Phil,

I have a counseling intake appointment tomorrow. It is with the same woman that I got counseling from the semester after I was depressed in Oxford so she knows some of my background but not the recent stuff. I’ve thought that I might have needed it since I’ve had five panic attacks in the last three weeks, which isn’t tons but that’s almost two a week, which I can’t handle with school and everything now. My crying fit last week was kind of my breaking point though. I’ve just been really scared lately that I’ll crack and have to take another leave of absence like I had to my junior year. I hoped that I could just deal with things on my own but with how I’ve been feeling lately, I didn’t want to wait to see a therapist until things got really bad and school got even more stressful. I decided that I should just deal with it now while things are still so-so.

The hard thing is that some days I’m totally fine and I don’t think I’ll need a counselor. I think I’ve just gotten really good about distracting myself. When I’m distracted with things to do and classes all day and my roommate is around to keep me company, I’m fine. However, things get bad most of the time when I’m alone in my apartment and am not able to distract myself with something.

When I wake up on the days that I don’t have class, which is every day except Tuesday and Thursday, I just wish I could stay asleep forever. It is so peaceful in my sleep. I never want to wake up. I just never feel like there is anything worth while to wake up for. All I have to look forward to on the days I don’t have class is doing homework and tackling the next stressful thing on my to do list and hoping that I’ll get a job soon. I do feel hopeful at times but I’ve just been feeling really lonely lately. I think also when I’m alone with my thoughts, I’m bombarded with negative thoughts about what happened in Oxford during my depression or my mania or even feeling guilty for what I put my family through when I ran away from home when I was manic. It’s like I can’t watch a movie or a show that even brings up the slightest remembrance of one of those bad memories without all of the memories flooding my mind and getting a sick feeling in my stomach. It’s really bad because I don’t really know how to cope with it or deal with it, which is what I hope counseling will do for me. Writing this out helps, but I think I need more help than that.

Phil,

No Credit Card

No Credit Card (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I just completed my first week of school. I’m starting to get really anxious about how hard this term is going to be and when I’ll get a job. Even if I do get a job it’s going to be really time consuming and I don’t know how I’m going to be able to come emotionally and physically doing both. But I really need a job cuz my bank account is empty and I only have $50 left on my credit card after paying my rent this month.

 

One good thing is that I’m living in my apartment with my best friend, Nicole, who is Native American and from New Mexico. We’re really alike and I call her the Native American version of me. So it has been really nice living with her so far and we both have our own rooms which is nice.

 

Thank you for sending me so many letters. It always lifts me spirits when I read them. I really like the pictures you draw on them. I think I’m gonna make a collage of all the pictures on your envelopes that you sent me. I liked the post card you sent. I thought it was funny that they let you buy a card with a picture of a nude woman on it ha.

 

I’ve been feeling less depressed and just a little stressed out lately which is good.

 

Sending my love,

 

Ellie

 

P.S.

 

Sorry it took me so long to send me those letters to you

 

 

Phil,

 

 

 

I’m so sorry that I have not written any letters to you. I know that it’s really horrible that I do not make the time to write you. That’s part of the reason I started crying so much when I saw you. I cried because all of my feelings rushed to me of how much I miss you, how much I care about you, and how much I love you. Even though I have visited you several times, I know that it is not enough, especially since you have written me so many times. When you were explaining to me how you would sit in your cell and hope that you would get a letter from me, I pictured myself in your shoes and I knew that I would be soooo sad if I wrote someone as much and you write me and that you did not even get one letter in return. I really hope that you can forgive me.

 

 

 

The other reason why I was crying is that I have been pretty emotional lately. I will write you another letter about my emotional night this past Friday.I think my bipolar meds might be putting me in a bit more of a depressive state now. I have an appointment with my psychiatrist on Thursday. I’ll let you know how that goes and what he thinks. There have also been two days this week where I felt really anxious because of all of the things I have to do in general and now the things I have to do to get ready to start school next week. When I had these anxiety attacks, I had to take some of my sister’s anxiety medication to make myself feel better. So, I’m going to talk to my psychiatrist about possibly getting emergency anxiety meds incase I get another attack.

 

 

 

It was so nice seeing you today. I really liked that I could see your handsome face. It made me really happy and sad at the same time. It was nice seeing you because I love seeing your smile and the joy in your eyes and all of the good memories we had together that I remember when I see you. But it made me sad because I feel like I haven’t seen you in forever and it makes me sad you are stuck in a cell, and I can’t hug you, and I can only see you behind a piece of glass, and especially since I feel like I made you feel like I don’t love or appreciate you since I don’t make the time to visit you more or write you letters.

