I was walking around in circles, well at least that is what it felt like I was doing. It could have just been that the speedy loop of thoughts on its reel in my head made my body feel like it too was running in a circle. Pacing. Jogging. Speeding. Looking back everything seemed pretty hazy. There were points of clarity like the email that I sent to my manager which was in no way lucid or a fair replication of what was actually transpiring. In fact, I can only rely on my memory and I am not game enough to read what exactly it was that I wrote. I can recall the feeling, that speeding sensation as though all the thoughts in my head were powerful and right.
Canberra is a very small community and when you work in the field of social justice it becomes even smaller mainly because we are a pretty affluent place as we are the centre of the public service for Australia. Canberra is a bit like D.C. for the USA. So anything askew is noticed and shared and it can be difficult to hide if you have something as cyclical and possibly destructive as bipolar I disorder. But I refuse to let my illness define the boundaries within which I can operate, and I choose to keep working and trying to press through these periods of mania, paranoia and the ultimate disassociate nature of bipolar disorder.
My return to work after my postpartum manic episode was clouded in a sheet of Risperidone medication and a sheer determination to be who I was before the little X graced us with his presence. I never disclosed my mental illness in interviews, well I did once and never heard from them again so decided that perhaps the best option would be to go undercover.
I ended up disclosing usually two or so weeks into the job, once my Lithium shakes became noticeable or I inadvertently missed a dose of medication and felt on edge.
It was work that made me pick up on my most recent episode and when I realised I had about a week off work to recover and allow my medications to stabilise. Despite the time off I was still somewhat paranoid and it took huge effort to go into the office. I can recall most of my mania enshrouded in copious report writing, start a new blog and setting it up in an instant, writing so much for the new blog and Become Mum… Writing Ebooks, writing, writing, writing… I felt so connected to my keyboard, like we were one and taking over the world. I felt like my words were all knowing and I remember working on a chapter of a book, reading it to Mr A and declaring, ‘I mean, who writes this shit? Seriously? This is such good writing’. Self-knowing, reflective and meek are not words I would use to describe the mania, but rather
Mania for me is this state of unease as I am split between this sensation of being high as the best human I could possible be (and also likely a better human that you could ever be) and working till my fingers are painful and raw and blaming everyone for any failings in my work including self-doubt moments. Everything negative is externalised and I am unable to see reality from the trees. Paranoia sets in usually within a week or so of not sleeping, and then this spins out of control and into hallucinations. I’ve only had the hallucinations with my first episode which was in the postpartum period and am not keen to ever go back there.
With this most recent episode I reluctantly took the medications to resolve the situation as the high was so productive and empowering. Think about doing everything you want to do and feeling like you were made to do them and you were the best in the world at doing them. Why would anyone want to come down from this? As I have a family I can’t really consider my own desires to be in line with their needs. Riding the mania in the hope that it doesn’t turn into hallucinations is not an option, but if I were single I’d be damn sure to be relishing in that cycle for as long as possible. For me, the mania is a positive experience but it can quickly turn negative with continued lack of sleep and heightened senses.
What if the thoughts in my head and the energy coursing through my body were right, and I was made to work in cycles? I am currently back down to mania Lithium levels (aka 0.4 instead of 0.7) so I am only being controlled by my Olanzapine. I am writing quite a bit still, mainly in the early morning and early evening… actually the hours before I am due to take my next medication! Perhaps there is room to be a controlled manic, allowing me some room to write creatively and freely while controlling the essence which upsets the status quo – i.e. sleep. Or maybe the doctor tomorrow will tell me that I need to increase my Lithium again even though I am on the maximum dosage for a pregnant person (aka 2000 mg). And with the research about preterm labour with Lithium, I think I’d prefer just to not be on it and rather manage the mania with my antipsychotic.
❤ ❤ Reg