My Bipolar Brain is the Not the Typical Brain. Is Yours?

Mood swing in 6 minutes

Today began, as most days do, with the Anxiety Monster meeting me as I swung my feet off the bed. So far so good. So far so good, right? Looks sunny outside. Bonus!

I found Jessica eating oatmeal (barf) at the kitchen table, getting ready for work. Immediately I wanted to nag at her. I wanted to ask, beg her to do some of the “very important” things on my “anxiety” list. I started to do that. I wanted to try to “get” her to fix the anxiety-inducing things. Some things on the list are legit, really truly legit I tell you, and the kids (Jessica and Kyle) should do. In my incredibly stressed-out brain, I’m of the opinion that they ought to do them. They don’t.

I honestly don’t want, and I don’t mean, to send any of my kids off and into the world (You know what I mean. For example, going to work.)  after I’ve driven, their stress levels up. I don’t “want” to make them not want to spend time with me. {Maya, was that a double negative? That’s what I was shooting for.} It’s especially important because we actually live together. Like actually in the same house. On the same couch, sharing one bathroom, no personal space type living together. No problem. But still, it’s small enough that even what passes for a “normal” family would get on each other’s nerves. But that’s not my point. 

It is not, it is NOT normal to wake up with the Anxiety Monster sucking on my head, stimulating my brain, and switching on my flight… not fight… just flight response. 

Not normal. Not healthy. 

I have a med provider (a psychiatrist who prescribes my medications) and a counselor who works hard with me to help me be “myself.” In other words, we’re not trying to make me (gasp!) “normal” like everyone else. What we are doing is working every day, every single F’ing day, to help me attain my goals. 

Isn’t that weird? I’m not working to better or fit in with “normal” people. I’m working very hard, when I’m able, to put into place as many things stacked in my favor as I can so that I can meet MY GOALS and have a LIFE. Does that make any sense? 

My life needs to be MY life. Not what other people expect of me. This can be very hard when my thoughts are hammered constantly by emotions that are out of control. A stampede. That’s what it feels like. A stampede rushing at me as I run in circles around it winding myself up tighter and tighter with every uh… wind?  

So much of the time I’m paralyzed with anxiety, fear, depression, hopelessness, anger, etcetera. 

What then? How do I pull up before I smack into the fir trees across the street? Fir trees are very big trees and not something to be casually crashed into. Nope. Not good. So, what did (do) I do? Well, the first thing I did was take my meds. Then I had my ritual coffee with sugar, powdered creamer, and liquid French Vanilla Coffee-mate. 

Next, I ate breakfast – a banana and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with some water. I then headed for the shower. Bringing Bailey (my trusty dog) with me… okay, honestly, she’s just following me because I always give her a Greenie teeth cleaning bone while she’s waiting. Why? Because she’s my emotional support buddy. Also, I’d flip out if she barked and barked while I was in the shower. So, she comes with and gets her Greenie. 

I grabbed the last (ugg!) clean bath towel from the cupboard and threw it over the top of the shower curtain which immediately attacked me (mumble, mumble, mumble words I shouldn’t put in print). So…. Shower? I’m maybe 5’ 3” on a good day when the atmosphere is causing gravity to take it easy and let me stretch a bit. You know, be a little taller. That’s a thing, yeah? {Yes Robin it is a thing and that ¼” can make all of the difference some days! – Maya}

Small bathroom. Dog taking up most of the floor. Shower curtain everywhere but where it should be and… where’s my bathrobe? Not with me, that’s where. 

And then it was lunchtime. 

I can’t tell you that I’ve figured out how to have a better day or how to stop freaking out all the time. I will be honest and tell you that last week my counselor and I did that test thing that indicates loosely what my current emotional state is. You know, am I moody? Anxious? Depressed? 

I passed with flying colors!! Severely depressed and enough anxiety to make me barf. Literally. 

I have ADHD and I have Bipolar Disorder Type 1. We’ve decided that I’m stuck on being manic pretty much all the time. I mean that. I never stop. I might stop talking, sometimes, but my brain is screaming at me whether I’m talking or not. 

Again, how have I made it through this or any other day?  Firstly, I’ve been writing this all day. I set a timer for 15-20 minutes then dash around cleaning the house, doing the dishes, and housey kinds of things. I play a game or read a book (a page or so). Again, the timer is going. Then I write. Rinse. Repeat. Shake it out. Repeat. Do it all again. Kyle came home, and I took a break. Now I’m back at it. 

