Bipolar – Happiness

97726fe8f02ba122e9436eb80a28fb2aHappiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being defined by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. Happy mental states may also reflect judgements by a person about their overall well-being” Wikipedia

As a person who struggles with mental illness daily I can attest to the fact that many days I’m not a happy person. I would love to be happy all the time. I wish that there was a happy pill. Not a pill like I take for my mental health, because they’re only somewhat effective, but a real, magical happy pill. But there isn’t one. No… I change my mind. I want to be able to be happy on my own. I want to experience organic happiness. Then it would come from inside me on its own be real and I wouldn’t have to depend on a pill, something manmade, for it.

Scientists say that “positive emotions affect us over and above what negative emotions do.” I hope that’s true. I don’t feel like it is, but I hope that it is. I’m going to choose to act as though I believe that it’s true because if I do, I give those positive emotions the chance to blossom and grow.

The effects of stress build up in our brain. It is thought that positive emotions “short circuit the effects of negative emotions,” like stress. That’s an amazing thing to think.

Can anxious and depressed people be happy? I suffer from them both, can I be happy? Scientists say yes.

I choose to believe it’s true… it gives me hope.

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 –  Insane Behavior – Torture and Shootings

Often times when there is a mass shooting someone will say that a mentally ill person is responsible for the crime. I guess they don’t consider that many people they know may be mentally ill. After all, mental illness doesn’t come only in its most sever forms like one might imaging something like schizophrenia to be. Many times it manifests as depression or anxiety or some other “common” disorder. The following list is an extremely abbreviated list of mental disorders.

  • Alcohol/Substance Abuse
  • Alcohol/Substance Dependence
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Adult Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD/ADD)
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Depression
  • Eating Disorders
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Panic Disorder
  • Postpartum Depression
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Schizophrenia Education Guide
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder
  • Social Anxiety Phobia

I started this post in response to the kidnapping and torturing of the “challenged” young man by the four black people. I heard someone say “they must be mentally ill” and I took acceptation to that. The list of mental disorders I’ve given applies to a lot of people possibly even including the people who claim that the four black people must be mentally ill. For example, depression, anxiety, postpartum depression, PTSD, and substance abuse.

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of discussion of whether or not there is evil in the world. There is evil in the world. It is very likely that these four people are evil and not mentally ill. It is not likely that four people with mental illness would band together and commit such heinous crimes.

Since I started this post this morning there has been a mass shooting at the Fort Lauderdale airport. Already one newscaster has mused that the shooter has been captured and that he may be mentally ill.

Seriously? Why doesn’t the media posit that these kinds of crimes can be committed by evil people and not necessarily by people with mental disorders?

Bipolar – Never Far Away

I reached a stasis point, a time of going to neither depressed nor manic poles. I thought I was emotionally cramped or stunted. So, as I’ve said, my med provider and I decided to lower my Latuda to 80mg. It’s been about three weeks now and I can say without a doubt that I’m swinging again and in a bad way. I just called one of my daughters (I asked my family to watch me) and she said she’d noticed something had changed too and was wondering if that’s what was up.

Of course, I denied it. I realize now (30 minutes later) that I was protecting myself. I’ve worked for so hard for so long to be stable I didn’t want to admit that I’d have to up my medication again. I wanted to believe I could do this, be normal on my own.

I guess I feel like if I can’t be “normal” I won’t have really lived, I won’t really have given to my world or amounted to anything. I think those thoughts and feelings are always beneath the “calm” exterior of my well medicated self. It’s frustrating.

I’ve gone back to school so I can get a job. I’m 54 and I’m just going to school for a career now. It makes me so sad. See, the depression is coming like a vengeful lover, rough and dark.

If I’m already behaving “mean” towards my daughter and feeling depressed and like I’m about to have a fight I guess I’m not ready to be on a lower dose of my Latuda. So, it’s either go back up or change to something else. I’ll need to call the nurses line tomorrow and see if I can talk to my med provider as soon as I can. This isn’t the kind of thing that I should just wait until my next visit to handle.

Tomorrow I also see my counselor. We definitely have something to talk about.

Today I saw my pain management specialist. She ordered an MRI of my lower back. For some reason no one has ever had one done. I would have thought that having me on pain medications as long as I’ve been on them that someone would have had one done, but I can’t find it if they did.

Well, my new reality and I are going to read for a few minutes and then go to bed.

Be safe my friends.

Bipolar – Hidden Emotions

After months of not really feeling anything accept sever anxiety, my emotions are waking up again. I’m hoping that all the months of counseling have prepared me for my feelings, my moods.

I took a poetry class this last quarter. I had a difficult time writing the poetry because my emotions were packed away in a closet inside my brain. I wrote very clinically, very much cerebral and didn’t feel inspired or moved at all.