 

 

 

Unfortunately the crying did not end after I let the visitation hours at the jail. When I left it was obvious that I had cried so I talked to your mom and cried more. Then when I was at home, I watched that movie called “My Girl” where the little girl’s best friend dies and it reminded me that I need to make time for and cherish my loved ones because we never know when they will go which reminded me of you and I read the three-paged letter you send me after you heard me cry on the phone to you and I sobbed the loudest I had in a long time as I read it.

 

 

 

So I decided that I needed to get me feelings out by writing a blog journal, then I got the brilliant idea of having a section of my blog being titled “Letters to Phil” so it will be journal-like letters to you that I can get me thoughts and feelings out to you in a letter form, what you’ve been waiting for me to do the whole time. It will be good accountability either way becuase I’ve been meaning to write you forever and I really need to start journaling since it’s very therapeutic for me. So, I’ll get two-in-one which will be an extra enouragement for me cuz I love 2-in-1s lol.

 

 

 

I love you so much Phil and miss you tons. I wish you were here to hug my lil crying face right now.

 

 

 

Love,

 

 

 

Ellie

 

 

 

Phil,

I have been feeling really emotional lately. On Friday I got off work around 10pm and my sisters were at my church’s college ministry group party. I was hoping that my sisters would pick me up from work so I could catch the end of the get-together but neither of them answered their phones so I had to get picked up by my mom. I was a little bummed that I didn’t go to the get-together but I didn’t think that I would mind that much.

But as the night went on, I was kinda annoyed that I was just hanging out at home on a Friday night and I started thinking about everything that my sisters were having fun doing and that I was missing out on. I was a little annoyed that they didn’t keep their phones next to them and that they didn’t really have me in mind or think of me and consider that they should see if I could make it to the end of it. I know that it is partly my fault because I didn’t communicate to them that I wanted to go and for them to make it a priority to pick me up so I could  catch the end of it but I think it was more of the thought than anything. I might have not even had much fun if I would have gone.

The problem was that I was at home on a Friday night, thinking of everything I could have done, and what I was missing out on. I started feeling lame and bored, but I had work at 1pm the next day so I couldn’t stay out too too late anyways. So, I decided I would just go to sleep. That’s when my bummed out feeling all of a sudden turned to sadness… I just laid in my bed and cried. I felt so lonely and alone. I was at my parents’ house, both of my sisters out, and the first to go to sleep on a Friday night. I didn’t even know the true reason why I was crying. I just felt sad and lonely. I wanted a friend to comfort me.

I texted one of my friends that knows some about my bipolar disorder and he was busy. So then I called another friends and talked to him for a bit which comforted me a little by reminding me that I do have friends that care about me, but I wasn’t able to explain much of how I was feeling to him because I haven’t told him my whole story before. My friend that I first texted reminded me that the feeling should pass and that I should just tried to sleep. At first I thought that the comment seemed a little cold, but I took his advice and finally fell asleep.

When I woke up in the morning, I kept hitting my snooze button like I did when I was depressed and just wanted to sleep forever… I really hope I’m not getting depressed.

Hopefully I’ll do better tomorrow.

Sending my love,

Ellie

Posted: February 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

Here is a post I found on “Voices of Glass” about Bipolar Disorder and Sleeping Patterns. Click on the link and follow it so you can take part in the poll 🙂

Voices of Glass

Ok here is something different and please understand that this is new to me and so I am still muddling my way through it all – so please bear with me.

As a result of my own experiences, an article I read recently and a subsequent post that I published here on Voices of Glass, the whole question of sleep patterns within people who suffer from Bipolar Disorder has started to really interest me.

So in response to this I thought I would draw up a little poll or three and invite folk to share their own experiences.

I really hope you enjoy doing this and that I haven’t messed up the design of it.

Below you will find three very short polls.  All you have to do is choose one answer that is most accurate for you personally in each of the three sections.

Due to the way the…

View original post 147 more words

My most extreme manic episode lasted about 2-3 weeks. So there is alot to tell about that story. Right now I am just going to give you an idea of the intensity of my mania at the height of it and how it made me feel and some of the things I did as a result.

When I was manic, it was like I could not control it. I would have sudden urges to just get up and walk for miles. I felt so restless. It’s crazy because for about 2 weeks I would probably sleep for only about 5 hours a night. Then I would spend my days walking for miles on end around my city from very early in the morning to late at night. For some reason I never felt very tired or hungry.

