Good or bad, it’s all just stress to me…

There’s a lot going on in my life at the moment. It may not sound a lot to other people but, with my restricted use of and sense of time, it’s a lot for me and my scrambled egg of a head to deal with.

It’s been a fantastic summer this year so I’ve taken literally thousands of photos which built themselves into quite a pile on my computer hard drive waiting to be edited, shared or discarded. I archive photos twice a month onto an external hard drive so that I don’t lose them. They may not be precious to anybody else but they are to me and, in a way they are me so I’m keeping myself safe in a way by keeping them safe. It means that when depression is particularly hard and oppressive I can look back on different times and see that there has been joy and hope in my life and it will return. It’s a foot in what passes for normality. This whole process of having experiences and documenting them is good stress; it fills me with hope that I have a longer future than bipolar disorder would like me to have and drives me forward when I desperately want to just stop my life all together. The self imposed and obsessive targets when it comes down to archiving and storing them is bad stress. I’m sure that anybody with the same sub-psychotic sense of obsession will tell you that it’s not something you can control and it’s a case of either accepting it or allowing it to overwhelm your life. It’s definitely bad stress.

I’ve been at the wrong end (if there is a wrong end) of discrimination lately. My ability to do something I can do with my eyes closed, one hand tied behind my back and whistling the national anthem has been questioned on “health grounds”. This is currently going through a resolution process and can only be defined as bad stress even if there is a positive outcome at the end of it.

Last but certainly not least I’m having a few days away next week. The planning started two months ago with the buying of train tickets and booking hotels rooms in order to get the best deals. One of the places I’m going to is a city I’ve never visited so it’s very exciting for me. I will probably take a thousand photos while I’m there and I’m going to have to be really aware that I need breaks. I’ll get physically tired but I’ll also become mind tired or manic if I don’t act sensibly. The second day is a trip to Kent to catch up with friends and visit an old graveyard and my third day will be spent around Marylebone and Euston Roads. It’s going to be a packed few days.

I could do less but I’m very aware of the times in my life when I get to do nothing but moulder in a dark corner wishing, praying and hoping for an end of one kind or another. My life is all about extremes: I rarely spend time in the middle ground, it’s just a place I rest in for a few moment as I pass on my way to mania or depression.

Yesterday the toll of stress caught up with me. I wish I had the memory (another bipolar quirk of mine) to remember the warning signs but I never seem to see them. I found myself in the midst of a rapid cycle of extremes and, I’m sure, pissing off the very people who give me support and love in shovelfuls. When I rapid cycle I go through at least four changes a day. Yesterday was particularly bad and I lost count of them after the first half dozen. They were so violent that I woke several times in the night as I they changed with my head racing and then as they changed again in minutes. When sleep happens it’s sudden and deep but because of the sudden and frequent wakenings it’s anything but restful.

Today I’ve had my pet sitter and her daughter visit and so I’ve been able to channel the excessive energy Into making things look clean and tidy. This means that my surroundings are comfortable and demonstrates to me that since I can concentrate on tasks the cycles are getting longer and coming to an end.

The day ahead is going to be a day of dramatic ups and downs but it’ salsa going to be exploiting the dominant mood to achieve things. This means sleep and rest in the downs and gentle tasks in the ups.

It’s not possible to eradicate stress from my life completely and that dealing with the after effects have become an art form I’d rather live without but I grow as a person each time this happens. I’ve learned that it’s really okay to reach out and ask for help and that doesn’t make me less independent. Having registered Lasting Power of Attorney means that I know I can hand over the important things if I need to and have the luxury of taking my time to get well if I need to and this also helps me stop taking the bigger risks associated with bipolar disorder.

I’m very tired now and so I’m going to sit with my cats, eat ginger cake and drink something caffeine free. In spite of the efforts that bipolar disorder makes to ruin my life it really is a good one.

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