Category Archives: Bipolar Sufferers

Bipolar – Secrets

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secretsIf I were to describe depression using a color, I would say it is black. Red would fit nicely with the mania and perhaps green or yellow might be anxiety. It would be nice if things were distinct like that so that I could easily identify how I’m doing. It might even be nice for those who are part of my support system to see those colors so they can know how I’m doing. It would be easier than trying to explain how I am when I can barely breathe.

Speaking of people in my support system, sometimes there are thoughts or moods or things I’ve done or thought about doing that I am afraid to speak of, things I think are better left never spoken of.

I try not to think about those things or those thoughts. They bring with them pain and even humiliation.

I would not want my family to know parts of the person I was during some of my manic times. They are not aware of some of the more horrific behaviors that I experienced.

As much as I don’t want to revisit these horrible moments in my past I can’t help but wonder if they now contribute to the over state of anxiety that lives with me each moment of my day.

The tick I developed as a result of medication(s) I was taking seems nearly gone with one major exception: whenever I am in anyway anxious it comes back and I can hardly talk. It seems to those I’m talking to to be a violent case of stuttering, only I know it isn’t. I feel embarrassed when it overwhelms me. No matter how much I try to relax when it starts, the only way I can stop it is to remove myself from the situation or to stop talking. Imagine yourself working with your physical therapist and trying to explain how your therapy at home has been going and suddenly not being able to talk.

Is it possible that dealing with some of the long-buried moments of horror might enable me to experience less overall anxiety? In my current state, I must say “no” because to deal with those secret things terrifies me far too much. I hope that I can use the tools I’m learning to deal with these hidden anxieties. I hope I can use them by myself to find healing from my past. If I can’t do it myself, I hope one day to be able to deal with them working with someone who can help me walk through them.

Today, that’s what I’m choosing to believe: I can deal with them myself. Just because I’ve got a mental illness or three doesn’t mean I must air all my dirty laundry. Some of it I must learn to deal with on my own.

Some secrets… I choose to remain as secrets.

Bipolar – A Letter to TB

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I wrote this in response to another blogger’s post one day several weeks ago. I wanted to share it with you. I could have easily have written it to myself… Maybe I did…

Dear TB,
Anxiety is like a beast that has pounced
and has its claws plunged clean through you.
Believe me when I say that the claws can be removed.
It is slow and painful, but it can be done.
The depression you feel is real
and can be a killer.
Do not give in to it. Fight back.
Talk to your people, take your meds,
eat well and try to do something you enjoy.
Can you sleep? Do it.
Try to be with people. Safe people.
Keep p0sting on your blog.
There are many who listen to you,
many who identify with your pain.
People care what happens to you
though they don’t know who you really are.
They care about what you do next.
You talk about not wanting to live.
As you fight and fight and fight it will get better.
It will take time, but you can survive.
I can tell you from my own experience
That the anxiety you feel can lessen.
you can settle down and know peace
it’s true. You can pull the claws out
and you can heal.
Be patient.
It will take time.
Robin

Bipolar – Learning to Live with Anxiety

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Bipolar anxiety is no joke. I already live with a wicked mix of depression and mania and when you add to that general anxiety, well, I feel like I might just be out of luck. I was. For several months the pressure in my brain was so bad that I could hardly talk. I couldn’t get myself to go to the new grocery store near the house I’d just moved into by myself. Week after week I convinced my kids to go to the store with me even though we didn’t live together.

It couldn’t last forever. I knew I’d have to go to the store alone one day soon. None of the counseling was helping. I was walking and playing with my dog. That wasn’t helping. I was eating and cut caffeine out of my diet. Nothing. I took all my meds as prescribed every single day and I stopped taking my Ritalin—just in case it made some small difference. I started trying to meditate and practice mindfulness to no avail.

If you feel like you’re holding on for dear life… you are. Don’t let go. It can get better.

I was at the point where I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. I was overcome with despair.

I started taking Gabapentin and my symptoms got worse. My face developed Turrets like symptoms. They were violent and I was biting my tongue and cheeks. I couldn’t talk normally. I was scared. I know that ticks caused by medications can quickly become permanent.

I couldn’t get into see my doctor or my med provider. I was starting a new term in college and I was freaking out. I’m still trying to relearn how to learn. I went to community college some 30 years ago. It’s difficult.

