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Manic Depression

   
Manic Depression

Greetings all. I come to you in search of support. For what you ask? Well, I have been 'officially' bipolar for about eight years now, which means that I've probably been dealing with it for double that before it was finally noticed by someone else. For those of you who are not familiar with the term, bipolar is a disorder characterized by extreme mood swings ranging from severe depression to severe mania. It is a troubling disease, disorder, illness, ailment what have you, in that it is difficult to treat someone who is consistently inconsistent. It is not uncommon for someone who is on medication for bipolar disorder to stop taking their meds because they are "feeling fine" and "don't need them", however, the medications are often just as important for preventative measures as they are for corrective measures at the time of need.

It is not my intention for this to become an education lesson on the ins and outs of bipolar disorder or manic depression, so I will cut to the chase. I graduated with my masters in fine arts about two years ago. During my last semester, I had several phone conversations with my mother regarding the horrible thoughts I was having at the time. Those thoughts were mostly regarding suicide. I admit that I was not living the healthiest of lifestyles and had set myself up for a situation in which I was alone and lonely and my thoughts and mindset became desperate. It is difficult to ask for help in situations like that, and let me tell you now that it is supremely difficult to have a discussion with your mother about the notion of taking your own life. There were many tears involved and I was almost hospitalized, but together we worked through it and I made it to see my graduation.

Two years later and I am living with my girlfriend in Canada, no job, no prospects of getting a job and only a handful of friends at the game store down the road with whom we play role playing games several times a week. I am in debt over my head thanks to the masters degree; it'll be just about a hundred thousand dollars by the time I pay it off, if I ever do. I am struggling with my art. I don't know what I want to paint anymore and question my abilities daily. I wonder why I even bothered going to so much effort in school to gain a degree in something that seems so useless. I should be painting every day for hours, but I don't, and it feels like I can't...

For the past month or two I have been having vivid thoughts and images/dreams of the different ways I could take my life and the complications therein. After all of that I feel somewhat lucky to still be alive writing this today. Just the other day I called my mother once again to talk with her about suicide. Again, I can't express enough how difficult this kind of conversation is, especially with your own mother. Well, she bought me a plane ticket the next day and I am back home in Alaska waiting for my psychological sessions to begin on Monday. It is going to be a very tough week or two dealing with all of this. I mistakenly thought that the handful of meds that I have been taking each day for the past couple of years has been unhelpful or even detrimental to myself and to my artwork/creative process so I stopped taking them about a month ago. It was a mistake and it nearly cost me my life.

I still have thoughts about suicide, but am hopeful that something will happen over the next week or two to change that so I am fighting my way through the pain and drama for the time being. This brings me to the point of this thread. I need help. I need support and I need to know that there are people out there who I can talk to in my time of need. I've been an active member of Myth Weavers since 2006 so I consider this just as viable a community as any for me to reach out to. If you have any words of wisdom, comfort, advice or have similar experiences that you would like to share, please share with me. Please help me get through this tough time in my life.

Feel free to contact me via messenger as well if you don't want to share publicly. My information follows:

AIM and Yahoo: BalefulPolymorph
MSN: samredeye@hotmail.com


Thank you very much.

Gath

Depression is a heavy subject, and one that's easy to misunderstand if you've never experienced it. It's also a burden on those around the person so afflicted - I've had friends, online and not, who had clinical depression, and where I had to cut off contact with them to keep myself sane.

Gath - The best thing you can do is to go to a counselor who you can talk to. They're going to be the best people prepared to deal with your particular problem. They're going to be trained, they're going to know the particular problems you face and the best answers for those problems. They're going to know when you're talking to just (consciously or not) make yourself feel worse, and break that train of thought. From your comments above, I see you're slated to talk to someone.

Depression is a dark spiral. It's a "I feel bad so I am bad so I should feel worse" cycle of thoughts and feelings that just builds on itself. The key thing is to break this cycle...
  • Things get better. Tell yourself this - that looking at society as a whole, countless get into crushing debt regarding student loans and such, and countless people make it to retirement. Things improve, and once you're back on meds, you'll gradually reach a kind of emotional balance.
  • Break your patterns. Changing location is good. Doing the same thing you were doing when you had a bad day yesterday is going to make you feel crappy today. If your art is getting you down, take a break or take a class to learn something new.
  • Keep moving forward. Depression makes one feel trapped. Put yourself in a position where you're improving the situation. Paying off $50 of your loan (including interest) every month means you're moving forward. Clawing out of that hole you're in, even one inch at a time, means there's room for escape in the future. For now, your best bet is just making yourself comfortable, keeping your mind busy with other stuff and getting to that appointment on Monday.
  • Accept. You can't improve everything, and some things are going to suck. If you can't do anything about them in the here & now, then don't stress over them. I know this is easier to say than it sounds, but if you can avoid sweating the small stuff then do it.

Hi, I'm Joe. I've been
Diagnosed!
depressed and paranoid for 15+ years, and have been on daily meds for the last 2. I'm going to ramble for a bit; I hope it helps.

