All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…


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Hope in Retrospect

So, here we are again. Right back to where it all started. The original layout, the old photos, those wacky animated gifs…though come to think of it with all the current wooden spoon outrage maybe I should remove the spanking one for fear of promoting abuse! And frack me look at all those words! Blimey, what was I thinking?? Hundreds upon thousands of tiney weeny pizellated letters chronicling over ten years of my life. Nay! My whole life! A life jam packed full of inner pain, exhaustion, stigma, endless fighting, endless judgements, confusion, lies, joy, smiles, laughter and hope.

Ahhh, hope :)

That’s what it all comes down to in the end. All of our lives being endlessly guided by the hope we’ll be liked, loved, accepted, happy. The hope that before we die we’ll be someone to someone. Hope is life, without it, we’re pointless. For hope breeds passion – and without passion, we’re truly dead.

(Well, that’s not bad, only a few paragraphs in and already the old pop culture references hit the screen!)

I decided to write these updates on the 11 October 2009, the two year anniversary of the day I should have died. A day I will never forget. How can you forget a day which saw you nearly take your last breath? What’s made it all so difficult though is trying to work out where to start. How do you look back on two years which you’d hoped would have seen the start of your new life – but in actual fact has found you in an even worse place?

Easy.

You read…

It’s been sometime since I read a lot of these posts, maybe I need to pick out my favourites. A man who has no future always runs to his past (reference number two, different show, just as beautifully written) so where else to start? So newbies, oldies and those who dipped in from time to time let’s review the main piece I wrote all those years ago. So pour yourself a whisky (no “e’s” people!) and learn a wee bit about my life…and there’s no better place to start than where it all started for me. The foundation stone of this whole journey.

My War with Mental Illness
I wrote this before I even considered writing a blog. I’m still proud of it now, just as I was back then. Without it this blog would never have been born…so in hindsight I should probably left it unsaid. There’s also the video version, if you can’t be bothered reading the actual post, or even if you felt like watching it as a companion piece.

The idea for the blog came a few days later in Carlton Gardens. I’d taken one step toward beginning my fight – why not get it all out there? Every sordid detail which I had tried to hide in the hope I would be accepted. For some reason I followed through, so as days became weeks became months, these followed:

(Some) True Confessions of Self-Harmer
Until 2007 no-one knew I had self harmed since my teens. In fact I would be tempted to say no-one had even suspected it I had become so good as hiding it. Self harm is something few people get, and this was a tough one to write. How do you explain to people why you deliberately hurt yourself? I do like this, but it could have been so much better (a sentence which sums up my whole life really)

Social Anxiety Disorder
Unless you suffer from SAD/social phobia it is VERY HARD to understand how debilitating and destructive it is. More than depression, more than self-harm, more than bipolar – this is what destroyed me. I got so close to thrashing it in ’07 (pre breakdown) that I’ve never been able to recover from how close I came.

Desideratum
I remember this for one reasons…probably the most random post title of the whole blog :)

Men and Mental Health
Everyone who has a mental illness will experience a vast amount of stigma at some point in their life – but try being a man and having to deal with the inherent sexism of suffering from a mental illness at the same time. I wrote this post in bed and even though it’s not all that well written, is still a personal favourite of mine.

The “Let’s Talk About Suicide” Series
There were a lot of recurring themes on the blog but only a couple of multi-part posts. This was the first.
Part I…I STILL stand by to this day. Sure it received the finest ever single word comment any post received in the history of the blog (“Pathetic”) but I STILL stand by it.
Part II…VERY hard for me to write, like the self harm posts, few knew in detail of my suicide attempts until now.
Part III…All I remember from writing this are tears. The first time I’d told anyone of Rachel.
Part IV…will be coming this week :)

Let’s Talk About my Nervous Breakdown
This event is why my life will never be what I hoped for. A seismic event from which the ripples ar estill reverberating to this day. It didn’t have to happen, that’s what kicks me in the gut every morning. For ultimately, the breakdown is what led to…

Coming to Terms with Bipolar
…the revelation that I was bipolar. Which made a lot of sense to me but still confuses the hell out of me. (unfortunatel my post detailing my manic phase in Adelaide was lost along with my domain earlier this year)

