That’s a Wrap…

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Life throws some weird shit at you sometimes.  3 weeks ago something horrendous and huge happened to me which I don’t really want to talk about right now but it was a game-changer and I’ve spent much of the last few weeks in tears, unable to sleep and generally just going through the motions of life.

Last week, out of the blue amidst all the insanity of what was going on in my life, I received a voicemail from a guy making a film, asking me if I would consider taking part, as they were looking for someone like me to be in one of their scenes.

My first thought was, “Are you fucking kidding me?  Could your timing be any worse? I am going through some full-on shit right now and I’m being asked to take part in a film project?”  But then I thought to myself, maybe that’s exactly why I should say yes.  I needed something else to focus on, something fun to distract me from my thoughts.  And so I thought, “Fuck it!” and before I knew what I was doing, I’d text back the number the guy had left agreeing to take part.

Sometimes you just have to say “Yes!”  Granted, the timing was awful but it ended up being something positive to focus on, whilst reminding me that life is about taking opportunities as and when they occur.  It’s highly unlikely I would ever get a chance to do something like this again so I decided to embrace the bad-timing and throw caution to the wind.

I have just returned from the shoot.  I am so glad I agreed to take part.  What a buzz.  Despite only being a small production there were cast and ‘film folk’ everywhere. It was really fun talking with the director about the kind of shots they wanted and how many retakes they thought they would need to get the desired effect.  I can’t wait to see the project once its been edited and released.

If you ever get an opportunity to be in a film, no matter how bizarre or ill-timed the offer may be, take it.  I highly recommend the experience.  I’ve gotta say that tonight was probably the most fun Sunday night I’ve ever had. Sometimes you’ve just gotta say, “Yes!”

That’s a wrap.

 

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You just don’t get it…

Sometimes people try to be ‘helpful’ with their comments about mental illness but in fact end up exacerbating my feelings of frustration.  Some days I hate my disorder.  I fucking hate it.  Some days I embrace it.  But I always know it.  I know my condition inside out, back-to-front and up to the moon and back. You don’t live with a chronic mental illness such as this without learning a thing or two about this lifelong companion.

I am in a very dark place.  I am fully aware of that I have felt it coming for some time now.  Before 2017 began, in fact.  I had managed to maintain a sense or normalcy for a while and returned to teaching after the Christmas break.  I love my job.  It is demanding and stressful but my God is it rewarding.  I work with the odd douchebag but in general I enjoy my job and have a good working relationship with my co-workers.

Work stress has fuck-all to do with this episode.  When I think of work, it does not fill me with dread or panic etc.  Well wait, it does but work is not the reason.  At this point in time, day to day living fills me with a sense of panic and dread.

Now, you don’t know me. I could be any bipolar blogger who has been yet again smashed in the face by the black dog.  But I can assure you, I am a positive and fun-loving person.  I am the outgoing introvert.  I am the girl with tattoos and blue hair that generally doesn’t give a fuck what others’ think of.  I have my small close circle that keeps me safe and fuck anyone else.  I am past caring what other people think of me – it is none of my business.

But right now, I am not that person.

The thing with people and their opinions on how I should mamage my illness, is this.  They know ‘well me’ – they are familiar with the woman who can take it on the chin and just keep ploughing away despite the incredible amount of unfortunate events that seem to come my way.

These people do not know the me that has been blind-sided but this fucking c**t of an illness.  I know getting out of bed, showering, washing my hair, putting my face on, getting to work, running my fitness classes, meeting friends for coffee, reading books, going to the cinema, baking, making home-cooked food would help me feel better.  Of course, I fucking know this – I am 35 years of age. I am a professional who has succeeded in life despite a shaky start and being fucked over on more than one occasion by people of significance.  Of course I realise this.  However, that doesn’t mean I’m fucking capable of these things when this gloom envelopes me.

Taking a shower and showing up sounds so fucking easy right?

Wrong.

So yeah, thanks to the colleagues who text “Surely coming into work would be better for you as it will provide a distraction; that’s what I do!”

Well good-for-fucking-you but the major difference is that you don’t have a chronic, at-times-crippling mental illness.

So I’m sure she meant this with the greatest intention but you have based that advise on the person you know.  The professional woman who has it together.  You are not familiar with the fucking wreck that spends days in a catatonic state staring at the ceiling.

