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 – 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?

Bipolar – Fears

Ever since my 21-year-old son moved out several months ago I’ve been alone with my pets. Bailey, my heeler, follows me constantly. She sits across from me when I go to the bathroom and looks at me like she wants me to play ball. Actually, she usually gives me the ball when I’m on the toilet. Or she drops it too far away from me so I say, “I can’t reach it, bring it here.” And she does.

I lived in a rural area for the last 20 years and in the same house for the last 10. I know the families in the duplexes next door and am comfortable with them. One of them I know if something happened she’d be there for me. Like when I fell down the stairs and broke my ankle my kids went and got her and she handled it. I miss her. We didn’t generally spend much time together because she’s one of those people you’d like to know better, but the cost would be hours and hours of listening to her talk about everything that comes to her mind and being aware that she believes she’s an expert on everything she talks about. And she talks really loud and smokes so she has to be able to stand by a door when we’re in one of our houses so she can stick her hand out the door.

Now I’m in town and there are houses all around me. I have a giant apple tree in the back yard that screens me from the houses directly behind me and fencing and laurel trees around most of the small back yard. It’s just big enough for Bailey to really run around and have fun.

There are people living on both sides and across the road from me. There are people behind me. There are people up and down the streets in the neighborhood. In short, there are people everywhere. I’m crowded in a way, but I’m also very much still alone.

I’m in town and closer to my kids. They’ve been great helping me move in. I’m looking forward to seeing them more.

I’m in a strange house. I’m so overwhelmed by all the boxes that I’m having trouble unpacking and finding places to put things away. I’m unsure of myself. I’ve lived with AC for the last 10 years and now I don’t have it. I don’t feel comfortable having the windows open all night and we’ve been having really hot weather. Yesterday was the second hottest day of the year so far. It was 85 inside when I went to bed. It really frustrates me.

Since I moved I feel more alone. I think part of it is from the loss of my cat and the circumstances surrounding that.

It’s strange because I’ve had two family members whom have never visited my home drop by already. You would think I’d be happy to be around people and where I can see my family more often. But I’m not. Not yet.

The death of a pet and moving are major life stressors. In addition to that last fall I started back to college and before that my father died 6 months after being diagnosed with cancer. I feel like I’ve had enough.

I’m trying to accept the situation and keep busy. I’ll make sure to keep my appointment with my counselor next week. I’ll start walking around the neighborhood in the next few days, though the unknowns of that scare me. I don’t like the unknown. And there seem to be dogs everywhere.

Speaking of which I have another major event coming up. My daughter is leaving the Air Force and I’m flying to Tampa, FL to drive back her to Washington State with her two cats. I’ve never done anything like that. Besides the incredible challenge of the trip, I’ll have to trust my kids to take care of my animals while I’m gone. I’m not certain how that will work out. Both Kyle and Sydney basically work full-time and they work odd hours that are usually different every day. I worry about Bailey. Sydney and her fiancée Toni are planning on bring their young Pitbull over and sleeping here with both dogs since they both sleep with their people. She sleeps with them and Bailey sleeps with me. That would put two good size dogs and two people in my queen size bed. I can’t see it myself. Their dog is much more aggressive playing than Bailey is. She scares Bailey.

Unknowns…

I might change my major at school as well. If I do need to change my class schedule this fall quarter a little because I’m thinking of changing my major.

I feel alone. People do drop by, which I’ve never had happen before. The mail lady is friendly and says “hi” and gives Bailey a bone. I’m less alone than I was, but I don’t feel that way yet. My emotions are stirred up and a bit chaotic. I’m being careful to take care of myself. Although I have to admit I’m scared to go to the new grocery store I’ll be using. I’m a worrier and that fear comes from that.

Maks, my cat, has started protesting that I won’t let him sleep with us. He climbed up some mattresses leaning against the wall in the third bedroom. When he got to the top the bedroom light was turned on. Then, last night, he got on the peninsula in the kitchen and started knocking things over. So just as I was going to sleep there was a loud crash as he knocked things over. This morning I woke up to things I was putting away (unpacking) all over the floor. This has got to stop.

