Bipolar – The Diagnosis

This week a situation came up in which I was able to ask each member of my family if any of them have ever tried to learn anything about Bipolar Disorder. Every one of them said, no. I have always been the source of the storms in my family group: parents, brother, and kids. I was always angry or striking out at them (verbally) while in a devastating tsunami of rage. I was unstoppable, and I was very ill. I was a bad child. I constantly fought with my father who had anger demons of his own.

I don’t actually know if learning about BD will enable them to understand me, and even to help me when I’m helpless.

There’s just one problem – Not a single soul on this blue world completely understands Bipolar Disorder. Not one. Even those doctors who are afflicted with the illness do not know precisely how it works or what it is. And the meds I take, almost all of the fine print says it is used for things like seizures and a variety of other things, but not for BD.

Meds for BD are prescribed because the medical community has discovered that in general, some medications seem to help control the symptoms.

Symptoms. This means that the meds are not fixing Bipolar Disorder itself. The meds are just meant to enable us to coexist with other humans.

The fact is that no one understands Bipolar Disorder, not the doctors, researchers, interested persons, or those of us who live with it. You can take a little quiz online that will tell you whether or not you have it (OMG – burn all these quizzes. What? They’re digital? I guess we’ll have to be creative and figure it out.

The reason I’m so irritated and upset about this is because my much younger cousin has been spending gobs more time with my mother than I am. She keeps telling my mom that she has all these mental illnesses. My mother responds with compassion and encouragement. She tries to help her. She spends time with her. A lot of time.

I pointed this out to my mother and she didn’t say anything. The problem is that it’s true. They really haven’t done ANYTHING to try to understand, to keep track of how I’m doing, to be compassionate to ME. It really hurts.

Have you ever experienced something like this?

There are thousands of websites, books, and experts available to people so that they CAN learn about BD, so that they CAN love me despite my extra quirks and behavior that makes them not want to be around me. (This has gotten better, but let’s face it, the BD brain isn’t exactly reliable or dependable.)

I wish, that they would watch a four-minute video or read a nice and short informational page on a website.

I wish.

My mom knows someone better than she knows me. She’s embraced her and is compassionate and supportive of her. She makes excuses for her. She never has done any of that for me. She says that when I was a kid they didn’t know anything about BD so she didn’t know what to do.

“But what about now? 

“Family, I’m 55. Have you ever tried to learn about my illnesses? Ever?”

“No. Well, they didn’t know anything about it back then.”

“Mom, what about now? Today? I still have it. You know I still suffer from it. Why don’t you just Google it or search for a book on Amazon about it?”

I try to ignore the emotional pain that this lack of real love causes me (that’s how it seems to me). The daughter that lives with me has had to learn a little about it because if she didn’t she would have gone crazy. I admit that I’m not the easiest person to live with.

I can only put myself out there hoping that they will demonstrate to me that they love me with the kind of love that refuses to let me go and will do anything it takes to help me. Am I being selfish? Maybe, but I believe that love, well, love does… I don’t know how to say it.

If you have a grasp on how to describe the kind of love I’m trying to explain, please post it in the comments section. I’d love to hear what you have to say about it.

For now, I’m going to go to sleep. Tomorrow is a new day and another day I can work to keep my mental difficulties (read: demons) at bay. I enjoy my work. Once I get going I can work for hours and become completely engrossed in it. But depression has been kicking my legs out from under me this whole week and I have to say that I’d like for it to take a hike now because I’m exhausted and frankly, would rather be manic.

So good night dear Reader. Sleep well.

Bipolar Parent

Greetings friends, how are you doing in these wee hours of Friday morning?

Me? I’ve been both better and worse. Thursday had hours I enjoyed… then it crashed and burned as only the day of a parent can do.

When my three kids were young I had impressed even my ex-mother-in-law (let’s call her Kathy) with how well behaved and just good all around people my children were. Now, we are being stalked by rough and naked emotions that have always existed (that would be me, Bipolar parent) but are now beyond my own mind and have grabbed hold of my youngest.

I thought I was a good person growing up. I felt as though I were a likable person, yet I didn’t have many friends. I was lonely much of the time and kept my own company out on our small ranch with my horse, dogs, cats, chickens, pigs, cows and the occasional ducks.

I was a shit.

Seriously. I was a short, freckled shit. Today my mother and I can look years back and point to much of my careening and completely out of control behavior and emotions and say, “That, that right there!” And recognize it as full on Bipolar Disorder presenting before I even had my drivers license.

