On July 1, 2018, I crashed. I crashed hard. I didn’t expect to crash, I didn’t even see it coming. But I did and for a few days, I flailed. Then came understanding and with that, I stopped flailing.
That may seem odd to you, how I crashed hard without seeing it coming. It was odd to me. For all of May and June, I’d been quite buoyant, very productive, and full of confidence. Then the crash. Overnight I went from being buoyant to being suicidal. I’d crashed hard.
What exactly was going on? Why was I in such a dark place so quickly? At first, it made no sense to me. At least until July 6th. On that date, I finally clued in and realized I’d been having a hypomanic cycle and it had ended spectacularly.
And what a hypomanic cycle it was.
It began with a conference I attended in Chicago at the end of April. It may have started prior to that.
The conference, HealtheVoices18, was incredible. Present were 122 online health advocates representing 40 different medical conditions. All of us were there courtesy of Janssen who paid for flights and accommodations.
The conference began with a mixer and ended with a fabulous boxed lunch. In between were talks and presentations and groups and so much more. There was laughter and tears and education, lots of each. The presenters were open, compelling and moving. The Janssen staff were supportive, encouraging and always open to approach. I can’t think of a time when I’ve ever felt as comfortable amongst a group of 122 plus strangers as I did there.
I left the conference in very good spirits, filled with motivation. On my return home, I turned this motivation into increased advocacy. Over the next three weeks, I was interviewed for two podcasts, interviewed for a video podcast and interviewed by my local newspaper. I was also tweeting up a storm.
The 3 of ME: Acquiring the Site
But this didn’t satisfy. I had two WordPress.com blogs, The 3 of ME and jots and thoughts, that had been stagnant for months. I wanted to bring them back to life, especially The 3 of ME. The issue was, how would I do this? Would I revamp the sites, archive the existing material, and then continue? Or would I be better off starting anew?
For The 3 of ME, the answer came in an email I received on May 21st. It was a link to a video showing how I could get a free domain name and a free hosting account. With them, I could set up a self-managed WordPress.org site. This opportunity excited me. I liked the idea of having my own site. To be able to do that for free was amazing. I followed the instructions in the video, acquired a new domain name, registered with a new host and installed WordPress. The 3 of ME was live.
The 3 of ME: Building the Site
With that, my burst of productivity really took flight. In my excitement, sleep was an afterthought. Two hours a night was too much. I was on a roll and full of energy. I wanted to have something published as soon as possible. The easiest way was to simply duplicate the look of the old The 3 of ME. So I did. Or at least I tried to.
I quickly realized that my new WordPress.org installation didn’t have the user-friendliness of WordPress.com. Not a problem, I thought, I’d use plugins to help me. So I read articles on the best plugins to use on a new site. I also spent time just exploring the thousands of plugins available. If I thought a plugin would help me, I installed it. It never occurred to me that there’d be conflicts between plugins. This naivete led to mistakes. But they didn’t slow me down. In fact, they fueled more effort. More than one sleepless night was spent working on The 3 of ME yet I wasn’t tired. I was excited, focused, driven. My confidence was undiminished. I felt I could do no wrong.
The 3 of ME: Writing Posts
While all of that was going on, I was busy in other areas. I was writing new pieces and re-writing old ones. I had material from three sources that I was bringing together. Each source had its own directory on my Google Drive and its own voice. I re-read them all, plotting out how I’d present them in the new site, and edited them so that the new voice would be consistent, editing, writing or re-writing posts or pages at a two-item a day pace. I was on fire.
Fuel was added to the hypomania. My son contacted me. He was coming for a visit, his first since the new year. There were more sleepless nights as I got my apartment ready for him.
None of the sleepless nights had any effect on my energy or my level of productivity. My confidence was soaring.
It all stopped.
My son needed a new phone and I believed I couldn’t provide one for him. Such a small thing. It escalated rapidly. All of the negative self-talk about my inabilities as a parent came flooding in. When he went home, the bottom fell out and I crashed.
I crashed hard. Overnight I went from being buoyant and productive to being suicidal. My thoughts were the darkest of dark thoughts, so dark that I came very close to calling a crisis line. I was teetering, flailing, completely unsure of what was happening. The suddenness of the fall and the depths it took me to were unexpected.
All writing stopped. Interest in the new site stopped. My presence on Twitter stopped. And for a while, it looked as if I would stop. I’d crashed and I was barely hanging on.
I was about to let go. I’d been spiralling down so quickly I didn’t see a way out. Then an “aha” moment. It was as if a switch was flipped helping me to see what was going on. And see I did. I clued in. I remembered my growing comprehension that my psychiatrist was considering a new diagnosis. Even though he hadn’t explicitly said so, what if, I wondered, he was right? What if it was a bipolar disorder?
I researched and grew to understand that I’d been in the midst of a hypomanic cycle and it had ended as quickly as it began. With comprehension, the crash bottomed out. I didn’t need to hang on for dear life. I could begin to climb out of the depths and find balance.
It was now clear that I couldn’t continue to ignore the unspoken diagnosis. I had to learn about it, understand it, and come to terms with it. My safety, my life, depends on it.
My son got his new phone. I over-extended myself financially to provide it. The 3 of ME is no more. The site that gave me the free name revoked it. I’m not sure why. This site, Righting the Ship, is the result.
Image from Pixabay.