I never liked meds because of their side effects, and because I dislike 'medical culture' in general. I tried them a number of times with neither positive or negative results. I figured I was a smart guy so I should be able to cope and/or council myself out of it. It worked more or less, but not well. I went through only one bout of depression bad enough to get me close to suicide. Something you
and seem to know
should know about those thoughts is that it is the minds reaction to absolute desperation. Anyone who hits hoplessness and sees no way out will come up with those thoughts.

The fact that when it comes to that you have the self-determination to talk to a family member is awesome. If you have the strength to do that, then you have enough strength to come out of this.

In my search for some kind of self-fix for my depression I found a few things that worked for me.
Philosophy: I had a deep hatred for the world. I couldn't understand how such a thing came to be so bad. So I started looking into what 'great minds' thought of the subject. Many religions use cosmic good and evil forces vying for control of the world as an explaination. Some use the metaphor of the world as a difficult testing ground for souls. Some use the metaphor of the world being perfect, and our perception that it is imperfect is the problem. I cannot say that any of them are 'True', but I can say that suspending disbelief enough to entertain differing views of the grand scheme of things is helpful to the mind.
Skepticism: You know that your brain isn't working correctly; then, why trust the information it is giving you? Admittedly, I'm a paranoid case, but I see it like this: you have a car and you know the fuel gauge is broken. Do you keep checking the fuel gauge? Of course not; you just put in fuel at regular intervals. Same with a misfiring brain.
Acceptance: Some things just are. I've found that 'really owning' my mental problems make them less of a problem. I once heard acceptance described as 'giving up the hope that you could have had a better past.' This one I'm having trouble descibing; I hope I get my point across.


Since I've been on meds, my life has drastically improved. Partially, they have new and better meds. They're not perfect, but they are better. I'd suggest you talk to the Psych about re-analyzing your prescriptions from the ground up. Obviously, they are working most of the time but not on peak manic days. Secondly, I chose to go the Psych this time. In the past, I did it because I was told, or it was suggested, or because it seemed like a good idea. This time I told myself that I'm going to do this right and follow through 100%. Sure I messed up a few times, but I brush off and keep going.

Third: Routine. This was my number one problem. I was up for 2-3 days at a time working on projects, changing my schedule almost daily, going through depression fits where I was only awake for 6 hours a day... . Yeah; you can't keep on a regular medication schedule like that. Personally, I hate routine. Even now, with all the great things it's done for my life, I detest it. But I keep doing it, because without it I would be back in a corner. Hell, that's what a good chunk of putting people in institutions is about! This is my opinion, but I'll say it anyway: get a good routine at all costs. Lock yourself in your Mom's basement if you have to. Breakfast at 9, meds at 10, lunch at 11,
Side note: I write in my spare time. I try to write every day. I can't begin to count how many times I've gotten writers block and gotten frustrated. I force it. Even if I have to write about not being able to write, or write a description of my desk.

My suggestion to you: paint circles. Seriously. Firstly it keeps routine. Second, eventually your brain will get so bored of it it will start throwing ideas at you just to make you stop.
paint at 1. Stick to it until you don't realize you're doing it and you'll be a good position to straighten your head out.


I hope I was helpful. As always, this is opinions and advice. I'm routing for you!

I can't offer advice psychologically -- my own depression is "mild" -- but I can offer some help artistically.

There is, in fact, such a thing as too much art: doing it for long enough can burn you out. I'd recommend taking a step back from your art for a bit. Don't force it; nothing good comes of that. Try to get in touch with the things that inspire you, and see if anything comes of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tsuyoshikentsu View Post
There is, in fact, such a thing as too much art: doing it for long enough can burn you out. I'd recommend taking a step back from your art for a bit. Don't force it; nothing good comes of that. Try to get in touch with the things that inspire you, and see if anything comes of it.
I'm of the "medium" sort on the Depression scale, which is to say I don't have to fight my way out of bed every morning, and I don't contemplate suicide on a regular basis. However I can symphetize, even though I do have to say that a lot of my "sympathetic neurons" have been fried to hell. It's why people tend to perceive me as cold and a-holish; not their fault, so I just take it in stride with the rest of my life.

I agree with tsuyoshikentsu: take a step back from your creative work and do something else. Physical excercise is a great way to let out the pressure that you don't even know is there. My outlet is playing Team Fortress 2, and just blasting the hell out of everything I see while at the same time giving my logical center some stimulation by playing to the tactical aspects of the game. And, yeah, I also excercise my body in order to keep myself from dwelling on stupid things that aren't even real nine times out of ten.

As to the whole meds side of business: I have been on some of the most expensive anti-depressants available, but the stuff doesn't really fix anything. It makes me feel stuff, but I have to deal with those emotions. Without the meds I feel less, but I also function worse. So, if at all possible: seek some real professional help. If you just take the pills and try to 'get on with your life', you'll find out soon enough that you are not 'winning', because Depression doesn't work like that.

I don't have depression. But I do understand. I've got epilepsy, the meds don't work and I am also doing fine art So I'll stick my two cents worth in.

