction with the discussion I had with my friend last night I discussed this with the H/S link worker and my husband. He agreed that I have massive manic periods where I am invincible, I have so much energy and I throw myself into things and then something happens and I crash. This happened in February/March this year and resulted in some extreme behaviour. I had thought that I had remained in this ‘crashed’ state and was still in it now. But…perhaps not.
My behaviour on Twitter through June, July and some of August was different for me. I am well aware that in real life I can be like this, I can be outgoing, take risks etc. I am aware of these things, but I have always put it down to being who I really am when I am well. However, I am beginning to see that there is a pattern to these periods of time and what happens when this cycle comes to an end…I crash. I am realising that these so-called ‘normal’ times are perhaps in fact manic episodes and that they are just as unhealthy and dangerous for me as the low periods. When I am manic I don’t self harm or feel suicidal. I feel optimistic, the glass is half full, I can do anything I want to and pretty much rule the world if I wanted to. I feel so alive and full of ideas and energy. I am like a different person. In comparison, when I crash I become suicidal, self harming is something which I cannot really control and I struggle with the smallest task, like just getting up to go to the bathroom. It’s a mammoth effort and just more than I can or want to deal with. I don’t feel hungry, I don’t want to go out. I close down and struggle with everything.
Talking with my hubby this afternoon, he agreed with this and said that this was pretty much how I always was. So, I am thinking that I need to discuss in more detail with my psychiatrist. I just thought it was me being normal. But I have no idea what I would be like in a stable condition. Because I have shut myself away from the mental health professionals since I was 17, I have gone under the radar and the way I have coped are very definitely cyclical. I have no idea what this means, I am not sure that I want to know. I feel slightly confused about things because BPD seemed to fit me so well, but now there are areas which don’t seem to fit so well. My manic episodes are longer lasting than average BPD sufferers, but because I have a serious diagnosis of BPD it’s possible that the BPD prevents me from getting as manic as I could and therefore it’s not so obvious.
It was an interesting conversation that took place the last couple of days because I spend a ton of time convincing myself that I don’t have certain symptoms, that it’s just me making up things that are not there and making things into mountains when they are in reality just a molehill. BUT, how other people see things, not just my mental health but relationships, my childhood, it seems that there is a lot that I have been ridiculously blind to and which I have, in my infinite wisdom, chosen not to discuss in any way and keep to myself.
In order to better understand my moods etc, I have decided to keep a log of what I am doing. Even the stuff that I am ashamed of because I really need to be able to share what’s happening with my psychiatrist and counsellor. We have been struggling to get my meds right and get me stable which has often confused my psychiatrist as I should technically be doing OK. I have no idea if my meds are common for those with BPD or not, but I do know that I am still all over the place despite what I have been put on.
My recent experiences with voices and seeing things is still disturbing and an issue. I feel like such an idiot and I have been caught talking to myself on a few occasions by my kids. It’s weird and I feel like I am utterly insane. I am trying really hard to keep my head together at them moment, especially this week with everything that has been going on, but I am beginning to feel just a little too worn out for comfort. I am trying to think of the things have been put in place and that are going to help. I am trying to think of all the support I have and that I am OK. But I am not sure that I really feel that way. I feel overwhelmed within myself and just really want to hide away. The self harm is bad again and I am abusing co-codamol quite badly. Not every single day because I am now running low on supplies, but still more than I did all summer long. I really wish that I had some real control, but there are times when my head is just too messy, there are too many thoughts etc racing around and I cannot cope with it all. I don’t want to have to face the past. Having to go right back to the very beginning and discuss my family, my relationships. It’s all too painful, but I am aware that some of the things I have to deal with are related directly to this…some of the other things….they I am not so sure of. I know that I don’t think about my past all the time and that some of how I feel is directly related to the here and now, but it’s abnormal thinking. Why am I like this? I don’t think my past has caused me to have these manic periods, I don’t see how that works. Being depressed, not trusting people etc, those things I get. But a lot of it I simply don’t and to be honest, I am concerned by how I am. I have had a car accident, fortunately not a serious one, but I know that back in June/July my behaviour was really risky in a way that I am not. I know that I was still struggling with my head….I can’t get all this to make sense. And I am now really frustrated.