Howdy howdy friends,
I hope you’re all enjoying your day and doing okay.
I’m an inexperienced baby blogger, but I do talk about mental health a lot on here. Since I’m not traveling right now, I thought why not talk about it some more. I feel like it’s important to share my experiences and insights and what I know about mental health b to help educate, create connection, and fight the stigma that surrounds the mental health realm of our society. And because when I was in a worse part of handling my mental health, reading about people who were similar to me really helped me a lot.
In the present days and past few months I’ve been extremely more aware of my mood swings/patterns/triggers and what I am actually feeling in those moments and maintaining healthier coping skills etc. (for those of you who are new, I struggle with bipolar and bpd). I also had a friend of mine this week ask me what being in a mixed episode feels like, which I realized a lot of people really don’t know. With that, I thought I would share some insight about what it feels like for me in these strong mood and emotional states and how it progresses, along with what I do — for people to relate and for others to just be aware and maybe be a little more patient with people who struggle with similar issues.
*I always feel like I should add this when talking about mental health stuff. I am in no way a professional on mental health and everything I discuss is only my experience and what I’ve discovered/ what helps me. I also am in no way looking for pity or trying to make a sob story, most people discussing their mental health experiences are NEVER trying to do that and it’s really sad so many feel like we have to include that.
I recently noticed that I go through patterns where I genuinely forget that I have a mental illness or I think that I have acquired enough coping skills that it doesn’t effect me anymore (or as much as it has in the past), it just gets pushed to the back of my mind somedays. Needless to say, I never get to go too long without it reminding me it’s still there. Even with all the healthy coping patterns and how much easier it gets, it still has ugly times. This past week it was the rapid speech after waking up at 5am, with the 3 to 4 hours of sleep I was getting a day that reminded me I am in fact bipolar and in a small manic episode (which has ended up triggering my bpd and put me in a current mixed episode).
What does it feel like to be manic? I know for me and in a lot of articles I’ve read, a lot of people say it feels like they’re on top of the world and can do anything, which it does. However, it doesn’t always feel like that and it presents itself different for everyone. The best way I could describe it to some people is if you’ve ever taken adderall or any kind of upper (even too much caffeine for some people would be similar). It’s like I have all this energy and motivation to do stuff, my entire body feels anxious and like I have to move or do something with all this energy. , I am so sociable sometimes and talking so fast that I’m not making clear sense to anyone around me, but no matter how aware I am of it I can’t shut up. My thoughts start racing that It’s sometimes hard to just describe what is even going on in my brain. Sometimes I can be easily irritated and it’s hard to focus. I get snappy with people I really love without realizing it and being easily irritated, but mostly irritated with myself for being irritated. I’ve learned to do things with this energy, like running or yoga and meditate. I try not to drink a lot because it tends to make things worse.
When I am manic bpd episodes are also more prone to happen. Which is usually brought on by the easily irritated and more emotional state. A small rude comment, feeling ignored, or just any “bad vibes” gets to me more easily. I also start worrying that my people are going to get tired of me being in manic episodes and the fear of abandonment starts to set in. It can get to the point where I can see where these strong emotional reactions are coming from and I am fully aware what it is tied to, it’s always some past event that put me into a pattern of thinking the worst. However, even though I can see that my emotions are still there and effecting me, I can’t stop the emotions from happening. I can only control how I respond to them and knowing the healthy way to respond to something when you feel incredibly ignored or hurt or unseen is so hard. Sometimes I start to get paranoid and confused and irritated with myself. It’s always a battle of “did this person actually mean to hurt my feelings/be rude etc. or are they trying to help and this is this part of my shit/ my mood swing”. Sometimes it is someone being extremely rude and me just being extremely hurt by it. Sometimes it’s my brain just computing something wrong because of past experiences. I sometimes find myself holding small silly grudges because someone hurt my feelings…and it’s usually because I don’t know if it was an intentional hurt and I need to protect myself or if it’s for no true reason and I don’t want to give off weird vibes because my feelings were hurt but it wasn’t their fault. Sometimes it’s people who probably don’t even know they’ve done anything to effect me in that way (which isn’t fair at all). It’s a learning process and it’s never me being judgmental, maybe a sensitive ego that I am trying to get ride of tho.
My body eventually gets exhausted from all the mania, but my brain will still run rapid and it drags me into a mixed episode, which for me is the most difficult to deal with. It’s where I am constantly up and down, depressed and manic. It’s where I feel unloved and unwanted, but also a will to keep fighting and trying, even if it’s annoying. It’s knowing I have coping skills for the mania and depression, but using them becomes a balancing act. It’s like when you wake up from a nap that you didn’t really need and you feel groggy, confused, and cranky. Expect it doesn’t go away the next day, after a meal, and just stays for days at a time. I can’t focus and I become even more irritable than when I am just manic. I don’t have the energy to move my body as much and get tired easily, but my brain is still in manic mode so I am overthinking everything and unintentionally hurting myself. It’s a time where I know I can’t trust my judgment. In these episodes is where I make my most impulsive decisions (like randomly moving across the country) because I am trying so hard to just get out of wherever it is that my brain is at. I do my best to flip it, but it is so incredibly hard and feels impossible even though I know no matter what in a few days it’ll pass. I have to give myself a lot of space and time away from people sometimes, even though all I want is to be around people.
I still get depressed, but not nearly as much as I have in my past and not nearly as long. The first coping skills I learned to implement into my life were those for keeping me out of depressive episodes, because even when they’re short, they were the scary and the most damaging for me. I move my body, I am patient with myself and set small goals (like just getting dressed, eating food that isn’t garbage), I do things I know will make me feel good if I just do them, but I also try not to expect a lot out of myself. I learned that when I get frustrated with myself for being depressed and adopt this harsher “no you’re fine” mentality to myself the depression becomes harder to manage. I also have learned how to trigger manic episode if nothing else works, which I am still debating if that is a healthy strategy…progress not perfection.
I thought maybe if I could somehow get out how I was feeling and recognize all of these things as just a symptom today and not what defines who I am, it would be easier to walk through. I am still learning how to deal with these mixed episodes, but recognizing where I am at and trying things to improve are all a huge part in living a healthy life with these things ….and it is a really hard thing to do when you’re in the midst of it all.
Having any of these mental illness doesn’t make anyone a bad person. I’ve talked about it before, the good in some mental illnesses. It doesn’t mean they’re not hard to deal with some days though. It also isn’t an excuse to be a bad person and do cruddy things. I apologize a lot when I am in these moods and find myself constantly expressing to the people close to me that when I am grumpy it’s nothing to do with them and they don’t have to hang around through it. It’s not fair to put other people through that sometimes……but also I don’t think it is fair to judge people for being grumpy when they have a brain like this and are being honest and actively trying to do the best they can.
I am not sure if this will resonate with anyone or if anyone will actually read all of this, but if you did thank you. I will add that writing it all out makes it sound a bit silly and helped a bit. I am still on the fence if I will share this (so if you’re reading this, surprise).
We all have different brains and handle things differently, but nobody is truly alone in what they’re doing through.