Hypomania

Writing Prompts to Prime the Pump

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted much of anything. Life and depression have shut down the part of my brain that has writing ideas and the will to write anyway.

I suspect, or believe, that the meds “stabilizing” the bipolar disorder have something to do with dampening the writing spark. The last time I did any “real” writing was when I was in a manic episode, back in March/April. I was in limerence and completely obsessed over an absolutely inappropriate guy…to be honest, he’s still in my brain, just nowhere near as much.

For those of you wondering, limerence looks an awful lot like a crush or infatuation and feels like the initial throes of excitement one feels when first falling in love. It isn’t either of those things. It’s obsession, pure and simple. It’s also not always about love and romance. Fortunately, I was able to recognize it and acknowledge it for what it was, even though I had little to no power to stop it. I even wrote the following:

This Isn’t Love
Longing for your glance, your touch.
I can’t stop thinking about you.
My mind is not my own
Excruciating anticipation.
Resistance is useless.
Excited and breathless
Can you feel it, too?
Eventually, this, too, shall pass.

Limerence
lim·er·ence
ˈlimərəns/
noun PSYCHOLOGY
1. the state of being infatuated or obsessed with another person, typically experienced involuntarily and characterized by a strong desire for reciprocation of one’s feelings but not primarily for a sexual relationship.

It didn’t end well.

My writing was prolific during those few weeks. Since then, the urge/desire/need to write has disappeared. For the most part.

Last month, I planned to get back to blogging. So, I signed up for The Ultimate Blog Challenge…then didn’t write a word for the blog. Actually, that’s not true. I started to write a post about ableism and the use of the word “crazy.” It’s in the Drafts folder.

Finally, on Sunday, I decided I needed to start small and use a social writing app, lettrs, and the prompts the admins and members offer, to get writing again. Here are the results of the past four days of prompts I’ve responded to:

Skylark Challenge 149:
Image + four words: pernicious, illuminating, children, malevolent.

The pernicious presence of the alien craft, illuminated the children, who stood frozen and fearful in the malevolent atmosphere.

Skylark Challenge 150:
Image + four words: flowing, timeless, fierce, enigma.

Writing Prompt: Thankful

To those who have supported me with love and kindness
How can only mere words express
Appreciation for your devotion and acceptance of my mess
Never treating me or my experiences as less
Knowing my heart and not judging what I confess
Friends and family do nothing but bless
Understanding my pressures and stress
Love deep and lasting given without duress

And finally, today’s prompt:

Photo Challenge
Nostalgia for What Never Was

Sitting beside you as you leaned next to me, we gazed over the bridge’s wall to watch the traffic flow below.

We searched for the odd or unusual: out of state license plates, bumper stickers, classic cars, variant paint jobs, and anything that made the vehicle unique.

You would ask me questions: Who is in this car or that one? Are they coming or going? Why are they driving from there to here or here to there? Who are the people inside? Families? Businessmen? Women on errands or on their way to work to support their families?

We would spin tales and weave stories with one another…each one more elaborate and descriptive than the last.

You midwifed my lifelong curiosity about the nature and character of my fellow humans. You taught me how to expand my imagination and to use even the most mundane of things as a source of inspiration. You instilled in me a profound love of words and language. You gave me the foundation for my writing today.

Thank you, daddy. Thank you for being you and helping me to be me.

Signed,
The Lifelong Orphan

What helps you write when you’re experiencing writer’s block?

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Still: Six Word Friday

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In the still of the night
Missing the sweet peace of sleep
Insomnia is a rare, beautiful gift

(c) 2013, KDdL
Photo credit: KDdL; created with iPhone 4S, Heyku, Pic Collage, Instagram

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Visit Adrienne at My Memory Art for more Six Word Friday fun.

Hypomania: A self-portrait in words #3

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Hypomania.

