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!

Causes of bipolar


Alcohol and Bipolar Meds


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

Changes and Triggers

By now I know that major changes in my life can trigger an episode. This is true for everyone who suffers from Bipolar Disorder. Last September I went to Florida to see my daughter for ten days. We spent nearly every day at one of the amusement parks. That plus the flights there and back were major stressors for me. Then just a few days after I got back, I started back to school at the University of Washington at Tacoma. That was another even bigger stressor. I admit, I didn’t do great dealing with the overload and eventually had to start on a chill pill so I could get back to where I could function.

Now I’m taking spring quarter off from school (another stressor) and am looking for a small house to buy closer to town (yet another stressor). I’m hoping that my son will move out when I move (stressor) so that I can just get it all over with at one time.

I’ve been reading one the books on my “Books” page called “The Bipolar Survival Guide” and it reminded me that these types of stressors can lead to episodes. I’ve not only got one stressor, but since my dad passed last year in January it’s been nonstop stress.

How am I doing? I’m listening to my dog and playing more and taking her to the park to walk her with my son, his girlfriend and her dog. I’m sleeping enough. I’m eating okay. I’m trying to eat better. I’m taking my meds on schedule. I’m not doing my usual occasional night of skipping my meds for a night just because I can, because that’s a stupid and risky thing to do. I have some wine in the refrigerator that I will be getting rid of. No more alcohol. I have enough stressors and triggers tapping on my “overload’ button without me purposefully adding more.

How am I doing right now? I want some of that Hersey chocolate frozen pie stuff, that’s how I’m doing.

I really wish I had some!

So now begins the time when I have enough time to realize how stressed I am and actually act stressed. I’m not looking forward to having free time. How’s that for weird?

Bipolar – The blow. . .

There isn’t any good way for me to tell this to you. I can’t think of a single way to soften the blow. . .

The blow. That’s funny. We’ve counted 3 times. Today I found another one. There are 21 medical marijuana shops traveling from my house, down a major arterial into the city,  and ending downtown.

Twenty-one gigantic green pluses (+) all along the road. These mark the blessed spots where the water grows greener. The pot shops.

There are more pot shops in this 5 mile drive than there are coffee shops. I live near Seattle. Go figure.

My Primary Care Provider (read… doctor) has tried to convince me to use the green lung goo for several years. I suppose he feels that Bp 1, OA, FM, anxiety, and ADHD are a bit much to handle. Hmm… and chronic pain from bulging disks and arthritis (specifically in my lower back) and that it might relieve my pain (read “issues”, loving referred to as my “alphabet soup”).

Nah, I don’t think so. I visited an old work friend who has been on the stuff for years (beginning before it was legal here) and I tell you after I visited her and her husband at their multi-generational home… I think not.

That’s a NO.

I’m not going to go into my specific reasons about this issue because I’m only writing to tell you this one immutable fact:


5 miles.

21 pot shops.

Forget my alphabet soup my friend.

That’s a bit too much.



{If you disparage of my use of the term “pot shop”, you are thinking this thing through way too hard.}

Weird Parenting – I’m Eclectic and Bipolar

I’m eclectic… I get it from my brain. Honest.

Back to being a pissy parent. We all have our pissy moments right? Ask your kids. If you allow them to be honest I’d guess they’ll say you are (sometimes). I am. Remember? But what next?

I can’t tell you how to be a great parent. I don’t think there is a cookie cutter version of the “perfect parent”. What I will do is share some of myself and my life; our family life. I’ll share some of the interesting (read… weird) things I’ve done in my journey and efforts to be a great parent. That was always my goal. I never wanted or want to be a good parent. I only and always want to be an excellent, amazing, great parent. That’s all.

One of the things I’ve found to be most interesting and thankfully very workable starts with me. I’m super massively curiously. My kids sometimes think I’m too curious. I want to know all about so many things. As a Bipolar parent this can come in handy. When I’m functioning pretty well (not screaming over “spilt milk”) and can stand on my own and all by myself I love to do weird things with the kids.

We live about an hour from Mt. Rainier National Park. It is an amazing park. I could pick the kids up at school and be up at Paradise in under two hours. We ate lunch or a snack out of the back of the truck (car, after the Explorer was repossessed). The very easiest food for me to pack, and one that doesn’t cost much, was to get a brick of cheese (not a giant one), a tube of summer sausage, crackers, 2 pops for each of us, bottled water, and some candy. Oh, and my pocket knife, to slice the cheese and sausage.

