Bipolar really is manageable - six weeks of sleep deprivation (Almost slipped but back on track).
Almost a year ago to the day, my recovery from Bipolar disorder was about to start. I was prescribed lithium which started to work almost immediately and since then, bar the odd few days, my mood and my life has been the most stable for 13 years.
However the last six weeks have provided me with a real test and have proved as a stark reminder of how my condition must continue to be managed and probably will have to be for the rest of my days.
Around six weeks ago, my sleep really started to suffer. Prior to this I had been sleeping really well getting on average 6-8 hours per night and there was no sign of any change. However, something clearly switched in my brain and body and I started to get less and less sleep. After a few weeks, some nights I was not sleeping at all, however I didn't feel that my mood was changing. A lack of sleep for me can often indicate an upturn in mood and can signify a shift to mania. I am aware of this, but as I stated, initially I didn't feel any shift in mood.
The lack of sleep persisted and suddenly I found myself with bundles of energy, my mind was racing and believe me, this is fun, but left untreated is very dangerous.
I had to cut right down on the amount of exercise that I was doing (which frustrated me highly) as contrary to popular belief, intense exercise could have stimulated my body and mind even more and therefore exasperating the problem. I also had to increase the amount of medication to help me sleep.
Along with the frustration of not being able to do what I wanted to do, other elements of my life started to deteriorate. My diet became erratic and my sleeping patterns where all over the place. Fortunately everybody at my place of work, Brooklands Sports Club, are aware of my Bi Polar and the majority of people understood that I had to take a back seat for a few weeks, often taking a few days off to manage my deteriorating sleep patterns. I had great support as always but some people just did not understand. Is oli ill? Is he going to be off work for months? If he's feeling slightly high, why is he taking time off? These are valid questions, because that is what has happened in the past.
The support has been outstanding as ever but still the nagging doubts arise from certain key people. It is very difficult for people living without mental illness to understand it, try as they might. Am I expecting people to understand it and feel sorry for me? No. Absolutely not.
There have been, as ever, lots of messages of support via text, email and phone calls which are amazing to receive and really do help.
As this episode of hardly sleeping continued, people around me and I, myself, became more and more frustrated resulting in me regretting some of my actions and being rueful of some of the things I've said. I like to think of myself as a fairly thoughtful and caring person but I have not covered myself in glory with my behaviour over the last couple of weeks and for that I am sorry. I am no angel.
Then, last week, my sleep improved. I had a quick trip over to Cleethorpes for some fresh sea air and a change of scenery and I sit here today feeling much more like myself.
I have not had to take months off work, I have not had the inevitable depression that follows a high and in the last few days, I have been running and been to the gym, played tennis and feel great. Last night I got 7 hours sleep which feels magic.
I feel a huge sense of achievement as I feel that this is the first time I have had to really manage my condition, adapting my lifestyle to reflect where my mood is. Did everybody agree with how I managed it? No. Could I have done it better? Of course. We can all do everything better. I live and learn.