This is my dog, Bailey. She’s a kind of cattle dog known as a Kelpie. She always says please when she really wants something.
She always says please in the same way. I hope, that I will always remember this lesson. The lesson is clear….. Nope, I’ve got nothing. This is just funny. I hope it made you smile. Have a great day! Robin
Mulling things over and over, ruminating about everything. Holding on to things I should not be locked onto, not obsessed with. This is how I cause damage to myself and my health; not just my mental health, but the health of all of me.
When I hyper-focus on something that I am already stressing about the amount of stress I often don’t even know is eating away at me, can cause me to collapse in on myself. Let me show you what I mean and my way of trying to deal with it.
My mom had back surgery last week. She’s in a lot of pain. She rates it an eight out of ten with ten being where you want to bang your head on the table until you’re unconscious. That’s a lot of pain to have when you’re taking your pain medication religiously.
My aunt, her sister, has been taking care of her since the surgery. She’s going home in a few days. Mom isn’t getting well. She’ll be okay soon, but right now, she’s hurting. I really don’t want her to be alone this soon. She’ll tell us she’s fine and maybe she will be. Right now, looking at how she’s doing, I’d rather someone hang out with her a little longer. I’m going to offer to stay with her for a few days until I’m sure she can survive alone. She’s going to keep arguing.
She’ll argue and tell us she’ll be fine. Sure, she could be fine. She could also fall and then what? Lay on the floor and call, “Help I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!!” Yeah, that would work. She’s 80. I’d rather not chance it. Can you see where my stress began? I started stressing when I realized that I might need to stay with her for a few days. Why? Because I’m me. In the past, and also in the now, I talk. She has often asked me if they can give me a pill for it, a pill for talking a lot. I have Bipolar Disorder and ADHD. Sorry, I do talk a lot. What she doesn’t realize is that I can stop if the situation puts me into caretaker mode. I’m talking about how I seamlessly move into a part of me that is calm and gentle. I can be attentive and patient. I think the closest she’s ever seen me like that is being a mom to my kids, especially when they were younger. I’d like the chance to take care of her. If she’d let me.
The rumination began when she first told us she was going to have rotator cuff surgery and then push herself to the limit and do the back surgery before she was totally healed from the shoulder surgery. Why? She’s got a trip to Italy next year and she’s not going to miss it. This trip has been driving her since she and her sister (the same one) started planning it. When was that? I have no idea.
Having had several painful surgeries I know how important it can be to have someone around to get meals, water, and help to dress you dress if getting out of pajamas is something she might want to do. Showering. Make sure the pain pills and other medications are administered throughout the 24-hour day.
But, I know all she’ll think about is how much I stress her out. I have always stressed her out. Anxiety. It stresses me out knowing I cause my mom so much anxiety that she won’t let me take care of her.
I run every possible outcome through my head. Why can’t she just let me take care of her? Why won’t she trust me? Why is this relationship so hard!? It breaks my heart.
How am I dealing with it? I talk about it. Not with her. Heavens no. I talk about it with those people who protect me from myself and sometimes even from my own family. My two eldest kids and I share a home. They can step in if I ask them to. When this whole situation began we talked about it. We’ll talk about it again, perhaps every day. Hopefully, I’ll trust myself enough that I can actually with her about staying with her in a way that she won’t automatically say no without even considering my offer.
She’s going to refuse and that will add to my already very full bucket of worrying over her and knowing that even though she’s my mom she’ll refuse to let me help. Why? Because all she knows about me is all the past moments when I’ve been “bad” or “off my rocker” with sickness that isn’t my fault.
Family and stress are hard to deal with. I worry about my family, about my mom and my kids, every day. I worry about my mother-in-law. I worry about myself. I worry about you.
