A Mad, Mad World…

A mad, mad world. I’m getting pretty excited for Halloween this year; it’s one of my all-time favourite days, not the treats, just the costumes and general outlandish atmosphere. This year I feel as though I’m the very clichéd figure of madness, masquerading in a costume that isn’t really a costume anymore. The maniac that is mental illness occupies a wholly unenviable ontological status. The iconic figure that has been chained in the asylum cell. The heightened sense of excitement during Halloween fuels my reckless and excessive drinking which is generally followed by unequalled feats of dancing and generalized eccentric behavior, but then again I always think it was a good time, so no harm no foul. My psychologist keeps on asking why I do certain things or how they make me feel; truthfully I have no idea, in the end I just keep giving extrapolated and rambled responses, offering honest yet elusive answers.

BTW: both pictures are me from last year, was sah excited.

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My Bipolar Sunshine.

A woman’s mental health journal: “I’m god or I use to be”
Her husband made a marginal note: “Did you quit or were you fired?”

Beautiful, crushingly so, you’re going to be the rest of my life. You are a forest, not a temple, you can’t be destroyed and desecrated, and you will always grow back over and over no matter how badly you’re devastated. If I was given the option to be a ‘little’ manic for the rest of my life, I would sign my name on the dotted line and say “HELLS YES!”. Being that ‘little’ bit manic simplifies the world, people smile back at me; I can easily become that easy-going sociable deity that my anxiety holds back from. My anxiety shifts its perception, people are no longer the scary or judgmental third parties of my life, they’re just people. Crazily enough my jokes to strangers even seem funnier (I’ve been having a giggle about my doctor being called Fernando for the past week). It makes me put my opinion forward, I always have an opinion in my classes at university, but hypomania makes me more forthcoming, people come to me for help with their work. The ability to be social is my ideation of heaven, without it I feel like I’m living a type of sub-life.

My go-to phrase during hypomania is “shit happens, life goes on”, I live by that phrase a lot, during hypomania the realisation that nothing in this world is permanent, not even our worries is endlessly realized. The notion that I should be just manic enough, on the low end of the spectrum. On one side of the spectrum you think that you’re Jesus, the other end promoting creativity and productivity. A common misconception surrounds the belief that the less medicine someone is on the less defective they are. Crazy doesn’t truly exist is any whole form, being diagnosed with bipolar doesn’t mean you’re crazy, maybe it merely means that you’re more sensitive to things that people can’t see or feel, or maybe it’s never truly crazy, just a little bit mad, how much depends on where you fall on the spectrum, how much depends on how lucky you are.

The Abnormality of Normalcy.

Who decides what is classified as normality? It’s a self-perceived judgement that we assign to people which has been based on what we pigeon-hole as ‘normal’ versus ‘abnormal’. As a person with bipolar disorder I find is especially difficult to differentiate between the supposed abnormal and normal behaviour that I’m meant to exhibit. Abnormality is defined as a deviation from the accepted thoughts, emotions and behaviour. Normalcy is described as the absence of illness, associated as well-being, the line between the two is difficult to pinpoint with various shades of grey in-between. Normalcy is to abnormality what opportunity is to opposition.

The creation of normalcy can be a strategy of physical as well as mental survival.  Potentially the non- or abnormal (or anomalous), the excluded and marginal, may create their own world of normality.  It can therefore be questioned: how normal are the people who create it? The concept of “normal” has a long history that has been defined and redefined to accommodate that changing perspectives. The Greeks originally linked the concept of “normal” with “natural’, consequently denoting an ideal state in which the regular and average also converges with “healthy” and “good.”

Maybe hypomania and depression is my form of normality, in my mind that is how I perceive myself. That is my normal, anything different is for me abnormal. It is also ‘normal’ for our minds to change what we believe is abnormal, predominately determined by the milieu at the time. Abnormal and normal is completely reliant on context, I think the whole concept of the two is flawed and interchangeable. They are both used to define the other, does that mean that abnormality is a myth merely used to differentiate between people, reliant on perceptions and judgments that aim to reject those who deviate away from common standards? There isn’t a ‘normal’, no one is completely normal, its an invented idea related to conformity, conformity allowing a more functional state within society.

Normal is a measure used to understand realities, society’s problems stemming from the misunderstanding of what we really are versus the social myths that have been adopted to label and separate varying groups of people.

“The real picture consists of nothing but exceptions to the rule.” C.G. Jung

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I have a very child-minded perspective of the world that allows little to no room for the areas of grey. The mood swings that people with Bipolar suffer are perceived by them as normal; they are their initial standard, making it difficult to perceive the different moods as ‘wrong’ or abnormal. The negative stigma or ‘untouchable’ topic of Bipolar has to be changed, everyone is abnormal, and normal is merely an unachievable standard that we base our own actions off. Normality is self-perceived and regulated by each individual, the individuality of normalcy makes everyone abnormal.

Bipolar Isn’t All Black Drapes & Cobwebs, But Winter Is Coming.

The self is a story, a product of our telling and not some essence.

