Crying At Yoga

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Today I was crying at yoga….it sounds bad but I think in the long run it is good. A catharsis if you will. A TRUTH BOMB. One I desperately needed.

I haven’t the energy for all the work I’m doing and all the dieting I’m doing and all the exercise I’m doing and all the writing I’m doing AND finding time to update this blog, SO, from now on I will be providing updates in vlog form more often than not.

I look like crap.

I don’t care.

Things are changing and I want to share my journey on the off chance it might help others in a similar predicament…

The Bipolar Diet: Week 2 Check In, 1 Stone Down

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I’ve been quite quiet here on the blog of late, focusing on rebranding my business, and trying to sort out my diet and health permanently. There hasn’t been much to share, other than my usual summer downer throughout June and July. I was hoping it wouldn’t happen this year but it would seem that no matter how much progress I make, there is no avoiding it.

I’m now two weeks into a new healthy eating plan with Juice Plus protein smoothies and the Transform 30 plan. It’s a great plan that I’m loving but it has effectively turned me vegan, something I never thought I’d be able to do.

I’m still eating cheese occasionally but other than that, it’s veggies all the way. I’ve started recording vlogs again, for those of you interested this is my most recent, recorded just after my first trip to the gym in 5 years.

I’ve currently succeeded in losing 15lbs in two weeks, just over a stone, so I’m pleased about that.

Fantasy Photography Props: How To Make The Oil Lantern For Bella Morte

Fantasy Photography Props: Bella Morte's Oil Lantern

There were a couple of fantasy photography props that needed making for Bella Morte, my recent Fine Art Fantasy Photo Shoot. If you want a behind the scenes look you can check that out here. The final images are still being edited but will follow soon.

Bella Morte marks the first in a series of self-portraits I’m working on, using fantasy elements to depict aspects of Bipolar Disorder.

fantasy photography props - oil lantern for Bella MorteThe oil lantern is actually the simplest fantasy photography prop I’ve made so far, there was very little to it other than painting an existing lantern. I bought a cheap Hurricane Paraffin Lantern on Amazon. I wanted a larger one, but in the end got a 12″ which was still a good size. After a bit of research I determined that the majority of cheap lanterns for sale arrived in a nasty looking cheap silver, even when the product photos indicated nicer colours. Given the prices this isn’t surprising. There are lanterns out there that are genuine antiques, or styled to look like antiques, but these vastly exceeded the shoe string budget I had for this shoot.

fantasy photography props - oil lantern for Bella MorteArmed with my new nasty silver lantern and two cans of spray paint I set about making this a real fantasy photography prop rather than something that looked remarkably like I bought it in Ikea. I had already painted the horns for this shoot in black with gold accents. Rather than weathering the lantern to make it look old, which was my original plan, I decided to match it to the horns. I gave it a strong base coat of black before dusting it (if you can call aerosolised paint dust) with gold. I didn’t want a lot of gold on it, just a light coating on a few choice areas and a very slight sheen elsewhere.

The finished lantern wasn’t quite what I had in mind originally, but considering I had a budget of £10 for the whole shoot, I’d say it turned out pretty darn perfect!

I’ll be posting a look at how I made the horns later in the week, and the final images should be up soon too. For daily memes and updates on all my projects as the happen, follow me on Insagram @bipolarbearwrites!

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Bipolar Disorder Self Portrature: Behind The Scenes On Bella Morte

Bipolar Disorder Self Portrature: Behind The Scenes On Bella Morte

One of the first things I wanted to do when I was finally able to buy myself a new camera was make a start on a project I’ve had in mind for quite some time. As most of you know I do a lot of work on Bipolar Disorder and working towards raising awareness of mental health issues. Mental illness is extremely difficult to understand, not only for those who have it, but for their friends, family, and the other people in their lives.

Ignorance and stigma are constant enemies when you have a mental health illness.

I do a lot of writing around mental health and themes and messages concerning mental health awareness often find their way into my fiction. I’m an avid journaller, and write for my own peace of mind daily.

But not everyone likes to read. Not everyone enjoys fiction, and even if they do not everyone enjoys my fiction.

