This is my dog, Bailey. She’s a kind of cattle dog known as a Kelpie. She always says please when she really wants something.
She always says please in the same way. I hope, that I will always remember this lesson. The lesson is clear….. Nope, I’ve got nothing. This is just funny. I hope it made you smile. Have a great day! Robin
Mulling things over and over, ruminating about everything. Holding on to things I should not be locked onto, not obsessed with. This is how I cause damage to myself and my health; not just my mental health, but the health of all of me.
When I hyper-focus on something that I am already stressing about the amount of stress I often don’t even know is eating away at me, can cause me to collapse in on myself. Let me show you what I mean and my way of trying to deal with it.
My mom had back surgery last week. She’s in a lot of pain. She rates it an eight out of ten with ten being where you want to bang your head on the table until you’re unconscious. That’s a lot of pain to have when you’re taking your pain medication religiously.
My aunt, her sister, has been taking care of her since the surgery. She’s going home in a few days. Mom isn’t getting well. She’ll be okay soon, but right now, she’s hurting. I really don’t want her to be alone this soon. She’ll tell us she’s fine and maybe she will be. Right now, looking at how she’s doing, I’d rather someone hang out with her a little longer. I’m going to offer to stay with her for a few days until I’m sure she can survive alone. She’s going to keep arguing.
She’ll argue and tell us she’ll be fine. Sure, she could be fine. She could also fall and then what? Lay on the floor and call, “Help I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!!” Yeah, that would work. She’s 80. I’d rather not chance it. Can you see where my stress began? I started stressing when I realized that I might need to stay with her for a few days. Why? Because I’m me. In the past, and also in the now, I talk. She has often asked me if they can give me a pill for it, a pill for talking a lot. I have Bipolar Disorder and ADHD. Sorry, I do talk a lot. What she doesn’t realize is that I can stop if the situation puts me into caretaker mode. I’m talking about how I seamlessly move into a part of me that is calm and gentle. I can be attentive and patient. I think the closest she’s ever seen me like that is being a mom to my kids, especially when they were younger. I’d like the chance to take care of her. If she’d let me.
The rumination began when she first told us she was going to have rotator cuff surgery and then push herself to the limit and do the back surgery before she was totally healed from the shoulder surgery. Why? She’s got a trip to Italy next year and she’s not going to miss it. This trip has been driving her since she and her sister (the same one) started planning it. When was that? I have no idea.
Having had several painful surgeries I know how important it can be to have someone around to get meals, water, and help to dress you dress if getting out of pajamas is something she might want to do. Showering. Make sure the pain pills and other medications are administered throughout the 24-hour day.
But, I know all she’ll think about is how much I stress her out. I have always stressed her out. Anxiety. It stresses me out knowing I cause my mom so much anxiety that she won’t let me take care of her.
I run every possible outcome through my head. Why can’t she just let me take care of her? Why won’t she trust me? Why is this relationship so hard!? It breaks my heart.
How am I dealing with it? I talk about it. Not with her. Heavens no. I talk about it with those people who protect me from myself and sometimes even from my own family. My two eldest kids and I share a home. They can step in if I ask them to. When this whole situation began we talked about it. We’ll talk about it again, perhaps every day. Hopefully, I’ll trust myself enough that I can actually with her about staying with her in a way that she won’t automatically say no without even considering my offer.
She’s going to refuse and that will add to my already very full bucket of worrying over her and knowing that even though she’s my mom she’ll refuse to let me help. Why? Because all she knows about me is all the past moments when I’ve been “bad” or “off my rocker” with sickness that isn’t my fault.
Family and stress are hard to deal with. I worry about my family, about my mom and my kids, every day. I worry about my mother-in-law. I worry about myself. I worry about you.