I just felt so connected to nature, God, and people. I felt that God had a purpose for me to enlighten them about Him and the beauty of the earth and  how to have joy and be happy. My mind was always racing and I would piece ideas together or have a dream and think that they were revelations from God. I also came up with this idea with this logical formula how my name, if written in Hebrew phonetically, would mean “little god.” After this, I got really excited thinking about how God made us in His image so, in a way, we are all little gods. I thought that I was some sort of prophet or messiah and that I was meant to tell the world this. Later on, I had a dream that I was walking on the beach and I was able to part the sea like Moses did in the Old Testament. After that dream, I thought that I literally had powers, but they were located in the area of our brain that everyone says we don’t use, so I just had to learn how to harness my powers.

It may seem like from all of that craziness, that was all my mind could handle, but my mind was racing a mile a minute. Everything I saw, everyone I met, and everything I learned reminded me of something. I couldn’t focus on one subject for too long. I felt like my future had endless possibilities and nothing bad could happen to me. I came up with dozens of possible career plans. I wanted to join a circus, circumnavigate the globe, hitch hike down the beach from California all the way to visit my friend in Argentina, make a documentary on homelessness, travel around the country on a bus, etc. Then there were things that were a little riskier that I wanted to do, I went from wanting to model, to being a burlesque dancer, to thinking of even maybe getting involved in adult films.

Another thing I did while I was manic is overspending. I went to my local outdoor mall and applied to get credit cards at Macys, Express, Nordstroms, and Victoria’s Secret. Over a couple of days, I maxed out each card and now I had a rolling suitcase full of things I bought to carry around with me. Unfortunately, what I didn’t realize at the time was that I was also now carrying around a large baggage of debt, which I still have to pay off today.

I started dressing very gregariously and suggestively and paired with dragging a suitcase along with me every where, I could only guess how odd I looked. However, despite my weird dress, many people seemed to like talking to me and many people gave me their phone numbers or emails and said they wanted to hang out more. Though it is true that I could tell that some people were annoyed with me, but I didn’t care, I was high and no one could take me down.

At the beginning of my manic episode, I ran away from home because I thought that they were trying to control me and take over my life, so I was constantly trying to find places to stay. I knew that my family was worried about me but I just felt like this was something I had to do. So, the main risky behavior that I took part in was staying at peoples’ houses that I just met and having many sexual encounters. It’s interesting because many of the people I had sexual encounters with I normally would not be attracted to. Many of the places I stayed at were guys houses and two of them were men in their 50’s. I didn’t sleep with them and it did seem a little uncomfortable staying with them at the time, but I was desperate to have a place to sleep. One night, I couldn’t find a place to sleep so I just stayed up all night at a Dennys.

Obviously there are alot more little stories within this big story but this just gives you an idea of what I went through. Have any of you had similar experiences as me? Leave a question/ Comment

You Can Do It Lake Huron Beach Oscoda Trip 9-2...

Image by stevendepolo via Flickr

I haven’t written a poem in a really long time but I randomly decided to write a poem to see if it would help motivate me to stop with all of the procrastinating I’ve done today. Here it goes:

 

Can’t focus

All these thoughts running through my head

So much to do

But my body just feels dead

My brain hurts, my body is weak

I just can’t comprehend how I’ll get through this week

 

Come on focus, you can do it

Stop procrastinating and put your mind to it

You can do it, you can do it

I just keep telling myself

But I guess I’ll just have to stop what I’m doing and use force, if nothing else

 

Get something accomplished, don’t be a bum

You are smart, or at least smarter than some

You have a purpose, just get a little done at a time

Now do what you’ve got to do and stop this little rhyme

Anxiety Always

Image via Wikipedia

I had a slight depressive relapse after my first and only major manic episode in the summer of 2011. This slight depression started to set in during the fall of 2011 when I was taking a semester off of college in order to have time to collect myself and recover from all of the crazy things I had gone through in that past year. During my semester off, I went to counseling, took my medication (most of the time), worked about only 15 hours a week, took 2 city college classes in order to stay in practice, and spent time with friends a couple times a week.

During this time, I was dealing with coming to terms with being bipolar, which I am still in the process of doing now, but it was newer and more difficult then. I had so many questions. It’s interesting because lately I’ve been researching bipolar alot, but then I didn’t really have the urge to. I kind of just wanted to forget that I had it. I was ashamed and annoyed that I had to deal with this.