So how could I explain to people the nature of Bipolar Disorder without using words?

The answer, of course, was to use images.

For a long while I’ve been planning a series of self-portraits that use a similar blending of fantasy and reality as my fiction to depict Bipolar and mental illness in a visual form.

Last week I was finally able to make a start of that series, beginning with two image sets shot in Wales, on my favourite beach on the island of Anglesey. I’m still editing the images produced, but for now I wanted to share with you a behind the scenes look at the shoot, including the props and clothes worn, and a short video I filmed on the day.

A full post detailing the image will follow when I release the image itself, for now though, enjoy!

BIPOLAR DISORDER SELF PORTRAITURE Long Black Velvet And Net Vampire Dress The Gothic Shop I was fortunate enough to have the support of The Gothic Shop for this project, who very kindly provided the STUNNING dress used for both sets of images.

For these shots I needed a dress that was pure Gothic decadence, something that really reflected an elaborate and deep descent into the dark.

BIPOLAR DISORDER SELF PORTRAITURE Long Black Velvet And Net Vampire Dress The Gothic ShopThis was complicated somewhat by my current size. I’m a UK size 26 at the moment, and finding the kind of dress I needed in a size that would fit properly wasn’t easy. Fortunately, The Gothic Shop have a much wider range of genuinely plus sized (i.e. not clothes in a size 14-16 that are called ‘Plus) than the majority of places, and we were able to settle on one of several possibilities.

BIPOLAR DISORDER SELF PORTRAITURE Bella Morte, Curiology Necklace The Gothic ShopIn addition to the dress, The Gothic Shop were also kind enough to provide the titular necklace I wore for the shoot ‘Bella Morte’ is Italian and literally means ‘beautiful death’. The original title for the first of these shoots was ‘A Beautiful Death’, so the necklace was utterly perfect for the shot.

In addition to the clothing there were two props I needed, both for the first shots. I made these myself (details on how I did this to come in later posts), and they consisted of a pair of demonic horns, and a lantern.BIPOLAR DISORDER SELF PORTRAITURE DIY HornsBIPOLAR DISORDER SELF PORTRAITURE DIY LanternI’ll be back later in the week with details on how these were made, as well as the final images themselves. For now though, head on over to Instagram and follow my new account for daily memes, updates, and progress shots on all my projects!

BIPOLAR DISORDER SELF PORTRAITURE Follow Me On Instagram The Bipolar Bear Writes

Why Everything Hurts More As A Highly Sensitive Person – Guest Post By Christine Judd

Why Everything Hurts More As A Highly Sensitive Person

I’m joined on the blog today by fellow Huffington Post blogger and HSP Christine Judd. I recently had a very rough week due to people forgetting to invite me to things, or failing to notice they hadn’t spoken to me properly in while, because I’d stopped bearing the responsibility of always calling them, and left it to them to call me.

It took A YEAR!

During my upset Christine was kind enough to explain to me about Highly Sensitive People, why HSP feel things more deeply than others, and why I was getting upset about something that others hadn’t even noticed.

I believe a lot of Bipolar Bears are Highly Sensitive. Bipolar itself causes us to feel things more deeply, more intensely than others, but we also tend to be very sensitive. We’re easily hurt.

Here’s why!

Why Everything Hurts More As A Highly Sensitive Person

Do you know the feeling of always being the one getting in touch with your friends? Being absolutely devastated when they forget to invite you to a party? You automatically conclude that they must not love you very much if they can’t even remember to invite you. Of course you would never tell them how you feel, because why would they care?

Good news? The people around you still love and care about you. They’re just not Highly Sensitive. As a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) you feel everything more intensely, you think (and worry) about things a lot more and more often than not, you put other peoples’ needs and feelings ahead of your own. Being a Highly Sensitive Person is not a condition but an innate trait that can be found in about 15-20% of population. It simply means that you’re more aware of subtleties in your surroundings and are more easily overwhelmed and overstimulated. Once you learn more about your trait and understand it better, you’ll be able to interact with your surroundings in a completely different way.

