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I am a 29 year old woman diagnosed with bipolar disorder type 1 and also suffer from general anxiety and panic attacks. I have only been recently diagnosed but have been ill since I was a teenager. I tend to have mixed-manic episodes, hence the name of my blog. I am a regular guest blogger for Black Dog Tribe. I am not a mental health professional. I am just writing from my own experiences with mental illness. If you wish to use any of my blog content please contact me at lababup@gmail.com. Visit me on twitter @lababup

Thursday, 12 February 2015

A day in the life of just one person with mental illness #adayinthelifeMH

A Day in the Life (https://dayinthelifemh.org.uk/) is a project which aims to collect the everyday experiences of people who have mental health problems. The project is collecting accounts from mental health sufferers on four particular dates over the year. What follows below is my entry of what happened on Tuesday 10th of February 2015. I hope that you can take more time to read the other entries on the project website, coming soon!

My day starts differently to most days. Due to a combination of depressive symptoms and heavily sedating anti-psychotic medication, I usually manage at least twelve hours sleep. However today I am up at 7.30am. The reason for this early start is that my house is getting surveyed and I am too scared to be around whilst a stranger is there. I have a lot of problems with social anxiety, so interacting with a stranger is extremely hard for me. What will I say? What will they think of me?

My plan for today is more or less the plan for every day: My partner drops me off at my parent’s house to spend the day with them. My Dad works from home and my Mum works part time so I have someone with me all the time. I lost a lot of confidence because of the panic attacks I have been having over the past year. I think everything through over and over and panic that all sorts of things may happen. I feel safe with my family and so I am always with them. I just can’t be on my own anymore.

Today was a day that my Mum was off work so we did a few boring things like go shopping for a washing machine. I had to talk to someone at the shop which filled me with dread but I managed ok. I am hoping that as I keep taking small steps to combat my fears, they will eventually go away. We then went for coffee. I have to say that going for coffee with my Mum is (sadly) one of the highlights of the week. When you live life with a mental illness, the smallest things can really make your day. When I visit a coffee shop I can sit in the corner where no one will notice me and watch what goes on around me. Having a coffee feels a little bit special for some reason.

Later on in the day, I start to get excited for no particular reason. I have bipolar disorder and sometimes my moods go all over the place. On this particular day, I feel high for a few minutes and jump up and down laughing but then I crash back into depression just as quickly. I feel tired, lethargic and useless.

I get picked up by my partner in the evening and I manage to make dinner for once. Cooking can be hard when you don’t have any energy or motivation. Luckily I don’t have to do much. We have crispy duck with pancakes and hoisin sauce. All I have to do is chop the veg and put the duck in the oven. It isn’t good for my weight, which has soared since going on the anti-psychotics, but it is so comforting to eat fatty food that I find it hard to care!

My partner goes off to an exercise class in the evening, leaving me at home. The evenings are the hardest for me as they are when I get most anxious and am also most likely to have bipolar symptoms. I am practicing being alone for short periods to try and overcome my fear of being alone. I can feel the panic rise in me but I try and distract myself by looking up things obsessively online. I search all sorts of random things just to keep my mind occupied.

I go to sleep with my partner reading next to me. This is the deal we have made. He reads and looks out for me as I drift off to sleep. I feel safer that way with the light on. Luckily sleep doesn’t often elude me because I am zonked out from the anti-psychotics. As much as I hate the way they make me feel numb, I don’t know how I would survive without them. I fall asleep but my last thoughts as I drift away focus around the fear of dying. As hard as life can be, I desperately want to survive. At least for the moment anyway. 

2 comments:

  1. Your day sounds similar to mine since I've slowed down on the Ph.D. My husband drops me off at my parents' place before work on most days. Dad works from home and mom is retired, so I'm not alone. Most days I drive my mom around on whatever errands she needs. I enjoy coffee breaks with my mum as well, we usually split some sort of decadent treat. Being anonymous, but not alone is comforting.
    Anti-psychotics aren't fun. I gained weight too. They made me sick more than anything, so I came off them. I'm glad they help you sleep though. Sleep is so wonderful when it happens, especially the dreamless kind.
    Hang in there, hugs!

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  2. Hey, nice to hear from you :-) Sorry, I only just noticed this comment. Your day sounds almost exactly the same as mine. Those little coffee breaks really make a difference don't they?! It is nice to hear from someone with similar experiences to me. It can be tough, even with supportive partners and parents. They make the days just a little easier. I don't know where I would be without them. I get really anxious thinking about what life would be like if they weren't around. Just typing it now is making me anxious.

    Anti-psychotics make me feel sluggish and shit but I am so happy for sleep. As you say, the dreamless sleep is the best. I have started sleep walking and trying to take medication which is a bit worrying! The weight is a problem but I can't not sleep. Thanks so much for taking time to read about my day. It was a pretty boring entry but it is nice to hear that someone else relates :-)

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