I just felt very lazy and unmotivated all of the time. Most of the time I felt unmotivated to even get off the couch and go do something with my friends because I didn’t think it would really be that great or worth it. I only did my homework when I absolutely had to. Alot of time I felt stupid for taking a semester off college and like I was missing out. I felt like my lifestyle was dumb and boring and it made me feel like there was no point to life, not to the point where I had suicidal thoughts or anything, I just thought it seemed kind of pointless.

I had alot of fears about going back to my college after having my manic episode and being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I worried about what to tell my friends and I was scared of their reactions. I was avoidant of alot of my friends because I just didn’t know how to respond to them and I felt very self conscious. I also felt like I was being a bad friend because not only was I not responding to them, but I hadn’t take time to contact them in a long time.

I was also really overwhelmed because I racked up alot of debt while I had my manic episode. I ended up getting credit cards to Macys, Express, Victorias Secret, and Nordstroms. I used up the credit limit on each of those cards and it ended up being like $2,000. On top of that, I got a DUI and had to pay those fees along with a 3 month DUI class. Unfortunately, my part-time job wasn’t enough to cover everything and my parents weren’t really in the position to help me so those bills were always looming in the back of my mind.

Even through the end, after Christmas and New Years, I was just so lazy. I had a long list of things I needed to do before I went to school but I just couldn’t bring myself to do them. All I wanted to do was watch tv shows, escape, and not thing about anything.

Finally, now that I’m at school it kind of snapped me out by giving me more structure and surrounding me with some good friends, but I am still going through this process.

English: Oxford -Bridge of Sighs- Hertford Col...

The Bridge of Sighs at Hertford College, Oxford University. Image via Wikipedia

The deepest and only experience of major depression happened in the fall of 2010 when I studied abroad at Oxford University in England. I was so excited to go study abroad. I thought it would be such a great experience to travel, challenge myself (since I’m such an over-achiever), feel accomplished, do something prestigious, do something that would look good on a future resume, and get to experience new things, people, and places. However, I got really depressed while I was there and it basically ruined my whole experience…

I didn’t think I would have much of a problem with finding friends or being home sick because every summer from when I was 13-16, I would go on a 6-week performing arts tour around the country and I would barely ever miss home and I always made friends. I am not the kind of person that has a bunch of friends but I always seem to manage to have a few. Also, I get along with most people so I don’t usually have to worry about having any major clashes with anyone. I knew some of the people that would being attending the study abroad Oxford semester with me, but I wasn’t that close of friends with any of them. I was a little worried about making friends, but I was hopeful that things would turn out well.

I had thought about how being away from home and finding new friends would affect me but I didn’t think about how the weather would affect me. I knew that it is foggy in England alot but it just didn’t pop into my mind and alert me to think about it and decide if I should give it any consideration. Maybe it is partially because I went to Ireland when I was 8 for 2 weeks and I don’t remember it bothering me. However, that was 13 years ago and 3 months is alot longer than 2 weeks. I feel like I should have known it would affect me because even on normal foggy days at home it makes me tired and a little more down. I just didn’t stop to think what that might do to me if I was subjected to it everyday for 3 months. Part of me thinks that maybe I had some form of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) while I was there.

I knew that the studies would be challenging since it was Oxford (for Heaven’s sake), but I figured that I would be able to handle it because must be good enough if I was accepted, other people have gotten through it in the past, and I’m a hard worker. I acknowledge that I am smart but I also realize that things don’t come as easily or quickly to me as some other intelligent people so usually have to put in a little more effort than they do. But things started to become too much for me…

The educational system in England is different than in the U.S. They use the tutorial system in which students have one-on-one tutorials with experts in the field that they are studying. I was actually excited about being able to have this kind of opportunity, but I was also very nervous and intimidated. Each week we had to write two 10 page research papers and defend them to the expert in the field. It was so draining for me. It was difficult for the other students too but it seemed like it was extra challenging for me. That kind of learning and interaction system was not good for me. It just required alot of alone time so I just spent most of my time in my room working on my papers.

I lived in a flat with other American students that were studying in Oxford and I got along with all of them but I didn’t really seem to click with any of them except for one and that didn’t even seem to be too close of a connection. I just longed for someone I could be truly close with and feel open with. I felt so alone. I started to become really home sick and started to skype my family more and more as the months went on. I would tell them to walk around with their laptops around our house and just the familiar sight of my home was so comforting to me. I began to sleep for 14 hours a day. I would dream about being home then wake up and the first thing I thought every time was, “Ugh, I’m still in Oxford.” It was such a bummer because this was supposed to be such a great experience and time in my life. This should be a time I should be able to look back on in life and cherish, not cringe at the thought of it.