Take the situation I described above and look at it again, knowing you’re a Highly Sensitive Person. You know that you tend to overthink things and feel everything a lot more intensely. You care so deeply for people that you put their needs ahead of your own. In return you expect the same from them.

That’s exactly where the problem lies: your high expectations of others (and yourself) and the fact that they have a different way of thinking. As a Highly Sensitive Person you need to realise that not everyone thinks and feels the way we do.

Other people don’t generally overthink or overanalyse things and don’t put others first. They might not even realise that not texting to see how we are, or forgetting to invite you out, is a big deal and has massive emotional effects on you. They probably just had a lot going on and forgot. They don’t think much of it and most certainly don’t obsess and analyse it. They don’t love you less, they’re just thoughtless and don’t mean anything by it.

Next time you’re in a similar situation, try to adjust your expectations and remember that they’re simply not wired the same way you are. That doesn’t mean you can’t let them know that this is something that bothers and hurts you. Explain your way of thinking and maybe you can find a compromise. Just know that you’re not alone and knowing the way you feel and think will help you navigate in difficult social situations.

Christine Judd Highly Sensitive People HSP Highly Sensitive PersonChristine Judd

I take a holistic approach to business, helping you clarify your core message and uncover your ideal clients. By bringing marketing and technology together, I help fledgling business owners get focused on what they want to do, and help them put systems in place to make running their business (and life) simpler. I’m passionate about helping people just like you reach their potential. I can show you what’s possible, and translate all that scary tech mumbo jumbo into something you can understand with ease.

Find Her At:

‘Bipolar Wonderland’ – One Of My Bipolar Bears Shares A Beautiful Poem

Bipolar Wonderland - A Poem By A Bipolar Bear

I’m delighted to share ‘Bipolar Wonderland’, another poem with you this week, submitted by Pammie Grant, one of my Bipolar Bears. This one has an Alice in Wonderland theme, one of my favourite stories, and I absolutely LOVE IT because I have often thought Alice’s trips through wonderland perfectly exemplify a lot about the bipolar life. I have strongly related to the story since I was a child, long before I knew I was bipolar, or had even heard the word.

It’s great to read your poems, keep them coming!! For now have a read of Pammie’s Bipolar Wonderland:

Bipolar Wonderland

Alice in your wonderland

Come on and help me understand

What’s in those capsules in your hand

To shrink your thoughts or make you grand

Hey Alice in your looking glass

Please say why you talk so fast

And obsess for hours on your past

Be the first to rise and go to bed last

Hey Alice shall we toast your drink

And see what colours and smells we think

Or if the day passes us in a blink

Perhaps it’s time our ideas shrink

Hey Alice have you seen that Hare?

I say we chase him over there

It seems that he is unprepared

That his lateness has him scared

Hey Alice there’s a man that chatters

Beneath a sign that says Mad Hatter

I really don’t think that it matters

But his clothes are all in taters

Oh Alice look I see a cat

He’s big and purple pink and fat

Upon the moon it seems he’s sat

A massive grin and then no cat!

Oh Alice see the queen all angry red

As she decrees ‘Off with their head’

Out of the wrong side of her bed

As we her roses shall behead

Alice run! It’s Tweedledee And Tweedledumb they follow see?

A freakshow day a this seems to be

An alternate and weird reality

Hey Alice lets just think it over

Feel lucky on this giant clover

Watch the tide as it sweeps us over

In our wonderland Bipolar

Carb Cravings and Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder

Carb Cravings and Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had a week or two of rapid cycling recently. As often happens while I’m rapid cycling, after a week or so was hit by a killer migraine and an insane craving for carbs.

When I am rapid cycling (bouncing back and forth between low and high moods very quickly, often several times a day) I get extreme cravings for carbs. I go through huge bags of crisps and devour bread, potatoes, and chips like there’s no tomorrow. This tends to be at its worst after about a week of rapid cycling, and always coincides with a severe migraine. The result is that I eat a lot of carbs, my headache vanishes, and my mood seems to stabalise – for a day or so, if not indefinitely. The obvious downside to this ‘treatment’ of both my headaches and my moods is the fact that I’m eating massive portions, far larger than is healthy. This is a major contributor to my (extreme) weight gain.