I’m sorry about you. And then I panic. And I don’t talk to you. And then I mull it over and over. I make notes and notes and notes. I carry something with me to write on everywhere I go, and I actually do write things down, things I’d like to share with you. And then I panic. I haven’t finished a different website I’ve been working on for over a… two years. (That’s so embarrassing.) I’m worried that you gave up and stopped reading long ago because conventional wisdom these days says you’ll read for 2.25 seconds and then click off. Also, I should have bullet points. How could I use bullet points when I’m telling you about my life and how, I’m sorry to admit this, I will never completely overcome my experiencing stress and even the anxiety that can spawn from it. That’s just the way it is.
I will fight to choose to fight back against my stress and find more ways to deal with it. I started writing this letter to you knowing I wasn’t going to be able to tell you how to get rid of stress. I believe that stress of one kind or another will always be with us. Sometimes stress is positive and necessary. Other times it can lead us down paths to places we’d rather not go.
And so here we are, near the end of this correspondence, and you may feel like this was a waste of time, I haven’t given you the magic bullet and told you a secret way to stop your stress. If I told you I knew how to do that if anyone tells you they know how to show you how to get rid of it, especially if you have to pay them for it, don’t believe them.
My concern for my mom is justified. My experiences in the past, and the stress associated with that, and this is THE KEY that I use to deal with this particularly stressful time, I focus on how much I love her. I forgive myself for the times I could have acted differently. I accept that she doesn’t see me beyond the agitation she believes I will always cause her. I love her enough to willingly expose myself to the pain that her dismissal of my expression of my love for her will cause me. And now I’m sad. Why do families have to be so hard to be in?
Honestly, when I say that this is my way of trying to deal with my rumination stress I mean just that: I try to deal with it. I’m human. We learn. We grow. We succeed. We fail. Sometimes we mix them together like a cocktail gone wrong. In the end, I try to slow down so I can acknowledge my stresses (I stress out all the time) and work to figure out what to do with them.
This is the key for me, this is how I deal with stress: I recognize that I’m experiencing more stress. I think it’s over. I accept that I’m feeling it. It’s okay. It’s normal. Yes, stress can be normal. I don’t have to always shovel everything in the “I have Bipolar and this is how I act because I’m sick” hole. Nope. Not today. Not today.
I despair. I’m terribly worried that I will fall short and be forced to let go of my desire to take care of my mom. It almost makes me feel sick. But not today. Today I’m choosing to go along with life. Sometimes I have to do that. I have to accept that I can’t control anything, I can only do my best. I can realize that much of the stress I feel isn’t necessary. It really isn’t.
What’s next? Surely there must be more. Of course, there is. I use all the ways I deal with myself in every situation when things are hard. I go for a walk, I get annoyed with my dog Baily and then we play ball, I play a video game where I can break things or kill monsters without my dying. I do all the stuff and things that I know can help me have a healthier mind. Meditate? Ew. Um, that’s a hard one for me. Living in the moment. Sure. We’ll leave that for another time.
“Stress monster, I’d like to say hello and wish you a good day. We’re going to have a fine time. And yes, I do see you and I’m not going to ignore you. We’re going to try to get along really well. Aren’t we?”
I love my mom so much. I’m choosing to face my stress and my fear. Right now, that’s what I’m choosing to do. That’s how I’m dealing with my stress. I hope this helps.
Best wishes my Internet friend. Make good choices.
We all know that life changes all the time. We grow, change, and adapt, or problems begin to arise. This is true whether we have a mental wellness challenge like Bipolar Disorder or not.
I’ve never had long hair before, but the first year of covid, I didn’t have any hair cut. The second year, it had grown so long that I decided to let it go its thing and keep growing.
The problem with this, surprisingly, is that I have no idea what to do with it now that it’s past my shoulders. I know, Robin, ask our friend Google.
Here are some of the strange ways I’ve had to learn to adapt:
If you’ve adjusted, good on you. If not, it’s not too late.
Adapting to things doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re big important things; sometimes, they are small, seemingly simple things that may seem trifling or silly. They may not be so minor to you.
Remember my hair experiment? After my hand surgery having long hair made it easy to take care of, except for washing it with one hand while the other was above my brain.