I got a free Comcast security system installed yesterday. I freaked out about setting it right and not setting off the alarm. Man! What an alarm! That sucker would scare Jesus.

So what to do. Today it’s only supposed to be 76F. Tomorrow it should be about 80 again. I should go for a walk in the morning. I should, shouldn’t I?

It would be great if I could tell Rebecca, my counselor, that I’ve gone for a walk, but I’m not sure I can do that yet. Bailey has really been pulling on her leash a lot. I’ll have to use her prong collar.

Facing my fears… fears of the new, fears of the unknown, and fears of not being able to have the courage to do the things I need to do.

I should take a chill pill and in 20 minutes I should go for a walk. I’m not sure that I will. I’m feeling a little relaxed right now. The evil cat is sitting next to me on the sofa. Bailey is napping in the recliner. I’m snuggled in my favorite corner of the sofa.

I wonder what the difference between sofa and couch is?

I’m going to try my hardest today. At the very least I need to unpack and put away a few boxes.

Here’s to all of us who are afraid of anything. May we find the hidden strength to face some of those fears today. We can do it. I know we can. Let’s start today.

 

Bipolar-Fearmongering and Politics Today

I need to say to someone, to anyone who will listen, that the Republican Party and their current platform of hate and lack of content is terrifying me. I tried to watch the Republican National Convention a few times but the rhetoric was so violent and beyond negative that I had to change the channel.

I try to reduce the stress in my life. Any talk of politics today in our country leaves me afraid. I don’t know what’s going to happen to me. I’m female and I’m disabled. What is in the future for me if the man with no plans is elected? He hates so many of us. He says he will make our nation great again, but what does he mean by that? He sounds like he hates most of us. Well, unless you happen to be, dare I say it, a white supremacist? He doesn’t seem to have a problem with them. They are generally white, male and support the rights of citizens to have any kind of gun they want.

I know Obama is just about done, but I feel safe with him in office. Maybe I’m not, but at the moment I feel that way.

Bipolar Disorder is a mood disorder so it stands to reason that I may react to strong emotional stimuli more than other people I know. But you know what? Everyone seems to be reacting to Trump the same. We worry what his being President might do to us as a Nation, as a People.

Trump reminds me of a big game hunter whose prey is the United States and we’re right in the crosshairs of his giant, killing rifle.

Would Hillary be any better? I don’t know. I know that she doesn’t call for Trump to be put in a firing line and shot. She doesn’t advocate his being thrown in prison. Just that much shows me she has a modicum of common sense.

Is anyone else finding their stress levels rise when you watch political shows on television in these volatile times? Am I alone in my emotional reaction to such consistent hatemongering and the potential of throwing our nation into chaos?

From yesterday I’m in pain from putting my sick kitty to sleep. Today, I’m still in pain, but I’m also afraid. I’m afraid my future freedoms will be taken away from me and I’ll live in a land unfamiliar to me and like a foreign land.

I’d better fill my pill boxes now.

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.

 

Am I ready to Resist the Depression Monster?

I have bipolar disorder type 1 and I experience mixed states and rapid cycling. When I’m having a full blown episode it’s a nightmare. I’m feeling on the edge right now. I also have PTSD, ADHD, Osteoarthritis, Rheumatology Arthritis, Anxiety and a bad temper. I take a lot of medications to remain stable.

I am afraid. I’m 53 years old and besides when I was away at college I’ve only lived on my own for less than a year. Less than one year. I have three kids ages daughter 24, son 21 and daughter 18. My eldest daughter is in the Air Force and has two more years to serve. She’s across the country. The youngest lives with her fiancée. Now my son is moving in with his girlfriend this weekend.

When Jessica, the eldest, went to basic I was not doing well overall and I had your basic breakdown. I was hysterical for days. She enlisted for six years. She’s my best friend.

