Bipolar – Afraid to Complain – What’s Normal?

A few years ago I moved into the city. It’s my first city.

I grew up on a ranch. We had some acreage and there were trails, trees, ponds and streams I played in. To call my dad in for lunch we might have to yell at him far across the way or try to out yell his bulldozer. Honest. Bulldozer.

There are many more reasons like this I could give you as to why I’m so noisy… so very loud – but let me toss out two other ideas and then I’ll explain about being afraid.

Carol Burnett used to do her version of the Tarzan yell on her variety show. At some point when my kids were little I started doing my Tarzan yell out over Alder Lake above Alder Dam. I’d cup my funds around my mouth and cut loose. My voice, my yell, just as loud as it wanted to be, that’s what I let it do.

As loud as I could… I’d yell… I’d echo… louder… louder — RUSH!

Let it all go. Wow –

I’m a self-acknowledged loud person. Yep. Loud. I get excited or angry or whatever, and I’m loud.

Loud seems built into me. It’s a fundamental part of who I am.

WHAT are you talking ABOUT?

Ahh eehhh… I have a serious mood disorder. One might say that at times I have a mood/volume disorder. See?

Angry = loud.

Joyful = loud.

And so on.

Our neighbors, here in my first city, are loud. I mean nearly Tarzan loud ( okay, maybe not that loud). They are on the next street and two houses down but we can hear their music in our living room over the TV.

Tonight I just wanted to sit in my first back yard, in my first house, in my first house and chill. As I sat there I found myself growing angrier and angrier. That bloody music.

When I mix all the bits and thoughts I’ve just mentioned about being loud I stop myself from complaining about this new noise… because what if I’m still loud like that? I have this mood disorder. I’ve always been noisy. Am I allowed to expect others to treat my ears with respect if I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to always do the same?

Damn it Robin, just call the “non-emergency” police number and explain. Okay, you live in a city. Regular moody people can be selfish and rude and loud too, it’s a city.

Woman! Be a good citizen and be willing to stop being afraid to complain.

Complain righteously, be confident, be an equal citizen – get some sleep.

You mean???

Yes. You’re being normal. Complain.

Ahh… finally, it is all quite. Until the next firework goes off.

I’m good.

Good heavens do I like to release my moods with my Tarzan yell… but not in my city. I want to be a good citizen.

Am I being normal? Or really confused?

Do They Come from Within?

Friends - Thinking Time?

Siberia, the Cat, is doing all the thinking in this friendship. Course, Bailey was a youg thing back then. Siberia has gone to live with the stars.

I read something in a description of an online course last night that I found both intriguing and disturbing.

“Emotions are something that happens TO us and, therefore, they’re outside of our control.”

Can this be true? I currently understand that Bipolar Disorder is a Mood Disorder and is thought to be caused by something going bonkers in my brain chemistry. And for those of you familiar with Agatha Christie I will say that it is thought that my little gray cells have gone bonkers. Okay, just the “little gray cells” is from Christie, but it’s still awesome.

I’ve been actively discussing my illness with myself since I was initially diagnosed with it in…. ah… before 1992. No, after. I’ll have to look it up. Anyway, it doesn’t matter because I’ve been dealing with myself and all my symptoms since my early teens. (I’ve acknowledged to my dear mom that I understand now what a handful I was and that it was most likely me imagining that I had a rotten life and when my life wasn’t actually rotten. My dad probably had Bipolar Disorder too, that made for frequent fireworks.

Wow. That was that too much? Let’s see if I can make it better –

I grew up in an affluent tourist town nestled in a beautiful harbor in Puget Sound, WA. I didn’t have bling, a rock star car, or cloths to die for. Instead, I had a horse, dogs, cats, acreage, forest, forts, climbing on haystacks, and cops and robbers.

When I was at the age when I should know right from wrong I started misbehaving. Like, misbehaving on purpose. That is, I couldn’t seem to help myself. Much of the time I felt that I was the only right one and that everyone else was wrong. I was always angry, so angry.

My father misbehaved.  Mom suffered in silence. As I’ve said, my symptoms began early and grew worse and worse as the years went on. Is it real? Or is it Memorex? (You’ll just have to Google it.)  {Oh man. I’ll keep working on my pressured writing. These things… they tend to stay around. Do you agree?}

So… maybe that didn’t help. All I’m trying to say is that my pressured speech spills over into my writing and I tend to go on and on and on…. (sorry!) and that some people believe that my emotions are caused by something outside of my body. It happens TO me, not from within me.

Is something being done TO me? This idea is very troubling. Okay, no. It is down-right frightening and deserves to be thought on some more.

