Bipolar, What Is It?

What is bipolar disorder? Despite being one of the most known mental health disorders many people still don’t exactly understand what bipolar disorder is. That person really liked me a few hours ago and now they hate me, do they have bipolar? That person is talking really fast and they wont stop, do they have bipolar? That person seems depressed half of the time but they sometimes seem normal, do they have bipolar? In this article I’ll take a look into bipolar disorder.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?
Someone with bipolar disorder will experience extreme mood swings. There are two distinct periods or episodes. One is the manic episode which is a period of over-activeness and excitement, the other is the depressive episode which is like depression where you will feel low, worthless or hopeless. People with bipolar disorder will shift between the two different episodes with stable times in between, but these episodes can last for several months. Some people will experience more frequent or longer episodes than other people with bipolar disorder, and some will experience more severe episodes of mania or depression.

Manic Episode… Not Mechanic Episode
Mania is often described as a period of at least a week of elevated mood. Common behaviours of someone having a manic episode are being easily distracted, speaking rapidly, feeling restless or agitated, having racing thoughts or participating in risky activities. These include misusing drugs, increased sexual activity or spending. Most people who are going through a manic episode will not show a majority of these behaviours, so don’t expect your friend with bipolar disorder to start taking drugs just because they are going through a manic episode. The manic episode can be less obvious in many people which is why bipolar disorder can often be misdiagnosed as depression at first.

Depressive Episode Is Like Depression, Right?
Someone suffering from depression and someone going through a depressive episode of bipolar disorder can essentially show the same symptoms as each other, however like the manic episode it is possible that two people going through the same phase can show different symptoms. Like with depression, someone who is going through a depressive episode may feel constantly sad, unable to enjoy things, worthless, hopefully or irritated. Everyone may feel these feelings throughout their lives but someone with depression will generally find these feelings are much worse and last a lot longer than usual. Suicidal thoughts and feelings might also increase during a depressive episode.

Oh No! It Sounds Like A Have Bipolar Disorder!
Don’t panic! Bipolar disorder has only been covered briefly in this article and there is not enough information in here to be sure whether you can the disorder or not. Remember only a doctor can officially diagnose you so if you are worried or concerned you should book an appointment with your GP to discuss it further. You can research bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses on the internet for more information, but you cannot be sure until you see a doctor.

My Friend Or Family Member Has Bipolar Disorder, How Can I Help?
One of the most important things you can do is support them, make sure they start or continue to receive medical support. Medication and counselling can help to lessen the effect of both manic and depressive symptoms. Besides medical support you should talk to them and see what they want from you, they may not know or they may not want help but respect their wishes, knowing you have someone to talk to is one of the greatest things you can have when suffering from a mental illness. If the friend or family member is going through difficult times, or you think they are a danger to themselves or others, you should tell someone to make sure things do not escalate. Their health is very important, but make sure you do not get too obsessed with helping them as that will be bad for your health.

Where Can I Get More Information?
There are several good sources of information on bipolar disorder on the internet including:
Mind Website
NHS UK: Bipolar

This post is part of my Blogging A to Z April Challenge. The theme today was “bipolar” as today was the letter “B”. Tomorrow I will talk about my experiences with CAMHS counselling (and that counsellor I talk so much about), so follow and come back tomorrow for the post!

Hey Guys… Some New Medication!

PrescriptionBagYeah! I have finally been given some medication to fight off my illness. You might remember I was previously prescribed an anti-anxiety drug, Propranolol, to help calm me down on which I took a small overdose and received absolutely no help. I even said I was going to do something similar again and still no help. So what’s the solution? Give me something that is easier to overdose on (guess what it is while you read the post, a lot of my readers on anti-depressants may have heard of it). This is a win-win situation for me as it could make me feel better, or it will make me suicidal. With the mood I’m currently in I don’t really care which one happens.

It was my CAMHS counsellor (the one I hate) who prescribed me the medication. I am not yet sure whether I have been officially diagnosed with depression but everyone treats me as if I have. That’s why it was a shock to me that they told me today they believe I have social anxiety, and to combat it they will give me a drug that has a common side-effect of anxiety. The drug doesn’t seem to be used to treat anxiety (well it is, but I heard they use other methods first) which confuses me even more. Have I ever told you I think my counsellor is crazier than me?

Anyway, anxiety? I strongly believe that I don’t have social anxiety despite the odd panic attacks I have. If I do have social anxiety disorder it would confuse me even more as it does not explain any of the symptoms I have noticed except for avoiding contact sometimes (and the panic attacks). Depression still seems to fit most of the symptoms. From my knowledge of mental illnesses I might possibly have bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder but I doubt it for either. I don’t really have much of a manic phase and my depressed/angry/anxious/kind-of-happy mood swings are very unpredictable. I don’t know much about borderline personality disorder so I wouldn’t want to say I have it, I could ask my GP but I’ll probably want to learn more about it first. Readers, fire information at me! So yeah, I still believe I have depression, I don’t believe my counsellor.

