Decisions

Let’s imagine the following scenario: you are a twenty something years old student, in your final year, 3 months away from graduation. The field of study is challenging, but you love it. It seems that you have it all going on, that your world is perfect. You are involved, you are the advocate, you stand up for yourself and others. You are a problem solver. On top of this, there’s almost one year since you got your diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. You managed. You relapsed, you were close to being hospitalised, you kept going.

And now, you are going through hell again. Medication stopped doing much and you lost your balance. You are pushing yourself every single day, you put the smiley face badge on your coat, and you carry your materials and books to campus. People tell you “you look tired”, and you tell them that you pulled an all nighter. It’s not too much of a lie, you did, only it wasn’t because you studied, but because you couldn’t stop the thoughts from spinning inside your head.

You are feeling like you are not capable of completing your academic work. You are sleep walking through your day and spend your nights awake, tormented by negative thoughts.

“You have it all, there’s so little left, why can’t you do it? loser, you are a loser, a coward. How can other people do it? You are going to disappoint everybody. Your dad doesn’t want to talk to you anyway…he knows how much of a disappointment you are. ”

And you have to decide, do you keep pushing even if you are feeling so faint, or do you take time to rest? Why is this so difficult, you ask? Well, after a life of doing what is best for others, it’s hard to see what it’s better for yourself. In fact, you see it, but you choose to do what’s best for others…why?

How do I manage?

I had a bad night last night. At least this time I know the triggers. To put you in theme, I am an architecture student, in my final year of study, I need a job, and I have bipolar disorder.

Yesterday I received my timetable for this academic year and as soon as I’ve seen that I am only going to have 2 days off my legs turned to jelly. How am I supposed to keep this strict routine I need in order to function? How am I supposed to combine work and study? How am I supposed to keep my balance on such a thin wire?

The good thing is that I have the mental health support team who can help me when it comes to deferrals and accommodations, even so, being given how unpredictable this illness can be, nobody can guarantee how I am going to feel tomorrow or in a couple of weeks. Am I going to have more depressive episodes? Am I at risk of going into full blown mania because of stress and pressure? Only time will tell.

Oh well, oh well, I am still hoping for the best!

 

Weekend

I have been very busy these weeks. I am back on track, or so I think. Out of my hypomanic episode, but I did not crash so hard this time. I guess the mood stabilizer is working.

I am really satisfied with the work I’ve done this week. I participated in a summer academy urban design project in a town nearby. It was challenging and my team has been the “outsider” team. I say this because we were all coming from abroad, not Germans, here as exchange students.

Very important, I managed to work in a constant rhythm while being in my depressed mood. I also managed to present in front of 200 people while my anxiety was eating at me and the constant thought in my mind was “please, don’t throw up here in front of everybody”. And I didn’t. No panic attacks. Everything went well.

I have met some really nice people. We’ve been noticed as a team and our project appreciated and the whole experience was a great networking opportunity.

I am grateful for this busy, challenging and interesting week. I am grateful for being a bit more in control of my mood. I’ll keep moving forward, and if I’ll stumble I know that I can pick myself up.

I am back (I hope)

I’ve been quiet for a while. I’ve spent my time trying to get back on track with my university work and riding the waves of high and low energy. I am writing this post right after my appointment with my pdoc. I am going to start a mood stabilizer. I was really reluctant to the idea of taking new medication on top my antidepressants because I thought I can control my moods really well…until I couldn’t.

Hypomania is so great, so seducing. Until it gets messy. Until everything is too much. Until you can’t really distinguish the anxiety from the other racing thoughts. It gets too much, way too much sometimes, putting a lot of pressure on one’s body. And even so, this is not my biggest problem.

Mixed episodes and depression are my big problems. Feeling like I am being pulled in different directions, like my body and mind are not synchronized. Becoming totally lost after a while, not functioning.

I am hoping for the best! or better…or at least a bit better.

It’s been a while

Since I last had the “patience” and mood to write something. I actually don’t have it right now. I am still in this mixed state, but I am trying hard to keep myself functioning. I am re-learning how to be kind to myself. It is really hard on days like these, when the main feeling is exhaustion and existential despair.

I am hopeful, though. I feel like I am able to cut through all the layers of lethargy and self-loathing. It’s not easy…but I do have a really sharp sword. I am meaner than my demons. 

