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Party Girl

Once again on New Year’s Eve I found myself in a conundrum.

Friends for drinks, more friends to meet in town and someone’s idea to go to another pub at the other end of our town where there would be a Karaoke.

it has happened before. By 10pm I have had a few wines – even the mulled variety has its effects – and much excitement donning fancy dress to march up and down our seaside high street trying to spot those we know despite the vast amount of makeup, wigs and costumes.

It is lovely to laugh and joke with friends and I didn’t want the evening to end. We saw in the New Year on the street and then were driven to the pub. By then it was nearly 1am, I sang my Karaoke song very badly following another large wine and then had to wait for my friend to have her name called to sing.

We didn’t come away until 2am which is early for most on New Year’s Eve. But not if you are Bi Polar. I knew at 1 am that I really needed my night time medication and to curl up in my bed to sleep for 9-10 hours. It is the only way I can cope with my condition. Luckily I did not get carried away and stay on until 4am which some other friends did in a pub elsewhere in the town.

Once through my front door I fell on my meds pouch like a starving child being offered food. I drank plenty of water and made for my bed.

Of course I didn’t go to sleep for a long, long time. Disrupted routine, alcohol and excitement do not go hand in hand nicely with Bi Polar. So I am still lying awake at 4 am thinking I could have stayed out but, actually, no, that would have made it worse. It takes me time to ‘come down’ from being a Party Girl and the insomnia is caused by a lurking worry that this disruption may signal a ‘bad week’. I do so well coping with my Bi Polar that I really do not relish the idea of a spell of bad mood.

But this year I am in luck. I eventually drop off and do not wake up until 10.30 and I know that the following evening I can go to bed earlier and catch up. Well, perhaps not that night as we have family visiting but by the evening of 2nd January I know that I am stabilising and my late night has not put me into a low and spoilt my grandchildren’s visit.

Phew, I have escaped. Next year I may decline to go to the pub following Auld Lang Syne. For now I am getting through January without the terrible debilitating depression I experienced last year.

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World Bi-Polar Day and I didn’t even notice

So I understand today has been Bi-Polar Awareness Day.

I didn’t know but I do now and apparently this will be held on 30 March every year. I googled the title and this is what I found.

World Bipolar Day – an initiative of the Asian Network of Bipolar Disorder, the International Bipolar Foundation, and the International Society for Bipolar Disorders – will be celebrated each year on March 30th, the birthday of Vincent Van Gogh, who was posthumously diagnosed as probably having bipolar disorder.

The vision of World Bipolar Day is to bring world awareness to bipolar disorders and eliminate social stigma. Through international collaboration, the goal of World Bipolar Day will be to educate the world population about bipolar disorders and help improve sensitivity toward the illness.

Each of the organizations is encouraging their members, chapters and affiliates to orchestrate local events surrounding World Bipolar Day. 

There are several bloggers in the blogosphere who are recounting their experiences and attempting to combat this awful stigma. When I was ill last year I was relieved to find things had changed in hospital compared to the 1980s and 1990s. However one of my friends cried off from her visit to me at the last minute as she felt too scared to come into such a place. I agree that there are people in hospital who may say strange things or act in a weird way but most of the time these units are calm places where people are being helped and kept safe until they feel well enough to go back into the community.

I met someone on Friday who I had not seen since my illness last April. He hopped back and forth from one foot to the other so obviously keen to get away and not get involved in conversation. The worst thing was he was fine with my partner. It might be that I am reading something into this that is not there but it will take a while to forget the encounter. One blogger, Kat Copley, reports how each episode is different. This is so true for me and every episode of mine presents a new range of symptoms. This last one has included chronic insomnia despite being on Quetiapine which normally knocks me out: The first time this has happened since 2008. Now I have to wean myself off Zopiclone as these sleeping tablets are addictive.

There always seems to be something to fight against with Bi-Polar. Either we are hypomanic and causing problems for ourselves and those around us or, if we are low, we cannot organise our thoughts to plan our day or even summon the necessary vocabulary to manage a simple conversation. We lose interest in previously enjoyed activities and then find our days empty and our thoughts become negative, filling our minds with our over-reactions to events and the normal day-to-day anxieties which can spiral out of control within hours. Then there is the constant fight against the stigma which is out of our control although mental health awareness blogs are on the increase and so hopefully we will eventually see some change in society.

In the words of my psychiatrist ‘just keep striving’. This is what we have to do, strive to face the challenge this illness presents to us.

How we do this I will save for another post.

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