Bipolar – Pain – Mental Illness

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Whenever I want to try to help someone understand what I call my “mental pain,” I search other kinds of pain that I’ve experienced that others might identify with. Then I explain how that translates to my mental pain. Of course, it’s different for each of us, and sometimes, it’s even different for me from time to time.

This morning I’m experiencing severe pain in my eyes. I don’t normally feel pain and then think, “Oh, I should use this to explain my mental pain!” But right now, the pain is clawing from the front of my eyeballs through my temples. It’s at an 8 on the pain scale.

I woke up Friday morning and couldn’t see. I closed my eyes, I thought that’s what I was doing, and the pain was, well, blinding. I tried to open them and there was no change. Were they open? Or closed?

I’d started using Restasis almost two months ago and was enjoying moister eyes. I hadn’t realized they had become so uncomfortable. In my panic, I thought that my might eyelids could be stuck to my eyeballs. Was I blind!?

I couldn’t be blind! I couldn’t stand it.

A small flash of reason reached through and I reached for my eyedrops. I’m supposed to use them every few hours throughout the day. I couldn’t find them. I couldn’t see them, and my hand couldn’t find them. Eventually, though I did reach them and squeezed the vial empty into my eyes. It was working! I could see now so I got another vial and did it again. It was getting better. I could see and the pain was lessening.

I can only describe the pain like having sandpaper on the inside of my eyelids. They scraped up and down, again and again. I called my eye doctor six minutes after they opened and was soon being seen. My dry eyes had gone from a .7 (like the California deserts) to a .2 in dryness (like the Atacama Desert, located in Chile, is the driest sandy desert in the world) in dryness.

It occurs to me, as I sit on my couch right now, and wait for the pain in my eyes to subside (this is also new), that this is very much like some of the mental pain I sometimes feel.

How can I explain to someone without a mental illness what the infusion of depression, anxiety, confusion, and panic cause as a sort of mental pain? It hurts. My heavens it hurts so hard. Sometimes I just want it all to stop. It has to stop.

Having this pain in my eyes has made me think about pain and making it stop. Would I be willing to give up my eyes in order to stop this pain if it was to be permanent and get worse and worse? My first response is “no.” But then I realize what I’ve just said. This feeling, this feeling of wanting it to stop no matter what, it’s an illusion that my brain creates when my emotions are desperate for relief.

An illusion? Not an illusion, but subjective. We feel our pain in diverse ways and respond differently too. Can you imagine the pain I’m feeling in my eyes? My pride says you cannot. My suffering is worse than what you can understand. Is this true? Of course it is. Only I understand my personal pain.

Then why should I bother trying to explain what my mental pain is like? Because even if I can’t help someone to fully realize what I’m going through, at the very least it’s a healthy thing for me to do… reach out. And, the person who’s willing to listen is being given the chance to be compassionate. They may not understand what I’m feeling, but maybe they will grow in their ability to be compassionate in the future to others… to me.

My eyes have course sandpaper lining the inside of my eyelids. Every blink feels as though it is ripping more and more of my eye away. I want it to stop.

Do you feel mental and emotional pain? What about physical pain that makes you feel suffering mentally? Do you keep your pain to yourself? Or do you reach out and try to connect with someone who may learn to be compassionate?

Bipolar Parent

Greetings friends, how are you doing in these wee hours of Friday morning?

Me? I’ve been both better and worse. Thursday had hours I enjoyed… then it crashed and burned as only the day of a parent can do.

When my three kids were young I had impressed even my ex-mother-in-law (let’s call her Kathy) with how well behaved and just good all around people my children were. Now, we are being stalked by rough and naked emotions that have always existed (that would be me, Bipolar parent) but are now beyond my own mind and have grabbed hold of my youngest.

I thought I was a good person growing up. I felt as though I were a likable person, yet I didn’t have many friends. I was lonely much of the time and kept my own company out on our small ranch with my horse, dogs, cats, chickens, pigs, cows and the occasional ducks.

I was a shit.

Seriously. I was a short, freckled shit. Today my mother and I can look years back and point to much of my careening and completely out of control behavior and emotions and say, “That, that right there!” And recognize it as full on Bipolar Disorder presenting before I even had my drivers license.

