This is something I wrote in my journal last night.
This is something I wrote in my journal last night.
Jack be nimble, Jack be quick. Jack jumped over the candlestick. But what if Jack didn’t jump high enough, and the bottom of his pants-leg touched the flame of the candle and his pants caught fire? I suppose Jack would call upon his memories of fire protection and safety that he learned in elementary school. Stop, drop, and roll!
Now, what if while Jack rolling around on the ground attempting to extinguish his pants-fire, he rolled into a giant pile of hay. I mean, hay is pretty flammable – he would be completely engulfed in flames! Luckily Jack live near a river, and Jack could simply just rush his flaming body over and into the river extinguishing the fire.
The relief that Jack would feel after surviving his near-death experience would be so great. It’s too bad that while Jack was recouping after his brutal injuries a hungry alligator sneaked up and swallowed Jack whole. He’s dead now… I guess that’s why one should never jump over a candlestick.
It’s kind of silly once you think about it… I mean really – why jump over a candlestick? I mean jeez, walk around or pick it up.
Lately, I’ve been doing pretty great. I suppose that’s probably why I haven’t been posting to my blog. I know that I promised to myself that I wouldn’t just let this website be a place to post my troubles and hardships – but nevertheless, I haven’t posted and now here I am posting a hardship.
It’s nothing too tumultuous. It’s mostly anxiety tinges. No panic attacks, thankfully. Basically my fight or flight response keeps triggering, and I get this tingly feeling in my neck, and I start to freak out over nothing. I’ve been able to keep it mostly in check, but it’s an odd feeling to have, to say the least. I’m not quite sure how to explain it to make it relateable. The closest way that I can think to describe it would be the feeling that you get while you’re waiting for results from your doctor. I feel that’s a fairly accurate description. The only difference is that I have that feeling randomly, out of nowhere, and for no particular reason.
I haven’t been journaling either like I used to. I’m going to try writing regularly again, it seemed to help a great deal last time…
This isn’t a great post, but it’s my foray back into writing – and maintaing my sanity.
I’ve nothing left to say… cheers.
As I am writing this I have been awake for 38 hours now. It’s just something that can happen when you go on the upswing of bipolar in to (hypo)mania. Essentially my brain goes into overdrive, and I become extremely energetic, silly, more personable, confident. My thoughts race sometimes, that’s bad enough. There’s a push-shove, love-hate relationship I share with hypomania. It has plenty of positive effects. It can allow me to hyper-focus, and complete tasks and projects I wouldn’t ordinarily be able to complete, at least in one sitting. There’s the rush of confidence, feelings of euphoria – and so on.
There plenty of downsides too – impulsiveness, hyper-sexuality, grandiosity, distractibility – among others. The most potentially destructive of all the symptoms however would be what the textbooks call “decreased need for sleep” and sure, sometimes that’s all it is. You fall asleep for 3 hours and wake up feeling lively and energetic. Other times however, the “decreased need for sleep” is the entire absence of sleep. It’s the inability to go to sleep. That is what happened to me yesterday. It was a wonderful euphoric “high” of hypomania. The trouble started last night when I tried to go to bed. Usually, the hypomania subsides enough for me to sleep, or to at least be overpowered by a sleeping pill. Last night, this was not the case. I could not sleep – no matter what. I sat in my room until the sun came up, and I had to get ready for work.
The day was actually pretty good. I felt lively, and energetic – almost as if I had actually gotten a really good night’s rest. At work, I was very productive. It was around 4-5pm where things got bad. Even now, my mind is very much awake – it’s very much active. However, my body feels as though it’s shutting down. I’m in pain from my head to my toes. My eyes are burning a hole into my skull and my body feels as though I ran a marathon. I’m heavy. My body is telling me it’s tired, and to go to sleep. My mind however, says no.
Guess who wins.
I’ve been blogging on and off since I was in middle school, and I’ve run justinrobbins.net and twistmyfate.com for well over ten years. Over the last five years I’ve retired twistmyfate.com (it redirects here) and I’ve launched and relaunched justinrobbins.net more times than I can count. I always lost interest because I never wrote about anything of substance. I never really let myself be “seen”.
