My First Time.

I have never been hospitalized before. I think that I am pretty good at hiding things, but I couldn’t hide this from myself. I knew there was something wrong. I wasn’t sleeping more than a couple hours, I was becoming emotionally abusive, and I was falling back into overspending. Mania. This isn’t the first time I have been manic this year, but I hope it is the last. I moved into a new apartment earlier this week and I already can’t make rent. I am exhausting. I am tired from being me.

I took myself down to the hospital which I think we can agree is a feat on its own. Not having insurance was both a blessing a curse. The plus side is that I could choose whatever hospital I wanted and the downside is that I am uninsured. I can’t help but laugh that this insanely expensive vacation I just took and I didn’t even get to go to the pool. I am constantly, actively working to better myself. I take my medication, go to all my doctors appointments, religiously see my therapist, use the breathing exercises. I am not immune to it. It wasn’t at all what I had expected. Clean, hospital like in some ways, slightly degrading, and cold. BUT I am blessed to have gone to a place that provided me a private room and bathroom. Granted, everything was bolted to the floor and the bathroom had no door. Overall it was a really nice place filled with people actively trying to get better.

I was sad and anxious that I was taking all these days unpaid, but I had to. I had to go and get help. It was an out of body experience watching me set fire to all the relationships that took years to rebuild. One conversation has sent it all tumbling down. Here I am, trying to intervene and slow the damage. I was discharged yesterday afternoon and it seems that my grandparents are going to be the hardest to recover. I suppose it is divine timing because we just moved away after living next door to them. I am fortunate to still have my mom in my corner because it would be hell living together for the next year if I am going to be the source of her pain and anger.

I am doing better today. Better than yesterday, better than a week ago. I just have to keep pushing forward. My anxiety is manageable right now and I hope that it stays that way. I hope that this made inpatient stays a little less scary for those who haven’t experienced it.

Keep fighting the good fight!

What Happens When I Forget to Use my CPAP Machine?

I got a rare glimpse yesterday of the reality of what it is like when I forget to put my mask on and use my CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine to treat me sleep apnea.

For those who are not in the know or have not seen the blog posts from late 2019, I found out that I have severe sleep apnea. How bad was it during my first sleep study? My doctor told me I stopped breathing no less than 700 times in a seven-hour period, and I got zero REM sleep, which they say is suitable for brain function. Averaging somewhere around 80-100 times of total stoppage of breathing an hour is terrible, and also very scary. My diagnosis became severe sleep apnea. One of the worst cases my doctor has seen.

One of the worst times I stopped breathing was for 57 seconds. Almost a minute of not breathing.

What feels like since birth, I have struggled with sleep. In 2016, I tried to get on a CPAP regiment, but issues with the dehumidifier and masks made my insurance take my machine away. I decided this time would be different. The CPAP devices now are amazing. One thing I love is that though my pressure level is high at a 15, the machine starts me off at a four, and gradually as I sleep increases to my comfortable air pressure. The dehumidifier is so much more advanced. In my second sleep study, I went down to stop breathing 30 times an hour, a vast improvement.

I was excited when the first time in two years my events per hour went down, and it only got better when I got my CPAP machine.

The results were instantaneous. Within the first week of constant use, I saw a significant drop in my events per hour to less than one. Before three hours was all I really got, but for the first time, I was sleeping six hours, then seven, and some night I even hit that high number of eight hours of sleep. The upside was I was waking less, and now I sleep through the night. My focus has improved drastically since starting my sleep CPAP regiment. My life has gotten so much better!

So far, I religiously make sure my mask is on before I sleep, but last night I was feeling down about missing my mom. I did not feel like I would sleep, but then I fell asleep without the mask on. I could tell the difference the moment I woke. I doubt my sleep was sound, and remember waking up so many times. One would say, “why not put the mask on when you woke?” The issue is with my Seroquel. It keeps me in a fog, and though I woke up, I was not conscious enough to realize my mask was not on my head.

