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

Mood Disorders, Sunshine and Me

Have I been fighting all these years against SAD? Depressed? Missunderstood? Reeling in the darkness? Or have I just been an ass?
Well…. Take your pick. Everyday is a new day.

I’ve heard for years about how some people suffer from fall and winter depression and I’ve accepted it as a matter of fact. I had never paid any attention to my moods as the seasons of the year toddled on by. Every year someone seems to ask me if I became “worse” in the “dark” seasons. I’ve never had an answer. Why would I? I thought I always felt the same – enraged, depressed, angry, bitter, anxious, sinful, doomed, damned, unliked, manic…. out of control Bipolar. Then I went to a Bible college, got married, had kids, showed postpartum depression which lead years later to my diagnosis: Bipolar Disorder Type 1.

This year I seem to be at a place in my life where I’m able to…. scratch that. I’ve been noticing that I’m not as “normal”* as usual. I’m happier. I think I’m funnier. That alone is awesome. And I don’t even care if my friends laugh when I think I’m being funny and my kids don’t. HA! HA!

*When I say “normal” what I mean is that I’ve been in a couple of months long consistently better place. I know, that doesn’t mean anything either but who cares. I’m happy right now and I’m happy that I’m happy.

Dark seasons. Do I? Beats the heck out of me. I’m just glad that my years of feeling rage and horror 99.5% of the time are over. I hope they’re over. One can never tell with things like this (Bipolar).

At my home today the weather is beautiful. It’s going to be about 71F which is warmer than normal here. The rest of the week it should be in the ’80s! Of course, much higher than normal here in the Greater Puget Sound area. It’s nice to accidentally plan a family BBQ (Thursday) when the weather will be so wonderful.

Am I happier in spring and summer? Well, it rains less and I can go outside and get sunburned in 10 minutes, my dog can play ball and only get wet when I spray her with the hose. Hell yeah! Give me spring! Give me summer!

Go ahead! Burn this Irish skin. Do your best sun. I’ve got all the rest of the year to fade back to my spotted white.

Let’s burn, this time with the sun. Not with rage and hate.

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.

Less Stress is Best – For Everyone

In my last post, I shared a laundry list of things I felt were related to times of extended and elevated stress. As a person who has Bipolar 1, I’m acutely sensitive to stress in my environment, my social life, my home life… Well, you get the idea… in my head. You might say, “Robin, everyone experiences stress and might have cause junk to happen to them.” Fair enough.

I can only speak to my own experiences and circumstances as I interpret them. And it isn’t just that. I have to notice them too. Sometimes I get so preoccupied with something that I just don’t see what’s right in front of me.

Let me give you a quick example. I have battled IBS-d since I was married way back in 1989. Of course, it wasn’t a “thing” then. In fact, I never mentioned it to my doctor. There wasn’t a commercial on TV alerting me to the notion that I might have this thing, this real thing, called IBS-d.

Bipolar Disorder is supposed to be a “mood disorder.” Taking that at face value, let’s assume that stress is going to make managing my symptoms (the rolly-polly moods) incredibly more difficult. Let’s also assume that the stress and resulting crushing weight of experiencing increasingly intense stress (wow, too many words!).

Listen, in my experience as a person with Bipolar 1, ADHD and PTSD I can tell you with certainty (you know, because I experienced it and that makes it true) that stress caused me to have IBS-d. How do I know that and didn’t I notice myself making fun of myself just one sentence ago? Sure, I noticed. We’re talking about subjective emotions though. Think of it like that pain chart they use in the ER at any hospital in the US. “Rate your pain. Which smiley face??”

Seriously? You’re going to treat me based upon what I think my smiley face ought to be?

How are you feeling today Robin?
“My anxiety feels like it’s crushing me. I can’t sleep or think. I’ve started waking up violently angry. I’ve started yelling again and throwing things. I just can’t get it all to stop!”
Have you been able to focus?

Excuse me?

I graduated in June of last year (2018) and within two months of that time, my “IBS-d” disappeared. Creepy right? I know! Like aliens…

Alien, nigthmare, spirit...
Creepy… I think that guy might have had some comet!

Seriously though, haven’t had a blackout or eaten Comet since then. Well, I think there was one more blackout… but my memory can be sketchy at times so yes? No? Beats me.

We’re talking about emotions.

