My brain is currently struggling to be organised enough to speak or write, so I will probably keep this short. Because I am exhausted and I have been getting breakthrough mania and mixed episode symptoms. And also because I am waiting for sedation to kick in enough for me to go back to sleep as emergency self-care.
I have been having symptoms here and there for over a week, but I knew yesterday my brain was not feeling well at all. I am exhausted from additional work, even though I work two part-time flexible jobs that are nowhere near full-time. My anxiety has been up for the past few months with the extra workload and some extra stressors to do with work. Basically, my life has been work or hiding in my room trying to decompress.
I struggled to get going, organising myself in the morning (I had to drive out of town to relieve for someone else), and then I wasn't able to concentrate fully when driving (dangerous, I know). I tried to turn at some roadworks only to find that a road had been unexpectedly cut off. The roadworks people laughed at me. I shook my head and kept driving until I passed the road works and then let out some expletives. I felt angry. It is very unusual for me to feel anger as anger is a trauma trigger emotion for me. I felt irritable for some time. This is a contrast to how I am usually a calm person.
Then, while I was working (basically finding DVDs, putting stickers on them and displaying them), I was having major difficulty with basic organisation. I had all this restless energy and kept moving the DVDs around on the space allocated yet struggling to organise them. Without my usual efficiency. I was having difficulty concentrating and my brain felt 'weird'. The 'weirdness' was a bit like how low blood sugar or low blood pressure feels for me. Light-headed, spacey and definitely not myself. It's a state of partial dissociation that I get quite often. When I am fully dissociated, I am no longer present at all - that happens when my brain shuts down.
I managed to drive home and felt restless yet exhausted and stressed. I talked to my boss on the phone. Two family members said that I was talking very loud and fast and that something was definitely not right - I seemed stressed. They have been asked to give me feedback if they notice anything is 'off.' Pressure of speech is a bipolar hypomania or mania symptom and so is irritability. Pressure of speech is one of my first symptoms that my moods are becoming unstable. Usually I am a very quiet person who doesn't say much.
I also have disruptions in my sleep and have been needing more sedation to sleep lately. That is another symptom. I have also been posting more on social media - another warning sign, especially if I make You Tube videos, as I was triggered and went manic last time I tried. My psychologist has been watching me like a hawk. It is important for me to have a voice to help face my fears and to express my unspoken voice, even though anxiety and hyperarousal is involved. But for me, anxiety and hyperarousal is involved in processing the trauma and processing the emotions that have been shut down. It feels very similar to the hyperarousal of mania. It is difficult for me to express my voice as I can mix up words and scramble sentences. It takes a lot of effort for me to type a coherent sentence and even more effort to speak.
I took my evening meds (I take them at 8pm) and a family member commented on how they notice when I take my meds because I slur my speech, prattle on and stagger around like a drunk person. It still took me a few hours though to feel tired enough to go to sleep. I woke up in the night and it took me at least 3 hours to go back to sleep, despite sedation.
There have been various factors contributing to my starting to become unwell again, including my former name being used twice this week - once in some mail and once by someone else. I changed my name because it became a PTSD trigger with flashbacks. The intensity is reduced now, but it still affects me.
When things are starting to feel out of control (often by a PTSD trigger of a set of triggers setting of mania symptoms), that's when I do an emergency medication adjustment for 2-4 days until things settle. I am sedated more as the number one thing my doctors want me to do is to rest and sleep. I am currently sedated, but I don't yet feel sleepy enough to sleep.
I went for a short walk earlier listening to music. When I am anxious or have restless energy, I tend to listen to music that fits my mood on a continuous loop and if I'm under heavy sedation I will lie on my bed until I feel like I'm going to fall asleep. If the sedation has worn off, I may go for a walk or dance while listening to the music. Quiet often, the emotions will come to the surface but the music reduces the pain of it.
One of the songs that describes how I feel in this state is Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins (a Top Gun movie song). When I was fully manic, I danced in the streets feeling euphoric. That is something I would not typically do. Most of the time, I don't listen to music. I only tend to do it when I'm very anxious or my mood is elevated. While listening to music early this morning, I cried a bit. It was like letting out some of the stress of masking and trying to appear normal in public.
It is my choice to be minimally medicated, as I want to be able to feel my emotions, even the painful ones. But sometimes they can be too intense. The medications can shut things down and suppress, which is what I do anyway. So everything remains 'stuck' and 'frozen' and unable to be released. It's a very tiring process processing trauma from years ago. Even decades ago.
For me, trauma processing with bipolar disorder needs constant monitoring, like a diabetic monitors their blood sugar levels. Bipolar mania can feel dangerous and exciting - like someone flying a fighter jet doing 'tricks' - there is a risk of crashing and burning. Going faster and faster in mania and then crashing into depression. I have been there more than once and have no intention of going there again.
When my mood is elevated or in a mixed state, my handwriting becomes so extremely messy that I can hardly read it. I haven't done much journalling lately, because I have been just trying to survive part-time work. Typing is easier for me than handwriting or speaking as I can touch-type quite fast.
My brain is needing another rest.
Xanthe finds writing and painting to be therapeutic. She has lived with mental illness for over 25 years. She has been diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety disorder after originally being diagnosed with 'treatment resistant' depression with general anxiety.