Am I depressed? Yes. Am I having stress that shouldn’t be found in a “normal” person? Yes. Am I still alive and able to carry on? Right now? Yes. Over the weekend the answer was no. That’s no with all caps: NO!

Some days it just doesn’t seem to matter what I try to tell my little grey cells. Just won’t listen. Reminds me of a kid of any age. Listening might not happen. 

I try to find a way to maintain, but I want more than to just exist. I want it all. Have I worked out how to have it all? It depends upon what I mean by “all” doesn’t it? And when. And what. And other stuff. Okay, it’s all relevant to whatever. I’m here. I’m pretty satisfied – for the moment. 

Viktor’s light is broken again. He’s staring at me. He’s shedding. Molting? No, that’s chickens. Anyway, life goes on. There are things I HAVE to do. The dog needs to toilet. The fish need to be fed. The cats, all four of them, have to eat. I have to eat.….. and so on…. And so forth. 

I can honestly tell you that for me to make it through the day I take it as it comes. Do what I must. Find something to do that I WANT to do. And goof off. Truly. Goofing off really helps. 

I also have taken my meds. That’s extremely important. TAKE MEDS. A few months ago, my psychiatrist told me to “utilize my chill pill.” I was shocked. The clinic has the policy to try to keep people from becoming addicted to benzos, so we’ve been trying to find ways for me to take fewer each month. Now, during these very additionally stressful times, she wants me to take it. I can take it every day. I do take it every day. Still, I struggle. 

If I can keep my eyes from trying to see what the opposite ear is doing, I’m a happy girl. 

What about you? How have you been doing? Can you identify with anything I’ve shared about my day? If you can, I want you to remember always that you are not alone. Never alone. I, we, others just like you and I, we understand. 

The wrap up:

Managed to shower without getting water everywhere! 

Fed animals and so on. 

Um… what else? (This is where I space out and have to reread everything for the eighty-second time.) Skip it. 

Sometimes it’s best to not worry about stuff and move on. So, I’m moving on and I’m sharing pics of Viktor hungry and Viktor’s dinner as it tried to make a break for it! It didn’t make it. Just sayin’. 

Hold on. Tomorrow will be here soon enough. Dang. I’m rambling. 

“Hey, Maya! Can you make this shorter or something?” (Maya is my awesome friend who thinks I’m funny. I’m not sure if that’s funny looking or funny as in laughing. Oh. I guess I might look funny too. I’ll just leave it as she thinks I’m funny but not funny looking. OMG! Just stop!!!)

{“Robin you have a funny looking brain that makes you HaHa funny, just to be clear. Then again mine is a bit funny looking too. hmmm…”}

I hope you have a safe and day and that I’ll talk with you again soon. Please feel free to leave a comment, go to the contact page and email me or share this post. I would love to hear from you.

Robin

Bipolar Carnage – The Aftermath

Since I posted on the third, my brain has imploded. You know how it is. Imagine being on the top bunk of a three-bed bunk bed, in a tree fort, playing on the ladder against the house, running up the giant stack of bales of hay, climbing on the dirt dad just had delivered for the front lawn, you know, fun stuff, and then falling off straight away and landing on your face, the top of your head and your feet all at the same moment. Then, when you get around to it, you open your eyes only to discover that someone is standing on your face while they’re attempting to ascertain if you’re alright because you’re so dirty that they can’t tell which way your face should go. That is what my brain has been doing with all its time.

Fun.

I won’t give you a messy laundry list of my troubles because I don’t think that’s necessary. I do believe it is essential to share a couple of really critical truths that we must all remember even when the you-know-what goes sideways when it hits the fan.

  1. Life rolls along for everyone like the surface of the ocean with ups and downs all the time. Sometimes, those peaks and valleys thrash about much higher and lower for some of us. That is OKAY. We don’t need to punish ourselves for that. We’re not bad people when we become angry or depressed or talk a lot. We are not mean, we are not evil, we are not trying to hurt anyone.
  2. We often are not able to (or equipt to) deal with our emotions and situations that cause them to intensify so when they grow and grow, they eventually reach critical mass and we implode. (Which was my case this time.) What have I learned? Stop punishing myself and blaming others for not rescuing me. It happens. Stuff happens. Reset. Get rest. Recreate. Hit go and begin again. Oh, and maybe cry and scream and barfing might help too. And throw something. But only break things that are yours and don’t cost anything. Seriously.
  3. I realized some time ago that at the top end of mania is anger and then rage. Deep below that dwells depression and anger and then the rage. Why always the rage? That’s how it is for me. I’ve asked several counselors and they seem to see that as well. Have you found that too? When you’re very depressed to you rage at the world because it has abandoned you? Has your world collapsed and left you to die? Tell me. Do you feel the rage too? It’s okay to feel the rage. Would you know it if you’re feeling it? Words. Do you know the words to express it?