In short – I was angry all the time and blamed everyone one else for everything. My depression and anger were crushing me and the only name I could give it was – sin. I was a practicing Christian and all those “evil” emotions were clearly not of God… but that’s a topic for another time.

My youngest and his regular doctor decided that he does not have the highly genetic Bipolar brain that I’m still learning to embrace. Anxiety. Depression. Mania. Mood swings. Irrational behavior. That’s Scott, my “I’m a psych major. I already know how to deal with anger and anxiety.”

Scott is transitioning from my second daughter, Sydney, to my second son, Scott. (Incidentally my father’s name was Scott.) Scott is undergoing hormone treatment. He wasn’t always easy to talk to about things that he felt “attacked” him. Now he’s so much more difficult.

I despair.

He turns 21 this Saturday. He’s angry and bitter and is working so hard to make people not like him that I just want to sit down and breathe like I’m having a baby all the time. He and his wife are both psychology majors who it seems aren’t studying behavior.

Odd.

Scott sounds just like I did. If transitioning changes him into the sex his mind believes him to be, then I will continue to try to learn and gain deeper understanding. However, he’s a grown man (he says) and I expect him to at least respect me.

§ On Father’s Day Scott thanked me for being both his mom and his dad growing up. §

What I will not do is accept from him the same behavior at 21 that I had at 14. He has tools around him to teach him about what’s running loose in his little grey cells. Me – religion, animals, and hypnosis.

The weight of his relentless ill-will and violent anger crushed me at dinner. It was like fighting with my dad, but I was the reasoning one (yeah, no. My dad wasn’t good at being rational when angry either.)

Top the whole bloody mess off with a leaking red cherry on it and you have a self-entitled disrespecting second son.

I’m not having it anymore.

Being a parent with Bipolar is terrifying literally every second of that child’s life for me. With Scott acting like the individual (did I mention pressured speech?) that he clearly isn’t I have no clue how to even begin to help him to stop yelling into my face that I should shut up because I’m not listening.

Huh?

Parenting the twenty-something kid today is a massive challenge for this Bipolar mom. I have been charged with the crime of trying to build good family memories. I have felt despair and anger towards Scott. These are not the memories I want to build. We’re going to work this out, but I realize that I will very possibly react like I have Bipolar Disorder while we do it.

I can do this. I can figure out my part in healing our relationship. Be loving and kind… and forgiving.

However, Scott is a grown man and if he does not have Bipolar Disorder or some other explanation for his behavior, then he’d better watch out. I corralled the three of them through their teens by myself and while not properly medicated for my illness.

Respect me as your mom.

Respect my illness.

Respect yourself and get help if we just can’t talk it out.

I really wanted to go old school, like back to when I was a kid, and wash his mouth out with some nasty bar of soap like Dial or Lava and spank him with a wooden spoon. Two if the first one breaks.

Sigh….. parenting never ends, not really. My mom is still my mom. Who else would she be?

Scott, baby? YOU! It’s time for YOU to shut up and listen.

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.

Angry, Raging, Bipolar

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I scared the ever living poo out of my fancy beta fish a minute ago. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Victor move so fast! He hid on the bottom and refused to take his dinner from me. All I did was walk up to his tank when he didn’t see me coming.

Fish. I feel rather like a fish.

You’d think we’re fish as much as we’re listened to when time after time we beg for different medication. Something has been going on with me mentally for around 3 or 4 months. I just thought it was growing anxiety because I have one more quarter to go and then I’m finished with school. I’ll need a job. I’ve never been able to hold a job for over a year. Even my own brother had to fire me because of my behavior, and my anger.

I take that back, I have worked for longer. When I worked for myself, I was able to manage to work with the management.

This feeling that’s been growing… I told my family in December that I’d had thoughts of hurting myself, and I honestly was. I’d had those feelings on and off for most of my life. Telling them seemed to help. Maybe it did. I felt that way tonight for about 10 minutes.

Then despair, anxiety, rage. Do these feelings take your face and squeeze it till it aches with the pressure?

Anxiety. It has been growing in my mind like a pustule about to burst black tar all over my mind.