I wanted to know why I (and many like me) crave carbs specifically. I know the medication I’m on is renowned for making cravings worse, but it doesn’t CAUSE the cravings, only exaggerates them. I’m also wondering why it is that I get them at this specific time.

My swings are caused by a change in brain chemistry. When rapid cycling brain chemistry switches back and forth very quickly. This is what causes the headaches – the brain isn’t used to such radical changes happening in such quick, repeated succession.

I find it curious that the body’s response to this is to crave carbs and, more so, that eating large quantities at this time genuinely helps – both with the headaches and the mood swings. I’ve been trying to fathom the reasons behind it for a while. This time, rather than Googling some more and struggling to make sense of it on my own, I called on three nutritional experts to see what they had to say on the subject.

Meet the Experts

Carb Cravings and Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder

Rachel Collins is a health and lifestyle coach, and was the first to come back to me with an answer on this one. While she was careful to note that it’s a topic that demands a longer conversation (which we did have, thank you, Rachel!), she was kind enough to give me a simplified overview of what might be going on here for me to share with my Bears.

Carb Cravings and Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder

Carbs break down as sugar in the body. Sugar is addictive. When you feed your body what it is addicted to it feels better temporarily, before demanding more.

It also sounds like cycling is exhausting – bouncing from one mood to another, from up to down, your body needs lots of energy to handle that. Carbs are going to be the fastest source of energy.

There could be so many different reasons for these patterns – it could be linked with your childhood diet and what you crave as a comfort food. It could be almost like a placebo effect, what you believe you need you crave. It could be linked with salt balance. It definitely sounds like hormones are playing up too…I can’t think of any nutritional reason why your body would actually need this type of food.

Nutrition expert Kate Knowler, The London Nutritionist had a few things to add regarding serotonin production. Serotonin is the main chemical in the brain linked to depression – too little causes depression. When I asked Kate about my carb cravings she had an interesting response:
Carb Cravings and Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder
Carbs are turned into serotonin in the brain, but it’s an addictive cycle and not as good as exercise for serotonin production… It [the Paleo diet] cuts out sugar and processed carbs, leaving you with unlimited veg, plus some meat and fish… A sure-fire way to balance blood sugars if you like a challenge… It’s less of a “diet”, more of a lifestyle…there are quite a few blogs of people who follow Paleo diet/lifestyle and have managed to stop medicating as it’s been so successful. Obviously any stopping of meds has to be done with GP support, but I’d say it’s worth a try for a month. Meal prep when you feel well enough will help. Otherwise, carry on eating carbs but make sure you eat protein (meat, fish, nuts, seeds, or egg) at every meal and snack. So if you grab a bag of crisps, have a small bit of chicken at the same time etc. That will go a long way towards balancing blood sugars
Great tip from Kate there regarding eating protein with every meal and snack, and one that Rachel later reiterated.
I’m delighted to welcome Rebecca Boulton back to the blog as part of this discussion. You can check out her guest post on nutrition and bipolar disorder here, and read on for her thoughts on bipolar and carbs!
Carb Cravings and Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder

There are a few reasons why sugar and carb cravings are worse with bipolar disorder.

1) Blood sugar balance is important to reduce food cravings and often people can forget to eat or grab the wrong things when they are busy or not in a good head space.

2) Serotonin levels are usually low in people with this disorder which leads to more severe cravings.

3) You’re more sensitive to dopamine, which is our pleasure neurotransmitter and therefore need more sugar and carbs to satisfy those cravings (this is a similar reaction to those that have addictions and why people say you can get addicted to sugar).

Stress also plays a part as when cortisol levels are high, you crave sweet foods and carbs, so when you say they are worse when you’re rapid cycling, that’s probably why. Obviously these are all just generalisations and its something that differs from person to person but I hope that provides some insight.

I would also look at your gut health as serotonin is produced there and when you have poor gut health, less is produced. When you have low gut flora or an issue with candida it can mean you crave certain foods.

