Bipolar – Pussy Kitty

Savvy

Some months ago we rescued a kitten that was discarded with the rest of her litter in a cat carrier in a ditch behind a Walmart. We decided to foster her. She was too young to have been taken from her mother and under weight.

The kitten’s name is Savvy and she’s become a therapy animal for all of us. She’s been interacting with Jessica’s cats and has Murdoch, the male, plays with her like she would do the rough and tumble games that he hasn’t been with any of the other animals.

Jessica’s female cat Thea has trouble coming out of her bedroom. Savvy draws my support dog Baileys attention away from looking at Thea. Bailey is a cattle dog (a Kelpie) and firmly believes that since Thea runs away that she must be lost, so she tries to stir her to where she thinks Thea needs to be at. Where might be? No one knows. The result is that she gets corralled and runs straight back into the bedroom.

Savvy and Bailey have a really special relationship. They play like their both dogs. When Bailey chases a ball, Savvy races her to it. Then kitten approaches Bailey from the front and jumps on her face, grabbing her by her forehead, ears and snout. Bailey ignores her like a mother would, until Savvy gets too rough, then she flips the kitten off her face and onto the floor. Then Bailey pushes her around, flipping, pushing,and rolling on her. (Yeah, I don’t get that either.)

The result? My therapy dog gets support from a kitten that we rescued.

And me, I watch all the silliness around me and feel, well, warm and fuzzy all over.

When the day is over Bailey sleeps on my bed. She’s helped me through long, lonely nights. Being depressed and alone at night is hard. Savvy sleeps curled up right against Bailey like she thinks Bailey is her mother. You know even when they take a nap during the day they sleep together.

It’s so sweet. I love it.

Bailey is restless at night. She’s taken to sleeping on the hardwood floor for part of the night. I’ve been worried that the kitten would leave me since her mommy doggie left, but she hasn’t.

Right now Savvy is curled up between my knees and I feel the way I always do when the kitten walks up my body, curls up on my chest, and passes out. It makes me remember what it was like to hold one of my babies. It’s no where the same, but it reminds me of the quiet love and joy that I’m capable of feeling.

Me, myself, and I… I am capable of feeling love and joy. Sometimes this can be so hard to remember.

Sometimes I feel so dark… but these animals, especially Bailey and Savvy, have helped me stay on the happy side, except for the couple of times I’ve lost my cookies and freaked out, partially losing control of my temper and danced with rage.

Rage. Oh hell no!

Where are my therapy animals? I need them! Where are my loving puppy and pussy kitty?

What My Med Provider Means to Me

burning-ice-cubes-640x402
I’ve complained about my med providers and their apparent inability to comprehend the word ANXIETY for over a year now. You could assume that I don’t like med providers… that I don’t trust them, that I think they’re stupid. Well, umm, yes, that’s basically how I’ve been feeling. I’ve been living a nightmare that has been driving me downward toward my old companions: anger and rage. It makes me feel like they’re getting out of prison and are moving into the house next to mine. I’ve been really scared that I was about to lose control of my emotions again, and eventually, my mind. It has happened before.

I last week I spoke with my counselor (Lee) before my visit with my med provider (Susan) this week. He thought the Ritalin obviously wasn’t working and that my ADHD was out of control. I allowed myself to interact with him the way I do at home with Jessica. My inability to control things like how fast, how much, and how many topics I covered while speaking certainly indicated that this was true.

<OMG! Alexa is playing music from the 1950’s for me. I LOVE THIS MUSIC!>

I was stunned. ADHD? If he was right, this could change everything about the way I approached my brain. I was told I had ADHD just a few years ago and had never taken the time to learn anything about it. Wow, that wasn’t like me at all. I love research! Following rabbit holes is my favorite pastime!

Anyway, I assumed Susan would look at my chart to see what notes Lee would have put in it before she saw me. Doing that would give her knowledge she should have used to help her understand where I was at and she would have seen what Lee was concerned about. It was an assumption I shouldn’t have made. Apparently, things don’t actually work that way.

