What My Med Provider Means to Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Lithium worked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me – creative and smart. OMG!

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

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

Watch out! Corner coming!

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

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

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

New plan. New hope.

Bring it! I’m ready.

I’m more than ready –

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

Bipolar – 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 – 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 – 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 – Remembering Our Past

I need you to understand that I in no way discount what anyone has gone through. Things may be exactly as you recall them. This post is meant merely to ask the reader to consider things.

One of the great troubles with Bipolar Disorder is that we tend to ruminate what we view as the horrors of our past. We think we remember all the times we have been depressed and felt like we wanted to die. We think we remember the charge the mania gave us and may long for the positive influence we think we remember happening. We may be paralyzed by thoughts of our past in which we hurt others and maybe tried to hurt ourselves. If any of this sounds like you, listen closely to this:

There are three things that are known about memory that I want you to know.

  1. People can recall events that never happened.
  2. All memories are inaccurate to some degree.
  3. Identifying false memories may be next to impossible
    (Psychology Today, June 2016, pg. 21)

It may not be necessary to crucify yourself on the altar of regret. It is possible that you do not remember the past as it actually happened. I have found these things to be true in my own life. I think I remember being mean to my kids and speaking unkindly to them as I wallowed in my anger and depression on a daily basis. Anger was my friend and I was angry every day and I felt I took it out on my kids.

But you know what? My kids and my family don’t remember it that way. My kids, who are now 18, 21 and 24, remember me as working hard to be a good mom and always loving them. They don’t remember me being abusive. It’s three against one. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I was a good mom. They all seem to have turned out to be good people. I need to believe them. That guilt crushes me at times. I’m choosing to believe that I wasn’t as bad as I recall. I was a good person.

Bipolar sufferers feel emotions more intensely than other people. We remember incidents where our world has crashed down around us because that’s what we remember feeling at the time and so that’s what we feel now as we think about the past.

We may think we remember the situation even being worse than it was. Another person may remember the same situation as not being quite as dire as we do. In fact, we may be remembering an incident as more intense and devastating than it was. We may even be remembering something that happened in our head, that we think happened, that never did happen. Can you imagine that? Maybe you are a better person than you think you are. These things are true for all people, but I’m talking about us and our magnificent emotions.

What I want you to understand is that you and I, we should cut ourselves some slack. Our memories are never perfect and unless you have proof that what you remember happened or felt actually did occur, relax a little. Maybe we’re not as horrible as we think we are.

I have “memories” of being a horrible mom. I “remember” saying things and not doing things that amount to neglect or even abuse as a parent. I’ve asked my kids and my family about some of the bad things that I “remember” doing and saying. Generally, they all agree I wasn’t the horrible parent I think I was.

The kids are glad they grew up with me and not their father. That means a lot to me. He’s not a bad man, but they say they would have hated me if I’d let their father have them.

Even though I truly was in a deep depression and on a manic high most of their early lives they love me and want me in their lives. I run in a mixed state so you never know how I’ll act. I recall letting especially my youngest get away with more things because I was afraid I was being too sever with her. My older two say I did let her get away with too much. At least I remember that correctly.

On the other hand, maybe you are remembering certain things correctly and you were horrible. In that case I hope we can learn from those situations and find ways to keep them from happening again.

My message: Try to cut yourself some slack. Consider the three things we know about memory and apply them to yourself. You and I are probably not at horrible as we think we are.

I hope.

Bipolar – Dealing with Emotional Pain

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There are any number of examples I could talk about concerning dealing with emotional pain. I’ve been going through a lot the last year and a half. This last week was one of the worst weeks that I hope I have for a long time.

I had to put one of my cats to sleep. She had advanced and wide spread cancer and was voiding all over the basement carpet. I was moving to a new home in a week and it just became necessary to quit avoiding it and stop putting off the issue and take responsibility for what I needed to do.

Her name was Siberia and she was our family pet for about 12 years. That’s a long time to bond with anyone, animal or human.

I was expecting to be sad, to cry, and to be upset. I was all of that. Now it’s been more than a week and I was up late last night crying hysterically and saying to my other cat how sorry I was and that I’d killed his friend. It was horrible. I eventually had to take a chill pill because I couldn’t stop myself.

Anyone who has not had a pet won’t understand the loss of a loved companion, but if you have you know what I’m talking about.

Feelings of guilt, denial, anger and depression have plagued me and I’ve wondered if I’m going over the top and am heading for an episode. The truth is, for me right now, I think I’m experiencing normal emotions. It’s hard to tell the difference though isn’t it?

When are my uncontrollable feelings of depression and anger caused by my Bipolar Disorder and when is it just from normal feelings that come after great loss?

I think that it’s hard to tell. It’s new right now so I’m inclined to think I’m feeling normal feelings, but a little deeper than maybe my children are.

I have just moved a few days ago and the stress from that is immense. I’m making sure to take my meds and using my chill pills when I need them. I haven’t been out walking because I’m kind of scared in my new neighborhood and it’s so very hot. Next week I see my counselor. It will be good to talk to her about what I’ve been feeling.

