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

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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

The Great Un-niche-able Me!

Teaching one of our cats to go hiking.

I think I’ve found myself. Sort of.

I have been stuck, stunted, and riven clear off the tracks to the point where I’ve actually spent the spent the night having one of my best inner panic attacks. I haven’t gone through one like that for a while.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot, not about the panic attack per se, but about how I’ve gotten here, to this place where I’m stuck in my head. I have some ideas that I’d like to put into some form of business, but I… well, I feel broken. Still. I have another bachelors degree, and I still feel broken. I might answer that sentence by saying… yes, but you still have no job.

Nope, I don’t. And I don’t plan on having one. I’m going to start another business. Yes, I’ve done this having my own business thing before. And don’t give me grief, I’m in the proud third generation of business owners! I’m just going about it my own ADHD way… my Un-Niche-Able way.

“Fine. Like what? You’ve messed everything else up, what’s it going to be this time? You never settle on just one thing and focus on just that one thing. You’re always going to be a failure. You never finish anything.” Says some of the retarded and self-defeating self-talk I’ve been doing for forever.

Nope. I don’t. And now I know why. I’m a person who has a brain that’s crammed full of plastic neurons doing highly technical biological sorts of things in a really unique sort of way. (I’ll be learning more about this as I go along. I promise!)

I don’t focus well on one thing at a time, because I have ADHD.

I have occasional panic attacks and freaky mood swings. I have depression sometimes. Other times, well, I’m manic.

Add “mood swings” or specifically the mania part and ADHD, and you will see me, the really active me. And these two things are a part of the larger group of things that make me myself.

So I need to carve out that special niche to have a successful blog huh… HA!!

I am the Great Un-niche-ableMe. You will never catch me, nor will you see me coming. I’m that little ufo disc zooming around those folks and their power pole just there, in their backyard. Wait, it’s the pie tins again!!

I can’t focus on a single thing, establish a niche because I’m not a single niche. My brain doesn’t know that song or the dance. To have a successful blog, a book or even to write a news article or someone else’s copy or content, I’d have to be able to focus on a single topic, at a time! Honestly, this is such a bizarre idea to me.

Oh god. Noway. Not this woman. No wonder I’ve been feeling like you feel when you play that game where you put your forehead on the baseball bat and spin around and around until some random person tells you all to stop and run to the finish line. (I secretly despised everyone who made it before I did, which was exactly the way it was. Just kidding. You’re so serious, aren’t you?)

Ok, so the more I’ve been thinking about it and trying to come up with a niche, which I was sure was Bipolar Disorder, until I couldn’t write my posts because I was trying to niche-it-up so I could build a blogging business the successful way, with a niche… the problem is, was, and always will be… That I’m just not niche-able. Me and ADHD and FM and OA and this and that and Bipolar disorder. Ok, I’m good with that. I have no pre-defined niche! And you know what? I’m finally totally fine with that.

This is who I am. This is the Un-niche-able Me. And this is finally the beginning of my story and of finding my way and living my best life. I’m going to work on figuring things out as I poke holes in what is expected of me, and making my own squares, rectangles, triangles and so on for myself. Want to tag along?

This is my blog. My place to learn and share what I learn. I hope you’ll come back. I’lljust bet, that there are a lot of you out there who are a lot like me. Yeah?

Maybe I can’t write on Bipolar disorder and only on it… so what? Life isn’t ever that tidy. I’m gonna mix it up a little. Do this my way. On my terms. The way life is really lived and the way I really am, and I’m going to do it as…

The Great Un-niche-able Me!

Have a grand T-Day everyone! Please be safe. I’ll be waiting for you on the flip side of the holiday!

Don’t forget to subscribe so you can see where my brain stops next. There are a few things I want to visit (I can organize things a little bit… but I make lots and lots of notes, which I lose, and then find them and tape to the walls, and make piles of them and then, can’t remember what I wrote them down in. These exciting ideas are in a Word document and are in a special secret place where they will be very safe. Wait – where did it go?

