I’m currently sitting in a coffee shop listening to a friend play a set of new music he’s written. It’s absolutely gorgeous and entrancing. This shop was the second place I ever performed music for an audience. That was almost ten years ago. It’s crazy to think how fast time has passed, and yet I find myself in the same place in a different yet similar personal situation as before: not quite knowing where I am in life or what direction I want my career to go.

I met with a producer recently for a full band project I’m working on. It’s something I can really see going somewhere and I hold the songs very dear to my heart. Music is the one thing that’s kept me sane in the past few years and I desperately want it to become my overall career. It’s a freeing feeling and something I know I’d overall be more happy doing. 

I write music to process thoughts. To overcome something that’s been bothering me or to understand it even more. I perform because it just floods me with dopamine and all the tough shit I’m going through disappears momentarily. I do it to connect with people. To feel what they feel and vice versa. Raw emotion just coursing through an entire room is a powerful thing. Music can make you dance, and laugh, and cry. It can help you remember people you lost and wonder about those you’ll meet. I just want to keep sharing that.


Downward Spiral?

Today I wasn’t feeling that great so I left work early. I’m scared of falling back into a downward spiral. It was the first time since I came back to work that I had difficulty with focusing, talking, and tremors. I can’t tell if it’s just regular anxiety or if it’s because I just ran out of my Topamax, but either way it was unwelcome. It’s hard to tell what’s regular when you’re on meds I guess.

Sometimes I don’t know what I’m thinking. For real. It just seems garbled. Do you ever get like that? It’s hard to tell what is and isn’t normal when you’ve been told you have a disorder. My roommate, who is also bipolar, wondered aloud the other day why his thoughts were so quiet lately now that he’s on new meds. Side note – I realize how weird that might sound saying that my roommate is bipolar. I promise that I’m not at a psych ward, though they are a lovely place and I highly recommend that anyone who reads this and is concerned for their mental well being consider at least a partial hospitalization program like I did if you need to recalibrate yourself. Anyway, like I was saying, he was thinking aloud and mentioned having quiet thoughts and I couldn’t stop thinking about how mine were so loud. Loud to the point where I couldn’t decipher.

I don’t know where I was going with any of that honestly, other than I’m at that point currently and am having difficulty concentrating. There are just too many thoughts right now. It makes me incredibly anxious to try to figure them all out. Even at work the past two days, my coworker could notice a shift in my demeanor. I’m not a fan of bipolar depression. It’s incredibly terrifying.

I was going to add more to this but my brain keeps stopping me, so here’s to tomorrow…

Today I felt the Crash.

I was hypomanic for the past two weeks. I had a lot of energy, I spent too much money, I was talking too much, I was hyper focused (which was great now that I’m back at work), but today I felt the crash. It really does feel like when you’re playing around at the beach not paying attention and then WHAM – you get sucker punched by a wave.

Everything just starts to feel heavier. You get tired quicker and want to nap often. I literally want to just pass out right now as I type this. Then there’s the emotional side as well. I space out. I tend to have racing thoughts. Not as much now that I’m on medication, but enough leaking out to distract – and enough to make feel upset for no reason whatsoever. I remember my Mom way back when telling me to stop thinking about whatever was bothering me, but when I’m in a bipolar depressive state, there’s nothing actually bothering me. It’s purely chemical. That’s the confusing part. It feels like everything and nothing all at the same time.

The first time I noticed these feelings was back around the tail end of 2013. I remember being stressed out about both family issues all the while trying to move up in my job and I couldn’t hold it together anymore. I had what I now know was my first mild panic attack at work. I was shaking and couldn’t even type, I remember my manager asking me if I was diabetic and what kind of food to get just in case I passed out. I went home early that day and became increasingly more and more paranoid. I couldn’t sleep.