I’m enrolled in the disability program at the college and one of the things I get is time and a half for exams. Of course there aren’t exams in poetry, but the first quarter that I had this professor with I’d gone in and went over my disability papers with her and explained about how this was my first year back to college and I that was having a hard time. I took a chance and told her about my having Bipolar. I haven’t really thought it was necessary to tell my other professors what my disability is, but I felt like I was connecting with this professor and I also felt like I would be able to come and her and talk if I needed to.

I talked to her about how my BP was affecting my writing and she suggested I read “Touched with Fire” by Kay Redfield Jamison to see how many artistic people have mental illness (especially Bipolar Disorder). Funny thing was, I have read it. I’ve spent so much time in it that the pages have come off the spine of the book and nearly every page has notes and things underlined in it. It is in such bad shape that I purchased another copy so I could read it again. This is one of those books I bought in paper back and not as an eBook. If I have a book I want to markup I always get it in print. It’s just easier for me to make notes and find things in.

The first thing I encountered in Jamison’s book was a through recounting of all the symptoms having to do with Bipolar Disorder. Having been only anxious and not having mood swings for a few months per se, I was shocked as I remembered all the emotions that are currently hiding behind my medications.

I’m glad that I read what the symptoms are again because of the fact that we’ve lowered my Latuda and I need to be on the watch for symptoms to return. I have to admit, I’m worried now. I forgot how bad it has been for me. I rate on the top of the Bipolar Disorder Type 1, but I’m also high functioning so I’ve been able to hide it from most people. At least I think I have. Who really knows what others think of us when we’re in the midst of an active outburst of violent emotions.

So here I go, with an intentionally lowered mood stabilizer, and me waiting to see if any of my old enemies come sauntering out of the closet. I must remember not to hold my breath.

Bipolar Referral

I came across this blog the other day and I wanted to share it with you. It’s about Bipolar characters in fiction. Why characters with Mental Illness Matter

I’m not familar with any of the books listed so I can’t really recommend any of them, but the blog itself is really good.

Bipolar – Learning to Live with Anxiety

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Bipolar anxiety is no joke. I already live with a wicked mix of depression and mania and when you add to that general anxiety, well, I feel like I might just be out of luck. I was. For several months the pressure in my brain was so bad that I could hardly talk. I couldn’t get myself to go to the new grocery store near the house I’d just moved into by myself. Week after week I convinced my kids to go to the store with me even though we didn’t live together.

It couldn’t last forever. I knew I’d have to go to the store alone one day soon. None of the counseling was helping. I was walking and playing with my dog. That wasn’t helping. I was eating and cut caffeine out of my diet. Nothing. I took all my meds as prescribed every single day and I stopped taking my Ritalin—just in case it made some small difference. I started trying to meditate and practice mindfulness to no avail.

If you feel like you’re holding on for dear life… you are. Don’t let go. It can get better.

I was at the point where I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. I was overcome with despair.

I started taking Gabapentin and my symptoms got worse. My face developed Turrets like symptoms. They were violent and I was biting my tongue and cheeks. I couldn’t talk normally. I was scared. I know that ticks caused by medications can quickly become permanent.

I couldn’t get into see my doctor or my med provider. I was starting a new term in college and I was freaking out. I’m still trying to relearn how to learn. I went to community college some 30 years ago. It’s difficult.

I talked with the triage nurse on the phone since I couldn’t get in to talk to anyone. She told me to stop taking the Gabapentin immediately.

Then the med provider told me to take my chill pill twice a day if I needed to and to go back on the Ritalin at least once a day. Slowly, day by day, and doing all the other things I was already doing to help myself, I started to calm down. The Gabapentin scare really freaked me out. I thought I was losing my last hold on reality. I felt like an alien, unable to breathe the air around me.

I suffer from chronic back pain and I’m see a new pain management doctor now. While all this was going on she was treating me like she was going to take away my pain meds because she thought I was abusing them… which I wasn’t. They just counted the pills wrong. Not my fault. That added a massive amount of stress to me too.

Today I go to the grocery store—when I’m totally out of everything, but at least I go. I’m not freaking out about school, not yet anyway. And I’m finally sleeping a little better.

Then I was in a car accident on my way to a school event. Side swiped. My car is totaled. I like my car. It’s a good car. I know I won’t get enough money from the insurance company to get one as good as this one. Stress. Anxiety. Take a pill. Remember what it feels like to calm down. Never abuse my meds. Especially not my chill pill or my pain pills.

It’s time for me to do homework now. I stress and have anxiety over homework. I’ll take a chill pill and wait for it to work before I sit down to do some serious writing.

