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What follows are highlights of a rather long journal entry I made 10 years ago approximately 2 months after I was diagnosed bipolar and hospitalized. I was 17 at the time, and it was after a psychotic episode I had that revved up over the preceding six months or so and triggered by 4 days with no sleep at all.

Part of my treatment was in a crisis stabilization unit out of state on our family Christmas vacation, and the other portion was partial hospitalization in my home town because we couldn’t afford full hospitalization. I was on Risperdal right after my inpatient treatment, which dulled everything. I couldn’t handle it, so I begged my psychiatrist to reduce my dose. I became more unstable shortly after, my depression and mania magnified both at the same time, while allowing me to write more freely. I tried to stay positive, but I was in the middle of a storm at the same time. Here are highlights of this moment.

3-28-2004

-Feelings Journal Entry: exhausted, confused, guilty, angry, frustrated, sad, confident, happy, ashamed, depressed, overwhelmed.

– I woke up this morning wanting to kill myself to end the pain, and now I feel pretty good. Craziness.

-I’m writing now because my emotions are swirling in my head, and I don’t know how to express myself. I just want to throw up somewhere, and I’ll just do it here in writing.

– I wonder if I’m just being weak and lazy.

-Then I have bipolar thrown into the equation. And this word “equation” kills me – I am trying to calculate where all this is coming from – my past, present, illness, medication, or lack of will power. I’m sick of it. What’s me? My therapist showed me that I can keep the things that I like about myself, and reject and fight the disease that takes my strengths to the extreme – high or low.

-But yesterday and today, I woke up and didn’t feel like getting out of bed at all. Anything that requires effort seems to me no point in doing. It’s like I’m stuck in a rut and there’s no point in pulling myself out or making the effort even to grab someone else’s helping hand because I don’t experience the pleasure for long and I just slump back down. I don’t feel like doing anything productive, getting out of bed, doing research and homework, fixing food, playing guitar, taking a shower, going out with friends, planning events, going for a walk, maintaining relationships.

– I hope that this is not normal, and bipolar is involved – but I don’t want to use this as a crutch, and aren’t the meds supposed to take care of it?

-But there’s still this remnant left. One moment, I’m alone in my room or taking a walk and all I can think about is suicide. I just get more depressed and I feel exhausted over anything that requires effort, and I just want it to stop and just go away forever into heaven.

-But I’m suicidal one moment and I make an effort to get up, and I engage in activities, and the feelings of joy do return, and it’s little things. Little things are magnified throughout my days and I feel them fluctuate. This not only plays into my moods but in my concentration as well. I have a harder time concentrating and I tend to do things quite slowly.

-There’s something about her that really attracts me, how loving, and caring she is to people, and she knows what to say to give comfort. God used her picture there [in the crisis unit] to prevent me from slitting my own wrists.

-I’m still low on the self-confidence issue. First, there’s my body image. My gut is starting to sag, and I’m not eating healthily. I don’t have the drive to exercise like I used to. I went nuts, and my body and other peoples’ reactions show it. Eating is now a comfort for me to deal with my problems.

-I’m shy around people, and I don’t know how to handle conversations; did my bipolar have an effect on this? Am I social or am I not? I’m so confused.

-I’m also having a lot of problems with cognition. Things seem to always go in one ear and out the other, or if it stays in my head, I have a hard time finding it, let alone think about it. That is, compared to what I was like before I was on all these meds, particularly Risperdal.

– I still remember in the crisis unit when I got my first dose of Abilify. I was supposed to write a paragraph about why I was on the unit and after the medicine started kicking in, the thoughts and connections in my head started to become numb, one by one, along with all desires. It slowly started to paralyze me, till I couldn’t tell what I was thinking and I could write nothing down.

– Maybe the decrease in Risperdal will let me feel more normal. I’m worried about being in charge of anything, in general. Before, I was used to being the driven one and took on leadership roles. Now, the drive is not there, and I cannot keep track of many things let alone my own homework assignments.

– It’s awful for me to make the first few marks on the paper in art, to improvise in jazz, to follow conversations. I wish I were more spontaneous and loose. Oh, dancing is another good example of what I mean, but this one always was. I simply can’t dance. If somebody asks me what the music feels or looks like, I stand there like a rod. It seems like my ability to do art and conversation is fading to the point of my inability to dance.

-My therapist says this is important for me in relation to my bipolar, as life can throw earthquakes at times, but I don’t understand this yet. I don’t know how the role of being released in tough situations plays with bipolar, yet, because I haven’t had any quakes thrown at me yet with me being consciously aware of my disorder.

-I’m also reliving some of the experiences in the hospitals – both in and out of state.

-I wish these spells of thinking about inviting suicide would go away. Mom wonders if they’re spiritual attacks.

-I’m so glad that I’m not writing too furiously like I was when I was manic, believing that I have the revolutionary book that will change society. Sorry, that was kind of random.

-Mom, grandma, and aunt Bell are still not on speaking terms. It is partly my job to mop up the mess I created in the family the past few months. I dunno what to say. I wish my head was a little more clear.

-As far as the disease of bipolar vs. who I am is concerned, I wish I could keep all the good things, but sometimes my disorder enables me to be the good things or prevents me from being the good things. I wish I could control it.