I realize that’s only a couple things to think about, but this isn’t a book and a couple things to think about is plenty when your brain is Bipolar. Just considering the idea that I’ve been blaming myself for the way my illness makes me feel has been a bizarre thing to think about. I mean… what the heck am I supposed to do with that? If I were a public speaker, I’d wave at the screen behind me and say something wise like, “Now let’s unpack that…” Sure. I’ll have to think about it longer. That’s the best I can do. I’m still picking my face up.

Wait! I had two very specific moments that set me off into Never Never Land and I was trying to do the same thing both times. It was that CPAP thing. I don’t like things covering my face, blah, blah, so on and so forth…. I just couldn’t do it. I literally ripped it off my face and became hysterical. The first time (I practiced watching TV trying to get used to it) I managed a panicked 20 minutes. The second time I made my kids try it first (they didn’t mind it) and I lasted something like 0 minutes before I ripped it off with the same hysterical glee as the first time. Nope. Not gonna happen. “And I am unanimous in my decision.” (See Are You Being Served, A British comedy show that I think is sooooo funny. You can find it on Amazon Prime via BritBox)

I’m up because my kidneys are suffering a bit from the medication I take for my RA. I can’t take Advil or anything like that because it makes it worse. So, in my infinite wisdom, to get rid of the headache I was giving myself because I was getting myself all wound up, again, I took some Excedrine Migraine (has caffeine) because I really didn’t want to throw up. That’s what that particular sort of headache does to me. The headache goes away, but I’d like to bang my head until I’m asleep before that happens. I mean, we have five or so ice packs and I’ll have them all up and down my back, neck, and head and the headache will still be there. Then heat, gentle stretching, gentle exercise, moving around, walking, etc. Uhhhh. Anyway… (Thinking Carol Burnett at the end of her show… wow, brain, slllooooowww down!!!) (See Taylor Swift’s new song, “You Need To Calm Down.”) Holy cow Batman!!! Someone, take my laptop away!!!

Remember me? Manic … uh …. Mommy??? Lol That’s a Hard Stop. Hard NO. Full Stop. (Did I get any of those right?)

Good morning people. I’ll be sharing the playlist I made to help myself stay afloat during my “time” (honestly, what DO you call it?) with you tomorrow. I think I finally have it the way I want to share it. I’m picky you know. Sometimes. Here, I’m talking with you. Conversation. Not so pucky… picky. ;0) Anyway, I’ll put the link up here tomorrow. It’s already publish under my name on YouTube. (shhh… so is a bunch of junk playlists…) I bet you can’t figure out which one it is.

I promise, it will be here later today… I really should learn not to say things like that.

Bipolar – A Wee Comment On Oxycodone and Other Such Things

Over the last several years doctors have willingly given, even insisted that I let them prescribe Oxycodone for chronic pain. (20mg 3x daily)

It is a completely and commonly known fact that this narcotic is ineffective against chronic pain.

I’m home from my joint replacement surgery. I dislike pain. I have a post-prescription for 5mg of Oxycodone. Surgery was at 12:15 this afternoon. I have just taken two.

I’m a question asker. I ask questions all day and all night. I drive even my lizard, fish, cats and Bailey bonkers with them. Yes, and my family too. So what’s my big question?

QUESTION: If you have fire burning behind your eyes causing the mania and the rage to merge and melt into the endless void of despair… why haven’t you just stopped the pain? Surely with all the meds you take you could have done this so easily. Only 5mg? What’s going on? I thought you were suffering like me.

ANSWER: I didn’t plan the question and I haven’t planned the reply. My answer is simple: I believe there is great purpose for my life. I’m not afraid to be seen, accept when I am, because I’m human. I’m not afraid to teach or lead by example even when it is painful, accept when I am, because I’m human. I’m not afraid to shout down wrong and stand for good and the righteous, accept when I am, because I’m human.

Do you see? My life is and will always be what I make of it. This is the way of things whether Bipolar or not. We are human. We make choices.

Knowing that benzodiazepines and narcotics are black-box meds (THE WILL LIKELY KILL YOU IF TAKEN TOGETHER) I have always chosen not to take them together.

My answer is simple, if a bit wobbly. I’m going to keep going and learning and growing and I’d love it if you came along too. I’d love to get to know you and hear your story.