In short – I was angry all the time and blamed everyone one else for everything. My depression and anger were crushing me and the only name I could give it was – sin. I was a practicing Christian and all those “evil” emotions were clearly not of God… but that’s a topic for another time.

My youngest and his regular doctor decided that he does not have the highly genetic Bipolar brain that I’m still learning to embrace. Anxiety. Depression. Mania. Mood swings. Irrational behavior. That’s Scott, my “I’m a psych major. I already know how to deal with anger and anxiety.”

Scott is transitioning from my second daughter, Sydney, to my second son, Scott. (Incidentally my father’s name was Scott.) Scott is undergoing hormone treatment. He wasn’t always easy to talk to about things that he felt “attacked” him. Now he’s so much more difficult.

I despair.

He turns 21 this Saturday. He’s angry and bitter and is working so hard to make people not like him that I just want to sit down and breathe like I’m having a baby all the time. He and his wife are both psychology majors who it seems aren’t studying behavior.

Odd.

Scott sounds just like I did. If transitioning changes him into the sex his mind believes him to be, then I will continue to try to learn and gain deeper understanding. However, he’s a grown man (he says) and I expect him to at least respect me.

§ On Father’s Day Scott thanked me for being both his mom and his dad growing up. §

What I will not do is accept from him the same behavior at 21 that I had at 14. He has tools around him to teach him about what’s running loose in his little grey cells. Me – religion, animals, and hypnosis.

The weight of his relentless ill-will and violent anger crushed me at dinner. It was like fighting with my dad, but I was the reasoning one (yeah, no. My dad wasn’t good at being rational when angry either.)

Top the whole bloody mess off with a leaking red cherry on it and you have a self-entitled disrespecting second son.

I’m not having it anymore.

Being a parent with Bipolar is terrifying literally every second of that child’s life for me. With Scott acting like the individual (did I mention pressured speech?) that he clearly isn’t I have no clue how to even begin to help him to stop yelling into my face that I should shut up because I’m not listening.

Huh?

Parenting the twenty-something kid today is a massive challenge for this Bipolar mom. I have been charged with the crime of trying to build good family memories. I have felt despair and anger towards Scott. These are not the memories I want to build. We’re going to work this out, but I realize that I will very possibly react like I have Bipolar Disorder while we do it.

I can do this. I can figure out my part in healing our relationship. Be loving and kind… and forgiving.

However, Scott is a grown man and if he does not have Bipolar Disorder or some other explanation for his behavior, then he’d better watch out. I corralled the three of them through their teens by myself and while not properly medicated for my illness.

Respect me as your mom.

Respect my illness.

Respect yourself and get help if we just can’t talk it out.

I really wanted to go old school, like back to when I was a kid, and wash his mouth out with some nasty bar of soap like Dial or Lava and spank him with a wooden spoon. Two if the first one breaks.

Sigh….. parenting never ends, not really. My mom is still my mom. Who else would she be?

Scott, baby? YOU! It’s time for YOU to shut up and listen.

Bipolar – I Think You Should Take Fewer Pills

I’m going to notify my counselor that I must be rid of my med provider as soon as it can be arranged. I’ve told Arthur, my counselor, that I don’t feel that Jamie (med provider) is working in my best interest. My next appointment with her she started right off by confronting me about what I’d told Arthur. I confessed thit it was true.

It got me no where.

She says that I’m on too many pills and she doesn’t want to add anymore. Apparently, this is her rational for not giving me medication that might actually have helped me.

I’ve been practically begging for something for my anxiety that only get’ s increasingly more consuming with each passing day

This whole school year has been like a nightmare.

She doesn’t want to give me more pills? Bull!! It is not her choice to decide whether what other doctors prescribe me for illnesses she knows even less about than I do.

She has repeatedly used this as an excuse not to give me something that could prevented me from my brake down. I have high cholesterol, my thyroid is out of whack, I have chronic horrible lower back pain, I have FM, RA, OA, a facial tick (probably stress related), PTSD, and have recently been diagnosed with IBS-d. It’s a crap load of stuff, but they have all been dealt with by someone more intelligent than she is.

I’ve asked each and every visit for something to help with the burning anxiety. She refuses. She gives me fewer chill pills.

Does she think I like taking a handful of pills twice a day? Moron.