What Do I mean by Stigma?
Still a great question and is unfortunately something that I have come to realise will never go away :(

“Emotional Abuse” Series
Of all of the posts I wrote throughout this journey these posts – without question – received the biggest reponse, still do. To this day I still receive emails on an almost weekly basis from people writing to thank me for writing it, from people who find themselves in the same painful situation, who don’t know what to do. it is still unfortunately something which doesn’t receive enough attention, and the perceptions that it is not as destructive as other forms of abuse are bullshit! The abuse I suffered is in my mind everyday, my social anxiety feeds of it, and in my mind has destroyed any chance of me having close relationships in the future for the simple reason that I trust no-one. Blimey, I sound like Mulder, but alas, it’s the truth.

They’re the main ones. They’re the core. But it wasn’t what the blog was all about. Sure I suffer from mental illness – bu tthe point of what I was doing was getting across it wasn’t who I was. I was Andrew! All of my loves, passions, desires, kinks and dreams were scattered through the blog for all to digest and discover. From my crushes (Oh Carey, Maggie, how did you become so beautiful? And if you’ve never seen Blink watch it NOW! I mean NOW! Just make sure you come back to finish reading :) to my dungaree fetish (ahh the memories of the CDC, why can’t Aussie’s wear them as much, sure they ain’t fashionable but they’re sure sexy :) to all manner of other things which were oh so obvious if never spoken of directly. Check out the I love list and write your own, or have a gander all over the place to learn more of then non-mental side of me. If you’re brave enough! :)

So as this blog post rattle on in it’s own pointless banality I’m thinking a lot about who I was and how I felt back then. It’s funny the memories which come back somtimes. More than anything remembering how much hope I had back then. How much strength still surged through me. How much I was determined to prove I was worth something more than what I had.

Hope

Always back to hope.

Sitting here in Southern Cross waiting room preparing to head back to the park in which I now sleep I know that hope has gone. Eaten away by mental illness, abuse, loneliness and the utter futility of pursuing your dreams. I would have lved to be writing now how I had succeeded in overcoming or at the least controlling the illnesses and pain which plague me. It would have meant she was wrong, that one of the reasons I pulled myself down from that noose had been correct. Alas, my “life” now is worser than it was then, so much so you can’t even call it a life. This is the curse of mental illness.

All I can therefore do is write these updates and conclude my journey as best I can – and hope that at some point the hope I once had will find a way back into my soul :)

So as I prepare to click ‘publish post’ and send even more memories flooding back here are some of the stops we’ll be taking on the journey this week:

– Let’s Talk About Suicide: Part IV…It never gets any easier
– Thirteen Reasons Why
– Bipolar Bear
– BPD WTF?
– Emotional Abuse: Just Frack OFF!
– Social Paralysis Disorder
– Starter for Ten: The Grand Final (email any questions you would like answered by Friday)

The next post: :”My Life, post blog…” will be published later today :)

Plus a few more along the way :)

[oh, and a side note, some of the links are broken as I haven’t had the chance to update and check them all…so sorry if something takes you somewhere it shouldn’t. I don’t mean viruses, I just mean some random dead page or changed page :)]


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Another blahdy bad day…getting tired now…

I was so happy this time last year.

I’m not looking back through rose tinted glasses or anything because there were problems in my life, but by hell I remember laughing and smiling and joking and playing and feeling…alive! I remember feeling so blissful sometimes that I thought I was going to burst. Sitting on the beach, swimming in the ocean, gathering around BBQs with friends (friends? what the hell are they?), I remember watching movies and going to restaurants and writing…always writing in whatever spare minute I could.

Behind Closed Eyes, that’s what I was writing this time last year, a project which flowed out of me like it needed to get onto the page. The easiest (the best) novel I have ever written; an interactive tour-de-force of dreams, desires, intricate plotting and love. It was meant to be a birthday present, never intended for public consumption but…well, things kinda went wrong. Thems the breaks. I never heard back from the publishers, never really expected to – I think it was a little too non-mainstream for the publishing industry these days. Damn shame really, five months of work flushed down the toilet.

