What do you do when you are dying? When your body registers that you’re about to die, it fights to survive, doesn’t it? In those potentially fatal moments, a moment that could be your last, everything in you kicks up a gear to try and avoid death. When a fire starts, usually you don’t sit in your chair and think about your own quality of life and whether or not it’s worth getting out the burning house – or do you? At which point did my illness become something that overtook all my common sense? At which point did my moods derail my life? How do I stop?
I try to stop myself from thinking, but I’m thinking about thinking and it makes it worse. I punish myself for thinking then I get addicted to punishing myself. I hate myself for punishing myself, so I become obsessed with hating myself. One after another, like dominoes – watching your life fall down in slow motion. There wasn’t a second I just blinked and thought ‘Wow, what devastation!’, I recognized my actions as I done them and I knew the destructive nature of my moods but I couldn’t stop it. My sensibility was frozen; the only way to thaw it out was to get someone to intervene.
My nurses always compliment my self-awareness; in fact, everyone compliments my self-awareness and my ability to articulate what others can’t conceive of. I think in such a peculiar and different way, I am a very deep person and that gives me a new breed of intellect, which is creative – the capacity to understand what others can’t. It is my purest quality and it is the point that makes me unique to others, I am the woman who men get to know and get stuck in a loop of conversation about their innermost thoughts with. I am intimate and I am able to make sense of a lot. When I go into an episode, because of the qualities of myself, most of the time I will be able to pick up when I am unwell. I know when I’m taking ill and I know my moods very well. However, where I struggle is getting help – not because I don’t know where to get it, or don’t realise I need it – but because my mind is telling me just to suffer through it.
I am more inclined to get help for my mania than my depression. Mania stops me sleeping, makes me irritable and before I know it I’m acting like this radical human being. Some people love Manic Mimi (Oh gosh, it even has a ring to it!), but she’s beyond reckless and I can’t control what I’m doing to the state where I lose my moral autonomy and start jumping out of moving cars. Mania often means I get so reckless that I don’t care for fixing it, because I always feel like I have no time to and sometimes, I even enjoy periods of it. However, with a Manic episode – more frequently, comes the psychosis. Sleep deprivation, irritability and then the psychosis – are the factors that urge me to get help. These symptoms tell me I’m manic, and because I’m very aware of psychosis, and I am able to differentiate it as an illness, I always get help for it. With depression, I tell myself that I know I am depressed but it’s just impossible to stop and by the point where I even consider getting help – I just think ‘Why should I? Who really cares?’. I elect to suffer because depression basks in suffering. To my close ones, mania is easier to see than depression – perhaps because Mania is loud and depression is quiet, so they urge me to receive help.
My mixed episodes of the last few months were rapid cycling, I had never experienced that before. Every few days, every week, there would be an opposite episode. My mood was entirely on a pendulum. It wasn’t until I started having dangerous thoughts that I sought help, I remember thinking if I took all my sleeping pills amongst the other drugs I keep and just lay in my bath if I would die peacefully or not. Something in my brain was motioning me towards doing something dangerous. I’ve never been a self-harmer, when I have dangerous thoughts it isn’t to cope – it’s a plan to end my own suffering. I remember after having that conversation with myself, which by the way was usually a verbal conversation with myself aloud, that I decided my psychosis was getting too intense and I just left my house and went to my local surgery asking to see someone immediately. Something cracked in my head where I just thought ‘I can’t let myself end up like that’, and I don’t know what it was at all but I’m grateful I had that moment where I became immediately motivated to receive emergency care. Maybe I was scared, maybe I found my common sense – I don’t know, but I knew I had to see someone.
They do little assessments of you where they ask loads of questions to make sure you’re able to return back to your own house after your care. It’s like a little interview to trip you up, the way they ask questions to try and figure out how you’re feeling – it feels odd. I got loaded back onto my medications and some new ones, and I kept in touch with who I needed to – just to support my recovery. This care is life long for Bipolar Disorder, so what I’ve learned is: giving up my medications and my appointments will result in me getting unwell again. The doctors are really nice and the nurses are nicer. I’ve had a few psychiatrists I don’t get along with, although I’m secretly convinced they try to aggravate me so they can ‘expose’ my episodes. One thing they all have in common? They all try to help. Maybe I’ve just had a positive experience, but keep going back to your doctor if you need them. I can’t recommend enough how necessary it is to see a professional if you are not feeling like yourself and it’s seriously affecting you and your daily activities.
I’ve not had any lasting side effects; so far I think my medications have been successful, as my mood feels very stable after just a few weeks. There are things you can do to help yourself with your mental illness, and I always say that it’s so important, but know when to see a professional. I wish I could tell you all the ways I decided to improve my life and get to the place I am now that I just decided to do for myself, but getting professional help was one of those steps and I’m grateful for the nurses, doctors and professionals who worked to save me.