If you had asked me a few years ago, had I ever had a psychotic break, I probably would have answered no.
Now I feel otherwise. For many years, as I began to come down from manic euphorias, the first sign of impending depression was a weird paranoia. People were talking about me behind my back. They were watching every little thing I did at work and criticizing me in secret. I would drive with apprehension, watching out for every cop on the road because they might stop me for some unknown breakage of the law on my part. I was sure my neighbors were watching me from behind closed curtains.
Of course, all of this was totally ridiculous and completely untrue. Nonetheless, when it happens, it's real. Too real. And quite psychotic, in its own way.
Once the depression set in, the paranoia would get worse, to the point where I would be afraid to leave the house. In any case, generally my depression would be debilitating enough where I wasn't capable of getting dressed without a huge effort. Because I always seemed to have a little bit of energy left, I could usually manage a shower by noon. Of course, three hours later, I would have to go back to bed. Bed and warm bedcovers, by necessity womb-like, were the best and only comfort.
Psychosis plays its own role in manic-depression. In a way, the euphoria that goes with the mania is very psychotic. I can write a bestseller to pay for all my overspending. That was my favorite delusion. Yeah, sure. Perhaps I do have the writing ability to do that; however, during a manic episode, my thoughts and actions were certainly not cohesive enough, nor sane enough, to put together any kind of a book proposal, let alone write a chapter.
And then there's the old "there's nothing I can't get accomplished without sleep" syndrome. Working away at 2 a.m., having huge amounts of energy and yet getting little done because I was too off the wall to think rationally.
These days, although I still have sleep disruptions, they are nowhere like the ones I had during acute manic phases. I try to get at least seven hours of sleep. I try to eat properly, although I still have a bad habit of skipping breakfast. Unfortunately, much of what I do is sedentary. That's about to change, though. On the advice of a good friend, who is not manic-depressive herself but lives with a bipolar, I'm about to get my ass out to the gym and get some exercise into my routine. That will help raise my seratonin level. And perhaps get me back into some kind of physical shape. I've been doing some walking during the day but I need more structure.
As far as posting to this blog is concerned, there are two things that I've decided. One is that I will post on Tuesdays only. It's really not all that healthy to be so obsessed with one's disorder that it must be written about daily. The other is that I put most of my effort into the book that I'm writing and into my other blog, The Knitting Curmudgeon.
In my next entry, books about manic-depression. There's some good ones out there. And some bad ones too.