First Hypomanic/Depressive Episode

Blue Houston
Photo credit: Thomas Hawk on VisualHunt / CC BY-NC

I moved to Houston, Texas a year after high school (I took a year off). I was going to be a music performance major, and I was thrilled to live in a different city, far away from my parents. For about 6 months, my boyfriend and I lived with his mother. Then he broke up with me.

His new girlfriend, I’d heard, was Filipino like me. I was devastated. And a little weirded out. I certainly wasn’t going to continue living with his family, even though I didn’t know how to look for an apartment.  So his mother (bless her) helped me find a nearby apartment, co-signed on the lease, and I moved out.

I had no furniture. No couch or futon to sit on, no bed to sleep on. I didn’t mind, though, because the place was mine. I spent an awful lot of time listening to Melissa Etheridge’s self-titled album. I played the song, “Similar Features,” over and over again so much, I thought the needle on the record player would be damaged from its constant use. And boy, did I ugly cry!

On campus I always ate alone, not that anyone ever invited me. I didn’t socialize with the other students in the percussion department. Most of them were older guys, or at least they seemed a lot older than my age, 19-20. I felt fear, fear, fear. I didn’t have any techniques for getting past the fear, so I turned to drugs and alcohol.

At the end of spring semester, a good friend moved back to Houston, where he was born. We got a place together. It was paaaaarty central. To me, anyway. My friend had a real job. Two of my co-workers unofficially lived with us. People were in and out of our place: my new, older (over 21) boyfriend; two couples who lived in our building.

This was, I believe, when I first experienced my first hypomanic episode. Life had become an all-day/all-night party. I hardly slept. Several months later, I went the other way. I felt suicidal for the first time in my life. I just felt awful, and I didn’t know why.

I talked to my parents over the phone, and I told them I wanted to kill myself. My mom said they would get me help back home. They came down to Houston and helped me move.

But I never got the help I needed until 1995. I don’t know why. Could be stigma in the Filipino-American community. Could be denial. Could be both.

Do you remember the circumstances surrounding you first manic episode? Or depressive episode?

“My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward” by Mark Lukach

Photo from HarperCollins

NOTE: This is not a book review; these are just my thoughts–which may wander.

This book’s rating is 4.08 of 5 stars on Goodreads, so I guess people really liked it. I gave it a 3. It was just okay.

While the author is a great storyteller/narrator, what really killed it for me is that so much of the story is unbelievable. Anyone who’s ever been in a psych ward would know that.

At one point Lukach describes how he and other family visitors were allowed to hang out in the wife’s hospital room during a holiday. Are you kidding me? That would never be allowed in real life.

In a real psych ward, visitors are welcome to hang out in the visiting room with the patient; nowhere else. They enforce that rule. But in all the time I’ve spent in psych wards, I’ve never seen anyone try to break it.

Who’s “they,” you might be wondering. “They” are nurses and mental health workers. The latter are, in my experience, mostly male, strong, and probably worked security in the past. But that’s just a guess.

Anyway, there were many other unbelievable scenes in the book, none of which I remember of course, thanks to ECT. Well, and it’s been a few months since I read it; I’m only now writing down my thoughts.

Have you read My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward? What are your thoughts?

Living with Bipolar

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

So unfortunately, living with bipolar while my depression is in remission is not all sunshine and rainbows. It’s not like a get-out-of-jail-free card that allows me to escape the confines of my mentally ill brain. And it doesn’t mean the depression won’t return. For me, it means having to continue doing the things I did when depressed:

  • take my meds every day, even if I feel fine and don’t feel like taking them.
  • continue therapy, even when I don’t want to see my therapist because I feel that I have nothing to discuss. (Well, there’s my anxiety, I suppose.)
  • maintain sleep hygiene by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. This also helps keep insomnia away. Don’t ask me how; it’s what they say! In my experience, it works.
  • continue to see my psychiatrist, especially now that my appointments are months rather than weeks apart.
  • practice self-care, whether it’s by showering every single day (which I don’t do and is another story), going to a salon/spa, or treating myself to a slice of pie.
  • get my blood drawn to check if the lithium is at a therapeutic level.

These are some of the things I have to manage, plus diet and exercise (which I’ll address in the future). So for me, except for the emotional and physical heaviness I feel when I’m depressed, as well as my bleak outlook, there doesn’t seem to be much difference between depression and remission. At least that’s how I feel right now.

What differences do you feel when you’re depressed followed by remission?

The New Bipolar Barb

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Hey, everyone! You may have noticed my blog’s new look. I’m using a different theme because I’ve reached a turning point in my journey with both bipolar and blogging. And I was getting tired of the old template lol.

As many of you know, my depression is currently in remission. My blog chronicles my battles with bipolar. But now that the depression is at bay, I don’t have to fight a battle at the moment. I’m relearning (I’ve been in remission before) how to live with bipolar disorder, without the depression.

And that’s the new direction my blog is taking. I’ve given myself permission to write anything I want besides bipolar and depression, because bipolar people live “normal” lives and do “normal” things, too. We’re really not much different from non-bipolar people. We struggle with our moods; other people struggle with other things. This decision allows me to expand my ideas of what to write about. Hopefully this will keep me from being stuck.

The blog theme I chose is a whimsical one, with drawings of Post-It notes to separate each section, and has an overall writerly feel. It’s also the template I’ve been using on my author page, Now they  match!

That Time of Year

Photo on VisualHunt

For those of you who’ve been with me for a while, you probably know that October and November are bad months for me. If you’re new to this blog, you can read more about that here. Historically, my depression gets so bad at this time of year that I have to get electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which you can read about here. October is my favorite month, closely followed by November, but autumn just doesn’t agree with me. Now here it is, the middle of November, and I feel fine.

This is a new experience, and so far this year I’ve enjoyed these months. My husband and I went to an adult pumpkin patch that turned out to be a bust Once we arrived, we immediately concluded that we were too old!

We had brunch with my sister-in-law and her husband when they were in town. We worked our way through another escape room with my sister and brother-in-law, then went out for dinner. And I actually showed up to the first Meetup for a depression/anxiety group.

We traveled to Indiana to watch our favorite college football team play, only to watch them lose to the home team. What a disaster! And it was so cold in the stadium. Brrr!

So I’ve been pretty active instead of reading/sleeping on the couch all day, which is what I did last year. I fulfilled a personal reading challenge by reading 100 books in a year, though!

I know things can turn at any moment. I’m trying to be vigilant. I’m doing what I can to keep myself busy. And hope to make it unscathed to the other side of winter.

Do you experience depression during the fall/winter?