Bipolar – Hypomania – What Can I Do?

A response to a question from a reader on my Facebook page: Bipolar 2.0.

­­I was recently asked a question over on my Facebook page (Bipolar 2.0) and thought I would share the answer here for anyone else who wonders the same thing. (This blog automatically posts on that page as well.)

Q: How do you cope with hypomania? I usually work out hard, take a nap, or watch TV. Usually I take a Klonopin any other medicine you have used to cope. Thanks

A: I can’t say anything as to medications, but I use Klonopin (also known as Clonazepam) as my “rescue” (chill pill) pill when I can’t cope anymore. This is in addition to my prescribed daily mood stabilizers. I would suggest that if you’re really struggling to maintain control that you visit your doctor again and make sure they really listen to your concerns. It’s important that things not get out of control, right?

I do think that your coping techniques are really good. You seem to know yourself well and have figured out what can help mitigate some of your symptoms. Do those activities work for you?

Right now, Klonopin is the only thing that makes me STOP. No amount of exercise, sleeping, writing, TV, gardening, walking the dog, playing with the dog, blah, blah…. Sometimes nothing works. My meds have been tweaked and tweaked for so many years… it’s painful just to think about it.

So, I’m suggesting you talk to your doctor and see what she thinks. Then, you dig in and dive down the rabbit hole and find more fantastically creative ways you can find to help yourself… in case they don’t have any answers you like, find alternatives that you can try that aren’t medications, but that might have good outcomes for you.

One day I started on YouTube looking for something on mediation and I found a whole world of different meditation, sounds, music, voices, stories, mindfulness, relaxation, and much more. I made an obsessive number of playlists. Ok, I lost my mind and made way too many, but I have narrowed it down to some playlists that I play every night on my iPad (I pay for YouTube Premium so there aren’t any ads).

And yes, I am manic. And, yes, I also have ADHD. So, I’ll stop… in a second.  

If you can keep yourself busy, not just busy, but productive. If you can set some goals and meet them. If you can use that energy to propel yourself to someplace you want to be or become someone you want to become, then use that energy to do that. Don’t let it burn you out or rob you of your life. Take hold of it. It’s hard and complicated and ridiculous that I’d say it can become a good thing I suppose, but it can be. I think it must be. At least… for me it does. My search goes on…

Therapy choice #1.

Bipolar/ADHD-Focus or Not to Focus

Bipolar/ADHD – To Focus or Not to Focus, That’s the Damn Question!

I apologize if you don’t like the word “damn.” My mom still corrects me when I use it. You know it’s taken me a really long time to learn how to say it convincingly. I mean, forever when I’d get mad and say it people would actually say to my face things like, “Yeah, no. Don’t say that. You just can’t say that.” I’d ask why not. “You just can’t.” Why not? “Robin. You sound ridiculous.” How, can anyone sound ridiculous swearing!!?? It is swearing!! I thought all swearing sounded stupid. Apparently not.

Apparently, I still sound silly when I swear. My advantage, if I have one, is that when I’m really backed against the wall (read – super, super, very, very angry in a The Hulk sort of way) I may not have the best use or depth and breadth of swear words, but I make up for it in shear fury. Sometime I even scare myself with the power of that, what is it called, that RAGE. I hate rage. Yippie…. If I seem less than optimistic it may be because she referred to me as “atypical atypical.” I don’t know about you… but I dunno what the damn that means.

I’ve been in that place where a ton of stuff has been building and building and I haven’t realized that I haven’t released the pressure off of ANY of the things that need to chill out. I didn’t recognize how stressed I was or how long it had been since I’d had a good long laugh. I hadn’t been doing any of the right healthy things that would have kept me bouncing my life ball along the way I want it to go. Instead, well, yep, the doo-doo hit that fan thing and I went kaboom!

Sadly, I kaboom-ed the day after I started the new medication. My normal reaction would be to stop taking the medication immediately and talk to the provider. I can be very sensitive to some medications and have reacted violently to at least one of them. This time I was certain that I sensed I was feeling my old companion, rage, and not a medication complication. I could have called her up and told her it didn’t work. In fact, not only could I tell her did it not work, I could tell her I became hysterical and physically violent. I threw things and yelled and screamed. I slammed cupboards and the garage door and kicked them some more to make sure they knew they were in for it. I yelled and slammed, and slammed and yelled again, then again. I even stomped on the recycling and got it all ready to be taken out. I was feeling better so I screamed some more.