Today I’m adapting again; our shower drain is blocked. Despite snaking it, my son was defeated by hair. And look, my daughter’s hair is far longer than mine! So no shower before I take my thumb to OT. Unlike years past, I don’t have to wear a hat and can enjoy the way all the opinionated bits of hair assert their dominance over me by leaking the not-so-private information that my hair’s dirty. I’m about to use both hands and just put it up!
Long hair has its advantages.
I still don’t know how to style it. My hand can’t hold a brush well yet, so more adapting.
Adaption comes in all different ways. Hair may seem a small and vain thing, but it can be a large part of our identity. I put a hat on my dirty short hair because it embarrassing to go to the campus with dirty hair.
Last week I was feeling down, frustrated and I suppose a little angry. As in all of life, not one thing is contributing to these feelings. I know a major one is that my dog is sick. She’s in pain and, I can’t do anything more for her. Our veterinarian is short-staffed, so they’ve closed the urgent half of the clinic. A month ago, I made an appointment for her and it’s finally arrived. Its been agony watching something that has been consuming her and is growing worse every day. We don’t know what’s wrong, but we can see the results. She’s tearing her skin off. She itches so badly that she passes the pain from earlier scratching and digs deeper, trying to stop the itching. Next month, she’ll see a dog dermatologist. Thankfully I made this appointment with her regular vet. I’m hoping that they will give her something for the pain, reduce the itching, and help her heal. I don’t see any infection, but I’m not a vet.
I think I know how she feels. In the past, sometimes my skin itched so badly I couldn’t resist the urge to itch it. I’ve woken up the night with blood on my fingers. The despair and anxiety that come with that are immense. (No, I don’t have OCD.)
Those horrible emotions appear in various places in life. When my Fibromyalgia flares up and my Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis flare simultaneously, they invoke those same horrible feelings in my soul. I want to withdraw and lay in my bed until I feel better. But, sadly, that’s the worst thing I can do. (One of our cats just went to the bathroom, and I think I’m going to die. Be right back.) I’ve been learning about Fibromyalgia, and one of the first and most important things I MUST do is be active. Physical activity is one of the major and only things it seems that I can do to help me, hopefully, have less pain.
Pain, this is what I want to mention today. Mental and emotional pain can easily be as crippling as physical pain. I might believe I just can’t get out of bed, but I must. I must move around and not stop. Not doing so can let the anguish take hold and cripple me further.
I’m also learning that Fybromyalgia causes something referred to as “brain fog.” Let me just say that I have strategies that I’m trying to use to fight my already beat-up brain from Bipolar Disorder and ADHD. (Thanks brain.) The treatments for those two things are in direct conflict, so we had to choose one to address with medication, the other I try to work within other ways. I’ve chosen my Bipolar because adding a stimulant for ADHD would make the mania so much worse. I’m already so manic that I easily drive my family bonkers; I just don’t need more stimulation. And I’m aware now, that Fibromyalgia also makes things messier.
So, where does that leave me? I’m not exactly sure. So far, it seems that brain fog is a mysterious thing. None of my doctors have offered me a solution or even a way to cope with it. I don’t hold this against them. This illness is very debilitating and, like Bipolar, it is lifelong and I must find ways that work for me to cope. Cope. I hope I can thrive, not simply cope.
I want you to know these things about me because life sometimes sucks for each of us. I can’t possibly understand your frustrations anymore than you can understand mine. Pain, mental and physical is unique to us all. We know that already.
However, let me assure you that I am not alone and, neither are you. As people, as humans, we all struggle with unique things every day. This, as you can imagine, makes the advice that we can give each other very hit and miss, and it misses more than it hits. Why? Because we are as unique as our illnesses or combination of illnesses are.
They say that our uniqueness makes us special; I believe this is true. We each grow with our individual strengths and weaknesses and these things make us special, unique and wonderful. I choose to believe that these thing are true.
Saying that we’re special always makes me feel a bit frustrated. When I’m feeling crushed beneath the weight of life I don’t feel special. I do feel unique in that sometimes I think that no one understands, and no one can help me.
