Ramblings in mania by Charlie Francis Cassidy

I don’t always notice that I’m manic, till one small detail catches my eye and then it all becomes so very obvious. 

Right now everything is moving so fast and I’m wondering how long it’s been like this without me noticing.

I can’t help but wonder how this impacts those around me. Especially when I don’t realise it’s happening. How do people see me when I’m like that? Is that just who I am to some people, actually no, I know I am. Some people, being the key phrase here, I know not all. I mean, I’d like to think those actually close to me see me as, I don’t even know. I don’t have a clear picture of who I am despite the moods. It’s hard to not just define myself by my bipolar sometimes.

I’m not even sure if I’m making any sense right now, this is all just a jumble of thoughts racing through my manic mind. I’ve taken some seroquel to calm it all down but it takes a bit to kick in. I’ll be fine, I caught myself before it got too extreme. It’s just something I need to keep a better eye on.

Time to re-arrange by Charlie Francis Cassidy

I can tell I’m having a manic episode, I mean I can usually tell sure but this one has some very obvious signs.

I’m re-arranging my furniture again.

It’s been awhile since once of these episodes. Has not happened in Melbourne at all till now. Haven’t had too much to work with really. I want to put my desk into my room, I just work better on my own sometimes. I spend all day in an office, I need time to myself I think. Of course this means I’ll see my housemates less, since there won’t be a whole lot for me to be out of my room for I guess but it’ll be fine. Hopefully it doesn’t see me spiral, sometimes being on my own can be a bad thing. But I guess I can always grab my laptop and come out here.

So tonight I decided to re-arrange my room to fit said desk and now I am trying very hard to not finish the move tonight. It’s past 11, I have work in the morning and moving this desk is going to take awhile. I have to empty it, and go through  a bunch of stuff, move the desk then put everything back. I have Tuesday off work so I should just wait till then to do it, it’s not so far away really. Trouble is when I’m manic, I just want to do things, right away. But, waiting for some meds to hopefully kick in and bring me down a bit.

Normally I wouldn’t care about being up till 3am following the whim of a manic episode but I am trying to be more responsible.

All the Signs by Charlie Francis Cassidy

Trigger warning: Suicide

By now I am very capable of recognising the signs of mania, especially in myself. So here I am sitting at my desk figuring out a programming problem/assignment and it feels just like all those nights in my last degree. My nights of genius, where I would declare myself the god of code, or 3d, or basically whatever it was that I was succeeding at.

I now realise, as I realise how manic I am now, that it was mania all those times. Those times I stayed up 3 days straight to make a game for class. That whole culture of not sleeping, drinking and working at weird hours to get stuff done I could have done weeks ago.

It poses a question and a problem to me now. I have been skipping my Seroquel the past, 3 - 4 nights. Maybe it’s actually been a week. I figure, I am coming off them anyway when I go into hospital and I really need to get this work done before then. So I have had more and more of this mania.

Sometimes it’s manageable, like now, and I’m fine. Productive even. But other times I come close to just taking all the pills in my drawer. The problem is, I have missed this. My “current” meds don’t allow me to be this functional at this time. I’d be passing out around now, and around 8pm onwards I’d probably be too sedated to do anything useful at all.

Will I lose everything if I “cure” myself of this manic behaviour. I want to feel like this, I don’t want to be numb and sedated half the time. I don’t think I can live like that. I just don’t know. Will I lose my brilliant mind if I cloud it with all these drugs?

I know I know, it’s such a cliche. I’m bipolar and manic. OF COURSE I want to go off my meds. That doesn’t mean I’m wrong. Doesn’t mean I’m right. I don’t know what it means. Is it worth it? Is it worth the pain for these moments. Is it worth the chance I may not live long enough to fulfill my potential. Or would I never fulfill it anyway because I can’t think or work properly half the time.

Intense by Charlie Francis Cassidy

Trigger warning: Self harm and Suicide

I get very intense episodes of Mania or just intensely stuck on things like wanting to self harm or worse. So for the past 3 months my psychologist has been trying to get me to try this sensory thing.

It’s this thing where you try to overload another sense of yours so that you can’t do anything but pay attention to that sensation. One suggestion - bite into a chilli. Now that doesn’t sound pleasant and I guess it isn’t meant to be. It’s just meant to be safer and break you out of the cycle.

I usually try cold showers when I get bad, I developed that myself but finally I took this thing to a new level. I got those Fishermens Friends mints/menthols that are really strong.

I was in an intense Manic episode and my thoughts were racing and I couldn’t break it, I wanted to hurt myself. Instead I put one of those in my mouth and omg, few seconds in all I could think about was the mint then 5 more seconds and it was all I could do to keep it in. I gave up after 30 seconds, but it sure as hell broke me out of my head space.

