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 Mixing Ahead

I’m feeling manic and depressed and distressed and full of anxiety. I hate these feelings. I’m coasting along, knowing these are the better days and I should not waste them. The plan… I have a plan. I have part of a plan.

And my cat is kneading the edge of my blanket that’s sticking out from under my head. OMG! He purrs SO LOUD! – I digress…

I haven’t looked at Facebook for weeks. I want to connect with old friends, but I’m afraid. (This bit is what triggered me) A while back I finally found a friend I’d lost long ago. This friend is doing well. In fact, when I ask how things are going I’m always told that things are perfect. Couldn’t be better. Married the love of their life. I guess I’m happy that things are so perfect for this friend. But I’m not, and it has nothing to do with this stinking sudden mixed episode I’m currently enjoying.

I watched the whole speech given by the student about all the loss and pain that murder by gun has brought us recently. Emma González speech

Then I read about a friend’s dad that went scary nuts at the hospital, and about another friend (about 25 years old) whose grandfather just molested her. You know how family members are often in denial? Grandma denied it and she ended up in jail. I don’t have the details and I don’t care about them because details are not what I’m so freaked out about.

Another friend is excited to not have needed pain meds today and is looking forward to doing chores and growing her eyebrows back in. Then I saw an honestly beautiful painting a dear friend just finished of three burrows… I think it was the burrows that got me.

My mixed state is just like our worlds today. I say “worlds” because we each live in our own little spheres, our worlds. None of them are like another.

There is nothing I can do to influence any of these people’s lives right now. But I’ve been working on influencing mine. I’ve been expressing to you what I’m thinking and feeling right now.

I feel my emotions smoothing out, the peaks aren’t so drastic.

Have you ever tried to listen to music or waterfalls or rain and soft music at night to help you get sleepy? I have. I’ve tried dozens of sounds. I’ve found something that I didn’t even know existed while chasing rabbits on YouTube. It’s a train going down tracks, at a constant speed, with no whistles, no horns, just the steady and almost hypnotic sound of a traveling train.

Wow, thanks for walking with me through that. If the circumstances had been different, well, I’d rather not go there.

I’d like to get my perfect friend to more than tell me we all have our own journeys
we must live. That’s crap. If you have a friend you know is in pain, and you have training in that field and you don’t reach out…. shame….

Shame on me.

Things to do ASAP: call Karen, email Marcella, email School the email, get pic of Bailey, myself and my daughter Jessica with the Easter bunny, clean hardwood floors, throw ball for Bailey on obstacle course, use elliptical, write, do class time in online classes on mindfulness and short story writing… today. If I can get my butt out of bed when the alarm goes off and don’t watch TV I have a good chance of getting it all done. If not, some will roll over into Monday.

And yes, I do sometimes do exactly what I say not to do. I set my bar too bloody high. Yep. I do that… sometimes.

(Written last night at midnight)

The Aftermath of Latuda & Despair

solar flareThe Latuda that was destroying me is gone now, though it has left a lasting mark that lives on within me. It no longer provides mood stabilization for my overloaded brain. The good that it may have done is far outweighed by the damage that it has left behind. Often, I cannot speak for long before I lose the ability to be understood. My speech becomes silenced and my face jerks and spasms as though in pain. Large muscle groups jerk and move without my involvement. It all devastates me. I feel locked inside my body, my brain unable to freely communicate even with those who are closest to me.

I’ve recently come out of a period of not feeling anything but anxiety. My actions indicated that I was depressed, but I didn’t exactly feel depressed. Recently, that has changed.

Last week I crashed. I felt the old familiar feelings and thought things that hadn’t consumed me for some time. I looked at all my pills (I have many) and considered how easy it would be to stop. Just to stop.

But, I didn’t touch them. I called my children and I reached out for help. My girls both came to me and loved me… they helped put away those feelings of purposelessness and thoughts that I have no reason to live.

Why have I not taken all my pills? I have no purpose, no reason to burden those around me. You see, I want to have a purpose. I want my life to matter. While I currently feel I have nothing to offer the world… I think, if I don’t give in to the depression that loves me without reservation, that it might be possible to find that singular purpose that is meant for me.

