Mental chaos half across the world (Part 1 of 3)

Taichung street scene motor scooter
Taichung, Taiwan R.O.C.
The following three-part post series is based on true events that happened to me at 24 years old. At the time, I was not yet formally diagnosed with bipolar disorder type 1. I didn’t receive a formal diagnosis until I was 32 years old. I had, however, sought help earlier in my youth for depression, anxiety and what I now know were bipolar mixed episodes. This series of posts describes hypomania, mania, and depression half across the world.

After a grievous breakup from my very first love, I had to make the necessary arrangements to plan a new chapter in my life. It was clear that I could not stay with him for more than a few more weeks. I didn’t want to remain in California or return home to New Jersey. Since I had studied Mandarin Chinese in college, it was logical that I would want to improve my language skills in an actual Chinese-speaking nation. With a little research, I found a good job opportunity teaching English to children in Taiwan. Far, far away. That’s how far I felt I needed to go to separate myself from Mihai.

The application process for a job teaching English in Taiwan was a quick process for me. Within a few weeks, I got the proper paperwork needed for a work visa for teaching at Hess Language Institute.

Dance club in TaichungMy job in Taichung, Taiwan was to teach small children. Honestly, that was a less than ideal fit for me. My apologies for saying this, but I never really liked children and was not that good at interacting with them. That fact together with my grieving the loss of my boyfriend, and partial shock from the abrupt move to a foreign land, caused my equilibrium to deteriorate rather quickly toward a manic phase. Manic, as in bipolar disorder mania. My energy increased three or more fold. I was walking to and from the job, two hours at a shot, more than once per day. At night, I’d go out with some Taiwanese friends to local dance pubs and dance literally for hours, drinking all the while. Once, I went to a place and danced probably between 9 pm and 5 am (what closing hour?). I lost about 20 lbs. in three months without dieting. After each night at a club or pub, I’d find some miscellaneous guy to take me home, since my friends had left hours before. Most of them were more concerned than sinful-minded despite or maybe because my acting wild all night. Of course, I also had a few close calls with guys who had crazy ideas, such as when the handsome Italian drove me in his top down Camaro to a major multi-lane highway, where we got out and made out on the grassy median between the northbound and southbound traffic. Another time, I took a wild motorcycle ride at what seemed like 100 mph. Luckily, I managed to prevent each from coming up to my apartment, but the experiences were quite a “ride” all the same. I was completely high by the manic elation! During the work day, I struggled to teach properly. My behavior was getting out of hand. I was loud, speaking in a disjointed manner, getting angry at the kids, and once even left the classroom in a tirade. The Chinese assistant teachers complained about me. I received a warning to “tone it down”. Way down.

My mania brought back another typical habit that I grew accustomed to in Berkeley, the routine to self-medicate my moods with alcohol. I even hooked up with the bartender. I saw him a couple of times before he asked me to join him for a trip to Taipei, Taiwan’s capital city in the north. The weekend was coming up, so I happily agreed. Unfortunately, though, it was raining hard the whole time and the fiercely irritable side of my mania showed its face. I bitched and bitched and bitched. I hardly paid any attention to the guy because I was living in my own pissed off world. When it was time to return (still raining) and we found the bus station for the ride back to Taichung, I must have said something that finally pushed his buttons too far, because at that moment I saw him lift his arm as if he were to hit me! Boom! That threat seemed to slap my face even though it was only a threat. I somehow managed to shut my mouth for the whole rest of the time back on the bus, sitting five rows behind him. When I disembarked, I decided I wouldn’t see that potential beater again. No man would ever raise his hand at me. I wasn’t the type of a woman to ever put up with that kind of crap, even if I was acting like the most obnoxious brat that side of the Pacific Ocean.

 

It wasn’t long until my mania seemed to die down. Like falling from a mountain, quickly. I was teaching more classes than usual given teacher shortages. I hated teaching those kids even more as my depression slowly crept in. I started calling out sick almost daily and remember feeling so desperate, everything seemed to be scary and horrible. To top it off, there was an earthquake, one night. I started feeling totally hopeless. My boss with some other teachers then took me to the hospital. I only vaguely remember the trip and don’t even remember what I said to the doctors, but I do remember coming home to my apartment with piles and piles of pills. Each packet seemed to contain about 10 pills. I forget how long I took them, but soon after my mood began to switch. I then made a rather abrupt decision and quit the job. I decided to move to Thailand for a short while. I was first going to make a stopover in Hong Kong. I needed a change to get me fully out of the slump. I teetered between two extremes. I impulsively ran to shake myself out of the mood state.