The medication (keep thinking what it is) is being kept by my mum. I don’t really talk to her but people want to make sure I don’t overdose. The medication is in liquid form for two weeks, then I will start on the tablets of higher dosage if there are no horrible side-effects. I’m not sure if being a liquid form makes it easier or harder to overdose (I wouldn’t have enough to overdose anyway) but they wont let me take care of it. I find liquid easier to swallow than tablets or pills.

At the moment I am in a “oh, I can’t be bothered to do anything” mood. I was listening to music and playing video games when I suddenly turned very depressed. I cut myself, then I regretted it so I started writing this post. Interesting life, right? From my terrible dancing in my room I have somehow learned a great dance FluoxetineBottle move that I need to show someone… but everyone is at college so there is no one to show. It is one of those moves where you either do it perfectly or you fail and everyone laughs at you. Why am I talking about this?

So here is the medication.

Well… I am on 10mg/2.5ml a day (which isn’t a lot) of Fluoxetine, which some of you may know as Prozac. They will up the dosage in two weeks if, like I said earlier, there are no strange side-effects. Dead or alive, I can’t feel as bad after I take this drug than before. Surely not…

How To Use Rest Breaks Effectively

Students with both mental and physical disabilities or illnesses are allowed extra time in exams for rest breaks, while many employers will give their staff rest breaks too. Some people without disabilities or illnesses are even given rest breaks. But how do you use these breaks wisely to make yourself more productive? This article will explain exactly that, including prior planning and on-the-stop decisions.

Exams incoming, are you prepared?

Exams incoming, are you prepared?

To Do, Before
You should know whether you are going to have a rest break during your exam or work day, so make sure you are prepared for it. These breaks should help you relax so that your mind is fresh to continue with your work. Are you going to get up and move around (which might not be allowed in some exams)? Are you going to get a drink or something to eat? Are you going to close your eyes and take a short nap? You should know what you are going to do so that you don’t worry about it, as worrying will cut into your precious time! Note how much time you have for your rest breaks too, as that will make it easier to know what you will do during the break or whether to split it into two smaller rest breaks instead of one.

Get Up, Get Active
But don’t run a marathon, which is impossible if you have a 5 minute break into your exam. I doubt you will do that in your coffee break either. One of my summer exams is a 2 hour computing test where you sit at the computer (I believe I get an extra 30 minutes as well), which is probably going to kill you if you are sitting down the whole time. Getting up and walking for a few minutes will get you away from the working environment and allow your brain to gather thoughts. Although this will be allowed in a majority of workplaces, you should check before an exam whether this is allowed.

Know someone who has panic attacks over exams? Click here to find out how to help.

Have A Mint, Or Some Water
The greatest piece of advice I ever heard about exams is to take a mint in with you and suck on it. Okay, so maybe revising was the best tip I ever heard but this one is still great. Although I can’t find the study I believe sucking a mint increases brain function. Take my word for it, it can’t do any harm. Similarly, you need to stay hydrated on those long days in the office so make sure you have a bottle of water with you at all times. A dehydrated brain will work slower.

Think positively... and quietly.

Think positively… and quietly.

Think Positive
And while you are thinking positive, do not think about your work or your exam. When you are stressed the body will release adrenaline causing you to not think clearly. Thinking of something positive will reverse this effect and allow you to continue with your work normally. Your thought could be something you will do later (like celebrate passing your exam) or it could be a good memory.

Think positive? Click here for my anti-depression mystic flowing through the air.

So there you have it. Now you should be prepared for those summer exams, providing you revise, or better equipped for those rest breaks at work. Just make sure the breaks are allowed by your supervisor or exam organiser. I guess I’ll be off to think positive now… or have a mint. Do you have rest breaks? What do you usually do during them?

How Hip Hop Helps Beat Depression

Beating depression with hip hop? Surely this cannot be possible, we can cure this strange illness with a couple beats and rhymes? According to research from the Cambridge University (it’s my dream to go there) positive visual imagery and rags-to-riches stories told in hip hop and rap can create a better mental state. I’ll be honest and say just the catchy beats can sometimes make me feel better, but recently I have been listening to some more meaningful hip hop songs and they have made me feel better. Some of the songs I link below have got me through tough times, and I hope they do the same for you.

Vinnie Paz – Is Happiness Just A Word?
According to my sources, this song is about Vinnie Paz’s struggles with Depersonalisation Disorder(DPD). While I can’t confirm this, I know that many people suffering from depression will be able to connect with this song and understand they are not the only one suffering with these problems. This song could easily be about many different mental illnesses. Overall, I just really love this song from a rapper that most people have not heard of.

