Tuesday, 28 February 2017

DAYS 21, 22, 23: Consternation

The weekend has been horrible.

I went to travel to my boyfriends 21st birthday party on Saturday, a long story short - I got stranded and ended up not getting there until late at night. When I got stranded, I was on my own in a strange place and I had one of the worst panic attacks yet. My usual way of dealing is taking medication then going to sleep for a while, but instead I didn't have my medication or a bed - so I had to just keep going. With my nerves absolutely wrecked I took 3 trains and a bus to get to his party. I missed everything, I was devastated. Slideshows, singing songs, speeches, birthday cake... I missed everything special about the day we spoke about and planned for months. As I walked up to the house door I saw them all cheering and things for him, I cried in his garden for five minutes before I found the strength to try and walk through the door.

When I walked through the door, I ran up the stairs to take my jacket and things off, also putting his presents next to his chair. There it was, panic attack number 3 on it's way. I felt like I couldn't breathe and I kept getting ready to cry but I told myself that I would spoil the party if I let myself boil over, so I just held it in. Eventually he came up the stairs and asked if I was okay and tried to hug me but I couldn't hug him because I would break down, and all I wanted to do was not break down.
After ten minutes of shaking in the room, I got the courage to go downstairs where loads of people were and immediately I was inundated by several cousins asking how I was doing and trying to hug me after hearing from my boyfriend about my ordeal. I was so emotional and I felt like I was going to have a heart attack and I just needed out that place or some space but there was no space at all. Everywhere I went someone wandered over to me with the statement 'OH MY GOD ARE YOU OKAY?' when really I wanted to scream: 'No, actually everyone. I am not okay whatsoever so if you could all give me 10 minutes to breathe'... but this was a party, full of people who loved the man I love. I was stand offish, I thought if I'm silent then maybe I can just stop myself from bursting into tears, collapsing on the floor breathless and not make a massive selfish scene at my boyfriend's celebration. My anxieties felt so loud that I couldn't even understand what people were communicating to me, I can't explain how distressed I was - easily making this night the worst night of my life.

I remember his mum speaking to me in a room, asking if I was okay again which I responded 'Yeah I'll be okay, I just don't really want to talk about it' and immediately there it was, I saw her reaction and I knew from that second I looked rude and that she hated me and was going to tell everyone she hated me. In that second I probably died ten times, I did my - what had become statement at this party - turn around and hold my eyes back to stop tears, and I wandered into a different room to hide again just to get that moment of recovery. I went into a different room but one of the partygoers who was a bit drunk followed me in and sat next to me continuously asking on loop 'are you okay?'. What really hurts my feelings is that I had so much respect for everyone being kind to me, but they couldn't understand how to deal with me when I felt like I was going to collapse with the sheer torment of the nervous emotions I had and I must've looked so rude when really I just couldn't stop myself from trembling and I forgot how to even be myself so I hardly spoke.

I finally got a moment to myself, just me and two friends and I sat there trying to contain my vomit and stop my heart from falling out the bottom of my arse. I felt like being there was like being strangled, but in super slow motion. I was shivering, I couldn't moderate my temperature anymore - there I was having a full fledged breakdown at my boyfriend's birthday party. I was so desperately trying to look normal too that it all just came out as me looking massively anti social and rude towards people who I knew were kind and genuinely wanted to meet me. I wanted to meet everyone too but that night, I couldn't control my anxiety anymore it was ruining me entirely - I felt like I needed an ambulance, but I just couldn't make a scene and I just kept trying to get myself back together.

How do you speak to people when you feel like you're being choked and your legs are going numb? How do you look normal when your heart is racing out your chest and you're convinced you're going to vomit over the next person who comes up to you? How do I be normal on demand?
The last thing I remember happening was sitting with friends, trying not to be sick and outside the door listening to a group of guys making sexual remarks about me thinking we couldn't hear. Yeah, I was going to be sick. At that moment my friends told me it was best I left, so I went and discussed it with my boyfriend before leaving.

I was only there an hour, but the overwhelmingness just meant that I was going to have a mental breakdown in his house. I couldn't make a scene on his birthday. So all it would look like is that I'm a bit shy and rude or ignorant, and I knew because of the version of myself that I was that night - that I had to leave. I was leaving bad impressions, and more so - my boyfriend was getting stressed out that I was upset. I wanted him to enjoy his night, I couldn't spoil it so I made the mature decision to leave. Normal me loves people, normal me is fun, kind and outgoing. Normal me was gone when I got dropped off by taxi in a dark strange place, and no buses or people showed up. I spent the rest of the night looking for normal me, and I stayed up until morning just trying to calm my stomach down.