My premature departure from the job in Taiwan cost me oodles of money. I paid a stiff penalty for breaking my work contract after only six of the 12 months, and also lost my apartment deposit of three months’ rent. But I didn’t care, not in the least bit. I was off to explore Asia on my own, away from the crappy job and on to an exciting exploration. I bought an open-ended ticket back to Taiwan for who knows when. I don’t remember even calling my parents in New Jersey to tell them anything about my plans. They never called me. For all they knew, I was still teaching in Taiwan. Actually, I spent a good three months outside of Taiwan with no contact with anyone.

Click to read part 2 of 3 set in Hong Kong

Click to read part 3 of 3 set in Thailand

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27 thoughts on “Mental chaos half across the world (Part 1 of 3)

  1. V.O.L April 23, 2017 / 2:55 pm

    Wow! This was so well written!!!! I honestly thoroughly enjoyed this! Cannot wait for part 2. And I am sooo happy despite all the pub crawls nothing dangerous happened to you and that you’re safe

    Liked by 2 people

    • updownflight April 23, 2017 / 3:37 pm

      That is so nice of you, V.O.L! I appreciate your comment. My part 2 is almost finished and my final part 3 is in the works. Altogether I hope people will really enjoy the whole story.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. NaPropasti April 23, 2017 / 8:53 pm

    Some pretty scary stuff! It reads though like On the Road – International Edition.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight April 23, 2017 / 9:16 pm

      Whoa! If only I could be nearly as good as Kerouac. Thank you!

      Like

  3. Vinay C April 24, 2017 / 2:09 pm

    That was an amazing read! Sorry for your state of mind, though!

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight April 24, 2017 / 2:46 pm

      Thanks, Vinay C! It is difficult during bipolar episodes, but I’m happy to say that mine are mostly controlled nowadays. If you’re interested, I posted part 2 of 3 this morning. I hope to post the final part 3 of 3 either tomorrow or Tuesday. The final part will reflect the worst of my mania during that period.

      Like

    • updownflight April 24, 2017 / 6:20 pm

      Hi yuhublogger. I’m feeling better. I’m much more mentally stable now at 45 than I was in the “Mental chaos half across the world” period at 24 years old. My worst years, however, were when I was 32-38 years old. I’m not sure if I will ever post about those years in detail, though I did to a small degree in a post https://birdflight.blog/2017/04/11/unraveling-the-mystery-of-my-past-brain-quirks/ but those experiences were actually the fall out after the big storm.

      Liked by 1 person

      • yuhublogger April 24, 2017 / 6:22 pm

        I’m really glad you are doing well, now. Things will brighten up for you, I’m sure. You write so well. That must make you happy, I’m sure. Thanks for sharing such an adventurous story with us.

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight April 24, 2017 / 6:42 pm

        I do love to write. It is so therapeutic for me, organizes my thoughts, and generally keeps me focused on the positives in life.

        Liked by 1 person

      • yuhublogger April 24, 2017 / 6:46 pm

        That’s the beauty of art, isn’t it? Brings peace to the chaotic mind.

        Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight April 25, 2017 / 8:29 am

      Thank you, Jessica. I am doing much better. Actually many years have passed since my time in Asia. I did encounter even worse years since then, but made a steady recovery. With my bipolar disorder I still have mood lability, but major episodes are rare. All the best

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jessica April 25, 2017 / 9:20 am

        Glad to hear that you are doing better.😊

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Emma April 28, 2017 / 10:30 pm

