Never Been Heard

(formerly The Musings and Learnings of a Widowed Bipolar Mum)

My Joy, My Sad

“Roses are red, violets are blue, It don’t always be like that, but sometimes it do”.

It’s been relentless for so long I’d say this is as bad as it gets. Most days an exercise in survival. It started with depression at age 15 and a Bipolar Diagnosis at 21, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder now at 46. I used to manage to function between episodes. Now most of my life is an episode. Despite getting my diagnosis in the middle of my degree, my intelligence, determination and a sprinkling of manic episodes got me through with a top class Bachelor of Science degree. I managed to work as a Specialist NHS professional for 17 years. Behind the scenes there were episodes, a year off work at a time on occasion, drug misuse, eating disorder, self harm. But I functioned. I had a job, friends, a social life. I did yoga, creative pursuits, spiritual development. But I went gradually more and more part time, until I stopped. Now I have almost nothing. I have an amazing daughter, a gorgeous and beautiful if slightly psycho cat, no friends that I see and spend most of my time indoors. If I see anyone I see my parents, but my mother is not a mother and my Dad is now compromised by Dementia.

I wanted to write yesterday, I really REALLY wanted to write but I was exhausted. It was a rare day. My joy. I wanted to talk about how wonderful it feels for me to have a ‘normal’ day. The sort of day that most people have where they are functionally engaged with the world and it is not a BATTLE. And I don’t mean a down day, an anxious day, a stressy day. I mean a WAR. A war against my Bipolar Disorder. A war against PTSD. A war against anxiety. A war against eating disorder. All of those things, every single day. It is relentless. The complete fatigue and lack of motivation as in a total loss of ability to do anything very much. A mind that plays tricks on me and tells me lies. Thoughts repetitive, dark or attacking me. Emotions either numb and devoid of feeling or raw and spilling pain from my eyes. No imagination of how to feed myself as the only things I like to eat are sugar, fat and milk products. Sleep disturbed now, constantly waking through the night. Before PTSD at least I had that respite. I could sleep for hours. And anxiety that puts so much tension in my core that I can barely breathe sometimes. The focus of the day is trying to ensure there will be some energy and motivation available to feed and talk to my teen when she gets home. Sometimes there is, sometimes there isn’t. Luckily she’s very understanding. She’s not shocked or worried, she’s grown up with it and with completely open conversations along the way. This has been our saving grace. She knows she’s done nothing wrong and she knows I am still there for her.

I am lonely. I have nobody with which I can share my pain or my joy. Nobody I can call or message whatever I need to write, simply because I want to feel that they understand and that they care. To share it with and feel less alone. My god this is so depressing I bet most of you have clicked off by now. It gets better, well a bit. Yes let’s go back to yesterday. Yesterday I had a glimpse of normality. I mean getting up at 4.30 wasn’t entirely normal but I was up and engaged with my environment. Sorting stuff, tidying stuff, relocating stuff into it’s rightful place. Feeling like I might catch up. And it brought me such great joy. To have the drive to DO stuff, to BE ABLE to get stuff DONE. I cooked ahead of the evening, a FRESH MEAL with fresh ingredients, knowing I might be tired and I’m always striving and failing to cook well for my daughter. Then I drove for 1 hour to give my Dad a 15 minute lift home from visiting my Mum at the hospital and then drove straight home again to be there for my daughter. But I enjoyed the short time I spent with them. I felt light, bright, easy these are rare emotions. The war was on a ceasefire and I was having a normal day. I loved every minute of it. To feel I had achieved. In the home, for my daughter and for my family. It’s not much but it’s so rare I was overjoyed.

These normal days can be confusing though as they are never usually that normal. I’d fall into thinking that they were in the past and I used to allow hope. I’m getting better at it now. I can’t afford to think like that now. Too many let downs. It isn’t normal to have a sudden extreme ‘switch’ from feeling so bad to feeling so good. Recovery is a bit by bit upward climb. Now I just let these days happen, make the most of it and bathe in the joy of what most people experience most of the time. I tell myself just to relax and wait and see what tomorrow brings. Why? Because in the past these days have been the arrival of a manic episode which rises quickly, is just as dysfunctional but in different ways and then expires suddenly as if someone has thrown a blanket on the fire. Presently they tend to signify the onset of a Mixed Episode. Where for a day or so it seems that a manic mood is occurring but instead of the depressed mood leaving, it stays and the mania superimposes upon it. It’s the most dangerous of Bipolar episodes as you have the restlessness and energy of mania with the darkness of depression. Perfect for implementing a suicide and desperation inducing enough to facilitate self injury. I try to write and do art.

Or sometimes like yesterday, they are just a breakthrough of manic symptoms that just expires and leaves you where you were. Whilst it’s pleasurable, these odd days of feeling alive or the odd days where you find the resources to fake it-IT IS NO LIFE. I HAVE NO LIFE. I am trying to recreate one. But impeded like this it’s going to take a very long time and I will run out of years before I get there. I’m going to a dietician tomorrow to address my eating. I’m a mixture of fear and relief. But I’m also aware that with the limits of the NHS, she may not be able to give me the help I need. But maybe there is somewhere else to refer me. There’s tens of years of work to be undone. But it’s a start. And I think that’s why I was able to throw some chocolate away today. I’m ready to address it. I also want to join an art studio I’ve heard about. You get to spend time there exploring your skills and different media with the peer support of proper artists. I’ve submitted my book to one agent. That really is just a start and I’m aware I’ll need to try many agents and publishers. But it’s a start. I also want to join a poetry circle. I’ll start on line and when I’m ready I’ll try a real face to face one. I’m not going to mention exercise yet. My goals everyday are a shower, one job, one nice thing and dinner and chat with my daughter. That isn’t very reinforcing on the reasons to live front (well my daughter is the ONLY reason I am alive but you can’t live forever for someone else). I mean in terms of satisfaction in life from meaningful activity. That which comes from occupational activity, socialising, being part of the world.

So that is my joy, my sad. I am indeed back in the darkness today. Worse than I was before the joy came. But this is my life and I have to live it. Few people will understand but if you have come to this blog, I expect that you may. So thank you for getting to the end.


Alice x

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