Now…

…can’t write for toffee. Can’t even come up with a decent blog post any more! It’s not for lack of ideas either, I’ve got a book I keep where I jot down the thoughts I have. It’s not a journal, can’t write those any more, just a notebook to help me remember things.

– Psychological Abuse: The Silent Killer
– Combat Depression with…Journal Writing Therapy
– The Manic Adventures of Addy and Meadhbh. Part I: Adelaide, Schmadelaide!
– Depression is a fracking illness! Get Over It!
– Why is Stephen Fry a “hero” and I’m a waste of space? Is it ’cause he’s famous?
– So I’m suffering from glandular fever, I’ve had a nervous breakdown and been diagnosed with CLL…and you think I still have my health! Are you just fracking insane??
– Recovering from a breakdown is an absolute bitch: The months following my breakdown…

Frack I could just keep going on and on with all these post ideas but whenever I sit down to write any of them, nothing comes. It just all blocks up and I sit staring at the page bursting into tears because this fracking mental illness has taken another bloody thing from me!

When I say I’ve lost everything this year, I mean it! I’ve lost possessions, homes, friendships. I’ve lost hopes, dreams, the future I always craved. I’ve lost my photography. I’ve lost my ability to write and create. I’ve lost…everything. Can you imagine what that feels like?

Think of all of your friends; all those people you talk to, email, chat and have fun with.
Think of everything that you own; your books, knick knacks, DVDs, music, cameras, computers.
Think of your home; your bed, your posters, your sanctuary.
Think of your skills; your writing, your photography, your art, your cooking.
Think of your dreams; all those myriad of exciting things you want to do with you life.

Then go sit in a park, under a tree, and imagine what it would be like to have no home to go back to. Imagine holding your phone in your hand knowing that no-one is going to phone it, and that you can’t phone anyone. Imagine wanting to read a book and watch a movie – but you’ve got nothing. Imagine wanting to curl up in bed with your beautiful cuddly partner and then realise that not only do you not have a beautiful cuddly partner but you don’t even have a bed!

Can you imagine how painful that would feel. To be all alone in the big bad uncaring world.

Just you, your mind and your mental illness. A mental illness which has cost you everything you cared about. A mental illness which plays tricks with your mind; makes you believe things which aren’t real, makes you question the very essence of your being, makes you paranoid and fearful of everyone around you. A mental illness which, no matter how hard you try to explain it, is never understood by anyone. A mental illness which feeds and promotes every mistake you have ever made in your entire goddamned fracking life.

So you have to pretend everything is okay. Pretend and lie and betray so as to be accepted by people. You have to be happy. You must. You must NEVER tell ANYONE your problems because by frack if you try to externalise something they will rip out your heart and sell it to the nearest demon. That’s what I’ve learned this year.

You must pretend everything is okay, always internalising, allowing your soul to slowly crumble. No matter what the problem is, whether it be; a magpie dive bombing you, the diagnosis of a terminal illness, theft, stressing over uni or college, glandular fever, suicide attempt of a loved one, not sure what holiday destination to choose, hives, worried about the future, family strife.

No matter what it is you MUST internalise it for we are not allowed to be negative, we are not allowed to seek advice, comfort or support. We must deal with everything by ourselves.

No-one wants “real” emotional connections anymore; they just want lies, pretence and the facade of happiness. They want to be friends with liars, manipulators and deceivers.

Period.

If I’d done that maybe things would be different. If I’d done that maybe I would still be laughing and smiling and joking and playing and feeling…alive! Instead I have become a wretched hollowed out shell. Angry with the world. Angry with myself.

A shadow of any of the men I have been in my life.

The hopes, dreams, passions and desires which pulsated through my body this time last year have gone. They’ll never be back. I have been beaten down, destroyed, utterly defeated.

[…and yes, I’m having yet another bad fucked up fracking day! Sorry that I’m not being a happy bouncy bunny and cheering you all up okay! I’m tired, emotional, crying and losing stregth fast…sorry okay!]


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Starter for Ten (Round Two)

“…we’re back, ready for round two!” so says Phillip Baker Hall in one of the most divine films of the 90s.
This is the second round of questions which I have been receiving in regards to the blog over the last several weeks; today we have six of the best.

