Saturday, 17 March 2018

My Poor Brain: Spring Edition

March 2018 marks three of being drug free. Back in 2015, I stopped taking the anti-psychotic medication that had been prescribed in the wake of an overdose twelve years previously. It was a big step and one that was far out of my comfort zone.

The past three years have disappeared in a blur of putting my life back together and learning how to live. Emotions that I never knew existed have surfaced and I've faced complications that I never thought that I'd ever see. But they're all battles that are meant to be fought and won. Giving up isn't an option and, even on the darkest of days, I've tried to keep a positive attitude.

It isn't always easy, though, and there are two periods of the year when it becomes even harder to maintain that balance that I've become so used to. As autumn slides in to winter and winter slides in to spring, I've discovered that my brain becomes a little more unbalanced. One is from the days becoming shorter and the weather becoming colder and the other is as we emerge from a long, cold winter.

As winter becomes spring I find that I'm achy and tired. My body feels as though it's run out of fuel and, no matter how much goodness I give it, the exhaustion doesn't lift. There's aches and pains where I've never known aches and pains and articulating myself suddenly becomes a mountain that I can't climb. Anxiety burns through me and sleep is a memory. It's as though everything has been asleep over winter and is slowly waking up.

Which may be what's happening. This is a situation that I've found myself in a few times over the previous three years. As the seasons slide from one to the next so the human body follows. It lives by nature's clock, sleeping and awakening and sleeping again. The dark days of winter make us want to sleep while the beginnings of spring makes us feel lethargic and like we're emerging from a long hibernation.

Another theory that I've heard is that, by the end of winter, the body is running low on essential vitamins and minerals. Like squirrels, we'll have spent the months before winter stocking up on the things that will see us through the dark winter days. And, while we may take supplements to get us through the cold months, they're not always enough so, come March and April, we feel run down, tired, and grumpy. Over the winter, I take a range of vitamins including C, D, and iron, as well as using a daylight lamp in the mornings and evenings. Hopefully, this year, I may be able to also get some tests done just to see exactly what needs topping up throughout the year.

Or it may just be the way that my fabulously defective brain is wired!

So it's that time of the year again. I'm a little bit grumpy, fairly achy, and generally tired. Everything is taking longer than normal. But it's getting there, and that's all that matters. Mountains can be climbed. It just takes one step at a time.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Watch the Skies

Watch the skies.

Sky watching is something that I've always done. Fascinated with what lies beyond our own, meagre existence, I've spent hours with my eyes turned heavenwards in the hopes that the questions that roll through my mind will one day be answered.

And spread across the velvety night, things have appeared. Stars, satellites, aircraft, and a few objects that were never identified. The red star that faded to away. The clouds that had been punctured by something other than mere weather. The flicker of light that was neither plane nor satellite. The metallic orb that lazily drifted across the heavens only to disappear in the blink of an eye. The pair of lights that spent three nights dancing above my house.

My fascination with the skies started young. I found myself immersed in the world of the extraterrestrial from the time that I was able to wield a library card. Books that would be classed as out of my reading range were sneaked in to the house and hidden under pillows and behind toys. There was that burning desire to know whether we were alone in the universe and what, if anything, was visiting us.

The stories that were told in those early books were full of fascination, wonder and, to some degree, a little bit of terror. They spoke of incidents that had happened many years before my birth and had photographs of crafts that were supposedly from other worlds.

As I hit my teenage years, I lapped up episodes of the X-Files and signed up to SETI. In more recent years, I've come in to contact with people who, like myself, are also searching for answers but keeping a healthy sense of skepticism in their lives (it's good to ask questions but don't fall too far down the rabbit hole). One of them treated me to a care package from Roswell and it's no accident that I named my publishing company Roswell Publishing.

A few years ago, I wanted to go back to a prominent time in UFO lore. During World War II, mysterious balls of light were seen flying alongside fighter aircraft. This didn't just happen once; it happened numerous times and, for me, is one of our biggest UFO incidents. The balls of light appeared to be under intelligent control and were believed to be either St Elmo's fire or one of the German army's many wonder weapons. Yet there is very little information on the subject and what literature there is has been buried because the term that was given to these balls of light was lifted from a book and used.

Foo fighters.

I wonder how many articles begin with a variation of that paragraph?!

Tweaked search terms yielded some results. But, sooner or later, you'd hit a brick wall and find yourself reading about the band. It was frustrating and eventually I found myself going down a different road, one that I never imagined that I'd take.

My bookshelves are now lined with books on UFOlogy and my iPad has apps to help me identify aircraft and satellites. Every night I still go outside and take a look at the sky above me.

I did write a book in the end. It just happens to be about Foo Fighters, the band and not foo fighters, the aerial phenomenon. It'll be out later this year.

Maybe, just maybe, this is where the path that I started walking when I was six years old was supposed to take me...

Sunday, 14 January 2018

The Time That I Tried to Buy a Nuclear Bunker

Let's talk about the mania part of bipolar. It's interesting and, at times, can be useful. I've written entire books while in the throes of a manic period. Once harnessed, it can be a force for good, and a ride that you don't particularly want to get off of.

Then there's the really crazy times. I know people who've blown through money with nothing to show at the end of it. Or who have gotten themselves into life threatening situations. Thankfully I'm still here to tell the tale but there was the time that I tried to buy a nuclear bunker. You didn't misread that.

I tried to buy a nuclear bunker.

They're not hard to get hold of if you have buckets of cash and live in certain parts of the world. The issue is that I don't have buckets of cash, nor do I have the right to buy property in places like the US (and the other issue is that I have no right to remain there, which kind of defeats the object of such a lavish purchase).

But you can't tell that to a manic brain. As far as it's concerned, it can have whatever it wants and the consequences will be dealt with later. Why did it want a nuclear bunker? Why not? It was one of the many supposedly rational things that my brain told me that I needed.

Please laugh. Because I do. I'd end up in hospital if I didn't laugh at some of the completely ridiculous things that surround the bipolar.

The mania can be amazing. But it also comes with its downsides. Like the aches and pains as it wears off. There's no concrete reasoning for them and theories range from the body tensing up during the period to lack of sleep caused by an ever active brain to the body dumping the excess chemicals that it's created during that period. All I know is that it hurts. And you don't want to do a damn thing during it.

Mania can feel like this!
Anxiety is another side effect. Crippling, uncontrollable and unfounded anxiety. Because of my reluctance to take any medication (I'll be off them 3 years this year) I have to rely on talking myself out of it, reasoning, or using natural over the counter products (Bach's Rescue Remedy is a saviour during these times). But the anxiety is something that can last for months with no rhyme or reason to it, causing untold anguish and additional physical pain.

But I'm blessed. Blessed to have family and friends who will go out of their way to make sure that everything's okay and to talk me into situations that are entirely safe but, to my brain, are life or death events. I know that not everyone has such a support system so we need to look out for one another. We need to take care of each other and make sure that everyone has a place to feel safe and supported. Please don't go through it alone.