The Sixth One, Afternoon thoughts

I went to the sleep doctor today. The visit was supposed to start after I had had treatment for at least two months, to evaluate my current situation and maybe make some small corrections. It turns out my treatment will not start until the beginning of January.

Feedback I got today was that I definitely have to get out of bed before 8 AM (usually I do it at about 9 AM) and that I most definitely cannot stay in bed if I cannot get sleep immediately. Meaning that I have to go to the couch, wake up the dog, get barked at, and then maybe, just maybe, be able to watch Netflix in peace. Most of the things I have been doing, however, have been correct. No caffeine, less sugar, regular exercise, trying to “fill my mind” (which I understood is doing different things, preferably things I like, so that my mind feels like it has had a full day, even though I’ve just been sitting at home), and stuff like that. And eating lunch somewhere that is not home.

My sick-leave got continued, which means I will have even less money than before. This means that I will not be able to go out and eat lunch for much longer. After that I will have to stick with the home-made macaroni and cheese that costs close to nothing. Not that I’m complaining. I like mac and cheese almost as much as I like saving money 😊

I have to save money because in this country you don’t get paid after being sick for a certain amount of time. And the doctors don’t recommend that I work 100% in the beginning, which means I can only work for about 50%, but still need to get paid close to the full amount to be able to pay bills. For this I have to fill in an application and send it to our retirement company, who handles these things, to maybe get money from them. Because I can work, but only 50%, but need more money, I somehow can’t work at all before the application has come through.

So, I am waiting. Waiting for the application to come through. Waiting for my treatments to start. Waiting to hear from the job I applied to. And waiting for the time I have booked for getting my first tattoo (Yes, I’m getting one, in just over a week). I could do with getting some of that waiting over with.

          Bob

The Fifth One, The last two weeks

As it turned out, I have been too tired to think about writing this blog, for the last two weeks. With the stress of not knowing if I’m getting the new job (yes, they’re still deciding, even though it is looking positive) and the tiredness of having to deal with my sickness, my sleeping disorder and just the plain boredom of having to sit at home for months at end, with nothing to do, due to the sick-leave being unpaid and having no money to do anything. As I’m writing this I have been on sick-leave for about three and a half months. Of these months I have been in the hospital for about two weeks.

As I think I mentioned earlier I was supposed to start treating my sleeping disorder a few months ago, when the doctors finally realized I had one, but apparently that’s not the way it’s going to be. I had a time scheduled for the sleep-clinic last Thursday, which was fine with me. After that they cancelled my appointment and moved it to last Friday, the only day this year, when I had already scheduled a trip abroad with my brother and wasn’t able to cancelled. I called the office of the clinic to get my time rescheduled. No one called back. I called again and again and no one called back. Finally, when it was my time, they called me and basically were annoyed that I wasn’t there. Despite me calling them numerous times during the last few weeks.

The nurse that is/will be responsible for treating my disorder weren’t that polite in the phone, even though I tried to be very flexible and polite. She was talking about starting my treatment in December (would mean a four month wait, in total) but decided that that wasn’t going to work. My treatment will now start sometime after January (five-month total wait or more) due to the fact that a test, which should have been done when my sleeping has improved, will be done before seeing her, which is the total opposite of what the doctor said when I met her two months ago. I know have a meeting scheduled with the doctor (which originally was scheduled in September, because I was to start treatment then and was meant to see how much I have improved) in a few days, and I will have to go there knowing that nothing has happened since I last saw her. I know it’s not my own fault, but somehow, I still think she will be disappointed in me in some way.

On a positive note, the trip I took with my brother was a success. We went to the Black Library Weekender in Nottingham in the UK and was able to see our favorite author, Dan Abnett! (as well as get to have a chat and take a picture with him). We were able to bring a load of books back home, attend lots of seminars and also visit Warhammer World, which we have dreamed about since being small kids. All in all, a really good trip, even if it was a bit expensive.

The job I applied for just let me know that they’ll be deciding this week and that they will let me know. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  • Bob

The Fourth One, I am tired

As you all know I’m ”battling” being bipolar and having anxiety and all that. I’m also having problems with insomnia, for which I should be going to a sleep-specialist. They asked me to take two months off work for me to work through this problem, so that I maybe would get to a point where I could sleep without having to take tons of medication. I got the two months off, no pay, but still. First, I should have gotten an appointment with what we call a sleep-nurse that should have made me a schedule, which I would follow, and hopefully get better. Now, two months later, my leave is nearing its end and I still haven’t gotten that appointment.

First it took me over a month to get an appointment, which is fine, sometimes it just takes time due to the specialty units in the hospitals being overwhelmed. After that my appointment got moved, for reasons I don’t know, to a day when I’m out of the country. Naturally I called and asked if I could talk to someone and get it moved to a day when I’m in the country. Still waiting for that callback. I called again today and they had no information that I previously called, but promised to leave a message to the person I’m supposed to see, so that she can get back to me.

The problem is, I’m getting more tired by the day. I should be getting up at 8 AM in the morning and stay up. No naps during the day and go to sleep the same time every night. Simply put, I should follow a strict routine, every day of the week, even weekends. The way things are going right now I’m nowhere close to that. I wake up several hours before my alarm bell. Then, after my wife has gone to work, I fall asleep again and wake up at about 12. I usually don’t take naps, I usually go to bed at the same time, but it takes me several hours to fall asleep and I wake up 10-20 times every night (we measured this for two weeks at one point and I really do wake up 10-20 times per night). No wonder they have diagnosed me with a severe sleeping disorder.

Now I don’t really know what to do. I don’t sleep. I haven’t gotten my sleep-schedule, so I don’t even know how I should sleep and/or if there’s something else I should be doing or should avoid doing while trying to get my sleeping-schedule right. I’m getting more tired and still I’m only at home, basically doing nothing. We made a list a few weeks ago, with things that make me feel better when I’m feeling down. Even those doesn’t work at the moment. Hopefully I will get that call soon, so that I have some direction on what to follow.

Thank you for reading!

  • Bob

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