I’m sorry about you. And then I panic. And I don’t talk to you. And then I mull it over and over. I make notes and notes and notes. I carry something with me to write on everywhere I go, and I actually do write things down, things I’d like to share with you. And then I panic. I haven’t finished a different website I’ve been working on for over a… two years. (That’s so embarrassing.) I’m worried that you gave up and stopped reading long ago because conventional wisdom these days says you’ll read for 2.25 seconds and then click off. Also, I should have bullet points. How could I use bullet points when I’m telling you about my life and how, I’m sorry to admit this, I will never completely overcome my experiencing stress and even the anxiety that can spawn from it. That’s just the way it is.
I will fight to choose to fight back against my stress and find more ways to deal with it. I started writing this letter to you knowing I wasn’t going to be able to tell you how to get rid of stress. I believe that stress of one kind or another will always be with us. Sometimes stress is positive and necessary. Other times it can lead us down paths to places we’d rather not go.
And so here we are, near the end of this correspondence, and you may feel like this was a waste of time, I haven’t given you the magic bullet and told you a secret way to stop your stress. If I told you I knew how to do that if anyone tells you they know how to show you how to get rid of it, especially if you have to pay them for it, don’t believe them.
My concern for my mom is justified. My experiences in the past, and the stress associated with that, and this is THE KEY that I use to deal with this particularly stressful time, I focus on how much I love her. I forgive myself for the times I could have acted differently. I accept that she doesn’t see me beyond the agitation she believes I will always cause her. I love her enough to willingly expose myself to the pain that her dismissal of my expression of my love for her will cause me. And now I’m sad. Why do families have to be so hard to be in?
Honestly, when I say that this is my way of trying to deal with my rumination stress I mean just that: I try to deal with it. I’m human. We learn. We grow. We succeed. We fail. Sometimes we mix them together like a cocktail gone wrong. In the end, I try to slow down so I can acknowledge my stresses (I stress out all the time) and work to figure out what to do with them.
This is the key for me, this is how I deal with stress: I recognize that I’m experiencing more stress. I think it’s over. I accept that I’m feeling it. It’s okay. It’s normal. Yes, stress can be normal. I don’t have to always shovel everything in the “I have Bipolar and this is how I act because I’m sick” hole. Nope. Not today. Not today.
I despair. I’m terribly worried that I will fall short and be forced to let go of my desire to take care of my mom. It almost makes me feel sick. But not today. Today I’m choosing to go along with life. Sometimes I have to do that. I have to accept that I can’t control anything, I can only do my best. I can realize that much of the stress I feel isn’t necessary. It really isn’t.
What’s next? Surely there must be more. Of course, there is. I use all the ways I deal with myself in every situation when things are hard. I go for a walk, I get annoyed with my dog Baily and then we play ball, I play a video game where I can break things or kill monsters without my dying. I do all the stuff and things that I know can help me have a healthier mind. Meditate? Ew. Um, that’s a hard one for me. Living in the moment. Sure. We’ll leave that for another time.
“Stress monster, I’d like to say hello and wish you a good day. We’re going to have a fine time. And yes, I do see you and I’m not going to ignore you. We’re going to try to get along really well. Aren’t we?”
I love my mom so much. I’m choosing to face my stress and my fear. Right now, that’s what I’m choosing to do. That’s how I’m dealing with my stress. I hope this helps.
Best wishes my Internet friend. Make good choices.
We all know that life changes all the time. We grow, change, and adapt, or problems begin to arise. This is true whether we have a mental wellness challenge like Bipolar Disorder or not.
I’ve never had long hair before, but the first year of covid, I didn’t have any hair cut. The second year, it had grown so long that I decided to let it go its thing and keep growing.
The problem with this, surprisingly, is that I have no idea what to do with it now that it’s past my shoulders. I know, Robin, ask our friend Google.
Here are some of the strange ways I’ve had to learn to adapt:
If you’ve adjusted, good on you. If not, it’s not too late.
Adapting to things doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re big important things; sometimes, they are small, seemingly simple things that may seem trifling or silly. They may not be so minor to you.
Remember my hair experiment? After my hand surgery having long hair made it easy to take care of, except for washing it with one hand while the other was above my brain.