Other suggestions are intense smells, loud music, anything that overloads one other sense and if it’s unpleasant probably all the better.

Back in, for almost opposite reasons. by Charlie Francis Cassidy

Trigger warning: Self harm and Suicide

So, I probably start most of these posts with so far too often. That aside, it’s been a week since I was re-admitted to hospital. Last time I was in a severely depressed state, this time I think it’s more of a manic one. The lead up was me being an overly good, super kind of mood. Except, at the same time my self harm thoughts had sky rocketed. That was all I could think of as I almost skipped to work each day. Needless to say I didn’t have the self control to refrain from most of my thoughts each day. I don’t think I even felt overly guilty about it, I wanted to do it and spent far too long looking at my arm afterwards.

The other unfortunate side effect of my suddenly high high mood was the spending. Is the spending. I have bought far more books and clothes than I really should have. I spent $140 on a bag for goodness sake. Just a simple old messenger bag. I spend $100 on shorts, more than that on books. Then games, then some software to organise all my games, books and comics. I’m out of control. I already have a nice debt from previous times. Something like, $9000. I can’t stop buying shirts, things I see I decide I need and then without a thought I’ve ordered them. Thankfully I deemed the $600 flights to Melbourne as outrageous. I was meant to be down there, for the game conferences. The one time of year that I have to connect with the industry properly and get inspired to do amazing things. 

Instead, I sit here on my hospital bed writing out a bunch of things I’m not even certain people read. But on the off chance this makes someone feel like they’re not the only one going through this sort of thing, even just one person, well it’d all be worth it. I was taken to the emergency room Thursday night after telling someone I wanted to kill myself.

I am glad I said something for once instead of just attempting it. There are only so many times a person can get lucky and have someone walk in just in time. This is progress, I got myself here without harming myself at all that night. Granted spending the night in the mental health emergency department is far far from fun or comfortable it was the better option. 

 Now, my psychiatrist decided to put up my Seroquel to 300mg instead of 200mg to see if that would settle me. It helped but I found it would stop working somewhere in the afternoon, so now I am trialling the extended release. It actually has not gone anywhere near as bad as I expected. I guess my body is pretty used to Seroquel by now. So we’re going to give that a good shot. The good thing is swapping back isn’t too hard if it turns out to not be as helpful. The only part I have to get used to is taking it 4 hours before I want to go to bed. So around 5 is when they give it to me in here. It’s an adjustment, but actually kind of freeing. I don’t have to worry about when I should take my medication in the night, it just kicks in round 9/10 and then I kind of go to sleep around then. 

 This is going to be a much shorter stay than last time, I think I’ll be out Monday/Tuesday even. So far, I think I am mostly more calm. When I’m not, there are plenty of things I can take to calm me down anyway. I just have to get better at taking them when I need to and before it gets too bad.

Doing Things by Charlie Francis Cassidy

Trigger warning: Self harm

Sometimes being manic can just be so productive. Like that is how I packed so quickly after I got out of hospital. And then unpacked completely the same day I moved. I have a lot of stuff too, so this is saying something. How I fit it all into my tiny room is a mystery.

Tonight, tonight I am so not good. I was at a friends and was practically losing my mind, I could not sit down or focus. But when I got home I just did stuff. I set up my bed better, sorted out a few more things. Compared to depression I guess the difference is pretty great and I don’t exactly experience much inbetween these two things.

Maybe I should focus this onto some business work but I think I’m too far gone now, it needs to be physical things, that’s what I’ve discovered. Otherwise the agitation gets the better of me. It can’t need great focus, I don’t know. I’ve taken my night meds cause I need to calm the hell down, probably get some sleep. Half n hour, I really can’t expect it to have done much by now, lately it can take 2 hrs to do anything.

Maybe it’s time for push-ups, though my wrist is a bit sore today. Too cold to go outside to box as well, or consider getting to the gym. So here I am typing furiously and making a million typing errors I’ll have to go through and fix. I’m sure I’ll miss some.

Maybe I’ll put some hooks up, do some sit-ups, do some something. I’ve got to go through the steps my psychiatrist gave me. Challenge the thoughts or something, then try to distract myself, I should find that list. I think I’ll need it. But it’s been over 3 weeks since I hurt myself, I can keep this up, right? Not sure who I’m asking here. This is a real achievement though.

