Validating my Bipolar Disorder

Yesterday I posted, on Instagram, a photo of myself, without makeup (Thank you Alicia Keys). The picture’s caption read:

How i feel. ‪#‎downday‬‪#‎mentalhealth‬‪#‎mentalillness‬‪#‎bipolardisorder‬‪#‎manicdepression‬‪#‎stillinmypajamas‬
Being honest. Living out there in the open.

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I’ve been living out there in the “open” with my diagnosis for a few years now. It hasn’t been easy. Yes I have been liberated, but I have also been judged and constantly watched. That made me so anxious. I was so afraid to make any wrong moves, to have bad days. So, yesterday was my way of freeing myself from that. Even as someone who advocates for mental health awareness and speaks openly about having a good life with Bipolar Disorder, I too will have bad days.

Just because I’m on medication, doesn’t mean this monster goes away.

Just because I go for therapy, it doesn’t mean the problems go away.

They stay there. You just learn to deal with them better.

And I for one, over the last two weeks, was not being proactive in preventing this relapse. I was not stupid. I just took on too much- something I think this illness can be blamed for. One just thinks you can do it all, save the world. It’s part of the illusion and I seem to fall for it every time.

If I look back at the past two weeks, I can say that I was way too busy for my own good. Life threw lemons at me and I tried to juggle them all.

It all started with driving to Cape Town for a radio show, (I live about two hours from Cape Town). Driving plus anxiety never mixes well with me. Constantly images of car crashes fly through my mind. Anyway, I got home safely and I think it was the next week where I had to be in Cape Town again for a TV show. More driving. More anxiety.

The next week I had a three day art workshop in Cape Town again (from Wednesday to Friday), a presentation I was asked to give about living with Bipolar Disorder on the Saturday and then a market on the Sunday (where I was to sell artworks I have been working on in my spare time).

ANXIETY GALORE!

I was so unsure of myself, so full of negative talk but I made it through the  busy days. The very next Monday it was my turn to drive for our carpool (lift club). It was all just too much. I crashed. I stayed in my pajamas, I didn’t shower (obviously), I didn’t eat (not so obviously). I was irritable. Everything was so loud, from doors opening to the kids crying to sounds outside. Everything was amplified. Everyone (and -thing) was in slow motion. My body feels heavy, like I’m walking around in ankle weights. I just wanted to give up on everything including myself. No amount of positive talk was helping. I chatted to my team members (now my friends) from Our Lived Experience and that helped. They kept me distracted from the fog. The numerous wishes on Facebook were also an eyeopener for me. People, some I haven’t even met, were clearing my cloudy day with their messages of support. Some didn’t know what I was going through, some did. But with every like and comment, it was like my experience, my down day, my crash, my illness was validated. It was real. A lot of the time I find that people do not understand this illness because they do not think it’s a real thing. How can it be real? It’s all in your head, no? No. It’s not only in my head. It affects my entire being. I was scared of posting that picture because I was afraid may label me as weak or seeking attention. Maybe I am seeking attention.

I want my illness to get some respect!

There are days where I hear things, and when I see things.

There are days where all I want to do is kill myself.

I am being blunt because that is the truth. I need treatment. I need compassion. Just as you would show compassion to people undergoing chemo or a child who just broke their leg- I too deserve it. They say the mind is a wonderful thing, but my mind can be hell. And it affects who I am to the world. My illness alters the person I am. That is scary. An illness that can take you away from your family and friends is scary, not only physically (like going to a clinic) but episodes take you to a different world and it can turn you into the worst version of yourself. All this is beyond your control. Most people don’t realize that. This illness robs you of control over your entire life. This is not just about having a bad day. Anyone can have a bad day. It’s about not being able to function. It’s about constant negative thoughts you can’t control. It’s about feeling confused by constant racing thoughts. It’s about (again) not having control. With “normal people”, you read a few positive quotes and Bob’s your uncle- you’re back on track. This ILLNESS requires other interventions (quotes can help, don’t get me wrong), but serious interventions are required for you to manage your life.

