Category Archives: Cancer

Bipolar – Holding Out My Hands

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I’ve been trying to reach a young woman that I am in the same major in at UWT regarding her mental health. To me, it is obvious that she has Bipolar Disorder or something similar. I’ve been in classes with her for three years now. Wow, that’s the entire time that I’ve been going to school there.

I care about this woman and I want to be able to help her understand what’s happening to her. Very often she feels out of control. Outwardly, she’s very loud and emotional. Her emotions are so strong that she disturbs people around her. I really want to get through to her. Our mutual friend knows both our stories and she knows that I’ve been trying to reach her.

We have a friend in common and the three of us have a sort of writers group. We meet one or two times a week after class. I’ve been listening to her and feeling empathic towards her. It hurts me to see her in so much pain, and so confused.

I’ve told her I have Bipolar 1 since last year. It has seemed like she doesn’t understand what I’m telling her when I try to communicate Bipolar to Bipolar… until today. Today I felt that I finally made some headway with her. Our mutual friend agrees.

There were two important things I really wanted to communicate to her and I think I might have gotten through.

  1. You have to work hard to understand this illness and learn how to deal with it. She’s been freaking out about how much we have to do at school. She wants to know how I control it so I can do my school work. Understand, information and planning help me get through.
  2. You have Bipolar Disorder and it will be with you until you die. This is not an illness that you will be healed from. It’s not like the flu in that it runs its course and then it goes away. It isn’t a cold or even cancer which can go into remission. We have ups and downs. Sometimes we do better than other times. Sometimes we’re paralyzed and unable to even breathe. Understand this, you will never be rid of this illness. It will be with you always. You must learn to live with it, understand it and try to use it. Be prepared. Have a safety net. See what I’m doing? You must learn about this illness. It is a beast and you must be brave and face it down.

She asked how I deal with the school work. She and I have a class together and we are both doing an independent study program one on one with the same professor. This professor is amazing. She has high standards and demands a lot of us.

How do I get it done? She’s been feeling so depressed and having such anxiety that she’s struggling to get anything done at all.

There are no simple answers, no quick fixes. Remember what I said.

  1. Learn to understand the beast. Ignorance only makes it worse.
  2. You will have this until you die. Be prepared to deal with it every day. Don’t try to ignore it. Fight it. Then I added a third thing she could do.
  3. Work to master your mind in every way you can. Try mindfulness. I’m trying it. We need every advantage that we can find.

I’ve been dealing with Bipolar Disorder for a long time. I’ve worked a little and a lot and failed and succeeded. I understand the beast and I know what it wants from me. I’m doing okay. I’m able to reach out and teach a fellow sufferer. She is so young. This is so new to her. I think, I hope, that today I was finally able to reach her. I think she is starting to understand that I’ve walked this path for a long time and I might have ideas on how to not crash, on how not to burn.

So today that’s what I want to say. Reach out to others who you identify with. If you can, try to share your experiences and help another person. If you don’t know anyone you in person that you can reach out to try to find someone online to support. If you read someone’s blog and you know they have Bipolar Disorder too, leave them a comment. Say something nice. Encourage them. Let them know they are not alone.

I will continue to reach out to my young friend. I will continue to hope that I can reach her. I will be vulnerable with her so she can see that I understand and that I can stand with her.

Okay. I’m manic. Is it obvious? Feel the pressured speech? See me going on and on? Yeah. Manic.

Be well.

Bipolar Parent – Are they what they seem?

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Now bare with me I’m going to talk about two sets of parents and kids. Let’s begin briefly with my parents and then dive on into what’s happening with my Bipolar family as a direct result.

I was at my parent’s house waiting for my father to re-emerge from the bathroom. There was some discussion of sitting or standing but that’s neither here nor there. See, he falls asleep on the pot. . . .

Later we’re discussing who the woman in the pink coat is in the kitchen. “It’s mom, dad.” “Oh, okay,” he says, “it must be that pink hat.”