Insomnia Induced
Mush Brain
&
Too many thoughts ideas
crashingintoeachother

(c) 2013, KDdL
Original artwork created with iPhone 4S, Heyku, Pic Collage, Instagram

Hypomania Interrupted

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Yesterday felt like the beginnings of a hypomanic episode. These were some of the signs present:

• Decreased need for sleep (e.g., feels rested after only 3 hours of sleep)

• More talkative than usual or pressure to keep talking

• Flight of ideas or subjective experience that thoughts are racing

• Distractibility (e.g., attention too easily drawn to unimportant or irrelevant external stimuli)

• Increase in psychomotor agitation

This is how these symptoms manifest for me:

• Insomnia kicks in and I wake up after one or two hours of sleep,

• Even if my body is still tired, my mind just jumps from one thought stream to another,

• I feel an insistent and urgent need to communicate – since no one is usually present for me to talk to, I feel a compulsion to write.

• If I can write, I wind up with five or more tabs open while I “rabbit trail” with the different streams of thought and trying to link to this idea/concept or find a new quote, then try to create an image to illustrate what is going on in my head and emotions, all while Facebooking.

• If I can’t write, my agitation and irritability increase and I will find myself wandering in and out of the various rooms in my apartment, picking things up and putting them down.

So, when I woke up around 1:30 in the morning yesterday and couldn’t get back to sleep, after an hour and a half, I risked waking my daughter up and got on the computer to write. I spent an hour writing then an hour editing and rabbit trailing while I got ready to hit the publish button on the post. By then it was around 4:15-4:30 and I still couldn’t sleep. So, another hour or so was spent on Facebook, until my body crashed again around 6 am. I slept for 2-2.5 hours then had to get up and get Luna ready to go to her respite care program. Once she got on the bus, I went to the pool and swam laps for an hour and a half. The perfect place to get out the psychomotor agitation and let the thoughts just flow.

Some other things were happening for me as well:

PMDD/PMS

• Sadness or hopelessness

• Anxiety or tension

• Extreme moodiness

• Marked irritability or anger

When I got home, I discovered I was locked out. The anxiety and panic tried to take over and I began feeling really frustrated with myself for not taking my key and with those who locked the door without realizing my keys were still hanging in the entryway.

I remembered that the kitchen window had recently been opened and figured it hadn’t gotten locked again. So, I removed the screen and was able to slide it open. The next task was to figure out how to haul my 266 lb body through it and avoid all the boxes and bags of stuff stacked in front of it without causing injury or creating a mess.

I did it! It was a huge accomplishment to get through all of that in the way I did. However, it was also a LOT of energy and effort, not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally, because all I wanted to do was throw a tantrum, go into panic, and be pissed off.

I soon got my wish. I went in the kitchen to cook myself some eggs only to discover that despite all the cleaning that others had done in there the previous night, the sink was full and the counters were covered, as was the stovetop, with an accumulation of unwashed dishes.

Then I discovered 2/3 of the myzithra cheese, which I had been saving for a special pasta dish I’ve been craving, was gone!

I. Was. LIVID!

Within 30 seconds, it seemed, the one responsible for me having been locked out, the likely culprit of the cheese theft and major contributor to the kitchen mess, returned my phone call.

Uh huh. What followed was less than pretty.

She laughed at my description of what I went through to get into the apartment then turned the cheese thing around on me, raising her voice in the process, deflected and told me I was yelling, talked over me, then hung up.

Over the past year and a half or so, I have worked hard to create a different response when this sort of thing happens. I usually just let the matter rest until everyone is calm again. Often, that means the apologies are said later and the issue just blows over.

This time, however, my mental and emotional state was so overwhelming and I was so agitated and righteously pissed, that I just kept hitting redial while she kept sending me to voicemail, until she answered the phone, talked at me and hung up again.

By that point I was in a fury and so frustrated, hurt, and angry that I started pacing around muttering and crying. I even slapped the wall at one point, which hurt, stinging my hand so bad it made me cry harder.

The feelings of not counting or being treated with the effort, courtesy, consideration, and acceptance were swirling and roiling like a tempest through my heart, mind, and body. The depression started trying to rise and all the fears and worries about our financial circumstances started. My throat constricted and all the energy just drained out of my body.

That’s when I remembered that there were a couple of friends I could call, whom I’ve been reconnecting with. I got voicemail with the first one, but the second one answered. We talked for probably an hour.

The conversation started with me stating that I hated the life I’ve created for myself. We talked through what had happened and the history and established patterns of my family relationships. She empathized with me, validated my feelings, and sought to understand what was really going on. I shared about the things I’m learning in my Circle of Security parenting group and the realizations I’ve been having about some key things about how I grew up and how those things had carried through into my parenting, especially with my adult children.