People will and agree with me and many won’t. And that’s okay too. This is my truth.

I’m busy finishing off my memoir writing course and I hope it will give me the tools to write a book that will explain exactly how I got to the space I am in today (both medically and otherwise). I want to be able to tell the story that needs to be told. I want to be able to share the story in a way that will help people who cannot go public for various reasons. Most of all I want to be able to tell my story with the compassion I deserve to give myself.

I deserve to give myself all the love I can.

I got this message in my inbox. I’ve been too overwhelmed to answer.

Your encouragement is worth more than gold. And your sincerity shines through in your Facebook posts, the few times I’ve heard you speak and definitely in our chats. I am a stranger to you, yet you offer words of encouragement and support to me and many others through your work/blogs etc. I’m sure I’m not the only one that randomly inboxes you, often bombarding you with questions and more. If what you have offered me is anything to go by, I am positive that you do the same for them. Each individual diagnosed with bi – polar has various triggers, some common where this diagnosis exists, others unique to the individual. I sense “your worth” is or has been a struggle to you. You can doubt your own words despite knowing the sincerity with which you offered them. Your actions however…This not even you can dispute. It’s clear in the work you do, albeit your talks, blogs, words of advice, your positive posts and your beautiful paintings you graciously share with us all. All these acts surpass your words, whether you think those words have worth or not. And therein lies evidence of your kind heart. I don’t know you, and I am certain you are not perfect (a common feature amoung the human population I’ll have you know! 😁), but your intentions are clear by the way you put yourself out there. Don’t you begrudge yourself the acknowledgement, respect and gratitude you deserve. After all, you should be Yvette’s biggest supporter!

Sometimes we can’t heal ourselves, but in helping others we actually do…one kind gesture at a time

Sorry for the vent/rant tone in some of the … You know what, I’m not sorry.

Stay strong,

Yve

Writing with intent

I’ve probably blogged a few hundred posts in my mind over the last few months. I just haven’t had the time or been struck with enough gusto to sit down and get myself to write (or write and then post). 

Why? Why? Why?

Even this post is taking forever to write. 

Maybe I’m afraid? 

It’s only ever fear that stops us anyway. Right? 

I spent some quality time with one of the members of Our Lived Experience yesterday. I must say she really become a friend. We chatted about our lives and the books we’ve been wanting to pursue. We decided to go old school and dare each other to invest in writing our respective books. 🙂
I used to write during my episodes – I was filled either with elation or bitter anguish and it would fuel my writing. Now that I’m medicated – living in the realms of normal- I feel disheartened. To me, it feels as if I can’t connect with that higher writing power. You know when anything you write is pure gold?

But. There is hope. My friend, the wise one, Ilze, reminded me that writing itself is like a muscle and it needs to be exercised. I need to sit and write with intention. Like I’m doing now. Write with intent. Intent to create.  Intent to move and inspire. Intent to heal. To soothe. 

I’m surrounded by great writers, creators – and they urge me to bring out the best in all of my crafts. 

I have the support. 

I can do this. 

I was born to fly and to soar. 

See you on the flip side. 

Yve

Facing Demons

I had a meeting with a publisher for my memoir in Cape Town this past weekend. I should be glad, right? I am. I’m sure deep down inside I am. Maybe.

On the surface, fear of being judged bubbles. The thought of writing thousands of words about my manic depressive life shoots my anxiety levels way up. This is due to the fact that I did a whole lot of stuff I’m not proud of and there are days when I feel like my ability to write has gone with the wind. Okay, more like gone down the toilet. Questions about why I did certain things will come to the fore and I don’t have any answers for them. So, in short, I’m scared to write about a life that’s messy and dark and wild.

This stupid bipolar disorder giveth and taketh away at the worst of times. The bipolar gods never favour me.

I sit here, wallowing in pity, all because of worry.

I should be excited, like the rest of the people who support me.