 

Mania: The animal

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I am reading an incredible book at the moment titled, “When we were animals” by Joshua Gaylord.  Now although the book has nothing to do with bipolar disorder, there are elements of the plot that can be likened to mania.  The premise of the story is that in a small town in America, when children reach adolescence, they ‘breach’ and as a result run riot on the night of full-moons, engaging in sexual, animalistic urges as a sense of invincibilty and great power consumes them.  Any attempts to delay, stop or repress this process causes devastation, so the community learn to accept the fate of their young and ‘baton down the hatches’ until the youths come out of the other side.  Breaching is not considered anything to be proud of and it is generally swept under the carpet as those who witness turn to look the other way.

It made me think a lot about mania and how breaching was described in a way not dissimilar to mania.

“I am forever gazing downward at people who live in dream worlds.  The breachers, too. They run through the night but they run in sleep, they run undercurrents deep in memory.  In the morning there is no shame because they were not themselves – or their selves were buried so deep that their waking minds are blameless for their nighttime deeds.”

Is this not mania summed up in one perfect paragraph?  As I read this, it really hit a nerve. This could not be more true.  The actions of a person who is manic can be so destructive and so hurtful to those around them, yet the harm is not intentional.  It is as if the mind has been taken hostage and the body is merely going along for the ride.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that a manic person should be forgiven all havoc that is wreaked but there is certainly an element of diminished responsibility.

I think back to the hotel bed I lay in some 4 hours from home as the guy I have met online showers just metres away from me (coming from a girl who has never had a one night stand).  I have numerous missed calls and text messages on my phone from my other half.  I have been found out.  He has hacked into my Facebook account and found out exactly what I am up to.  But here’s the thing – I don’t give a fuck.  I cannot be bothered to answer the calls because it will interrupt my fun.  I will deal with the fallout tomorrow.  Sure, I could be dead as far as he knows but just let me have this night because I am BUZZING!  I’ll deal with it later.  For now, I wanna go out, get drunk and dance.

What. the. fuck?

I still find it hard to believe that I was the girl in the hotel room with the Nikki Sixx lookalike.  I think back on that chapter from my life as if I was recollecting a very vivid and surreal dream.  How did I reach the point that I found myself checking into a hotel with this guy and bickering at the book-in desk over  whether we got a smoking or non-smoking room.  The woman on the desk laughed and said, “When will they realise that we women always get our own way?”  She clearly assumed that we were a couple who had been together some time as opposed to black-clad rockers who had met in the flesh just an hour or so before.

Amazingly I was forgiven.  I can only assume because my other half knew just how sick I must have been to have been behaving that way.  Funny how a couple of nights of insomnia can make a faithful teetotaller, jump in her car one night, speed halfway across the country whilst taking up smoking en-route, meeting up with a beautiful internet predator in a hotel room and then going out for the remainder of the night and getting thoroughly trashed.  I’m amazed it ended as well as it did.

But here’s the thing.  I can’t quite bring myself to fully regret it even after all these years.  I always thought I knew myself and what I would and wouldn’t do.  Until I developed bipolar, that is.  As much as it scares me to admit, I don’t know who I really am anymore.  Has bipolar inherently changed who I am and my morals? Who knows.  But there’s that tiny bit of me that kind of savours the fact that I have a dark and unpredictable side.

It’s like I have a tiny little Pandora’s Box of bipolar memories hidden deep within my head that no-one should ever open.  I like that it’s there; it gives me a tiny thrill that I am still learning who I am…

Sink or Swim?

Several hours ago my husband left for Las Vegas.  I have been dreading this day for the best part of a year.  If I allow myself to think about it, I get angry – his going to Vegas for a stag week means that there will be no family holiday whatsoever this year but whatever, that’s not the focus of my post.

I have been dreading him going away and been thinking, “He can’t leave us alone for a week, I’ll never cope on my own with The Kid!”  I actually know this to be utter bullshit.  We have been left alone together once before when he had to attend a course for work and was gone for 5 days.  I was certain that my world was going to fall to pieces (see here) – not only did it not, we also coped just fine and managed to have a blast in his absence.

Yet again the anxiety has been building over the last few months as I knew that his flights were booked and this would definitely be happening.  Yet again thoughts of “I’ll never cope! I shouldn’t be left alone because my depression will spiral out of control.  How will I manage caring for my incredible 4 year old, working full-time and teaching my fitness classes in the evening?” buzzed around my head.