It didn’t take me long. It never does. All that adrenaline seems to surge around and drive all the clogged moods and emotions directly before it shoving them straight out my mouth and into the air where everyone can hear everything is say and scream. Hence, yeah, all the yelling. This is my most unscientific assessment. What do you think? I kind of like it. There are a few drawbacks to this.

First, while I’m acting all bonkers I sound like a fighter jet screaming in a rage stuck in the face of my kid who has been standing four feet away from me the whole time. I suck. She still loves me. She knows I’d do it for her. We’re a team. An unbreakable team. And, none of that matters. I ask her forgiveness. I apologize. I don’t expect her to help me fix my mess or even ask her to. It isn’t her job. Should I have realized I was brutalizing her emotionally by just raging against nothing? Of course. But, the unfortunate thing about losing one’s shit is that one has lost one’s shit and there isn’t a rotten thing one can do about it at that particular time. I know. It pretty much sucks.

Second, I made a mess and I have to clean up my own mess when I rage-out. This time things were very different than other times. I got to the point(s) fast. Meaning, I talked very fast and I stopped carrying on faster than was usual.

Okay, I say “as usual” but that really isn’t fair. It isn’t a “usual” thing anymore. It used to be my normal state everyday. I might not have thrown things all the time, but that rage was dwelling just behind my eyes, barely under control, for far too many years of my life. Now it is a moment that happens a couple times a year. That’s it. I’m proud of the progress I’ve made. If you’ve struggled with something like this too and you’ve gained ground on it, if you’ve got your foot on it’s neck, even if you’ve just finally figured out where the neck is, then I applaud you! Keep your foot right there and press harder! You can keep doing this. Never, ever stop fighting.

It’s been over a week since I started this new medication. Now that my moods/emotions have finished imploding and exploding simultaneously I can begin to assess how I think the medication is working for me. I ask my two kids who live with me what they think and remind them to take my explosions out of the equation. We’ve all agreed that we shouldn’t make that part of our assessment. We have decided, that for now, all things considered, that I’m not manic and I’m definitely focusing better. Yep. Better focus, but not all the time and we wouldn’t say it’s great. And my ability to chose the right or appropriate thing to be focused about is lacking wisdom.

For example: Do hours of research for business proposal and writing projects by doing deep dives down Google rabbit holes. Nut house! (I’m trying to find someone to make a prototype for me of a product I’ve developed. Since I have so much extra time and not a thing to think about I’m researching crowd funding like Kick-starter

I’ve tried to do this event called The National Novel Writing Month for several years, but every year I… I give up. I convince myself that although I have been working on a viable and interesting story for months or even is some cases for years, I don’t have what it takes to write those 50,000 words in one month. Loads of other people do. But I can’t. So I never try.

This year my daughter and I were both ready to do it and then… um… I got sick. Honestly! I got a really bad head cold. And my arthritis is killing both my thumbs. And my sciatic hurts when I sit. And I sneezed. And I forgot that a mystery has to plant clues. I have to plan more!!!

Oh my gosh!!

Isn’t Scrivener just terrific? It shows you just how much research you should have done before you started writing. Apparently I’m much more of an Outliner than a Pantser. (I’ll explain in another post.)

Any port in a storm. Any excuse in an open schedule when I can waste as much time as possible. And my head cold is gone. And I’m still researching. And it is now November 7th and I have 87 words written towards a 50,000 word count goal. I do, however, have a lot of research including my murder victims, the killer, heroine, places the bodies are found (it happens during the Seattle World’s Fair – “Alaska-Yukon-Pacific-Exposition 1909“), the exact dates they were found, etc. I’m very excited about it. I’ve finally come to realize that once I have my victims all named and given them occupations/affiliations, chosen the day their body is found based upon the group they are affiliated with (groups at the fair have special days to celebrate their organizations), chosen where their body will be discovered and decide how many victims there will be the story will flow very easily. I really have a lot of it worked out in my head already. It’s the logistics that I’d decided I couldn’t do so I couldn’t write it. And then I decided that I wouldn’t be able to write the draft (note that I’m writing a DRAFT) if I don’t actually start writing on the first day of the month.