The best thing about the call though, was that I was able to not make it all about me and my stuff. We talked about her experiences in these matters and I asked about a health issue she’s been having. That may not seem like a big deal to many, but it is a huge indicator of how much I’ve grown and healed.

After that call, I was able to cope better and follow through on scheduled activities, which, even as recently as a week or two ago, I may have wound up canceling because of how crappy my day had been.

That evening I was able to talk through the issues that had happened earlier in the day with the one(s) who had contributed to my earlier distress. Eventually, Luna and I made it to bed.

Miracle of miracles, I slept . . . Through the night with minimal waking moments which I was able to return to sleep from.

I think that a few things were key in the disruption of what otherwise would have turned int a full-blown, four plus period of hypomania:

1) I’ve been exercising. Everyday during the month of May, I have walked a minimum of a mile or exercised at least 20 minutes. Whether I felt like it or not, regardless of what else was happening or who else was in distress, even when it was the very last thing I wanted to do, I exercised Every. Single. Day. Since Tuesday, May 21st, I swam three miles and today I walked over 4.5 miles.

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So, physically, my body needed the downtime of sleep to rest and repair, regardless of what the neurochemistry and hormones were doing to my brain and emotions. The exercise also satisfied the psychomotor agitation and allowed space for the thoughts to just flow through and not get stuck.

2) Community support. In addition to knowing I had three different people I could call and safely talk things through with, there are some online communities I’m consistently engaging with where, not only can I get encouragement and support, I am actively participating in the support and encouragement of others.

3) Practicing presence. As painful, frustrating and difficult as it was to go through yesterday’s experiences, I stayed in the moment and didn’t short circuit the process by numbing out on television and/or food.

I’m not out of the woods and there is still a long and winding path ahead. However, I finally can see and am realizing that I am growing and changing. I am now able to recognize that I am a new me and while things like PMDD, Cyclothymia, and Fibromyalgia may always be factors in my life, they no longer have to fully define and dictate the person I am.

Hypomania is breaking my brain…

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I started writing this sometime late last night, I forget exactly what time. Then, midway through I finally was able to go to sleep – fitfully, intermittently, for several hours. The hypomania is over, but it triggered the fibromyalgia and I hurt everywhere and have a lot of fatigue in every area of my body’s core. My brain is foggy and disorented. I want to try to get more sleep, but it’s 8:30 a.m. and I want to try to capture these thoughts before they disappear in the midst of the hustle and bustle after everyone else wakes up…they just woke up, crap. Well, let me try anyway.

___________________________________________________________

I know I need to finish the story I began about managing hypomania, but to be perfectly honest, I think it’s managing me at the moment and today, erm yesterday by now I guess, was a a hellofaday.

I can’t quite remember what time I first woke up on Tuesday morning, but I’m pretty sure it was some time between 3:30 and 4:30 am, after not getting to sleep until well after midnight. I guess that should have been my first hint, huh?

I got so much accomplished with my writing and organizing the online and digital aspects of what I’m trying to do with my life that morning. I picked up a number of balls I had kept dropping and started getting the guest blogging project a little better connected. It’s still kind of in the organization stage, except, it really isn’t. Although, I have taken steps forward to make it happen.

Anyway, since then I was pretty much awake throughout the entirety of Wednesday, until I catnapped off and on some time between 1:30 a.m. and 4 a.m. then it was time to get ready to go walk almost a mile to pick up the Zipcar to get Keith back on the truck so he could get back on the road and hopefully start getting consistent miles and loads that will start supporting our family and let us catch up on the bills again…but that’s all supposed to be in the other post I started writing yesterday and couldn’t stay focused on. I will get to it, I promise. Unless I don’t.

So, anyway, I think I slept between 3:30 – 5:30 this morning…again with the dozing off/on. I crashed listening to my iPod with actual headphones, on this uncomfortable excuse of a couch the cat destroyed at the beginning of February. It wasn’t much of a sleep because I remember being semi-aware off/on during the time trying to tell myself to take the headphones off because the music was not helping me sleep and the headphones were uncomfortable to sleep in. Yet I was in such a state that I couldn’t actually take action on those thoughts.