He’s been gone 4 hours and as I sit here I have to ask myself, “When the fuck did I lose so much faith in my abilities?  Since when have I been reliant upon someone else’s presence in order to succeed?”  I swear I used to ooze independence – I may have not been the most confident person but I certainly didn’t need anyone to ‘save’ me.  In the past 4 hours I have played with The Kid, scrubbed 3 bathrooms until they shine, done 3 loads of laundry, the dishes and the whole bedtime routine complete with story and cuddles.  And now, I have the evening to myself.  I can do whatever the fuck I want.

Remind me, why was I dreading the week ahead?

Choose life?

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If nothing else, this disorder certainly keeps you on your toes.  Crippling depression with bleak and foggy outlook: fast forward 24 hours to: sunny with a chance of mania.

Sleep, or lack of it, is probably the most dangerous trigger as far as I am concerned when trying to manage this unicorn beast.  For the past few months I have been lethargic, bleak and well, grey.  This is probably the longest period of depression I have experienced in several years.

Friday night I did not sleep.  All I can assume is that in my foggy state, I reached for regular tea as opposed to the decaf that I drink after 5pm (I know, I am too rock and roll for words.) Perhaps there was just too much on my mind.  But for whatever reason, the sandman did not arrive.  I tossed and turned in bed.  I took myself to the spare room.  No luck.

I had agreed to cover a fellow instructor’s early morning Z class so there was no chance of of trying to catch up with sleep.  The class went great and the massive rush of endorphins coupled with the lack of sleep, meant that by 11am I was feeling awesome.

See, this is the thing that those uneducated about bipolar sometimes struggle to get their heads around.  If a ‘normie’ gets no sleep, they’re perhaps prone to grumpiness, tiredness and general confusion.  The exact opposite is true with a person who has bipolar disorder.  Just one disrupted night of sleep can result in elevated mood, clarity of thinking, endless energy and hyper-productivity.  Hypo-mania is perfect.  You are able to achieve so many things simultaneously, all whilst displaying good humour and charming wit.  It is the reason that I do not, for the most part, despise this disorder.  Hypomania is the silver lining that surrounds that bitch of a cloud.

But the problem with hypo-mania is it’s the life and soul of the party and is fully aware of the fact.  “Just keep going!” it screams over the stereo, swaying in the euphoria, oblivious to all that surrounds it.  It is here.  Right here, when you have to know when to stop.  It is like hurtling along a single-track road in a convertible with your hair whipping in the wind as you pound the steering wheel along to favourite track and without warning you are faced with an amber light.  You have 2 choices: change down the gears, gently pump the breaks and bring yourself to a halt, as the music continues to blast around you, leaving you feeling slightly embarrassed and out-of-sorts.

Or…floor it.  Pedal to the metal, suck in your breath and brace yourself as you throw caution to the wind and go, go, GO!

It is at this point that you have to hope that there is a sliver of rationality left in amongst the hedonism.  It is at this point where things can go horribly wrong.  It is at this point that you become the side of yourself that you didn’t think existed; hoped didn’t exist.  Didn’t think you were capable of.  It is here that everything seems like a great idea and the Dr Pepper mantra, “What’s the worst that could happen?” pops into your head.  But here’s the thing, no matter how caring and sensible you might be when stable, when you ask yourself that question, the truth is, you don’t give a fuck!  Rationality is a long and distant memory and the consequences of your actions are a mere inconvenience to be dealt with later down the line.

But you feel so damn alive!

So the choice is yours, stop or go?

Almost.

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“She’s alive!” *insert Frankenstein’s Bride sample.

I am still here.  I made it through to the other side.  I am not quite sure how, but I did.  I have to admit that the last few months have been the closest I have ever come to doing the unthinkable.  There were times when it was literally all that I could think about.  The constant daydream of that blissful, eternal release.  But I am still here and that, I guess, is the important thing.

The title of today’s musings is ‘Almost’ because that seems to be a running theme of my life.  In recent months, so many incredible things have ‘almost’ happened to me.  Dream jobs, opportunities to live abroad, my story being used to promote a very well-known fitness brand, to name but a few.

But alas, it has all come to nothing.  Those opportunities which were within sniffing distance have passed through my hands like an hourglass sand in its final descent.

I am on the fence regarding these ‘almosts’ – should I apply a philosophy like “It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all?”  insomuch that I should feel gratitude that I was considered for these opportunities in the first place, or is it ok to feel pissed off that, yet again things have gone wrong, leaving me with an eternal feeling of “Close but no cigar.”

I’m trying not to dwell on it and to tell myself that these things just obviously weren’t meant to be but seriously, is it ever gonna be my time?

Apologies for sounding like a brat, I’ll rise above it all. Soon.

