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 – The Truth About Emotions

I have Mixed-State Bipolar Type 1. Last December I finally admitted I was having random urges to seriously hurt myself. Over the years I’ve felt that way a lot. I did finally tell my counselor about it. Now, of course, it is in my records. But I was that scared.

My stress and anxieties have been getting hotter and higher over the last few days. Yesterday my son Kyle had his roommate help him move the rest of his sister (my daughter Jessica) move the rest of her things into my tiny house. I think we’ll be fine together.

The truth about Bipolar Type 1 emotions is their severity and extreme mania. I’m not going to list the details for you right now. I’m just so MAD that a second kid, 22 years, has told me he’s got Bipolar 2 and he has to take drugs for it every day or it would be bad for him and that (and I’m not lying about this part) he was incredibly brilliant and could think of things that no one else could. His Bipolar was a gift and he was embracing it because it does so much for making him creative. He would die if he didn’t take his pills. I swear the boy was telling me he has bipolar and he might have been high.

I, being offended as I was, asked him some more about it. He said that if he didn’t take his two pills a day something bad would happen because you know he gets manic, really revved up, and psychotic too.

With my teeth clenched I instructed him that that didn’t sound like Bipolar Type 1. Oh, did I mention he changed to that after I challenged him on some of his symptoms? Yeah, apparently you can change what type you have depending on who you’re trying to impress.

I’m not having it anymore.

The day before that another 22 something told me she wouldn’t have kids because she wouldn’t want anyone else to come into this world because of her and “have this shit.”  – She knows I have three kids.

Then yesterday those damn little micro “I wanna hurt myself” crappy thoughts started up. I was angry.

Tonight I’m angry again. I’ve been angry all week it seems. I’m angry because of a seemingly small thing. That’s the way it is with Bipolar people… we experience overly intense emotions. Have you ever noticed that?

Well, when the boys moved Jessica’s stuff in someone moved the giant flashlight I take the dog out to do her business at night with. I couldn’t find it. I was immediate, pardon me, pissed. My dog thinks small flashlights are lasers and need to be chased. So, I had to do a small one. Then I found a poo from earlier. Jess marks them for me in various interesting ways. I was picking that up with my whimmpey flashlight, hiding it from Bailey. And then….. I missed where she just went.

I am always the one who steps in it. I have no idea where it is.

Silly reason to be angry? Normally. When I’m acting and feeling what I consider is normal for myself. Tonight. I’m just angry. I did think of hurting myself. Then it was gone, suddenly hiding back into the neurons of my mind.

Exhausting. Extreme emotions are so exhausting.

So that’s the truth, according to Robin, about Bipolar Emotions. They exist. They are mysterious. They don’t always act in ways one would want them to.

Yeah. That’s the troublesome side of the coin. But you know what? There is another side. Maybe another time.

Uniquely Bipolar Me

[I’m putting this in “I” language, but I mean you too.]

For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.
TS Eliot,  Bipolar Disorder

Simply put we don’t really know what causes bipolar, but current science guesses that Bipolar Disorder is caused by a chemical, a biological imbalance in my brain. Every person has a unique brain, but my bipolar brain came with some even more unusual stuff going on. I don’t have a “normal” brain. My brain has been kissed by the divine. (Wouldn’t that be cool!)

There has never been anyone like me and there never will be again. I are uniquely unique. I am special and have extra possibilities to achieve great things. (Delusions of grandeur? I don’t think so. If you google “famous people with bipolar disorder” you will be surprised by the number of people who had/have it.)  All the struggles I have gone through to get to this point have been different than the ones most people go through because of my bipolar. I am a different person than I would be than if I didn’t have bipolar. There is nothing I can do to change this. I will always have a special brain.

All the struggles I have gone through to get to this point have been extraordinary. I can’t help consider it now I wonder what I would be like and how my life would be different if I had not had this disability. But, that’s not how things worked out for me. There is really no point in wishing for a “better” life than I have. That might actually trigger an episode. I’d rather not do that. I have enough stresses in my life right now, I don’t need to add to the list.

