The Great Un-niche-able Me!

Teaching one of our cats to go hiking.

I think I’ve found myself. Sort of.

I have been stuck, stunted, and riven clear off the tracks to the point where I’ve actually spent the spent the night having one of my best inner panic attacks. I haven’t gone through one like that for a while.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot, not about the panic attack per se, but about how I’ve gotten here, to this place where I’m stuck in my head. I have some ideas that I’d like to put into some form of business, but I… well, I feel broken. Still. I have another bachelors degree, and I still feel broken. I might answer that sentence by saying… yes, but you still have no job.

Nope, I don’t. And I don’t plan on having one. I’m going to start another business. Yes, I’ve done this having my own business thing before. And don’t give me grief, I’m in the proud third generation of business owners! I’m just going about it my own ADHD way… my Un-Niche-Able way.

“Fine. Like what? You’ve messed everything else up, what’s it going to be this time? You never settle on just one thing and focus on just that one thing. You’re always going to be a failure. You never finish anything.” Says some of the retarded and self-defeating self-talk I’ve been doing for forever.

Nope. I don’t. And now I know why. I’m a person who has a brain that’s crammed full of plastic neurons doing highly technical biological sorts of things in a really unique sort of way. (I’ll be learning more about this as I go along. I promise!)

I don’t focus well on one thing at a time, because I have ADHD.

I have occasional panic attacks and freaky mood swings. I have depression sometimes. Other times, well, I’m manic.

Add “mood swings” or specifically the mania part and ADHD, and you will see me, the really active me. And these two things are a part of the larger group of things that make me myself.

So I need to carve out that special niche to have a successful blog huh… HA!!

I am the Great Un-niche-ableMe. You will never catch me, nor will you see me coming. I’m that little ufo disc zooming around those folks and their power pole just there, in their backyard. Wait, it’s the pie tins again!!

I can’t focus on a single thing, establish a niche because I’m not a single niche. My brain doesn’t know that song or the dance. To have a successful blog, a book or even to write a news article or someone else’s copy or content, I’d have to be able to focus on a single topic, at a time! Honestly, this is such a bizarre idea to me.

Oh god. Noway. Not this woman. No wonder I’ve been feeling like you feel when you play that game where you put your forehead on the baseball bat and spin around and around until some random person tells you all to stop and run to the finish line. (I secretly despised everyone who made it before I did, which was exactly the way it was. Just kidding. You’re so serious, aren’t you?)

Ok, so the more I’ve been thinking about it and trying to come up with a niche, which I was sure was Bipolar Disorder, until I couldn’t write my posts because I was trying to niche-it-up so I could build a blogging business the successful way, with a niche… the problem is, was, and always will be… That I’m just not niche-able. Me and ADHD and FM and OA and this and that and Bipolar disorder. Ok, I’m good with that. I have no pre-defined niche! And you know what? I’m finally totally fine with that.

This is who I am. This is the Un-niche-able Me. And this is finally the beginning of my story and of finding my way and living my best life. I’m going to work on figuring things out as I poke holes in what is expected of me, and making my own squares, rectangles, triangles and so on for myself. Want to tag along?

This is my blog. My place to learn and share what I learn. I hope you’ll come back. I’lljust bet, that there are a lot of you out there who are a lot like me. Yeah?

Maybe I can’t write on Bipolar disorder and only on it… so what? Life isn’t ever that tidy. I’m gonna mix it up a little. Do this my way. On my terms. The way life is really lived and the way I really am, and I’m going to do it as…

The Great Un-niche-able Me!

Have a grand T-Day everyone! Please be safe. I’ll be waiting for you on the flip side of the holiday!

Don’t forget to subscribe so you can see where my brain stops next. There are a few things I want to visit (I can organize things a little bit… but I make lots and lots of notes, which I lose, and then find them and tape to the walls, and make piles of them and then, can’t remember what I wrote them down in. These exciting ideas are in a Word document and are in a special secret place where they will be very safe. Wait – where did it go?

Subscribe. And please, share this un-niche-able-ness with others and LEAVE COMMENTS! What do you think about this line of thinking? Can you identify with me? Tell me about it. Tell me about you. Or, drop me a note from the “contact” page.

Again, welcome to The Great Un-niche-able Me!

Waking Up Depressed

The sun was up and shining on the wrong side of the house as usual. The sun only ever warmed the living room and kitchen side from sun up to sun down. I swung my legs off the bed began the inevitable. I got dressed and put on my shoes and socks. Bailey studied me lazily. I knew she wouldn’t get out of bed unless she knew I was going to take her outside to do her business.

I sighed, irritated that I’d woken up late. My inner perfectionist was already at work, and I was worse for it. I should have already taken Bailey out and fed her and everyone else. I mentally smacked myself for my indiscretions.

After doing the morning chores, I sat down, and I thought I was attempting to complete an online class that I hoped would move me towards earning an income.

An income. I haven’t had one of those since before I was married, not since 1988. 1988. That’s so long ago.