Discharge by Charlie Francis Cassidy

Trigger warning: Self harm and Suicide

It’s been nearly a week since I got out. I totaled 2 and a half weeks in there. I absolutely needed to be there as well. I went to some groups on various things I need to get better at, like stress and time management. And managing depression itself. Most nights were difficult for me, which was the pattern before I was admitted. Towards the end I was much better at talking to my nurse about it and getting help. I haven’t hurt myself since I was admitted 3 weeks ago, almost exactly to the time.

And tonight I’ve started getting the self harm and suicide urges again. They went away for a bit after I got out, I was too busy moving and going through a manic episode. But now after my second day of work and back to my normal life, they’re back. It was never expected that they wouldn’t. I’m just meant to be better at handling them, or something. 

I am definitely in a better place than I was before, and I’ve broken out of the self harm cycle. As easy as it is to slip back in. I nearly lost it when I found some shears in my toolkit. It was calling to me, the sharp sharp blades. I still have it in my kit, I couldn’t take it out, but I haven’t used it either. It’s probably the self destructive side of me that drove me to keep them and not tell someone. A part of me would also like to be able to have these things without being a danger to myself. 

One thing I noticed while in hospital, was my aggression levels. It’s been years since I had anything like this level of aggression. Not since my angsty teens. I joke about that all the time, but really I was a scary person then. From what I can remember. I would lose my temper at the drop of a hat, and it was madness. But I hit some point, around the time I decided to never let anyone know I was depressed/struggling/hurting myself, that I just became so passive. I mean, I was before, I never hurt anyone but myself. But I just bottled it all up. I never lost my temper again. 

Now, I’m finding myself more and more aggressive. Not sure where it is leading, but it’s never been directed outward at least. I think it’s mostly agitated, and when you’re stuck in a hospital with not a lot of options it gets bad. Especially when I can’t stand being trapped.

I took up boxing when I finally got myself to the gym there. It really helped and when that was closed push ups and when my wrists were too sore, sit ups.

Where I’m staying now has a boxing bag, though it is way too cold to consider going outside to use it. So I’ve been doing push ups. I think my Seroquel will hit in soon.

Unfortunately I think this hospital stay cost my company another paid project. We needed to get done a demo for a client to prove we could do the job, but instead I was in hospital and didn’t even think to contact them till afterwards. I’m starting to feel pretty bad about all the client work I’ve lost the business lately. But I know it’s not my fault and health comes first but it makes me wonder sometimes if I can do it. If I can get this company off the ground. It’s my dream, to run my own company. But when I also have to hold down a paid job in retail to pay my increasingly large medical/medication bills, it gets hard. So very hard. If I gave up the retail job, I’d have no money to live and for treatment to again, live. If I gave up my company I’d be giving up my dream and I think I’d be a lot worse off. It’s what keeps me going some days.

Grandeur, Delusions or Something by Charlie Francis Cassidy

Growing up I was always certain I’d be rich and well known even before I really had a grasp on what it was I’d be doing. I just knew that I was destined for great things. It seemed so obvious to me. Why did I exist if it wasn’t to be great. Now you could easily chalk this up being young and not really having a grasp on the world, but my view hasn’t changed at all. (Unless I’m depressed, but I’ll get to that) Right now, sitting here typing this, I couldn’t possibly imagine how I could be anything but.

Now it’s not like Games Design always (or often) turns out to be a pile of money waiting to happen, I just truly believe there is nothing I can’t learn to do and do well. When programming I actually feel like a god of sorts. I believe that there is nothing I could not learn to program. All I have to do is try. And by try, I mean do. Because there is no way I’d fail.

The times that I do finally get a bit of reason in my head are when I’m depressed. As depression goes though, it rarely stays reasonable. It tends to turn into how incapable I am of doing anything. But lately I am finding myself staying in the realm of mania. I rarely (if ever) find myself in the normal range of things. 

When I first started uni, I thought I had beaten depression all on my own. I hadn’t seen it for at least a year, and here I was learning all these new things that I was amazing at. I felt great. I felt invincible.

I was partying hard and leaving assignments to the last minute. Then not sleeping for up to 3 nights in a row finishing said assignments, mostly programming small games. I would often joke about being the god of code when I’d start and finish my game over a 2/3 day stint. I’m not sure I was really joking though. I felt on top of the world. 

When I did go home to sleep it was for maybe 3hrs max before I headed back out to do it all again. I was known for never being able to sit still in class, or anywhere really, and being stupidly happy all the time. I was the last person anyone would guess to have a mental illness. Or even problems at home. I was too happy.

But then I crashed. After months of this insanity, my depression came back full force. I owe a lot to a now close friend who got me to get help and start actually dealing with the depression rather than ignoring it. I could not have done it without her.