I’ve finally had a breakdown. I blame her. In December I confessed I’d been having thoughts of harming myself. I’d hidden that for years, but at that point it was too much, and I confessed it.

She did nothing.

If I can’t trust my med provider to guard my mental wellbeing, than who will? There aren’t many options here.

I’ve started to shake, Twitter, and twitch again. I’m graduating today. My anxiety that mixes like a charm with my mania and depression making my constant mixed state even more confusing and painful. It’s too much to handle anymore.

I’m firing her. She truly doesn’t have my best interests in mind. I don’t need one of my medical professionals contributing to my madness. That’s just sick.

Brain Scan

brain This morning I’m going to the hospital for a brain scan. It’s for the facial tic I’ve been having forever and because I’ve been falling asleep suddenly and for no apparent reason. I did a sleep study last year and it came out normal so it isn’t sleep apnea. Between this stuff and my Bipolar, ADHD, PTSD, FM, anxiety, RA, OA, chronic pain and all that malarkey I can tell you with all honesty… I’m a bit MORE anxious than normal. I’ve been trying to get all the mental stuff undercontrol by staying on my meds, going to counseling, learning mindfullness and trying to learn to meditate, but it’s been slow going. Oh, and I’m too heavy for my knees. One has been replaced twice and the other one collapses without warning. I’m pretty sure that’s because of the weight and lack of muscle. I’ve been walking my dog Bailey all summer for 1-2 miles all summer 3-4 times a week and I’ve gained weight. Maybe it’s muscle, maybe not, but it’s more weight.

So I’m having my brain scanned. They have me coming in sleep deprived. That’s fun.

Well, I guess I should get ready to go. Wish me luck. May the force be with us all. ;0)

Bipolar – Secrets

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.

Trying to Listen to My Counselor

I saw my counselor this week. She’s been giving me things to do during the weeks I’m not seeing her. Honestly, I usually forget what to do as soon as I leave. If she gives me a handout I know she’s going to ask me about it the next time I see her. So, I save the handouts to remind me and look at them the day before I see her again. It doesn’t sound like I have a lot of confidence or enthusiasm where she’s concerned does it? I’ve actually asked myself that. Why am I going to see her if I’m not following through with what she’s trying to teach me?

I do try to engage and be present while we’re talking. She hears me say more than I think I’m saying and then she addresses it right them. That’s a good thing, I think. She consistently talks to me about the same things. I think… I can’t remember. That’s the trouble with counseling, I can’t remember what we talked about so while at the time I feel like I’m learning how to change my behavior or how I’m thinking about something for the better it doesn’t last. It’s like a chill pill. You take it and feel great, but when it wears off, it’s just gone.

An epiphany. I remember things when I have an epiphany. Unfortunately, epiphanies don’t usually happen when I’m working with my counselor. Truth be told, they don’t appear often at all.

When I’m getting ready to write my latest blog post I start looking for inspiration, something that I can write about that will encourage and maybe make things better for my reader. What I really need is that elusive epiphany.

I’m sad. I’m sad because I don’t know how to create an epiphany.

Bipolar – Anxiety Rising

(Sept. 04) I’ve been sitting here trying to think of how to begin writing this and I’ve been getting nowhere. School is coming and I’m stressed out about that.

I have tremendous back pain and I go to a pain management doctor for my pain medication. The doctor that I’ve been seeing for like two years has stopped working in pain management and has opened a family practice. She was great. She really worked with me and worked to manage my pain knowing that I have Bipolar Disorder, PTSD, GAD, ADHD and so on. She was the one who prescribed my chill pill (medication anxiety) that I started taking during the school year last year when I had an anxiety meltdown.

The new pain management doctor started out by accusing me of selling my oxycodone and refused to refill my chill pill. I had a prescription of Oxycodone at the pharmacy to pick up which she didn’t take into account. I didn’t do anything wrong. I don’t like her. I don’t trust her with my health. My next visit to her she accused me of breaking my pain management contract by not bringing in the second pain medication I’m on. I was never told to bring the bottle in with me. Oxycodone yes, the other stuff, no.

My back has been bothering me.

My facial tick is back. It comes with anxiety like snow falls in the mountains… when the cold and precipitation is sufficient, the snow comes. Actually the vicious tick came with my beginning to take Gabapentin gain instead of Lyrica (Gabapentin can also be used for anxiety as well as for FM, which is why I tried taking it again).