This time around I said fuck it. I’m throwing it all out there. I started this blog mainly as an outlet for myself – putting ideas in my head on to paper, err, screen.
Since launching I’ve been contacted by a fair amount of people. Some find my writing relate-able, some have found it entertaining – which is great. It’s wonderful to hear that people enjoy your writing. It’s humbling, but what’s the most humbling is something I never expected. I’ve had old friends, and even strangers write me – thanking me for sharing my story, because it has helped them with their own mental health struggles, which is an indescribable feeling.
I just wanted to write a quick note of thanks to anyone who reads my rambling words. I am truly and deeply humbled by the responses I’ve received. I’m glad you like it, or if you hate it – that’s fair. Thank you just the same.
I went on medical leave from work, and checked myself into an intensive outpatient (IOP) program for mental health on January 16th of this year to help me cope and attempt to overcome my bipolar diagnosis. I decided to enter into the program because, I had an episode of hypomania, perhaps full on mania that lasted about three days. I was also cycling between ups, downs, and mixed states much more rapidly than I’m used to. So, I decided that I needed something more structured and intensive to have my “episodes” more closely monitored – this allowed the psychiatrist to better understand how my diagnosis is manifesting and allow for more precise management of my medications. In addition to all that, I was very resistant to therapy – essentially I’m a pretty good bull-shitter, and so I BS’d my therapist with what I know she wanted to hear, and with examples of coping skills that I knew would help, but that I never utilized. The IOP program offered me tons of therapy, including traditional one-on-one, but also group therapy. The groups are really what wore down my therapy resistance and opened me up to processing my past traumas and current struggles more freely.
My (hypo)manic episode,the reason I checked myself in, occurred over a three to four day period in which I did not sleep – at all. In fairness, I probably slept a total of 6-8 hours over the three days, enough to keep me from dying I suppose. During the episode I was functional for the most part. I was overloaded with energy, despite the lack of sleep – and I made some very careless decisions. For example, I spent about 2,000 dollars on I’m not quite sure what. I engaged in some risky behavior, like having a string of anonymous sexual partners, and I also took out a loan for a couple thousand dollars, that I didn’t even need. I just found it to be exciting. My behavior became erratic, and I suffered from racing thoughts that impaired my ability to function for a few hours at a time. I also strained relationships with close friends. I can only liken the experience to being on some sort of “uppers” drug for days on end – without taking any substances. Eventually I came down from the high, hard. My entire body was in excruciating pain, and I lost mostly all motivation to do much of anything.
That’s just a quick summary of the experience – it’s far more complicated and nearly indescribable.
The point is that I feel better now than I have in a long time. I will always have this condition, and I’ll always cycle up and down – but highs are less high and the lows are less low. I feel empowered and more in control of my life. I feel comfortable again.
I’ve still got a lot to learn, and I probably always will. Stressors may become triggers, and triggers may become episodes, but I’m no longer worried about them. I’m focusing on the here and now, and that’s big. So, what am I actually trying to say? Am I cured? No. Am I worried about it? No. What I am is alright.
Here, and now – I’m alright – and when I’m not, I will be soon.
It’s been an interesting couple of days. I’m not quite sure where I am in my recovery from bipolar. I mean, I’m definitely somewhere on the spectrum. In some respects I feel better, but in others I feel worse. I do know one thing: I feel differently than when I started… that much I know.
Perhaps I’m looking at this all wrong. Maybe recovery isn’t linear. Who said that sickness and wellness belong on a sliding scale? Maybe it’s more like a scatter-plot, where our days are spread across the spectrum randomly.
Perhaps it’s just not something to be measured. I mean, how does one even define “wellness”? Better yet, how does one define “sickness”? They’re only words meant to fit experiences into a tidy little bubble. Sane and insane are two words that confuse me. It seems that sanity can only be viewed from the outside. You can’t just waltz into sanity… or many you can. Yet, if one manages to make the walk through, then maybe he’ll reach sanity. He’ll be inside of sanity. He’ll be in sanity. Insanity… maybe insanity is just a byproduct of fully diving into sanity itself.
I forgot where I was. I think I was talking about how I feel.