Nas – If I Ruled The World (Imagine That)
I like Nas, and he is considered one of the greatest rapper to have walked on the face of the Earth. This is the positive visual imagery I was talking about, where Nas imagines a better life for all of the people in the world with him in charge. If I could choose one rapper to be in charge of the world, I’m sure Nas would come to mind (because I don’t think he would kill everyone).

Army of the Pharaohs – Suicide Girl
The last rap verse of this song hit me hard. This song might trigger you so don’t listen to it if you are easily triggered, as there is a lot of talk about self-harm and suicide. But that last verse… oh man, give it a listen. If I could sum up my depression in a verse, it would be that last one. I am seriously thinking about playing that verse to everyone I know. Yeah… I’m probably hyping it up a little too much…

Kendrick Lamar – i
I smile when I look at Kendrick Lamar in this video, this is the happiest song on my list. It is very up-beat as Kendrick talks about loving himself, and the message from this song should be that you should love yourself too! It’s been nominated for a Grammy too, so it’s a recognised hit if you want to stay “down with the kids”.

Tupac – Thugz Mansion
There are two versions to this song, the acoustic version featuring Nas, and the remix version featuring Anthony Hamilton. The acoustic version has got me through I got of tough times, I remember once walking out of my house thinking whether or not to commit suicide (I wasn’t actually going to do it) and I had this song on repeat for two hours. I now know all the words! The remix with Anthony Hamilton has a couple lines which make me go crazy whenever I hear it, “I once contemplated suicide, and woulda tried, but when I held that nine, all I could see was my momma’s eyes”. Note that both were released after Tupac’s death.

Eminem – Lose Yourself
In this day and age you are not allowed to compile a “great rap” list without Eminem on it. I could choose from so many songs, Beautiful, Rock Bottom, but in the end I chose Lose Yourself. Why? It’s a song about being an underdog and getting out into greatest. I don’t know why your depressed, but thinking you could be in a better place will make you feel better…

How To Tell Someone You Are Suicidal

So how do you tell someone you are suicidal? Who do you tell? Oh no, you can’t choose them… Or you can’t tell them that… This post should answer some of your questions about telling someone about your suicidal thoughts, or intent to commit suicide, based on my own experiences and the experiences of other that I have heard about.

Firstly, should I tell someone?
The short answer is yes. All health professionals would agree that sharing your feelings and thoughts will help you. When you get your feelings out it will be easier to receive help but it will also feel less of a burden. When I first told my friend I did not get the reaction I was expecting, but it still made me feel better and realise suicide is not my only option.

Who should I talk to?
The important thing is that you feel comfortable to explain as much as you need. The person you tell should be someone you trust, someone who you know will do what you tell them to (such as not tell anyone). If you tell someone in your close friendship or work group it has the possibility of making things uncomfortable. I chose someone who I don’t see everyday (we do text often though) as I didn’t want to be around them all the time, if I miss them for a day I don’t want them worried. On the other hand, if you tell someone you are close to they will be there for you more often, meaning they can help more. If you are at school and tell a teacher or adult, they will have to get other people involved.

What or how much should I tell them?
As much as you are comfortable with saying. The truth is the best. If you have a plan and need help, make sure you tell them. You are unlikely to get help if you do not ask for it. They may ask how they can help, and if you don’t know then say that. Tell them that them listening is help. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know certain things such as why you feel the way you do.

What will they ask me
This depends on the person, they may not ask some of the things I list below but they may ask some of them.
– Why do you feel like this?
– How can I help?
– Have you attempted anything before?
– Do you have any plans?
– Who else knows about your thoughts?

How will they react?
That depends on who you tell. Firstly know that telling a non-professional means you are unlikely to get the response you expect, although it will still help. Imagine if your friend told you that they were thinking of suicide. Imagine how you would react. Whoever you tell will be shocked, they wont know what to say. There will probably be long moments of silence, but that is because they will have to process what you are saying, it is not easy finding out that someone you love wants to kill themselves. Don’t expect tears (people don’t cry when I tell them, strange?) but don’t be surprised if they come. If you tell them that you have a plan (or they are worried) they will possibly tell someone else such as a friend or professional, but if this happens do not worry as you may need the help. Only say as much as you want to.

Can I talk to a helpline instead?
Yes, of course! I talked to a helpline before I talked to my friend, and many people will talk to helplines without talking to someone they know. Helplines can be a great way to relieve any worries without dealing with as much emotion as telling someone you love. Personally, I recommend you do choose to talk to someone you know at some point as helplines as useful but cannot provide the emotional support of someone you know (I suffer from depression, and I find emotional support is very important for me). You can find some helplines for your country by clicking here.

I’ve told them, now what?
Give them some time to think it over. You will know that having suicidal thoughts is hard to deal with, but knowing someone else has suicidal thoughts is also hard. If they do not approach you for the rest of the day, that is fine. Talk to them the next day and ask if they have any questions for you, and assure them that you are alright. I can’t give great advice on this as every situation will be unique. But well done for telling someone!