    I can relate on multiple levels. My diagnosis is also Bipolar although I’m not sure about types? I was just told I had Bipolar Disorder. Also, when I was in my last year of high school I was 100% set on the idea I wanted to be a nursery teacher. I applied for childcare courses at local colleges, I got one yes which I then lost due to a teacher whom I didn’t like and who didn’t like me giving me a bad reference cause she thought I wasn’t suited to childcare. The one woman who had seen my work around kids gave me an amazing reference so it was clearly stupidity from this teacher. However, I chose media as a backup. The same teacher who told me not to apply for childcare/gave the bad reference told me not to do media cause it wouldn’t get me a job and told me to do administration as that would get me a job. Since doing media I had the chance to organise a Scotland WIDE competition which was open to ALL university and college students studying Journalism in Scotland. I have worked alongside big companies in Scotland such as STV, the Daily Record, The National Union of Journalists and even the Scottish Sun. I have had articles in multiple papers and made valuable connections in the media industry. I bet that old teacher has realised that media can actually get you a job! And I haven’t looked back, I could never imagine being a nursery teacher anymore. I have just become a voluntary youth worker to work with people ranged 10-19 mainly but that’s just 6 hours a week and I couldn’t imagine having to be a nursery teacher 5 days a week anymore. I’m lucky the only time I go out to clubs/bars I’m with a large group of friends and we all leave at the same time, or else if we leave separately we will leave in groups and not separately. One time two creepy guys came up to try to chat me and a friend up but we pulled away, got our friends then left the club so got away quickly. Nothing like that’s happened since luckily! I’ve also noticed sometimes when I have a mental slump its good to get away from other people for a bit till I get back to normal so perhaps that time with no contact with people was good for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight April 29, 2017 / 5:52 am

      I’m glad you found writing and media. You are a clear natural at it. I’m lucky to have found you here at WordPress.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Emma April 30, 2017 / 12:12 am

        Thank you very much for your kind words! I started my blog as a way to vent out my feelings and it grew from there. I was never expecting anyone to have interest in it. For a long time I have cringed at the thought of people I know in real life reading my blog. Then end of last year, something happened over Facebook which could of resulted in an old high school teacher I once had issues with to read my blog post where I mentioned her. Because of when things were awkward between us, she had my old Facebook blocked. Then end of last year it turned out we had a mutual friend on Facebook and both commented on the same status without realizing, I only realized after I commented. The result was that in the next 3 months she blocked me a total of 3 times and unblocked 2 times and I had also blocked her 2 times and unblocked 2 times because I didn’t know how to deal with it since it had been so long since I’ve seen her. The thought that was then present on my mind was wondering why she unblocked me in the first place. I was expecting that first block but not the 2 further blocks and 1 further unblock which followed. I then realized that my FB page is easy to find, all she would of had to do was type my full name and it would appear in the suggestions and all she had to do was click it, see the website linked and click that out of curiosity. At the time I had a recent post where I’d briefly mentioned her and how I made a mistake with what happened between us. Since then I stopped talking about my feelings for a while because I was so shocked at the thought she might have seen my blog. Now I am back to talking about my feelings as and when I choose as I realized I can’t let one person change the way I act.

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight April 30, 2017 / 11:35 am

        I know my relatives and friends read my blog. For that reason I have to be sure what I write is OK for total public consumption. I leave really personal thoughts between me and my husband or me and my psychologist.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Emma Shearer April 30, 2017 / 4:39 pm

        Yeah, thing was, an old high school teacher isn’t the type of person you’d think would read your blog. And, if she did, that’s what caused her to unblock me in the first place. So it’s possible she was giving me a chance to message her to sort out the previous issues but me being stubborn and not knowing how to deal with it. Other thing is that I’m about 90% sure she would of stayed in touch with me if I’d have spoke about the issues as she’s kept in touch with other former students and I’m pretty sure I overheard her saying to another member of staff that she would before I left school. So if she saw my blog that could have been her giving me a chance which I didn’t take. Since then I’ve remembered things about her I forgot. Like when I left school she became really clingy with me. The first time I visited since leaving she forced me to sit with her and show her all the pics I took at my prom. The next time was the last time before she moved jobs and we hugged for the first time since before the difficult stage and it honestly felt to me like time had stopped, the only thing that mattered was us and like nothing had changed between us when it had. I even forgot there were other staff in the room who were all staring at us when we let go. One of those two times, she made me go a “walk” with her and we ended up in the teachers staff room for over 10 minutes just talking. Perhaps that was another chance to get me to talk about the issues. A lot of the staff conspired against us and did everything they could to keep us apart so perhaps she’d picked up on this and done that to give me a chance, but I didn’t realize it then 😦

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Alluraderm May 13, 2017 / 12:19 pm

    Hey there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this website before but after reading through some of the post
    I realized it’s new to me. Anyhow, I’m definitely glad I found it
    and I’ll be book-marking and checking back frequently!

    Like

    • updownflight May 15, 2017 / 4:01 pm

      Thank you for visiting my blog, Alluraderm. I’m glad you liked my “Mental chaos half across the world” post. I’m sorry I’m only just getting back to you now. I had some issue with my spam folder.

      Like

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