Every time I see Susan 12 times a year. Yikes! So many times. One of the first things she asks me is if I feel like… if I FEEL like the Ritalin {1} is helping me focus? Focus? What does that mean? How can I tell it’s working? I can pay attention in class. Is that what she means? My attention is crap at home. I can’t ever do just one thing at a time. I have to leave the commercials in when I watch from the DVR (DISH) so that I can read or research stuff online that they just talked about. Is it working? I suppose so? I always replied that I guessed it did. I guess that was silly of me. I would say that because I had no idea what else to say. If I was a little boy, I could probably mean that I’d slow down and stop bouncing off the walls and maybe stay in my seat. But as an adult… I had no idea what that looked like. If I said the wrong thing, she might mess with my meds and right then, they were treating me okay. I wasn’t raging at anyone that day and I didn’t feel depressed.

After I mentioned what Lee and I had talked about and that he was very concerned she took a minute to read his notes. Suddenly she made a whole new treatment plan. I had been on Lithium when I was first diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder (BD). The first book I read on it was: “An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness” by Kay Redfield Jamison. I was deeply touched. I felt like I understood what she was talking about, like we were kindred spirits, linked through the ether by BD. Jamison was very sick when she was diagnosed.

Let me attempt to generally get right to the point for once. Jamison was placed on Lithium to treat her BD and it worked. So, that’s what I asked to be given. My personal doctor (MD), was the one who initially treated me. He said that Lithium has been around for many years and there is a lot of evidence that it works.

The Lithium worked.

Susan felt that since the Ritalin was obviously not helping me focus. I guess that made her rethink her strategy. She finally agreed that my brain was hopping along on two of four legs. She told me that does think I have ADHD she now believes that I’m far more manic, which was making me act like that bouncy ball they teach kids to sing songs with. Do you know what I mean? It might be too old for some of you. They wanted to teach kids songs so a character on a film or on TV would get you to sing along as it had a bouncing ball hop around on the lyrics so we could see the lyrics while we sang. It was great fun! than anything else. Sure I talk incessantly to Jessica, but my brain was exploding with ideas. It was time to help me continue to be creative, but to control my mania so that I could be productive.

The plan: no more Clonazepam, no more Ritalin. Start Lithium.
*The reason I went off Lithium was that my PC (Primary Care) had been highlighting the dangers of being on Lithium more than he was the benefits of it. It was because of these side effects, that I requested I be put on something else that didn’t have the same drawbacks. Lithium toxicity can occur even at a low dose. While on Lithium, the user has to be closely monitored so that the dose can be adjusted as needed. The symptoms of Lithium toxicity are numerous and I already have several of them for other random reasons. This website lists the long lists of side effects. In addition to these potential problems the user (remember this is me) has to carefully watch their intake of salt, caffeine, and alcohol. And get this… some of the other medications that may interfere with Lithium and increase the risk of toxicity are ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Aleve). Oh, and I can’t leave out this one: acetaminophen (Tylenol). So… yeah. I had a lot of scary reasons to ask to be taken off the drug that was helping me but was also kind of terrifying too. 

Susan believes that this change in medications should make my extreme moods in control much better.

Excuse me? As long as I’ve been seeing the professionals in this clinic, I’ve never had anyone decide to try Lithium again. All this time… lost. Years of feeling my little grey cells melting, running out of my ears. But then again, Lithium toxicity…

I want to be a writer when I grow up. I once heard that writers go through life with their head cocked a bit to the side. I showed Susan a piece of paper that was covered with writing on both sides. It was filled with websites, blogs, and email addresses that I’d created. She studied it for a while. I asked her if I was stupid and delusional to think that I could do all these things and believe that they were not just good ideas, they were great ideas. They were creative ideas. Is my mind actually existing in a consistent state of delusions of grandeur?

Delusions of grandeur. I’ve always been afraid that people would remember that part of the list of symptoms for BD and dismiss me as a kook. Am I brilliant? Or am I bonkers and deluded? I’ve always believed my ideas were great. Yeah. Delusions of grandeur?