I came to understand yesterday, through thinking over the end of the quarter problems and verbally fighting very loudly with another student – repeatedly, a colonoscopy I had to have two days in a row, a painfully torn fascia in my driving foot in December that is still painful (I’m so sick of this boot thing. It causes a painful lump on my shin bone.), intestinal troubles since Christmas, and runaway away anxiety I continuously tell my med provider about (I even take my counselor with me to make sure she’s listening. Oh yeah, that’s working great.)… I get it. I’m in a rage.

I used to live every day, every moment consumed with rage. I wasn’t a good kid. I wasn’t fun for my family to be around. My mother has finally agreed with me that I was, a terrible child. I was full of hateful and blinding – rage.

I have those feelings again. The ones I fought so ineffectively to be rid of. That consuming anger. I feel like I’m about to blow up on someone who probably did nothing to me. It’s just this thing my brain does sometimes day after day, month after month til years are wasted in fury and hate or like now when I’ve been crying out in fear and pain only to be ignored by those I dutifully trust my life to.

I’m so angry. My mind burns and I want to break things and hit stupid people. But I don’t.

I am often moments from saying things that could get me kicked out of school or arrested. But I don’t.

I’m so tired of fighting all the time. I just want to have a life free of pain. No more arthritis or Fibromyalgia. No more being too big to be healthy. No more chronic back pain. This is no life for me. This isn’t what I signed up for. I’m SO ANGRY! It’s like emotional cancer that manifests in feelings that most people can say they understand, but they don’t. Not really. If you have Bipolar Disorder Type 1 and you have had violent, angry, manic episodes you probably understand.  If not, please don’t give up on me.

Question is: what’s gonna give?

Addendum: Read on, please. This changed everything.

This morning I was listening to a TED Talk called, “the role of human emotions in science and research. Great title, right? Sounds like just what I need. At the end of her story, Ilona Stengel said this: I do not suggest that we should use feelings instead of facts. But I say we should not be afraid of using our feelings to implement and catalyze fact-based science and innovation. Emotions and logic do not oppose each other. They compliment each other. And they reinforce each other. The feeling of being dedicated to something meaningful, of belonging to something bigger, and of being empowered is crucial for creativity and innovation. Whatever you’re working on, make sure that it matters, and take it to your heart as much as you like.” [I’m pretty sure this isn’t a word for exact word match.]

Suddenly I understood. All my life I’ve believed I’ve had a purpose. I thought it was within the church, but I was always told, “No, it’s not time now Robin.” And my heart would be broken and my life stripped of meaning.

I believe without meaning, we relinquish our lives to the feelings I have been feeling. For this moment, I remember the meaning of my life. It will not be easy to follow. It incurs great emotional risk (something people with Bipolar Disorder should try to avoid). But if I can remember it. If I can remember it every moment of every day, I won’t have to rely as much upon others for the stability of my mind. My mind will be fighting my emotions with logic. I’ve done it before and I’ve succeeded. I must try again. My children have left my home. They’re all grown up. That role of the parent is gone. I feel like I have no purpose.

But I do. I do. I’d just been swallowed alive by the vomit of extreme emotions that allowed rage to consume me. For this moment. For this morning. I say no.

She said: “Whatever you’re working on, make sure that it matters, and take it to your heart as much as you like.” I am taking up my mission again. I must. If I don’t, then what’s the point? 

Do you understand?

What’s your mission? Tell me.

Robin

 

 

 

Bipolar – Mental Illness in the News Again

Just yesterday I wrote about violence and mental illness. Today news sources are reporting that the gunman from the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting was mentally ill (I’m going to get to the point and jump over a lot of the details. Go HERE if you want to read the article I am pulling my information from.)  and that the FBI suspected he was mentally ill. We know this because when the gunman went to the FBI complaining that “the U.S. government [was] controlling his mind”, they called police and had him evaluated. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said that “People suffering from mental illness, they’re not problem people…But if they are suffering from mental illness or are on a no-fly list, they flat-out shouldn’t be able to own a handgun or rifle.”

Seriously? Should we expect all doctors to report every patient who is mentally ill to the government and that the government would then seize all their guns? Should we expect that WE will be put on a “no fly” list?