In the meantime, it’s time to try to go to bed. It’s only 81F in here now. At least I’ve stopped sweating for a little while.

Good night Siberia. I love you. I will honor your memory and play with Maks (the other cat) more than I had been doing. I miss you.

Bipolar – Magnificent Obsession

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I believe that I, a person with Bipolar Disorder, can have a definite purpose in life. I believe although I have Bipolar Disorder I can have a main goal for my life and I believe I can reach it. I believe I have the ability to find a magnificent obsession, an overwhelming passion to dedicate my life to.

The illness ate year after year of my life, but now I understand that it doesn’t have to get a free pass to destroying me. I say this although I suffered for years of feeling like I was being ravaged from within. I can remember doing things, thinking things, and feeling emotions that were bipolar even when I was a young teen.

My poor mom. I was a devil to live with growing up. My depression often expressed itself as vicious anger. She tried to help me. She knew something was wrong. Some of the things she tried included counseling, religion, hypnotism, and sending me to live with relatives for the summer hoping that they could get through to me. Nothing helped. I once tried to kill my brother by bouncing on his chest till he turned purple. I only stopped because I knew that I would get in trouble if I actually killed him.

I knew something was terribly wrong with me. In high school I started actively searching to help myself I started going to church and there began chasing hard after God for the next 25 years. During my most devoted years I attended a Bible college and earned a bachelor’s degree.

Still, I suffered.

Many of my symptoms of bipolar disorder presented looking very much like sin. I couldn’t stop being bipolar and I couldn’t stop the “sinning”. No one knew I was sick and even if they had, I don’t believe they had the tools to help me. At one point some of the missionary staff tried to cast demons out of me.

Years later when I was a single mom and had left religion far behind me I no longer felt like a condemned sinner. Having that weight lifted off my shoulders did a lot to enable me to get out from under some of the self-created depression and condemnation. I had been obsessed with trying to stop sinning and all I succeeded in doing was make my condition worse.

I suffered and slowly died inside as I impacted my three young children with the violence of my inner turmoil. I said things, I threw things… I did a lot of things I wish they had never experienced.

I learned about success teacher Tony Robbins on an infomercial and began on my quest to be successful. I hoped that “success” would give me the strength to not give in to the urges of my illness. I thought that if I could be successful, I could be in control of myself. If people could use these principles to get rich, maybe I could use them to be successful in controlling my bipolar. I ordered the material he was selling and set to work enthusiastically doing the 30-day program.

Something amazing happened to me while I was going through the program: I learned how to think before I reacted and I learned I could preserver when I failed and I could try again. I learned to never accept defeat. I learned I could choose how I wanted to behave and I could actually behave that way. I was able to change the way I thought about myself, who I was and what my future might hold. I learned to have hope.

I’ve worked for years to follow certain success principles. I’d go for long periods of time when I forgot about them especially when I was depressed. The illness is still with me, my companion for life.

Today, I believe I’m successful. I’m doing what I love every day. I’ve taken the additional success materials of Napoleon Hill and Clement Stone and found that I could have a purpose for my life, regardless of who I am, and I found principles to help me achieve it.

These principles help me get up in the morning and do things that I know will fight my depression, my mania and all that lay between so that I can function and keep chasing my goals and be successful. I refuse to lose to my illness. I may have setbacks when the illness does overtake me and I will tell you that for many years I lost the fight against it and realistically I will probably have times when I feel I’ve lost to it in the future. Right now, I’m taking my life back. That’s why I blog. It is one way I’m taking back my life back.

I still have to take chill pills daily along with all my other meds. I’m not anywhere near perfect or even functioning at my best. But, when the hill has been climbed and I’m back among the living I still have my purpose to drive me. I’d like to say it’s a reason I get up in the mornings, but I’m not there yet. Yet.

I have a magnificent obsession I’m focused upon. I have goals and dreams that I am working on so that they will come true. I believe I can be even more successful than I can possibly understand today.

I have Bipolar Disorder and I’m amazing.

 

I’m Learning to ACT Rather Than REACT

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{Please be patient. This is a little long. I hope you’ll stick with the whole thing.}

One of my favorite things to do is to respond to things from habit, rather than thoughtfulness, especially when talking with my mother. I REACT rather than ACT with thoughtfulness. The difference between the two is that:

REACTING is when she says something that I think is stupid (I start by judging her) I respond to her habitually with my emotions and treat her like she actually is stupid and I’m disrespectful as well. There is no consideration of her feelings or how what I say might impact her.

ACTING is when I have taking a moment to consider the situation and respond from thoughtfulness rather than just emotion. It is a response in a reasonable manner.

Ideally I should respond to her with my intellect managing my emotions. If I disagree with her I can say that I disagree with her instead of talking to her like she’s a moron.

For example we’re house hunting right now. We’re working together to choose a house for her to buy as an investment and me to live in. This would be a bad time for us to start fighting. Meaning, it would be a bad time for me to start acting primarily from my emotions and be a bitch.

