Everyday Life and Bipolar Disorder – How to Thrive

I’ve been lying. I’ve tried to stay very close to talking about mental illnesses, like Bipolar Disorder, without going into all the rest of the messiness that is me. I’ve felt that if I talked about other things in my life (other health issues or family stresses for example) you might focus on me and those other things and, god forbid, feel pity for me. I don’t want that.

Together we stand… or sleep.
Apart we flounder.

I want to always be BETTER. Always Better!

I want this for you as well.

You and I working to always be better.

I believe that we can.

I also believe that it’s time I share with you how I navigate my brain in the actual world and honestly tell you how that does, or doesn’t, work out.

I’ve always been honest with you, but now I want us to walk together and learn about what happens when things are painful and when things are wonderful.

Life is very messy. Mental health is challenging. Let’s walk and learn how to be better together.

My goal is to strive to be vulnerable with YOU.

Life is strange. It challenges me to sit on my brain and figure out how to not only survive but to THRIVE.

I Want Always… to Be BETTER. Always better.

My desire is to teach, through examples from my life, how to be MORE. I want always to be more than my struggle with my mental health challenges, don’t you?

I have decided to talk to you about mental health, from my perspective and experiences, in the context of real life. What this means is that you can expect to see:

Successes
Stories
Ideas
Musings
Failures
Whims
Challenges
Knowledge
Understanding
Humor

You can still expect the same me, only I’m going to bring it all. ALL of me and my actual life. I hope you’re ready. Things are going to be wide and varied just like our lives are. As I like to say, “I’m Un-Niche-Able.” I bet that you are too.

Here is a small example of one of the things I might talk about:

My arthritis causes me pain. It sometimes limits my ability to do things I want/need to do. Sometimes the pain is too much. All this “non-Bipolar” stuff greatly affects my emotions. There are times when I’m driven to despair. It is exhausting to constantly fight against chronic pain.

How do I deal with pain? How does it impact me and my emotions? Do my emotions, my moods, dictate how I deal with severe pain?

It turns out that I’m not a big fan of pain.

Things change. I change. I deal differently with myself all the time. As I learn new things I can apply to myself and make me a better person I put into use right away. Why?

I believe that I can BE BETTER. I believe that I can DO BETTER.

And I know that I can easily stumble and face-plant. Then, when I can collect myself, I’ll figure out how to get back up, no matter how awkwardly, and decide what to do next.

A topic that I feel passionately about is that I believe that who I am as a person, my character and core beliefs directly impact everything I do while I’m Bipolar… which is all the time. Every day.

I’ll be exploring all these ideas and much more in the coming days. I do hope you’ll feel welcome to drop bye for a visit.

I’m working on a way that we can chat with each other and find fellowship, acceptance, positive talk and even funny stories. My goal is to have a safe space for us to hangout. I’m not considering Facebook because too many people go to some of the mental health groups intending on dumping or unloading on the other people in the group. Some give terrible advice while others belittle those who ask honest questions that need answers. They don’t deserve to be chastised and compared to others.

Build up. Encourage. Fellowship. Laugh. Silly stories. Ideas for survival and SUCCESS.

When I find a place that I’m comfortable with I’ll invite those of you who are interested to join in. It will be a closed group and people will have to ask permission to be a part of the group. More will come on that as I continue to develop it.

Be well my friend.

Robin

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Bipolar-A Strategy I Use to Deal with Stress

I think I slept last night, but I don’t feel that way. I did morning stuff: fed the pets, dog potty, morning pills, coffee, etc. It didn’t help. So, when my millenials got up around 11, I chatted for a few minutes then went to take a nap. I never, hardly ever, take naps.

I was interrupted by noise (mostly barking, a cat talking way too loud and the kitten popping under the bed every she hear all the commotion. Eventually I left my room and scolded them. (Sure, like that’s gonna work.)

Later… everyone quieted down, but I could hear Bailey outside my door waiting for me. First barking and now love. Of course I let her in and in a few minutes she and the kitty are on my bed sleeping soundly next to each other. Well, accept for when Savvy heard “something.” She’s a cat so who knows what she heard. They looked so cute.

I’m brainwashed. YouTube and cute dogs and cats loving each other. Have you noticed that the dog often seems to let the kitten do whatever, whether or not they respond? That’s how Bailey is. Of course I had too take pictures. Yeah, now I’m keeping myself awake. Smart.

We napped together.
Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

Time to get to business. My brain needs a nap. Seriously.

I put the heating pad under my shoulders so my bed would be comfy. It felt good. Bailey and Savvy were sound asleep. That always helps me calm down. I turned on some jazz music on my iPad. (YouTube premium doesn’t have commercials so I can sleep all tonight without an add freaking me out.) Now what? Uhhh… My brain is still too stimulated.

Time for my secret weapon – myself.

After years of experimenting I’ve come up with a routine that works for me… sometimes.

  • Turn on jazz music (Or maybe classical. It can’t have words.)
  • Get in a comfy position
  • Close eyes
  • Attempt to focus
  • Ummm… right, pull my blanket over my eyes (and sometimes around the top of my head too)
  • I imagine myself withdrawing into my mind where there is peace and rest
  • Thoughts come along and distract me. I acknowledge them and send them on their way imaging them as clouds having no substance
  • I want to write something down but I don’t. I remind myself that if it’s that important I’ll remember it when I get up.
  • My mind begins to relax
  • I encourage it by keeping my eyes closed and imagining my eyes rolling up in my head as I think, “This is what passing out in and exhausted sleep is like. It seems darker now. Peaceful.”
  • Jazz – ride the music. It’s all I hear. I think it. I ride it as I drift off to sleep.

