I’m not tremendously good at admitting when I’m wrong – indeed, my partner would be overwhelmed with amusement at the suggestion I do it at all. But I’m admitting it now: I was wrong, dead wrong, about being in recovery.
For some time now I have believed that I am getting slowly better, while remaining symptomatic, that the symptoms were becoming and would remain with manageable range. Obviously, I would prefer to be symptom free and in remission but I decided some time ago that this wasn’t was realistic, given that I’ve now lived in one abnormal mood state or another now since spring 2010. I also believed I had reached a point whereby I could earn a living despite/within continued fluctuations, that I knew enough about the pattern of my illness to largely manage things myself as long as I kept taking the meds. And so last spring I rejected the offer of further medication to iron out the remaining symptoms, fearing yet more side effects, and agreed to be discharged, confident I could take it from there.
Only that’s not quite how it worked out. Not long after discharge I had my worst ever experience of paranoia, necessitating urgent re-referral and discussion of possible admission. Then a couple of months ago I began to notice depressive thoughts creeping in. These grew and grew; as I write I am lower than I have been since April 2011. The turn of another year, the realisation that I am now entering my 5th year of this ongoing mega episode, has definitely added to my distress and I no longer feel that I am capable of managing things myself.
My confidence in my ability to work, even as a part time freelancer, has also taken a big knock. The idea of a freelance “portfolio career” was that I could work around any fluctuations. As long as I only worked two or three days a week and took care to recuperate afterwards, I thought I would be fine. Undertaking the first three of the seven days training to become a Mental Health First Aid instructor has forced me to accept that’s just not true. The training itself, the early starts on antipsychotics and the commute into central London left me feeling broken and have pushed me close to crisis. In addition, I was forced to face just how many of areas we covered (depression, anxiety, panic attacks, binge eating, mania, delusions) continue to dominate my life.
I haven’t contacted crisis services because I already have a scheduled appointment with my own psychiatrist next week, and I would far rather see someone who knows me. Thankfully my partner has been taking excellent care of me in the interim and will be coming with me to the appointment. Thinking ahead to the appointment I have gained a little relief just from admitting that I was wrong. I can’t do this, can’t carry on and on switching from one mood state to the next, without a break, without euthymia, on and on indefinitely. Many friends have tried to help by urging me to remember that this depressed period of my life will pass. They misunderstand. I am fully cognisant of the fact this depression won’t be with me forever, but that’s actually part of the problem. There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that it will be replaced with wellness. The ongoing fluctuation between types of hypomania (whether elated, panicky or irritable) and the constant threat of impending depression, dysphoric mania or paranoid beliefs is the actual problem. This depression is just one manifestation of a much more multifaceted problem, so I’m afraid the knowledge that it will go away is little comfort. There are frying pans about, and there are fires.
And so what I will be saying to my Consultant is: I can’t do this. I thought I could, but I was wrong, because I can’t. I cannot go on and on like this after all, I cannot work after all, I cannot parent effectively after all (I have reached a point where I can no longer hide my acute distress at home) and I am deluged by thoughts of taking myself out of the equation. So something has to give, has to change, because right now I see no hope for my future. I am desperately hoping he has some suggestions but I’m slightly terrified as to what I’ll do if he doesn’t.
Watch this space, I guess.
This was such a profound and articulate post and it has moved me immensely. You have captured so much of what I’m feeling at the moment. Thank you for your honesty, and for reaching out in this way which has certainly helped me, and no doubt many others, to feel less alone.
All I can say is that I can relate and you are not alone in these feelings and experiences.
You are describing what so many of us feel. I too have been feeling the same for a long time, however the last couple of days I’m seeing things in a more positive light. nothing has changed, I still have the stressers in my life that are impacting on my health, but for some reason I’m seeing a better future…even if it is only temporary, I’m holding on to it. you will get through this, and find ways of being able to live with the awful symptoms of bipolar. you are so intelligent, and kind. Pat yourself on the back, you should be proud for what you have achieved. Perhaps asking for more practical help with daily life may help if you have that support there will help. i know its not easy to ask for help, but people generally care.
I hope get to a better place very soon. Take care.
Hi, one of the hardest things to admit is when we feel we were wrong. However, you weren’t wrong to want to be well, symptom free, and to be part of ‘normal’ life. If that’s wrong then I’ve beeen wrong many, many times. I have bi-polar too, and over the years I’ve had times when I’ve felt things have been going well only for a period of illness to crop up, however, like you, I keep trying.
Stay strong and I hope your psychiatrist can help. You inspire others, and there’s nothing at wrong with that. Xx
I have learnt that sometimes you need to beat a retreat, and focussing on the important which is yourself and those you love. Don’re feel guilty. Don’t beat yourself up. It is a necessity for your life. Take time to review, accept the meds and listen to those around you. Put things into perspective about what is important and what is not
Most of all love yourself xxxx
I completely understand this sentiment and reason.
Thank you got continuing to post. I resist reading sometimes, the familiarity of your feelings, but I do, for the humbling of your honesty. No cliches and apologies will lift your mood but maybe the knowledge of others’ survival will give you some comfort until your appointment. I did survive, a6 year episode, I’m still surviving, a 13 year illness- meds, ECT, support, lifestyle. I have taken on projects (I was a stockbroker) and given apologies aplenty, tried smaller projects, and succeeded a few. Some work, some don’t, some understand, some don’t, some try to, some don’t. You’re brave I can tell. You’re inspiring, so keep going until that appointment please.