I talked with the triage nurse on the phone since I couldn’t get in to talk to anyone. She told me to stop taking the Gabapentin immediately.

Then the med provider told me to take my chill pill twice a day if I needed to and to go back on the Ritalin at least once a day. Slowly, day by day, and doing all the other things I was already doing to help myself, I started to calm down. The Gabapentin scare really freaked me out. I thought I was losing my last hold on reality. I felt like an alien, unable to breathe the air around me.

I suffer from chronic back pain and I’m see a new pain management doctor now. While all this was going on she was treating me like she was going to take away my pain meds because she thought I was abusing them… which I wasn’t. They just counted the pills wrong. Not my fault. That added a massive amount of stress to me too.

Today I go to the grocery store—when I’m totally out of everything, but at least I go. I’m not freaking out about school, not yet anyway. And I’m finally sleeping a little better.

Then I was in a car accident on my way to a school event. Side swiped. My car is totaled. I like my car. It’s a good car. I know I won’t get enough money from the insurance company to get one as good as this one. Stress. Anxiety. Take a pill. Remember what it feels like to calm down. Never abuse my meds. Especially not my chill pill or my pain pills.

It’s time for me to do homework now. I stress and have anxiety over homework. I’ll take a chill pill and wait for it to work before I sit down to do some serious writing.

Anxiety is like a beast that has already pounced and has its claws plunged clean through you. Believe me when I say that the claws can be removed. It is slow and painful, but it can be done. So don’t give up. There’s hope for you too.

Bipolar – Does It Make Me Stupid?

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Stupid chicken

Am I stupid? Or am I just depressed?

Over the years I’ve said that I feel like I’m dumber than I was when I was younger. The older I was getting, the stupider I felt. I was honestly concerned that this was a part of the natural aging process and was happening to me early or a part of Bipolar Disorder. Maybe over time Bipolar Disorder destroyed the brain and I was naturally losing my ability to think because that was something that came with the illness.

Felt.

Years later I learned that the way I felt had nothing to do with my intelligence. I have a mood disorder, not an IQ killer.

I wasn’t becoming mentally challenged. It was all about moods. Not intelligence.

Intelligence.

Mood disorder.

Not the same.

The way I thought about it was with violence. I was so angry and frustrated that I couldn’t think things through. I made bad decision after bad decision. I “felt” stupider. That’s key with our Bipolar Disorder. We can feel stupid. (If you don’t ever feel dumber, you can skip this post.) If you have, keep reading because it is important that you understand what’s going on in your brain.

We have what is known as a mood disorder. That is, we have moods that are extreme and can fluctuate wildly compared to a regular person. Instead of being sad, we become extremely depressed. Instead of being angry, we become enraged. Instead of being excited, we become manic.

These mood fluctuations and extremes impact the way we think. They don’t make us stupid, but we can feel that way. The moods interfere with the way we think.

People tell us to think positively, things will be okay. Unfortunately, the weight of depression can prevent us from feeling like we can think at all, much less think positively.

When I first heard of Tony Robbins, success coach and public speaker, I tried out one of his 30-day programs designed to teach me to be successful. All I had to do was follow the directions spelled out on the card that went with each day and listen to the 30-minute tape that went with it.

The program challenged me to change my thinking. That was the basis of the program, change your thinking to be successful. I was depressed. I didn’t feel like I could do it. So, I quit. I felt like I was too stupid to understand the lessons. That had to be what was wrong. It never occurred to me that my illness could be impacting my ability to think clearly and keeping me from focusing on the lessons and understanding what Mr. Robbins was teaching. I’ve gone back to Mr. Robbins teachings recently and discovered that I understand him just fine. I wasn’t depressed this time. I was able to understand what he taught and use some of the principles he presented.

I’m not stupid.

I have a mood disorder.

If you have a mood disorder, please understand that it does not mean you are dumb.

I don’t know how intelligent you are or are not. I do know that Bipolar Disorder does not make you less intelligent.

Bipolar Disorder does not make you dumb.

It is a mood disorder, not a brain eater.

Preparation for a Bipolar Episode

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I wrote this a few days ago. Today, I’ve just returned from walking my wonderful dog out in the beautiful sunny day and now I’m experiencing a sudden downward swing. Time to see if I can follow my own advice…… Stay tuned….

How can I prepare how to deal with an episode when every single one is different and while in one I generally can’t control my emotions? That’s a good question.

