Wednesday, 25 April 2007

I think I'm back to normal now, my sleep pattern is good and I don't feel psychotic.

I had bloods done for U&Es and FBC last week, all normal. I had a follow up appointment with Portillo but when I turned up they had accidently booked me in with Videocamera Hippychick... no thanks, I made the long walk home. I rebooked and saw him yesterday. We agreed I'll stay on the Depakote meantime as it doesn't seem to be doing me any harm.

Mrs Mo is miserable at work. I'm unable to do anything to help apart from try not to burden her with my shit.

When I was hypomanic I tried to get voluntary work digging ditches but you have to fill in registration forms and have an interview with a development worker before you can dig a hole for nothing these days. I eventually applied directly to the Countryside Rangers offering to help clear paths, strim grass etc. and got a lukewarm reception... "Hmmm.. we don't have much room in the vans for an extra person. It's not my job, I'll get the boss to get back to you". Of course no one ever got back. I am not depressed, just realistically cynical as summed up by Blur... "Modern Life Is Rubbish".

Monday, 9 April 2007

After my last post I managed to finish work on the guitar before crashing. I then spent most of last week lethargic, lying in bed, only getting up in the evenings when Mrs Mo got back from work. I've been up over the weekend and we have been out for walks.

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Shit. I forgot all about the OU!

After passing my first assignment I kinda took a break and sat back and rested on my laurels. Then Mrs Mo was off for a week and I focussed on her and we had a couple of days away. I'm now busy making beef stroganoff, building my guitar, creating a blues band, taking photographs, setting up websites, recording an album and completely forgetting about the OU. As well as studying, I should have been making observations over the past 3 weeks. And instead of getting on with it I'm sitting here writing about it. Oh shit!

Monday, 2 April 2007

Being bipolar is becoming increasingly trendy these days (which can only be a good thing for boring old farts for me). It seems to have become the “in thing” among celebrities and wannabes. But most folks have very little understanding of mania and depression. Bipolar information sources often don’t help much, often describing depression as sadness and mania as feeling good. Naturally most people think “well I go through periods like that, that’s what I’ve got”. What is rarely mentioned is that these range of moods are way outside that of normal human experience. Lots of people can describe periods of being “hyperactive and buzzing around feeling great” but that is far removed from even hypomania.

The only way an unaffected person can get close to the manic experience is through mind altering drugs like amphetamines, cocaine, ecstasy and LSD. Now you’re starting to get close but even on speed and crack you are still unlikely to give away all your money and belongings in a completely reckless fashion. No, even when in drug induced bliss you’re still much more likely to have the wherewithal to keep your money to buy more drugs. And of course you will eventually crash and go to sleep for a couple of days. Mania is quite a different kettle of fish altogether.

I suppose it is fair to say there are similarities between depression and profound sadness, the usual example is the grief of bereavement. But in my experience it’s not the same thing at all, it’s more like suffering a power cut. My experience of depression is more like folk describe ME. I am completely listless and lethargic. I sleep about 18 hours a day, really only wakening to eat, drink and go to the toilet. If I feel anything, it’s generally paranoia. I do not gradually get better, this state continues for months. Although others may worry about my condition, I tend to be distanced with “la belle indifference”. I don’t seek help or want it.

Unlike “normal” folks whose mood will vary according to their environment, there do not appear to be any external triggers for my moods. I became suddenly and profoundly ill at the happiest time of my life. I was in a stable and happy marriage, a great job, sound finances and a full social life… over a couple of days I suddenly plummeted into a psychotic state and was virtually moribund. I’m a bit unusual in that respect as I think changes are usually gradual in bipolar folks. I am perhaps also unusual in that I no longer have any sense of mood. I don’t know if I’m happy or sad, I have no sensation of such things, these are labels other folks apply to me. I judge my mood/affect by how many hours I sleep at night. Less than 6 and I’m high, more than 10 and I’m low, whatever that means.

I don’t know why I wrote this entry but if you came across it while looking for bipolar info I hope it was of some help.

"He wrote me a prescription, he said you are depressed
But I'm glad you came to see me to get this off your chest
Come back and see me later. Next patient please
Send in another victim of industrial disease"

I’ve been thinking about a question Portillo asked me on Thursday. It wasn’t an off the cuff remark, it was a considered little interrogation. “Do you have any friends?... apart from your wife and your sister do you ever see anyone else?”. That question has made me think a bit. It’s not just that I’ve lost touch with everyone but I also have a problem communicating with other people. People don’t seem to understand what I’m talking about, including my wife and my sister. I wish I could just connect our heads with a USB cable and download to them. I can write stuff down here and edit it into more concise statements but in real time I waffle on for ages and go off on tangents and get furious when people don’t follow me. My irritability and impatience are at an all time high just now and it’s best for everyone if I don’t communicate verbally at all.

So I am gradually sliding down the social ladder into obscurity. If it wasn’t for my devoted wife I would have been long since gone altogether. How did I get here?

“Communication let me down
And I’m left here”

Sunday, 1 April 2007

I literally feel my brain is physically different these days. It often feels like my occipital lobes have been completely removed. Sometimes my frontal lobes feel a bit too dense but generally the feeling I get is that the back of my head has been blown clean off. My memory is grossly impaired, there is no doubt about it. Mrs Mo confirms my short term memory, and surprisingly, some of my long term memory has gone as well. The most profound element of my memory loss is my nominal dysphasia. I cannot recall names. If I see someone I know, I have to run through the alphabet (A, B, C, D, E, F…. F…F… Fiona, that’s it!) to recall a familiar person’s name. The system works well but without it I’m stumped. I know from online quizzes that even when I do know an answer, my response time is very slow. I used to answer 10 general knowledge questions in 30-45 seconds now it’s 60-120 seconds. A good example of my memory problems occurred in a recent chat/quiz when we were asked…. who played the lead role in the 1996 movie “The Rock”. I had seen the film and knew the answer immediately, I could see the actor’s face but I could not recall his name. I knew he was born in Edinburgh, initially a bodybuilder and had a distinctive voice. “Yesh Mish Moneypenny” I heard in my head. I pictured him in his kilt, ironically “fighting” for Scottish rights despite not being prepared to live here or pay our taxes. He also recently also accepted a knighthood from his sworn enemy. What a ridiculous phoney he was… still I could not remember the milkman’s name….. “Sir Scotland” was the best answer I could offer. Thankfully someone eventually chipped in the answer, I would never have recalled Sean Connery’s real name.

Although my brain has shrunk intellectually, it seems to have spread out through time and space. I feel more connected with my distant past than ever, my childhood seems so immediate now, as does my future and my death. I see my life clearly in one continuous timeline. Worthless and futile it certainly is but it is now all part of a crystal clear continuum from cradle to grave. Even into the after time when I am completely forgotten and my existence has left no mark or record in the cosmos. I see it all with a clarity I never experienced before. It’s probably best illustrated in a diagram…

My “normal” brain...

My “bipolar” brain...

"I forgot to forget you
You forgot to remember me"