I feel like a failure again. Always a failure. I took a breath, trying to calm myself, and felt depression flow into my chest. It’s a crappy way to start the day.

Struggling, I remembered I’d fed all the animals, now it was time to take care of myself. I got my pill container and flipped open the lid for today. Dumping them in my hands my heart sunk lower. It looks like I’m an addict. My hands shook as I took my meds. At least today, I remembered them.

I eventually went outside to do some trimming in the garden. It wasn’t raining yet, and the sun was out. My beautiful Bailey was out with me. Oh my god we’re both so fat! I’ve been trying to help us both lose weight, but…well, we’re still working on it. Great. I feel like crap again.

My daughter came home a few hours later. My glum mood had moved on, and I encouraged (read: told) her to come out and work with me. I felt good and my head, my emotions, felt clear, maybe even happy.

The question I have to ask myself is this: What the hell did I do to change from feeling crazy-eyes depressed to happy and joyful? That’s exactly the right question. And can I do it again?

I believe that my poopoo mood changed and lifted me higher because I “acted” like I was happy. I played with the animals. I did some of the work for my online class. I took Bailey for a walk. (When I take her out I use an app that maps our trip and counts the miles and such. If I think we’ve done well, I take a screenshot and send it to my kids and my Mom.

Then I sat my hiney down and did my class. That really felt good.

Now that I’m recalling how bad I felt this morning, I’m beginning to feel like I’m grieving. I think I’m grieving for myself, for all the time I’ve lost standing in the clouds, not functioning like a normal person at all. Maybe I wasted my life. I’m supposed to have all these mental illnesses, but why can’t they cure them or at the very least enable me to act normal.

Normal. That’s a fat laugh.

Uhg! I’m tired. Figuring all this out and, exercising and learning to understand myself… yikes. Maybe I’ll go barf now. What’s tomorrow going to be like? Huh, maybe it will be the way I choose to make it. Chose to make it a good day and it will be a good day? On the other hand… maybe I’ll need to stay in bed. Need. What will I need?

Tomorrow, I think I’ll take more of an active role in my day and use the S.M.A.R.T.

What My Med Provider Means to Me

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I’ve complained about my med providers and their apparent inability to comprehend the word ANXIETY for over a year now. You could assume that I don’t like med providers… that I don’t trust them, that I think they’re stupid. Well, umm, yes, that’s basically how I’ve been feeling. I’ve been living a nightmare that has been driving me downward toward my old companions: anger and rage. It makes me feel like they’re getting out of prison and are moving into the house next to mine. I’ve been really scared that I was about to lose control of my emotions again, and eventually, my mind. It has happened before.

I last week I spoke with my counselor (Lee) before my visit with my med provider (Susan) this week. He thought the Ritalin obviously wasn’t working and that my ADHD was out of control. I allowed myself to interact with him the way I do at home with Jessica. My inability to control things like how fast, how much, and how many topics I covered while speaking certainly indicated that this was true.

<OMG! Alexa is playing music from the 1950’s for me. I LOVE THIS MUSIC!>

I was stunned. ADHD? If he was right, this could change everything about the way I approached my brain. I was told I had ADHD just a few years ago and had never taken the time to learn anything about it. Wow, that wasn’t like me at all. I love research! Following rabbit holes is my favorite pastime!

Anyway, I assumed Susan would look at my chart to see what notes Lee would have put in it before she saw me. Doing that would give her knowledge she should have used to help her understand where I was at and she would have seen what Lee was concerned about. It was an assumption I shouldn’t have made. Apparently, things don’t actually work that way.

Every time I see Susan 12 times a year. Yikes! So many times. One of the first things she asks me is if I feel like… if I FEEL like the Ritalin {1} is helping me focus? Focus? What does that mean? How can I tell it’s working? I can pay attention in class. Is that what she means? My attention is crap at home. I can’t ever do just one thing at a time. I have to leave the commercials in when I watch from the DVR (DISH) so that I can read or research stuff online that they just talked about. Is it working? I suppose so? I always replied that I guessed it did. I guess that was silly of me. I would say that because I had no idea what else to say. If I was a little boy, I could probably mean that I’d slow down and stop bouncing off the walls and maybe stay in my seat. But as an adult… I had no idea what that looked like. If I said the wrong thing, she might mess with my meds and right then, they were treating me okay. I wasn’t raging at anyone that day and I didn’t feel depressed.

After I mentioned what Lee and I had talked about and that he was very concerned she took a minute to read his notes. Suddenly she made a whole new treatment plan. I had been on Lithium when I was first diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder (BD). The first book I read on it was: “An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness” by Kay Redfield Jamison. I was deeply touched. I felt like I understood what she was talking about, like we were kindred spirits, linked through the ether by BD. Jamison was very sick when she was diagnosed.

Let me attempt to generally get right to the point for once. Jamison was placed on Lithium to treat her BD and it worked. So, that’s what I asked to be given. My personal doctor (MD), was the one who initially treated me. He said that Lithium has been around for many years and there is a lot of evidence that it works.