My struggles have made me who I am today and now that I’m here I choose to go forward and live my best life. What does that mean and how do I do it? I’m going to spend some time over the next little while exploring these things and share with you my journey as I go through it.

Moving forward is pretty easy to spell out. I must not pretend that I’m normal while I’m in a pretty semi-stable state. I must try to grow and become a better person… to mature, while I have control over my emotional faculties. I am spending time preparing ways to deal with myself when I have an episode. I don’t want to get caught without a plan to fall back on. I know that may sound ridiculous, how can I prepare how to deal with an episode when every single one is different and while in one I generally can’t control my emotions? That’s a good question. I’ll tell you about it next time.  ;0)

I read books on self-improvement and try to learn new things that will help me in my personal and professional life. I try to connect with people who I would avoid when I’m depressed. And I try really hard to relax and have fun!

References:
Causes of bipolar
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bipolar-disorder/basics/causes/con-20027544
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml
http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/public/bipolardisorder/causes.cfm

 

Alcohol and Bipolar Meds

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One of my biggest temptations that can trigger an episode or interfere with the way my medications work is alcohol. Having a drink. It just seems like a nice way to relax at the end of a long day or when I just want to mellow out a little bit more.

While I’m not in the mood for a drink I’m going to think about it. Most if not all of my psychiatric medications warn me not to drink alcohol or use other drugs while taking my prescribed medication. Okay. I’ve been warned. I ignore warnings sometimes. Should I ignore this particular warning?

We desire to have a drink at the end of a stressful day because alcohol is a depressant and we want to chill out.

Fun Fact: People with bipolar disorder are five times more likely to develop alcohol misuse and dependence than the rest of the people around us (the National Institute of Mental Health).

What does that mean, really? It means that alcohol is a leading TRIGGER of depressive episodes if you have bipolar disorder. According to WebMD “The link between bipolar disorder and substance abuse is explosive.”

In my mind, if I’m drinking alcohol and am taking medications that indicate I am NOT to take alcohol while I’m taking them, I’m engaging in substance abuse. Can you see why I look at it that way? Drinking can endanger my life while I’m taking these other medications and disrupt all my efforts to treat my disorder. I’ve worked too hard to reach a place where I mostly feel stable to jeopardize it by drinking a 4-pack of coolers that might easily become another 4-pack.

I realize a 4-pack of coolers isn’t likely to kill me but consider that if I’m depressed and drinking a depressant am I helping myself relax, in my depressed state, or making myself more likely to abuse alcohol while I feel like it’s deadening the stress of my day? When I’m depressed I don’t tend to make good choices. My inhibitions are lowered. I might do things I would otherwise not do. It’s the same for a non-bipolar person, but I’m special. I have all this other stuff going on too. While a person without bipolar disorder may return to normal the day after drinking we have to figure out how to slow down the wheels of our possibly artificially elevated mood phase we’re in and slow back down to a healthy place.

Is it okay to stop taking my meds for a few days and then go drinking and start back on my meds after that? Um, no. Many of the drugs used for bipolar disorder must be ramped up slowly to get to the dosage that is effective for us. It can be dangerous to just stop taking a drug cold turkey and then start back at the high level again. I’m currently taking a medication that I need to be careful not to miss a single dosage.

When I’m struggling with mood instability (which is what it’s all about after all) I’ve found that it’s a pretty simple thing… bipolar disorder and alcohol don’t belong in the same body.

My Favorite Blog

I have a handful of blogs I read each day, blogs which I’m in intrigued or inspired by. My favorite blog at the moment is one by a person who has bipolar disorder, PTSD, and anxiety. I have the same with the added alphabet bits of ADHD. I enjoy the honesty the blog is written with and the story quality it is written with. I don’t necessarily feel inspired and like I’ve had a life changing experience after I’ve read it, but I do feel relaxed, knowing I have a kindred soul out there who is better at expressing herself than I am.

Go see musings of a mad woman to be entertained and perhaps like me, you will find a kindred soul. If you like what you find tell her so. If you don’t, well, click off to someplace else. She understands the etiquette of madness. Enjoy.

Musings of a mad woman