I’m Writing A Book!

 

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Yep, the secret is out! I’ve been offered a publishing contract with Jessica Kingsley Publishers to write a book about bipolar disorder.

The book is going to be a practical guide to bipolar disorder. I’ll offer tips and advice on how to navigate daily life and how to manage symptoms. All of this will be alongside my own experiences of living with the condition!

Now I need to just write the bloody thing! You can send me coffee to fuel me whilst I’m busy working on the manuscript over Xmas and into 2020!

And it all started here, on this blog. I’m truly grateful for each and every one of you that takes the time to read my posts. I’ve thought about giving up writing about mental health, and bipolar in particular numerous times, but the support I have online is incredible and has kept me going, so thank you!

It’s made me reflective and as we head into a new decade, I couldn’t think of a better end to this one. In 2010 I was a mess. I was constantly manic or depressed, there was never any respite from the chaos in my mind. It left me exhausted and physically ill. In mid 2012 I had a breakdown and came close to losing everything. I lost my job, and somehow my partner Jimi stuck with me, supported and cared for me, even though I was terrified he would leave.

Then I was diagnosed with bipolar type 1, but believe me, that wasn’t the end of what became the most gruelling, challenging decade. I was out of work for years, and I had to redefine who I was as a person. My career had been my life, it was me. I went on benefits, and was in a constant state of worry over my finances. I had to find a new way of living my life, a healthier way. It took years before I found medication that worked for me. A combination that didn’t have awful side effects.

2019 has been a better year. I took a huge leap and started working as a freelance writer. I write about mental health, and I’m passionate and committed to my job. I’ve finally felt in control of bipolar, rather than it controlling every decision I make. Now, at the end the year, I have a book deal. I’ve come so far and I’m so proud of myself; something I find difficult to do and admit.

The me of 2010 would never have believed what I’m doing now. She was too focused on getting through the next day, the next hour. But I made it through, I fought my way through this decade.

I can’t wait to share the book with you all. For now, I’ll be typing away on the manuscript, but I’ll still be writing here on the blog when I can!

 

 

 

 

Yes, I Do Miss Being Manic

I find myself pining for the person I become when I’m manic.

I’ve written before about how mania isn’t always fun. I do miss it at times, no matter how many times I tell myself the negative aspects of it.

Mania can be a mind blowing, euphoria filled trip. It’s honestly better than any drug I’ve ever taken. When it’s good, it’s fucking awesome. I’ve had epic nights out fuelled by coke and MDMA, but I’ve had days and weeks of endless bliss and a sustained feeling of euphoria just from being manic. Drugs just can’t compete with the feeling and the durability of mania.

When it leaves me I’m left with a mania hangover. After a while, when the memories of the destruction it caused in my life start to fade, I begin to miss it.

The creativity is the major one I miss. When I’m in a manic state, creativity becomes my everything. I have this incredible surge of confidence and self belief that comes from nowhere. I truly believe I can do anything.

I have always been creative. I started playing the drums when I was eight, I studied art up to A level and I continue to draw, sketch and sculpt. I almost studied sculpture at University, but decided instead on creative writing. I am always writing, whether it’s non-fiction or fiction, or on my blog.

As anyone does, I have times when I’m motivated and focused, or I’ll be inspired by something. The difference with mania is the creativity is astoundingly concentrated. My whole life will be consumed with the need to create. I’ll forget to eat or sleep, the house will become grimy and messy. I won’t shower because that takes too much time. So I sit in my trash ridden house with grimy hair feverishly writing or painting away. I’ll put off paying bills and running important errands because creating will be all that matters.

My mind at these times is sodden with creative ideas. I’m an artistic person by nature, but bipolar and in particular mania, doesn’t make me a creative genius. What it does do is make me more energised and more productive. I can’t ignore it and it turns into a flood of activity; from researching, buying resources and creating. It’s like I’m possessed, and there is nothing I can do to stop it. Except, I don’t want it to stop. I long for these moments, whether they last for a week or a month, when I can find inspiration from anywhere. I can pluck new ideas out of thin air. It is an enticing state, and one I miss when it has dissipated. I can be up and wide awake at three in the morning still sketching or writing.

What mania makes me is incredibly confident. Sometimes this confidence turns into delusion. I believe that everything I am creating is like gold dust, and must be seen and shared. I have written reams and reams of notes of ideas for a book, at the time believing them to be the best ideas I’ve ever had. When I look back on them at a later time all I see is scribbled nonsense, a stream of consciousness, misspelled and a jumble of words. It’s like the pages of these notebooks are a reflection of my manic mind. My mind is constantly darting from one idea to another, and never finishing my original point. My mind is distracted by the smallest spark of an idea, and every thought that comes to mind grips my attention. I show everyone what I’ve been working on, with a pride that verges on narcissism. I feel I have to do something with my work so I start a business, start writing a book, or both.