She said no. It wasn’t that. Yes, my thoughts are crazy fast, but I am very creative and smart.

Me – creative and smart. OMG!

Of course, now I respect her. She believes in me. She agrees with me that I’m smart and creative. No one has really said that to me. No one has said, “Robin, you’re not delusional. You’re smart. You’re creative. You have good ideas… cleaver… innovative. Don’t worry about being crazy. We just need to slow you down so you can get things done.

Since then, I’ve discovered additional information that indicates that one aspect of BD is the tendency to be super goal oriented. Yep, that’s me. Why haven’t I’ve seen that before?

Watch out! Corner coming!

What are the good things about having BD? I’ll have to think on that for a while.

Go ahead, get mad when the medical professionals don’t seem to be listening. Pester them until they hear you. Then, you listen to them. Work together. Hope that things will finally start to workout. Now that Susan and I are communicating, now that she hears me, we have a new plan. Maybe my mind won’t keep leaving the scene without me.

Yes, it really has done that. We’ve called professional trackers to find it a few times now. It-is-very-embarrassing when your mind is so exposed, so naked.

New plan. New hope.

Bring it! I’m ready.

I’m more than ready –

{1 – Concerta and Ritalin are stimulant medications used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They’re both different brand-name versions of the same drug, called methylphenidate hydrochloride.  https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/concerta-ritalin}

Frankenstein – Bipolar & ADHD

Frankenstein-tumblr_ovgh5egVdd1wzx3t8o1_1280 I’m aware, that when given the chance, I will, without question, talk until the air has been sucked out of the general area and everyone has passed out. So normal.

Anxiety – After I graduated, and a few weeks had passed I could tell I was under stress from that. My anxiety has gone down. It did get better, for a while. I got to the point where I didn’t quite feel like my brain has been stuffed full of raging bees. Awesome!

ADHD – I was under the assumption that I was taking Ritalin to help me focus my attention so I could do well in my classes. I was always confused when my med provider asked me if I felt the Ritalin she was prescribing was helping me to focus better. I always said, and continue to say, “Um… I guess so.” I’m manic! What does she want me to say? I work very hard when I meet with her to sit, shut up, and answer her questions honestly. She terrifies me. What if I answer wrong and she changes my meds again? I’ll say something than think, “Crap! Why did I say that?” I always say that I guess it was working well. I suppose. Now I think that I was wrong.

More ADHD – I accepted the diagnosis of having ADHD because it was about not being able to focus on one thing at a time and I knew I couldn’t do that. But, being Bipolar was always the main objective of both my counseling sessions and appointment with the med woman.

Bipolar 1 – I assumed that my Bipolar was worse (or more dangerous to me) than ADHD could be. Wasn’t it?

You know how a doctor will sometimes leave a small tube that goes through an incision so that the area can drain and heal properly?

Yeah, I don’t know where I was going with that—

Switch – I have some ideas that I think are pretty good. I’ve done one or two or three big projects that have come out great. The other 45 ideas that are going around in my mind appeared to be stuck in orbit. I remember the video I watched on YouTube yesterday about ADHD and I was shocked. Frankenstein!

FRANKENSTEIN – I’ve come to think of Bipolar/ADHD as a Frankenstein type of symbiotic relationship. I can’t imagine why my diagnoses has always focused upon Bipolar Disorder. In counseling I talk faster and faster and cover an impressive variety of topics.

Pressured Speech (Bipolar) – Thought very little about ADHD or how to deal successfully with it. I’ve been taking medication for it for three years. In that time no one has talked to me taught me to handle it. Why not?

FRANKENSTEIN – Why hasn’t anyone explained how the two disorders interact, and how the medications for each may also affect each other. (“Do you think that the Ritalin is making your mania worse?”)

I have been primarily a mixed state, high functioning, Bipolar type 1 for years now. I always thought that my constant mental zooming about was just my amazingly stunning mania. (While I mostly talk about my being manic lately, let me just say that depression has played a big part in my mental health too.)