This whole conversation certainly gave me a lot to think about and look into. Hopefully it will provide you all with some insights into your own carb cravings and eating habits. Be sure to comment below and share your own experiences, and any advice or information you may have on the subject. And if you have more questions about nutrition and health, check out these lovely ladies, all of whom are more than happy to help!

Huge thanks to Rachel, Kate, and Rebecca for taking the time to comment on this one!

Bipolar Love: A Poem From A Man Who Loves A Bipolar Bear

Bipolar Love

Yesterday I posted on Bipolar Disorder and Relationships. Today I want to share with you a very special poem I received on The Bipolar Bear’s Facebook page.

I often get messages on the page, usually from bears in need of advice or support, or just wanting to say Hi and thank me for sharing my ramblings.

This message was a little different. It was from a man in a relationship with a bipolar bear, and he’d written a poem about his partner and what it was like to love someone with this difficult condition.

I will not talk about the poem and what it means, I will allow it to speak for itself, but I felt that this week was an excellent time to post it.

Bipolar Love

Feeling guilty for wanting the love and affection,

Feeling like there is no hope for that loving touch.

It makes you question everything you do and everything you think

And that’s when you start to sink.

The feeling of never being good enough,

Of not being what that person wants.

Never having the steadiness the stability.

Then comes the realisation you cannot change it,

And would not change it for anything.

As destructive as the love is its also rewarding in it strange twisted way.

For she is like my heroin she is my drug of choice,

My want my need my desires held in one person.

Would I walk away?

Could I walk away?

From the one that has captivated my heart, my body, my soul.

I cannot and will not,

As even thoough there are a lot more bad days than good,

I hold out for that one good day.

The day she can show me her feelings,

The day she’s able to hold my hand.

She holds my heart but can not love it,

But for that one day she cannot help loving it.

These are the days I live for,

When all is okay, it erases the bad days,

And makes the bad days a distant memory.

Until the next bad day then the cloud is back,

And I’m sat here begging for that sun to shine again,

As we move in circles, cycle after cycle,

Wave of emotion after wave we slowly move forward,

To finaly be happy with where we are at.

– Michael Holliman, Bipolar Love – For Wendy

Lonely Hearts? Bipolar Disorder And Relationships

Lonely Hearts? Bipolar Disorder and Relationships

I’ve had a sad bear on Facebook this week and we got to talking about bipolar disorder and relationships. One of the regulars on the page is still reeling after the end of her relationship, not helped by the fact her ex is blaming everything on her bipolar.

When I first spoke to her about this a few weeks ago she was very much in the mindset that she was, in some way, un-loveable, because of her condition. She felt he was quite justified in both leaving her when the going got tough, and blaming the end of their relationship on her difficult behaviour.

I had to set her straight on this.

Lonely Hearts? Bipolar Disorder and Relationships

I used to think exactly the same way, and it took a long time for me to understand that, while bipolar may make a person difficult to live with at times, and quite definitely puts a strain on a relationship, it is not the only thing to consider.

I used to believe that bipolar disorder and relationships were like oil and water, vodka and good decision making: They just didn’t mix.

I’ve had three serious relationships in my life. Two of them ended, in part, because I was undiagnosed and my behaviour was unfathomable. They also ended, in part, because the people I was with were selfish/cheats/liars/immature/didn’t love me enough.

The first was honest enough to say he loved me but couldn’t deal with me anymore.

The second was TRUFFLE MAN. It had more to do with the different directions each of our lives were taking than anything else (including my condition).

My third relationship was very different. He didn’t find my condition difficult, so much as useful. I was diagnosed while we were together, and freely admit we only ended up together in the first place because I was in such a hole of depression and just needed…someone. Anyone. This was, perhaps, unfair to him. I certainly never loved him. I didn’t even like him. But because I needed him and because I’m obsessive and generally paranoid, jealous and possessive, we had a tumultuous relationship regardless of my true feelings for him. In many ways he had me convinced nobody else would have me, and thus the desire to stay with him was even stronger – I not only needed him, it was impossible to believe that leaving him would mean anything other than a life alone.