Today I’m adapting again; our shower drain is blocked. Despite snaking it, my son was defeated by hair. And look, my daughter’s hair is far longer than mine! So no shower before I take my thumb to OT. Unlike years past, I don’t have to wear a hat and can enjoy the way all the opinionated bits of hair assert their dominance over me by leaking the not-so-private information that my hair’s dirty. I’m about to use both hands and just put it up!
Long hair has its advantages.
I still don’t know how to style it. My hand can’t hold a brush well yet, so more adapting.
Adaption comes in all different ways. Hair may seem a small and vain thing, but it can be a large part of our identity. I put a hat on my dirty short hair because it embarrassing to go to the campus with dirty hair.
I’ve been meaning to sit down and talk to you about this but, you know how it is. Stress sidelines the DOING bit after the brain thinks of something to do. In my case (this time), I have an excruciating surgery tomorrow morning, and I’m not looking forward to it. I’m not looking forward to the pain. Being able to use my thumb without debilitating pain aim definitely look directly at it. You see, I had the same surgery done on my other thumb two years ago, and I know how horribly, terribly, and frightening that pain was.
Let me quickly bring you up to date. We’ve since discovered that I have the nasty illness commonly called Fibromyalgia. I refer to it as Fibro because that’s just too long. We think that the constant pressure of the cast sent the pain level of a routine harrowing hand surgery above the charts. And no, pain meds didn’t work.
Ah yes, what’s the surgery? I’m having something put between the bones in my thumb joint. I have Osteoarthritis; this disease eats away at the stuff that keeps your bones from grinding against each other and causing intense pain.
Since it is now 2:45 a.m. I’m going to move on quickly. Leading up to today, life has been chaotic, emotional, and expensive beyond our means to pay for.
Bailey, my Kelpie (She’s a cattle dog. Google Kelpie, they’re pretty great dogs.), has struggled with severe skin issues all spring and summer. Our regular vet is booked out for months. Covid hit, and all the vets disappeared. I’m completely serious. In this area, Puget Sound in Washington State, veterinarians have been scrambling to find staff. While we waited to get in, the problems worsened. This leads us to take her to a doggie dermatologist. This is all so expensive. This is also so stressful and is especially so because of my surgery being tomorrow today at 7:30 a.m. PST.
We have a radioactive cat. Maks has growths on his thyroid and had to have feline hyperthyroid radiation treatment. I think I got that right. Anyway, he’s on the mend and zooming around the house. He’s gaining weight, and I think he’ll do really well. While he’s healing, we have to put all the dirty litter in bags, and those bags have to go in buckets, and those buckets have to sit around for 80 before we can take them to the dump. Apparently, they don’t want radioactive waste in landfills.
All these things combined with life in general, Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, PTSD, RA, OA, and Fibromyalgia, and I’m a sitting duck for a generous helping of losing control. I’ve stopped saying that I’m super stressed out because these life events are painful emotionally and overwhelming financially. Marriages and partners break up because of money. Imagine me and my underemployed family (I’m on disability so I’m broke all the time.) We had to borrow money from my mother and charge the rest. She suggested that we put the animals down if we couldn’t afford to get them help. Seriously?
Anxiety, stress, anger… entering the danger zone. And now it’s 3:03 a.m. I think we should add fear to that little list.
I need to post this now. I’ve run out of time to catch you up. Stay tuned to see how this mentally ill woman deals with family members not too willing to stay with me for a while. I won’t be able to do so many things. This time it’s my very dominant hand. My left one thinks I’m dumb if I think it’s going to do right-hand stuff. Self-righteous little bugger. This is a team effort. That hand better get with the program.
I’m going to attempt to get on Twitter and tweet updates on how things are going since blogging are iffy for the time being. I’ve never used Twitter more than a tweet here and there, so this should be interesting. I hope you’ll follow along! Join in my mad life and all the fun and bonkers ways I manage, primarily, to live my Bipolar and highly complex life. I need to learn to do voice-to-text. (I’m too tired to edit this, so I hope it makes sense.)
