chemo school and delusions

warning: this will contain more information than usual about my bipolar. some people are not going to read this – so this won’t be the post for you.

i’ve talked briefly in the past how my bipolar may, or may not interact with my drugs. but it’s important to talk about how it interacts with my every day life.

the biggest trigger of a hypomanic episode for me is stress.  it might take awhile to build up to one, but eventually, stress will eventuate into hypomania. now, for some terminology time!  i have, as i’ve said before bipolar 1, ultra-rapid cycling with psychosis. this means that i suffer from both hypomania (which is  mania-light) and have had, at some point in my life, a period that has been diagnosed as mania.  the ultra-rapid cycling is quite odd in  bipolar 1 – it tends to effect bipolar 2 more. however, it means i can go from depressed to hypomanic to depressed to hypomanic several times within one day.  ‘normal’ bipolar is usually a few months of each, and rapid cycling is a few weeks to a month in each state.  ultra-rapid cycling is exhausting.

what is hard about hypomania is that- the sort i get – feels good. not just good. good doesn’t cover it. imagine the happiest you’ve ever felt, and apply multitudes.  you drive through the city and each light glitters, each movement is singing to you. the sky is holding you, and telling you that there is so much beauty. you fill, and you fill space, and space fills you.  the shadow cast by a tree, or the way someone moves their hands – it is all so beautiful that you cannot describe it.  and your mind flickers between all these things like a dying fluorescent light. my eyes feel as though they are wider.  you feel childlike with wonder.  you cannot stop. you don’t ever want to stop.  taste is incredible. sensations – cold or heat or softness, are huge and vivid.

i also get delusions – both when depressed and hypomanic. when i am  manic, the delusions become psychosis.  last night, a wombat sort of communicated to me that i was going to be ok. he crossed the road in front of us, driving back from alex’s parents place, and stood in the road, his funny face and soft whiskers bristling, and his eyes met mine, and he told me that it was going to be ok. when i walk into a shop, and a song i love is playing, i’m being told that this is right. that i am ok. and the worse it gets (or better?) the more things start to speak to me. people in cars are singing the words of the music i am  listening to. the cars move so i can move between them. the trees tell me about how it is their place to be here, in the city, and that they care about me.  and so on.

it is VITALLY important that no one every buys into this with me, because it makes it worse.  it is not me feeling spiritually connected, it’s a clinical delusion related to my mental illness.  this may be your own spiritual connection, in a deep time of realisation, but it’s not for me. it is a sign that i am starting to feel elated, magical, wonderous, untouchable and that if it keeps going, i will lose this hold i struggle to keep on the everyday.

last night, i knew i would be better. i knew that no matter what happened, i would be healed and it would be fine. it would be beautiful. each step is filled with beautiful and beautiful is a thing that fills each footstep like a puddle in the rain or in the sad, and that i am walking with angels.  this also is not true. as i’ve explained before, i may not be ok. pretending i will be, without a doubt, is another form of delusion. i need to be realistic and hopeful.  take one day, one step, as it comes, and minimise the amount of terror that comes with mortality.  this idea that there is no question that i will live is a delusion.

as i said earlier, the hardest thing is, how good it feels. how utterly astonishingly incredible it feels. my chest was throbbing from the metal implant which is going to inject chemotherapy into my fucking heart to pump it through my body.  i face a real risk of liver failure.  i spend most nights crying, at least a little, about the very real fear that i will never get that future i assumed will happen for me, and that i will have to go. that i don’t want to go. and for that night, it was all completely gone. none of it mattered because of that white glow on the trunks of the gums when we drove past them with the high beams – the way their branches stretched up as though they were touching heaven – the way one tree was held by a rabbit spirit, the way each thought rolled over and over hungrily in my mind.  this is what it is to be on the verge of a full manic episode and i wanted it to take me.  i wanted so badly to not stop at that cross road between holding it in and letting it go, and to just let it go.  i kept a grip. i took my antipsychotics. i took my valium. and it faded.  it’s likely that tonight, as the seroquel completely leaves my system it could start again. and again i push it aside, and again i hate pushing it aside.

and i hate it.  and so the cycle continues. it changes. it always changes. and i cannot let go of the reality of my situation.