This post is not meant to glorify mania. It’s my honest opinion on how mania makes me feel. There is a duality to my feelings on mania, they often cross paths and I feel negatively and positively about the experience all at once. It’s confusing and I know feeling like I do is not a healthy way of coping with bipolar. However, I do feel this way and it would be wrong of me not to be open about this thought process.

Writing Is My Therapy

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Writing has always been an important part of my life. I remember filling notebook after notebook with reams of ideas and stories as a kid. Writing was my escape. As I got older I continued to write and it became a release from the depression that had suddenly manifested into my life. I even decided to go to University to study creative writing.

As an adult, I’ve had many struggles with mental illness. The symptoms of bipolar ran my life and my attempts to control the highs and lows were in vain.

I began to write, but this time, it began as a journal. I’d never kept a diary before. I just started to write, and soon everything was laid out. How much I’d been struggling, how guilty, helpless and ashamed I felt. It helped me immensely. I felt a release to see all these thoughts that I’d bottled up committed to paper.

Writing became my own private therapy.

I’ve had therapy, CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) a couple of times. The first time round it really helped. I went to the sessions to help me deal with panic attacks. I learnt some important techniques and a new way of thinking about the experience. I use them to help me deal with nighttime panic attacks . The panic attacks subsided afterwards, and now I very rarely have one, maybe only once a year.

My second experience of CBT was not so positive. It wasn’t long after I’d been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I was offered group therapy and wanting to know more about the condition, and share experiences with others, I said yes. The course didn’t help. It was basic, and didn’t teach me anything new about the condition. There was never any time to share our experiences. I still felt alone.

I continued to write, but now I wanted to share what I’d written. I started a blog, this blog. Although now I don’t always write about my personal experiences, writing still helps me.

It gives me focus and a sense of purpose when I’m depressed. It helps me to stay calm and concentrate when I’m manic. It drowns out the voices and helps me process the experience when I’m psychotic.

I’m not in therapy at moment. A lack of therapeutic styles on offer from the NHS means I’d have to seek private therapy. I can’t afford to do that, so my option is talking therapies; that didn’t go well last time

So for now writing will have to be my therapy. I’m sort of ok with that. I’m annoyed that I can’t access actual therapy, but at least I’ve found something in my life that helps me.

 

Maddening Creativity

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When I’m in a manic state, creativity becomes my everything. I have this incredible surge of confidence and self belief that comes from nowhere. I truly believe I can do anything. I have always been creative. I started playing the drums when I was eight, I studied art up to A level and I continue to draw, sketch and sculpt. I almost studied sculpture at University, but decided instead on creative writing. I am always writing, whether it’s non-fiction or fiction, or here on my blog. As anyone does, I have times when I’m motivated and focused, or I’ll be inspired by something. The difference with mania is the creativity is astoundingly concentrated. My whole life will be consumed with the need to create. I’ll forget to eat or sleep, the house will become grimy and messy. I won’t shower because that takes too much time. So I sit in my trash ridden house with grimy hair feverishly writing or painting away. I’ll put off paying bills and running important errands because creating will be all that matters.

My mind at these times is sodden with creative ideas. I can’t ignore it and it turns into a flood of activity; from researching, buying resources and creating. It’s like I’m possessed, and there is nothing I can do to stop it. Except, I don’t want it to stop. I long for these moments, whether they last for a week or a month, when I can find inspiration from anywhere. I can pluck new ideas out of thin air. It is an enticing state, and one I miss when it has dissipated. I can be up and wide awake at three in the morning still sketching or writing. I show everyone what I’ve been working on, with a pride that verges on narcissism. I feel I have to do something with my work so I start a business, start writing a book, or both.

The only problem; it doesn’t last. Sooner than I’d hope, I crash and depression becomes my everything. In my mind I am useless and can’t believe how deluded I have been. I’ve told so many people about my projects and plans, but all I feel know is incredibly embarrassed. I have begun a novel and scrapped it in a moment of self doubt. Created intricate wire sculptures and torn them apart in anger and frustration. Blogged almost everyday, and then found myself unable to write a single word for months.

I don’t know what to do with all of this. This creativity is one side of many manic symptoms. Too many of them are unpleasant, self destructive and harmful. Unfortunately they co-exist, I can’t have the inspiration and confidence without the anger, over spending, delusional thinking and risk taking behaviour. I once thought I was a racing driver and crashed my car. Another time whilst driving I closed my eyes and let go of the wheel. I’ve believed I couldn’t be hurt and walked into traffic and put my hands under boiling water. On all occasions I could have easily have died or been critically injured. That is the other side of mania. It isn’t glamorous and definitely shouldn’t be romanticised. Despite these negatives, I still find myself longing for those flashes of imaginativeness and inventiveness. So I accept it, and wait with both dread and eagerness for the next time.