My jet-ski has crashed. Well, not quite but it’s definitely on the way out. It’s juddering in limp-home mode, the satnav’s dead (not that it ever worked properly) and I’m heading towards what looks like a very large oil spill. It’s not that I’ve never crashed before, figuratively and literally, nor have I never faced a vast spill. It’s just that every spill carries new and uncertain dangers, swallowing fresh bits of the ocean and suffocating the delicate wildlife beneath.
I could feel it happening yesterday. I struggled to sleep. My eyes burned with tiredness and all day I wanted nothing more than to retreat into the warm folds of my jumper and hide. I was embarrassed and irritable in class. At the bonfire I fumbled my jokes and, even on the highest rides on the fair, I didn’t feel much good. I could feel my good spirits dribbling away – even the fireworks couldn’t sustain me. As I got home (and finally got warm again) I got a little bit of a buzz. I lay in bed nursing the warm glow of sexual arousal and desire, fiery like a shot of whiskey, all the while conscious that it was probably the last I’ll feel for a few weeks. I woke up before my alarm, one of the most obvious signs of an up or a down, and felt the shift in my body from sleek to slowpoke. I struggled to get up the stairs and sat dazed in my lectures, finding it hard to think in a straight line. This jet-ski is definitely on its last legs.
Still, I had an appointment with the GP this morning. I was nearly late as I couldn’t get out of bed and then the shower, nor could I make the [semi-] basic decision of what to wear or make a decent breakfast. My mind and body were moving through sludge. However, the appointment was promising. The GP was very sympathetic and has sent an urgent letter to the community mental health team so that I get seen as soon as possible. She didn’t feel confident enough to start prescribing a lower dose of Trazodone and that any recommendations should come from someone like the community psychiatric nurse (CPN). I was disappointed but not as much as I should have been. While I was in bed I’d been frightened of what would happen when I come off. Would I be ok? Would I still be me? Most importantly, it seemed at the time, was what would happen if I lost my hypomania? What if I become boring? Or lose that tantalising sharpness with which I can sometimes see the world? What if, god forbid, I’m no longer a bonafide sex goddess?
But then I had the rest of the day to remember what else I have to gain. I’m already feeling washed out. The lone rambling walks in the rain have started (hard to avoid as it seems to rain constantly this side of the Pennines) and I fiddle nervously with zips, buttons and screwed up paper bags. I’ve been craving sugar and carbs all day, never quite being satisfied despite being full. I made one of my standard ‘what the fuck?’ dinners that are testament to my poor planning skills – it was samphire, anchovies and peas from the pan, not the best combination. I’ve got loads of uni work to do that I haven’t been able to concentrate on because my head’s been full of silly ideas. Though I enjoyed my Wednesday night Spanish class in town, I was anxious and shy for the first 20 minutes and then morose and grumpy on the way home.
In my perfunctory grump, I began to consider the timeline of recent events. Two weeks ago it was W’s birthday, he came to stay with me, and I spent the entire evening sobbing in an incoherent mess. On the Saturday I told my parents for the first time about my diagnosis – they were very supportive but it can be hard to convey just what is actually happening to me. W and I ended up sort-of fighting and unhappy on the Sunday. I was a sweaty, jittery mess for a few days until the Wednesday when, after a visit to an emotional health and wellbeing service for uni, a friend and I made breathless confessions about our various mental maladies and I felt real understanding for the first time in two months. The week that followed, I was high as a kite. I bubbled and brewed, attractive and happy, having an excellent time on Friday visiting friends and lighting up the room. I indulged in varying degrees of nefariousness, including half a litre of gin and a few naughty fireworks, and seemed to completely know what I was doing. I felt for the first time in months that I had a handle on things when really, sadly, I was probably just on a bit of a high. It gave way to silly fancies and another gut-churning confrontation with W as we tried to confront what’s actually happening to me and, unfortunately, to us. We’re still unresolved and now I’m feeling like this. It’s a mean trick.
The GP mentioned today that she’d done a psych rotation and had worked with people with bipolar. She said that she enjoyed working with them because, depending on where they were in the cycle, “you can get a real buzz from them”. I hope everyone enjoyed it while it lasted – time to start swimming.