While I was productive, mostly die to coffee, I felt so lagging in everything. I could feel how bad it was before my CPAP machine. How I functioned without it, I have no idea. My anxiety was a bit over the top but I managed to get it under control. At the same time, it was a great learning experience that sticking to my regiment is for the best. Sleep is so essential to mental health, if you feel like sleep is a significant issue, a sleep study could be a lifesaver. One of the major things about stopping and starting breathing is it can affect your brain, and that is such a vital organ!

One of the best things to come out of 2019 for me was improved sleep. You deserve it was much as I do because mental health is the most important thing you can work on in this life. This is just one side, there are so many parts to better mental health. Stay strong.

Always Keep Fighting!

James

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Encouraging Myself Before I Snap

I’m having a very difficult day today.

My anxiety levels are high while my depression is begging for me to crawl into bed where I can fall apart.

Since my iPhone woke me up this morning I have wanted to go back to sleep. I considered not getting up, to call in sick so that I could lay in bed all day. But then I remembered…

I had a beautiful quiche I bought at a local coffee shop in the mini fridge at work.

I said to myself, “I can’t let that quiche go to waste. I paid good money for that!”

So I told myself that if I go to work I can try to stay until 12:30 (basically half of my day) and eat my quiche.

This actually worked! I got ready as usual and continued to encourage myself throughout the day. I have been saying, “Ok, can I make it for another 5 minutes? How about another hour?”

It’s past 2 p.m. here on the East Coast of America so I’ve stayed well beyond my original goal. My goal right now is to make it until 2:30. From there I’ll evaluate if I can finish my work day.

Damn my therapist is going to be proud of me!

For when I go home I have no idea what is going to happen. I have been in control all day but I don’t know if I can prevent myself from having a meltdown.

I hope that this post helps somebody out there! Please leave me a comment of what you do to overcome the desires of your mental illness!

Mental illnesses can be so loud and have such a tight grip on us. It takes a shit load of strength to surmount the difficulties a mental illness brings.

Scary side effects

When I first started on meds last July, I spent hours on google looking at online forums on how bad side effects could be with antidepressants.

I was terrified that I get the worst combination of side effects that it would make my symptoms even worse.

Thankfully, the only true symptom I started to develop were moderate dry mouth and vivid dreams. In the course of past 8 months of being on meds, I’m currently on my 3rd type of antidepressant as we are still trying to find the right combination.

Some gave me bad dreams every night but helped my mood a lot better. Some didn’t give me any dreams but it made me very anxious. Right now, I’m on an SNRI and it gives me insanely vivid nightmares. The thing is, the moment I wake up – I forget every part about that nightmare.

I wake up almost every morning in tears, covered in sweat from my nightmare.

Fellow bloggers, any tips on how you dealt with some of the craziest side effects?

I want to stay strong and not give up on finding my “match” of medication. As much as I hate the side effects, it helps my mood a ton in the day time. Any advice on what I should do?

 

All I Need Is A Little Help From My People.

 

Sometime over the past couple months I just gave up. I stopped showering as often, stopped answering calls and texts from my family, and stopped going to class. If it wasn’t for bills, I might have stopped going to work. My bedroom floor is covered in clothes, both clean and dirty. I interact with over 100 people each week and while that does not sound like a lot to some, it is to me. It has become overwhelming. I am overwhelmed with life. I feel like a shell of a person. It is a weird thing, knowing you’re in the throes of depression. I can be driving down the road and thinking about how I feel nothing. I don’t feel excited about life. Somehow, I have managed to land a new job that pays more than the one I have now. Somehow, I have managed to find a genuinely good friend in a stranger since moving to a brand-new state where I know nobody. Somehow, I have managed to keep most of the plans we make to hang out. But I still don’t manage to shower every day, be on time for work, or finish a paper on time for class. What is worse is nobody sees it. Not a single person around me has said a word if they have noticed any change. Maybe I am good at hiding it, or maybe they don’t recognize it. Depression looks different on everyone. Thankfully, I have a very supportive family who I feel comfortable telling I am a mess. Even from 1000 miles away they support me and call until I answer in anger. They look pass the cursing for waking me up on a Saturday at 2 pm, even though I have been asleep for 11 hours. There is a lot of pressure for those with mental health issues to talk to someone, but have you talked to them?