My daughter went with me to my last counseling appointment. We talked about my inability to stick with one thing and see it through to completion and how it was impacting her. Basically, I’m driving her bonkers. These are some of the things that I do: TALK CONSTANTLY NO MATTER WHAT WE ARE DOING, change topics as fast as I talk, pick up a pile of laundry in the living room to put it away, stopping to talk to our beta fish (Victor and Batman) and feed them a few dried wormy things and set down the laundry, forget that I had a mission with the laundry, see that the dog/cats water bowls are empty and fill them, read 1.75 pages in a book. What was I doing? Let the dog out to do her business. Hours later I discover the laundry next to the fish… you get the idea.

My new counselor, my daughter and I decided that I need to focus on being able to focus. Yes, my Bipolar mania hops it up like jet fuel in a race car, but with knowledge and tools to help me with my ADHD and settle on one thing, even for an hour, I might just begin to get a handle on my anxiety/stress and even mania.

Maybe. This is stressing me out. Bothering my daughter this bad is building an anxiety that is part of everyday life. Sigh…

Who knew that pressured speech and mania aren’t the same thing as ADHD? I really don’t understand what the hell is going on. I feel like my brain has been sewn together with blue and green colored twine and slip knots.

One final thing: It has taken me three days and four hours to type this. Just kidding. Two days. Honestly, I have no idea. I need a time-out.

Bipolar – The Diagnosis

This week a situation came up in which I was able to ask each member of my family if any of them have ever tried to learn anything about Bipolar Disorder. Every one of them said, no. I have always been the source of the storms in my family group: parents, brother, and kids. I was always angry or striking out at them (verbally) while in a devastating tsunami of rage. I was unstoppable, and I was very ill. I was a bad child. I constantly fought with my father who had anger demons of his own.

I don’t actually know if learning about BD will enable them to understand me, and even to help me when I’m helpless.

There’s just one problem – Not a single soul on this blue world completely understands Bipolar Disorder. Not one. Even those doctors who are afflicted with the illness do not know precisely how it works or what it is. And the meds I take, almost all of the fine print says it is used for things like seizures and a variety of other things, but not for BD.

Meds for BD are prescribed because the medical community has discovered that in general, some medications seem to help control the symptoms.

Symptoms. This means that the meds are not fixing Bipolar Disorder itself. The meds are just meant to enable us to coexist with other humans.

The fact is that no one understands Bipolar Disorder, not the doctors, researchers, interested persons, or those of us who live with it. You can take a little quiz online that will tell you whether or not you have it (OMG – burn all these quizzes. What? They’re digital? I guess we’ll have to be creative and figure it out.

The reason I’m so irritated and upset about this is because my much younger cousin has been spending gobs more time with my mother than I am. She keeps telling my mom that she has all these mental illnesses. My mother responds with compassion and encouragement. She tries to help her. She spends time with her. A lot of time.

I pointed this out to my mother and she didn’t say anything. The problem is that it’s true. They really haven’t done ANYTHING to try to understand, to keep track of how I’m doing, to be compassionate to ME. It really hurts.

Have you ever experienced something like this?

There are thousands of websites, books, and experts available to people so that they CAN learn about BD, so that they CAN love me despite my extra quirks and behavior that makes them not want to be around me. (This has gotten better, but let’s face it, the BD brain isn’t exactly reliable or dependable.)

I wish, that they would watch a four-minute video or read a nice and short informational page on a website.

I wish.

My mom knows someone better than she knows me. She’s embraced her and is compassionate and supportive of her. She makes excuses for her. She never has done any of that for me. She says that when I was a kid they didn’t know anything about BD so she didn’t know what to do.

“But what about now? 

“Family, I’m 55. Have you ever tried to learn about my illnesses? Ever?”

“No. Well, they didn’t know anything about it back then.”

“Mom, what about now? Today? I still have it. You know I still suffer from it. Why don’t you just Google it or search for a book on Amazon about it?”

I try to ignore the emotional pain that this lack of real love causes me (that’s how it seems to me). The daughter that lives with me has had to learn a little about it because if she didn’t she would have gone crazy. I admit that I’m not the easiest person to live with.

