Well! Well! Well!
First I would like to thank all of you out there for your kind words and support it truly makes writing these posts worthwhile.
It’s been a longtime since I did a post regarding my bipolar, and in that time much has happened as I gradually spiraled out of control with the other Paul slowly and methodically taking complete control. I would eventually become subservient to his commands and the scariest part of it all…I wasn’t even aware of the other Paul or how severe my bipolar had got.
Where do I start? Hmmm! October 2017 I think should be a good place to kick things off.
Nope! First I will begin in January.
I remember this month very well because I was glowing with pride having stopped taking my medication deciding I was quite capable of dealing with and controlling my bipolar all by myself. I was even adamant and a little too cocky in thinking I was my own saviour, I can easily do this shit without any meds and with this my stubbornness prevailed and sadly clouded my judgment for the upcoming year.
One of the major traits of bipolar as told to me by counsellors, psychiatrists and my own experience is to stop taking my medication. The reason this happens so often is that once the meds start to work and I begin stabalising and enjoying my life, the other Paul will pop into my mind from the deep abyss he’s been residing and tell me
“You don’t need medication! You’re fine without it”.
“You’re sweet, can’t you see ?”.
“It’s the shrinks having you off”.
“You’re not as bad as they tell you”.
“You can handle this on you own. You’re making a big issue out of nothing”.
The other Paul will keep repeating these thoughts in my mind until I eventually relinquish to the beliefs that I am ok! And I don’t need these fuckin’ meds!
I even wrote about all of this in my earlier posts, but how wrong I was to stop taking my meds.
January 2017 was also when I visited Cassie (my fiancé) spending a wonderful time with her and her two young daughters aged two and five. You could say this was the eye of the storm in which first I was content with my meds then I stopped taking them and now my bipolar was to smash me from the other side.
Back To October.
It was now the tenth month since I’d stopped taking those pesky meds and I started noticing signs of him creeping back in from the shadows, he was no more behind that solitary door at the very back of my mind enveloped by darkness, a blackness. There at that place I can see a faint light emanating from behind a door, the only door. I don’t have to see the other Paul, I can feel him stood on the other side, I know he is there with intent in his soul patiently waiting with arms folded for my weaknesses to become evident.
I was becoming more and more depressed and the time gap between each episode was becoming shorter. I was starting to hear the voices again from that little old woman and the old man who have taken up residency in my mind with my consent. I haven’t worked out if these invaders are friends, married or complete strangers. My psychosis was becoming more and more apparent together with more visual activity. My social phobia was beginning to cause me the most concern because I had to DJ every Friday and Saturday in Lan Kwai Fong one of Hong Kong’s busiest night spots.
Social phobia is another part of my bipolar whereas other people can suffer with it on it’s own. It’s a very destructive and frightening state of the mind to contend with and experience.
The way I describe my own social phobia which, btw, I only found out about by my shrink three years ago when in a session with him I asked him why I kept thinking people are always talking about me when I would be out say, shopping. Why did I feel as though shopping centers or Malls in Hong Kong seemed synthetic, lifeless and all the people were robots with me being the only human being.
There’s a John Carpenter movie called “They Live” from 1988 in which the lead guy puts on these special sunglasses he only to see the world differently. He can see another world, the real world, in which Aliens inhabit everywhere, but it doesn’t take too long before the Aliens realise that when he wears the sunglasses, he can see them. I always relate this movie to my adventures in social phobia land.
Now back to October 2017 imagine my predicament having to go into work at the clubs in the center of Hong Kong with my social phobia effecting me and running rampant.
When DJing I would get terrible bouts thinking clubbers were talking about me, which turned to paranoia as my mind was losing control. Friends would come up to me in the DJ booth to simply say hello and have a laugh to which my mind would have an out of body experience where I would become a third person watching myself and my friend chat with thoughts of; Why does he like me? Why has his eyes moved? Is there something wrong with me? What does he want? I would become so uncomfortable in these innocent situations of a friend merely saying hello.
The noise generated by the crowd chatting in the club would become deafening at times so much so that I couldn’t even hear the music while I was trying to DJ or mix. And sometimes it would become so overwhelming that uncontrollably I would have to duck behind the DJ booth and cry for absolutely no reason.
I had handed my notice in that I was going to stop DJing because I simply couldn’t cope inwardly knowing the other Paul was gaining control. I was penciled in to hang up my headphones the weekend of Halloween, I didn’t turn up, I couldn’t. The tide was a turning.