Starter for Ten – Round 2

Question 1
Do you have any obscure triggers? I understand a lot of the ones you wrote about earlier, but a lot of the things which trigger my episodes are quite random and obscure. Is this normal?

Firstly, what is normal anyway? Normal is a state of mind the media has thrust on the world – this is how you should act, this is the music you should be listening to, these are the clothes you should be wearing. Normal is over-rated, all of the most interesting people I know don’t give a frack about labels and the “right” music or what they should be doing. Wear clothes that are “you”, listen to music that makes your heart sing – even if that’s folk at 22, classical at 17 or country at 12. Normal people IMHO are people who have no idea who they really are and who need other people to make all the decisions for them because they can’t think for themselves.

Secondly, whether it’s “normal” in the field of mental illness to have random/obscure triggers I don’t know – but certainly I do! So you’re not alone. Some of my stressors are so oblique that it took me ages to notice them; others were so utterly random that I knew it straight away. So, in an effort to make you feel a little better, some of my random triggers are:

a) The movie Knocked Up. I utterly love this movie with a fiery passion, for me it’s the second best film of the year because it had such a powerful heart at it’s centre – but no matter how badly I want to see it again I can’t. I can’t even bare to pick up the DVD in the shop, even looking at it makes me teary. Just thinking about it is stressing me out and would be capable of bringing me down. It’s all tied in with the reaction I had to it in Adelaide, and it’s all tied in to what I was talking about a few posts ago regarding my “future”. If you’ve seen the movie you’ll know what happens at the end, it is something I have dreamed of for so long, and the thought that this will never happen to me is making me start to cry again.

b) The Sherlock Holmes pub in Melbourne. I cannot get within visual distance of this pub without having a panic attack. Trust me; I tried just now for a birthday pint before retreating to answer these questions. I love it. My favourite pub in Melbourne…but I can’t go there anymore for the same reason that I cannot go to Brunswick or Lygon Streets.

c) There are three songs which are in my top 5 of all time that I cannot physically listen to anymore. I can’t even think of the lyrics, music or titles without losing it…which is why I’m not typing their titles, sorry, I’m bad enough as it is today!

d) Harry Potter. I have never been a fan of the books, but I do love the movies, and the film I was most looking forward to this year was the Order of the Phoenix but when it came out it triggered a nasty few days of depression and still does when I see posters/DVDs/reviews/adverts…I never watched it, I never will, it would I believe push me over the edge.

e) Spanikopita, grapes, marzipan, chives and chili all trigger a depressive mood.

f) Cheese may have the habit of triggering a manic phase, but I’m still to confirm this one.

So yeah, I don’t think you’re strange at all having random triggers – don’t think you could get more random than the above.

Question Two
So, are you fleecing us with this donation thing and lining your own pockets or will you actually be donating it to charity?

Pah, I’m offended! EVERY single penny of money that is donated through the links on this site will be donated to charity! I will not be keeping a single cent of it under any circumstances! I am currently weighing up options as to which charity/charities to donate to and believe there will be two – BeyondBlue and an as yet undecided suicide awareness campaign. BeyondBlue is an Australian organisation which works to raise awareness of depression and related illnesses, and IMHO Australia needs some serious education as to what a mental illness is. I don’t wish to offend, but of all the countries I have been to, it is without doubt the most prejudiced country in this area. Therefore I wholly support this organisation and its work, and have donated on several occasions this year myself.

Please, if you can afford to, make a donation and help us reach the target. Mental health is destroying lives, we need to fight it.

Question Three
What is CLL? Is it serious?

CLL stands for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. It means I have a high white blood cell count which could – and I stress could – cause problems for me in the future. It is generally initially diagnosed through routine blood tests, of which I had some performed earlier this year for GF. When I first learned of this I became stuck on the “leukemia” and it fracked me up for a long time, and as I mentioned in a previous post, was instrumental to my breakdown in March. Since then, I have discovered it is not as serious as I first imagined and wish I had known this in February as it meant I would not have tried to tell someone which just caused further problems for me.
In actual fact, I believe to be in more danger of dying from bipolar within the next few weeks than of CLL at any point in my life. The only thing CLL has done seems to have lowered my immune system a little, and just the annoyance of regular checkups.