My ex liked to self medicate with weed, and so I tried that too. I remember that I was constantly checking my heart rate for some reason even though I didn’t know what I was looking for at the time. The combination of the lack of sleep plus the marijuana triggered a manic episode and I had a full blown panic attack for the first time. It felt like my heart was beating out of my chest. Everything was spinning uncontrollably and I couldn’t stand upright without feeling like I was going to fall. My depth perception was off and everything looked super small.

I begged my ex to take me to the hospital but he was on the phone with his sister and he had a feeling I was just high. But I was convinced something was wrong. Why else would I have almost passed out at work and then had this happen? Then my heart started beating faster and I started hearing whirring noises that were unbearable, so I told him that I was going to drive myself to the hospital and that’s when he stopped what he was doing and took me.

At the hospital I felt like an insane person. I sat in the emergency room oscillating between crying immensely to laughing hysterically, like I was the Joker. It wasn’t a good look. The nurses asked me if I was stressed out about anything and I told them, “You know. Family, work, the usual,” but they didn’t react. They just continued to check my vitals. Everything was normal. I was confused.

“Have you ever had a panic attack before?” A panic attack? That didn’t seem like that could be what happened and yet once they mentioned it, my symptoms started to subside. I’d never actually had a panic attack before – well, at least not one that I’d recognized. Wait… I had similar symptoms the other day at work. It was beginning to make sense.

The doctors still made me do x-rays and EKGs and later sent me on my way, but that was the first time I felt how terrifying it could be when the crash goes too far. I have tools now to combat the crash such as deep breathing, meditation, and exercise, but for the times that I can’t fight it I know that the wave will pass over and move on just like it did when I was a kid on the beach and I’ll only lose my breath momentarily.

I figured I’d try this

I haven’t been keeping up with my journaling in a while, so I figured I’d try something I’m faster at. Writing something in a physical journal is time consuming for me. I’m quicker at typing on a qwerty keyboard. I’m not sure if my mind is as snappy or can keep up, but there are always a lot of thoughts brewing. I’ve just completed my second week of training. It feels good to be working again, but I’m still feeling anxious. I think it’s the medication. My doctor tapered me off and then made me completely stop taking Depakote and now I’m taking Lamictal and Topamax. I hope that my weight stops fluctuating and that I can force myself to stick to my workout plan now that I’ll hopefully be balanced on meds.

Weight loss has always been a struggle for me. I always have envied people who were able to eat whatever they wanted and never gained weight. I come from a family of people who no matter what we eat, we gained weight real fast… and it never seemed to fall off fast enough! I’m so sick of being a larger person. It’s something that always made me mad. I think that’s why I find myself more attracted to people who are way thinner than I am. They have the ideal body type that I want and I want to feel what it feels like. They always seem to think they’re so fat though. It’s odd to me. No one ever seems to be happy with their weight. I’d be so happy to just be under 200lbs.

Yet, I still struggle with emotional eating. It’s very impulsive and even during my time at the mental health program, it’s something I never talked about. There were people going through shit there that seemed more pressing and real compared to mine and I just wanted to not feel like I was dying first, so the eating thing got put on the back burner where it could cook and simmer for me to eat and eat and eat. There was a woman there that we’ll call Mickey. She was there for overeating and likened it to alcoholism. There was even a 12 step program for it. I considered going to a meeting, but I had already gone to several AA meetings and assumed they’d be similar. I guess I wasn’t ready to face it. I’m still not ready to face it. It means there’s a problem.

There is a problem. I have to write that out to realize. I cringe when other people take my picture because I worry that I’m going to look too fat in it. I heard a comedian the other day say something about how he does the thing where he covers his belly with one arm to hide the fat and I do the same thing. I wear a lot of black clothing because someone told me once that it was a lot more slimming and I got made fun of in high school for wearing a white t-shirt once.

I guess I just had to write all of this out to say that I promise today that I’m starting over. I’m going to the gym and I’m working out with my personal trainer and I’m not going to miss anymore sessions – as long as I hear my alarm.