This weekend was a whirlwind from start to finish. I not only experienced the crash of a manic episode but the subsequent triggering of a depressive episode – the correct term is rapid cycling . My cycle lasted 3 weeks before the depressive episode was triggered as for the majority this month i have boarded on mania due to my need to keep busy whilst back home. Although my depressive episode thankfully lasted only 2 days it doesn’t get easier. My history with sexual assault is one of the biggest triggers for me – most actions of physical affection which are more than platonic set me off. I am a lot better now because i have things to keep me focused:
When i started my writing journey i looked through the vast variety of online platforms for magazines, organisations and all that for groups i could see myself being associated with. Bphope was the very first on my list, i automatically fell in love with their online community and as of Friday i am so happy to be a part of their team.
- School Programs with Batyr
- When i get back to Australia i’ve already got 2 school programs i will be speaking at. They are very important to me of course from how i was treated and the education (or lack off) that was provided during my years at high school.
So even though it wasn’t the best weekend at least i can see the good that came from it: more awareness about my triggers, signs for me of mania and things to look forward too!
I have been absent from my blog for a little while and it’s not because i have had a down point – it’s actually the opposite. I am back in my home country of Switzerland and have taken the time to do not do so much work. It has been around 1.5ish months since my last depressive episode and I have been mostly stable, which for me is always daunting because with stability comes the fear of relapse. However being back with family has been really good – reconnecting with the people i love, traveling around and reflecting on the past couple months.
I decided i wanted to do a bit more travel outside my home country, so i booked a bus and a hostel to München. In all seriousness that isn’t scary: i speak the language and have been traveling alone for years. However i decided i would stay in a 6 bedroom girls dorm room for the first time. I would be forced to talk and live amongst strangers. Now that is terrifying.
Knowing no one and having no plans. Walking into my room, it took me about 30 minutes to pluck up the courage to ask the girl who was in my room if she spoke german. Turns out she was from Germany and was here on a small holiday. We instantly became friendly and she invited me to dinner/drinks with some people she had met herself whilst here. Next thing i know, i was sitting at the famous Hofbräuhaus where Hitler made his first speech as the political party leader in 1933 with a bunch of people i didn’t know. In a matter of one hour i had gone from wondering the city alone thinking how ridiculous i would look sitting at a bar alone on a Friday night to sitting at a big table with some really friendly people. The night went on so well there was even a discussion about feminism and all that i hold so close to my heart; i knew i had met the right people.
The weekend followed with a visit to Dachau, the former Nazi concentration camp (which i strongly urge people to also do), dinner at a vegan restaurant (thank you Vanessa!!!) and meeting more awesome girls from our dorm.
Sunday was an adventure with two friends from my first night in München to the beautiful Schloss Neuschwanstein – another must do if you are in Bavaria, it is the castle in which Beauty and the Beast is set. So worth the nearly 5 hour journey!
Following our trip, we again met more really friendly girls from our dorm. Then came my last day in München; once again i did something not normal to my travels and i was very i went on a walking tour of the city with a girl i had met from Brazil – specifically from a city i had worked in last year. More friends were made in our tour from all around the globe, we saw a make shift surfing wave and drank beers in McDonalds. Soon enough it was time for me to return to Switzerland.
This may all seem quite normal for some readers however for me its massive and I could not have imagined my small adventure would turn out to be so rewarding. Making so many friends, going on adventures and learning how brave i can be when outside my comfort zone makes me feel proud of myself for doing this trip because it was probably the most social i have ever been. I am most of the time by myself and never feel the need to be with people – but this trip made an impact because next weekend i will try to do it again in Italy!
This post isn’t following the usual theme of my blog – but hope you enjoy.
Following Shane Ferro’s article on HuffPost Women on Why Women Wear Makeup to the Gym i decided to share my opinion. As a long term gym rat and feminist myself i can one hundred percent agree that just because us women go to the gym to workout doesn’t lessen our objectification. We are still the object of the male gaze when we are sweating our asses off in a gym – thats if its both a female and male studio – and we are expected to look good doing it.
One major factor proving this is the sudden abundance of push up sports bras available for women. The entire product is an oxymoron itself because sports bras are made to keep our breasts from excessive movement yet someone thought it would be a good idea to lessen the sports bras purpose so us girls who work out can look like we are here to get a date.