I ummed and ahhed about mentioning this on the blog as I felt it would detract from my initial conception of dealing with mental illnesses. As CLL is physical in nature it will generally draw more attention, but in the end relented due to it playing a role in my breakdown.

Question Four
Are you seriously telling me everything on this blog is true?

Everything is true and correct, I am hiding nothing anymore, and I’m tired of pretending to be someone I am not just to be accepted. I have lost everything this year so really have nothing else left to lose. I am not lying on this blog. This is me, and I am Addy.

Question Five
Why did you put a pancake on a rabbit’s head? Animal cruelty!

I didn’t. I found it on the web and smiled so inanely it actually felt like a proper smile, and trust me that doesn’t happen much anymore. I think it’s an absolutely adorable photo, and I don’t think of it as animal cruelty at all – I reckon the rabbit in fact put it there himself as a snack for later in the day.

Question Six
I self harm. I noticed you said you had it under control for a while…any tips?

Oh, tough one. As I mentioned getting my self harm under control was a very difficult thing to do, and I think what actually works is different for everyone. I dealt with this alone for most of my life, as it wasn’t until earlier this year did it become ‘known’ to other people. One person imparticular was incredibly supportive of me, and knowing they were there was a godsend in trying to get it back under control. But, I can give a few tips of things which are a more non-markable way of self harm which can help in getting your urges under control, which I have tried over the years.

a) The classic “stout rubber band” – i.e.; attach a rubber band around your wrist as if it were a bracelet and when things get tough FLICK IT HARD!! Bloody hurts, doesn’t do any major damage, and you can make it look like you’re just playing/fiddling.

b) Bag of Frozen Peas – hadn’t thought of this one until someone at the hospital mentioned it. Again, when the urge strikes, grab a bag of frozen peas and hold it. Really does hurt more than you think! And again, no damage, awesome.

c) Take a very hot or very cold shower – I’ve done this one a lot, and it really helps (plus, gets you clean – and naked – always a bonus!)

d) Chew something with a very strong taste such as chili or ginger root.

e) Beat the living shit out of a pillow! God this can help relieve stress! I mean it; just spank the living daylights out of the thing. You won’t be harming yourself, or someone else, both bonuses!

f) Distract yourself. It’s a tough one this because when I get into the self-harm mode it’s hard for me to focus on something else, but this does work. Have a bubble bath and read a book, listen to music, dance, sing, jive, boogey, write, something! It’s great if you have a friend to call, give them a ring and just chat about anything, even if they don’t know about the self harm just talking to someone about anything can take your mind off things. Or if they know you self-harm, see if they can come over for a while to help take your mind off things. Most friends are willing to do this if they’re able.

(I will say that one distraction which I have used, and was one of the reasons why I started in the first place, was to smoke. I am not recommending this under any circumstance, but the reason I started smoking again this year was because I was trying to quell my self-harm urges, and it does work. Although the long term damage is obvious, one or two cigarettes a week is better than hacking the crap out of your arm! Not many people will understand this though, and the constant badgering to quit smoking may make you even more stressed.)

g) Lastly for today, if it’s the blood which you need to see – a reason why cutting was preferable for me when I restarted self harm this year (c’mon, CLL – in the blood – doesn’t take a genius) – grab yourself a red texta and draw your own wound! This is best used with one of the other examples above, but maybe not all at the same time, eh?

Thanks for the questions guys, and remember you can email me any questions to allthosestraythoughts@gmail.com and I’ll answer them in the next round of Starter for Ten.


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Bipolar and Depression: Identifying Triggers

What is a trigger?
People who suffer from depression and bipolar will no doubt find that their mood swings are often triggered by an incident or action which takes place in their life. A trigger can cause either a depressive mood, a manic phase or a combination of both as in a mixed episode.

These triggers are also referred to as stressors and they vary from person to person. It’s useful to be able to identify your own personal triggers, as by learning what instigates your mood swings efforts can be made to overcome or avoid these events.

Some examples of triggers are:

Lack of sleep/Change in sleeping pattern
Alcohol or drugs
Seasonal Changes
Illness
Stopping medication
Starting a new medication

Plus there are also the more general life triggers:

Problems at work/Loss of job
Relationship problems
Relationship breakup
Divorce
Starting school/uni/college
Starting a new job
The death of a loved one
Friendship problems

My Triggers
Now since my bipolar diagnosis I have been doing a lot of personal introspection to try and work out what my own personal triggers are. This has mostly been conducted in parks, places which I find enable me to think with a little more clarity in my current depressed, cloudy and hazy state.

