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I've become a social leper

(15 Posts)
NightTerrier Tue 07-Feb-17 19:29:08

I had the worst manic episode to date about a year and a half ago. To be honest, I still haven't got back to 'normal'. My behaviour was so strange and I felt so ashamed and burnt out afterwards that I've just hidden away since then and have pretty much cut contact with everyone who isn't immediate family. I was psychotic and it was so terrifying. I just don't feel like the same person after all of that.

I was self employed and networking locally and haven't been able to face getting back to business and reconnecting with any of those people. Mostly because of any negative judgements and the fact that it's been so long and I'd have to try and make out I'd been productive during this time (which I haven't).

So, money and work is a real worry. I did get a part time job that I thought would be good for me, but I have had such bad social anxiety since then that I just couldn't handle it and it all went spectacularly pear shaped. This has made me feel even more ashamed and as though I want to hide away even more.

To top it all off I was diagnosed with Anxious (or Avoidant) Personality Disorder, as well as Bipolar Type 1 just before Xmas. AvPD is basically massive social anxiety and feelings of inferiority. I've always felt this way, but it's worse than ever after my last manic episode.

I have been reclusive for about 18 months and it's incredibly difficult to re-engage with people again, as I just feel as though I am some kind of freak who has nothing to say, nothing to offer and that I am inherently unlikeable and inferior. Also, I seem to have a major mood episode every couple of years even though I'm on meds. So, I'm trying to think positively, but I've been feeling wonky for he last month and the thought of ending up delusional and psychotic again terrifies me. Not to mention the guilt over how worried DH was.

Anywyay, I'm not sure where this is going, but thanks if you read this and if anyone knows how I could get back out there and stop being a social leper I'd be sooo grateful!

SpongeBobJudgeyPants Tue 07-Feb-17 19:37:57

I'm sure you have plenty to offer, it's just believing in it.... I identify with the feelings of shame about the illness. I had post peurphile (sp?) mania after my DD was born, and nearly 20 yrs later, I can still remember those feelings. Horrible.... Society is still frightened of those of us who have an illness they can't understand, and can't see... I suppose I just gradually started meeting with friends again, in controlled social settings. Excercise helps enourmously, as does avoiding caffeine, and making sure I get enough sleep. If I have a few weeks of not sleeping properly, I have to be very careful, as I know this can result in me becoming ill again. Have you ever had the chance to go a self management course? The charity who used to be called the Manic Depressive Fellowship used to run them. Very useful.

NightTerrier Tue 07-Feb-17 20:17:19

Thanks, SpongeBob.

What a horrible time for you to have mania. The timing really couldn't have been worse. Did you feel as though there was a huge mental block when it came to getting back in touch with people?

The issue I'm having is that the whole "what have you been up to?" small talk is going to be so awkward for me, as haven't been up to much at all and don't have anything interesting to talk about. I'm happy to hear about how other people have been doing though! Did you worry about anything like this after you had been very ill?

You aren't wrong about sleep. I really try to keep to a good routine of sleep, clean eating and exercise. It makes such a difference. However, I also find it hard to cope when things interfere with it.

Sorry to bang on, but I'm also feeling a lot of shame because SIL has a friend with bipolar (and physical health problems) who has a great career and manages to go out clubbing and to festivals etc. I have to avoid things like alcohol and late nights because these things have triggered manic episodes in the past. It kind of makes me worry that my in laws think I'm a malingerer. Also, I feel I should be functioning like that and not stuck in a socially anxious and reclusive rut.

It's weird, but I thought I'd bounce back within 3 months, but I'm really not the same person that I used to be and although the psychiatrist says it's OK to take as long as you need to recover and there is no such thing as 'normal', it just seems to be taking too long.