Emotions are NOT measured by drug tests.
Emotions cannot be quantified by subjective human talk therapy.
I can’t even relate to you my emotions so that you’ll understand what I mean.
In every single college class I’ve been in when the professor asks for opinions or invites discussion, no one ever agrees with everyone (sometimes anyone) across the board. Nope. Nadda.

Does this seem like a jumble? Am I talking about IBS-d or how to describe emotions? Actually, what am I talking about? Have I lost focus?

No, I haven’t. Not this time.

I no longer have any symptoms of IBS-d.

Is everything else better? Oh hell no! But, I’ll take this victory and I’ll hold onto it because I’m not locked in my house 24/7 every day anymore.

At least… not right now.

Bipolar – Verbal Dump

megaphone

I have Bipolar Disorder and ADHD. I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder over twenty years ago. At least, that’s about when my brain says it remembers it happening – I’m super reliable when it comes to the passing of time. Umm, no way! Don’t let me tell you otherwise. I was diagnosed as having ADHD only a few years ago.

The other day my mom told me she’d had a major breakthrough in her thinking about ADHD. Apparently, she’d talked to her realtor and she had told him that I have it. I know she shares stuff about my brain (problems) to people in the town/city we live in and with Rhett (the fellow I just mentioned who sells property) who lives in another one.

That’s two.

Back to the breakdown.

I know my mom loves me. She expresses it in a sort of micro-managing way, but she loves me nonetheless.

I’d hate to have had a child like me. How did she not accidentally roll over me in the family car? I would have had a daycare person come take me away. A nanny. Anyway, Rhett told her that he has ADHD too. {Deep sigh coming from my side of the conversation.}

You know how we can look up literally ANYTHING online? I really don’t think she understands that she can Google Bipolar Disorder and ADHD and not have to rely upon the information she can glean from a single person. There are many fantastic sites to visit that contains a lot of very good information on both BD and ADHD.

But, you know what, the idea that she can talk to someone about me, without asking me first, and telling him my very personal business is just bad.

My mom thinks of Rhett as another son. (I have a brother.) She knows more about him than she does about me. Sometimes I discover I have feelings of resentment and anger toward the nice guy. I don’t like feeling that way.

I guess accepting and understanding something about Bipolar Disorder have to continue to wait.

I believe, that if she understood a little about Bipolar Disorder and how I present, we would get along better. We might even want to spend more time together. Maybe she’d trust me more. Forgive me more. I admit, there is much I want to be forgiven for. I think she’s better at letting things go than I am so maybe she doesn’t need to be able to forgive me once she understands I don’t really control myself sometimes.

My experience with Bipolar Disorder is that about 80% of the time I’m manic. All the time I’ve been alive, I’ve been either straight up manic, or in a mixed state featuring the bits that tend to “intensify” my emotions. I’m confused, being depressed while manic.

My most blatantly obvious symptom… I never, ever stop talking. When the rare moment does happen, my friends ask me if I’m okay. I think that even Bailey notices. (Bailey is my support dog. She’s wonderful.)

Bailey is my emergency brake. When I’m frustrated, angry or yelling, she finds me and sits directly facing me, very close, toes to paws, and with her beautiful sad brown eyes and waits for the noise to stop. Honestly, she won’t budge even if I tell her I need to pee. No mercy from my faithful pup.

My chart at the mental health place I go to says that I say I think I’m smarter than they are. My current counselor asked me if I really believe that. Without a pause, I said, “YES.” I reminded him of how they let my stress / anger / mania / and anxiety cause all the suffering I experienced while I was going to school. over the last year, my symptoms intensified, and I broke.

Have you heard the axiom do no harm or through inaction to cause harm?

So, the reality is that they watched and did not intervene. They listened and didn’t reach out to catch me while I fell and fell farther and farther down. If you think about it like that, like what role they played in my unwilling self-destruction, then YES, I think they’re morons and I really am so much smarter than they are. My counselor asked me if I thought I was smarter than he was. I grinned and told him, “that remains to be seen.”

Delusional? Grandiose thoughts? Delusions of grandeur? Or brilliant or very smart? And who’s to judge which is which?

ADHD, Bipolar… Let’s figure it out. I promise I’ll own it.

You have just been exposed to an often irritating and yet integral bit of my brain in all its glory. It’s what I call, “a verbal dump.” My kids prefer saying I barf words. Wait, maybe it was that I vomit words. Well, in any case, it’s not great.

Please write to me or leave a comment. I love hearing from you.

Be well,

Robin / Un-niche-able Me