1) You are not alone. And go hug your Mom. Trust me, you'll both feel better.
2) exercise. Endorphins are your friends. The more you do, the more stable you're moods will be and being bipolar, anything to moderate your highs & lows will be a good thing.
3) take a break from art. We all need to refill our creativity whatever we've been doing. No matter how much you want to make art, if you're burnt out you're burnt out. So, go do something else for a while. I recommend a boring part-time job. A bit of money coming in will help and if the work is tedious you'll be keen to get back to art.
4) Don't beat yourself up. There is something wrong with you. You're sick. So you're allowed to feel sick. Don't feel guilty for being depressed.

And lastly, however bad it is, however horrible you feel, tomorrow will be different. Maybe better

1. Sorry to hear it man, but at least glad you can post it. It's a lot easier to speak and write your feelings out. Better to express it than hold it.

2. Glad to hear you're seeing someone about this.

3. Excercise. It's been said a lot, but I heartily agree.

4. Many people take solace in their faith. I don't know if this applies to you or not, but it has carried many people through hard times.

5. Erase the words "woulda, coulda, and shoulda" from your vocabulary. Make all the people who live around you do the same. They aren neither helpful nor objective. All you can control is the present. Once you refuse to say them, it helps to focus you on the right action to take.

6. Always be on the go, no matter what. If you keep moving, you aren't sitting around, and if you aren't sitting around, you're less likely to feel bad. If you can't find the job you're looking for right now, find ANY job just to keep you busy. It doesn't matter what it is. It will get you moving, interacting with people, it will give you money, and it will do wonders for your psyche. Also, it will make you look much better when the job you DO want comes around as the employer will want to take someone currently working.

7. Always say something. There's a lot of people out there that can relate. If saying it helps, say it a lot! Do whatever it takes to deal with what you feel.

8. Avoid destructive people and destructive situations. They are a cancer.

9. No matter how bad things look, you will always be all right. Tomorrow will bring challenges, but it will also bring the sun.

I've personally suffered a great depression as well, but probably not as bad as what some of us have mentioned here. Mine was relatively short (about 3 weeks or so) and it eventually went away. I got used to it. It was the first time I had to live with non-relatives for three years and a half, and now counting, since I was 15.

I'll admit here that the first week I was out I cried twice in my bed at night.

All right. Things may look bad, but the most important thing is still yourself. You can decide your future. Perhaps not fully, I must agree, but most of it you can. You have the ability to communicate, and that is the foremost necessary thing to do to keep yourself sane.

I once lived alone in a hotel for two months. It was hell. I can't believe I'm still sane today. None meds taken. The only reason I could live through that was internet and early sleeping hours.

I'm not one to give wise words on the spot, but I will share what I have in mind at the time I post. (In fact, I've been awake for 26 hours now. I will sleep soon. And no, I don't have insomniac or anything like that. I just had excessive amount of tea, coffee, friends, and work.)

Socializing. Friends are a must. There are tons of people out there, and friends are never too many. Reach out to your local community, as I am sure you probably already have or had, and find a regular time to do things you like to do. You already found groups to game. Why not find groups to sketch together? I recommend Conceptart.org for a start, or DeviantART.org. There are tons of people out there who share the same passion as us. I myself go to a Saturday sketching group here at Vancouver for 5 hours a week. It is fascinating how much we could do in those handful of hours, how much we talk about every week, and how much feelings get through in our artworks that have accumulated throughout the months. I greatly recommend it for you to try it out. Drawing with people is simply beauty itself of a community.

I have to disagree and agree with the posters above. I agree that sometimes we are burned out in art. Take a break. That is the best advice I can give. However, inspiration doesn't just suddenly come to you and say, "Draw me! Paint me on a canvas!" It is the exact opposite. Inspirations come from your continuous touch of your dearest interest and community, and your own self's imagination and knowledge, memory and experience. They are the slightest note on an entire set of measures, and the moment to grab it is a blink of an eye. Keep yourself saturated. Be observant to those around you and you will find new things. Do things you have never done before, and bring yourself some newness to your life. Then the known "inspiration" will bloom as time goes on. Thus is life.

There are so many wisdoms out there. I will say one last thing and leave the rest to the others. But I'm still here, of course, and will be always supporting you (and Boink!) but I must sleep soon. As I said, I have been awake for too long.

Remember what you want to be. Think about how bad you want to be there. Are you far? Are you close? How can you make yourself closer to your goal? Remember, one step is one leap ahead. And you are not the only one who have dared to take several steps all together. Now all that matters is to keep up that pace - and never give up!

Depression runs heavily in my family so I can sympathize, I've also had at least 2 friends who showed strong signs of being bipolar.

I also have a nervous disorder similar to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, I tend to have a laser like focus and get caught up very easily in things that may not be at all important except for the attention I pay to them. I also tend toward immensely increased senses of hearing, taste, smell, and especially touch. This leads to periodic sensory overload which can be extremely painful (I'm having a slight attack in my finger tips as I type this, periodically making it so that I must clench my fists to continue.)

I'm here if you need someone to talk to.




 

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