I use actual over-the-head ones instead of ear buds because earbuds hurt, are uncomfortable and make me feel a bit crazier than I already feel. But I digress…again.

Thankfully? LaLa and her SpiritLove were here Thursday night because I knew there was no way I was going to get to sleep and Luna, having had to say goodbye to her daddy would be clingy and needing to have that physical contact with me to get to sleep or stay asleep. I knew there was no way I would be able to stay in bed with her and that me leaving the bed would eventually cause her to wake up. Since she had been woken up at 5 am so we could take him to his truck and she’d had a VERY busy day and needed rest. So, I had them lay down with her in the bedroom. I figured those who can actually fall asleep should be in one room actually sleeping on a bed, while I was awake in the other room, otherwise I was going to be lying awake, fidgeting and fussing inside of my mind all night and resenting not being able to do anything because all the rooms I could be in had to be kept dark and quiet so they could get the sleep I couldn’t

Sleep envy isn’t pretty. Just sayin’.

I did wind up napping off/on for a couple of hourse between 3:30 – 5:30 but don’t know how much actual sleep I got then either.

I guess the basic point is that from Tuesday morning around 4:30 am until about 1:30 am this Saturday morning, I had barely any sleep at all.

Yesterday was spent with me trying to stave off the bitchy irritability and stress reactions that come with sleep deprivation. On top of it, I discovered that some REALLY IMPORTANT PAPERS, I thought I knew where I had put them for safekeeping needed to be taken to the management office of our apartment, and I couldn’t find them. There was some relational tension happening between LaLa and her SpiritLove and the combination of their tense energy mixed in with my frustration over not being able to find the papers and I wound up tamping down on the rising feelings of panic and anxiety in order to not overescalate any of it.

The combination of all of that with the sleep deprivation and the hypomania I was still experiencing meant that as the day got further and further along, my ability to stay focused on what I was trying to write about diminished. So by the time the five o’clock hour came that evening I was hyper irritable and feeling rather explosive.

Luna was tired and crabby, and as kids tend to be, the emotional barometer of all the frenetic and negative energy that had been building up. So, she was basically acting out, not listening, climbing over everyone and everything, whining, demanding, and just generally acting like an exhausted and stressed out little kid.

I wound up snapping at her and yelling. When I yell, I don’t use harsh words or statements, but my voice booms and pierces. I try really hard not to go there, but I did. LaLa told me to stop yelling and I got really angry. I got up and walked out of the room. I can’t make the quick exits I wish I could, so the agitation further increased. After a couple of minutes I came back in and got Luna and carried her into the bedroom and told her I was sorry for yelling at her and explained that mommy wasn’t feeling good right now. I told her I loved her and asked her for a hug. Then let her go back to the living room.

Then, I went and took a shower.

When I got out of the shower, I grabbed my phone and went an laid down on the bed and just let go of the fight to hold up the wall against the overwhelm of everything and allowed it to take me under a wave of exhaustion.

Luna came in and tried to tell me something – I think they were finally leaving to go to the park – but I was non-responsive. I couldn’t. I didn’t have it in me. They left and I slept.

They came back and I woke up. I thought I’d slept for a couple of hours, then realized it was only an hour.

I was wide awake again and it was before 8:30 pm. I prepared to be up all night again and told them I would be in the living room again. About 1:15 this morning when I completely misinterpreted what a friend was saying with her commentary on her blog link post, I realized that hypomania was breaking my brain.

Managing hypomania: The best way to learn is to teach

Ever since I learned about this thing called Cyclothymia a couple of months ago, you can read about it here, things have been kind of better, somewhat confusing, and all over the map. Perhaps I should say, I have been all those things.

The day I wrote about Neverending Story was the onset of another hypomanic episode for me. I didn’t quite realize it at the time I was doing my writing. I actually didn’t start recognizing it for what it was until it was time to lie down and go to sleep and my brain was just spinning, spinning, and spinning with all the things I want to write about and craving conversation, debate, and interaction with others who all seemed dormant in my preferred interactive forum of Facebook.

Tuesday at 11:09pm: Why is it I get so amped after writing? Feels like synapses are not going to settle down and let me sleep.