FAST FORWARD TO TODAY Sept 28

I’ve been taking my chill pill daily. I survived my first day of classes because of the pill. I usually wake up in a cold sweat whenever anything remotely stressful is going to happen during the day. Like, for instance, going back to school.

Anxiety is such a huge part of my being right now that although I’ve lived in my new house for about two months I haven’t been to the grocery store by myself even once. I needed to buy some poetry books from the bookstore about 20 minutes from my house and instead of just going and getting them I called my eldest daughter and bribed her (I’d buy her a book if she’d come with me) to come with me. I just find it stressful to do things alone. I do not have a rational reason. I’ve done all the thinking and reasoning about my anxiety that my counselor and I have come up with and the anxiety does nothing but get worse.

I stopped taking the Gabapentin and the facial tick immediately started going away. When I’m stressed it comes back. I hope it isn’t permanent.

I see my med. Provider (the gal who manages my mental health medications) Sara in the morning. I’m asking her for something to treat the sever anxiety on a long term basis. The chill pill is great but it’s for a crisis and not meant for long-term consumption.

I get so wigged out about things that earlier tonight I already mapped out in my head the route that I would take to get to see Sara and then called my daughter to make sure that I could get to the grocery store from where I was coming from. I’m planning on going to get some milk on my way home in the morning. I need to do it on my own. I think if I have the chill pill I can.

It’s amazing. I wish I could take it all the time. I’ve been having to use it to go to sleep at night. When I don’t take it I’m awake until after 2 or 3 in the morning. Then I wake up sweating. I’ve even resorted to listening to relaxing meditative music/waves on YouTube all night. I found a channel on my TV provider to listen to that works as well called Soundscapes.

The struggle I’m having with anxiety is so severe that I’ve not been willing to blog and that makes me sad. My counselor has put forth the idea that perhaps my mania is manifesting as anxiety and that It’s really part of my Bipolar Disorder. I sort of hope that’s the case. If it is, I’m confident we can deal with it.

Why haven’t I been in to see my med. Provider sooner? She’s been booked. It’s been over a month since I last saw her. I’ve talked to her on the phone and my counselor talked to her on my behalf too.

Hopefully tomorrow I can communicate clearly how absolutely painful this anxiety is. My counselor is supposed to go to that meeting with me. I hope she can actually make it. It would give Sara a clearer picture of what’s going on with me.

Now, I’m going to listen to Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” then I’m going to go to bed. I might read for a few minutes. Maybe one or two. Seriously, that’s as long as I’ll read.

I have high expectations for my visit with Sara and Rebecca (my counselor) in the morning. We got this. I have to believe, we got this.

Bipolar – Dealing with Emotional Pain

Siberia1
There are any number of examples I could talk about concerning dealing with emotional pain. I’ve been going through a lot the last year and a half. This last week was one of the worst weeks that I hope I have for a long time.

I had to put one of my cats to sleep. She had advanced and wide spread cancer and was voiding all over the basement carpet. I was moving to a new home in a week and it just became necessary to quit avoiding it and stop putting off the issue and take responsibility for what I needed to do.

Her name was Siberia and she was our family pet for about 12 years. That’s a long time to bond with anyone, animal or human.

I was expecting to be sad, to cry, and to be upset. I was all of that. Now it’s been more than a week and I was up late last night crying hysterically and saying to my other cat how sorry I was and that I’d killed his friend. It was horrible. I eventually had to take a chill pill because I couldn’t stop myself.

Anyone who has not had a pet won’t understand the loss of a loved companion, but if you have you know what I’m talking about.

Feelings of guilt, denial, anger and depression have plagued me and I’ve wondered if I’m going over the top and am heading for an episode. The truth is, for me right now, I think I’m experiencing normal emotions. It’s hard to tell the difference though isn’t it?

When are my uncontrollable feelings of depression and anger caused by my Bipolar Disorder and when is it just from normal feelings that come after great loss?

I think that it’s hard to tell. It’s new right now so I’m inclined to think I’m feeling normal feelings, but a little deeper than maybe my children are.

I have just moved a few days ago and the stress from that is immense. I’m making sure to take my meds and using my chill pills when I need them. I haven’t been out walking because I’m kind of scared in my new neighborhood and it’s so very hot. Next week I see my counselor. It will be good to talk to her about what I’ve been feeling.