The first thing I’ve done is to make sure I always have enough meds on hand and that the boxes I put them in are always filled. This way when I start not remembering whether or not I’ve taken them I can just look at the box. I take meds in both the morning, afternoon and the evening. I have the most trouble remembering to listen to my alarm reminding me to take my mid-day meds.

Second, I try to live in such a way as to not provoke myself into going bonkers. When I do go off my already teetering rocker I have to fall back on my intellect and take my meds when I’m supposed to. Today I went for a walk in the beautiful sunny weather. 30 minutes later I feel sad.

Third, I tell a safe person what’s happening. I don’t have friends who I can call and tell I’m cracking up. And I’m getting another new counselor (my fifth at this clinic) because this one is retiring so I’m not likely to call her. Besides, even if I did the clinic is so busy I wouldn’t be able to talk to her or get in to see her sooner. So, I can talk to my Mom although sometimes she’s part of the problem. How can I talk to her and it be helpful rather than make things worse? We have a prearranged thing where I get ahold of her and ask if she has some time to listen because I need to dump. Usually this helps take some off the top and I know someone knows I’m having a hard time and that she’ll keep in closer contact with me without bugging me to death.

My three kids are my other safe people. They are all old enough to help walk with me while I’m in a “state”. We talk and they talk back. I usually let them talk to me rather than making them just listen. They usually have good ideas. Mostly, they don’t let me wallow in my own mental and emotional pool of piddle. Sometimes they bully me and sometimes that’s what I need.

Fourth, I give myself some space. I give myself permission to be who I am and accept that I have these times I go through and I also remind myself, if I can, that it will pass. It always passes.

Fifth, I never put myself in a situation where I can injure myself if things really go south. So, no guns or extra meds in the house. I may even have one of my safe people come over and watch me fill my pill boxes. Sometimes I’ll even have them pick up something from the pharmacy for me. They know when I’m depressed, it’s sometimes hard to get myself to do that.

I’m sure there are more but that’s what I can think of for now. I need to call my daughter. Maybe asking about her day will help me be lifted up a bit.

Uniquely Bipolar Me

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[I’m putting this in “I” language, but I mean you too.]

For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.
TS Eliot,  Bipolar Disorder

Simply put we don’t really know what causes bipolar, but current science guesses that Bipolar Disorder is caused by a chemical, a biological imbalance in my brain. Every person has a unique brain, but my bipolar brain came with some even more unusual stuff going on. I don’t have a “normal” brain. My brain has been kissed by the divine. (Wouldn’t that be cool!)

There has never been anyone like me and there never will be again. I are uniquely unique. I am special and have extra possibilities to achieve great things. (Delusions of grandeur? I don’t think so. If you google “famous people with bipolar disorder” you will be surprised by the number of people who had/have it.)  All the struggles I have gone through to get to this point have been different than the ones most people go through because of my bipolar. I am a different person than I would be than if I didn’t have bipolar. There is nothing I can do to change this. I will always have a special brain.

All the struggles I have gone through to get to this point have been extraordinary. I can’t help consider it now I wonder what I would be like and how my life would be different if I had not had this disability. But, that’s not how things worked out for me. There is really no point in wishing for a “better” life than I have. That might actually trigger an episode. I’d rather not do that. I have enough stresses in my life right now, I don’t need to add to the list.

My struggles have made me who I am today and now that I’m here I choose to go forward and live my best life. What does that mean and how do I do it? I’m going to spend some time over the next little while exploring these things and share with you my journey as I go through it.

Moving forward is pretty easy to spell out. I must not pretend that I’m normal while I’m in a pretty semi-stable state. I must try to grow and become a better person… to mature, while I have control over my emotional faculties. I am spending time preparing ways to deal with myself when I have an episode. I don’t want to get caught without a plan to fall back on. I know that may sound ridiculous, how can I prepare how to deal with an episode when every single one is different and while in one I generally can’t control my emotions? That’s a good question. I’ll tell you about it next time.  ;0)

I read books on self-improvement and try to learn new things that will help me in my personal and professional life. I try to connect with people who I would avoid when I’m depressed. And I try really hard to relax and have fun!

References:
Causes of bipolar
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bipolar-disorder/basics/causes/con-20027544
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml
http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/public/bipolardisorder/causes.cfm