Charlotte, I can’t offer any wise words that will change how you are feeling but I know you should keep writing and sharing your experiences. Better out than in! And your words help a lot of people.
I don’t know how helpful this will be. But in nearly 30 years of psychiatry there have been many people with very prolonged periods of unstable mood. They seem, and everyone fears, they will go on for ever. I can’t think, though, of anyone who actually has stayed stuck in that indefinitely. Perhaps cold comfort when you have no way of knowing how long your unstable period will go on. Hope your appointment next week is helpful.
Resonates strongly with me, I wont to in to detail. I am an intelligent, qualified and very capable person, but I know now that I will never be able for 9 – 5. Its okay though, I am okay with it. Be nice toy yourself and good luck.
Oh darling. I can so relate, having had only brief periods of euthymia in years myself. You deserve better; you deserve not to have to struggle like that. I really hope the psych appointment is helpful. And well done for admitting how things are. xxxx
For someone who is going through what you are at the moment, you have articulated yourself exceptionally well. I do not suffer bipolar disorder, however I do experience Major Depressive Disorder, amongst other mental health disorders. While people all around are probably trying to cheer you up, trying to make you look on the positives, many just don’t get it. That being said, my only piece of advice I would ever give someone experiencing Depression is that it has this ability to twist and manipulate our thoughts. Not just in respect to feeling down etc., but how we perceive ourselves, those around us and the world around us. I know it’s not a simple thing but during these times you have to try and remember that you’re not seeing things as you would without this insidious illness.
I have come close to the edge myself over the years, about 6 months ago I was hospitalised for 3 weeks due to depression and suicidal ideation. I have yet to return to work, and I go through days where I feel I am getting better and days where nope I was wrong. I don’t think you were wrong, firstly the fact that you are being proactive and seeing your psychiatrist and secondly you tried, you are only wrong when you stop trying. You, like me, might be one step forward 2 steps back at times, but so long as you keep putting that one foot forward, you are still on the right path.
I wish you all the best.
I can’t even remember the last time I was stable. I’m currently receiving treatment from the cmht and waiting to start group therapy in March. I work towards stability constantly, trying to prepare myself for the day when things will be ok, when I will be able to return to work. I feel so much of your disappointment often when the challenges I set myself fail to be met because I’m too depressed or manic or mixed to cope with settling down to concentrate. I have such high expectations of myself that I set myself up to fail. The fact that you’re still writing is a huge step in the right direction and I hope that you are able to continue to do so. I hope that your psych appointment goes as well as it can and wish you wellness, something we are both striving for. I’m glad to hear that your partner is taking care of you in the meantime. Try not to beat yourself up for what you can’t do and instead celebrate the small achievements you have every day such as writing this. Thank you for your honesty and good luck!
Hey there, I got here because I follow you on twitter. You cannot imagine how much I get you, especially on how little comfort the fact that it will go away offers. I have no advice or comforting words because I know it’s not how this works, other than we are all with you here, and you’re not alone. Many hugs from Chile ❤ and thank you for creating this place so we feel less alone.
Thank you for leaving me a comment! Have we said hi to each other on Twitter yet? I think you are my first Chilean follower, but I may be wrong 🙂
Nope we haven’t haha, I set up that account not that long ago and I have read more than I have tweeted. Oops! lol. If you have more Chilean followers and one of them happens to read this, I hope they message me so we can unite hehe. Much love to you!
This really resonates. I don’t deal with similar mental issues, but it also hits very hard on the physical disability I’m dealing with. A supportive partner is a live saver here, at least mine is. Having some particular bad days lately I start to realize more and more: it is not always about getting better and better and achieving more and more. Life is a continuing struggle for survival, with some good days and some bad days but no point where one can say “I am there and now it will all be OK”. It feels not fair that this struggle is more challenging for some of us than others, we didn’t ask for depression, missing an arm, leg or whatever is making life more difficult. But it is and by setting goals we automatically start to compare ourselves with the happy healthy people that we would like to be as well. That is not fair to ourselves. On some days going out for groceries can be just as big an achievement as someone else winning a sports game. Having a great, active day after it does not mean that the way that day went is the new standard from which we should move on to the next level of achievement. There is no straight line going up to heaven when we try hard to make the most of our lives. It’s a bumpy road with lots of wrong turns and unexpected valleys after the top of the hills.
Ah, you rewrote your comment, thank you! Somebody was asking me the other day whether I thought mental illnesses were shut out of standard models of disability. My response was, yes, BUT – only as much as many invisible physical, fluctuating disabilities. There is still a concept in people’s minds of someone who is “really” disabled and things that can’t be seen and fluctuate don’t fit. People see us on our better days and assume we’re not be truthful about our worse ones. I know that bipolar can seem like a kind of “party diagnosis” because people only really see us when we are of normal mood or going high. They don’t see the people who’ve reached psychosis and are in hospital. They don’t see the likes of me crying on their kitchen counter. And they don’t have the imagination to see beyond the “me” that’s the life of the party. A bumpy road indeed! x