(I encourage you to read yesterday’s post listing some of the more “common” mental illnesses.)

I was going to try to ease into this and make an argument for what I want to say, but I don’t have the time or the patience at this point to do that. So, let me be blunt…

Every person who suffers from mental illness (Eating Disorder) cannot be put on the “no fly” list. If we were, a huge number of Americans would be included. Also, it is a joke to say that anyone with a mental illness shouldn’t own a gun because that would mean that anyone who is depressed or has an eating disorder or ADHD or has anxiety shouldn’t own a gun. Currently there are over 15 million Americans who have sought out professional help for mental illness (ADHD). This number does NOT include the vast number of individuals who suffer from a mental illness (Alcohol/Substance Abuse) and do not seek professional help.

Over and over again mentally ill (Bipolar) are accused of doing evil things… all mentally ill people are labeled together as being problem people. If yesterday’s gunman is mentally ill, then he’s mentally ill. I don’t deny that he may be. Should he have automatically been put on a “no fly” list because he was evaluated for mental illness? Absolutely not, that would just be stupid.

I have to ask, who would be listing these people?

Division. Repression. Persecution.

Race. Social standing. Health.

Here we stand, the United States of America…

I am afraid that if we continue to vilify those with mental health problems we will be creating a modern day witch hunt that goes beyond reason. Doctors, neighbors and family members could be required to report those around them with a mental health issue.

Am I jumping to conclusions? Am I making leaps in logic that are unjustified? Maybe, but then, I’m afraid and fear is a logic killer.

I have Bipolar Disorder, I am afraid, and I fly on planes.

* This blog is not usually about politics. It is about living with mental illness. But, sometimes, you just have to say what’s on your mind.

Bipolar – A Bit of Joy

I think it’s important to break the day up. It’s especially important to change things up when they seem to go on and on without end.

I watch the Ellen Show as often as I can. She makes me laugh. Some of my favorite guests she has on are amazing children. One of these amazing children is a four-year old girl named Brielle. I want to invite you to watch these videos. They’re short. I hope you’ll enjoy Brielle as much as I do. I feel joy when I watch her. I hope you will too.

Bipolar – Danger Signs

solar-flare-1Now that I’m taking 120mg of Latuda again I can consider the signs I was having that I was going into a crisis. I believe it’s important for me, for everyone, to know what happens before we reach a full-blown disaster so we can take precautions and get help early. That said, I recognize that it is often difficult if not impossible to tell when we’re slipping. It’s like standing on a beach when the tide is out. You’re talking to a friend or looking at the beautiful water or a sunset. You’re not paying any attention to your feet, which is unfortunate, because your feet have been slowly sinking into the sand. Now, when you try to move, your feet stick and you fall on your face because you didn’t realize what had been happening while you weren’t paying attention.

The biggest sign that I’m crashing is that I lose my temper violently and in an instant. Most of my life I have been consumed with anger and ill temper. It has kept me from getting to know my family. My father, who is gone now, was as bad tempered and mean with me as I was with him. We reacted to each other like lighter fluid on a bonfire. I believe that he also suffered from Bipolar Disorder.

In addition to a catastrophically hellish temper I was angry all the time. I don’t mean mad. I mean angry like I wanted to hurt someone. My adrenaline was (and is) on all the time. To this day my muscles are hard as rock, cocked as if to lunge into flight or fight. Even after a massage my musculature remains as solid as steel. I never relax.

Over the years I’ve taken medications that cause my face, my jaw in particular, to violently jerk and I can’t talk. I look like I’ve got a massive tick in my face and I sound like I’m hiccupping. Now, when I’m stressed, the tick comes back. As a matter of fact, I’ve been having it happen daily now even during Christmas vacation when I don’t have the pressures of school work. It really frustrates me. It’s so remarkable that people stop talking and stare at my face. It stops conversation dead.

So this time, when my temper soared uncontrollably and I saw my family react to my words as though they’d been slapped, I realized I was in trouble. I thought I was just feeling my temper returning. I felt like I was keeping it under control. I didn’t realize others noticed it until we were celebrating Christmas Day at my brother’s house and I was talking to my daughter and her fiancée when suddenly Sydney stopped short and looked at me as though I’d just stabbed her. I shut my mouth fast. I knew I was in trouble. I had to stop myself from talking the rest of the day unless I was paying attention to what I was saying and how I was saying it.

