Finding Purpose with Mental Illness

I’ve spent most of my life trying to survive being myself. My brain and I don’t get along far too often. My mood disorder (Bipolar Disorder) smashes itself against my face driving me ever farther backwards into darkness (depression) and fire (mania/anger/anxiety).

When I was in high school, I honestly believed that I had a specific purpose to fulfill in life. Then I developed post-partum depression after the birth of my first child and my world crashed down around me, rolling ever further away from my control.

My control – It never occurred to me that my brain and I were anything but in my control. As the years passed, I focused more on surviving one week after another, and even one day after another. I focused on raising my kids as a single mother. I couldn’t work. Working was a nightmare that terrified me. I was Mom 24/7. It was what I had to, what I wanted to do. I tried to be the best mom that I could be.

At 56 I’m only now learning how my illness has affected my personality, my social skills, and my parenting. My eldest is 27 and I’ve only just now learned these truths. The sadness that comes with this realization grieves me. It rips open the wound in my heart that I’ve tried to keep taped up all these years… Maybe I wasn’t a good parent after all.

I can’t breathe.

The other day I was listening to the podcast called: “Don’t Keep Your Day Job.” After the host concluded her interview with an author, she summed the discussion by listing some “take-aways.”

Two of those take-aways were:

  1. If there’s a book you need to read and it’s not on the shelf – go write it.
  2. There is only one [me] that can speak in [my] voice. People are drawn to us when we are authentic.

Now that I’ve thought about it for a week these are my responses:

  1. I haven’t been able to find a book on Bipolar Disorder (or any book on mental illness) that meets me where I am. Being manic and having ADHD, I find that DBT and ACT workbooks make me crazy. I want answers. I don’t want more lists of what’s wrong with me.
  2. I want a book that inspires me and helps me navigate the mood bombs that are always all around me.
  3. I want a book that helps me learn to cement my feet to the ground.
  4. Teaches me how to be successful in every area of my life. It seems to me that I should be able to apply success principles to all of me, not just the part of me that wants to be financially successful.
  5. Can self-improvement principles like the ones that Tony Robbins teaches be applied to my illnesses?
  6. Inspire me. Don’t be a Double Debbie Downer.
  7. Show me who I can become. Stop focusing on the negative aspects of my illnesses.
  8. Help me find purpose for my life so that I can focus on the good that I can do rather than the negative that I feel.

Bipolar – Afraid to Complain – What’s Normal?

A few years ago I moved into the city. It’s my first city.

I grew up on a ranch. We had some acreage and there were trails, trees, ponds and streams I played in. To call my dad in for lunch we might have to yell at him far across the way or try to out yell his bulldozer. Honest. Bulldozer.

There are many more reasons like this I could give you as to why I’m so noisy… so very loud – but let me toss out two other ideas and then I’ll explain about being afraid.

Carol Burnett used to do her version of the Tarzan yell on her variety show. At some point when my kids were little I started doing my Tarzan yell out over Alder Lake above Alder Dam. I’d cup my funds around my mouth and cut loose. My voice, my yell, just as loud as it wanted to be, that’s what I let it do.

As loud as I could… I’d yell… I’d echo… louder… louder — RUSH!

Let it all go. Wow –

I’m a self-acknowledged loud person. Yep. Loud. I get excited or angry or whatever, and I’m loud.

Loud seems built into me. It’s a fundamental part of who I am.

WHAT are you talking ABOUT?

Ahh eehhh… I have a serious mood disorder. One might say that at times I have a mood/volume disorder. See?

Angry = loud.

Joyful = loud.

And so on.

Our neighbors, here in my first city, are loud. I mean nearly Tarzan loud ( okay, maybe not that loud). They are on the next street and two houses down but we can hear their music in our living room over the TV.

Tonight I just wanted to sit in my first back yard, in my first house, in my first house and chill. As I sat there I found myself growing angrier and angrier. That bloody music.

When I mix all the bits and thoughts I’ve just mentioned about being loud I stop myself from complaining about this new noise… because what if I’m still loud like that? I have this mood disorder. I’ve always been noisy. Am I allowed to expect others to treat my ears with respect if I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to always do the same?

