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.>

Bipolar Parent

Greetings friends, how are you doing in these wee hours of Friday morning?

Me? I’ve been both better and worse. Thursday had hours I enjoyed… then it crashed and burned as only the day of a parent can do.

When my three kids were young I had impressed even my ex-mother-in-law (let’s call her Kathy) with how well behaved and just good all around people my children were. Now, we are being stalked by rough and naked emotions that have always existed (that would be me, Bipolar parent) but are now beyond my own mind and have grabbed hold of my youngest.

I thought I was a good person growing up. I felt as though I were a likable person, yet I didn’t have many friends. I was lonely much of the time and kept my own company out on our small ranch with my horse, dogs, cats, chickens, pigs, cows and the occasional ducks.

I was a shit.

Seriously. I was a short, freckled shit. Today my mother and I can look years back and point to much of my careening and completely out of control behavior and emotions and say, “That, that right there!” And recognize it as full on Bipolar Disorder presenting before I even had my drivers license.

In short – I was angry all the time and blamed everyone one else for everything. My depression and anger were crushing me and the only name I could give it was – sin. I was a practicing Christian and all those “evil” emotions were clearly not of God… but that’s a topic for another time.

My youngest and his regular doctor decided that he does not have the highly genetic Bipolar brain that I’m still learning to embrace. Anxiety. Depression. Mania. Mood swings. Irrational behavior. That’s Scott, my “I’m a psych major. I already know how to deal with anger and anxiety.”

Scott is transitioning from my second daughter, Sydney, to my second son, Scott. (Incidentally my father’s name was Scott.) Scott is undergoing hormone treatment. He wasn’t always easy to talk to about things that he felt “attacked” him. Now he’s so much more difficult.

I despair.

He turns 21 this Saturday. He’s angry and bitter and is working so hard to make people not like him that I just want to sit down and breathe like I’m having a baby all the time. He and his wife are both psychology majors who it seems aren’t studying behavior.

Odd.

Scott sounds just like I did. If transitioning changes him into the sex his mind believes him to be, then I will continue to try to learn and gain deeper understanding. However, he’s a grown man (he says) and I expect him to at least respect me.

§ On Father’s Day Scott thanked me for being both his mom and his dad growing up. §

What I will not do is accept from him the same behavior at 21 that I had at 14. He has tools around him to teach him about what’s running loose in his little grey cells. Me – religion, animals, and hypnosis.

The weight of his relentless ill-will and violent anger crushed me at dinner. It was like fighting with my dad, but I was the reasoning one (yeah, no. My dad wasn’t good at being rational when angry either.)

Top the whole bloody mess off with a leaking red cherry on it and you have a self-entitled disrespecting second son.

I’m not having it anymore.

Being a parent with Bipolar is terrifying literally every second of that child’s life for me. With Scott acting like the individual (did I mention pressured speech?) that he clearly isn’t I have no clue how to even begin to help him to stop yelling into my face that I should shut up because I’m not listening.

Huh?

Parenting the twenty-something kid today is a massive challenge for this Bipolar mom. I have been charged with the crime of trying to build good family memories. I have felt despair and anger towards Scott. These are not the memories I want to build. We’re going to work this out, but I realize that I will very possibly react like I have Bipolar Disorder while we do it.

I can do this. I can figure out my part in healing our relationship. Be loving and kind… and forgiving.

However, Scott is a grown man and if he does not have Bipolar Disorder or some other explanation for his behavior, then he’d better watch out. I corralled the three of them through their teens by myself and while not properly medicated for my illness.

Respect me as your mom.

Respect my illness.

Respect yourself and get help if we just can’t talk it out.

I really wanted to go old school, like back to when I was a kid, and wash his mouth out with some nasty bar of soap like Dial or Lava and spank him with a wooden spoon. Two if the first one breaks.

Sigh….. parenting never ends, not really. My mom is still my mom. Who else would she be?

Scott, baby? YOU! It’s time for YOU to shut up and listen.