My med provider and I had a backup plan in place incase reducing my Latuda to 80mg didn’t work. I was to return to the 120mg dosage immediately. So that’s what I did. I couldn’t wait until I was able to get back in to see her in three more weeks. I’m feeling much less volatile now.

I know it is rarely as easy a fix as returning to a medication that I already know works for me. It’s never that easy. This time was an exception for which I am grateful.

We, you and I, impact those around us. Our behavior doesn’t happen in a vacuum. We have a responsibility to control our behavior for our own health and for our family and friends. It’s funny that I say we need to control ourselves because that’s exactly what I’ve never been able to do. Not till I got well medicated.

The take away – be vigilant for signs of crashing. Then take action swiftly.

Bipolar – Anxiety Rules Still

It is a sad fact, to me, that my anxiety is still causing me difficulties with my schoolwork. I have a big exam I’ve been studying for since Friday on Wednesday and as of right now I’m about half ready. That worries me. My brain understands what I’m learning, I’m just not retaining most of the facts I need.

I’ve come a long way writing for school and writing papers of different types this quarter. It doesn’t seem to be as difficult as it was last year thankfully. Now I’m struggling with memorizing facts like what makes up a cell and what each part does or the difference between bones and cartilage and what their (especially bones) structure is made of. You know, all the bloody bits.

I’ve tried going on long walks, playing with my dog, having my one of daughters over for dinner (she cooked this time), and so on. This time I had Jessica (daughter just mentioned) go over my flash cards I meticulously made for the whole exam. I did good on about half of them. The hard half, not so much. She’s gone now and I’m trying to reset my brain. I have a few more hours before bedtime and I’m going to be studying.

Besides struggling with memory work, I’m struggling with writing poems for my poetry class. I tend to write poems based on thoughts and what I think are deep feelings and leave imagery mostly out of it. Of course, imagery is what my professor is looking for. Imagery is an important part of a poem. And yet, as so many others have said, as my Bipolar symptoms have come under control I feel I’ve lost the burning engine that stoked my creative fires so it almost feels like imagery is the least of my worries. And yet, maybe the concrete image is what I need right now.

What is an osteon? In the Haversian system it consists of concentric layers or lamellae.

Something to think about.

Bipolar – Election Panic

depression  I tend to panic about things that aren’t really problems, or at least aren’t problems at the time I’m panicking about them. I have to admit that the election, which is today, has me feeling a bit on edge. Why? There are lots of reasons I can think of but two come to mine right away.

First, I need to have my disability income to continue to come in. I’m talking about SSI and the medical insurance that I receive because I’m officially disabled. I wouldn’t be able to get the care I need if I had to pay for it myself.

Second, I started my day with my youngest daughter texting me that if Trump wins she and her fiancé are going to go to the court house to get married right away before he takes away her right to marry the person that she’s in love with. They were going to wait until both women have graduated college (we all three go to UWT) to tie the knot. She believes if he wins her rights will be taken away, not ensured like they could be in a free nation. I told her that I understand and I think that if that’s what she feels she needs to do, I’ll support them.

This election directly impacts my family more directly than any other election has. I will be watching this evening’s results in my Social Media class tonight. I’ve never watched election coverage of any kind with other people. I don’t know who the others support so it will be interesting to see what happens when we discuss the returns together.

I will go about my day as usual and try not to think about the election. There isn’t anything I can do about it other than vote myself and I did that. Washington State is a mail-in voting state and I mailed mine in as soon as I received it. I had to search for a stamp! I pay all my bills online now so I don’t use the USPS and so I don’t usually need any stamps.

I hope if you feel anxiety about the election that you’ve exercised your right and voted. If you’re still feeling anxiety about it, please take care of yourself and recognize that it’s okay if you feel that way. A lot of people who don’t suffer from mental illness feel the same way.

I’m going to do my homework and go to class as usual. I think I’ll try to get ahead on my homework and work on a paper that’s due next Monday.