Last week I was feeling down, frustrated and I suppose a little angry. As in all of life, not one thing is contributing to these feelings. I know a major one is that my dog is sick. She’s in pain and, I can’t do anything more for her. Our veterinarian is short-staffed, so they’ve closed the urgent half of the clinic. A month ago, I made an appointment for her and it’s finally arrived. Its been agony watching something that has been consuming her and is growing worse every day. We don’t know what’s wrong, but we can see the results. She’s tearing her skin off. She itches so badly that she passes the pain from earlier scratching and digs deeper, trying to stop the itching. Next month, she’ll see a dog dermatologist. Thankfully I made this appointment with her regular vet. I’m hoping that they will give her something for the pain, reduce the itching, and help her heal. I don’t see any infection, but I’m not a vet.
I think I know how she feels. In the past, sometimes my skin itched so badly I couldn’t resist the urge to itch it. I’ve woken up the night with blood on my fingers. The despair and anxiety that come with that are immense. (No, I don’t have OCD.)
Those horrible emotions appear in various places in life. When my Fibromyalgia flares up and my Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis flare simultaneously, they invoke those same horrible feelings in my soul. I want to withdraw and lay in my bed until I feel better. But, sadly, that’s the worst thing I can do. (One of our cats just went to the bathroom, and I think I’m going to die. Be right back.) I’ve been learning about Fibromyalgia, and one of the first and most important things I MUST do is be active. Physical activity is one of the major and only things it seems that I can do to help me, hopefully, have less pain.
Pain, this is what I want to mention today. Mental and emotional pain can easily be as crippling as physical pain. I might believe I just can’t get out of bed, but I must. I must move around and not stop. Not doing so can let the anguish take hold and cripple me further.
I’m also learning that Fybromyalgia causes something referred to as “brain fog.” Let me just say that I have strategies that I’m trying to use to fight my already beat-up brain from Bipolar Disorder and ADHD. (Thanks brain.) The treatments for those two things are in direct conflict, so we had to choose one to address with medication, the other I try to work within other ways. I’ve chosen my Bipolar because adding a stimulant for ADHD would make the mania so much worse. I’m already so manic that I easily drive my family bonkers; I just don’t need more stimulation. And I’m aware now, that Fibromyalgia also makes things messier.
So, where does that leave me? I’m not exactly sure. So far, it seems that brain fog is a mysterious thing. None of my doctors have offered me a solution or even a way to cope with it. I don’t hold this against them. This illness is very debilitating and, like Bipolar, it is lifelong and I must find ways that work for me to cope. Cope. I hope I can thrive, not simply cope.
I want you to know these things about me because life sometimes sucks for each of us. I can’t possibly understand your frustrations anymore than you can understand mine. Pain, mental and physical is unique to us all. We know that already.
However, let me assure you that I am not alone and, neither are you. As people, as humans, we all struggle with unique things every day. This, as you can imagine, makes the advice that we can give each other very hit and miss, and it misses more than it hits. Why? Because we are as unique as our illnesses or combination of illnesses are.
They say that our uniqueness makes us special; I believe this is true. We each grow with our individual strengths and weaknesses and these things make us special, unique and wonderful. I choose to believe that these thing are true.
Saying that we’re special always makes me feel a bit frustrated. When I’m feeling crushed beneath the weight of life I don’t feel special. I do feel unique in that sometimes I think that no one understands, and no one can help me.
Do you ever experience these things? I’d bet all my money that you do. Okay, I have no money, so that’s not a real bet, but I think you understand. We may have illness(es), and sometimes they make us feel crazy. At least, sometimes I do. But, thankfully, I’m not crazy. And honestly, what does being crazy mean?
I can say that I understand depression, anxiety, frustration, anger, physical and mental pain, and the struggle to think straight or think at all. Those things I can promise I know about. You’re not alone in your struggles.
You are not alone. Not ever. We all feel crazy sometimes.