One of the first houses we saw was well below her top price and so it was attractive to her for that reason. I walked into the kitchen and immediately announced it had to be completely gutted. It was an older obviously had never been updated and had no counter space. In her mind she probably saw that it was a kitchen that I could cook in. I saw that it needed good counter tops, new flooring and cabinets. She thought a coat of paint would work to fix it up. I struggled. If I became argumentative now it was going to be difficult to continue looking at houses without stress overtaking me.

Fortunately, our broker spoke up then and agreed with me about completely gutting the kitchen. I heard my mom take a small breath. I think reality was starting to catch up to her.

By the third house she seemed to start to understand that the less we spent, the more renovation would be needed. There was no way we were going to get a house in this area for the price she wanted to pay. I knew that. So far I’d managed to keep my mouth shut about it. I hadn’t informed her from my vastly superior intellect that there was no way we could find a habitable house in the area for her target price.

So far we haven’t done so well finding houses that might be suitable for me, my two cats, and my dog even though she raised the amount she was willing to pay. The housing market in this area is very tight. I have basically till September to find a house. After that I’m going back to school or getting a job and I won’t have time to just run off to look at houses. It will be more difficult to have time to view houses and move.

It’s hard for me to be patient with the whole process. My tendency is to ask mom everyday if she’s heard from Rhett (the broker). I know that’s not going to be helpful and might make her stress about it. I’m shooting for asking her every other day. I talk to her every day since my father passed last year so I’ll have to remember which days I bug her about it.

We just told Rhett that we wanted to narrow the search area to areas where crime wasn’t so high which meant areas that weren’t crammed together and really low income. She and I actually agree on the areas where we want him to look. If I hadn’t controlled my mouth, which can really be hard, I probably wouldn’t have been able to agree on looking in the more expensive areas. I don’t want to live in the Eastside and most of the places he was showing us were in the Eastside.

Since I started this adventure out on a good foot by controlling my tongue and my tone of voice I’ve given us a chance to actually enjoy each other’s company. I’m even tolerating her dog coming along with us better as we go on. I don’t care for her dog. Her dog is mean to my dog. I don’t like that at all. Oh well. It’s good for me to learn to be more tolerant. Isn’t it?

Every time I’m going to spend time with mom looking for houses or even just talking about them I try to prepare myself and get my emotions under control beforehand. I’m having a lot of anxiety. It would be so easy to take my negative feelings out on her, but they have nothing to do with her. It’s all about controlling my negative emotions and shutting my mouth unless I have something helpful to say. (How many of us have said that exact line?)

My therapist (the one that’s leaving) taught me that I can be the one to “drive the bus” as she put it. I could control my behavior or I could sit in the back of the bus and go where my emotions take me. And believe me, they take me a lot of bad places by habit even when I’m not totally depressed. It just feels natural.

Between working with my therapist and spending my own time reading and thinking about myself and my behavior, my emotions, and my thoughts I’ve gotten to the point that while I’m having trouble with anxiety (My son moved out a little over a week ago so I live alone now.) and even anger over not finding a house right away I’ve been able to treat my mom with some measure of respect and patience. So far. I give myself credit for that. It’s important to remember to give myself credit when I do well. It’s so easy to only recall the times when I explode in violent anger or crushing depressing.

Even though I’ve been doing well so far there is no telling when I might swing and become really depressed or manic. I’ve got to be careful to control my anxiety with my chill pills and take my handful of regular pills every morning and night. And, I have to watch out for my triggers. I take time for myself and think about the person I want to be. I really try to focus on that for longer than just a second or too. I really try to almost meditate on the specific person I want to be. It helps. And I take time to play with my dog. We walk and play. She’s my emotional support.

I can’t control when we find a house, but I can try to control my responses to that the search. That’s my goal. I’m going to control my behavior towards my mom, whom I love a lot, no matter what my feelings are about house hunting. I’ve committed myself to that. My mom deserves that. I deserve that too.

House Hunting and Controlling Myself

My alarm actually went off at the correct time today. At first I didn’t understand why it was making all that noise. And why so early! Then I remembered, house hunting day #1! It was here! I rolled off my bed that is too high for me and landed with a little bobble on the floor, on both feet. I got ready for the day and went to meet my mom, who is buying the house as an investment. I’m going to be renting from her but I get to pick the house she’s going to buy. Kind of like a joint venture.

I tend to snap at my mom and not have a lot of patience with her. I remembered to use my common sense and took a chill pill as soon as I met up with her. The weather was wonderful, the warmest day we’ve had here since last October. It was perfect weather to view homes.

Knowing how easily I’m triggered and can fall into a bipolar episode I’m trying to be really careful and take my time getting to know how this whole process works of finding and buying a home works and am really being critical of the houses we look at. I want to be firm in my conviction that what house we pick will be the right one for me. That will help keep me stable.

I have to admit, that I’m feeling a little stressed right now. I was going to go for a walk with Bailey, my Heeler, but my back and my knee are both bothering me. So it was heating pad and ice pack time instead. Tomorrow we’ll go out for a nice long walk. Maybe we’ll even go to the park and walk.

LATER I eventually did go out for a walk. I’m glad that I did.