At the time, I couldn’t imagine anything worse than being alone with my own mind.

As a result I was very easy to manipulate. Whenever I grew suspicious he cited my condition. I was paranoid. I was crazy.

In my first two relationship this was true. With him, it wasn’t. He was a lying, cheating, manipulative bastard. But because of my history, because of my condition, and because of my fear of being alone, I believed what he told me.

It wasn’t him, it was me. Everything was me. Everything was my fault. And if he did something upsetting it was all part of the ‘learning curve’ that came with dealing with my condition. Nothing was ever his fault. It was either me or bipolar.

Relationships aren’t supposed to work like this, not even if you’re bipolar. As I said to a friend of mine the other day, the best relationships work when you place your partner’s well being above your own. When you are selfless. But both people in the relationship must do this, both people must be selfless, otherwise both end up caring for one person. One ends up alone, with nobody looking out for them, and the other ends up with an inflated sense of their own importance.

One gives, the other takes.

Relationships shouldn’t work like this – ANY relationship, regardless of the health (mental or physical) of those involved.

Lonely Hearts? Bipolar Disorder and Relationships

The thing with bipolar disorder and relationships is that bipolar bears are often incapable of taking care of ourselves, let alone anyone else. When we’re ill, we need our partners to look after us, but we’re unable to look after them.

We’re unable to look after them while they’re going through the stress and strain of not only worrying for, but being responsible for, the emotional and physical well being of a bipolar bear.

This isn’t easy on anyone. If you place this burden on the wrong person, a person who is all take and no give, they will break, and the relationship will break with them.

Not because you’re bipolar.

Not because you’re a terrible person.

Not because you’re doomed to be alone forever.

But because they aren’t strong enough, or capable enough, of dealing with the reality of your situation.

I’ve found that when you love someone enough, even if you’re an all-taker, rather than an all-giver, you can learn to deal with the situation. You can adapt. You can muddle through as best you can.

My first relationship was like this: he loved me. Whatever his faults, he truly loved me. And it got us through a lot, far more than most people would stick around for, especially considering he had no idea I was ill. He had no explanation for what was wrong or why I was acting the way I was.

At times, I quite simply seemed like a crazy, angry, unpredictable bitch.

People have questioned why I stayed with him for so long when he wasn’t perfect. The answer is simple: I loved him, and I was far from perfect myself. When I was well I took care of him very well. And he did his best to take care of me. Ultimately, he couldn’t handle it any more. But that wasn’t his fault. With no diagnosis I was getting progressively worse, not better, and there was no end in sight, not hope for things being good. Add to that the fact his mother had cancer and he was dealing with all of that, and you begin to see why, at age 20, he buckled under the pressure.

I don’t blame him for that.

Having a relationship when you have bipolar is complicated. But it’s important to remember that all relationships are complicated. Your relationship isn’t complicated JUST because you have bipolar. If you didn’t have bipolar you would still fight, you would still get jealous, you would still get angry, you would still argue. There would still be days when one of you was too ill to take care of the other, or when BOTH of you were too ill to take care of anyone. There would still be blame. There would still be guilt. There would still be financial concerns, family concerns, career concerns. There would still be the potential for infidelity.

Bipolar didn’t invent any of these things, it simple exemplifies them, and while there is no doubt that any bipolar bear is challenging at times, I have a news flash for you:


Lonely Hearts? Bipolar Disorder and Relationships

Being in a relationship when one, or even both parties, is bipolar, is not easy. But it’s not impossible. It takes commitment, love, understanding, compasion, and above all patience. It requires you to be selfless, as much as you can, whenever you can, but it also requires you to be serious about your self-care.

You can’t look after someone else if you don’t look after yourself, and nobody can be 100% responsible for someone else’s care. Being bipolar and in a relationship is not an excuse to hand over your wellbeing to your other half and simply expect them to shoulder the burden of looking after both of you. You must try the best you can, when you can, whenever you can, to do as much as you can to remain stable and healthy. And when you are stable and healthy, you must understand that your partner needs looking after, that they need a break, that caring for you is their privelage, but it is also tiring, and they need to recharge.