Sometimes so lucid. Sometimes not so much so.

I’m ok. I’m as confused by his confusion as I am by my own confusion.

I’m exhausted. I’m starting to sound stupid and I’m repeating myself all the time to my kids. It’s getting mentally and emotionally painful for me to be me because of the stress. I mean, the feeling stupid, the missing my counseling appt. because I overslept (I really need her now), the not knowing what I’ve said to which kid… I’m the Bipolar parent. And I’m so tired. I can sense that the next thing could be to make bad decisions… like when talking with my dad or other family things get confusing and I don’t remember important things. Simple and complex things.

In the past I’ve been on Ritalin when I can’t hold my attention like this. When I’m off trying to do something different in my head than catch my father from sneaking down the hallway without his walker. My brain is trying to process too much. Focus on dad or whatever it is I’m trying to do… stop trying to do both. Woe that I could.

I could pay for the Ritalin myself. I may. I’ll give it one more day and I’ll go get it. I need to be focused for my kid’s sake. I have to help them through this terrible and difficult time. I need to be a strong Bipolar daughter because my brother and mother probably won’t be. I’ll cry. I’ll grieve. I’m not saying that I won’t. But hard things have to be discussed and decided among the adults. Then I come home and explain it to my kids at different times of the day (because of high school verses UWT) what’s going on.

I take it in and am still keeping my head mostly above water because I’m taking my meds. Let me say it again. I’m taking my meds. I think that’s the first thing to go. We forget or we choose to be “bad” just “one” time. Right. Don’t forget. Figure a way out. My way works for me for now. It’s kind of complicated, but it works and I’m in control. No one (especially my kids) ask me if I’ve had my meds today. Though, I may volunteer that I haven’t just for the sake of confession my indiscretion. And I only tell one of my kids.

If I’ve left you confused you know how I am right now. Know what? It’s alright. I’m heading to bed and this can just be confusing as hell and I’ll probably forget by tomorrow.

Good night my Friends

Bipolar – Parenting During Times of Loss

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My father is still with us and for this I am thankful. I dread his passing for where it/he will leave the family… grieving.

Most of my life my father and I fought. Some people somehow missed all that, but it was real we fought all the time. Well, if you can call violence in the air (verbal abuse I guess) as fighting.

Since his diagnosis just a few months ago as having stage 4 cancer that had spread at an alarming rate we have been having weekly and sometimes twice weekly family meals. We meet to celebrate what we have and finally who we are to each other.

Who we are… My brother is seeing me more often now and is noticing I change from week to week. I almost feel like I understand my father’s dementia.

Three months we’ve been fighting insurance to get any of the ADHD medications approved. I’m foggy. I’m distracted. I’m not driving safely. I’m spacy. I need help.

My counselor is taking up the fight for me to find out what is going wrong and how to fix it. She said that I have enough to worry over with my dad being as he is without having something like this complicating and stressing things more. I hope she makes progress.

Bipolar parents during times of grief and loss…. I’m still waiting. It’s getting harder for all of us each day. My mother,  my brother and I and I my three kids. The pain of watching (dad) grandpa go further each week is so hard. But he fights to stay lucid and in good humor and I think he does it for us.

And so as a Bipolar parent beginning to deal with loss and grief all I can tell you is this: at the end of the day, all we have left is family. Make your peace while you can. You never know when that kid or parent or spouse you didn’t tell you love them before they went out to drive someplace never to return to you.

Everything, every trip, every word spoken in spite or anger, every moment of love and kindness, every second before the passing of a Bipolar mom’s father… is stressing me much more than normal. Much. It pierces my brain. How can I help my kids through this and my mother and brother if I cannot think because an insurance keeps denying my medication? It’s very very hard.

Being a mom during the wait for loss is hard. My mouth might say the wrong thing in front of the kids that they aren’t ready to hear. We’re very open about it. We talk about possible ways we think we might react. I think that’s a subconscious effort to prepare us for the future.