I can only put myself out there hoping that they will demonstrate to me that they love me with the kind of love that refuses to let me go and will do anything it takes to help me. Am I being selfish? Maybe, but I believe that love, well, love does… I don’t know how to say it.

If you have a grasp on how to describe the kind of love I’m trying to explain, please post it in the comments section. I’d love to hear what you have to say about it.

For now, I’m going to go to sleep. Tomorrow is a new day and another day I can work to keep my mental difficulties (read: demons) at bay. I enjoy my work. Once I get going I can work for hours and become completely engrossed in it. But depression has been kicking my legs out from under me this whole week and I have to say that I’d like for it to take a hike now because I’m exhausted and frankly, would rather be manic.

So good night dear Reader. Sleep well.

SLEEP – My Secret to Regular Sleep

All kinds of people have difficult times falling asleep. We toss and turn and become agitated and completely frustrated. I even become angry. I just want to sleep. Just sleep! Is that really such a difficult thing? Okay, I have some mental health issues and maybe you do too, but that doesn’t mean that other people aren’t cursed with a lack of sleep too. It seems that everyone in the neighborhood sits against the headboard reading yet again another novel or writing down everything they think about because they’ve been told that this is an effective way to help yourself go to sleep. Sex? Have you tried having sex and then going to sleep? Yeah, no. Sex just makes me hungry. Oops. Did I just say that? Darn!

I’ve tried all the usual things such as herbal supplements, pharmaceutical (prescription) sleep aids, exercising and meditation…. Ah, and mindfulness. No luck. Really torques me off. One day it occurred to me that perhaps I could create a playlist on YouTube that might help me. There are videos of guided meditation, calming music and nature sounds. You may not believe this, but it works!

I’ve finally found something that’s been working for me very regularly! I’ve created a playlist that has a few detective stories (episodes) from Old Time Radio (OTR) shows and then transitions into a short guided meditation or two. Then I transition into music to relax my soul far into the morning. (Feel free to skip the guided meditation kinds of videos if you wish. You might try them for a while and just see if they help. It won’t hurt to mix things up.)

The first playlist I’ve provided here is one in which you can use some of the videos to build your own playlist. The name of this playlist is: NEED TO SLEEP OR CHILL?

This second playlist is my personal bedtime playlist. It is always changing according to how I’m feeling when I’m getting ready to sleep. I suspect that the routine of selecting the videos helps to calm me.

My personal playlist is: BEDTIME STORIES. () I use this playlist every night. If you check it several times you’ll notice several story episodes at the bottom of the playlist. I put them there as a sort of holding tank. I plan on using them in a night or two.

Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comment section. Can you come up with a playlist of your own that you’d like to share? Let me know and I’ll be happy to share it.

Best regards and I hope you get some sleep.

Robin

Bipolar – Days Racing Up, Down, Up, Sideways Right, then Left… It Never seems to End.

There will always be days that start well.
After they go along for a while…
Then the ground begins to frighten me.

train_crash_for_blog_imagedddddd(It says, “Somedays, This is how we feel…..””

I find that this is very true. At least it is true for me.

Is it ever true for you?

Today started out slow and exhausted. I was up almost all night with restless legs. It eventually became so horrible… that I cried in frustration and pain. I think I slept an hour. I was so tired. my goodnesss. Sleeping right nwooo dddkkk,,,,,,,,,,,,,

<I keep falling asleep. Sorry if this all comes out weird and confused… well.. that’s what you get. LOL. Pardon my language but this is crap””””””’>

There were other good things that happened throughout the day, but this was the best I think. I had a business meeting at a resturant! Isn’t that awesome!? I’m publishing a second edition of a book that I published 27 years ago. I’m so proud of how I wrote it, and the amazing artwork. But, it is time to update it and publish it in different editions and to update it as well.

I’m very excited because my meeting was an amazing. The woman I met with completely understood what I wanted to do and she caught the project and my passion for it really fast.