Subscribe. And please, share this un-niche-able-ness with others and LEAVE COMMENTS! What do you think about this line of thinking? Can you identify with me? Tell me about it. Tell me about you. Or, drop me a note from the “contact” page.

Again, welcome to The Great Un-niche-able Me!

5-Minutes

5minutes Are you listening? Can you hear me?

I need you to hear me.

I need you to know what I mean when I say, “I just can’t!”

You really need to understand this illness before we talk about, “I just can’t” It will make so much more sense then.

I’ve written about my troubles for years in my paper journals. I’ve always imagined that when I die, one of my family, my kids perhaps, would read them and finally understand me. They would finally understand that I’m not a bad person, a lazy person, or a freeloader.

I’m sick. I’ve always been a sick person.

With technology what it is today, it’s easy to find an informative book that explains what it is to have what I have. I’ve searched YouTube for videos that explain me and have found a few that try to do it and seem to do it well. We’re all different of course so what describes one person may not completely fit me. But if the person watching will just listen, listen and hear the pain and the wrongness of it all.

Wrongness. That’s what it is.

You’d think, maybe this is the child whose rage never seemed to end, a brat that pushed and pushed…. Wouldn’t you like an explanation?

I’d think someone who claims to love me would take a few minutes to watch a 5-minute video, just a five-minute video, to learn about me. Surely, someone, anyone of you must care enough to sit for five-minutes for me? Did you hang out in line for coffee or in line at the grocery store? Is that silly? Have you “liked” any funny pictures or memes today? Did you watch ANY TV? What were you doing on commercials? Why is this so hard for you?

Did you watch the news today or read your Facebook feed? Have you texted anyone or talked on the phone?

Would you think I didn’t love you if I didn’t return your calls or texts for two or three weeks? Would you call and check on me?

How much energy does it take to watch a video?

What are you afraid of?

I’d have thought I’ve shown you enough of what this illness is that you have nothing left to fear.

And yet, you don’t hesitate. You completely stop.

“I don’t have time.”

Will you have time to visit me in the hospital?

I’m not going to try to kill myself just to get your attention. But I can’t promise to do what’s best for me all the time.

Maybe I’ll have to mourn the death of you so that I can learn to live without you. Because you see, I already live like this. You are emotionally unavailable to me. Without “my people” surrounding me in a protective layer of love to cushion me when I fall….

Adults are just like children. We all have a fair expectation of being loved. When that expectation is not met we wither and begin to slip away.

Do you have five-minutes?

I need you to listen to me today.

Just follow the link.

Then maybe we could talk.

I’ve had a thought. I’ve unwillingly learned more about inappropriate relations whether they be physical, racial, or political just watching prime time TV than you’ve learned about me on purpose.

It isn’t rocket science. But it is science. I am sick. Unlike some illnesses like some cancers where the patient may go into remission or finally be overcome by it, my sickness has not given me a moment’s rest.

Sometimes I wish I had an illness you could see so that you would mourn me when I die. But for today, I live as though I’m normal. That’s how you see me. Normal. That’s how I look. This illness is rude beyond anything I’ve ever seen. It grabs hold and never lets you go. It bombards me from within, from where you cannot see. This illness, it stays in the “ON” position from before I was diagnosed until I die.

That’s right. I have it now. You cannot see it. I will die with it.

Would you watch the video?

Or would you rather I had cancer? Then you’d have something you could see.

I’m tired of being unseen for who I am.

Please, are you listening? Can you hear me?

I’m wondering if you’ve ever felt anything like this. This is all true in my life. What about you? If you have known that, I hear you. I will listen to you. I have way more than 5-minutes to give you.

* I had my counselor read this yesterday so that he could see what’s in my brain. I told him I was going to edit it, polish it up before I posted it so it would be clearer in some places. He suggested that I not do that. He felt that letting you see where my brain was at was a place of raw emotion. He urged me to keep the “rawness” in it. So, here it is. Right from my brain and served up to you on a virtual platter.

What My Med Provider Means to Me

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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}