Look after them when you can, so they are fully charged to look after you when you need it.

Try to help them understand what you go through as much as possible, so they know what to do and say, and what not to do and say.

If they need a break occasionally, that’s okay, but they need to make it clear it’s a break, and not goodbye, and they need to do it in such a way that it won’t make you ill – a planned holiday, rather than an abrupt separataion, done while you are stable enough to cope, and ensuring you have other people around to check on you.

And if it ever comes to it, don’t let them tell you your bipolar disorder is the reason they’re walking out the door. They walk on their own feet, by their own choice. If they love you enough they will find a way to cope. And if they truly can’t cope, if being together is making you both ill, in the end you may have to love them (and yourself) enough to let them go.

I loved someone that much once, and he couldn’t cope.

I let him go.

It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I don’t regret it.

It was the right thing to do.

That doesn’t mean I don’t believe there’s someone out there for me. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe that somewhere, waiting to meet me, is someone who will not only love me enough to stay, but love me and understand me enough to simply accept it is part of who I am, and get on with life.

The Bounce: Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder

Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder Merry Go Round

Rapid Cycling Bipolar DisorderIt’s been a fucking awful week.

And it’s been a bloody brilliant week.

Yes the joys of the rapid cycling bipolar disorder merry-go-round are back to bite me in the arse this week.

Monday dawned like any other day, but by lunch I’d fallen into a pit of despair so deep I couldn’t climb out.

Mid afternoon found me soaring with the birds, unable to sit still, calm down, or stop giggling.

Two hours later I was in floods of uncontrollable tears, sitting in the car park at Waitrose stuffing my face with dohnuts.

Half an hour after that I had my head in the toilet puking my guts up.

By 10pm I was giddy again and roaring with laughter at the slightest thing on TV.

2am I was crying myself to sleep and praying the extra dose of anti-psychotics kicked in quickly and knocked me out.

They did. But not as much as I’d have liked.

They didn’t stop my dreams. I miss the days when they stopped my dreams. The peace was unequaled.

So Tuesday dawned on the heels of an uneasy nightmare and once again I cried…before going slightly mad and dancing in the rain while walking the dog in the park.

And so my week has continued.

I’ve endured anxiety, panic attacks, hyperventilation, headaches, and a variety of issues relating to my digestive system that I will not burden you with.

There have been bursts of super-productivity, and hours when I couldn’t concentrate for more than a minute or two. My memory short-term is utterly shot.

I’m no longer a girl.

I’m a bubble on the breeze.

I may float off into ether, never to return to earth, or land hard, bursting to pieces in the blink of an eye. I  might just stick somewhere.

Low, high, desolate or dizzy, wherever I land, that’s where I’m at, until a stronger breeze comes by and sends me spinning off again.

Round and round I go, when I’ll stop, nobody knows…

Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder Merry Go Round

It’s a while since I had to deal with it this bad, I’ve been stable for about 18 months, and while I still have dips and peaks, still have wobbly days, still struggle to do the everyday things that people so take for granted, I’ve been better. Not cured. But better than I remember being in almost two decades.

I knew it would be back, it was only a matter of time. I was prepared. Or at least as prepared as possible. I’ve been trying to write this post since Tuesday morning and really struggled. That, in itself, speaks volumes.

When I can’t write, somewhere a robot is screaming, “Danger, Danger, Will Robinson!”

The dream I had on Monday was bizarre. Not because it was about anything unusual, but becasue it was about someone I used to dream about regularly and haven’t dreamt of for a very long time.

My ex.

Not the one that burnt down the house. NOT TRUFFLE MAN. The other one. The first one.

Given the events of Monday I strongly suspected my subconscious was trying to tell me something. I’m not a Woo Woo kinda girl, I like rational, logical explanations for things, so you may think it odd that I put so much stock in dreams.

They’re just nonsense, right?

I’m not so sure. I think the subconscious is an extremely powerful force, far more powerful than the conscious mind. It knows things, it understands things in ways we’re unable to fully grasp.