I suffer from Bipolar Disorder Type 1 with rapid cycling and mixed states. Perhaps I am able to find this ever so small spark of desire to find my purpose because in my manic delusional state sometimes I have delusions of grandeur. Who knows, maybe my periodic delusions will give me my missing purpose. I hope so.

I need a reason to carry on. For now, the love of those who care for me is what I am holding on to. I have to wonder… how long it will be before even that is not enough.

At this moment, I don’t want to die, but I am encompassed by a cloak of useless despair.

I desire purpose. I want inspiration. I resisted the urge to give in and bring this fight to an end. Intellectually, I want my end to be celebrated with the acknowledgment of a fulfillment of purpose and leave an honorable legacy that says my life meant something, that I lived with purpose and left a remarkable mark on my world.

I don’t want to be an unnumbered footmark in the annals of the world, but I can’t seem to master what my brain chemistry is doing to me.

Now, it’s time to start my two-hour ritual of preparing to sleep. Maybe I’ll get lucky and I’ll have a temporary respite and I’ll sleep an emotion free night.

Bipolar – Learning to Live with Anxiety

stocksnap_c6eeaa04cd
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 – Hiding in the Mattress

(Murdoch is the yellow one and Thea is the one cuddling his tummy.)

My daughter and I (she’s 24 and recently separated from the military) just finished driving from Tampa, FL to Seattle, WA. It was a very long drive. Just to test our resilience, we brought her two companions who happen to be cats. He is Murdoch and she is Thea. Along the eleven-day journey we stayed all our nights in Best Western hotels so Jessica could get points and a gift card (cash) for staying with them.

The first night things went well. The cats had behaved in their kennel (both in the same one) the whole drive which we kept short the first day to test how they would behave in the car. Thea used to get sick just going to the vets so we had some concerns.

The second night and all nights after that first drama-less night Murdoch freaked out every time we let him out of the kennel. He would immediately head for the nearest bed and dive behind it and up in it. This wasn’t a problem the first night because he couldn’t get into the box spring. After that first night the story was different.

Did you know some Best Westerns don’t even put a mesh on the bottom of their box spring mattresses? I know that won’t matter to the vast majority of people, but when traveling with frightened cats it matters a great deal. Murdoch would find the nearest box spring and climb right up inside.

Boom! Cat stuck inside the bed. At one hotel we had to get duct tape to patch all the holes that were in the mesh. Just about the whole thing had to be taped to keep him out.

Why was Murdoch behaving in such a strange way? He was scared out of his wits. We had to keep him on a leash on his harness to keep him around and get him to eat and drink. Needless to say he lost weight by the end of the trip. I think it’s safe to say that if cats can be depressed Murdoch was very depressed. He hid in the safest place he could find, inside the box spring. Twice we had to have hotel maintenance lift the mattresses for us so we could fish him out.

What does this have to do with Bipolar? It’s simple really, sometimes I feel just like he did and I try to find a place to hide in the way back corner where I can be lost in the dark and be safe and alone. Ever feel that way?

Like Murdoch, I have people in my life who will find me and pull me out of my dark, “safe”, corner. I’m learning that facing my fears is less costly to me emotionally and mentally than if I ran and hid in the mattress from them.

Murdoch never got over his fears and hid on the whole trip. Now that he’s here in his new home he’s still a fraidy-cat. We thought both cats had gotten out of the apartment, but it turned out they were hiding on the top of the kitchen cabinets. Talk about scaring us!

I’m making it a goal as I approach another quarter at university and settling into my new home in town to try to stay out of the dark places where I can hide.

To be healthy and move forward I need to be able to face daily challenges and disruptions regardless of the size they may be. One way I can face them, is to resist retreating to my hidey-hole which is something I find challenging and sometimes seems impossible.

Today I choose to stay in the light and not run. My daughter’s things arrive tomorrow and she’ll be moving out (she’s been staying with me while waiting for her things to be shipped cross country). I’ll be alone again. I’m trying to get used to being alone after living with others since 1989. I want to hide in the mattress, but I’m going to try really hard not to.

Do you ever feel that way?