But the disorder robs me of that too.

 

Celebrating the little things

It’s easy to get stuck into thinking you won’t be able to achieve your goals. Many know me to be a positive person and generally I am. When it comes to my own issues, I often put myself down, like so many of us do. You know how to motivate others but struggle to do the same for yourself.

I just came out of a mini depression. I call it ‘mini’ because I didn’t attempt anything and I survived without my psychiatrist. Positivity is key in this sensitive time for me. I took time out from writing as advised by my blogger friend Kitt O’Malley and just focused on sleeping. I haven’t been doing that so I decided now is a good time. (Two of my children are away on holiday).

I slept and slept. My nanny took care of the baby and i just loaded washing between naps. I literally slept it all off.

Today, for the first time I read a few chapters of a book. I’m going to do a little dance now. *twirls* I could actually read. Being able to focus to read the words off a page is something a lot of adults take for granted. My mind also didn’t dart from one topic to another whilst reading. Usually I start reading and complete to-do lists between sentences. (This made studying at varsity extremely difficult).  I decided that being able to read, even if it was just for today, should be celebrated. So thank you to my blogger supporters and thank you to me, myself and I for giving myself that time off to heal.

My current read is YOUR VOICE IN MY HEAD by EMMA FORREST. It’s a memoir about a feisty woman with bipolar disorder who meets lots of famous people and swears a lot. She also has many troubled relationships. 

This is one of the five books I bought while manic. It’s actually the second time I’m reading it but now that I’m ‘present’, I should enjoy it.

Keep dancing,

Yve

If you can’t concentrate, you can’t remember

One of scariest aspects about living day in and day out with my illness, is this feeling that I’m losing my memory (ies).

I’m scared because I may forget the life I lead today. It’s so full and meaningful now. What if, in a couple of years, when my boys are older, I can’t remember the simple things I cherish today?

Many of us at the clinic complained about our ‘foggy’ memory, how we’d walk into a room and forget why we’re there. This may seem familiar to those not suffering from a mental illness. We were reassured that this was just due to our inability to concentrate.  When you’re depressed,  your concentration span often goes down south and so you cannot remember.  How can you remember the moment if you weren’t in the moment to begin with?

But is that all that’s to it?

During my stay at the psychiatric clinic, I had two roommates, one worked as a carer at another psychiatric hospital.  She had some knowledge about our medication which helped a lot. She also loved bipolars. My roommates and I grew very close and we were often inseparable. We were like sisters. Then one afternoon out of the blue, I felt dizzy and couldn’t remember one of their names. Why did it happen? I felt quite present in the bloody moment!
I also felt quite embarrassed.

This wasn’t the first time it’s happened.  A few months back, I  couldn’t remember my best friend’s name. In my attempt to find the name, I felt like I’d been grabbing objects in the dark, stumbling over nonsense and realising I had been in the wrong room anyway. My husband had to flip the switch and hand over the name.

Is it the medication?

Is it the Bipolar Disorder?

Can I really blame this monster for everything?

At least it gave us all something to laugh about in the clinic.

And it’s a major driving factor for me to complete my memoir.

I don’t want to leaving this world with blank spaces. I don’t want to leave my family with empty pages. I want to live and remember this book called Life.

Be alive in the moment.
Yve

Days gone by- emotions running high

Ah. Sometimes I am scared to stop. So I keep going and going and going. I don’t want to stop. Because once I stop I realize, hey. maybe you’re doing too much. Or hey. you’re doing too little. It’s just an ugly cat and mouse game where no one wins. The cat eventually gets food poisoning (that’s what the don’t tell you).

Last week Cayden’s school had their first week of extra mural activities. Because there was no exposure to such things in his previous school. we decided to take advantage of it this year. It’s Arts and crafts, Chess and Choir (he auditioned and got in). But so this meant I had to drive him to school, fetch him, bring him home for lunch, take him back and then fetch him again just before 4pm. All this with those two little ones in and out of their car seats.