I'll look into self management courses. Thanks. smile

SpongeBobJudgeyPants Tue 07-Feb-17 20:33:04

I did have problems getting back in touch, but it was a long time ago, so I can't remember exactly. You can be as detailed as you want in any explanations you give people...IME most people love to talk about themselves, so as a good listener, I'm quite good company grin. I do feel a lingering shame that I have never lived up to my potential iusim. Previous career cut short by my illness, as well as other issues, despite qualifying for promotion very quickly. Degree only used in a couple of jobs....it's hard to see other people who apparently manage and even thrive tho, I agree. Maybe her work is the sort that encourages more extreme personality iuswim? And if she's able to go to festivals and stuff...I certainly wouldn't be too good at that, if there was a lack of sleep and alcohol involved. You seem very worried about what people think if you don't mind me mentioning. I am wondering how much of this is coming from your thoughts, and how much is coming from them...have they been negative about it at all? Everyone's different, and has a different experience of it. I'm wondering if she is bipolar 2, given what you've said. I suppose we don't know if she has hypo's, as IME people only notice when they tip into something worse unfortunately.

NightTerrier Tue 07-Feb-17 21:01:20

I totally relate to the lingering shame of not living up to your potential. I had a psychotic episode in my late teens and had to leave 6th Form. I did manage to get a degree as a mature student in my 20s, but a few bipolar episodes since then have really disrupted my career!

Talking to people about themselves is always good and usually enlightening as you find out more about them.

You're right. I get very anxious about what others think, but the odd part is that it's irrational, because I know they just don't spend that much time and energy thinking about me. People usually think a lot about themselves instead- and that's as it should be.

I don't know whether the lady has bipolar 1 or 2, but it's also nice to see her getting on and living with it. hypos aren't as bad and can be quite nice They are probably more annoying for people who have to deal with the hypo person iyswim. Mania is just down right dangerous and disruptive though.

Itisnoteasybeingdifferent Tue 07-Feb-17 22:37:54

Terrier,
Know what you are feeliing. I have worn the same T shirt. ... (metaphorically speaking)

My career has been one train wreck preceded by another and a car crash. I have certainly failed to "live up to my potential". Now comes the tricky bit. How to deal with it?

Can I suggest you accept yourself as you are and not try to compare yourself (unfavourably) against others? If I have learned one thing (now nearly 60 shock), it is that no matter how good you are, there is always someone better. But by an equal measure, no matter how bad you do something, as long as you try, you are better than someone who decides to do nothing.

If you understand you can't win, there is nothing wrong with being at the back of the pack in a race. Equally there is nothing wrong in deciding you don't want to take part in racing. (again from presonal experience).

Does any of that make sense?

mimishimmi Tue 07-Feb-17 23:05:19

I have GAD (global anxiety disorder). Is that similar? Much of what you said about yourself resonated with me.

NightTerrier Wed 08-Feb-17 00:06:28

Thanks, beingdifferent.

Would you mind me asking whether you have found peace and accepted the way things are? I don't expect to be happy all the time, that isn't sustainable, but acceptance would be good!

As for the race. It's funny you should mention that, because I've been chewing this very issue over for the last year or so and I don't even think that I'm interested in participating any more. It is high time to move forward though and that's turning out to be difficult.

mimishimmi, I have Anxious Personality Disorder(also known as Avoidant Personality Disorder). It's in the Cluster C - anxious and fearful - category. Don't worry, I'm sure you don't have that. They both share syptoms of anxiety.

SpongeBobJudgeyPants Wed 08-Feb-17 11:08:46

I know you asked NotEasy but I shall answer too, if that's ok grin. NotEasy is very wise, and I am a similar age, so.... Yes, I have more or less accepted the way my life is, give or take, see previous answer. It took a long time, because I was quite resistant to it, being the awkward old trout that I am. But I found My People (mostly friends from uni and yonks ago). Some would consider us an odd, eclectic bunch. My friend has a Phd, and could no longer cope with academia, and we meet up for lunch and put the world to rights quite often. I finally kind of 'accepted' that I might not work again, unless it's part-time, and I really really want to, in a project I am inspired by, or my financial situation changes drastically. I actually declared myself retired on my car insurance... Sounds trivial, but I had been soooo resistant to it...this kind of gave me 'permission' to enjoy the other stuff I do. Book club, craft groups, the gym etc, in a way I hadn't before. I had almost felt a bit guilty before iuswim? Also, I play a drum in a music group, Very therapeutic...something a bit primal about it I think. As for the race NotEasy mentioned. As Baz Luhman (sp?) Wonderful inspirational college speech on You Tube, said..."The race is long, but only with yourself". Tis true. x