Damn it Robin, just call the “non-emergency” police number and explain. Okay, you live in a city. Regular moody people can be selfish and rude and loud too, it’s a city.

Woman! Be a good citizen and be willing to stop being afraid to complain.

Complain righteously, be confident, be an equal citizen – get some sleep.

You mean???

Yes. You’re being normal. Complain.

Ahh… finally, it is all quite. Until the next firework goes off.

I’m good.

Good heavens do I like to release my moods with my Tarzan yell… but not in my city. I want to be a good citizen.

Am I being normal? Or really confused?

Fires, Families, Fruit and Little Balls

Hi Friend!

The last few days have been busy and yeah, stressful. Last night I got unreasonably angry. I’m glad that I can finally, usually, recognize runaway moods and pamper them.

Fires

2 nights ago it was warm, finally, so we had all the windows open. As usual I was last to bed, when my abnormally sensitive nose smelled smoke. It was getting worse really fast. I forced my daughter to get up (she hates my “emergencies”) and come smell. Sounds a bit weird, I know.

This time my nearly nose blind kid smelled it too. There was a lot. So we, of course, got a fire scanner app and figured out it was just 2 blocks away.

Families

A week or so, maybe two, my oldest son told us he needs a place to stay. So we invited him to stay with us as long as he needs to. Of course moving our stuff around so he has enough room has made it look like WE just moved in. Ick.

Fruit

Yesterday I had a pretty scary allergic reaction to a banana and 5 strawberries. Which was it? Dunno. Should I have washed the berries. Probably, yes. Am I now allowed to eat fruit home alone? That would be a resounding, NO! Geeze.

My EpiPen refills today. Go figure.

Little Balls

Yesterday Son #1 and I were playing ball with dog #1 (Bailey – oh right. Just one dog!). On his very first throw it went into the neighbors yard. He was not a happy camper.

Having retrieved the ball he tried it again. Ahhh… oops! Over the garbage and recycling bins and the gate and OUT. Out? Out where? Hell if we could find it. 15 minutes later… no ball. He wasn’t exactly chipper at this point. We eventually gave up and got a another spare ball because you know mom always throws them on the roof. Ha, ha.

Snork.

Today Bailey and I went for a walk. We were heading to the fire house to do some rubber-necking when what do you think caught my eye, much farther down the road, yet quite easy to see? That troublesome little ball.

What’s Up?

Self Check – Did I take it all in stride?

I say YES. I changed my behavior when I needed to. I didn’t get hysterical about stuff burning. I laughed when we lost the ball, and when I found it.

Mood Charts

As an afterthought let me mention mood charts or mood journals. I don’t use them. Never have and I’m pretty sure nobody is ever going to convince me to do so.

I do what I just did in this letter to you. I look over a day or a week or whatever and I ask myself, “How have I handled life and the way I’ve lived it?” If I don’t know, I ask somebody close to me.

I have shelter, food, cloths, and so on. I have a family that hasn’t abandoned me. You know what’s the most important thing (or 2) to me right now?

I am (usually) able to LOVE others and I am LEARNING to LOVE MYSELF.

And laughter – find something silly to laugh about. My advise is that you don’t look for it on line. Look for any hint of it in YOUR life.

And don’t forget… look for those little balls.

Why Can’t I Start What I Long to Do? OR Overthinking – How to Stop

Overthinking. Ruminating. Ponder. Muse. Ruminant – to chew the cud.

Meditate. To chew again, over and over. Brood.

Reflect. Contemplate. Excogitate.

Overthink. Ruminate.

As far back as I can remember I’ve been paralyzed by something so strange, so alien to me, that I didn’t recognize it for what it was. When I thought (and still struggle with thinking) that I was a broken failure of a human and didn’t deserve to live because obviously I had no value and had no reason to live. I hated myself.

I thought that this ever so destructive way of thinking was normal. Why?

One of the things I tried to glue my mind together (Not “back” together. It felt as though it never was together.) was by immersing myself in Christianity. I read the Scriptures, attended Bible study, prayer group, youth group, church services, retreats and sang with Christian groups.