Just as Ferro says ‘body image and perception issues do not go away just because one is working out’ – they are very much alive. I know myself when i started working out at a both male and female studio i was conscious about how i looked and dressed – I didn’t want these new people to judge how i looked. It would be easy just to call women who wear make up to the gym shallow and self centred but i doubt the reason is that. We do live busy lives: we may have come from work, it might be eyelash extensions, or it might just be what we want to do. BIG DEAL.
Our role as the male spectacle doesn’t end when on a treadmill or lifting weights. So for the women who do wear make up to the gym: don’t be ashamed, do you girl and for the women who don’t wear make up to the gym: don’t be ashamed, do you girl.
those who defy this have my applause.
Someone asked me the other day what really is bipolar. ‘I know it’s like this up and down thing but really what is it like Sarah?’. For some reason i was really speechless at this question and it dawned on me that i’ve never actually explained or been asked what my bipolar is like. So my answer was a bit ‘umm yeah it’s just sometimes i can’t find the will to live…’ and ‘umm yeah i can get manic but that doesn’t happen too much it’s mostly the down side…’
So, as a better response i’m going to do my best at writing what my bipolar is like. Everyone’s is different. There are various technical terms such as bipolar I, bipolar II, unipolar etc.. for me i fall under the bipolar 2 depression diagnosis. You might think well whats the difference? Aren’t you just depressed? These are legitimate questions that result from years of stigma causing the lack of knowledge every day people have about mental illness. So i’ll take some words from my favourite bipolar body, BP Hope:
At the far manic end of the spectrum sits bipolar I disorder. Next comes bipolar II: depression with a helping of hypomania. Then there’s cyclothymic disorder, which describes frequent mood shifts that never reach a full-blown episode of depression or mania, and a category previously known as “not otherwise specified,” used for conditions that don’t precisely fit the other categories.
Us bipolar II club members are the less manic but the more depressed. BP Hope also notes that ‘according to a 2002 study by Lewis L. Judd and colleagues at the University of California at San Diego published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, people with bipolar I experience depression three times as often as mania. For bipolar II, the ratio of time spent in depression versus mania is a whopping 40:1′. Now those are some numbers, both mania and depression are bad enough but to see the numbers can put things into perspective. I’ve had comments in the past noting how i ‘don’t seem crazy’ so there is why, i’m too busy trying to find the reason to stay alive.
Currently my bipolar is as such: during christmas i had a major depressive episode which lasted nearly 2 weeks. It was a mix of emotions and bad new meds. I decided to change one of the medications i was on for side effect reasons but the new one ended up being worse. Pretty much the day after i stopped taking them i returned back to normal. Since then its been 18ish days of being stable. This somewhat falls into what is known as rapid cycling: as defined by the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria—is having at least four distinct episodes of major depression, mania or hypomania, or mixed symptoms within a 12-month period.
Hopefully this was a bit insightful in terms of the vast spectrum of bipolarity and sheds a light on what people like me go through.
This month has started great.
I’ve been sober for two weeks, training every day and getting so many projects organised!
Workshops with Batyr and a campaign with Bipolar Australia are how i’ve started the year!
Here’s a poem i wrote about how i’m accepting my body and loving what it’s capable of. Rather than trying to make it smaller to fit a mould i’m loving my muscles and can’t wait to get stronger. So here is #strongisthenewskinny
Coming out of my last manic episode i feel strangely more self aware – as if being extremely suicidal for a week can somehow create a sense of epiphany.
In my eight years of having a mental illness its as if it created a selfish victim. What i mean is i never thought to say sorry to those closest to me for what they have to see; someone they love hurting, falling further and further away from them. This last episode was one of my worst, i haven’t been that bad in about 2 years and it was really scary.
So this is a both an open letter from me to all those i love and care for me everyday and a poem i wrote to my mum. I am so sorry for not being an easy chill cool girl (if these even exist – i am very curious). I’m needy, sensitive, distant and isolative (did i make up a word again?) all at the same time. Thank you to those special people who stay by me and worry when i don’t reply to a message. You make me feel not so alone.
AND now for the poem of this post;
It has been nearly a week since my heart was ripped out and i still miss your smile. The way i would walk up the stairs to see you dealing with the days stock but only to stop and smile, come across the floor to kiss me good morning.
It was only short but it meant so much to me.
‘You feel things more than most people do, its as if you’re on a higher degree to the rest of the world’
He asks why i want this so bad… I am not sure