I feel mixed. Tinges of anxiety, but mostly tinges. I still have issues focusing and with my memory. Maybe that’s just my personality, or co-morbid ADHD. Maybe I just don’t pay enough attention to detail. Who knows? I sure don’t, and I don’t really give a fuck anymore.
I went into this to get better – to be well. All I’ve seemed to do is flip the scales into the opposite position. Where I once felt bad, I feel good – and vice-versa. Am I better off than before? Maybe… maybe not. I have no idea. Should I be looking for a balance? Is there even a balance? There sure is a lot more medication.
I’ve fallen down and I’ve asked for help, but I’ve been overloaded with so many answers that I forgot the fucking question.
I want to get better. I want to be well, but I’ve lost the definition of wellness. All I want, all I truly want… is to just be myself.
I’ve spent the past few days looking at inspirational quotes and the like. I’m not sure why I enjoy reading quotes, but I do enjoy it – therefore I’ll continue to read them. Anyhow, I read a quote today from Walt Disney and it really resonated with me. It reads:
You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.
For me, it relates to my bipolar diagnosis. I have had a sneaking suspicion of the diagnosis in my early 20’s but I stubbornly resisted it. I never truly accepted it as a possibility other than explaining to those who saw me in the throes of an anxiety attack, hypomania, or depression that I think I “might have” bipolar disorder. Even that however was rare, and I would almost proudly tote that I had anxiety and ADHD – and that’s all. Still, in the back of my mind I knew I had a family history of bipolar and the chances of me having it too increased because of this, so I didn’t think about it too much.
I’m unsure of a definitive reason as to why I wanted to not be bipolar back then, but I do have some theories and assumptions. There’s a certain stigma to bipolar, and at the time I believed that the majority of people who heard one may have bipolar would in turn treat them negatively. The term gets thrown around a lot in a colloquial manner when one gets angry quickly, or sad, etc. The phrase I hear most often “I’m a little bipolar today.” would be a perfect example. However, even with the minimization I felt as though if I were to be diagnosed, and I had to say “I’m bipolar” and mean it, that the world would view me differently. My assumption of other’s opinions about the topic is relating the disorder to someone violent, psychotic, or dangerous. I don’t know if that’s always the case, or why I held this view on the world’s reaction. Perhaps it’s how I viewed the disorder myself.
Shortly after the onset of the aforementioned symptoms , I had developed my own coping skills to deal with them. I learned the signs of an oncoming anxiety attack – and how to pull myself out of a depressive state into a functioning, if sad, emotional state. I began to play the piano more, and freestyle or improvise my own songs, emoting my emotions musically. I forced myself to walk around and interact with others during depressive states to keep my mind occupied – sitting still for too long would allow my mind to slow and the depression to takeover. Hypomania, however, I always found pleasurable – and I developed no coping skills in regards to it.
Fast forward six or seven years into my late 20’s (i.e. very recently) and my coping mechanisms began to fail me. Until this point, while my moods still swung rapidly but I could always reign them in to allow me to function, for the most part. Others would simply just describe my personality as “quirky”.
I remember the exact moment I decided I needed to finally go see a doctor about it. I was feeling fine at work, about to head to an event I was really excited for. On the drive I started getting anxious and self-concious about it. When I got to the event, where I’d ordinarily be able to reel those emotions back in, I was unable to do it. I spent the event shy, and worried that everyone was judging me. In essence where I normally would have interacted with a lot of people and earned a decent amount of business – instead was a bust.
I’ve gone on quite a tangent here, but back to the main point – I went to the doctor, was officially diagnosed and began medication, which helped. I started therapy but I resisted it and eventually stopped going to therapy altogether. This eventually lead to my breakdown – or “the kick in the teeth”. I completely lost control of my moods, and ended up on medical leave checking myself into an intensive outpatient treatment program. Which as it turns out, has so far been the best thing thats happened to me.
I’ve still got a lot to work on, but I’m no longer ashamed – and I’m learning how to take control of my mind again. I’m pretty optimistic on the future.
Note: I’m currently hypomanic – my apologies if this doesn’t make much sense.
(with no pre-thought)
Things could be worse. Things could always be worse. Celebrate the fact that they are not.