This is what I discovered: I was a sinner who couldn’t stop sinning. I hated myself even more because I failed again, over and over. If I was a Christian and was honestly giving myself to God and welcoming the Holy Spirit to dwell within me why couldn’t I obey even the simplest of commands?

There’s much more to this part of my story but for now I want to talk briefly about something I only realized about a month ago… I’m a perfectionist. Or, I have the same weird ways of thinking about myself a perfectionist does. In any case: Overthink.

A few times in my life I’ve been forced by circumstances to begin something and follow through with it. Let me give you an example of something I quit, I never put effort into, and I was humiliated that I didn’t get a blue ribbon even though I never did anything to earn one. We had show horses while I was growing up. We showed Tennessee Walking Horses. My mom and dad showed, and both were pretty good at it. Our trophy and ribbon collection grew and grew. But none of that was any thing I’d earned. I wanted to.

I wanted desperately for people to like me because I was a winner. I was a youth then. I didn’t realize that this wasn’t the way friendship worked. It seemed to me that all the clapping the winner got meant that they were popular, and that people liked them.

I didn’t win. I couldn’t practice because I was afraid, I wouldn’t win. I never won, so I didn’t practice. Umm… Yeah.

Uhh…. Well, sometimes my day (all of our days) can take a drastic turn hard right and change from what I was doing and planned to do, into a smoldering wreck of pulled butt and pain. So… yeah.

My daughter and I just too, my dog Bailey out for a walk. Jessica was going to walk to the store for some groceries and Bailey and I were turning around to walk home.

Then BOOM!

Crossing the street Bailey and I became tangled – and I pulled, maybe even tore my right glute. Yes, that would be my right ass. I struggled .75 miles to get back home. I can hardly move. The nurse on call recommends that if I am unable to get up or down from a chair or walk or bear weight on that leg, that I go to the emergency room. And if all that is the case and I can’t get into the car so Jessica can drive me, if I can’t get in and out safely, then we need to call 911 so they can transport me safely.

Well holy hell!!

Talk to you more soon. Oiy!

Be well, be safe.

Robin

Bipolar – Sudden Emotional Reversal — Thrusters at Max

The day was glorious! Everything was better than I’d imagined.

No, I didn’t fall off the emotion “wagon.”

But I was close. I almost thought about it. I could tell I was crashing like someone running out of a huge rush and it scared me.

I’d been on a long drive and played with my dog without a leash on, a fence to restrict her, or other dogs to act weird. Spending time in our favorite places was amazing.

TRIGGER: She leaves for a two week trip to China on Friday.

TRIGGER: I’ve radically changed my diet and am exercising more… as my body will allow.

TRIGGER: The house is messy and my response is to feel like I’m out of control.

Remember – It isn’t necessary for me to control everything. Stop being so hard on yourself. You’re doing great. Honestly, look at all you’ve been able to teach your counselor about having a daughter (youngest) who is becoming a son.

TRIGGER: Oh heck! Not again! A great day that ended with my feeling a bit of depression stun me.

And then – the time arrived. Would I fully and finally trip the TRIGGER at the end of our day? Jessica was at work by this time.

Decide. What will you do? Last time no one believed it happened. Watch this video. It’s from Friday night. 30 years ago I would have completely last my mind.

Finally, despite all the triggers, I stayed calm. I keep breathing. Take my meds. And document the evidence proving all the naysayers wrong. Lookie, I even drew on the pic.

My intention, is to keep on keeping on.

Nah, not stopping there. While I am able, I will always grow nearer to the best version of myself that I can be. And that, has to happen continuously.

I have Bipolar Disorder, a painful and little understood illness that I will have with me until I am in my grave.

Did you watch the video? There was no screaming or things being thrown. My meds, exercise, physical therapy, dreaming big dreams, family and the zoo (especially Bailey) I was able to pull back from th he edge.

It’s hard for me right now. And yeah, I have to be up and out early tomorrow (Sunday), but it is now around 4:30 a.m.

Now that’s, a TRIGGER!

Be safe. Be well. Make good choices.

And please, leave me a comment or reach out via the Contact page.

Now git!! Go kick that fella before he realizes you’re there. 😏