I have explained to many people, many times, that bipolar is existence at the ends of a spectrum. It’s not that your average person doesn’t get sad, or happy, or devastated, or related, it’s simply that they do not experience these emotions so fully, so much of the time. My bipolar problem isn’t the existence of these emotions, simply their intensity, their duration and their frequency.
All this bipolar emotion makes people look at me strangely. I know. But oddly, someone it seems not only loves me in spite of bipolar but even finds reasons to love me in the bipolar, because of the bipolar. Love.
Music and Bipolar
Music can fillet me. Songs that mean nothing to me can draw tears because I find the melody tragic. I really feel, from the bottom of my soul, saddened, depressed by the order of random tones or impassioned lyrics. The song itself could actually be expressing something happy, but something in me perceives it as heartbreaking anyway. I have to be very careful about the sounds I expose myself to.
You’re Too Sensitive. (Yes, I’m Bipolar.)
When my heart breaks it shatters into a million pieces each aching and bleeding through my body. And to some extent it is always broken from the pain of my everyday life.
Drowning in Emotion
The thoughts and the descriptions and the ferocity of emotion makes it impossible to take a deep breath. I gulp tears instead of air. Brackish water enters my lungs and I feel myself drowning. I feel myself drowning in tears and blood and sobs and screams; each one daring me to let go and stop thrashing against them.
My Bipolar Life Lives In This Anguish
And it is no surprise at all that others can’t stand next to that. Couldn’t if they wanted to. It will drown them too. Or they will stop seeing the water and the pain and pretend I’m bobbing along like everyone else.
These emotions, these extremes, these jagged edges, these razor shards are not one of the best aspects of my personality. They are roadblocks to fitting in with the others. The people around me. Joining the world. Being human. I know I live in another place, in another time where people can’t go. I know. I try to hide it. I try to build a human shell around me for all those I pass by, and then I crumble when I walk through my door and sob and spin until the next time I have to interact, tiringly, gluing back the pieces of my outer shell. So tired. So exhausted from pretending to be some part of me that other people can understand.
I Love You, In Spite Of, Because Of
Oddly in a tiny world in the dark with bleeding tears, broken shields and vulnerability I am loved, I am honored and I am cherished anyway. Cherished and bipolar. In this place I understand that it isn’t actually in spite of all unresonablness and extremeness but actually because of it. Because it is part of me. Because in amplification and anguish and terror and blades there is a messy, complicated, folded, person worth loving. Somehow these parts of me that bring endless pain and steal life are somehow beautiful. They glisten in their purity. There is nothing more human than pain. There is nothing more human that suffering. There is nothing more human than love.
I followed the Triple Chronotherapy protocol Thursday – Monday last week. I wrote in laymen’s terms about circadian rhythm and Chronotherapy when I started and then copious updates afterwards. (At the end of this post you can see rough numbers tracking mood during my treatment.)
It’s important to note that I did this without medical supervision and so my thoughts cannot necessarily be generalized to what would happen in a clinical setting. And I don’t need to tell you this, but don’t try this at home kids. Bad things can happen.
During Day One of Chronotherapy
Staying up for 36 hours isn’t fun. I would imagine most people instinctively know this, but I can now say with certainty that 36 hours is too long to be awake.
The changes I noticed during this time were:
- A lot of dizziness, difficulty going from sitting to standing
- Lack of coordination
- Nausea, lack of hunger
- General feeling of weakness and unwellness
- Depletion of cognitive ability
- Disconnection from the world around me
This was not fun in the slightest and the only thing that kept me grounded was a friend that stayed up with me.
From what I understand, it is during this period that a reduction in depressive symptoms occurs. I did not find this and in fact, find it almost unfathomable that someone would actually feel any degree of “good” during this time. I certainly didn’t. I was gripping my psyche with both hands trying desperately not to let it fly in every direction.
During the 36 hours I experienced moments of really nasty panic. I felt overwhelmed by breathing. It was horrible. It took everything I had to sit still, remain calm and not break down.
And looking at the numbers (below) it appears there was some reduction in depressive symptoms after around 30 hours of sleep deprivation. I wouldn’t have said I wasn’t depressed though, I would say I was feeling so sick and so dissociative that the depression was pushed aside.
Interesting to note: after the 36 hours, I could not sleep. I was exhausted, but eyes closed, in bed, in pitch black, I couldn’t sleep. I’m not sure whether that’s typical but my friend who was with me also had trouble sleeping at this time.
Not surprisingly, not being able to sleep in the prescribed time and then getting up seven hours later was a special kind of pain. Notable but survivable. Also not surprisingly (to me) I was more depressed. It is actually noted in the literature that while extended periods of wakefulness may decrease depression, even short naps can erase those improvements. (FYI this protocol is designed to thwart this effect.)
I spent most of this morning, right after the first sleep, seriously depressed and exhausted. Like, I-can’t-move kind of exhaustion.
I took a sleeping pill to induce the next sleep. I’m not sure if this is strictly allowed in the protocol but I wasn’t about to not sleep yet again.
During Day Three of Chronotherapy
Day three was another white-knuckle day trying desperately to hang onto consciousness and reason. I was so unhappy to be awake. Again, the people around me were the only things keeping me sane-ish. By this point much of the physical pain had subsided but the exhaustion was in my bones. I was still exhibiting notably decreased cognitive function. I didn’t want to drive or do anything that would depend on cognition. My brain felt like sludge. I had a hard time following even simple thoughts. I was a useless mess.
During Day Four of Chronotherapy
Waking up at 5 AM the fourth day was pretty much impossible. I was so exhausted it was physically painful to try to get out of bed. This is when I officially gave up and slept for an additional 2 hours.
Since the Chronotherapy
I have been extremely tired, stupid and depressed since I tried this treatment, far more than before. I’ve never done well with a lack of sleep but I am surprised that after days and days I can’t seem to feel awake or very sharp. I suspect the increased depression has something to do with that.
I would actually anticipate an increase in depression after a treatment like this, so it’s not a huge surprise, but I figured I’d never know if I didn’t try. And part of this increased depression is simply due to failing yet another treatment. I went through all this serious pain and suffering for nothing. Well, to get worse, actually. It’s a real kick in the head. Seriously.
Would I Recommend Chronotherapy?
This is a question for you and your doctor. I think that if the numbers quoted on the Program in Psychiatric Chronotherapy web site are accurate (50% – 60% response) then it’s well worth considering. It’s another option. When other options don’t work, you try what is left. All the protocol and research is online so even if your doctor isn’t familiar with it, they can read up.
But what I can tell you for sure is that it’s no fun and bad things can happen to you both psychologically and physically so you need to talk to your doctor. Me, I can’t see ever trying it again. Ever.
Tracking of Mood During Chronotherapy
These numbers are very rough and supplied by me during chronotherapy which means they are completely subjective. They just give an idea of what I was thinking at the time, if you’re interested.
|Thur 5PM||Fri 2AM||Fri 9AM||Fri 6PM||Sat 2AM||Sat 8AM||Sat 1PM||Sat 7PM||Sun 7PM||Mon 6AM|
If anyone out there has tried anything like this, I’d be very interested in hearing from you.
Do not, and I mean do not try this at home. I’m an idiot. Don’t be like me. Clear?
Today I read about a new therapy known as Triple Chronotherapy. Yes, it’s a big fancy word. Chronotherapy. Quite frankly, it sounds made up.
But it isn’t.