That was just a silly thought. Oh bother. Way to not believe in yourself bird! What would the kids say???

That’s easy. I’ve already been told off. LOL I talked about it with the daughter that is doing this with me and she helped me with some of the details I was struggling with. She actually got excited about it. The way the actually history of Seattle in 1909 and the real fair, etc fit with my mystery are all very exciting! Her being interested in helping me and talking about it with me really gave me confidence that I could carry on and do this thing.

I feel better.

One more thing before I let you go. In the middle of the day I was ultra productive. I took a pic of one of our cats. Savvy, actually. She’s our youngest. She’s our rescue. She thinks my Kelpie (dog) Bailey is her mother… still! Bailey is still not interested, but still is willing to play with her when she decides to. It’s amazing to see her put her nose under Savvy’s belly and flip her up into the air. Savvy doesn’t seem to mind. At that point, the game is ON!

While my daughter was at school I got a really cute picture of Savvy. I wisely decided to use my time to use some filters (I never do this sort of thing. I think I’ve used filters twice now.) and change the pic up and send them to her so she could feel encouraged. She’s been having some anxiety at school and I wanted to get her mind to snap off that feeling and on to something I know she’ll give 100% of her attention to for a few minutes. (She goes to a school where this isn’t a problem. She can take a break and the teacher doesn’t care.) Well, 30, 35, 40… I don’t know. Some-odd-minutes later I finally finished my very productive time wasting maneuvers and tried to return to doing whatever it was that I was not successful doing before I distracted myself from earlier.

Is it working? Am I focusing better? You tell me. What do you think?

This is what I was doing…. I asked myself, “How many filters could I use to make the same cat, in the same pose, look cool?” You be the judge.

Bipolar – When We Fall

Falling Alone is Terrifying.

I never thought I’d have the great backyard that my yard is becoming. Two of my kids are making it into an amazing place to hang out. They’re constructing raised gardens and putting up a trellis for the climbing roses too! I’ve never had climbing roses. And there are lots of vegetables and colorful flowers. I was gone for a week, and they blew up the garden that was here when we moved in. Someone built a pergola by the garden, but here in WA when it rains, that’s not a load of help. We had a guy put fiberglass over the top of it so we can go out and use the previously ineffective and silly pergola in the rain. AAAnnnddd… of course, it leaks. A lot! A seriously, a stupid, moronic and gigantic leaking, leaked, and just damn leaky wet.

Last night the lawn was mowed and the weed eating all done. I was banned from doing any of the work because I’d tripped (as usual) fallen hard on my left knee and arm (my left shoulder has a rotator cuff tear). I couldn’t move my leg for a while. It sucked. I had images of the “Help! I’ve fallen and can’t get up.” commercial in my head. Later on, my eldest son said he had been thinking the same thing. We had a good laugh over it.

The next day Kyle, the same son, skipped work so he could come and walk with me. I was afraid I’d fall again. I’ve been knocking over things every day. Every single day. Coffee travel mug? Got it covered – all over the floor. Water bottle with lemonade? Yep, the hardwood floor is really clean except where I missed it. Now it’s just sticky in places and gathering dust. I guess I’ll be able to find those spots easily enough.

Today I made two messes. The second one was pretty spectacular. As I started crying, I noticed that my night pillbox had opened and three nights of pills spilled on the carpet. We have four cats and a dog, and I nearly freaked out. I had to leave. What if I missed some of them?

Why is this happening to me? Don’t I have enough to deal with without this silliness?

I see a neurologist like next month sometime. Originally it wasn’t for this dropping, knocking and generally blundering along with business, but I think that’s what we’ll have to talk about. Right now I have something else on my mind. Okay, I’m having all these weird issues. The question is what am I going to do now that I feel like I’m losing it?