“Suicidal, What To Do” and “Mental Illness And Me Project”

My site now includes the “Suicide, What To Do” and “Mental Illness And Me Project” pages. Yes, I want my readers to take part in a project! And yes, I have set up a page to help myself and others when the suicidal thoughts come because you can do with all the help you can get.

Mental Illness And Me Project
What is it? Well, many of my readers like writing, and writing is a great way to show the truth. I thought to myself, why don’t I create a hub of stories to do with mental illnesses and how they affect people involved. I want people (anyone) to write a story about their mental illness, and I will create a long list of these stories so that if someone wants to find out about these mental illnesses they can. Looking at a list of symptoms is good, but symptoms are just symptoms. They don’t show how it can affect your life in the way stories can. I don’t know how good this project will be, but if lots of people get involved it should be good. If you want more info or want to get involved, check out the Mental Illness And Me Project page or send me a message through my contact page. More info is coming!

Suicidal, What To Do
I wrote this mainly for myself so I can remember what to do when I’m suicidal instead of going out to the park with my rope. Anyone can look at it though (there isn’t really anything personal, I am going to write a personal to keep with me). There are some suicide helpline links for the countries where most of my readers come from (UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, Australia) as well as a short information/story thing to read that will hopefully convince you to not commit suicide. If anyone thinks anything should be changed please let me know, suicide is a complicated subject but it is something we need to talk about, and we must respect everyone’s decision. Click to view the page.

More Coming Soon…
I want to write more helpful posts. I have touched on panic attacks and self-harm in the past which were both popular posts, and I want to write more. If anyone wants a specific subject let me know (I write these types of posts for my readers) and I’ll write what I know, and possibly do some research. I can also ask my counsellor or GP as I see both of them next week, although I can’t ask them about menstrual cycles for obvious reasons! The sidebar will also get an update so that it includes more helpful information. That’s all for today, goodbye!

First CAMHS Appointment – What To Expect

Sitting in a blue room, shaking with tears rolling down my face. A strange woman tries to ask me for the fifth time if I know the cause of my depression. For those who want to know what went on in my first CAMHS counselling session those sentences will sum it. I was expecting a lot of horrible things to happen during the session, and I’m glad to say most of them did not occur.

(Not really) Me sitting in the waiting room

(Not really) Me sitting in the waiting room

So at your CAMHS appointment you will sit down in the waiting room (actually… that’s like most appointments). I remember the waiting room to be mostly blue and white, and in fact the other rooms I looked in where also very blue. After telling the woman at the desk I had arrived for my appointment I sat down. There were magazines for teenagers and toys for younger children but I chose to just sit and wait. After about 10 minutes another woman came into the room. They shook hands with me and my mum, then led me to the other side of the building. This was my counsellor.

We were the only two in the room she took me to, however there were six or seven chairs in a circle as you would expect for a group meeting. I chose a seat and she sat down next to me. The first five minutes of our conversation were mostly introductions and her telling me she would try to help as much as she can while taking down notes. Then it begin! “So, what do you think is wrong with you?”, “When did your depression begin?”, “Do you always feel sad?”. Question after question, at first I thought I was on a quiz show, with the grand prize being the eradication of my depression.

What CAMHS Will Question You About:
– What you think is wrong with you, and how it began
– Your home, school and social life
– Who you are close to, and relationship with family
– Symptoms of mental illness (do you? how long?)
– Whether you use drugs and alcohol
– Anything which might help them find the cause of your problems
You can refuse to answer any question, if you stay silent they will move on and possibly come back to it later.

Yes, everything I have mentioned above they asked me about. As the conversation went on I became more anxious. I was shaking within about 10 minutes, and my counsellor kept asking me about it. We eventually got onto the things I did not want to talk about such as my suicidal thoughts and self-harming. I do not mind talking to my counsellor about them when I know them better, but I had only known them for half an hour. I was shaking a lot, looking down and the other way, tears were rolling down my faces and my breathing was starting to become heavy. A panic attack you might say.

Throughout the whole conversation, the counsellor remained calm and did not make me answer anything I did not want to answer. When they realised I was not going to answer any more questions (I responded to the last ten with “I don’t know”) they booked me another session for next Wednesday. This session lasted about 50 minutes, and then we went back to the waiting room. The counsellor collected my mum and they talked privately for another 30 minutes, I presume it was about my home life but it could be anything. Then we left…

I wrote this for those who worry about their first CAMHS appointment (or any appointment). I know I was worrying about it, and I have talked to many other people who worry about it. My message is simple, don’t worry. Okay, so I had a panic attack but nothing bad really happened. Do you have any memorable counselling sessions? Share your stories below.