 

I haven’t written in months. I have friends on the internet who have noticed and reached out. It isn’t their job and it isn’t your either. We should all be so lucky to have someone like that. Someone who notices when we aren’t ourselves, even if it is in the tiniest detail. I take my medication, go to my appointments, and do what I am supposed to in order to keep on. This isn’t a cure all. I know this, but many of those around me have the idea that as long as I take my medicine I am fine. I will be fine. I am not fine right now. Check on your people.

2019 Goals for The Bipolar Writer

My Mental Health and Personal Goals

2019 Edition

nordwood-themes-1066398-unsplash.jpgIt is that time of year when we begin anew and make goals and resolutions that we hope to keep in the new year.

Happy New Year The Bipolar Writer Collaborative blog family!!!

2019 is going to be a good year. We can put the struggles of 2018 behind us and work towards better mental health and to end the stigma of mental illness. Those seem like lofty goals, but together, I believe we can achieve great things. So, here is my list of goals and resolutions in 2019.

Mental Health Goals

  1. Work on my social anxiety – This is my most important goal. It was my biggest goal of 2018, which I have made strides, but I genuinely want to conquer my social anxiety.
  2. Work on my sleep – This is perhaps my lifelong goal and one that has always seemed out of reach. I will be working on this in the coming year.
  3. Work on my Isolation – I need to be going out into the world and doing my thing more often. I can’t let my social anxiety control and isolate me in 2019.

Life Goals/Resolutions

  1. Finish a novel in 2019.
  2. Finish a  screenplay in 2019.
  3. Publish my memoir in January 2019.
  4. Work out daily and eat better.
  5. Grow my freelance writing business.
  6. Help to continue to end the stigma of mental health.

My goals and resolutions are not significant or unattainable. I genuinely believe that all these things are in my grasp. I will be writing about my journey here on The Bipolar Writer blog to share.

What are some of your goals for 2019?

Always Keep Fighting

James

Photo Credit:

Annie Spratt

NordWood Themes

A Mental Health Anniversary – 11 Years Later – Part Two

A Mental Health Anniversary – Part Two

It All Starts With Hope

* I know that this piece was supposed to go live on Thanksgiving. I apologize for that, here is the link to the first piece. A Mental Health Anniversary – 11 Years Later Part One

ron-smith-372792-unsplashHope. You didn’t have a lot of this when you started out eleven years ago. That night you first learned about your illness the first thing you turned to was denial. It was just more comfortable because it made wanting to end your life that much easier.

That was long gone in your life, suicidal thoughts, and you had to find something else to hold on to, and that is when you decided to go back to school. It was your chance to find yourself, and at the same time find your writing self.

Your writing was always your way to get through life. Maybe it was destiny, but deep down you knew that if you could hone your skills, it was possible to find your way in this mental illness life.

It was 2014, and you finally got there, starting the beginning of your journey. You knew it was never going to be easy. It was never the right time to deal with your mental health. So you pushed everything aside and soldiered on. Life continued and although depression was still your frequent companion in the coming years, having your school work as a reason to wake up in the morning was all you needed to stay strong.

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The unexpected happened, something you never planned for but nonetheless therapy became a significant part of your life. It changed the game. You found ways to cope with your depression. It wasn’t overnight but look at you now. You have all but conquered your depression and are going without antidepressants. Who would have thought it possible?

You have come so far. This blog. Your screenplay. Finishing your memoir, something that was ten years in the making. You have become a beacon of light in the mental illness community. Something you never thought could ever be possible. Most of all you are alive.

Wow. You’re alive. I bet you never saw that coming.

This mental illness life will always be a struggle, but it was your courage seven years ago to change your life that changed everything. I keep fighting today because you fight then, I am here because of you.

Thank you.

Always Keep Fighting

James

Photo Credit:

Lina Trochez

Ron Smith

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