Bipolar Disorder very often comes dancing along with another illness as you may already know. I do line dancing with ADHD and a few other dirtbags that are better left in a Looni Balloon (not to be confused with Looney Tunes) flick destined to be beaten with a gigantic red rubber hammer where no one will cry over the violence of the act. Sometimes the fear and panic provoke anger and even rage. It seems best to leave such emotions in

I have no spiffy answers for you, but I can tell you what I did to survive my day and end up where I promised I would be.

First, I called my daughter at work. It went to voice mail as I expected. Then I texted her “911” and dictated a message to my texting app. Next, I let her know that whatever my phone put in the message was not my fault because I wasn’t going to read it over for mistakes and that I was taking half a “chill pill.”

Second, I called my son that lives three minutes down the hill from us. He didn’t pick up either. I texted him as well.

The whole while I searched for help I kept trying to breathe. I’ve been practicing a breathing method? Is that what you’d call it? Anyway, I couldn’t get it right so I gave up and let myself just breathe.

It was going to be okay. Right?

OMG! I’m home alone. I need to go babysit my mother’s elderly dog. I’m trying not to freak out, how am I going to get there? It’s important. I have to go. My mom needs a social life. I HAVE to go.

I had my Bluetooth stuck in my ear by this time and was talking to Kyle. He was gently helping me back down. I knew today was his only day off, and I felt bad about bothering him, but he talked with me anyway.

Weird that I’d be thinking of how I was bothering my kids right?

Yes, I do have another son. This one is very hard to reach. He lives with his wife fifteen minutes from our house. Scott, well he’s not the topic of this post, so maybe another time he’ll come up.

I eventually arrived at my mom’s after listening to an audiobook all the way over here. It was a thriller. Maybe not the best choice for this drive, but there it was.

I explained to her what my week was like. At first, it was amusing because I’m always clumsy. Then I got to the point where I fell two days in a row and then escalated to dropping and knocking over more things more often and larger in size.

This is plain silly.

Peel away the story. Remove the falling and the dropping. Strike out everything, but the panic, the difficulty breathing, the 911 messages to my kids, the chill pill and you have my mind reaching out into my world and mixing stuff up. The important things to take away are that I had a system set up already that let me reach out for help. I also could have called my second son and my mother. Everyone knows the drill. Mom (Robin), 911 text – something is very wrong.

I strongly urge you to create your own emergency plan. Get some of your people in on it. You will quite possibly need to educate them about Bipolar Disorder and how it is with you. Tell them what kind of help you may need. If you feel that you just don’t have anyone to trust, and yes, you should be able to trust them. You may be putting your life in their hands so make sure this is the real deal and not just an acquaintance that you want to get to know better. That’s not the person I want you to enlist in your wellness plan.

We’ll talk later about what I like to think of as a wellness emergency plan.

  • Reached out to my people
  • Half a “chill pill”
  • Audiobook
  • Two ice cream bars
  • Talking with you

I feel much better now. Time to do some work.

All my best,

Robin

Bipolar and Back in the Saddle

My dad, the best cowboy I ever met.

In no uncertain terms my dad used to tell me to get my butt back up and do it again! It didn’t matter if it was a horse I’d fallen off of, which happened more than I’d have prefered, or if it was a friend I felt treated me wrongly. Do it again. Don’t stop.

I’m so exhausted. I’ve done so much thinking and writing notes and making Google docs from my iPad in the middle of night… I think you get the idea. The engine starts to turn over but it just never does.

Pressured speech – Bipolar, yeah, I do that.

Know what scares me more though? What keeps me tied so very tight under that horse I’m not going to fall off with chains, in the mountains, in the cold. What scares me more?

Racing thoughts paralize me.

I’ve been trying to slow my mind. Meditation. Exhaustion. Yelling. Denial. I don’t know. My attempts to do this have been weird.

My dad, the cowboy, is gone from this world. I can’t hold his hand or ask him if he thinks something is dumb. I miss the smell of … whatever the newest hobby he was into smelled like. Woodturning for example. Loads of smelling to be had. Fishing, drag racing, raising and training horses, woodturning (did I say that already?), stained glass. Smells. A dad smell.

I wonder sometimes if he looked at life in a way that I need to emulate. Look, he got mad, sure. He threw things, yelled, swore, threw more things, swore some more, made really horribly scary angry faces at us… But he developed time alone and away from everyone when he did these hobbies. I think going out in the RV and making stained glass were the only things he shared with my mom. Oh sure, we all rode horses and shoveled… you know. But I wonder if he could reset during those times.