The Lithium worked.

Susan felt that since the Ritalin was obviously not helping me focus. I guess that made her rethink her strategy. She finally agreed that my brain was hopping along on two of four legs. She told me that does think I have ADHD she now believes that I’m far more manic, which was making me act like that bouncy ball they teach kids to sing songs with. Do you know what I mean? It might be too old for some of you. They wanted to teach kids songs so a character on a film or on TV would get you to sing along as it had a bouncing ball hop around on the lyrics so we could see the lyrics while we sang. It was great fun! than anything else. Sure I talk incessantly to Jessica, but my brain was exploding with ideas. It was time to help me continue to be creative, but to control my mania so that I could be productive.

The plan: no more Clonazepam, no more Ritalin. Start Lithium.
*The reason I went off Lithium was that my PC (Primary Care) had been highlighting the dangers of being on Lithium more than he was the benefits of it. It was because of these side effects, that I requested I be put on something else that didn’t have the same drawbacks. Lithium toxicity can occur even at a low dose. While on Lithium, the user has to be closely monitored so that the dose can be adjusted as needed. The symptoms of Lithium toxicity are numerous and I already have several of them for other random reasons. This website lists the long lists of side effects. In addition to these potential problems the user (remember this is me) has to carefully watch their intake of salt, caffeine, and alcohol. And get this… some of the other medications that may interfere with Lithium and increase the risk of toxicity are ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Aleve). Oh, and I can’t leave out this one: acetaminophen (Tylenol). So… yeah. I had a lot of scary reasons to ask to be taken off the drug that was helping me but was also kind of terrifying too. 

Susan believes that this change in medications should make my extreme moods in control much better.

Excuse me? As long as I’ve been seeing the professionals in this clinic, I’ve never had anyone decide to try Lithium again. All this time… lost. Years of feeling my little grey cells melting, running out of my ears. But then again, Lithium toxicity…

I want to be a writer when I grow up. I once heard that writers go through life with their head cocked a bit to the side. I showed Susan a piece of paper that was covered with writing on both sides. It was filled with websites, blogs, and email addresses that I’d created. She studied it for a while. I asked her if I was stupid and delusional to think that I could do all these things and believe that they were not just good ideas, they were great ideas. They were creative ideas. Is my mind actually existing in a consistent state of delusions of grandeur?

Delusions of grandeur. I’ve always been afraid that people would remember that part of the list of symptoms for BD and dismiss me as a kook. Am I brilliant? Or am I bonkers and deluded? I’ve always believed my ideas were great. Yeah. Delusions of grandeur?

She said no. It wasn’t that. Yes, my thoughts are crazy fast, but I am very creative and smart.

Me – creative and smart. OMG!

Of course, now I respect her. She believes in me. She agrees with me that I’m smart and creative. No one has really said that to me. No one has said, “Robin, you’re not delusional. You’re smart. You’re creative. You have good ideas… cleaver… innovative. Don’t worry about being crazy. We just need to slow you down so you can get things done.

Since then, I’ve discovered additional information that indicates that one aspect of BD is the tendency to be super goal oriented. Yep, that’s me. Why haven’t I’ve seen that before?

Watch out! Corner coming!

What are the good things about having BD? I’ll have to think on that for a while.

Go ahead, get mad when the medical professionals don’t seem to be listening. Pester them until they hear you. Then, you listen to them. Work together. Hope that things will finally start to workout. Now that Susan and I are communicating, now that she hears me, we have a new plan. Maybe my mind won’t keep leaving the scene without me.

Yes, it really has done that. We’ve called professional trackers to find it a few times now. It-is-very-embarrassing when your mind is so exposed, so naked.

New plan. New hope.

Bring it! I’m ready.

I’m more than ready –

{1 – Concerta and Ritalin are stimulant medications used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They’re both different brand-name versions of the same drug, called methylphenidate hydrochloride.  https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/concerta-ritalin}

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 – Success

I’ve had a vision stuck in the farthest recesses of my mind that I wanted to graduate from UWT since I was in high school over 35 years ago. I’ve been going to the University of Washington Tacoma for the last three years. Each year my troubled mind kicked and screamed in what seemed like unending sparks burning deeper and more cruelly each quarter. The extremes that my moods spanned mania, anxiety and depression still terrify me like tangible echoes that have not yet faded. But then I’ve not even been graduated for a week yet. I’ve been told I should, that I must stop being so hard on myself. I’ve made the Dean’s List nearly every quarter.

What does all this mean to me? It means that I’m still the same person. I have the same kinds of difficulties. And I can achieve more than I can achieve far more than I imagined possible only 5 years ago.

I ended my journey rough and in a sort of shock. I backed out to handle the stress that passed beyond my endurance.

But… I’d like to share some images of my fanciful trip through my personal looking glass with you. Let’s begin with the end, and then I’ll show you where it all happened (except for panicking at home every day). Please watch my slideshow with me.

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