Am I..am I tripolar?!?

Hello all!

I hope you’re all doing well in your bipolar and/or sobriety journeys.

Just a quick check-in for today. I’ve been off the grid for a while after having a crazy few months but I’m happy to report I’m still hanging in there…and so proud to be able to say I am now 112 days sober! I never thought I’d be able to say I’ve been sober for FOUR WHOLE MONTHS! For me, that’s a great achievement in itself considering I could rarely go one week without getting shit-faced and passing out on the couch, but I’m actually amazed at how strong my will has become given the goings-on of the last few months.

About 6-8wks into my ‘sober journey’, I had the most chaotic week of my life.  Here’s how it went;

Monday: Car repossessed because I’d missed so many payments funding my recent manic episodes

Tuesday: Had to move house.  Yes, with no car.

Wednesday: Interview for a new job. Still moving. Still no car.

Thursday: Macbook packed in, later costing me about as much as a small country to fix. Still with the moving….

Friday: Got the job (yassss!!)

Saturday: Desperately seeking a cheap car for me to buy to get to my new job

Sunday: Suitably cheap car found and purchased in order to get me to my new place of work.

Monday: First day of new job, and commenced of my new life by the beach 🙂

That whole week has taught me so much. I didn’t crumble into a self-pitying heap, complaining that it’s so unfair I have to deal with everything completely alone (poor me). And I didn’t choose to drown in the familiar and perverse comfort of depression and booze. I’m truly amazed at myself that I stayed strong: I’m genuinely perplexed that that person was in me all along. For those of you who remember the show ‘Stars in their Eyes’, I feel like a contestant who says ‘Tonight, Matthew, I’m going to be….a different person!’ before disappearing behind the curtain only to be unveiled as someone else.

It’s bringing this whole Bipolar business to a whole new level!

I’ve so much to share but not enough time so I’ll have to leave it at that, but here’s a heads up to those on Lithium…I will soon be back to ask for your opinions!

Until then, take care of yourselves lovelies and stay well 🙂

xx

 

 

Advertisements

Navigating the highs of lows of bipolar, alcohol free

What a mess I’ve been feeling this last week or so!

GOOD THINGS: My lease for my current rental is up in a few weeks and I’ve been very excited about finding a new place. VERY excited. But, for me….

VERY excited = possibly-hypomanic-but-does-not-yet-realise-this-and-won’t-until-it’s-too-late.

I spent 4 days obsessively looking for a new home in a new suburb until I found the perfect one and learned all I needed to learn about the schools, transport, shops, etc. until I found the perfect one. Then I spent my nights pretend-shopping for the extra rooms in my new home and dreaming about my new perfect life. Luckily (yes, luckily!) I am broke and couldn’t burrow myself any deeper into my hole of debt. Phew!!

BAD THINGS: Dealing with my horribly manipulative ex husband treating our son in exactly the same way he used to with me. Also, trying to come up with the money to move. Also, a big ol’ mess of diagnoses.

Since my last post I’ve seen a further 2 psychiatrists. I think I’ll post separately about this but to cut a long story short, one said he disagreed with my previous diagnosis of bipolar 2 as I ‘didn’t present like one’, and instead concluded I have Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD). I was delighted about this until I got out to my car, googled it (naturally) and realised it was just a gentler name for Borderline Personality Disorder. He referred me to group therapy, where I had to have a one-on-one initial assessment with another psychiatrist.  I met this other psychiatrist today, who told me that she disagreed with him and decided I actually have both. Fucking Marvellous.

I’m feeling a whole mixture of emotions now…weird relief that I do actually have Bipolar as that’s so familiar to me by now, and I almost feel comfort knowing that I belong in a category and not just cray cray; anger that I am defining my life by the opinions of those doctors; confusion – which one of them is right FFS?!!

Somehow I’ve remained on the Path to Sobriety and reaching 52 days now…yesssss!!!! Actually, scratch that. What path?! I AM sober, I’m already here! I know it doesn’t sound like much, but considering the stress of the last few weeks I’m really surprised I haven’t buckled given my past habits.

One major realisation I’ve made in relation to alcohol is one I’m hoping will help anyone else reading this who also struggles with alcohol or any other drug. We’re told we ‘abuse’ our substance of choice. For me, with that comes shame because it seems like something I do actively. But lately, after reading Jason Vale’s book on alcohol abuse, I’ve realised that it’s alcohol that abuses me.