The next day (yesterday) I woke up with a lot of auditory psychotic symptoms. I could hear someone yelling my name but it was like it was inside my head. My diagnosis was 'Bipolar Disorder with Schizophrenic features' so I feared that it was coming back after two years because of all the stress of the night before. It was his actual birthday on this Sunday, so we both met up. I assumed he was going for his dinner with his parents afterwards, but he asked me if I wanted to join so I said I'd be fine with doing whatever he wanted me to. His parents later changed the plans a few times, and eventually said they were just going to bed around 7pm. So I spent the night doing what my boyfriend wanted to do, which was having a drink - and I went home to stay with him, because I felt he was a little stressed out and I wanted to make him feel better. I remember he had a conversation with his parents when he got back and when he came downstairs to me, he was really upset. His parents had this evening planned for him and he hadn't come home for it so they were really upset with him. I immediately knew - I am going to be held responsible for this because he spent time with me and so I felt awful. I sent some flowers, to apologise for how things may have looked at the party and show them that I appreciate them as people and for what they do for their son.

Today started off well. My boyfriend was quite hungover but we were both heading to uni in the morning so I gave him an antacid and took him for some aspirin to help him feel better. He seemed stressed out with family issues, so I was concerned and kept trying to cheer him up. When I got home he told me that his parents were upset about him not previously telling them I had bipolar disorder and that they noticed he has been seeming unhappy lately. My boyfriend tells me everything, I know what stresses him every hour. This past week tensions have been high because he's had an important uni report to do and the stress of his upcoming party, on Thursday we had an argument over something silly he said that upset both of us perhaps too much, but by Friday morning we were back to being great. His Friday, however, was still quite stressful because of his party and so his whole weekend has been emotional which makes me feel like I have to make so much more of an effort for him, and I do. For valentines I made him a little pack for when he feels stressed, with a candle, a mindfulness activity book, a big blanket and chocolates, because I know he gets stressed easily and I want to help him manage that. When I look at what's upsetting his parents, I realise that it's just me. They found me rude at the party, they think me and my boyfriend argue (probably a lot, even though we never ever argue) - but more importantly, I'm the bipolar enigma.

I don't really know what bipolar is to people that don't have it or know about it. Perhaps some people think bipolar means aggressive or unreasonable, or that I switch dramatically between the being nice and being a bitch. I think people think everyone with bipolar disorder causes drama, not realising that the illness effects mostly the person with it - I present myself quite normally, I just don't feel normal. I have to explain to everyone my illness works in periods, I've never been aggressive and I don't have an argumentative nature. My illness, nine times out of ten, does not affect my boyfriend. In fact I'm very introverted in terms of my illness, my current depressive episode really only affects me - unless it's also built with anxiety, that just ends up everywhere. I can ruin my life with anxiety, but I only have mild periods of anxiety maybe once a month, nothing as dramatic as I had on Saturday. Me and my boyfriend rarely, rarely, rarely argue - just out of respect for one another. I support myself majority of the time in terms of my illness, he sometimes helps motivate me when I can't find that motivation on my own but my illness never gets close enough to him to affect him. I don't discuss it with him either very often, just because I wouldn't even want to worry him. My relationship dynamic is perfect, I just happened to have the worst day of my life on Saturday and my boyfriend got worried because emotions were high and he was a little drunk. I think his parents believe that I'm this mentally ill woman who stresses out their son, when in fact I'm probably the kinder one in our relationship and I do everything I can to make him feel 100% because he makes me feel 100%. I get on with his friends amazingly, I thought I got on with his parents well but I think me seeming ignorant on his birthday has probably made them forget about the 'real' me per se. Now everything is labelled 'Bipolar' when I'm not sure they know about how my illness actually affects me and how little my own episodes affect others. His parents probably think I'm ignorant and rude, on and off, based on those terrible few hours when really my illness has never affected me that much before.

Now, as it stands, I don't know what to do with myself. This is the first time I've ever felt like my illness has genuinely made people hate me, and this is the first time my anxiety has ever been on such a massive scale so publicly. I wish there was a cure for my illness so I could stop suffering, but if my wishes have to be smaller, I wish people understood my illness or at least researched enough to support me a little better. Mood right now? 2/10. I'm feeling like if bipolar isn't the death of me, it'll assassinate my character and everything good about me.