I have always been a night person in the respect that if I need to get something done for the next day, I would rather stay up late and get it done than waking up early in the morning to finish it. It’s odd though, because when I was in Oxford, I started to be sort of nocturnal. I would end up staying up really late at night working on my papers then I would end up sleeping through the day. This pattern went on for days and weeks on end.

I started getting so anxious and overwhelmed that I started becoming avoidant and procrastinating on wring my papers by watching online tv shows. I would tell myself that I would only watch one, but one would lead to another, and another, and another.

My older sister has struggled with depression for many years and one day when I was talking to her on skype, I mentioned that I felt like I might be getting depressed. She just encouraged me to try to exercise, get out of the house, and try to do fun things every once and a while. Looking back now, she said that she didn’t really worry about my comment to her all to much because I only brought it up to her one time. I guess I didn’t bring it up again because I thought that her answer was the only one that could be given. I tried to use her suggestions but it was hard when I constantly had papers I needed to write looming over my head. It didn’t help that I never wanted to go outside because the weather was so gloomy and cold all the time.

All of the stress I went through took a physical toll on my body. I lost a great deal of hair so my hair was really thin when I returned home. Also, I didn’t have my period for the whole 3 months that I was in Oxford.

I did have good experiences while I was in Oxford, but unfortunately my bad times seem to outweigh the good. It’s a bummer because whenever I have talked to people that have studied in Oxford in past years they talk about how great it was. Of course I’m going to just bring up my good memories too since who wants to bring up the bad times. But I wonder is there anyone that had a bad experience in Oxford like me? Or was I the only one? Depression sucks… It totally ruined what could have been a great experience for me

Arrow Up

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Bipolar itself is not a brain dysfunction but the ability to experience a range of energy and emotion that is wider than “normal” people. The range is not the problem; it is the lack of understanding and inability to choose how to react to it that causes so many of us to find ourselves in disorder. When they are only taught the disordered half, they see it as an illness and struggle with the vicious cycle of crisis and recovery. When they are taught how to get “Bipolar IN Order,” their suffering ends, and they discover that bipolar is an advantage in their lives that they would never give up.”- Tom Wootton Understanding Bipolar: You Don’t Know the Half of It

“When I went into depression the first time, all I saw was darkness and pain. At the time, I thought it was unbearable, but looking back and comparing it to some of the far deeper hells I have since experienced, it was really nothing. As my perception has grown, I am beginning to “see” things I never knew were there: good insights, lessons, and personal growth. In “seeing” clearly, I notice that now depression doesn’t affect me so negatively. It now affects me much more, but in a positive way, at least according to the way I have learned to ‘see.'”-Tom Wootton The Art of Seeing Depression

“When you see depression as beautiful, everything changes. You see every waking moment as beautiful whether you are happy or sad, winning or losing, in sickness or in health. Even if you wake up in a deeper depression than you have ever experienced, you understand it so profoundly that you can function normally, are comfortable being there, and you value the experience so much that your life would be immeasurably diminished if you could not experience depression and every other part of life to its fullest.”- Tom Wootton Depression Is Beautiful – A Zen Koan For Depression?

“Andrews found a significant correlation between depressed affect and individual performance on the intelligence test, at least once the subjects were distracted from their pain: lower moods were associated with higher scores. “The results were clear,” Andrews says. “Depressed affect made people think better.” The challenge, of course, is persuading people to accept their misery, to embrace the tonic of despair. To say that depression has a purpose or that sadness makes us smarter says nothing about its awfulness. A fever, after all, might have benefits, but we still take pills to make it go away. This is the paradox of evolution: even if our pain is useful, the urge to escape from the pain remains the most powerful instinct of all.”- Jonah Lehrer Depression’s Upside

“What is Bipolar In Order? In the simplest terms it is the ability to experience any flow of energy and information as equally beautiful as any other while having complete choice of how to react to it. Bipolar In Order means no matter how painful or ecstatic, the flow of energy and information that occurs is experienced as rich and insightful while being regulated by the prefrontal cortex to provide meaning without being overwhelmed. It means being able to experience even the most intense flow without the suffering that comes from denying or fighting against it. It means experiencing life completely without overreacting to or suppressing any stimulus.”- Tom Wootton Going With the Flow to Achieve Bipolar In Order

What do you think about these excerpts?