Over the weekend, my mother-in-law helped put by taking the the eldest and middle (number 1 & 2) for the weekend. I filled my weekend with making all the decorations for Cayden’s Pirate themed birthday coming up on Saturday. It’s going to be a really big one for me. This is the first party I’ve thrown for him, as I am not going to count Spur parties. He’ll be turning 8. I cannot believe 8 years ago, I gave birth to this intelligent, charming little boy. Phew, let me get my tears in check!

Today was Alexander’s first day at a nursery school. Oh my. There are no words that could accurately describe that (almost) sinking feeling when your second baby goes to school (nursery schools are schools too okay). He’ll make friends, and eat without me. He will draw without me. He’ll even seek comfort from his teacher, and not me.
I felt empty.
The house was quiet without him.
I was quiet without him.
I was empty without him.
Is this normal?? I didn’t know how to deal with this so, after I dropped hubby at work, I sat at the beach for a bit. It didn’t help much.
Sometimes an emotion flows over me, drowns me a little and then leaves me. I then shoo it away.
At the point of shoo-ing, I decided to go shopping. i thought it may fill the empty spot inside. It made me feel worse. Actually, my bank balance saddened me. I got a nice new nailpolish and great pirate stuff.

Before I had the chance to work through the emptiness, I had to do whole fetch Cayden thing: fetch Cayden, bring him home, feed him, pick up Alexander, drop Cayden, drop Alexander at home, fetch Cayden, then go to my Chiropractor appointment (which BTW is EXTREMELY painful- this is still a big problem for me). I arrive home and start cooking supper. Babies cry intermittently.
There’s screaming, laughter, loud Cartoon Network, “WHY?”,I water the garden, do washing.

It doesn’t end, I can’t feel, but yet I’m drowning in: THIS.

It’s almost my birthday.

That was a reminder.

Oh and between all of this, I’m still doing my memoir course AND i finished my second draft of a short story I’m working on. It’s a modern South African story that centres around race and love and ghosts of the past. I love the story and I’d love to turn it into a novel. I think this distracts me, distracts me from doing more? I’m supposed to replying to comments! I want more time, I can do more, give me more time.

Time, give me more, me.

Am I doing enough?

Pass the Merlot…

Yve

P.S I don’t feel like doing #goodmoodMonday

A whole lot of official stuff

So, I’ve merged my two blogs into one, http://www.yvecorner.wordpress.com. I recently ‘came out’ of the bipolar closet and decided to blog under one name. It was frustrating and often tedious to duplicate stories, trying to remove my name and details for confidentiality. It became difficult to be myself, by withholding so much of me from the world. Bipolar disorder is part of me, it’s sometimes an enabler, and on many of occasions it’s been a destroyer. More often we only worry when the destroying part of the story is around. Believe me, I’m not blaming the disorder for my failures, I’m blaming my lack of knowledge and people in general for not understanding mental illness.

Anyway, that’s a post for another day.

The other official happening in my life is that I have enrolled with Writer’s College South Africa to do a course in Memoir writing. I know that my writing is enjoyed by many, so I believe it’s only fair that I improve on my skills- to give you, my readers the best version of me and this voice I’ve been given.

And finally, I decided to launch a Facebook page (here) where I’ll share posts published, but also share my other favourite bloggers’ insights, some resources about the disorder and where to seek help. Other bloggers are better than this than I am, I prefer just putting a face to bipolar.A sweet face. Maybe I will be able to get you to realize when you or someone you love needs help- and I’ll share ways on how to possibly help them.

My aim with my blog is to give you some sort of window into my life- maybe provide some insight into how the disorder influences the decisions I make, my lifestyle choices, why I complain (read ‘vent’) etc. I want you to see how normal I am- but also how exceptional my visions and talents are, to see that my darkest days are just as intense.

I am cursed with a gift and blessed with this curse.

Words, rhymes, feelings, colours, intensity and death.

All me.

P.S Remember not all bipolars are the same, but we do share similar traits.

