Impatience And Bipolar

Impatience, real impatience:

Jumping up and down

Stamping my feet shouting,

“I need to know NOW”

There’s something about having bipolar that makes me impatient. When I’m depressed or manic, I need things to happen right now.

For instance, at the moment, I’m waiting for three significant pieces of news. I’m beyond over waiting to hear back. I’m feeling restless and on edge. I keep catching my leg jiggling on it’s own. I can’t seem to move on and focus on something else. My head feels all over the place.

When I’m depressed, impatience makes me feel emotional. I get stressed, tearful and overwhelmed. In mania, I want to scream out loud – and I do. I’ll get angry and have epic tantrums. This impatience makes me feel like I’m completely out of control. I feel like a toddler that hasn’t learnt to regulate their emotions. At the moment, I would say I’m more stable, but I’m under an unbelievable amount of stress. Stress does weird things to me, and is a trigger for me

Even writing this, I can’t concentrate. It doesn’t feel like my best piece of writing. I’m so frustrated and distracted. Bipolar is complicated, as I’ve said before, it’s so much more than just being happy or sad. There are so many elements to it, all competing with each other.

I think this is the shortest post on here I’ve ever written! This though, is where my head is right now.

Ten Years Of Mental Illness

Ten years ago I was a whirlwind of extreme moods, constantly battling against each other. I would suffer from severe depression, which decimated my sense of self worth. I was constantly signed off ill from work, and my career suffered because of it. I always felt exhausted and for a twenty three year old that was far from normal. It reached the point where I thought I might have M.E, I was so physically and mentally worn out.

If it hadn’t been for the other extreme I lived with, I may have started to believe it was true. That other side was mania. I would go weeks or months hardly sleeping or eating, full of a vibrant energy that never relented. I was brimming with ideas, creativity and inspiration, but at the same time I could be intensely angry with everyone and everything around me. When all this energy had depleted, as it inevitably would, I again would fall into a depression. Bipolar ruled my life, but I had no idea why. I would have to wait another four years until I was formally diagnosed.

I was also in denial. I was suffering from psychosis. I was hearing voices and I was too afraid to face it. Too afraid to tell anyone. I pretty much lived in fear and confusion of what I had, or was going to hear, next. I refused to look up why I might be hearing sounds and voices, instead I buried my head in the sand hoping it would magically all go away. I hid all this behind a smile.

The last ten years have changed me as a person. I met my future husband, who would become my safety net when things got tough. We’re not just husband and wife, we’re best friends. I went from chasing a career working with children and families, to having it all collapse around me. I was defined by my job and when I had to give up work, because of my poor mental health, I had to change my focus. I learnt there was more to life than work, and spent more time enjoying myself with friends and family. I was diagnosed which changed my life forever. I spent years finding the right combination of medication that would work for me. I’ve had therapy, but not found the one that has truly helped me deal with bipolar.

Race forward to 2019 and I have much more stability. I won’t paint a picture of recovery for you because that isn’t the truth. I still struggle but now I understand bipolar and feel more in control. The same with psychosis – which I’m facing and spreading awareness as far and as wide as I possibly can.

Those of us with severe mental illness are here and should be visible in the mental health conversation

Self care, wellbeing, mindfulness, depression, anxiety.

All words the general public are accustomed to hearing. They are part of the mental health conversation and have become integral to increasing understanding of mental illness. 

What about psychosis, schizophrenia, PTSD, OCD BPD? These are terms that still make people feel uncomfortable and on edge. People still believe that if you have psychosis or schizophrenia you’re dangerous and violent. They use the label ‘psycho’ to define you. They believe PTSD can only happen if you’ve been in a war zone, and not understand domestic violence or childhood abuse can make the same huge impact on your life. If you have BPD you’re seen as attention seeking and manipulative. If you have Bipolar you’re unpredictable and a nightmare to be around. All are untrue and have deep and long lasting effects on each person who carries these diagnosis.

I’m worried that the conversation is being hijacked by ‘mindfulness’ and ‘wellbeing’. Those of us with severe mental illness already feel isolated and often go unnoticed; I don’t want us to become invisible. People will often shy away from connecting with people that have severe mental illness. It might be a lack of understanding and education that stops them. The media then has a responsibility to highlight what makes people uncomfortable, and address it. Rather than creating articles, publishing books and making podcasts that they know will be popular, take a chance and be on the side of those that feel isolated and invisible. Mindfulness is a trend, its a fad. When it fades into the background and out of the public consciousness, what’s left? Mental illness will still be here. There will still be people fighting a battle everyday. You might disagree with me but these trends happen in cycles.

I think mental health advocates and bloggers can often live in a bubble. A bubble full of supportive, like minded people on social media. When that bubble inevitably pops, we see what public perceptions of severe mental illness are really like. It’s important that we have these difficult conversations with people that disagree, or are peddling stigmatising tropes about mental illness. It doesn’t need to be a confrontation, if we look at it from a different point of view to our own.

I have struggled with the idea of my blog not being popular. That it isn’t relatable enough. Sometimes I think I would have more readers and subscribers if I wrote more posts about general wellbeing. That if I pitched more articles about this I’d have more commissions as a freelancer. But I don’t. I’m authentic, write honestly and truthfully. The moment I stopped comparing myself to others and thought ‘fuck it, I’ll do this my way’ I found blogging much more therapeutic and enjoyable.

If you see someone taking a chance and writing about severe mental illness, support them. Like and comment on their content. Share their stories. If you see someone peeping over the parapet and writing about psychosis or schizophrenia for instance, in the press, read what they have to say. Especially articles written by ethnic minorities, men and those from the LGBTQ+ community. Again, share it far and wide and encourage others to read and learn about severe mental illness. Please don’t ignore us. We can be a vital part of the mental health conversation.