It tries to tell us these things as best it can, but because the conscious and subconscious aren’t speaking the same language, the message gets jumbled and it seems like nonsense.

I really do believe that your head sorts things out while you sleep and tells you what the fuck’s going on. The problem most people have is that they don’t understand the language, and it comes out as gibberish!

I’ve recently been working with a friend of mine, Carly Brown, to better understand my dreams. She’s a gal of many hats, and one of those is as a dream interpretor. You can join her free group on Facebook if you want to see what it’s all about, but first let me tell you what she made of my dream.

It might surprise you.

To explain my dream briefly:

I was at college with a load of old friends I’ve not seen in years.

My ex (who in the dream was still my boyfriend) was away. He’d been gone a while and hadn’t called of texted and I was worried.

As with most of my exes, this guy cheated and I was extremely paranoid while we were together. My bipolar was in full swing, my bulimia was at its worst, and I had no idea I had either condition. I was rapid cycling and half out of my mind the whole time we were together.

Dreaming about him and my anxieties surrounding him isn’t unusual. What I found really weird about the dream was that none of my friends were comforting me, but I WAS being comforted – by HIS best friend.

A guy I absolutely detest.

Always hated this guy.

I was quite disturbed that in the dream he was being nice, hugging me, looking after me, and that when my boyfriend returned, and I should have felt relief that he was back, I instead suddenly felt uneasy again. I had been calm and comforted while his friend (who I hate) looked after me, and was immediately panicked and anxious when I was back in my boyfriend’s arms.

I woke up with these feelings lingering – the anxiety and panic associated with being with my boyfriend, all jumbled up with the insanely strong love I used to have for him, and confused by the comfort and relief I felt at being cared for by a guy I really, really, can’t stand.

I needed Carly!

Here’s what she had to say:

Hazel, I LOVE what your subconscious is unboxing in this dream! Dream symbols can have a lot of different meanings depending on the context, personal associations and waking life history.

Looking at the first major symbol, your ex-partner, here, he is a symbol for a recent event in your waking life stirring up similar behaviours and emotions within you. These emotions you have already identified as the paranoia and intense mood swings you felt this week.

Exes can also be a metaphor for the part of oneself which experiences those “light bulb” moments in terms of creative possibility, and I feel this is relevant for you right now.

Your next symbol is a minor one but still important- old friends from college. Here, the friends represent regressing back to freer times and acknowledging parts of yourself you had rejected, or perhaps felt you had lost in the depths of your struggles with your conditions both pre- and post-diagnoses. I feel like these aspects are probably feeling truly at ease and relaxed in your own and others’ company, perhaps how you felt with college friends. College is also symbolic of learning valuable lessons and, less obvious, developing professional relationships to better understand what you already know (oh, HI THERE! :D).

Next, the guy you never liked. Most people who feature in our dreams are usually symbolic of an aspect or trait within ourselves, and this character is no different. He is symbolic of “the enemy within yourself”, namely, your diagnoses. An enemy in a dream can indicate a part of the self which, during adversity, naturally shines a light on your strengths and wisdom gained within that struggle so that you are more easily able to accept the adversity itself.

If we combine this with the next symbol, hugging, your dream is telling you that you can safely let your guard down and be more open emotionally when facing your inner demons relating to your diagnoses and that it is a truly powerful part of you which you can get closer to accepting by literally embracing it. This is a really lovely display of how your subconscious is dealing with your inner self-care and is giving gentle messages on how you can meet in the middle for waking life too. It asserts: don’t reject the “enemy of relapse”, but embrace it as a catalyst for further improvement and also an excellent indicator of just how far you’ve come already.

It is OK to love ALL aspects of yourself, EVEN the ones you hated for the longest time. Your conditions are a part of YOU, NOT a part of him. You don’t have to fight them for that reason anymore. You can embrace them and be gentle with them for they have given you a wisdom and strength far beyond your years.

I’m still all over the place today, though I have levelled out enough to finally get this written. I have a feeling there’s a lot more to Carly’s interpretation than I’ve fully considered yet, and I’m going to have to come back to it later.

For now though, I just wanted to leave you with these thoughts while they are fresh.