My youngest daughter, Sydney, suddenly decided to move out and two weeks before her 18th birthday and suddenly she was just gone. I couldn’t get her to wait the two short weeks till after her birthday.

She had been lying to me for years. We had two rules in our house that I expected her to follow. First, no dating till you are 18 (the other two had no problems with this rule) and second, never lie to mom. Ever. I kept asking her, are you and Toni dating.  “No.” Always, the answer was no. I chose to believe her because my part of the not lying deal to mom meant I had to trust them. So I chose to believe her. They had been dating for month and months when she suddenly decided to move out into a single room in the back of a house a stranger’s house. Had I been asked I would not approved of the situation and in fact the move turned out to be less than successful.

Today, less than a year after Sydney moved out, Kyle, my boy, is moving out too. At least I had a month notice with him. He’s moving in with his girlfriend Melanie in town today.

So now both of the younger kids live in town, about 30 minutes away.

I now live with my emotional support/training dog in service Bailey and my cats Maks and Siberia. I have no clue how I’m going to keep Bailey out of the cat food and litter box when I move. Did I mention we put an offer down on a house in town? It is 5 minutes from where Sydney will be living.

I have found a tiny house in town very near where Sydney is moving (her third move in one year) into her new apartment next week. We have put an offer in on it and now we wait. The bank owns it and we have to wait till they choose which offer to accept in ten days. I’m hoping that with the large down payment we’re making we’ll be the make our offer the most attractive offer and we’ll get the house.

It is 10:32 Saturday morning and I’ve already teared up after Kyle left to go get my brother’s work van to use for moving. I’m planning on working hard today on work stuff and not doing moving prep stuff. I need to have a break from moving stuff.

I have a huge box of Magic the Gathering cards that I’m trying to sell to a friend of the family. I’m pissed because he didn’t shown up last night to get them like we arranged. The stack of boxes is taller than I am (5’3”). They’re just in the middle of the living room and frustrating me every time I look at them (every time I look up) and every time I have to walk around them (every time I go into the kitchen). When they’re gone I think I’ll feel like I’ve done some work throwing things out at least.

To help me move Kyle has agreed to come out on one of his days off (Fridays) to help me do dump runs and other things I can’t do.

Besides using the technique of using a positive mental attitude (which I’m making a huge effort to follow from now on) I’m hoping not to fall completely apart and go through the hysterics again. It’s exhausting. And wouldn’t  you know it but my counselor has just retired so I have no counselor.

Besides being exhausting when I’m having a breakdown, it also wastes a lot of time. I don’t want to lose time anymore. I’ve lost too many years to my bipolar already. So, I’ve set my goals and I’m on my way to fulfilling them. I refuse to give in to the depression that thinks I’m going to let move in and take Kyle’s place. I’m staying on my meds and sticking with my daily routine and not isolating myself.

If I get the house one of the first goals I’ll have is teaching Bailey not to eat the cat food and poop. I’m a worrier. What can I say?

My son is moving out and I’m distracting myself by thinking about poop.

Bipolar Triggered – The Next Day

How do I feel the day after the girls hit multiple triggers for my bipolar? Well, I over slept so that didn’t help. I was fine till I remembered they have my book and I decided I wanted it back. Then my son, who is looking for an apartment with his girlfriend, told me he was on his way out the door to go to look at a place just 10 minutes after I got up. I realized his girlfriend, Melanie, is at work and I asked him if he was going alone. Yep. Can I go with? There wasn’t enough time. He said he thought about it but there wasn’t enough time for me to get ready. Really? He could have got me up.

He left and I thought things over and I called him. I asked him to call me if he has questions. His little sister should have let me go over the place with them before they moved in because I would have warned them off. Now, a month later, they’re going to move out.

Anyway, my calling him was just my way to hold on a little bit. The kids are going every which way and I’m having a hard time today. I started to cry a little and quickly ended the phone call. I feel useless.