We have been poor, very poor, since any of my kids can remember. I have always hated that and resented everyone, including myself, for it. I never thought it was fair. But that was just how I “felt”. As I learned and grew I’ve come to understand that at this point in life it just is what it is. There isn’t any sense beating myself over the head about it or raging at family members who have $.

The thing was I wanted to find things for us to do as a family. I wanted them to see we are family and we will always be here for each other. I started with the fun things like taking off on spur of the moment wild trips to the mountain. None of their friends could say they did that.

What am I saying to you? I’m saying this: my mind wanders hither and thither all the time. Like Alice said, “I think about 6 impossible things before breakfast.” That’s always been me. I was stuck in depression much of the kids’ childhoods… growing years… before high school. I really fought myself to do the things that I knew were right. Providing a fun and fast trip to get us all outdoors in some of the most beautiful places in the world. (I mean that every place we stopped for pictures or to explore or just anything, that individual spot was fun at that time. That moment.

I’m curious, remember? Shaking off depression and plunging into a floating maniac free fall. Okay. Maybe calling it a rocket which takes off likety-split. The internet was just reaching survivable speeds for mania driven for me. My brain spun and smoked constantly as I devoured every bit of information on anything that caught my fancy… day or night.

This obsession turned out to make our trips interesting as well as fun. Information, you know, the stuff that can grow our brains to be smarter? Yeah, I had a lot of that.

I had just one problem. Only one of my three kids could give a hoot. The one that did wasn’t anywhere near as interested in information as I am and we diverge all the time. But we do both like to learn about things we’re interested in. She reads. Not so with the other two. They saw their out of control mom buy 100’s of books and devour many of them. Books lived in our small duplex more than we people did. They don’t actually like to read just for the love of reading.

Mom has all these books. Many are about how to help myself be successful in life and finances. They saw neither of those oh so important things happen when I brought a new book home or printed reams of information from cool websites. Obviously, books aren’t great. Words aren’t great. They don’t even work. (I’m not really sure what that means, but I think you get my drift.)

My attention wanders constantly. I have ADHD and am Bipolar type 1. My brain hears this instruction incessantly: go… go… go… go… go… GO!!!!

Keeping kids happy… my books did and do help me do that. They give me a place to take my mind to where I can be quite and stop talking for a time. They revel in the silence. Books give me ideas. A LOT of ideas. Running the kids to the mountain is one of my greatest ideas for my young, single mom, Bipolar, ADHD, poor family. We sang. We laughed. We ate fun food. We played in the snow without snow cloths (never enough money to get warm cloths for playing in snow).

I forgot what I was saying again. I started what I want to tell you about in my next letter. Nope, that’s gone too. Hold on… think… relax… switch the TV to mute… I want to tell you more about these sudden trips next time. I’ll tell you about Tarzan yells, deer, mountainside museums, rocks, singing country music, lakes, mud slides and fell trees across the road. And I must not forget the movie in the woods after dark. Cheap, fun, fast trips.

You know what our little trips did for me? I got excited thinking about going, about treating the kids to something terrific. That boosted my morale and pleased me. I even smiled. I miss those trips. Remind me to tell you why we don’t go anymore.

Point? getting my hiney up and doing things just so I could surprise the kids always pulled me up from the darkness. I didn’t have a choice.

Thought followed by action… this is a secret weapon I use as often as I remember to… help me be more like me.

And now I must say good night my friends. I think I’ll play some nature sounds with soft music on YouTube from the playlist I made just for that purpose. Lest you think I need to fill the quite void of no talking I must share with you one more little interesting thing.

Someone in the near area is having a party. The sounds of vehicles on the highway (half a mile away) periodically are drowned by crazy laughing.  Sounds like something from haunted woods. Wish I could make out what they say. Wait… it’s the ass. You know, the ass down the road. The one that resembles a pony. He makes his ass sound. Then the creepy laughing. Then back to the highway. Yeah, TV is getting unmuted.

Till next time… Wait, I thought of something else. Thank you to those of you who have taken time to write notes to me. I love hearing from you. Please write me notes, post comments and even share my letters to you as often as you like. If you’re a parent and Bipolar you and I have a lot in common. So share, comment and tell people you know who might find Redux (this blog) amusing or helpful.

Signing off till next time.


P.S. I didn’t even apologize for jumping around today. I’m not even going to go back and make it more organized. You get the words today the way they prompted me to put them down. Uh… in. In my Chrome. Never mind that. Pass it on my friends. And keep writing.