Bipolar – Success

I’ve had a vision stuck in the farthest recesses of my mind that I wanted to graduate from UWT since I was in high school over 35 years ago. I’ve been going to the University of Washington Tacoma for the last three years. Each year my troubled mind kicked and screamed in what seemed like unending sparks burning deeper and more cruelly each quarter. The extremes that my moods spanned mania, anxiety and depression still terrify me like tangible echoes that have not yet faded. But then I’ve not even been graduated for a week yet. I’ve been told I should, that I must stop being so hard on myself. I’ve made the Dean’s List nearly every quarter.

What does all this mean to me? It means that I’m still the same person. I have the same kinds of difficulties. And I can achieve more than I can achieve far more than I imagined possible only 5 years ago.

I ended my journey rough and in a sort of shock. I backed out to handle the stress that passed beyond my endurance.

But… I’d like to share some images of my fanciful trip through my personal looking glass with you. Let’s begin with the end, and then I’ll show you where it all happened (except for panicking at home every day). Please watch my slideshow with me.

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Bipolar- Families

When you, especially the parent, have debilitating Bipolar I think that we must understand that the whole family has it. It impacts all of us.

When one of my kids is having a rough time, we are all part of ignoring it, or we are part of the solution.

I’ve seen my doctor about my blackout, my lost time, my mental breakdown and we agree it is past time to fire my med provider.

I’ve finally graduated. I’m able to play attention to my own health beyond giving every ounce of my being to school so I wouldn’t implode.

But now, my family needs me. It’s time to be fierce.

I’m not taking any crap anymore.

Sometimes I have to hit beyond the rocks at the bottom to get my attention.

I’m not full of the life destroying anxiety that my med provider refused to treat me for. What I am, is incredibly 😡.

Enough.

Bipolar – I Think You Should Take Fewer Pills

I’m going to notify my counselor that I must be rid of my med provider as soon as it can be arranged. I’ve told Arthur, my counselor, that I don’t feel that Jamie (med provider) is working in my best interest. My next appointment with her she started right off by confronting me about what I’d told Arthur. I confessed thit it was true.

It got me no where.

She says that I’m on too many pills and she doesn’t want to add anymore. Apparently, this is her rational for not giving me medication that might actually have helped me.

I’ve been practically begging for something for my anxiety that only get’ s increasingly more consuming with each passing day

This whole school year has been like a nightmare.

She doesn’t want to give me more pills? Bull!! It is not her choice to decide whether what other doctors prescribe me for illnesses she knows even less about than I do.

She has repeatedly used this as an excuse not to give me something that could prevented me from my brake down. I have high cholesterol, my thyroid is out of whack, I have chronic horrible lower back pain, I have FM, RA, OA, a facial tick (probably stress related), PTSD, and have recently been diagnosed with IBS-d. It’s a crap load of stuff, but they have all been dealt with by someone more intelligent than she is.

I’ve asked each and every visit for something to help with the burning anxiety. She refuses. She gives me fewer chill pills.

Does she think I like taking a handful of pills twice a day? Moron.

I’ve finally had a breakdown. I blame her. In December I confessed I’d been having thoughts of harming myself. I’d hidden that for years, but at that point it was too much, and I confessed it.

She did nothing.

If I can’t trust my med provider to guard my mental wellbeing, than who will? There aren’t many options here.

I’ve started to shake, Twitter, and twitch again. I’m graduating today. My anxiety that mixes like a charm with my mania and depression making my constant mixed state even more confusing and painful. It’s too much to handle anymore.

I’m firing her. She truly doesn’t have my best interests in mind. I don’t need one of my medical professionals contributing to my madness. That’s just sick.

Bipolar – I Lost Time

https://etiquetteofmadness.wordpress.com/2018/06/09/bipolar-i-lost-time/

Bipolar – I Lost Time

https://etiquetteofmadness.wordpress.com/2018/06/09/bipolar-i-lost-time/