None of them need me, and they selfishly take from me without thanks. I know probably all kids are like that, but if you’re like me (being bipolar) it is especially hard for us. I’d like to think a normal parent would feel the same way at this point. In fact that’s what I’m deciding just now. I’m not in crisis (I don’t think so). I’m sad. I feel lonely. I resent that Syd takes and doesn’t give.

I think when Kyle gets home I’m going to ask him to go to Alder Lake with Bailey and I. We used to go there all the time when they were young. Its 30 minutes from our house straight up the highway towards Mount Rainier (in Washington State). I need a break. I think he does too with the way work has been going and his needing to move. It will be fun to play with the dog at the lake. There shouldn’t be too many people there yet so maybe I can let her off leash and let her run.

Just to recap: yesterday a bunch of my triggers got flipped. Today, how am I going to deal with it? A few minutes ago I started to cry. I’ve had a chill pill and calmed down.

I’m going to fight my way through this. I’ve been preparing for weeks. Now it’s time to see if I can do what I tell others to do.

The first thing is to acknowledge it, face it, and decide how I’m going to protect myself and move forward… keep growing stronger. I refuse to turn into a puddle of stressed out mommy. Holding onto my frustration with Sydney and Toni isn’t going to help.

Stay tuned…

My Favorite Blog

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

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

Musings of a mad woman

Why I’ve Gone Back to College at 53

This last fall (September 2015) I started classes full time at the University of Washington Tacoma taking a full load. This is something of a miracle because I live with Bipolar 1, PTSD, ADHD, and a healthy dose of anxiety. Lots of anxiety. You might think going back to school, and being around all those people, and having to get up when I’m depressed, and write papers when I’m depressed, stressed, manic and full of anxiety is a pretty fool-hearted thing to do. It may be. It certainly hasn’t been easy. I admit it probably triggered the episode I’m riding out right now. But still, here I am. I made Dean’s List (I got good grades) last quarter.

I’m here because I have been being a no one. I’ve had nothing to do and not a thing to contribute to society. I’m here because my brain needed a jumpstart. And, I’m here to learn to do the things I need to know in order to reach some of my goals.

How’ve I been doing? I’ve had melt downs. I skipped classes once last quarter. I’ve freaked out over writing papers (It was about 30 years ago that I wrote my last paper.) Every week brings new challenges and triumphs. Yes, I’ve had some triumphs along with my bumps and bruises. I’ve been terrified a lot. Even the drive to and from and parking make me anxious. I leave an hour and a half before class so I’m never late and always have a place to park. (It’s how I cope.)

I’ve gone into this with my eyes open and done all I can do to prepare. I’ve registered with the Disability Services office because I’m legally disabled and I need to be able to tap their help when I need it (like having longer to take a test) and I do. Near the end of last quarter I had a meltdown that sent me to my doctor who put me on a chill pill. It was like magic. I could calm down and think. I was able to finish the quarter actually have finished writing the papers and remembered to turn them in. (This was the chill Pill I mentioned a few days ago.)

What am I getting out of this? As I’ve said I needed a jolt to my brain. I’ve always fancied myself a communicator and I’d lost my ability to do that. I had even stopped my sloppy blogging.

I took a huge risk. I’m still taking that risk and it is paying off. I’m being challenged to think in ways I haven’t thought in years. I feel smarter though in all probability it’s just the cobwebs coming lose. I’m also driving some of my classmates nutty by asking them questions that any Freshman should know. But I’m a transfer student and I’ve forgotten all that Freshman stuff. Plus, now we use technology and not paper and pencil. I’ve had a lot to learn even with the basics like how to turn in an assignment online. Not everyone is patient and willing to answer these kinds of questions.

If you’ve been thinking of challenging yourself and reaching outside of your comfort zone I encourage you to try it. You can always go home and refuse to leave again. Or, maybe you’ll like the way that it makes you feel.