For example, the triggers for some of my episodes are:

Autumn 2000
(leading up to my first suicide attempt)
The death of a loved one, starting college, change in circumstances – and after the episode had started, a period of alcohol abuse didn’t help at all!

Spring 2002
(arrival in Australia)
Seasonal change, change in circumstances, quitting smoking

Early 2006
(leading up to my second suicide attempt)
Relationship problems, money problems, friendship problems

Early 2007
(leading up to my breakdown)
Starting college, money problems, illness (glandular fever and diagnosis of CLL), relationship problems, friendship problems, relationship breakup, alcohol abuse
(and after the breakdown)
Starting medication, further alcohol abuse, recipient of psychological abuse, change in circumstances, friendship problems and loss of college/job/friends all added to the situation

The use of this isn’t to lay blame or sit under my tree occasionally glaring and spewing venom at passing strangers, but to notice exactly what has triggered my more substantial periods over the years. I guess the answer to stopping the depressive episodes would be to just avoid all of the above circumstances and then I would be a happy fuzzy little bunny, surely? Well, no, not really. I mean to start with avoiding everything I have just mentioned would only be possible if I were to become a hermit – and as I don’t want my social contact to become an every ten year meeting of hermit’s united – that’s not really something I can do. Instead I can use this information, both with myself and my psychologists to work out ways to cope better and perhaps prevent the episodes from onsetting.

Now, with all of the above in mind, what exactly triggered my recent (current) depressive episode which is quite possibly the worst I have felt since March/May of this year? There was no alcohol abuse, no loss of relationships or friendships, no deaths. There was the diagnosis of bipolar, which was a major factor, but it took me a hell of a long time, several cigarettes and two photos to work out the rest of it. It is also, without doubt, without any question in the world my one hundred percent all time guaranteed to kick in a depressive episode trigger…ever!

The only way I can think to describe it is: the realisation of loneliness. In other words it is a singular or series of events which reinforces my fear of being alone/realisation of how lonely I am. I have yet to claw my way out of this episode due to the fact I am spending today alone – something I would not wish on anyone, ever, as it is the worst feeling in the world – and something which is only fuelling my depressive mood.

This same trigger can also be attributed to all of the above examples:

Autumn 2000
(leading up to my first suicide attempt)
After finishing traveling I was once again alone in the world

Spring 2002
(arrival in Australia)
One wonderful beautiful person aside; I was alone in a new country, with my family on the other side of the world

Early 2006
(leading up to my second suicide attempt)
Relationship problems led to the realisation of how “alone” I was in regards to friends and family

Early 2007
(leading up to my breakdown)
Loss of virtually all friends and (of equal importance) potential friendships hit me fracking hard!

It was this same trigger which initiated my manic episode in Adelaide and also the fundamental trigger behind my suicide attempt in October. My biggest fear, as stated on several Facebook profile applications, has always been loneliness and I’m amazed it’s taken me this long to identify this trigger.

Unlike the ones listed above – I have yet to find a way to combat or avoid this trigger as it is purely psychological and pretty much anything can kick it in. Although in a way I have already begun attempting to combat it. Over the last couple of months I have deliberately avoided Brunswick or Lygon Streets (plus surrounding areas) as they are too heavily involved with past friendships and reinforce my current state of loneliness and despair. This brings in an additional problem, which is simply that I love both of those streets with a fiery passion! They are my favourite places in Melbourne and I hope to one day be able to return to both of them.

Loneliness is fracking painful and something I would not wish on even my worst enemy. If you want to hurt someone; forget about torture, beating, rape…just take away their social group and isolate them. Then kick back with a bevvie and watch them fall apart.

So what can be done?
So, how can you identify your triggers? Well, you can do what I did and go sit under a tree for several hours being harassed by horny possums or you can sit in the comfort of your home (lucky you!) and keep a mood chart. This is simply a way to record actions and incidents and how you are feeling on a day to day basis.