For now, we’re working with Hospice and waiting. He can’t be left alone. I think that is the hardest on my son. He doesn’t know what to talk about when he stays with him. I didn’t realize until it was too late how hard it was. He never complained. Unless its about a sister.

May the Schwartz be with you.

Your friend, Robin

Bipolar – Handling an Insane Schedule and Still Having Fun

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I tend to forget a very important fact when I’m busy and especially when I’m going to be driving… I have chronic pain in my back and I tend to forget to take my Oxycodone. Or, if I’m going to be driving, I don’t take it. Late this afternoon I remembered I was in pain (I also take Lyrica for FM and have OA so go figure with all the pain right?), I remembered and I took my pain killer. Quickly I was able to do house work and things I had stopped doing again, like moving around like I’m not a super old and very cranky woman.

I’m not high. Just experiencing less pain. It’s makes such a difference with the Lyrica and Oxy and the anti-inflammatory they have me on for my OA.

Back to the really important stuff: The Magical How to Be Too Busy and Still Have Fun.

Since my last post things have gotten more complicated and because I neglected to take some of my meds as prescribed I started being angry for no good reason and wanting to lash out. Took my meds…. I’m ok now. I can’t stress enough that we have to take our meds. You don’t think you need them? Especially during this next 30 days or so then you are nuts and a dope. Take your meds.

Starting last
Saturday  – Afternoon at my parents just to visit (my dad has stage four cancer and they “say” he has 6 – 12 months left) My brother and I are trying to spend time with them as much as possible.

Sunday (today) – Early family dinner at my parents with Tony and Mat too (my brother and his partner)

Monday – Take Kyle to the bus at 7:50 (the transit bus line stops exactly 8 minutes before our house)
– Take Syd to friend’s house so friend can get Syd to work on time (Kyle and I will be heading to Seattle)
– Pick up kyle at UWT at 11:00
– Arrive at UW medical center to get my new dentures (only Kyle and Syd know I’m getting them now)
– Drive through Seattle/Tacoma traffic through rush hour home. Usually takes 2 to 2.5 hours. Crazy drive. Seatac is almost that far.
– Pick up Sydney at end of bus route at 6:00 or find her a ride home

Tuesday – Sydney Braces for teeth…. orthodontist appt. at 7:50 a.m.
– 3:00 Sydney works till 5
– Kyle school then works till 5
– My brother’s birthday – at Bob’s Burgers (Where everyone will see my new teeth and that I cannot work them very well yet. So funny!)

Wednesday – Pick up “Carol”, my friend for lunch at Seatac during her layover. Actually, I’m picking up Jessica (my other daughter) from the airport and sneaking her home to surprise her sibs. 1:15 p.m.
– 3:00 Sydney works till 5

Thursday – Thanksgiving where I will again try to eat and talk with my new face. I anticipate talking funny for a bit and eating… carefully. lol
– Dinner at my brother and Mat’s at 4:30. It will be a banquet for kings and queens. They always throw amazing parties. The food is amazing. But then, they have lots of money.

Sat – Sun Syd is supposed to work on a project with a girl from school…. only she doesn’t know her sister will be leaving Monday. OMG!

I think those are the highlights. All the while I will be thinking of my dad and how he’s doing. And that the stress of all these secrets is making my brain burn like a torch lighting the way to a wondrous gift: family… and taking my meds as prescribed every day. Even the stupid ones that want to be taken 3 times a day. Uh. Don’t you hate those? Makes me bonkers.

My friend Carol and Jessica are the only ones that know what’s going on. No, Jessica doesn’t know I’m coming to the airport with my face in (dentures, it really changes your face).