Then I got home, and stepped on the kitten, again. Sigh….

I’ve had enough of my day. So, I’m going to sleep. I usually do a lot of my work at night. I’m too tired.

I wanted to give you a look at this train photograph and share with you that I feel like I’m on fire and out of control.

Control. That’s hard to achieve when I’m being full on manic, have my ADHD surfing around everything I can possibly think of and somehow finding more, ever more, to add to the intense way I zoom. And finally, there is my always and every seemingly anxiety.

Anxiety – ADHD – Bipolar MANIA. Oh exploding stars that’s enough! Insomenia from restless legs. Oh I keep falling asleep and my fingers press the keys on my laptop and the strangest things get typed up.

I’m going to sleep now. aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Oh rere… ug. Whee are my fingers supposed too bee on the deyboard? I think I’m sleeep. Yes. dd

Nite my friends,

Robin

Bipolar – Pain – Mental Illness

Reddish-dunes-and-hills-in-the-Moon-Valley-Atacama-Desert-Chile
Whenever I want to try to help someone understand what I call my “mental pain,” I search other kinds of pain that I’ve experienced that others might identify with. Then I explain how that translates to my mental pain. Of course, it’s different for each of us, and sometimes, it’s even different for me from time to time.

This morning I’m experiencing severe pain in my eyes. I don’t normally feel pain and then think, “Oh, I should use this to explain my mental pain!” But right now, the pain is clawing from the front of my eyeballs through my temples. It’s at an 8 on the pain scale.

I woke up Friday morning and couldn’t see. I closed my eyes, I thought that’s what I was doing, and the pain was, well, blinding. I tried to open them and there was no change. Were they open? Or closed?

I’d started using Restasis almost two months ago and was enjoying moister eyes. I hadn’t realized they had become so uncomfortable. In my panic, I thought that my might eyelids could be stuck to my eyeballs. Was I blind!?

I couldn’t be blind! I couldn’t stand it.

A small flash of reason reached through and I reached for my eyedrops. I’m supposed to use them every few hours throughout the day. I couldn’t find them. I couldn’t see them, and my hand couldn’t find them. Eventually, though I did reach them and squeezed the vial empty into my eyes. It was working! I could see now so I got another vial and did it again. It was getting better. I could see and the pain was lessening.

I can only describe the pain like having sandpaper on the inside of my eyelids. They scraped up and down, again and again. I called my eye doctor six minutes after they opened and was soon being seen. My dry eyes had gone from a .7 (like the California deserts) to a .2 in dryness (like the Atacama Desert, located in Chile, is the driest sandy desert in the world) in dryness.

It occurs to me, as I sit on my couch right now, and wait for the pain in my eyes to subside (this is also new), that this is very much like some of the mental pain I sometimes feel.

How can I explain to someone without a mental illness what the infusion of depression, anxiety, confusion, and panic cause as a sort of mental pain? It hurts. My heavens it hurts so hard. Sometimes I just want it all to stop. It has to stop.

Having this pain in my eyes has made me think about pain and making it stop. Would I be willing to give up my eyes in order to stop this pain if it was to be permanent and get worse and worse? My first response is “no.” But then I realize what I’ve just said. This feeling, this feeling of wanting it to stop no matter what, it’s an illusion that my brain creates when my emotions are desperate for relief.

An illusion? Not an illusion, but subjective. We feel our pain in diverse ways and respond differently too. Can you imagine the pain I’m feeling in my eyes? My pride says you cannot. My suffering is worse than what you can understand. Is this true? Of course it is. Only I understand my personal pain.

Then why should I bother trying to explain what my mental pain is like? Because even if I can’t help someone to fully realize what I’m going through, at the very least it’s a healthy thing for me to do… reach out. And, the person who’s willing to listen is being given the chance to be compassionate. They may not understand what I’m feeling, but maybe they will grow in their ability to be compassionate in the future to others… to me.

My eyes have course sandpaper lining the inside of my eyelids. Every blink feels as though it is ripping more and more of my eye away. I want it to stop.