Mental Illness Tag

So, I have been tagged by a fellow blogger to write a little bit about my experience. I have to tell you that I am not in a very great place right now, so if this is going to have a little bit of a negative vibe, or if you can feel a bit of my anger through this, I am sorry. But I am going to try hard to keep it mellow.

So, it’s Mental Health Awareness month and “such a great time to be alive” for me. I have recently been through a lot…but I’m a warrior. Going to bloom and grow through this like a mountain flower in a very harsh environment.

Let’s start:

1. What mental illness do you have? My current “diagnosis” is Bipolar NOS. My last diagnosis was Major depression and anxiety. Diagnosing mental illnesses is not a linear process. It takes a lot of time and patience, and a lot of follow ups (at least this is my experience). I wish we had biological markers to check how our brains are, like the diabetic people can check their blood sugar levels.

2. When were you diagnosed? One year ago with depression and anxiety. A couple of days ago with bipolar. I will keep tracking my moods, since my diagnosis is very “broad”.

3. Who knows about it? Not too many people.

4. Do you receive treatment for it? Yes. Medication, talking therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and seeing my psychiatrist regularly.

5. Has your mental illness stopped you from doing anything? My life has been a continuous roller coaster ride. I have been in many situation when I couldn’t accomplish certain tasks, some of my relationships have been affected, my productivity has to suffer overall. I would say that a mental illness is affecting you as a whole being. In all the fields of life.

6. Is there anything in particular that has helped you? My support group, my therapist, my doctor, and my passions.

7. Can you describe what it feels like to have your mental illness? Constantly falling from cloud 9 to the depths of hell and up again. No balance. Extremes. Feeling everything so intensely, both a blessing and a curse.

8. What is a common misconception about your mental illness? I heard so any…”you’re using your illness as an excuse”, “you have your ups and downs, like everybody else”, “can’t you just not think about it?”, “there’s nothing wrong with you, you are just a crazy artist”, “everybody thinks they have something these days, everybody is a bit depressed, anxious and a bit bipolar”. I could continue, but I think you get the idea.

9. What do you find the most difficult to deal with? I am really tired of explaining why I couldn’t attend a certain event, why I need extensions to be able to complete my projects sometimes, why I’m “so sensitive” and “over reacting”. At the moment I am trying to find balance somehow and I think this is the biggest challenge.

10. Do you have anything else you’d like to say? You are all beautiful, imperfect human beings. You are more than a label. You can achieve your dreams. You are unique and you should embrace it. Don’t ask “why me?”, say “try me!”. I believe in you, and I believe in myself. I believe that we are precious beings, worthy of love and happiness. You are not alone!

 

It’s been a long day

And this day is coming after a lot of other long days…Since my mood went haywire in the last couple of weeks, the appointment I had today felt like relief. I know where I am standing. I know that there is not only my “creative mind trying to find connections.” I know where I am. I am on the right path. 🙂

Human being NOS

Okay readers, let me entertain you with my latest adventures. Yesterday I was so completely lethargic and drained. I thought I am going to keep the sleeping routine I have acquired in the last 5 days, which consisted of up to 14 h of sleep per nigh. I didn’t. I was awake almost all night and woke up at stupid o’clock. Back on the roller coaster?

Normality

“Normality is a paved road: It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it.” – Vincent van Gogh

Who defined normality? What is normality for you? I am looking for a baseline for my mood, I am looking for a baseline for my feelings. When am I normal?

A lot of questions, I know. I am at a stage in my life when I am considered an adult. When discussing about my feelings, moods, depression, and anxiety, some people tell me “it’s part of becoming an adult, part of growing up.” So, considering their opinions, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with me since everybody experiences things like these in life. Considering their argument, I am completely normal.

And then…when I do not fit in the “society box”, I am not normal anymore. I am a misfit, a special snowflake, a weirdo, I am ill and slow.

What if you, “normal” people are actually the anomalies?

 

 

My holiday is over

This means I can’t hide in my cozy nest anymore and have to go out and be an adult. It’s not like I would dislike it. I love learning. I like the study program overall, but I dislike the atmosphere in class. I am really an outsider and I am not sure that’s my fault. My classmates are not the most sociable people in the world and I am the new, international girl who doesn’t speak good German.

I am okay with it, I’m starting to like being in my own little world and working on my projects in peace. It’s a good way to spend some time with myself, make friends with myself, address myself in a kind, and loving way. It’s the space I need. Maybe this is the silver lining. Maybe it’s my chance to learn how to love my own presence and quirky thoughts.