Bipolar Disorder keeps getting pigeon-holed as more depressive, that we are always suicidal or unhappy. I’m in a great mood, except for the insomnia, it’s a bad time. People need to be aware that they need to use ‘people first’ language whenever referring to any disorder or disability, this is a must. It becomes increasingly hard to see the overwhelming darkness and turmoil that had for months each year ruled my life, I’ve happily put it in a box and forgotten what it looks like. It’s a beautiful spring day, summer is coming, its hot, the sun is out, I see no room for negativity.  ‘Winter is coming’ is extremely problematic, people with a bipolar disorder are usually highly susceptible to seasonal change. Psychologists recommended better diet and exercise to avoid winter depression, I did both, I gained weight and lost friends.

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Winter is dark and dreary, needing more sleep, having less energy, low motivation/depressed and little control over our appetites. When the weather starts to get brighter, my symptoms of depression will simply change or disappear completely. All the weight I put on during depression disappears in a matter of months; I exercise excessively, high motivation and extreme goal setting ideations. The weight loss is definitely a confidence boost (I had gained 7kg); I can go up to any guy/girl, I will be socially active nearly every night of the week and have mountains of energy to conquer all the things I let slide whilst depressed. Yet the only time I even thought about seeking the help of a psychologist was for my chronic anxiety. During different mood cycles my level of anxiety would become unmanageable, to the point of avoiding almost all social contact. Making the first step to see my psychologist for my anxiety really just opened the door for all the other stuff to come rushing out, I’m still trying to work out if it’s a good or bad thing. Hopefully my next ‘winter’ won’t be so bad.

Hypo & Bisexuality?

Wondering about bipolar and bisexuality: conflict within my sexuality concerns not being able to trust my own instincts.

“Guys love it when I tell them that I’m ‘bi’, l let them figure out the ‘polar’ part for themselves.” *** does depend on my mood though…

“Although I consider myself heterosexual, when I’m manic, anything goes. What does this say about sex and the brain? “

My extreme moods are when I’m usually more interested in women, my more ‘normal’ and stable moods usually opt for ‘straight’ me. Depression just leads to zero drive. Im attracted to both sexes, but its usually completely dependent on the intensity of my mood swings. How can a person trust their instincts and go into a relationship when its dependent on a simple switch of a mood, it becomes a very unclear state of mind.

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Easiest way to put it: during hypomania: its like BAM: you’re bisexual, must buy button-ups and male cologne, in the months that follow I won’t even have a single female orientated fantasy and be adamant that I’m straight. It gets expensive maintaining both a straight and gay wardrobe.

My psychologist has put it down to my early 20’s where sexual exploration is natural. After doing some reading it is becoming a lot clearer that many other people with BP2 also experience extreme shifts in their sexual orientation during periods of hypomania. I’m not saying that hypomania causes bisexuality, just that the sex drive is increased and the impulsivity  is heightened. I’m starting to wonder what the outcome will be when my mood stabilizers and I realize I am in a monogamous lesbian relationship. Should be interesting. Fuck.

Making ‘Sense’ Of Hypomania?!

Each person’s hypomanic episode can vary substantially. I believe I’ve had numerous hypomanic episodes that had gone unrecognized for the past 2 years. People with bipolar disorder mostly seek help only during depressive states. Each episode has also been slightly different, but always featuring insomnia, high productivity, motivational happiness, sexual drive and irritability. I think that they need to expand on hypomania; the DSM-IV Criteria doesn’t recognize that hypomania seems to have a variety of stages within the actual episode.

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I’m currently hypomanic at the moment, its 2am and I’m at my laptop, I’ve taken mood stabilizers today and insomnia tablets, yet I’m still awake. I feel productive when I write at the moment; the night-time has definitely become my time of focus. Not all of my hypomanic episodes have been like this, some were beyond awful, with bouts of crying/laughing simultaneously, tension headaches, head chatter/static/white noise (whichever you prefer) and the inability to focus on a task without getting agitated and eventually irritated, this isn’t including the racing thoughts that leave me sitting in the one position without recognizing the time passing, the worst hypomanic episode I experienced was co-morbid with dissociation caused by antidepressants. My thoughts seemed like they weren’t my own, that I was looking at all these social instances from a macro level instead of my perceived micro level perception. The dissociation caused me extreme anxiety whereby I couldn’t function properly for two days and was taken off the medication.

Drug Handouts.

At 22, I’ve become extremely new to BP2, the mirtazapine that had been prescribed to help with my anxiety led to feelings of dissociation/hysteria and sent me into a hypomanic state which I’m still trying to understand. There are a lot of doctors who seem completely indifferent when handing out prescriptions for antidepressants. When did psychopharmacology become handouts? This type of medicated self-indulgence is trial and error, with a lot of the medication eliciting negative side effects. The understanding of psychopharmacology is so limited that people with bipolar disorder are more likely to experience more adverse side effects than the actual disorder.

Finding normality within Bipolarity. The inner musings of a chemically challenged manic-depressive. Mildly* asocial and a purveyor of awesome.