Anxiety is like a beast that has already pounced and has its claws plunged clean through you. Believe me when I say that the claws can be removed. It is slow and painful, but it can be done. So don’t give up. There’s hope for you too.

Bipolar – Anxiety Rising

(Sept. 04) I’ve been sitting here trying to think of how to begin writing this and I’ve been getting nowhere. School is coming and I’m stressed out about that.

I have tremendous back pain and I go to a pain management doctor for my pain medication. The doctor that I’ve been seeing for like two years has stopped working in pain management and has opened a family practice. She was great. She really worked with me and worked to manage my pain knowing that I have Bipolar Disorder, PTSD, GAD, ADHD and so on. She was the one who prescribed my chill pill (medication anxiety) that I started taking during the school year last year when I had an anxiety meltdown.

The new pain management doctor started out by accusing me of selling my oxycodone and refused to refill my chill pill. I had a prescription of Oxycodone at the pharmacy to pick up which she didn’t take into account. I didn’t do anything wrong. I don’t like her. I don’t trust her with my health. My next visit to her she accused me of breaking my pain management contract by not bringing in the second pain medication I’m on. I was never told to bring the bottle in with me. Oxycodone yes, the other stuff, no.

My back has been bothering me.

My facial tick is back. It comes with anxiety like snow falls in the mountains… when the cold and precipitation is sufficient, the snow comes. Actually the vicious tick came with my beginning to take Gabapentin gain instead of Lyrica (Gabapentin can also be used for anxiety as well as for FM, which is why I tried taking it again).

FAST FORWARD TO TODAY Sept 28

I’ve been taking my chill pill daily. I survived my first day of classes because of the pill. I usually wake up in a cold sweat whenever anything remotely stressful is going to happen during the day. Like, for instance, going back to school.

Anxiety is such a huge part of my being right now that although I’ve lived in my new house for about two months I haven’t been to the grocery store by myself even once. I needed to buy some poetry books from the bookstore about 20 minutes from my house and instead of just going and getting them I called my eldest daughter and bribed her (I’d buy her a book if she’d come with me) to come with me. I just find it stressful to do things alone. I do not have a rational reason. I’ve done all the thinking and reasoning about my anxiety that my counselor and I have come up with and the anxiety does nothing but get worse.

I stopped taking the Gabapentin and the facial tick immediately started going away. When I’m stressed it comes back. I hope it isn’t permanent.

I see my med. Provider (the gal who manages my mental health medications) Sara in the morning. I’m asking her for something to treat the sever anxiety on a long term basis. The chill pill is great but it’s for a crisis and not meant for long-term consumption.

I get so wigged out about things that earlier tonight I already mapped out in my head the route that I would take to get to see Sara and then called my daughter to make sure that I could get to the grocery store from where I was coming from. I’m planning on going to get some milk on my way home in the morning. I need to do it on my own. I think if I have the chill pill I can.

It’s amazing. I wish I could take it all the time. I’ve been having to use it to go to sleep at night. When I don’t take it I’m awake until after 2 or 3 in the morning. Then I wake up sweating. I’ve even resorted to listening to relaxing meditative music/waves on YouTube all night. I found a channel on my TV provider to listen to that works as well called Soundscapes.

The struggle I’m having with anxiety is so severe that I’ve not been willing to blog and that makes me sad. My counselor has put forth the idea that perhaps my mania is manifesting as anxiety and that It’s really part of my Bipolar Disorder. I sort of hope that’s the case. If it is, I’m confident we can deal with it.

Why haven’t I been in to see my med. Provider sooner? She’s been booked. It’s been over a month since I last saw her. I’ve talked to her on the phone and my counselor talked to her on my behalf too.

Hopefully tomorrow I can communicate clearly how absolutely painful this anxiety is. My counselor is supposed to go to that meeting with me. I hope she can actually make it. It would give Sara a clearer picture of what’s going on with me.

Now, I’m going to listen to Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” then I’m going to go to bed. I might read for a few minutes. Maybe one or two. Seriously, that’s as long as I’ll read.

I have high expectations for my visit with Sara and Rebecca (my counselor) in the morning. We got this. I have to believe, we got this.

Bipolar and Adaptation

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From today through about August 18th I need to be able to be my best self. That means I will have to be super vigilant and sensitive towards my Bipolar Disorder symptoms. Theoretically, that’s how I’m supposed to be all the time, but right now it’s really evident that I have to pay attention. The stress of looking for a house has rolled over to moving and that will roll over into flying out to Florida to meet my daughter and driving across the country with her two cats to bring her home.

I must prepare myself physically, mentally for what’s next. I tend to react to situations and my moods swing without my even being aware of what’s happening, that is, until I’m done reacting.

