Camping Recap

While I was camping things were (mood-wise) mostly uneventful, but there was one day where I found myself diving into a mixed episode.

The type of camping I do is historic (pre 1840) camping, which means there are a lot of ways one can get hurt if not careful (guns, knives, cannons, even just stepping on one of the iron tent stakes can do a load of damage). Though I’ve been doing this for my entire life, I find myself rather nervous about the prospect of having a bipolar episode in a place with so many unknown variables.

After all, it is one thing to have a mixed episode at home (and just not to go out) but it is another when your shelter is a tent the size of a bathroom with a fire right outside (and its 40 degrees).

I had all of my pills in that newfangled pill box except my Risperdone (emergency medication for psychosis that makes me sleep) which was in a separate bottle.

I first noticed something was awry when the thoughts in my head became circular. Usually I’m not too worried when these are song lyrics or something similar but this time these were fragments of thoughts. They were getting faster and faster as I walked through the woods toward my tent, and I began to have anxiety about them (and, well, about having any sort of episode in general).

What was I going to do?

Head back to the tent at a faster pace. Take notes in my mood charting book. Possibly take a Riserdone.

Things were getting darker. Not physically, but in a frightening way. All of the little animal burrows around me were filled with snakes and badgers waiting for me to walk by so they could attack me. The forest floor was covered in pine needles and hundreds of spiders were going to come crawling out at any moment.

I remember thinking, “ok, so how long is this going to last?” As I stumbled the last hundred feet to the tent.

I went in and sat on my bed. I wrote in my little note book. Racing thoughts. Fear. Badgers and snakes…

I waited. It didn’t seem to be getting worse. The tent seemed relatively safe, except for the pile of buffalo jawbones staring back at me on one side. I didn’t want to take the anti-psychotic if I didn’t have to because it was still early in the evening (probably around 6) and I didn’t want to force myself to sleep yet.

After a little while I poked my head out of the tent. Lindy (my camping roommate) was sitting by the fire.

I was still worried about things. I know how my mixed episodes can turn into incoherent anxious ranting, so I was waiting for a sign to tell me what to do next.

That’s when Lindy said something (and I wish I could remember it) that made me burst into laughter. The sort of laughter where you’ve got tears in your eyes, whatever she said was really funny to me at the time, and the mixed symptoms sort of melted away into a gentle euphoria.

That was the only mood swing I had while camping (thank goodness) and I’m really glad it didn’t escalate any further than it did.

The last couple times I’ve come home from camping I’ve had mixed episodes, but this time I had two solid days of pretty significant depression instead. The kind of depression where you are so tired you can barely move and stay awake. Tired enough to take my medication wrong, tired.

Thankfully I felt a little more alert yesterday, and a lot more alert today (waking up at 6 am). Overall, a pretty successful trip!


2 responses to “Camping Recap

  1. Thank you for sharing this. I nodded along to some of it (though my diagnosis has varied and isn’t currently bipolar but has been before.) It can be a kind of logistical ‘mare when you are trying to manage illnesses like these while away in a strange place! And oh yes, the quandary of when to take the PRN medication if it makes you sleepy. Try to hold out for a while longer and risk an escalation, or sleep the afternoon away and be awake at bedtime?

    I’m glad your trip was a success all-in-all 🙂 I’m not brave enough to go camping but it sounds fun.

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