It’s an illness.
Yes. It really is an illness. People can see if
you’ve got a broken leg. And they go oh you’ve broken your leg. But you can’t
see what’s in your mind and in my opinion it can be worse because wherever you go your
mind is with you and it’s a powerful thing. For a while I used to get maybe kind of two
or three episodes a year where I’d have maybe an episode of hypomania that lasted
a couple of weeks and then that was followed by a sort of episode of depression that would
last a couple of weeks as well. So it was always the hypomania followed by the depression.
Sometimes with me there can be a pattern, but it just seems to change quite a lot and
in some ways it’s difficult to manage because of that, because you’re not quite sure where
things are. I wouldn’t even know that I’m actually
becoming manic. It might be just thinking that I can push the envelope here and I can
spend a bit more money. I can go out another night. You know I can work until 3:00 or 4:00
in the morning and you know I’m sure a couple of hours of sleep will be fine because I can
make up for it next time. It’s always putting things in a bank. You know that kind of mental
bank thinking I can just push the envelope a bit more. It gets to a point where it has
built up to a critical mass where you just simply can’t cope anymore and then
you slam down into a depression. And when I get to depression then I really tear myself
apart thinking, why did I even do that? Why did I kid myself into…? And then all the
negativity comes about, oh you’re such a bad person. You shouldn’t be dominated by
this kind of thing. Why did you do that? Really, really… Self-blaming.
Self-blaming totally. People will assume that it’s highly manic,
highly depressive. Although there are episodes it’s not as easy to track as that.
The term bipolar can be a little bit misleading actually because I don’t think there are
just always two pools of being depressed and being manic. I think like…
Because it sounds like that doesn’t it? Yes you can kind of have states where… I
think a lot of people think that when you’re depressed you’re really sad and when you’re
manic you’re really happy. But you know you can be manic but not be really happy.
You can feel really agitated and really kind of frustrated. So I don’t think it’s quite
so simple as kind of two sides to a coin that maybe some people think it is.
Being bipolar doesn’t mean to say that I’m necessarily a depressive person or pessimist
or those kinds of things. And I refuse to let my condition even dictate what kind of
person I am. Stephen Fry was saying it is like the weather
in your head and when it’s raining it is raining. You have to believe that it will
get bright the next day. You have to accept that it is raining you know, it’s bad or
it’s good. But you just have to be hopeful rather than trying to fight it because it
can’t change. If you’ve got that network of people around
you who can support you particularly when you’re depressed it’s so important. If
people don’t hear from me they’ll phone me up and I’ll just be able to say I’m
in a really bad place at the moment and they completely understand.
When they’re trying to have a laugh with you and you’re just not in the mood and
you can’t snap out of it, it’s nice for them to understand and be patient. And I think
with people that understand they can adapt their conversation, their mood or interaction
with you. It puts less pressure on you and you can still have a laugh or try to, but
only when they truly understand and work with you. That really does help.
In sort of helping me kind of balance out my moods and sort of staying well there’s
been quite a few things that… Like now I’ve got a kind of package of a few things that
have kind of helped and one of those is definitely my medication. I’ve also had CBT in the
past year and that again like I think is a really kind of important tool. When I’m
depressed out I really try and not kind of catastrophize and I think that is something
that I really kind of learned in CBT. And it doesn’t make the sort of depression go
away, but I think it kind of helps writing a to do list before I go to bed of what
I’m going to do the next day. It might just be really simple stuff like kind of go to
the shops, get up, get dressed or make yourself a nice lunch. Like just because otherwise
especially at times when I’ve been off work I’ll just wake up and think what is the
point of getting out of bed. Whereas at least if I’ve got a list there of things to do
then… It’s keeping busy isn’t it?
Yes. Routine I think helps.
Yes. Some things like as you say waking up, because
you want to stay in bed if you’re feeling depressed. I think having plans, meeting friends
or maybe doing a bit of a job for someone, a routine really helps keep stability and
normality. Even if it’s just you know something as simple as showering every day, going to
the shops, going outside or making contact with another person even if you’re just
buying something from the shops. Simple things like that, normality and routine