SpongeBobJudgeyPants Wed 08-Feb-17 11:19:28

Actually, now I think about it harder...I have had therapy a few times over the years...for childhood abuse, sexual assault and just not fitting in with the world generally.... Here are a couple of points that came out, that may be of use to you. Ignore if not grin.

My parents expectations of me were very high. I think whatever I had achieved would not have been enough. They were unhappy troubled people with many mental health issues of their own, and being unable to find peace with themselves meant that everyone else was found wanting...my bullying father has been dead about 20 yrs, but my mother is a bitter woman in many ways, and finds fault with everyone. More so well-adjusted people with good self-esteem, which is sad and odd....

Having gone through things which would be considered achievements by society at large, I ticked a lot of boxes, just didn't feel as if I did. The counsellor was impressed, but I negated that to myself by saying, well she had to be nice, she was a counsellor. But objectively, with someone else, I would be impressed. It even my uncomfortable to type that, because we were never allowed to allude to this stuff at home.

Thank you for your acknowledgement of being really ill...it was a horrible time...my dad had just died, and my xhusband was being a pita. This has actually helped me think about where I am now, and how far I've come, so thank you for that. x

Itisnoteasybeingdifferent Thu 09-Feb-17 09:51:32

Terrier,
You ask if i have found peace? Yes I have. That doesn't mean there is not a bit of sadness every now and then about things I could have done.. But I am no longer trying to set my career on fire and put the world to rights. These days I simply go along with the general flow.

I do worry about the future insomuch as will "we be poor" in our retirement? It is much closer than I want to think about. But trying to bank a large sum of cash now will be near impossible so I don't bother.

NightTerrier Thu 09-Feb-17 13:42:08

Thanks for your answers SpongeBob and NotEasy.

It's really reassuring to know that you have both come to terms with the limitations that your mental health issues have put upon you.

I need to get over the whole worrying about other people's judgements thing. Any suggstions on that one?

Itisnoteasybeingdifferent Thu 09-Feb-17 15:35:44

Terrier,

You have said it all for yourself.. You have come back from a manic and psychotic episode .. and you are still here. That takes some strength. If people try to judge,... tell them to take a hike. No one has any authority to judge you other than in a court of law. You stand equal amongst women with everyone (especially including men). People who try and make out they are somehow better and pass judgement are really not worth the toilet paper they wipe their bums with.

AnxiousCarer Fri 10-Feb-17 19:59:49

flowers Terrier my DH suffers from episodes of psychosis, its such a terrifying illness. You need to be kind to yourself, you have been really poorly and you need to allow yourself time to recover. Take baby steps. If people ask you what you have been doing you can tell them you have been ill, if they ask for details, tell them its personal and most people will move on. I've been off sick and soneone was been nosey the other day and asked me what had been wrong with me, I just said I'd been poorly and they took the hint .

Do you have a CPN? DHs CPN team have been a huge suppirt to both of us, and are doing work on relapse prevention with us too. DH feels very guilty about what he has put me through even though I tell him its not his fault. It's his illness and that illness affects both of us. I've also found with DH it takes a long time for him to recover after an episode. This time we are 6 months down the line and still a long way from where we were before he got ill again.

NightTerrier Sat 11-Feb-17 22:30:10

Thanks NotEasy.

Hi AnxiousCarer. Sorry to hear about your DH's struggles with psychosis. I'm glad he has someone understanding like you. You really do sound like a star! I'm sure my DH and you could have an interesting conversation.

Yes, I do have a CPN. My local CMHT are great for people with psychotic illnesses.

To be honest, I made the mistake of being honest with a couple of people about me being ill with mania and psychosis and it didn't go down very well. I think psychosis is still quite stigmatised.

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