we had chemo-school today. a long list of shitty things that might happen to me.  out of everything, it’s BLOOD CLOTS i’ve adopted as my fear for the week. not sure why it’s blood clots; there was a lot of shitty things in that list that could kill me.  i just don’t like the idea of a blood clot.  at the moment, it looks like six weeks of one type of chemo (one cycle every two weeks) – CT scan – sic weeks of the next type (one cycle every two weeks) – CT scan. this will tell my doctors if it has worked and the tumours have shrunk. if, in the best case scenario, they have shrunk, i wait six weeks, and then i have my  liver resected, and… whatever they hell they do to my sigmoid (rectum/colon bit) done.  no one has told me what’s going on there, and no one really cares because it’s small and dumb.

i read by accident more miracle cures today.  i have to block them from facebook because i can’t cope with the hope they bring and then snatch from me.  trust my doctors. trust them.  respect those who take their own path. ask them to respect mine. keep going. breathe.

now, blog june wise:
i know this has been the sort of blog a lot of people consider ‘self involved naval gazing’.  it’s not commenting on important thoughts i might have on the role of preserving digital archives, or the complexity of open source software as a part of the forensics process. i haven’t mentioned why archives matter, or where i fit as an archivist, or where i want to see myself as an archivist.  these thoughts, right now, don’t feel that important to me.  i know that they are important, and i’ve enjoyed reading people’s  blogs about their work, and their lives.  i think that is important and it is great to see blogs engaging in it. i feel good that a lot of people have told me that this self involvement has actually helped them understand a bit of what happens with a diagnosis of cancer. i had started writing about my tumours prior to receiving the news, and discussing the processes and feelings of the first few weeks of a cancer diagnosis.  i feel like i have a lot more to write about – far less about the physicality of what is going to happen (though i am sure i will have at least a few exotic chemo side effects though i’ll probably keep my hair with the variety i’m taking) and more about the navel gazing that comes from the real, solid reality of the possibility of dying young.

it’s not just people with cancer that face this though.  there are people with so many other conditions – mental health problems, eating disorders, clotting diseases, inflammatory bowel diseases, lupus, AIDS, HIV, hepatitis c, type 1 diabetes, and all those other nameless conditions that people pass over, but still cause really severe and terrifying and life threatening things to happen to you – all which have death standing there, in front of you, a gun to your head just waiting for it to go off.  i want to make it clear that i think a lot of what i’m writing about is not about CANCER. it’s about being 30 years old, and suffering from a chronic, possibly incurable disease, and the thoughts, pains, and emotions that carries with them.  when people who are in that place feel like they can share something, never feel that you have less to say about your experience than i do, because i have cancer.  you are here too. we are all here in our own way, aware of that gun to our head, and seeing it, knowing it is there, and keeping on walking anyway.

and i think for me this blog is about venting, and hearing support from people who have been through cancer too, and know about portacath, and what it means when i say mets, and how weird your wee smells after a general anaesthetic (seriously, it smells weird) and being scared of your bodily functions, and being scared of your body.

so blog june has been a damn good thing for me.  in my own indulgent way. i will keep  blogging because it helps me a lot


About elizabeth

various things.
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5 Responses to chemo school and delusions

  1. bagatell says:

    Keep writing. Keep breathing. We’re here – and breathing with you.

    I have had cancer, and remember vividly that feeling of being scared of your own body. I felt horrified, like something foreign was attached to me. I remember that feeling as being so intense between my diagnosis and surgery – and can’t fathom that as an ongoing thing. I just gave in over the weekend and read Fault in Our Stars and was struck by the description of the cancer being “made of him”. I’m wondering if mine had been inoperable, if I would have managed to come to the time when I managed to feel like part of my body was something other than alien….? I don’t know where I’m going with that, but again – your writing is making me think. Which is a Good Thing.

    I’ve also worked in mental health – and am so interested in your description of how it feels to be in a mania. I had some inkling of that was how it might be, but have never heard it described so …well – so descriptively.

  2. Kathryn Favelle says:

    I’m with Bagatell – keep writing, keep breathing, keep venting, keep sharing. Your words are bringing back a lot of memories – good, bad, scary, happy. I especially love the way you talk about your trust in your doctors. I felt that too – I just had to put my trust in them to get me through. Thinking of you.

    • veritas says:

      thank you. x i think i almost need to keep writing at this point, because it’s so helpful to me. trusting doctors – it’s hard, but gotta be done.

  3. Cordelia says:

    Please keep writing. I know that writing helps all sorts of things and what you write will and does help others.

    Thank you.

    • veritas says:

      funnily enough, i mostly write for me. the fact that other people may find it helpful is a fantastic gift, and i really appreciate it – it’s just i’ve not kept a physical diary since i was 12 and prefer blogging, even if they are never read. it’s weird to have one that people read now. but lovely.

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