Thanks for following!

Tweet me: @yvette_adams

Great News: I’m coming out!

I’m coming out the bipolar closet! Ah, what a sigh of relief. I could burst with excitement!!!!!

My hubby and I had a conversation about disclosing a few days ago. He knows I’m an extremely passionate person, and I really do enjoy helping people. In addition to that, by revealing who I am, people will be able to connect the illness to some of my past behaviour but also realize that the person I am is not defined by the illness. I know of many people who can’t imagine me being bipolar, because “I had it together”, but if they knew the truth, maybe they’d had have less ignorant ideas of the people who bear this cross.

As mentioned before I’m writing my memoir, and this has really motivated me to write more, and try to remember the foggiest of times.

I feel like I’m going to get me life back. The best version of my life, this time around, I’ll get to remember. 🙂

I’ll be merging my two blogs as not to lose anyone. Ah, please wordpress, don’t let me down!

Looking forward to catching up with everyone on the new blog!

Whose Bipolar is it Anyway?

I’m writing this piece with my husband in mind, not to challenge him, but to challenge the issue of the stigma of mental illness wrapped tightly in a blanket of shame and the ownership of that blanket.

For those who have been sentenced with this illness it is hard enough trying to pick up the pieces after a psychotic episode, let alone face the judgement of the world in our bare state of mind: vulnerable to the sting of any harsh comment. But what if you’re ready to tell the world, “Screw you! I suffer from a mental illness and I can function.” and your supporter may not share the same excitement? What if they harbour a similar shame; maybe a shame that disguises itself as concern for your well-being when you come out? Or maybe it’s a shame attached to them in that they’re scared to be associacted with a psychopath; well, okay, not psychopath, but someone who is not always in control and needs to be medicated?

Is this not my bipolar and my shame? Or are you sharing your illness with your supporter, so much so, that it’s a joint account of events and eruption of emotions? Am I selfish in wanting to tell the world that I’m an activist; or a wannabe activist and not consult with the person who saves me from myself ever so often?

Do you need permission to tell the world, if the illness runs through your veins, not theirs?

I carry the burden. I carry the bipolar. But I also see his fear when I’m not all there. When I’m gone, and all he has is, a monster.

Writing Mentor- Memoirs and Beyond

Life’s too short to take writing too seriously. There’s no pun in that.- Yvette Hess 2014

As mentioned in my about page I mention that I’m embarking on a new journey: adjusting my vision for myself and my family. I want to write while I’m a stay-at-home mom. I’ve always written stuff, just never really created chapters that could fill a book. I know in order to do that I would need to improve my writing, drastically. How does one improve on writing without distorting your voice anyway? Yes, my writer’s voice. I know I have one, I see myself in all that I write- little clues that thread through every line; twinkles of my humour sparkle here and there. But how do I improve and ensure I have credibility? I didn’t study literature or complete a Bachelor of Arts in English. I just love words (like most people do). I just want more than that. I want to be good enough to be published.

Sometimes I doubt myself. Okay, often, I doubt myself. If I look at the upside though, I know I can guarantee my readers honesty. In a world where being authentic is more often than not, just a label stitched on blue-washed jeans, being real is invaluable. Can invaluable sell? Does it sell? I’m willing to spend some spare effort and a little time on exploring that. And I’ve started with Daily Post’s blogging courses to help me exercise my writing muscles.

I’m looking for a mentor to help me with a writing project I have. I want to write a memoir, and as young as people think I am, my years are full. I’d like to document my happenings and lessons- put pen to paper, and encapsulate memories in little pockets of wordblobs. It’s going to be messy and emotional and raw. I think it would be wonderful to read, and for me, it’ll be comforting to physically close every chapter.

If anyone is keen, let me know how you can help or how you have experience in helping others to achieve their (or your own) writing goals.

I’m taking it all in my stride, so there wouldn’t be pressure either way. 🙂

Catch me here:

@yvette_adams

yvetteyadams1@gmail.com