Do you feel mental and emotional pain? What about physical pain that makes you feel suffering mentally? Do you keep your pain to yourself? Or do you reach out and try to connect with someone who may learn to be compassionate?

Bipolar – She Expected MeTo Yell…

My daughter brought home an adorable kitten about 4 months old that was abandoned beside a road near a Walmart. This brings our total animal pet population that doesn’t live in a tank of any kind, to four cats and one dog whose nerves are slightly unraveled.

You know any baby needs to be watched closely or else they dive into the clothing displays and refuse to answer when called. Or they, if they are a kitten, climbs up and over and makes a mad, hopping break for freedom.

Today I had the kitten, who happens to be expert in the fine art of zooming over, under or through somehow the barricades that have evolved over this last week. She always finds a weakness and launches herself at it. She’s fearless. That doesn’t help me keep her contained.

I had the bedroom doors closed for an hour or so. My cat, Maks, was in my room alone. It was obvious, therefore, that it was him that took a goopy poop in the middle my bed. My heavens it stank like death! (The really good part is next.)

It used to be that every moment I could be aggravated, I was. It was ugly, that is, my behavior was super horrible. The first think I did, absolutely every time, I would begin to yell. My yelling could be heard out on the sidewalk. But this time – a calm voice asked for help getting something to get the area on my duvet there the mess had soaked through. Still, my voice was quiet and astonishingly calm.

“I expected you to be mad and yelling, but you’re not.”

Nope, no yelling. I wasn’t even trying to be calm. In fact, even I noticed how calm I was. It was kind of creepy.

There it is. Maybe not a super exciting story , but for me it was huge. And it reminded me, that even when I’m depressed, like I have been recently, I can still change for the better.

The things people I love have had to endure over the years is terrifying. I want them to see me change like Jessica did.

When We Don’t Really See

Today, a friend I just graduated from UWT with (Brit), posted the following on Facebook –

“I don’t look at people. I mean, I really don’t even see the people around me, and it reflects in my writing. I avoid eye contact most of the time and even though I’m friendly and even chatty with cashiers, or I help strangers at the train station, I avert my eyes to the point that I couldn’t tell you who I spoke with most of time. I can describe the place we were in, but am clueless about the person directly in front of me.”   (posted with permission)

I think that this is one of those things that probably everyone does in one way or another. When I’m manic, which is most of the time, I’m 180 degrees away from Brit. I not only look at them and talk to the people around me, but I also look them over. I feel like the whole person, including their physical appearance, tells me what I can expect when I talk to them. I guess it’s like general appearance profiling… whatever that means.

Brit said that she’s “clueless about the person directly in front of me.” It occurs to me that there is another person, in addition to the person we’re interacting with, that we rarely see. We talk to this person all the time. We talk, and we never see the truth of who they are. We judge them harshly and without mercy. Is it possible that we have learned not to see the person in the mirror anymore?

I don’t know about you, but I definitely look at myself from the inside out. I’m not sure this is the best way to look at myself. It invites me to instant self-criticism. I wonder how others see me? Hmm. I’m going to have to think about that for a bit.

Pressured Speech – Bipolar Symptom

Descriptions of Bipolar Disorder are pretty standard across books and websites. The symptoms seem easy for anyone to understand. Unfortunately, they are not. I will be looking at each of the significant symptoms and will show what they look like on a real person. It is essential to understand them. To give you an example, what does it mean when I say that one of my most persistent symptoms is “pressured speech.” “Pressured speech,” this is not something I’d ever heard before.

I’m not a walking list of the common symptoms of Bipolar Disorder. Since a large part of mania seems to consist of going excessively fast I’m going to start right off with it. Get ready – The following information is critical to understand precisely what Bipolar Disorder is so that you can live life to the fullest. Ignorance of my condition left me without defenses and practically begs for things to go wrong. Now that I understand more about the disorder, I generally deal with it more successfully. Well, some of the time. Other times, it seems to slap me upside the head before I ever see it coming. Despite the seemingly inevitable setback, I feel like I have a fighting chance. For once, I even feel hope.