Click on the image or here to be taken to this mood chart.

There are also several different versions available on the internet which you can print out to use – follow the bipolar links on the right of this page, most of these sites have a mood chart section.
After you have been keeping a mood chart for a period of time, you may start to notice patterns. You may see that after a drinking session in the pub you always slip into a depressive mood, or perhaps lack of sleep makes you feel morose and depressed. Maybe eating certain types of food or being around certain people will make you feel more manic.

It may be worthwhile to ask friends, family or support workers for their input as they may notice patterns which you can’t see.

Once you have worked out your triggers, you will hopefully be able to find ways to avoid or distance yourself from them. Maybe drinking only soft drinks at the pub on, or avoiding those stressor food types. Again, friends and family will hopefully be able to help and support you here as avoiding your triggers can often be very difficult.

Recognising your triggers is an important step in learning to overcome and combat your mood swings. Give it a go.


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This is called a depressive episode…

…they hit hard, fast and painfully…ain’t fun…wouldn’t wish them on anyone…nor wish anyone around me when I have ’em…less chance of hurting people…can just take it out on me, hehehe!

So until…

a) The meds start working.
b) My self-harm is back under control (sore today, sorry guys, massive relapse)
c) I’ve come to terms with the consequences of bipolar (and hey, just bipolar period!)
d) I feel “normal” (whatever that is) or “manic” again.

..this blog can go into hibernation for a while.

[Ya see physical pain – easy – breeze through all that, have been for years! Emotional pain, stops me writing, blocks everything up, proved that earlier in the year with the college debacle. Hehehe, maybe all I need is to just beat myself a bit…tempting, tempting…but then, best not, eh!]

Take care my beautiful readers; smile and laugh, cuddle and play, sing and sigh relief for a while, but I’ll be back rambling someday (when I’m a wee bit older but not anymore wiser)

:-)

P.S…the “scientific bit”:
If any of you are actually interested, which I doubt, what I’m currently experiencing is not technically a depressive episode, it’s called a “mixed episode” (also called agitated depression, dysphoric mania or a mixed state) which is where the symptoms of a manic episode and a depressive episode come together for a big orgy of slurpy fun (blimey, that’s scientific!)
In other words: agitation, anxiety, fatigue, guilt, impulsiveness, irritability, morbid and/or suicidal ideation, panic, paranoia, pressured speech and rage are all occuring at the same time and kinda driving me nuts. There’s a lovely little passage taken from Wikepedia which says “Typical examples include tearfulness during a manic episode or racing thoughts during a depressive episode. One may also feel incredibly frustrated in this state, since one may feel like a failure and at the same time have a flight of ideas. Mixed states can be the most dangerous period of mood disorders, during which substance abuse, panic disorder, suicide attempts, and other complications increase greatly.” Which cheers me right up that does! :-/


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Coming to terms with Bipolar – Part III

Coming-to-Terms with BiPolar
Part III: My reactions

Why I suspected I had bipolar

Now, I said in my previous posts about bipolar that I have kinda suspected that this is what I’ve been suffering from. My first very real suspicions that something was somewhat amiss in the state of Addy’s mind was in March, when I attacked a kind little old lady with blue hair in a Safeway supermarket for accidentally running a shopping trolley into my leg. Now I didn’t slap her, throw a loaf of bread or squeeze mushy peas on her or anything I just kinda snapped and unleashed a torrent of grrrr-arrrrg words at her. Then I went home and cut my arm (this was by the way the day I talked about in one of my journal entries).

Now, anyone who knows me (I hope) would realize that isn’t exactly Addy behavior – I love humanity, sometimes a little too much – and after mentioning this to someone at the time chalked it up to my anti-depressants. This kinda kept happening on and off though for a while, these massive shifts in mood turbulating up and down at such pace and velocity that I could barely keep up. Some days utterly blissful as if on ecstasy, others unleashing verbal angry diorreah on people who in no way deserved it: a couple of close friends unfortunately suffered these moments, and that shocked me, as I had never treated them in this way before.