The weather here is unusually nice today for a November day in Washington State so I think I’ll take my buddy Bailey for a walk. I’ll try to give myself time to write so I can meet my NaNoWriMo goal for today’s word count.

Yesterday on the way home from my classes I made a mistake and went grocery shopping while I was hungry and bought food that I don’t need to eat like powdered donuts. Yeah, I don’t need donuts. Well, I have three kids and I’m sure they will welcome some free food. I want to give them my leftover candy from Halloween too.

Well, I need to get busy on my homework now. My brother is stopping by in a few hours. My house is a mess. I usually try to straighten it out before I have company, but I have a lot to do today so I think I’ll let the house stay messy. I guess I’m concerned he’ll judge me. His house is always in order and spotless. I suppose I should ask myself if it matters whether or not he approves of the state of my house. It doesn’t, not really.

My mouse/cursor keeps shooting across the screen and making me type in random places. It’s getting annoying. Sometimes I can’t find it, which means I may not be able to find random letters appearing in random places. Oh well. Life goes on.

If you’re stressed about the election you have company, a lot of people are. Regardless of what happens, we still have our own brains to deal with. Try to do something kind for yourself today. I’m going to take my dog for a long walk and read a fiction book that has nothing to do with school.

As Ellen says, “Be kind to one another.”

Bipolar – Hiding in the Mattress

(Murdoch is the yellow one and Thea is the one cuddling his tummy.)

My daughter and I (she’s 24 and recently separated from the military) just finished driving from Tampa, FL to Seattle, WA. It was a very long drive. Just to test our resilience, we brought her two companions who happen to be cats. He is Murdoch and she is Thea. Along the eleven-day journey we stayed all our nights in Best Western hotels so Jessica could get points and a gift card (cash) for staying with them.

The first night things went well. The cats had behaved in their kennel (both in the same one) the whole drive which we kept short the first day to test how they would behave in the car. Thea used to get sick just going to the vets so we had some concerns.

The second night and all nights after that first drama-less night Murdoch freaked out every time we let him out of the kennel. He would immediately head for the nearest bed and dive behind it and up in it. This wasn’t a problem the first night because he couldn’t get into the box spring. After that first night the story was different.

Did you know some Best Westerns don’t even put a mesh on the bottom of their box spring mattresses? I know that won’t matter to the vast majority of people, but when traveling with frightened cats it matters a great deal. Murdoch would find the nearest box spring and climb right up inside.

Boom! Cat stuck inside the bed. At one hotel we had to get duct tape to patch all the holes that were in the mesh. Just about the whole thing had to be taped to keep him out.

Why was Murdoch behaving in such a strange way? He was scared out of his wits. We had to keep him on a leash on his harness to keep him around and get him to eat and drink. Needless to say he lost weight by the end of the trip. I think it’s safe to say that if cats can be depressed Murdoch was very depressed. He hid in the safest place he could find, inside the box spring. Twice we had to have hotel maintenance lift the mattresses for us so we could fish him out.

What does this have to do with Bipolar? It’s simple really, sometimes I feel just like he did and I try to find a place to hide in the way back corner where I can be lost in the dark and be safe and alone. Ever feel that way?

Like Murdoch, I have people in my life who will find me and pull me out of my dark, “safe”, corner. I’m learning that facing my fears is less costly to me emotionally and mentally than if I ran and hid in the mattress from them.

Murdoch never got over his fears and hid on the whole trip. Now that he’s here in his new home he’s still a fraidy-cat. We thought both cats had gotten out of the apartment, but it turned out they were hiding on the top of the kitchen cabinets. Talk about scaring us!

I’m making it a goal as I approach another quarter at university and settling into my new home in town to try to stay out of the dark places where I can hide.

To be healthy and move forward I need to be able to face daily challenges and disruptions regardless of the size they may be. One way I can face them, is to resist retreating to my hidey-hole which is something I find challenging and sometimes seems impossible.

Today I choose to stay in the light and not run. My daughter’s things arrive tomorrow and she’ll be moving out (she’s been staying with me while waiting for her things to be shipped cross country). I’ll be alone again. I’m trying to get used to being alone after living with others since 1989. I want to hide in the mattress, but I’m going to try really hard not to.

Do you ever feel that way?