Then my mom calls me. Yep. She seems to always know when to call. I put my phone on “do not disturb,” but my “important people” list comes though. I always want my family to be able to reach me, except when I’m napping. I mute the ringer. Sigh, see I have 20 minutes of my allotted time left. I allow sleep to take me again.

Then I re-enter the land of the mostly awake and grumble, not that I’m feeling better of course, that they could have stopped the dog from continuing to bark for five whole minutes. Kyle smiled. Sigh.

STRESS COMING…..

I check my messages: This is your mother. Call me.

Seriously? She couldn’t have just called the other two people I live with? “Would you guys like to come over and play cards today.” No, I wouldn’t. I have plans. I actually have real plans. No, not tonight. After 57 years that it’s okay for me to say, “no.”

No. Jessica, ask her if we can do it after Kyle gets off work tomorrow. She did. We are. My shoulders go back down a few inches.

“Oh, dad’s coming over at three.”

Excuse me?

Their father isn’t polite to me. I say hello, how are you. He says, “Fine.” And… that is the entire conversation unless I keep asking questions. The house is a complete disaster. It’s 1:30. Why aren’t you cleaning the house up? (Now three is in one hour.) Don’t I always run around like a stupid chicken and try to clean house before people come over? They agree. Well???

Kyle smiles… a little devil still.

Irrationally I feel like someone who violates me emotionally is coming to my home without my permission. He’s not coming inside. Go out to his car. He can’t come in. “Sure.”

My shoulders are back up. I sigh again, get some juice and head for a hot shower.

Remember, he’s not coming in. If you have to, tell him I said he can’t. Tell him I’m not comfortable him. No.

See, I’ve finally learned it’s okay, even really good, for me to say no. I don’t want to do that. It’s okay. Buy my shoulders are back up. They’ll go back down later. I think. I’ll have to talk to my brain about it later. For now, shower. Just think about the shower.

Sure. Sigh…

But I had a nap. My choice.

This is just one way I deal with my days. Sometimes it’s like this everyday. Sometimes, regardless of what I do I have to take a chill pill (for anxiety), then try to calm down a little later.

I have a mood disorder. It’s a good thing for me to be able to manage myself. And, sometimes I can’t do that. I just can’t.

But that’s another post.

Be well. Take care of yourselves and don’t let your emotions freak you out. As for me, I’m planning on having a fantastic afternoon, after their dad leaves and I feel a bit calmer. I will feel calmer. I might have to resort to playing a game or cleaning fish tanks or something, but I’ll try. I’m able to do that today.

Take away: Figure out things that work for you when you are stressing out. Don’t just say you can’t do it. You have to try. Even “normal” brains have to do that.

Figure it out. Fight your brain. Turn those harmful emotions away. Say, “No.”

You can do it.

Bipolar Disorder and Stress During Crisis

I can’t give you advice that will save you from your personal struggle with Bipolar Disorder and the novel Covid-19 virus… I can’t. That’s just a fact. I can tell you all the things I’ve been doing to keep my brain turned round the right way, but I doubt that would help you either. Why won’t I? I can’t.

My struggles are uniquely mine just as yours are to you. My mind would be blown if you too had had oral surgery on March 17th only days before elective dental procedures were cancelled. (I’m in WA) Now that the work has begun we can’t put a, “hold until further notice,” sign on my mouth… despite what my kids might want to do.

Through it all, we’re in this together.

A similar situation happened to me after a December 17th – so bizarre on the timing – when over Christmas we couldn’t get a pain killer to kill the pain of my thumb joint replacement. I cried, I tried to sleep, I used every ice pack in the house… I cried some more. (December-January)

I can’t tell you how to save yourself from this particular stress. Saturday I cried because my jaw hurt so badly; they say sometimes crying helps us feel better. Not this time. My pouting face served to scrunch all my muscles and whatsits about my mouth and provoked my pain to send me headlong into a panic.

This week (March), I misplaced my chill pills (Clonazepam)… during this stressful time… when I can’t manage to control the pain in my face… and my stress… where are the chill pills?! (Ever done that?)

This panic was different than the last one. February’s panic was from having the CPAP strapped to my face and turned on. I didn’t much like having it on my face, but I swear that turning it on deflated both my lungs and shunted them down into my legs. I’m sure that’s why my thighs are so larg…big…. healthy. Heh.

Here’s the plain truth.

Ready?

Do what you can. Hold on. Duck your head when you need to. Stop thinking about the now, about how you feel right now, and think about the fact that you ARE thinking. Then stop thinking so much and go for a walk. Yes, a walk. Go!

We have a mood disorder. We’re not crazy people. We’re the worlds’ officially licensed Moody Group.

Emotions are moods. You are not losing your mind, nor am I. This is stress.

What’s happening then? I think it’s time I stopped ruminating on my current emotions and started thinking about how resilient I am. Yep. Me. I’m resilient.

I think that you might be resilient as well. Of course I don’t know you, but I don’t think that really matters. What matters is that you’re reading this. The very fact that you’re reading this demonstrates that you are resilient. You’re a survivor.

So survive.

Dig deep.

Be resilient.

You, are resilient.

Everything seems better after a nap.

Be resilient.