Mania – Pressured Speech

Bipolar Disorder is a mental illness where a person’s moods swing wildly from severe depression to reckless mania. Pressured speech is one loud symptom of Bipolar Disorder. I’ve repeatedly been told that I do it, but no one ever stopped to explain what it means. I had to research on my own to figure out what “pressured speech” means.

Knowledge – For me, a key to coping with any illness has always been understanding what’s wrong with me and how I can fight it. I hate seeing the same look on people’s faces when I realize that I’m my speech seems pressured. It freaks them out. It freaks me out too. It makes me realize that I’m talking crazy talk again and again and again.

“Pressured speech” is my “crazy talk.” Everyone deals with the disorder differently. Labeling pressured speech as my crazy talk is a way that I like to think I’m stuffing thoughts of being crazy into a specific behavior. When I can resist doing pressured speech I feel less crazy. I suppose that’s weird, but it seems to help me cope with it.

Some illnesses can be detected by looking at x-rays or surgically investigating a problem area. No medical test can be used to determine if I have Bipolar Disorder. I was required to meet with a medical person that I knew nothing about so that she could decide if I was eligible for disability status. She asked me some questions, and then we were done. I was labeled as disabled and given medical care. Since it only seemed to take mere minutes to determine that I have Bipolar Disorder, I wondered if I had acted excessively crazy. I tried to answer her questions honestly and without spending time trying to use wording that would influence her decision.

Whenever a person assesses me (which they regularly do to determine if I’m still eligible for mental health care), I hope that they are well versed in identifying the signs of the illness and are confident in determining if I have it or not. The first behavioral clue that screams that I have Bipolar Disorder appears to be my speech. I talk all the time. And fast. My kids tell me to stop and take a breath. Talking. I have so much to say. Okay, that isn’t a mental illness. It’s irritating, but it isn’t a mental illness. However, pressured speech can be evidence of it. Pressured speech is something that I do all the time. Even when I’m depressed, I still manage to have pressured speech. So what the heck is it?

Pressured speech is different for every person. Just about all the lists of symptoms of Bipolar Disorder will have it on them. Let me explain what it looks like in me.

People may wonder if I have Bipolar Disorder when they hear me speak too fast and sound like there is some crisis that I feel compelled to tell others about it. I can sound erratic and talk without stopping or even noticing that someone else might want to speak. I am not easy to interrupt. Often what I say is irrelevant or strange, and the person I’m talking at doesn’t know what I’m talking about. When I have pressured speech, I may not stop talking when I usually would. I act like what I’m saying is urgent and essential and it doesn’t matter whether or not the person trying to listen can follow me or not.

I seem to speak like I’m leaning into a wind, a mighty wind, and I’m bent over trying to stay standing. You could say that I am pushing a car up a hill that never ends. The pressure I apply to keep the car moving is just like the way I talk like I am pushing forward faster and harder all the time.

My speech is pressed out of me with an urgency that doesn’t even come close to the situation. It is as though I’m waving a flag in a frenzy announcing to the world that I have delusions of grandeur. What I say is of great importance even though it is often fragmented and random. I speak with urgency thinking that what have to say is so important that I have to be listened to right this very second and I have to tell everything to you all at once. All at once may mean that I’m going to talk at you for as long as I can unless someone stops me. Occasionally I can stop myself, but that’s usually when I see the listeners face and it registers with me that they seem to think that they’re being faced with listening to a crazy person.

I bet you didn’t know that pressured speech was such a  complicated symptom. That’s cool. It’s also a written example of me with pressured speech. <Deep breath, sigh>

Sometimes, when I’m finally taking a little break, I realize that I’m getting tired. Pressured speech can be hard work. Listeners should try to be more understanding. Don’t you think so?  <Heh>

<This is unedited and is a demonstration of pressured speech as I experience it. It may be different for another person, and it is different for me each time that I do it, which is a lot, all day long. It is meant to illustrate what people mean when they use the term “pressured speech” when talking about Bipolar Disorder.>