You may have noticed that I tend to question everything. I spent about 25 years chasing god just to see if he existed. I didn’t want to spend my life in service to a god that didn’t exist. This was my greatest attempt, at that age and with no knowledge of what was going on, to try to help myself. It didn’t work. Knowledge failed. Prayer failed. Was it I who failed? Exorcism failed.

I admit that there is definitely something wrong with my brain. (Grrrr…. I want to argue about that last sentence – maybe another time.) My moods or my emotions or whatever, whack my thinking around until I make very bad and sometimes dangerous choices. My thinking seems to meander and become clouded. Or, the coals get stirred, and mania sets up house and lights it on fire. Then I’m all ripped me up and anything I do or say will probably smear ash on others.

I’ve been thinking for too long what my next post would be – this wasn’t it. This is the result of what I’ve read and thought about just yesterday and today. I hold these ideas, these issues, in a very important place in my mind and in my life. Beginning to understand some of these things may help me, and I hope you might find help.

I want to learn more clearly what’s really going on with/in us and what WE can do about it. Is there any hope that we will ever feel – normal? Actually, I like to think that “normal” is my being able to be at peace all the time. I believe that there must be a way for us to know peace and even, control ourselves – if we want to.

I plan to toss these ideas around in my next post, but you know how it is – can’t keep my attention from zipping down the crazy rabbit hole every 27 seconds. <wink>

Bipolar Disorder + ADHD = One hell of a busy brain!

ROBIN, slow DOWN!

Don’t tell me what to do!

See ya next time and thanks for staying for a while. Forward me to your friends if you are so inclined or maybe you could sprinkle unicorn sprinkles around. Maybe they can fix something.

Less Stress is Best – For Everyone

In my last post, I shared a laundry list of things I felt were related to times of extended and elevated stress. As a person who has Bipolar 1, I’m acutely sensitive to stress in my environment, my social life, my home life… Well, you get the idea… in my head. You might say, “Robin, everyone experiences stress and might have cause junk to happen to them.” Fair enough.

I can only speak to my own experiences and circumstances as I interpret them. And it isn’t just that. I have to notice them too. Sometimes I get so preoccupied with something that I just don’t see what’s right in front of me.

Let me give you a quick example. I have battled IBS-d since I was married way back in 1989. Of course, it wasn’t a “thing” then. In fact, I never mentioned it to my doctor. There wasn’t a commercial on TV alerting me to the notion that I might have this thing, this real thing, called IBS-d.

Bipolar Disorder is supposed to be a “mood disorder.” Taking that at face value, let’s assume that stress is going to make managing my symptoms (the rolly-polly moods) incredibly more difficult. Let’s also assume that the stress and resulting crushing weight of experiencing increasingly intense stress (wow, too many words!).

Listen, in my experience as a person with Bipolar 1, ADHD and PTSD I can tell you with certainty (you know, because I experienced it and that makes it true) that stress caused me to have IBS-d. How do I know that and didn’t I notice myself making fun of myself just one sentence ago? Sure, I noticed. We’re talking about subjective emotions though. Think of it like that pain chart they use in the ER at any hospital in the US. “Rate your pain. Which smiley face??”

Seriously? You’re going to treat me based upon what I think my smiley face ought to be?

How are you feeling today Robin?
“My anxiety feels like it’s crushing me. I can’t sleep or think. I’ve started waking up violently angry. I’ve started yelling again and throwing things. I just can’t get it all to stop!”
Have you been able to focus?

Excuse me?

I graduated in June of last year (2018) and within two months of that time, my “IBS-d” disappeared. Creepy right? I know! Like aliens…

Alien, nigthmare, spirit...
Creepy… I think that guy might have had some comet!

Seriously though, haven’t had a blackout or eaten Comet since then. Well, I think there was one more blackout… but my memory can be sketchy at times so yes? No? Beats me.

We’re talking about emotions.

Emotions are NOT measured by drug tests.
Emotions cannot be quantified by subjective human talk therapy.
I can’t even relate to you my emotions so that you’ll understand what I mean.
In every single college class I’ve been in when the professor asks for opinions or invites discussion, no one ever agrees with everyone (sometimes anyone) across the board. Nope. Nadda.

Does this seem like a jumble? Am I talking about IBS-d or how to describe emotions? Actually, what am I talking about? Have I lost focus?

No, I haven’t. Not this time.

I no longer have any symptoms of IBS-d.

Is everything else better? Oh hell no! But, I’ll take this victory and I’ll hold onto it because I’m not locked in my house 24/7 every day anymore.

At least… not right now.

Bipolar – Verbal Dump

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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

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}