Earlier on this year I spent a couple of months in the mighty fine and beautiful city of Adelaide, and it was here that I just knew things were definitely not okay. My mood fluctuated badly throughout those two months, sometimes scarily so. There were things occurring beyond my control during this time – I was the victim of theft, having approximately 75% of my belongings stolen by some bogan in a launderette (including a very very sentimental ring which I will never be able to replace), family issues were awry with one hospitalized and another overdosing and ending up in hospital for several days (fortunately both were okay in the end), and all whilst I was trying to pretend everything was dandy so no-one had to worry whilst I clung onto the tattered remnants of my life.

Some days I would be happily skipping down the banks of the Torrens going ‘bloody hell this tattoo is stinging a little, kinda nice’; whilst others I would be sitting on Glenelg beach in the dark stabbing myself with sticks or just sitting in a numb state for hours on end watching the Adelaidians occasionally stare at me out of concern.

Often during the days I would experience this range of emotions to the point that it became uncontrollable; one day I was watching (the best damn comedy movie of the year) Knocked Off and ended up bawling my eyes out at the end from sheer sadness even though it was the happiest moment of the movie.

Another day, I got depressed in the second hand bookstore and ended up unalphabetising the entire fantasy section (which for someone who used to alphabetize his own book collection is pretty drastic) and took pleasure in secreting sexually charged books into the children’s section.

(Granted this isn’t really on a level of anything “serious” but secondhand book stores are like temples to me, and should not be desecrated in any way.)

Various things happened as the mood swings became harder to control, anger was spewed, heads thrown against trees and then…one Monday morning…let us just say that this week is something I would rather forget. Things were done, acts were performed, words were spoken, a massively uncharacteristic Addy stormed through Adelaide’s west-CBD and northern suburb like some cuddly-goth Pooh bear doped up on several forms of narcotics.

Then his mood changed once again, and the ever awesome David Tennant warmed his heart by talking about orange skies and he realized all that he had done and lost.

Licking the wounds and trying to rebuild my life by leaving the mighty fine and beautiful Adelaide and returning to Melbourne. His mood swings were less erratic, but still prevalent, and he beavered away with his chorus line of lemmings trying to eek out a place in the world of employment whilst striving to become an Australian Citizen. Dozens & dozens of job interviews and a citizenship refusal later he ended up, in late September, in one of those doooowwwnnnnn episodes and early October decided to kill himself.

I have to be honest though, a lot of this year I have handled these mood swings pretty well. Never really unleashing them on the public, always managing to swallow them around friends or pretend otherwise around people I know. I think that’s why it is so good that, finally, I have had this officially recognized.

Because it’s a medical condition, I can now get help.

It’s like if you suffer from diabetes – you need that insulin to help control things.
It’s like if you suffer form cancer – you need that chemo to help get you through.

With any illness you need to be diagnosed before you stand any chance of recovery.

What next?

That’s the question innit!

Obviously, medication is going to be taken. Now, I’m not particularly fond of medication as I’ve been doped up so much this year – but hey, I found something on one of the websites that said bipolar sufferers are less likely to find anti-depressants worked effectively. This could explain why anti-depressants never really worked for me in the past, regardless of the dosages I was on.

Obviously, despite what all the websites say, this is going to affect me heavily on a social level. Throughout this blog I have been condemning sections of society for their prejudice against people with mental illnesses. It however does happen and however tongue in cheek my two previous posts were on the subject – bipolar will affect relationships. I know from experience how much frustration hormonal mood swings can inflict (I think every man does!) so it doesn’t take a huge leap to realize how much frustration bipolar mood swings can inflict.

Obviously this is going to take time to come to terms with. Knowing a lot about depression, self harm, suicide etc a lot of those posts were easy to write as I kinda knew my stuff. These bipolar posts, nah, I’m writing them just as much for me to understand what’s happening to me than I am writing them to explain to other people.

So I guess patience will have to be used: both from me, and you my dear readers. I know how confusing being diagnosed with a new illness is, the time it takes to understand, come to terms with what is going on, and what needs to be done to overcome it. This is third time this year I have received such a diagnosis; the fun part this time though is I get to blaaahhhhh about it on the web as I try to capture and identify all those mood swings and ins and outs.

What I am going to reiterate though is that – once again – bipolar is not who I am.

I’m Addy, same old guy…and believe me; I’m saying that far more for me than everyone else!