Did he have racing thoughts too?

He once told me “You’re smart and you think faster than other people do. You’ll be done thinking about things before they start. You’re just going to have to deal with it.” (This is totally true, he said this. Okay, something like it.)

I mention this because I wonder if he saw this particular difficulty in me at that young age? I did show signs of Bipolar at a young age and, I admit, I was a shit to live with, but did he know? I don’t know how my mom didn’t send my dad leave me in the mountains somewhere.

I just never can slow my mind down. Unless… unless it doesn’t work at all. Chained, under the damn horse, in the mountains.

I took a video workshop on ADHD earlier this year. 10 weeks: 3 days in group for an hour and some time with an accountability group the other days. I learned a lot about – I learned that I don’t understand time. If I’ve mentioned this before, please hang in there. I’m just about done.

I am trying to build an editorial calendar where I can put ideas and things I feel strongly about. I can set them in boxes, and then I can move on. And when I’m stuck, silent and chained, I can see the boxes and what I’ve placed in some of them, and I feel hope. I force myself to put something, anything in at least one, little, short, 15 minute box – no – five minute box. Let’s settle with one minute. Then I can be done. I can do that. One minute at a time.

Tonight I’m in a brain fog. It feels like today has just slid on and on. Well, now I’m going to put on my cowboy hat and sit down. I’m gonna push back my cowboy daddy’s recliner (which I insisted on having I have despite the fact that, well, you’ll hear that in a second) I’m going to have to give it an extra shove and scoot my butt all the way back – and then I’m gonna swear. I’m gonna swear because the remote or my iPad or my book or my coffee or the kitten or whatever is way too far for me to reach.

I’m 5′ 3″ on a stool. When my butt scoots back in the seat my feet fly up off the ground and it seems I always wiggle them around like a very young kid. It never fails to amuse me that this was my dad’s chair. When I’m leaning back and can’t reach anything, and no one is around for me to ask nicely or hollar at or beg to get whatever I’m reaching at for me, I claw my way to the right side of the chair and start swing my arm around. I can’t feel anything so I keep at it. I can see myself in my mind’s eye and I know why the kids don’t help me – it is too damn funny to make me suffer! Little legs wagging up and down, swearing and muttering. Yeah, that’s funny, when it’s me.

My dad was a cowboy. What have I learned from him? Well, I have my eyes closed right now and I’m listening to the wind roll over all the plants and trees and bushes and in my front door and the open windows
(it is always windy here)…. and now I hear the bass of the moron driving up the hill in front of the house… and now I hear the wind.

Breathe. In 5 hold – count to 6 – exhale for 8. Do it again Robin. Do it again. Hear the wind. The wind here is the same as it is in the mountains or on the ranch? Daddy, he was the same wherever he was too. Oh we believe he had Bipolar 1 like I do, but I think he found better ways to manage it than I do.

When I feel I’m stuck under the horse I also feel broken. I feel like I can never be mended or fixed… or useful. Never mind that. First thing is first. Racing thoughts or frozen ones. Ouch. I think… I think that I’ve decided I’m not broken.

I believe that belief is everything. Yes, I acknowledge that I have an illness. Or do I? That’s a whole other train of thought so lets run quickly away from that. I have decided. Here and now. Maybe not tomorrow or tomorrow night. But today, now, I don’t believe I’m broken and can’t be fixed. I’m just stunned.

Stunned.

Fall off. Stunned. Get back on and go again.

I don’t want to be trapped in my own head. Time. Use the calendar Robin. It’s a better idea than you think. Stop being subborn. You’re not a jackass. Do it. It will make the chains loose.

When the sun sets it all ends with me. Counselors are left in their offices. Partners are in their own heads. Hopefully. Kids are in bed? I’m left with me. I take the drugs. I go to therapy. I try to act normal. But I am stunned.

I’m going to fill in one box before I go to my room to hopefully sleep for the night.

I’m closing my eyes and listening for the wind. If you’re indoors and can’t actually hear it, then make believe that you do. Remember, believe is everything. Hear the wind. Let it take you away.