No, I’m not a doctor or counselor and I have no medical training nor do I claim to be able to heal anyone. But, we all have our unique stories. They’re OUR stories and our stories can’t do quite a lot of things for us.

Time for me to say goodnight friend. If you have a few minutes and would like to say hello you can reach me at: robin.paterson.redux@gmail.com

Be well, Robin

Bipolar – Verbal Dump

megaphone

I have Bipolar Disorder and ADHD. I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder over twenty years ago. At least, that’s about when my brain says it remembers it happening – I’m super reliable when it comes to the passing of time. Umm, no way! Don’t let me tell you otherwise. I was diagnosed as having ADHD only a few years ago.

The other day my mom told me she’d had a major breakthrough in her thinking about ADHD. Apparently, she’d talked to her realtor and she had told him that I have it. I know she shares stuff about my brain (problems) to people in the town/city we live in and with Rhett (the fellow I just mentioned who sells property) who lives in another one.

That’s two.

Back to the breakdown.

I know my mom loves me. She expresses it in a sort of micro-managing way, but she loves me nonetheless.

I’d hate to have had a child like me. How did she not accidentally roll over me in the family car? I would have had a daycare person come take me away. A nanny. Anyway, Rhett told her that he has ADHD too. {Deep sigh coming from my side of the conversation.}

You know how we can look up literally ANYTHING online? I really don’t think she understands that she can Google Bipolar Disorder and ADHD and not have to rely upon the information she can glean from a single person. There are many fantastic sites to visit that contains a lot of very good information on both BD and ADHD.

But, you know what, the idea that she can talk to someone about me, without asking me first, and telling him my very personal business is just bad.

My mom thinks of Rhett as another son. (I have a brother.) She knows more about him than she does about me. Sometimes I discover I have feelings of resentment and anger toward the nice guy. I don’t like feeling that way.

I guess accepting and understanding something about Bipolar Disorder have to continue to wait.

I believe, that if she understood a little about Bipolar Disorder and how I present, we would get along better. We might even want to spend more time together. Maybe she’d trust me more. Forgive me more. I admit, there is much I want to be forgiven for. I think she’s better at letting things go than I am so maybe she doesn’t need to be able to forgive me once she understands I don’t really control myself sometimes.

My experience with Bipolar Disorder is that about 80% of the time I’m manic. All the time I’ve been alive, I’ve been either straight up manic, or in a mixed state featuring the bits that tend to “intensify” my emotions. I’m confused, being depressed while manic.

My most blatantly obvious symptom… I never, ever stop talking. When the rare moment does happen, my friends ask me if I’m okay. I think that even Bailey notices. (Bailey is my support dog. She’s wonderful.)

Bailey is my emergency brake. When I’m frustrated, angry or yelling, she finds me and sits directly facing me, very close, toes to paws, and with her beautiful sad brown eyes and waits for the noise to stop. Honestly, she won’t budge even if I tell her I need to pee. No mercy from my faithful pup.

My chart at the mental health place I go to says that I say I think I’m smarter than they are. My current counselor asked me if I really believe that. Without a pause, I said, “YES.” I reminded him of how they let my stress / anger / mania / and anxiety cause all the suffering I experienced while I was going to school. over the last year, my symptoms intensified, and I broke.

Have you heard the axiom do no harm or through inaction to cause harm?

So, the reality is that they watched and did not intervene. They listened and didn’t reach out to catch me while I fell and fell farther and farther down. If you think about it like that, like what role they played in my unwilling self-destruction, then YES, I think they’re morons and I really am so much smarter than they are. My counselor asked me if I thought I was smarter than he was. I grinned and told him, “that remains to be seen.”

Delusional? Grandiose thoughts? Delusions of grandeur? Or brilliant or very smart? And who’s to judge which is which?

ADHD, Bipolar… Let’s figure it out. I promise I’ll own it.

You have just been exposed to an often irritating and yet integral bit of my brain in all its glory. It’s what I call, “a verbal dump.” My kids prefer saying I barf words. Wait, maybe it was that I vomit words. Well, in any case, it’s not great.

Please write to me or leave a comment. I love hearing from you.

Be well,

Robin / Un-niche-able Me

When Christmas is Gone

Just when I thought no one understood, I saw my dog and kitten sleeping like this.

The kitten had her girl bits taken out and it’s really been hard on her. Bailey, true to her nature, is taking care of Savvy just like she does me.

Instead of asking “where are my people? Who’s going to rescue me?” I’m going to reach out to others more, and be one of their people.