Mania didn’t pop up again till much later after being triggered by my Efexor last year, which lead to me actually being diagnosed with Bipolar. It’s only now that I’m considering that that’s what my first year was, an episode of mania rather than just a break from my depression. I really should bring it up with my psychiatrist.

Even now, after writing all this, I can’t stem the thoughts of how great I’m meant to be. I know that they’re probably symptoms on the mania, but I am still so sure that these thoughts are different. That for me, they don’t really apply to this.

Tearing Apart by Charlie Francis Cassidy

Trigger warning: Self harm and Suicide

It’s been quite a ride since getting out of hospital. At first I wasn’t so bad, not as bad as I was before going in anyway, but now I think I might be much worse. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

I was put on Lexapro not long after hospital (which I mentioned in my last post), and I expected to have the dose put up not long after. The problem is that the next time I saw my psychiatrist I’d been manic for 10 days straight. Which was a new development. Previously my moods had been all over the shop. 


But now my mood pattern was becoming, well, a pattern. Which I guess kind of indicates that the Efexor was messing me around quite a bit. Which means no more SNRI’s for me. So here I am on Lexapro (SSRI), despite the fact that it did nothing for me before. 



Now Lexapro being the new medication here, naturally my psychiatrist thought it may have been the cause of my 10 day mania streak. That was however quickly thrown out after my mood dropped severely. So to bring me down from such extremes, I’ve been climbing the slow ladder that is Seroquel. For about 2/3 weeks I was sitting on 75mg of it and I was still just getting worse.

I spent those weeks ridiculously manic, full of an energy that I felt was tearing me apart. I could physically feel it, tearing, scraping, it was painful. It is painful. The energy/anger/something that was trapped inside me hurt. Every night I was a mess and I started self harming every day. I won’t get into it, but I was becoming a real mess. 

I couldn’t/can’t stop thinking about dying. Sometimes because it just seems easier than going through all of this day after day. Sometimes in a different more violent way, more angry at myself for being in this mess. Sometimes in a much more disturbing way that didn’t seem to have a reason, just that I should do it.

I couldn’t do games work at all. Most days I just sat in my chair and stared at my screen, or the wall. It wasn’t that there was anything particularly hard about it, in fact I kind of knew exactly what I had to do. But I couldn’t, I just couldn’t make myself focus on it. I couldn’t even fiddle with the program. Some days my head was so cloudy, that despite me knowing what it was that had to be done, I couldn’t work out how to type it, how to break it down, how to actually do it. It became such an effort, that I just sat there instead. Which, actually lead my company to lose the project. 

Luckily for me, there was a lot of understanding about my being unwell, and it was almost better to just be done with what had been a long dragging project. Still we lost quite a bit of money, though no one blames me for it. Except for me, I blame myself quite a bit actually, I should have known better than to overwork myself. I don’t ever really think about whether I can handle/manage/do something, I just assume I can. Not even assume I can. More like, I will manage it - end of story. Except this time I didn’t. Which I’m finding hard to grasp. One of the most difficult things, about having this - is trying to accept that I have limits. I guess I am a bit of a workaholic, and I expect a lot of myself. An indefinite amount. It’s ingrained in me that I can do anything, and any amount of anything. I have never remotely considered limits. Until I ended up in hospital. The way things are going, I may just end up back there.

I gave my psychiatrist a list of these things, a very direct list, so he finally knows exactly where I am with it all. At any rate, I’m up to 100mg Seroquel and now I’m meant to take 25mg up to 3 times a day to take the edge off, if need be. I don’t feel great, potentially relying on medication to get me through each day. Okay, so I’m already doing that, but it’s one thing having prescribed daily medication (which I already hate) and then having take as you need. 

The problem with me is, I’ll convince myself out of ever needing it. That’s what I do, or my head does. I can take my daily medication each day because I need to and I trust my doctor over my mind. But when it comes to me deciding when I need to take something, that doesn’t work. I just can’t tell, my head is too good at talking me out of needing it. I can’t trust myself for these things. I get really bad at night, and a lot of times I could just take my night dose of Seroquel and I’ll go to sleep and be safe. But my mind, it keeps pushing it back, making me think I don’t really need to be taking it yet. I’ll miss out on something, what a waste of time just sleeping. That’s life lost, if you need to do that, may as well just stop living. 

My mind is my own worst enemy. But without it, what would I do anyway. When I say I feel like I’m losing my mind, I’m not losing it, I’m losing control of it. I am absolutely, losing my mind.