I gave up, got up and went out into the living room and logged onto the computer so I could use a full size keyboard and sit upright without disturbing the other sleeping bodies occupying the bed, Luna and her daddy.

I found another late night insomniac who I met through my daughter almost two years ago when she couch surfed at our apartment. We’ve chatted a few other times during 3rd shift when sleep eluded us both. We wound up discussing the difficulties with feeling out of control when she posted this statement:

I know I’m doing really good for myself right now… But why do I feel soooooooooooooo bi polar…I just wanna put my head through a wall!

The public conversation included me offering information about cyclothymia and then went private as she asked questions and shared about her experiences with relationships and how to cope with these kinds of overwhelming and out of control thoughts and moods.

The-best-way-to-learn-is

“The best way to learn is to teach.” ~ Frank Oppenheimer

I found myself responding to her questions and plaintive expressions of pain with the following:

Sometimes you have to focus on what you know, instead of what you feel, think, or believe. I KNOW I am loved and worthy of love, although much of the time I don’t feel, think, or believe it. Taking action on that knowledge helps me stop reacting in negative and harmful ways when other people whom I love don’t treat me the way I want and need them too. It helps me to respond differently than I otherwise would and has gone a LONG way in healing my relationships with my adult kids and Keith. Especially once I take into account how long and difficult the journey has been for me to choose loving action in the face of overwhelming feelings of rejection, depression, and judgmentalism, theirs and my own. 

“Yessss…I definitely understand your words and they are actually helping me in ways…I never understand my feelings and when other people tell me I’m negative all the time.. Or I’m depressed all the time or they don’t know what to do… Its like Ummm… Neither do I so why don’t you relax cuz neither of us understands it….! I just have been trying to stick around true souls and positive people… But I miss some people a lot and I’d give anything to keep them in my life and make them see.. Its not them… It is me… But Theres only so much I can do at times and others need to accept that. I’d accept my friends if they were homeless, lost, and had nothing to give… I’d give them the shirt off my back… But yeah…”

I could see the she in me when I read those words. It brought so many thoughts and memories about the lost and broken relationships in my life, as well as the lost and broken dreams.

Thankfully, because I’ve been doing the research on cyclothymia and working through my own healing and recovery process, I can look at recent history and recognize that new and healthier relationships are forming while bent and damaged ones are being healed and restored. So, when she asked, “What are some coping skills you have learned work well… Maybe its worth a shot for me ta try…,” I had a constructive response:

The 12 Steps of recovery have helped. One fb page, Codependent Life, has a lot of good stuff that helps me to reevaluate how I deal with people.

I started writing on my blog in December 2011 and was attending some recovery groups online and in person. I wrote about what was going on inside of me, in my life, and writing out some of the steps and meditations I had been reading through and studying.

As time went on, little by little, I started connecting with other bloggers who were experiencing various mental health, physical health, and relationship issues. I would read and comment and really think about what I was doing that was contributing to the problems I was experiencing and just praying, wishing, hoping for ways to move out of that negative head and heart space.

Acknowledging and taking ownership of my powerlessness in these things really helped me to start refocusing on what WAS in my control. I had to reevaluate my beliefs about God and His love for me and others. I realized that the only way I was going to heal and get unstuck was continually turning everything that I couldn’t control over to my Higher Power and trust that I would come out on the other side.

Step 1: I can’t. I was powerless over my own emotions, attitudes, and even actions. I still am to a large degree. My life was unmanageable and I was overwhelmed by everyone and everything in it.
Step 2: God can. Whether it is the “Christian” God or Love or the Universe, I had to recognize that a power greater than myself could and is restoring me to sanity.
Step 3: I think I’ll let him. I had to let go of my fierce desire and need to control the outcome and get people to understand, love, and treat me the way I wanted to be understood, loved, and treated. I had to trust that the Law of Attraction was strongly at work in my life and all the negative energy I was generating and focusing on was coming back to me in all areas of my life. I needed to find ways to turn that negativity over and find ways to reframe my negative thoughts.

The next day, I realized that by engaging with her about these things and sharing my own experiences, I had actually been reinforcing and teaching myself about managing my own hypomania.

To be continued . . .

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Click here to find out more about Blog for Mental health 2013