“Daddy? It feels like I’ve been stunned for a very long while. I feel… and I think… that it’s time to be a cowboy.

Saddle up

Please, as always, leave a comment if you are so inclined.

Do They Come from Within?

Friends - Thinking Time?

Siberia, the Cat, is doing all the thinking in this friendship. Course, Bailey was a youg thing back then. Siberia has gone to live with the stars.

I read something in a description of an online course last night that I found both intriguing and disturbing.

“Emotions are something that happens TO us and, therefore, they’re outside of our control.”

Can this be true? I currently understand that Bipolar Disorder is a Mood Disorder and is thought to be caused by something going bonkers in my brain chemistry. And for those of you familiar with Agatha Christie I will say that it is thought that my little gray cells have gone bonkers. Okay, just the “little gray cells” is from Christie, but it’s still awesome.

I’ve been actively discussing my illness with myself since I was initially diagnosed with it in…. ah… before 1992. No, after. I’ll have to look it up. Anyway, it doesn’t matter because I’ve been dealing with myself and all my symptoms since my early teens. (I’ve acknowledged to my dear mom that I understand now what a handful I was and that it was most likely me imagining that I had a rotten life and when my life wasn’t actually rotten. My dad probably had Bipolar Disorder too, that made for frequent fireworks.

Wow. That was that too much? Let’s see if I can make it better –

I grew up in an affluent tourist town nestled in a beautiful harbor in Puget Sound, WA. I didn’t have bling, a rock star car, or cloths to die for. Instead, I had a horse, dogs, cats, acreage, forest, forts, climbing on haystacks, and cops and robbers.

When I was at the age when I should know right from wrong I started misbehaving. Like, misbehaving on purpose. That is, I couldn’t seem to help myself. Much of the time I felt that I was the only right one and that everyone else was wrong. I was always angry, so angry.

My father misbehaved.  Mom suffered in silence. As I’ve said, my symptoms began early and grew worse and worse as the years went on. Is it real? Or is it Memorex? (You’ll just have to Google it.)  {Oh man. I’ll keep working on my pressured writing. These things… they tend to stay around. Do you agree?}

So… maybe that didn’t help. All I’m trying to say is that my pressured speech spills over into my writing and I tend to go on and on and on…. (sorry!) and that some people believe that my emotions are caused by something outside of my body. It happens TO me, not from within me.

Is something being done TO me? This idea is very troubling. Okay, no. It is down-right frightening and deserves to be thought on some more.

You may have noticed that I tend to question everything. I spent about 25 years chasing god just to see if he existed. I didn’t want to spend my life in service to a god that didn’t exist. This was my greatest attempt, at that age and with no knowledge of what was going on, to try to help myself. It didn’t work. Knowledge failed. Prayer failed. Was it I who failed? Exorcism failed.

I admit that there is definitely something wrong with my brain. (Grrrr…. I want to argue about that last sentence – maybe another time.) My moods or my emotions or whatever, whack my thinking around until I make very bad and sometimes dangerous choices. My thinking seems to meander and become clouded. Or, the coals get stirred, and mania sets up house and lights it on fire. Then I’m all ripped me up and anything I do or say will probably smear ash on others.

I’ve been thinking for too long what my next post would be – this wasn’t it. This is the result of what I’ve read and thought about just yesterday and today. I hold these ideas, these issues, in a very important place in my mind and in my life. Beginning to understand some of these things may help me, and I hope you might find help.

I want to learn more clearly what’s really going on with/in us and what WE can do about it. Is there any hope that we will ever feel – normal? Actually, I like to think that “normal” is my being able to be at peace all the time. I believe that there must be a way for us to know peace and even, control ourselves – if we want to.

I plan to toss these ideas around in my next post, but you know how it is – can’t keep my attention from zipping down the crazy rabbit hole every 27 seconds. <wink>

Bipolar Disorder + ADHD = One hell of a busy brain!

ROBIN, slow DOWN!

Don’t tell me what to do!

See ya next time and thanks for staying for a while. Forward me to your friends if you are so inclined or maybe you could sprinkle unicorn sprinkles around. Maybe they can fix something.