In the meantime, it’s time to try to go to bed. It’s only 81F in here now. At least I’ve stopped sweating for a little while.

Good night Siberia. I love you. I will honor your memory and play with Maks (the other cat) more than I had been doing. I miss you.

Bipolar Stress and a Tick

Barney panties_001

Some days I feel like I’m walking aroud with panties on my head too.

I’ve stated ticking again. Last year I had a facial tick so bad that often I couldn’t be understood. When my kids were around they would sometimes have to interpret for me. It was horrible. We thought at first that it was one of my medications (I take a lot), but we ruled them out.

Eventually I discovered that it was stress causing it. I don’t know what changed, but after reaching a super intense point, it started to go away. One day I realized it was gone.

I decided to take this quarter off from school so we could look for house and because of family matters so I expected my stress level to be lower, so I was surprised when I started ticking again.

I’m afraid that it will worsen. The thought of it terrifies me.

I’ve spent hours upon hours learning about myself and my various illnesses so it frustrating me to have this happen. I thought I was doing better than this.

What to do? I need to stop this before it gets out of control. Besides the changes I’ve just mentioned I have a new counselor too and that causes me stress.

I am often feeling on the edge of anger and depression.

I asked myself what I can do to stop my stress from getting out of control. Here’s my plan.

Ask myself what’s bothering me and why it’s bothering me.

Talk to my counselor for guidance.

Keep taking my chill pills.

Try to do mindfulness and/or meditation.

This last one is key I think.

Perhaps confessing my struggle here will turn out to be cathartic.

I’m going to go back to the basics and evaluate the different areas of my life to see if I can determine if something I’m ignoring is what’s bothering me.

I suspect that adding all the stressors in my life up will show that they are all the problem together and I need to fight back. On my own I’m going to exercise and work my dog more and give mindfulness another try… or maybe meditation a try.

For some reason the thought of mindfulness stresses me. This proves how logical mental illness is. I don’t know much about PTSD but both counsellors think I have it. Perhaps I should look into it too.

I just realized that my son decided to move out about 2 months ago and moved out about three weeks ago. The stress of him moving out is probably impacting me more than I realizing. I have only lived on my own for six months once in the 80s.

Maybe I’m scared of being alone.

Late breaking news – another destabilization – my chronic pain management doctor is moving and handing me off to an associate. There are a lot of deep emotions that go along with chronic pain. The idea that my treatment might change terrifies me.

New counselor, new pain management specialist, living alone. Great.

I can do this.

As always any input or ideas are welcome. I love getting email from you. This would be an especially good time to hear from you my friends.

New Counselor – Full Disclosure

barney in bean cushion_001.JPG

This picture is of Barney, one of my companions growing up. He is clearly focused on what he’s doing.

I met my new counselor today. She seems nice. I said “full disclosure” in the title of this post. By this I mean that she will be reading my posts so she’ll know what’s going on with me. I will have to choose to be confident and not self-edit. I don’t want to only say things that I think will make her think I’m doing well or minimize problems I might have. I offered to my last counselor the chance to read my blog but she didn’t do it. Now that I have someone I’m pretty sure will read it I find myself thinking, “Huh…”

I guess this is like beginning a new chapter in my growth. I hope so. I choose to make it so. She’s going to be giving me homework that I think she’s going to expect me to complete. I’m never good at doing that. I have great grades at school but for work from my counselors never seems to happen. I don’t know why.

My first impression is that she’s smart and seems to listen well and is observant. I think she expects me to respond to our work together with growth and that seems reasonable and desirable to me. I want to grow.

I want to join ancestry.com. I want to have my genes tested and see where my people come from. When I ask my mother and her eldest sister they always say, “Canada.” I’m like but where before that? People came to Canada from someplace else. Oh well. Maybe later.

I’m feeling scattered. I can’t seem to focus my thoughts on what I want to say. I want to work on my book but I as I say, I can’t seem to focus. Oh, I just took my second Ritalin of the day. I should give myself a few minutes don’t you agree? It really makes a difference but it isn’t magic. I like the idea of it magically tightening my mental labor into a focused thingie. But nah, the kind of focus I want is only achieved through effort, determination, and through concentration. I could add a few more words but you get the idea.

Sigh.

I think Barney had the right idea. Time to chill and let my brain reset. Maybe I should work on being mindful again. I’ve done it some in the past and it helped. I don’t know why I stop doing things that are beneficial, but I do.

Focus Robin.