Do you ever experience these things? I’d bet all my money that you do. Okay, I have no money, so that’s not a real bet, but I think you understand. We may have illness(es), and sometimes they make us feel crazy. At least, sometimes I do. But, thankfully, I’m not crazy. And honestly, what does being crazy mean?
I can say that I understand depression, anxiety, frustration, anger, physical and mental pain, and the struggle to think straight or think at all. Those things I can promise I know about. You’re not alone in your struggles.
You are not alone. Not ever. We all feel crazy sometimes.
I have to do MORE to feel better. Pills are not enough for me.
Sometimes I’m a bitch and it isn’t my illness.
I have to be my own ADVOCATE all the time.
Other stuff goes wrong because my brain is connected to my body and my body to my brain and they annoy each other. I think.
[I’m feeling snarky so please excuse me if it pops out here and there. ;0) ]
Do you know what comorbidity is? According to the first result from Professor Google Head it means: “the simultaneous presence of two or more diseases or medical conditions in a patient.” That means… stuff and things. Right now the imprecise cormobid thing is fibro. Yes, that all over good feeling aka as Fibro or to use a longer group of letters – Fibromyalgia (FM). Now this one Professor Google Head has tapped this: “a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain and spinal cord process painful and nonpainful signals.” Note #1
I have to confess that I have an alphabet of letters that follow my brain and I around. FM is not the best companion for anything, and in my oh so humble opinion it is totally garbage for me. (Totally not humble, but loads of opinion.) I thought I’d sprained my left foot so I did all the sprained ankle stuff. It did not get better. Then the, “hello, I’m not actually calling myself a migraine, ‘cause, you can still see, see? But I probably am. I dare you to say it. MIGRAINE.
Okay, okay, we’ll call it a 12 hour every day near migraine running from about 9 p.m. to 5-7 a.m. with no relief. I’m taking stuff to keep me from hurling now too. It’s a simple headache, right?
Obviously this isn’t all about FM or the severe all over my entire body pain and the severe headache that won’t let me call it a migraine. Alright, maybe not so obviously. Let me be clearererr.
I really hate it when ANYONE says, “and let me be clear…” However, let me be clear… [I’m so, so sorry. It popped out. I swear it just popped out!]
I have Bipolar 1 – mixed states, rapid cycling and am pretty much stuck in a ground hog loop of being manic. I’m manic ALL the time. Ask anyone who knows me. Ask my mom or my kids. They’ll be happy to tell you. I NEVER STOP.
Now let me stop for a moment and pull all this out of – someplace, and hopefully make it mean something interesting or whatever. There must be a better word to use than “whatever.” That’s so 80’s.
Sever pain of any kind, especially when it also prevents me from sleeping, is worse than garbage. If you know Bipolar you know moods, you know emotions, you might even think of it as a kind of emotional pain. Not sleeping exacerbates (I love that word) my brain’s peculiarities. In other words, my brain flips out. My emotional pain explodes and implosion may follow. I could end up in the psych ward because… honestly, I don’t plan on dying. Ever. [Sorry kids. You’ll never get to read my journals. Stop laughing!!! Love you.]
If you have Bipolar of any of the several types I want to remind you that YOU have your own personalized illness. No one, not one single person, experiences what you do. That goes for me too. I have my own special loving and kind letters that help me with my Bipolar. Let me share a few with you and I do promise to restrain myself – FM, OA, RA, ADHD, PTSD. Full stop. Seriously, I’m stopping there. I’m not sure if the other stuff has just letters or full names so just forget that I’ve mentioned there may be more.
Hang on a second, I need to close some of these tabs I have open… 1, 2, 10, 17, 25. You have to be kidding. Wait, there are still 20 open in this window (Chrome). Geeze. Another window with 11 more. Okay, I’ve closed that one. Manic. Always manic. I want to tell you that exhaust my kids. They’re all in their 20’s and they are exhausted just looking at me. I mean, how? How do I exhaust them if I’m just talking?! I’m just sitting here. Talking. Well, incessantly. Constantly. All the time. Seriously! How about you my friends? Do you find that happens to you too? Oiy! Headphones. That’s the only way I can stop myself. Or, leave the room / house / car/ area / etc.