When I think of a wine bottle these days, I see skinny little arms and legs poking out. It’s holding strings that are attached to me and and it makes me act in inappropriate ways or say inappropriate things – just a puppet for it’s own entertainment. Once its done with me, it leaves me bundled in a heap on my bed unable to move. I’ve wasted months lying in my bed unable to face the world from shame, but thinking of substance abuse in this way somehow gives me more courage and more kindness towards myself. I see myself as a 13yr old again and I get so angry at that scrawny wine bottle for treating me that way, and for tricking me for all those years ever since. Who knows if this way of thinking will last, I hope it does. I’m really interested to see what works for others actually.

Well done to each and every one of you forging your own way out of the darkness. I really am so incredibly proud of us all. Life is bloody tough, but I am so grateful to be a part of a group of champions who are working hard to make our stories happier.

 

BL

xx

The Novelty of Sobriety…

Tomorrow I will wake up to Day 40 of my sobriety.

Five weeks ago I would have written the word ‘sobriety’ with a capital S, like you’re supposed to do when writing the words God, Universe or Mom. Something that demands such respect you wouldn’t dare spell it so that it merely blends in with all the other lower case words as if it were of equal importance, as if it were not far more superior. But f**k that. I am NOT feeling it this week.

Five weeks ago I was so optimistic about life. Everything was going to be different. I was going to find PEACE man!! At long last!! I floated through my days in my bubble of bliss, shielding myself from any remotely negative thoughts, secretly smug in my newfound wisdom. I pitied those who had not yet found the enlightenment I had apparently stumbled upon. I felt well enough to keep it together through 3 appointments with my psychologist and a further 4 with my psychiatrist during this time. I started to believe that maybe I didn’t even have bipolar after all…maybe I was just an alcoholic. What a relief – I could cure myself!!

But no. It just wasn’t meant to be.

Somewhere along my path my protective bubble of bliss burst. I didn’t even know it happened until Anxiety came along and threw everything it had at me. Being completely unprepared for its attack, I instinctively fled to the safety of my local liquor store as if I was actually programmed to. It genuinely frightened me that I returned so quickly to that road I had travelled so many times before when faced with a tough problem, literally. As I parked my car, I found myself justifying ‘just walking through the liquor section’ as I go instead to the groceries. The justifications came thick and fast… ‘but you can’t let your last memory of drinking alcohol be that last time, what bad terms to part on! You should make some new ones so you’ll never have to think of that night again!’ and of course that ol’ chestnut ‘you’ve done so well now, a whole month!! Obviously you don’t have a problem. Let’s celebrate!’

Luckily, Self Respect swooped in just in time to rescue me, reminding me that Alcohol, no, alcohol and I had broken up. Self Respect took me instead to the cheese aisle. It held my hand as I found the biggest block of Brie I could find and it gently guided me out of harm’s way. I was grateful of course for this unusual episode of self-discipline, but the anxiety just has not left me since.

Over the last 10 days, I have been finding it increasingly difficult to just sit with my feelings and cope with them another way. The many strategies I had been using up until now have suddenly stopped working for me. The soda water, the chai lattes, the cheese, the sketching, the crosswords…none of it is doing it for me any more. I’m finding it incredibly hard to just sit and accept the feelings I’m experiencing because I really don’t think I’ve ever felt them before. I can’t even identify them. I have drowned these very feelings with alcohol for so long, they are as alien to me as a language I can’t speak.

These days, I sleep a lot. I am depressed but experiencing hypo-manic symptoms. If I’m present, I snap at my children because their voices seem to roar in my ears. My senses are heightened and I’m smelling aromas that aren’t there. But most of the time, I’m drifting in and out of a dissociative state. Deliberately. Because it’s so much safer there. But I know I can’t escape there every time I need want a drink. I need to learn how to deal with these unidentified feelings and that terrifies me. Do ‘normal’ people have to do that? Or does it just come built-in, like an upgrade their parents somehow managed to make before birth?

Tomorrow I should be over the moon.  With the exception of pregnancies, this is the longest time I’ve ever gone without poisoning myself and turning into an embarrassing mess. I’m not over the moon, but I am determined.

The novelty of sobriety is over for me now. It’s no longer a quick fix to all my problems. Now I see it for what it really is. It’s hard and demanding, and so much more than I was prepared for. And contrary to what I had thought on Day 1, it didn’t get easier once I reached a certain benchmark. But I do know that there is no way I am prepared to break my resolve now, not after forcing myself through these last 10 days without losing myself in the oblivion.