I started to isolate myself from friends in November, first I terminated my whatsapp account making it harder for people to contact me because that was the other Paul’s cunning plan-to have me all to himself. With all this negative behaviour I still didn’t see or realise that I was slipping into a dangerously deep depression.
The other Paul is a master at deflecting attention away making friends think I am ok and there is no need for them to worry that I was existing in an abnormal melancholic world.
I live on my own in my gaff tucked neatly away in the jungle on the island of Lamma, far from my friends with only a handful who actually know where I live. Making it the perfect place for my bipolar to flourish and grow like a virus starting in my mind and spreading throughout my whole body.
Through November and December I hardly spoke to my Mum, my close friends Greg and Cathal (who owned the clubs I’d DJed in for the past 10 years). As each day passed I began distancing myself from Cassie who knew that there was something seriously wrong but, with her living in Denver there was nothing she could do, and I knew that. Come January the other Paul had completely turned me against her to the point where I loathed her.
I was now trapped inside as he had complete control. I knew what was going on with short bursts of clarity I got from time to time. I was now powerless to stop it, he was simply too strong.
Christmas and New Year I spent alone in my gaff worrying about the state of my dreadful financial situation due to not working since the end of October. I was virtually penniless and that’s how the other Paul likes it in that, worry and uncertainty make him grow stronger.
I was even living with daily thoughts of suicide. I had put a plan in place too.
January was the turning point in my dire situation because Cassie and my close friends were now beginning to grow concerned with my incognito and silence. Deep down in the consciousness of my soul I too was beginning to recognise in infrequent glimpses that there was something not quite right. Even now I was still unaware that I had become the other Paul.
On January the 19th everything would change.
Greg who lives down the hill from me which is only a couple of minutes away tried once more to contact me this time on wechat seeing if I wanted to come into the village for a cup of coffee and a chat at a little coffee shop called The Green Cottage. The timing couldn’t have been better, it was a lull in the severity I had been experiencing so I texted him back telling him I couldn’t come into the village but, I would meet him at his gaff at 1pm. I eventually broke free from the shackles of my abode at 2pm walking down the hill to meet him.
I sat with him having a cup of coffee in his living room trying to appear that I was fine when it was lucidly clear to him I was anything but. I held it together for a shaky hour, then, I completely broke down in tears confessing what I’d been up to in the months past, living on my own hid away from the world.
After I had finished he told me that he had wanted to suggest for sometime that I should go to the psychiatric ward at The Queen Mary Hospital to get help. He wanted to take me up there and then after seeing the state I was in. Then as we were sat there I felt the other Paul emerge as if in a show of defiance, and Greg could see it too. That’s never happened before.
Greg and I became friends through the program (AA and CA) so I trusted him in his judgment and he said one little thing that flicked a switch inside me.
“You have an illness that needs professional treatment and care”.
This reverberated with deafening force inside my mind because I have always blamed myself for my bipolar and have never looked at it as an illness.
I told him that I didn’t want to go up to the hospital straight away, I would need time to think things through and Greg thought the worst as I hugged him and said goodbye. From that day forth I texted him each day keeping in regular contact then on Friday the 12th I read the first of the twelve steps of AA :
Step 1. We admitted we were powerless and our lives had become unmanageable.
Next I texted Greg to tell him let’s do it on Monday, I need to get to hospital.
Monday came but I was incapable of leaving my gaff due to the strength of my bipolar. Somehow on Tuesday morning I walked down the hill to meet Greg to make our way to the other side of the island to catch a ferry to Central on a mission to get me to the psychiatric ward. I have not much recollection of the trip or how Greg managed to get me there but, come 4pm I was now a patient sat alone on a bed in pajama’s saying farewell to Greg as he left the ward.
I spent a month on the ward that I documented in a diary kindly bought for me as a present by Greg and I have decided to post it all to you over the coming months.
Thank you Cassie for your patience, care and love, I love you so much and couldn’t have done it without you.. Thank you to Greg for all that you have done for me together with showing me what true friendship really is. Thanks to my bro Cathal for all his positive support, our friendship knows no bounds. Thanks to my Mum for being my Mum, I love you. Thanks to Kathryn for your invaluable help. Finally thanks to Andrew and Michelle, Karen, Rowland and Craig for visiting me while I was in hospital it meant so much to me.