Severe pain + severe Bipolar = severe disaster potential extremely high. I know, that’s using “severe” too many times. But this is a severe situation!
You know those fire danger warning signs? This is like that. All the way to red. No fires allowed for any reason. [And no alcohol in the campground. Zero. I imagine that means cannabis as well. It’s totally legal for those over 21 here, but I doubt that it would be a good think to get stupid while camping. I only say “get stupid” because that’s what I’ve observed via personal experience. Stupid. Benefits? Sure. Maybe. Possibly. Stupid? Certainly. IMHO – right? Don’t forget how humble I am.]
This is me… at the time of this writing. Post. Whatever. Now.
This is very near my home. I love living here. This is Reflection Lakes at Mt. Rainier in Washington State. It’s about two hours away from where we live now. We used to be able to drive there in an hour. But, we moved to the city. I don’t think I really like living in the city. This is my first time to live in one. People! People and noise and crime and abandoned houses and people walking dogs and waving hi and people ignoring me being friendly saying hello, have a good day or saying the same back to me. In my brain space! Holy cow Batman! [See the end of the post to find a virtual tour of Mt. Rainier. See if you can find this place. Post in the comments if you find it and if you find anything else you think is interesting about the park and the mountain. Let’s take a moment away from being bonky and share this truly remarkable place. Note #2]
This picture is where I want, where I need my brain to be. The fires have to be suffocated. Um, maybe that’s not the right word. I still don’t want to die so no suffication. Right? Yeah. Nope. Let’s just work on putting the fire out for now. Dang! Such a beautiful place. Come visit! Honestly, loads of places rain way more than it does here. I promise.
There are so very many things I never wanted to know about Bipolar Disorder. I’d say the biggest thing would be that it totally and completely sucks. It does suck. Maybe if I wasn’t so aware of it, if I didn’t realaize how much it sucked, it wouldn’t suck as much? Yeah, that makes no sense to me either. Well, it does suck. I know, that you know that too.
There are things that we have in common and I hope you’ll remember them.
There are always going to be things we really don’t want to know about Bipolar and wish they’d just go away.
Bipolar Disorder sucks.
We have intensely intense moods and thus – emotions and we can’t always control them. Sometimes we completely lose that argument.
Lastly, for this post, Bipolar still sucks.
I’m so tired. The pain needs to stop so I can sleep so I can be less bitchy. Confession – I’ve been a tiny bit bitchy the last few days… weeks. Only the last few days you understand. I’m not normally bitchy. Honestly, I’m not. ;0) Last night I fell asleep in my office chair. My son scared me when he came to take Bailey out to use the lawn for a toilet. Thankfully, she’s a dog. Heh. By the time I got to be in bed the headache was so bad I was carrying around our designated puke bucket. [Kool-aid container. I know, I know, ick! But it doesn’t splash like a bowl. Give it a try. Don’t forget to take the lid off. I’m winking. Can you see me, winking? Sorry, no pic available. Maybe another time.]
Being true to my little grey cells I must confess that short posts are probably going to be infrequent. If this bothers you maybe you could read the first and last sentence of every other paragraph. What do you think? Of course, you might miss things like Kool-aid containers make good puke buckets and then where would you be? That’s right. Puking with your face in the toile that’s where. Or on a table or in a bowl. Ew. Kool-aid. Try it. I mean, if you need to puke.
Okay, I’m going to pretend that I’m going to sleep now. I swear someone hates me and is squeezing my brain. It’s pure pulp now and I’m not having allergies. Ew. TIM… TMI. TMI. Yes, that’s it.
Hey Dear Reader you can now find me on Twitter @Reduxbpd.
NOTES: #1 You can find this where PGH found it at the Mayo Clinic.
#2 This virtual tour includes Reflection Lakes (see the image above). I’d love to bring you all here, but for now, check it out and enjoy Rainier’s beauty.