Picture “Racing Thoughts” by Anapontes
Isn’t it funny, ok not funny as in ha ha funny, how they use the same word in drug and alcohol addiction as they do when talking about slipping out of the stable zone in mental illness? The word I’m talking about is; Relapse.
“A relapse is said to occur when the symptoms of bipolar disorder worsen or when previous bipolar symptoms return. Many people have experienced one or more relapses of their illness. After a relapse, you may still experience persistent symptoms-which is different from worsening symptoms.
Before a relapse happens, people often experience changes in their symptoms or in some aspect of their behavior, thoughts or feelings. These changes are called warning signs and they are indications that a bipolar relapse may be imminent.” Source – Healthy Place
For me living with bipolar disorder is all about balance. It took me quite a long time to figure this one out and I still don’t always get it right, but that doesn’t stop me from getting back up and trying again each time I fall. Relapse is a scary reality for me because I usually have two major episodes a year that sometimes require a stay at the spa, and also some minor ones thrown in there just for giggles. The Psychiatrist and I have found after trial and error that some of these little shifts have been med related and one was even caused by a light box, you can read about that one here: Daylight Savings Time A Bipolar Nemesis.
I relapsed just two weeks ago. It was one in which there was no fun attached to it at all. No little hypomania extra energy where I get stuff done while singing and being playful. No, this was knockdown, drag out misery. I was full of rage, agitation and racing thoughts. I couldn’t complete a sentence because the thoughts in my mind were tumbling out of my mouth before I could even attempt to organize a single one of them. I was even a little bit delusional. My emergency meds barely touched me and I was not sleeping. The hospital was a very real possibility and we were strongly considering it, until a friend, who does not have bipolar disorder called to check on me After she listened to me go on and on about the over abundance of energy, irritability and easy agitation I was experiencing, and my family was dealing with she said to me, “is there any way at all that you can focus this energy if you could just lock yourself away from everyone else for a little a while?” I thought about it and told her that I probably could, but I wouldn’t know what to do, and I would be to restless and she said to me, “write,” and that’s what I did. For two days I locked myself in my bedroom and wrote everything and nothing. Half of it doesn’t make any sense at all, but that’s not the point. The point here is that with my friend’s help, I was able to harness that energy and focus on something enough to keep me out of the psychiatric unit where I probably would have had to entertain the idea of new antipsychotics.
I’m grateful to this friend. This may not ever work for me again, or it may be the best thing for me. The fact remains, I had a supporter call me up, offer me an alternative that I hadn’t thought of for myself, and I found my balance again. I also tried something new, which is pretty cool.