The Second One

So yes, I’m bipolar. What does what mean and in what way does it affect my life?

As I’ve mentioned earlier I’m Type 1 Bipolar, with the fun little addition of Rapid Cycling. This basically means that I go from being depressed (severely so) to being manic (always fun) at least 4 times a year. With my currently cycle, and the way it has been for the last 10 years, I do it at a minimum of 4-5 times a year. The fun thing about being bipolar is that the more often you are depressed or manic, the bigger chance it is that you will become depressed or manic again. At this point it has happened about 50 times, so I’m fairly certain it will never go away.

But how does it affect my life? Well, when I’m depressed it’s what you would expect. I have no energy, except for work (which is kind of strange). When I get home from work I usually can’t do anything except lie on the bed and maybe watch Netflix. No energy to walk the dog or hug my wife or even eat. Lately I’ve also become suicidal during the depression phases, which is not so much fun. During the last year I’ve spent a total of five weeks in the hospital due to my depression. I have also had ECT treatment twelve times during that time. I’ve tried countless different medicines and nothing seems to work, until I suddenly get better. I’ve been on sick leave for about 50% of the last year, handling this stuff. It’s not easy, but hopefully I’ll be getting better soon.

What happens when I get better? I usually enter a state called hypomania, which is a calmer version of mania. This means I get too active. I need less sleep (or actually can’t sleep). I need less food, my mind works faster, I have lots and lots of GOOD ideas and I spend a lot of money. The good ideas are usually very expensive and involve buying new cars, buying new TVs, hell, once I even bought an apartment while in this state (how I got the loan for that I will never know). My body and life are basically moving so fast that other people have problems keeping up. I’ve been close to starting countless companies, that would have taken all my money. During the worst phases I usually give my credit cards to my wife and she takes care of them until things get better.

What happens in between? Usually for me I don’t ever feel stable. I’m either depressed or manic. For me, the depression wins and I can be depressed for months at end. There is medication for that, but since I’m very sensitive to different medication and high risk for mania I’m not allowed to have it. For me a constant feeling of being depressed is the norm. The other alternative is what you would call a mix of the both, and this is the worst of them all. You go from being depressed to manic to depressed to manic, sometime in the matter of hours, sometimes in the matter of MINUTES. It drains your body so completely that you don’t have anything left to give. To my psychiatrist I usually say I have hit rock bottom, only to discover there’s a new bottom and a new bottom.

Regardless of all this I’m still active in my work life, have contact with my managers and colleagues while on sick leave and help where I can. Currently I’ve been taking a break from work (yes, sick leave) and should be returning part-time within a month. I’ve been looking for a less stressful work position, which is kind of breaking my heart, as I really love the one I have, but I have also come to realize that this is what my body needs. Hopefully I will find something soon.

Do you have any questions or comments about being bipolar? Please comment below and I’ll answer them as best as I can.

See you soon!

  • Bob

The First One

Have you ever had the feeling that you are really stressed and that you have a really high level of anxiety for no reason? That’s what I’m feeling right now. I can’t relax, I can’t calm down and I certainly can’t find a reason for this.

I suspect this is work. I work in an environment with about 20 different companies supported by both onsite and service desk. Most days I can go home, with the feeling that I have done everything I can for the day and that I will have to continue tomorrow, and everything will be fine. Today was different. I got an e-mail towards the end of the day, asking me to correct something. I answered it and went home a few minutes earlier than usual. Unfortunately, I checked my email from my phone, while waiting in line at Burger King and noticed I had received an answer, where the person is basically accusing me of not following what was agreed last fall, and asking me to correct it. At this point I have no opportunity to answer and even if I could, the person would no longer be at work to answer my e-mail. This has haunted me the whole afternoon and I’m not sure what to do. It is normal for me to be very anxious during the evenings, but usually I can’t find a reason. It’s usually not work, because I always try to let that go, consciously think it through and realize that it’s not that. This time though, it hit me like lightning. It’s work! I’m stressed about work! Big time! Now I’m thinking, not only about this one conversation, but about all the other things I have going on. It seems like I have so many different projects to keep track of, employees to keep happy and a non-ending stream of e-mails to answer. Now that I’m writing this I’m starting to calm down. I guess the best thing is to let out some steam, regroup, take your medication (Yes, I’m Type 1 Bipolar) and live to see another day. Which is something else that is bothering me. My instincts tell me to go to sleep, so that this day will end. At the same time, I know the night will go way too quickly (despite my insomnia) and in the morning, I will have the same anxiety, only there is the possibility to handle things at work and maybe be calm for a few hours before the anxiety sets in again.

I feel like I need someone to talk to at work, to vent my feelings to. The problem is that there is no one. I can’t go to my employees, without losing the authority of being a manager. I can’t go to my managers, because I’m hoping that I will someday be their manager, and I don’t want them to remember my whining at that stage. I can’t even go to my own new manager, because he is in a different city and is basically never around. My only option would be my old manager, but he is so busy he rarely has the opportunity to even talk about day-to-day work stuff. My wife tries to be supportive, but she really doesn’t understand the work environment I have and so can’t really help in any concrete way. The only leaves me my psychologist and psychiatrist, which basically just gives me more medication to handle it. I know this is part of my life, since I am bipolar, but it still doesn’t feel right. In the end it usually means I feel fucked (and not in a good way) for most of my afternoon and then wake up to a new day. I think I might even call my old manager tomorrow, if I see that he has some time in his calendar.

This is all for now. See you some other day!

  • Bob