In this sea of emotions there is one I hadn’t met before. I’ve noticed it skirting around me tentatively like a nervous animal, trying to figure out if I’m worthy of its companionship. I think its name is Pride. And I really hope it sticks around 🙂

 

Alcoholism: And so it begins…

I started binge drinking when I was 13 years old. All of my friends were older, mostly boys I was trying to impress, and I was eager to fit in. Shortly after my first experience with 2 bottles of cider, it was clear to even my irresponsible, weed-smoking and equally idiotic teenage friends that I had a problem when it came to alcohol. But rather than be embarrassed enough to stop, I thrived on it.

During a pretty traumatic childhood, the only person who truly loved me for who I was was my beloved Grandad. He was the only decent male I had in my life and we were inseparable. I had lived with him all my life since I was returned from foster care as a baby. I was devastated when we lost him when I was 13. Without him around, I had nobody left to disappoint.

I had always felt inferior to everybody in one way or another and without my Grandad around I desperately craved attention. So I decided to give anorexia a go for a while, and I was delighted when my friends finally noticed and began to take turns bringing lunches to school for me and ‘force’ me to eat. I’d argue weakly with them, willing the conversation to fast forward to the part where I’d reluctantly give in and I would eat, just to please them of course. Not because I was absolutely starving, you understand… (A few years later a very close friend of mine was diagnosed with anorexia and to this day I feel horrible about that behaviour.)

When the novelty of that wore off for everyone, I thought I’d give cutting a go. I stole a blade from the school art room and practised at home. I cut myself in really obvious places like my forearms or hands, and tell people the marks were from my new kitten. I’d leave the blade in my pencil case, just to help those close to me put two and two together. I was horribly manipulative…

I found that in my search for attention, getting drunk provided the quickest gratification. I didn’t need to wait for my bones to jut out from my neck for someone to show they cared. I didn’t even need to wait until I was so hungry I’d faint, or put myself through the pain of marking myself in secret hopes that someone would show concern. All I had to do was put up with the horrible taste of whatever cheap booze I could get my hands on, and soon I had the attention I wanted – easy!

I wish I would’ve known then how much I would lose in later life because of it.

Well this is a first! Must be the mania…

Another episode, another journal. Except this one is going to be very different…

For one thing, I won’t be able to burn it when I later decide that what I’ve written is going to cause me shame when I’m feeling better. My ‘higher’ self won’t be able to smugly decide ‘no, that never happened…oh what an active imagination you have Bipolar Lush!’, shaking my head fondly at myself for my wonderful creativity while I toss the leaves of paper into the fireplace. (I have many beautifully designed and expensive notebooks that were originally intended for journalling, yet now lay half empty in some forgotten drawer because I didn’t like the content and decided to erase history in this way). For another, this one is going to be out there for people to actually read.

Although the thought of allowing even just one person access to my f**ked up mess of a mind absolutely TERRIFIES me, I’m choosing to do this for 3 reasons:

  1. On the off chance that anybody does stumble across this, I hope it can help answer some questions that I wished I had answers for when I was first diagnosed. Not just the bland, boring ones I googled obsessively like ‘bipolar symptoms/signs of mania/am I actually just an alcoholic?’, but real life situations that someone may actually relate to, and know that they’re not alone in this.
  2. Despite this being online and available for all to see, I’m quietly confident that nobody will actually read it, and I will therefore stay anonymous and the world will be none the wiser that I am actually just a big old mess. I can continue to pretend that all is well and it’s less risky than me leaving an actual journal lying around and a real life person stumbling across it. Cringe…
  3. I need this. So many things have changed for me lately; so many jigsaw pieces have somehow just slotted into place for me and after a horrific recent episode, probably my worst one yet (possibly not – the evidence of any others are now embers in the fireplace…) I’ve decided to really commit to this whole wellness business. Because it sounds great!

So, in a few months I’ll have done so much ‘self-work’ I’ll be fixed, yayy! 🙂 I imagine myself rising with the sun, spending 2 hours practising yoga on the beach, reading inspirational books and becoming one of those calm spiritual women who enthral everyone they encounter with their wisdom. I might even take up running, in between creating amazing art works which I will then sell at crafty markets every weekend, and people will complement my lovely ‘energy’ and my enormous gem stone rings. I’ll be like Lily Tomlinson’s character from ‘Grace and Frankie’, except more ethereal and not a stoner. And half her age. I’ll have to fit the parenting thing around my new lifestyle of course, but I’ll have such freedom I’ll be able to work around school pick ups and drop offs. Simples!

If only life was that easy…