Now more how to survive Thanksgiving tips that I use myself:
Play games – I don’t care if they’re card games with others or computer games by yourself. Play something!
Breath – from deep down in the belly when you feel the stress monster coming for you.
Ask for a hug – you don’t even need to say why. Just ask for one… or give one, maybe more than one!
Eat properly, and drink lots of water. No booze. NO BOOZE. Seriously. Don’t drink it.
Get enough sleep.
Smile. Smile for others if you can’t for yourself. Don’t bring your world down to your mood if you’re cranky.
Meditate, pray, be still… recharge yourself. Go to your happy place.
Oh, and do not over eat.

And then the next day will come and what you did the day before will still be with you so make wise choices.

Lastly, if you have a service dog avail them of their services. It’s what you have them for! Mine is sleeping soundly in her place at the foot and her side of my bed. Even with her cone on she knows when I need her. (She had her girl bits removed and wants to lick it too much) So that damn cone  is another stressor for us all. It makes it very difficult to train her with it on.

I’ve taken on a lot this week. I’ve decided I can make it work if I take my time and keep things separated. I believe I can do this. I even have a separate schedule in my desk in my room for Jessica coming. If I mess that up the game will be blown. Normally, I wouldn’t do this much, but Jess and I decided she should come home for a quick visit now and a longer one in December in case something happens with my dad; her grandpa.

She just became a Senior Airman in the USAF. I’m so proud of her! Her new stripes and all that are so cool. I can’t wait to see the picture of her in her blues besides her selfie. lol

And now the test. Can I follow my own plans to succeed? Have I set myself up for a huge fall? I don’t think so. I’m having to focus on others;  always a good thing. Focus. That’s important. I’ve got to stay focused and balanced and ask for help when I need it. Sometimes that’s hard to do.

Let me know how you fair this week my friend. I’ll tell you how I do when I’m through next Monday.

May you escape the nibble of a turkey on the end of your nose. May you eat said turkey instead. May you stuff your bird with stuffing . And may you spend time with loved ones, even if it’s only by phone or Hangout or… thinking of them. A little bit of love goes a long way. May you succeed in all your goals

Ciao,

Robin

Bipolar – Mother and Daughter, I Am Both

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My father has stage four terminal cancer.

He is also an ass.

We’ve been getting along. Mostly because we don’t talk… especially me.

We went to dinner tonight my brother and his partner, the kids and myself, and mom and dad. Dinner was good. Conversation light.

I explained to my mother a few days ago that I wanted to know that my father somehow was proud of me in some way, that he approved of me. She said my kids are terrific, they’re great.

Not what I meant. Me. Myself. I.

I shared at dinner something I thought he might be proud of me about. I found a dog trainer that might help me turn Bailey into more than a pet. That’s always been the plan. I’ve saved up for a trainer to help Bailey and I learn. He thought it was a stupid idea and I can teach her to sit by myself. Then my brother’s partner piped up and offered to give me a book and learn from that. No one wanted to know I was being serious or what I was talking about.

I mentioned she was to be trained more than a pet because she’s a service dog (in training). He laid into me about that too. I was going to do it illegally and I didn’t know what I was doing. I was going to get into trouble.

I tried to explain, calmly I thought, that I know about licensing service dogs in this state and there is no regulation or anything in this state. You can register your service dog, but it isn’t a law. It’s really just cool right?

I might be a little old to want my father’s approval before he leaves us for good… but I don’t think so. It’s always been this way with he and I. He always expects and thinks that I make bad decisions. I don’t know why I open my big mouth and give him the opportunity to emotionally smack me around again.

I was giving up on trying to explain things to him when he piped up and said, “We just have to stop talking now or we’re going to fight.”

Ass hole.

Sorry my friends, but that’s what I think and how I feel. I reach out from time to time. He smacks me back. It’s about time I stopped giving him the opportunity. He’s not even impressed that I have a patent pending. Wow right?

On that note let me sign off by saying I am the inventor of the:

Ice Glove, the only glove that ices your whole hand.  (Patent Pending)

Robin Paterson…. That would be me. ;0)