Not So Smart

Not So Smart

I thought that having a couple of months of exercising would be good for me. It would rest my ageing knees. It would let me chill out a little. I wouldn’t have to worry about training all the time. Two months off was my gift to myself for achieving so much in the year I was diagnosed with bipolar.

Never again. 

Two months off from routine. Two months off from focus. Two months off from endorphins. Two months off from my coping mechanism. Two months when I was still in the process of changing medication. Two months of not feeling great.

Did I think it would go well? Well, yes I did. I had been feeling normal(ish) for several months so I thought nothing of not keeping up my exercise routine at the most stressful time of the year. And then going out. And hosting Christmas. And New Years. What could go wrong?

November was not too bad, in fact I enjoyed myself quite a lot. I went to see Paul Chowdry at the Swan in Wycombe and I laughed my arse off. Like Ricky Gervais, everything was fair game and the comedy was so much better for it. And then with a simple but perfectly crafted message about dealing with depression at the end of the show he made me well up. I will remember the show not just for the comedy, but also for his openness and honesty and I thank Mr Chowdry for that. Hopefully his message at the end of the show helped others as well.

The year before at the same time I went to see Rhod Gilbert in the same venue. He is one of the funniest men on the planet and I could barely muster a grin during the show. I should point out that I was very depressed at the time and looking back on it, he was very, very funny. To be honest, I should have spontaneously combusted from the genius comedy that was being presented in front of me, but then the fire alarms would have gone off and the show would have been over. It would have been a great promotion stunt though – I don’t think anyone has combusted without the aid of lighter fluid or kerosene in recent history and it would have made the news. Not just local news, I think it probably would have made the nationals. There could have been a religious spin on it as well – I mean the show was called The Book of John. All of the nutjobs would have come out of the woodwork about Rhod being able to cast people into the fiery depths of hell through finely crafted comedy. Perhaps he is the second coming? Come to think of it, he does have a decent beard and he’s good at preaching.

Laugh neon signage
shallow focus photo of calendar mounted on white wall

In November I also had an amazing night at The Crazy Bear with my wonderful wife for our ten year anniversary. The funniest part of the evening was my wife assuming everyone was thinking she was a hooker whilst she had a drink or two in the bar whilst I was having a Thai massage. For the record, the massage was a birthday present from my in-laws and wasn’t the type with a  happy ending. It actually hurt like hell! Looking back, I should have stuffed a load of cash into my wife’s top when I joined her in the bar. That would have given the other guests something to talk about.

The weirdest thing about the evening was the couple who sat next to us at dinner. They did not say a word to each other for the duration of their meal, and as they were staying in the suite above ours, I am fairly confident they went straight to sleep when they got back. Strange given that the place is a boutique hotel where couples go for a nice night “out”, and dinner and a large suite would have cost a small fortune. He was quite a big chap, so it is possible that he could have rolled over in bed and crushed her to death. We should have checked in on them really. 

Overall, November 2022 was definitely better than November 2021 when I went off the rails.

Then December came. I felt my first wobble at my work Christmas party, where I made a hasty exit and went home early. For the rest of the month, I felt that something was a little off and was going up and down a lot. Not massively up and down, but more than normal. I don’t think I was particularly manic manic at any time. I also found myself not being able to concentrate on any one thing for more than a few minutes. I know I am like this normally, but I could usually concentrate on one thing long enough to get stuff done. I will have to discuss this with my psychiatrist as it might be the new medication I am on. 

Then I did something wonderful – I gave a talk about being bipolar to around 50 of my work colleagues. I almost cried whilst doing so, in particular when I was explaining why the song Don’t Give Up by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush meant so much to me, and how my wife is my rock and my saviour. Hold up a minute. Saviour? Does that mean my wife could be the second coming? I should stop going off track. Anyway, after the talk I felt wonderful. People now know that sometimes I won’t be very well and that this is because I have a mental illness. I was fairly blunt with the content of the talk.

During the month my jaw had been locking a lot, and my tinnitus had gone off the scale. It is still ringing very loudly as I write this and I am still not that great. It is more of a high pitch signal than a ringing, but it is bloody annoying and drives me mad. The jaw locking and the tinnitus are the usual indicators that something is not right. I also grind my teeth badly in my sleep when my jaw is locking. I will have to make sure I wear my night guard so I don’t grind my teeth down more than I have already. I had also been finding it hard to focus at work; fortunately me working at 50% is enough to get my job done effectively. I am worried that this inability to focus is getting worse. Given all this going on, I was expecting some sort of event to happen.

Anyways, going back to the correct tense, I had felt on edge quite a lot for a while, and my wife had said for some time I had been hot or cold – either I was approachable or I was not. I was also picking faults with anything and being quite moody. That said, in my opinion I was fine over Christmas and enjoyed entertaining the whole family. On Christmas day I didn’t turn into a flaming ball of rage whilst cooking the lunch – everything was just fine, and fine is good. ** Edit: My wife has informed me that this was not true – I was not ok on Christmas day ** The day before New Years eve I went over to see some friends with my wife and we had a few drinks and stayed up late. That threw me off.

On New Year’s eve I could tell that I had drunk the night before, but I could tell something else wasn’t right. I felt panicky, my stomach was shot to shit and I was becoming progressively more agitated, not at anything in particular, just at everything. I was cooking Cote de Boeuf and Porterhouse steaks for seven adults with dauphinoise on the side, making lasagne for the kids and had done a great job at keeping it together – even getting the temperature of three different huge cuts of meat absolutely spot on and wrapping them to rest so they were perfectly done for everyone. Job done. But then I looked at the hob and realised I had to serve the vegetables – asparagus, fine beans and samphire being plated up should not have been difficult. I started sweating and became very confused, I felt physically sick, and as my cousin from Canada arrived with her family through the door I said sorry I could not join them for dinner and ran up to bed thinking I would miss the New Year’s celebrations. I had not taken my medication for a day and a half because I was a twat. Perhaps this had just about been keeping me ok, or maybe I was a little up and thought I didn’t need it and going out had pushed me over the edge. I don’t know, but I think it was the latter as I don’t think the meds get out of your system that quickly (extended release and immediate release Quetiapine and Lamotrigine).

yellow fireworks in the sky during nighttime

I took my medication to get back on track, the immediate release Quetiapine would calm me down and let me sleep. Then the darndest thing happened, I woke up two hours later feeling tired but absolutely fine. I went downstairs, apologised to all of the guests and ate my dinner somewhat later than planned in a somewhat subdued state. I managed to stay awake until midnight and toasted it in with a Pepsi Max instead of Champagne. It is now the 7th of January and I have been a little up and down since then. I don’t feel right at all, so I think I am having the strongest mood swing since I have been on medication; possibly partly attributed to forgetting to take it for two days, but more likely because of the added stress of the Christmas season. Muppet.

And the vegetables? My moods are definitely out of sorts, but I think that was most likely a panic attack.

I think this is a New Year’s reminder that I am still ill, and that I am not getting any better. Next week I have two personal training sessions booked in to kick start my routine again, and if I can muster up the energy I’ll be doing a workout on the cross-trainer and rower tomorrow. My physical health is really the key to my mental health and I must not forget that. Tomorrow I start my transformation to become Chris Hemsworth (joke – that’s never going to happen).

I’ll be tracking my progress on losing weight and getting super fit on my fitness blog this year. Hopefully when I’m sat here in a year I will have given myself a six pack and will have run an ultra marathon. Not setting my sights too high again then.


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  1. I know that you are struggling at times but you seem to be holding it together.
    Hopefully you will get used to your meds and remember to take them on time every time.
    On the upside more meat for everyone else new years eve.

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