The point of this post is to provide some insight into some of my bipolar high antics (hypomania/mania), including spending sprees and behaviour (at home and in hospital) that I can now laugh at. They were the pleasurable highs at the time.
Important to note: I’m in no way trivialising Bipolar. It has nearly killed me twice not to mention totting up years of pain, anguish, stigma and serious debt to mention a few.
However, I’m not going to focus this blog post on this more worrying, uncomfortable, negative, dysphoric, mixed mania, physically dangerous stuff as I want to be a bit more lighthearted.
I’ll start with a general overview of my ‘normal’ and then my personal climbing pattern up the scale, detailing some stuff I’ve done that I find amusing now.
Me when ‘well’:
I’m friendly, kind and like to help others. I’m more balanced in mood though I sit a little on the lower side of mood (hidden) and struggle with motivation sometimes. I’m not an overly confident person. I doubt my abilities and worry about what people think of me. I can be slightly anxious and nervous, especially with crowds or new people, but I’m a good faker. Once I know people well enough, I’m much more comfortable and laugh a lot. Generally I’m a worrier. I’m often disorganised but inconsistent with that and very often late. I tire easily but sleep reasonably well. This is my ‘normal’.
Sometimes I get depressed first then start to feel much better suddenly out of nowhere. At first I may question this change.
When I start to hit hypomania (and climb) everything changes to the complete opposite of my ‘normal’ self. It feels great. I’m very enthusiastic, outgoing and talkative, very productive and efficient with my time. I really enjoy absolutely everything, even the usually mundane stuff. Stuff gets done! I don’t worry at all about how I come across because I feel confident, happy, and will natter away to literally any tom, dick or harry wherever I find myself…. and I make a lot of phone calls….
I’ll fit in my day as much as is humanely possible. Thoughts race and swirl around my mind about all the wonderful things I can get started on. Sometimes thinking that I can influence the world (but that bit is further up the scale).
Other less wonderful less worldly influency, but productive, is my ‘projects‘. I’ll go off and buy things immediately to enable this and set to work once home having spent a shit tonne of money. Project ‘garden redesign‘ was one. Visiting the garden centre to buy everything to completely sort garden. Once home, sanded, painted all garden furniture, planted up numerous plant pots with new plants, did lawn, beddings, fences, pebbles, borders followed by cleaning the entire house thoroughly from top to bottom etc etc. All in a day (and night).
I talk a lot, I think because in my mind I’m very interesting. I have a hell of a lot to say that others will ‘like’ and these thoughts just keep racing around and need to come out. This is pressure of speech. When people don’t keep up with me, seem disinterested, or prevent me doing my things I get very irritable because I feel held back. They’re simply not on my level. Silly humans.
I don’t tire out at all so go to bed in the early hours if I do go that is. I’ll dip in and out of light sleep rising about 3/4 hours later completely refreshed and raring to go again.
But that’s ok, I feel great.
Generally, I’m not an early morning riser so others become surprised….
(This is where things can go very wrong regarding the more worrying, uncomfortable, negative, dangerous stuff I referred to but as I said I’m ignoring that for this post).
Funny sprees and behaviour:
One sunny happy day, I popped out solely to collect my (late) prescription intending to return home straight after. But no….
I detoured via a car showroom, actually arriving home approximately an hour and a half later having signed up for a 12.5k car I didn’t need. I realised later (when I came down) that I hadn’t test driven it. In fact, I had sat in the driver seat for a minute or so, spotted a ‘sport button’, pressed it, must’ve decided that was brilliant, job done…. However, I was a student with no job. That was my biggest spend. I can only think my ability to get credit was giving my university address as a ‘workplace’ and because I was being very confident and overfriendly. Saying that the car salesman knew I was a student really – he just wanted the sale I expect.
During my inpatient psychiatric admission for the overdose/mixed episode, I started cycling between hypomania and depression. Once I was allowed leave, when hypomanic, I went to town every day on shopping sprees. Each time spending on average £70 a day. Maybe that doesn’t sound much at first glance (?) but I was there for 6 weeks. In reality I had no insight of my money situation. In my mind I felt pretty rich. However I was actually just withdrawn from my nursing course due to the admission and was using my credit card.
I became a bit of a joke to everyone on the ward when I kept coming back with multiple shopping bags all the time.
Examples of spending (and behaviour) as follows, (specific individual days indicated as bullet points):
* Bought loads of really expensive make up and skin care. I already had loads.
* DVD’s and other stuff I can’t remember. One DVD was ‘A Beautiful Mind’. I then thought it was a brilliant idea to gather all the patients (some friends/some unknown) to watch with it me for a movie night. If you’ve seen it, it’s about the life of the infamous John Nash depicting a very raw account of his schizophrenia, having no insight, experiencing complex delusions, hallucinations and paranoia. Unsurprisingly, a couple of patients walked out….
* Fancy trainers, excess gym gear and swimsuit.
* Over £40 on nail stuff in boots and £15 in body shop on Brazil nut scrub and body butter. All of my friends manicured for a while.
* Various days purchasing lots of presents for my children to send home. Postage was ridiculous!!
* Large numbers of clothing.
* Masses of crafting materials and then enlisting patients from both wards to make cards.
* I embarked on ‘project bedroom’. Rather like the programme ‘changing rooms’ with Laurence Llewelyn Bowen. I bought fairy lights, an expensive lamp, duvet set, pillow, visited kodak to print off loads of photos and bought fresh flowers. Got back, enlisted one of my patient friends to mount the photos on craft paper and glue buttons to at least 30 paper flowers (the size of the width of a can of coke). We blu tacked them all over 2 walls and furniture, took the curtains down to turn them around (they were minging and didn’t fit with the theme the other way around) and I made the plastic bin into a vase decorating it with the paper the flowers came in. Job done. It was really pretty. Here’s an example of the of the the flowers and photos (I’d show you the room but it’s on my virus ridden laptop 😦 you’d be impressed I think. It attracted a lot of attention.
In ward round I enthusiastically invited my consultant psychiatrist to see this work, she laughed and increased my medication 😩…
Then I became depressed again, realised I was poor and needed to hand in my bank cards for safe keeping. Bit late really. Diazepam became my friend.
At the next ward round I told my consultant my mood and energy was low and I wasn’t going shopping anymore. She replied that at least she was now able to control my bank balance 😱🤔.
Sadly I have heard uneducated individuals say we use bipolar as an excuse for our behaviours. Maybe people without it say they are a bit bipolar and use it? Ones without a diagnosis? I’d hope that doesn’t exist. I don’t know. I’ve heard that. I certainly know I don’t (I’ve been diagnosed by at least 7 Psychiatrists at different times) so find that thought minimising and hurtful. Actual bipolar is not something I wish to have.
So there you are. I’ve learnt a lot about early warning signs since then and with the help of the CMHT and antimanic medication, I have much more insight and control. I do miss some of the up stuff though – but it always comes with a price. Quite literally.
****For anyone reading and wanting to learn about the bipolar scale and/or you’re a person with bipolar wanting to monitor your moods, the following from Bipolar UK can be really very helpful****:
This is the link to the Bipolar UK website if you want to download these charts.
Hope this helps, much love, me xx