Hospital Days by Charlie Francis Cassidy

Trigger warning: Self harm and Suicide

I spent most of last week in hospital. I entered the emergency room Sunday at 1/2am I think, I was pretty out of it, and didn’t get admitted till Monday 7pm. By time I fell asleep, loaded with meds, I’d been awake for about 34hrs. The Emergency department is not a great place to fall asleep. Spending time in the Mental Health ED was an experience as well. While the nurses were all lovely, you could tell the room was designed with involuntary patients in mind. I guess safety is the number one priority, both patients and staff. Anyway, I stayed there till Friday afternoon when they released me, with some higher medication and a piece of paper about breathing. I’ll come back to my thoughts on that, I should probably start with how I got there.

If you’ve read probably any of my other posts, you might know I have an intense fear of hospitals. As in, anyone that knows me and that, would never expect to find me voluntarily walking into one to commit myself. Yet, there I was. My physical urges to kill myself got too much to handle. I thought I was going kill myself, I wanted to kill myself. This was happening every day. Everyday I wanted to die. It got so bad one night, I realised that I’d lost my fear of dying. That’s all I had stopping me. I was talking to a good friend of mine, and finally I told her exactly what was going on. She convinced me to let her take me to hospital. Which, I’m really glad of.

My stay didn’t fix me though, I don’t think they really knew what to do. Aside from obviously not letting me kill myself. But they couldn’t just keep me there forever. It actually took a bit of effort to convince them to take me as well. I’m surprised I didn’t just walk away. Apparently the fact that I hadn’t killed myself yet seemed to indicate I probably wouldn’t. It doesn’t help that I am so very bad at explaining myself, or describing any of my problems or thoughts or anything really. But I got in eventually.

The first thing they did when I woke up my first day, aside from my medication and a nurse who wanted to know my story, was sit me in a room with a Doctor, a Psychiatrist and an intern. Then I was asked so, many, questions. Which I answered, in some way. It got harder as we went along, and my brain started doing the thing where I can’t think, so I got to explain that as well.

Since I’m bad at remembering things lately, I can’t remember exactly what the diagnoses was. Bipolar was brought up, they seemed to think only hypomania was happening so I was, type 2 I think. He also brought up something about a personality disorder, which I really wish I’d asked more about. I am hoping it’s in the report they’re sending my psychiatrist. They then decided to up my meds. My Lithium is now 750mg at night and my Seroquel is 50mg. He also wanted to increase my Efexor, but I’d just decreased that to try and stabalise my moods.

Now, I think this was both a good and bad idea. Good because, maybe I do need higher doses to make myself more stable. Bad because, there is an adjustment period with more Seroquel. I was so out of it my whole stay in hospital, so my suicidal episodes rarely showed up again, only sometimes at night before I went to bed. But they gave me my meds at 8pm each night, so I was out by 9 most times. I think this made me look a lot more okay than I was, and didn’t really prepare me to go back to the world and handle this stuff.

The other thing they did was give me a handout on breathing to calm yourself. Standard stuff you’re told when you say you have anxiety. And then a handout on Mindfulness. Intrigued? The exact handout is here. I did try it, do still try it but I can’t grasp my head around it. I just don’t believe in this stuff. I think it’s because I just don’t understand how to get my head to do any of it. I don’t know how to not think about something. Apparently I can’t even focus on breathing without thoughts jumping in.

I am glad I spent my hazy period of a higher Seroquel dose in hospital though. I had nothing I had to do, so it didn’t matter if it took me a minute (kind of an exaggeration) to answer a question sometimes. But now I’m out, everyday is a little bit worse. Unfortunately not really clearer, I don’t think my head has been clear for a long time.

I just started Lexapro today, after finally seeing my psychiatrist who is all filled in now. Though still waiting for that report. He thinks getting me off the Efexor is a good idea, and getting me onto something that won’t do the same thing so he can pump up the dose. I don’t think it’s just my depression causing this though. In fact I think I’m worse when I’m manic. I mean, all my thoughts now revolve around hurting myself, and worse, but I get very very bad when I’m manic. I think. I’m not really sure of anything. Which is the problem when I have to tell someone about it.

This whole thing has cost me 2 weeks of game work now. It’s also made me realise I really need to take better care of myself. I was pushing myself right past my limits, because that’s just kind of how I am. I expect a lot of myself. But I can’t work like that again. I can’t be up till 3am programming only to sleep a few hours and wake up and have to be doing something else. Not eating, not sleeping and no free time. It’s amazing I survived as long as I did. I’m finding it very hard to get back into it, but I’m trying to take it slow. Next week I’m back to my full schedule of work, but I’m going to organise some sort of schedule so that I can’t over do it anymore. And if it doesn’t get done, then maybe I’ll have to accept that my health is more important. Which is very hard for me.

I guess I’ll see. In the back of my mind, I’m kind of expecting to end up back in hospital.