 

Chapters…

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So here I am yet again, unable to sleep due to my royally fucked-up sleep pattern of late.  I know, I know being on the Macbook isn’t gonna help but I may as well be productive with my time.  I have a sneaky feeling that I may have accidentally grabbed the regular teabags, instead of the decaf, yet again (oh the perils of being so very British!)

A chance encounter with MTV this evening has got me thinking (shock horror)  Apart from the blatantly obvious, standard responses, I was thinking earlier how if you were to ask me about my happiest memories or times in my life, I would draw a blank.  Or so I thought.

Enter music.

I don’t know if it’s the same for ‘normies’ also but music has the most profound impact on me imaginable.  I have to be so freaking careful about the music I listen to, as a melancholy track that holds a memory can send me spiralling downwards before you say, “Change the fucking channel!”  Thankfully, it works both ways however and my mood can be lifted also, generally by country music.

But the thing with music is that I hold the associated memories so close to my heart that something which triggers a happy memory then causes me to feel sorrow for that which is no more.  Does that make sense?

As I was flicking through cable trying to find something to capture my fleeting attention span, I stumbled across MTV’s Ultimate Rock Top 20.  I was born and raised a rock chick.  It forms so much of who I am, which sounds ridiculously cliche, but I discovered myself and the fact that I am not one to conform through the bands that inspired and excited me as I hit adolescence.

As I perched on the sofa to see whether I agreed with the bands that had made the countdown, a smile spread across my face.  Pearl Jam.  Enter the incredible Eddie Vedder.  Within moments I was transported back to my bedroom – my safe haven against all the emotional shit that wreaked havoc with my childhood.  I was back in my lilac painted room, laying on my black futon, glancing up at my giant Pearl Jam poster which had its own corner whilst the rest of the room was a virtual shrine to Hollywood legend, Marilyn Monroe.

All of a sudden, I felt sad.  I realised that this great, uplifting video full of long-haired 90’s musicians in checked shirts and ripped blue jeans, rocking the fuck out before stage diving into an adoring crowd was approximately 20 years old.  20 fucking years!!! How the actual fuck did that happen?!?  I sat contemplating in amazement and sorrow at the thought that 2 decades have passed since I was that ‘Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me!’ (you see what I did there? RATM ruled also!) kid who was ready to take on the world.  20 fucking years.  Jeez.

So no, if you asked me to name my happiest memories, I would probably struggle with anything other than the obvious, but play me the soundtrack to my life and I’m there smiling like the Cheshire Cat.

I think of my life in chapters, each defined by the style of music that I was listening to at the time.  I hear Silverchair and I’m taken back to the day I met my best friend in Design Technology – he thought it was cool that I had graffitied my folder with the Frogstomp artwork and being from Australia I thought that he was just about the coolest thing ever – he might as well have practically known them for all I knew.

I hear Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magic by RHCP and I am transported to the coach trip I took around New England with my mum just a few short years after my dad had died.  I also remember Mum’s incessant “Will you turn it down!” as my foam walkman headphones did little to ensure that it was only me that got to enjoy Anthony Kiedis’ vocals.

If I hear Motley Crue’s “Don’t go away Mad’ I am sat at my very-very removed relatives dining room table in Toronto enjoying a real family Christmas.  This was less that 10 years ago and was the closest thing I have ever had to the sorts of family Christmases that you see in films.  After we’d had our fill of turkey, marshmallow yams and all sorts of deliciously decadent things that the British just don’t do, my Uncle and Cousin got their acoustic guitars out and played some Crue.  It was wonderful.

And ‘Fat Lip’ but Sum41.  It was to that song that I met ‘The One who got Away.’  He said he fell in love with me the moment he looked into my eyes (after I over-enthusatically danced and moshed around, landing my incredible heavy and cumbersome boots on his toe).  That song breaks my heart now for ‘What could have been…’

‘Undercover’ by Pete Yorn is the soundtrack to my diagnosis.  That song encapsulates the feeling of freedom that I gained when the puzzle pieces finally fell into place and it all made sense to me why my whole life I never fit in and how just living life always seemed so damned easy for everyone around me.  How was it that my friends were able to get up without fail every single day and just do it?  How was it that they didn’t need to spend their break times hidden behind locked bathroom doors just sobbing and trying to ‘pull it together’ in time for the next lesson.  Whereas most people may have felt despair at their diagnosis, I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders – this was who I am.   For the first time in my life I accepted myself.

This also reminds me of a highly amusing (with hindsight) anecdote about how music once tried to kill me.  But that’s a different story…