This is going to be a good experience for me to practice adapting myself quickly to changing situations and emergencies without losing my temper like I’ve done in the past. My usual reactions are an abrupt swinging of mood, or panic and then the mood swing.

This skill, the skill of flexibility and adaptability, is an important skill to have while coping with our mental illness. Each new skill I learn builds upon the base of my positive mental attitude, my chief definite aim, or my passion in life. (I tend to think of the three things as different ways of saying the same thing.)

Having a flexible disposition means I must be able to quickly adapt to my environment. When I say “environment” I mean not only the physical situation, but also dealing with the people involved in the situation. It means that I can harmonize with my environment in a flexible way.

I’m not suggesting that I ignore my principles or altering my goals. I’m simply suggesting that I recognize my mental attitude towards the situation and determine if the situation is a disaster or a windfall. If it is a disaster I have the opportunity to change things and make them better. Because I use positive mental attitude, I have an even better opportunity to change the disaster into a boon.

I think that part of being adaptable means that in every situation with every person I try to understand their needs and demands. An example would be my Mother calling me a couple times a day and telling me something else I need to do to prepare to move. Yesterday it was that I should go to the Loews and Home Depot on Meridian to purchase boxes, start packing, have the kids (my son, 21 and youngest daughter, 19) come over and help me go through things, and to get rid of the piano. Being sensitive to her and to protective of myself I suggested that she make a list. We’ll see if she can do it. I eventually did go to those stores and bought boxes, but not the ones on Meridian. I hate driving on that street. It’s too busy and too long and too slow.

My plan includes to getting up at the same time every day, feed the animals and take my meds, eat healthy foods, exercise (I walk down the highway with Bailey), give my brain a break by reading or watching TV or listening to an audio book while walking, planning and making lists, keeping appointments or doing errands, spending time learning about how to be successful, spend time doing reactional activities, and so on. I need to keep things fairly structured. When I just watch TV all day it usually takes me another day or more to get back on track.

I’m going choosing to daily be flexible, adaptable, and let me just add: I’m going to be kind to others. (Ellen DeGeneres)

Bipolar – Does It Make Me Stupid?

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Stupid chicken

Am I stupid? Or am I just depressed?

Over the years I’ve said that I feel like I’m dumber than I was when I was younger. The older I was getting, the stupider I felt. I was honestly concerned that this was a part of the natural aging process and was happening to me early or a part of Bipolar Disorder. Maybe over time Bipolar Disorder destroyed the brain and I was naturally losing my ability to think because that was something that came with the illness.

Felt.

Years later I learned that the way I felt had nothing to do with my intelligence. I have a mood disorder, not an IQ killer.

I wasn’t becoming mentally challenged. It was all about moods. Not intelligence.

Intelligence.

Mood disorder.

Not the same.

The way I thought about it was with violence. I was so angry and frustrated that I couldn’t think things through. I made bad decision after bad decision. I “felt” stupider. That’s key with our Bipolar Disorder. We can feel stupid. (If you don’t ever feel dumber, you can skip this post.) If you have, keep reading because it is important that you understand what’s going on in your brain.

We have what is known as a mood disorder. That is, we have moods that are extreme and can fluctuate wildly compared to a regular person. Instead of being sad, we become extremely depressed. Instead of being angry, we become enraged. Instead of being excited, we become manic.

These mood fluctuations and extremes impact the way we think. They don’t make us stupid, but we can feel that way. The moods interfere with the way we think.

People tell us to think positively, things will be okay. Unfortunately, the weight of depression can prevent us from feeling like we can think at all, much less think positively.

When I first heard of Tony Robbins, success coach and public speaker, I tried out one of his 30-day programs designed to teach me to be successful. All I had to do was follow the directions spelled out on the card that went with each day and listen to the 30-minute tape that went with it.

The program challenged me to change my thinking. That was the basis of the program, change your thinking to be successful. I was depressed. I didn’t feel like I could do it. So, I quit. I felt like I was too stupid to understand the lessons. That had to be what was wrong. It never occurred to me that my illness could be impacting my ability to think clearly and keeping me from focusing on the lessons and understanding what Mr. Robbins was teaching. I’ve gone back to Mr. Robbins teachings recently and discovered that I understand him just fine. I wasn’t depressed this time. I was able to understand what he taught and use some of the principles he presented.

I’m not stupid.

I have a mood disorder.

If you have a mood disorder, please understand that it does not mean you are dumb.

I don’t know how intelligent you are or are not. I do know that Bipolar Disorder does not make you less intelligent.

Bipolar Disorder does not make you dumb.

It is a mood disorder, not a brain eater.