Mood Disorders, Sunshine and Me

Have I been fighting all these years against SAD? Depressed? Missunderstood? Reeling in the darkness? Or have I just been an ass?
Well…. Take your pick. Everyday is a new day.

I’ve heard for years about how some people suffer from fall and winter depression and I’ve accepted it as a matter of fact. I had never paid any attention to my moods as the seasons of the year toddled on by. Every year someone seems to ask me if I became “worse” in the “dark” seasons. I’ve never had an answer. Why would I? I thought I always felt the same – enraged, depressed, angry, bitter, anxious, sinful, doomed, damned, unliked, manic…. out of control Bipolar. Then I went to a Bible college, got married, had kids, showed postpartum depression which lead years later to my diagnosis: Bipolar Disorder Type 1.

This year I seem to be at a place in my life where I’m able to…. scratch that. I’ve been noticing that I’m not as “normal”* as usual. I’m happier. I think I’m funnier. That alone is awesome. And I don’t even care if my friends laugh when I think I’m being funny and my kids don’t. HA! HA!

*When I say “normal” what I mean is that I’ve been in a couple of months long consistently better place. I know, that doesn’t mean anything either but who cares. I’m happy right now and I’m happy that I’m happy.

Dark seasons. Do I? Beats the heck out of me. I’m just glad that my years of feeling rage and horror 99.5% of the time are over. I hope they’re over. One can never tell with things like this (Bipolar).

At my home today the weather is beautiful. It’s going to be about 71F which is warmer than normal here. The rest of the week it should be in the ’80s! Of course, much higher than normal here in the Greater Puget Sound area. It’s nice to accidentally plan a family BBQ (Thursday) when the weather will be so wonderful.

Am I happier in spring and summer? Well, it rains less and I can go outside and get sunburned in 10 minutes, my dog can play ball and only get wet when I spray her with the hose. Hell yeah! Give me spring! Give me summer!

Go ahead! Burn this Irish skin. Do your best sun. I’ve got all the rest of the year to fade back to my spotted white.

Let’s burn, this time with the sun. Not with rage and hate.

Do They Come from Within?

Friends - Thinking Time?

Siberia, the Cat, is doing all the thinking in this friendship. Course, Bailey was a youg thing back then. Siberia has gone to live with the stars.

I read something in a description of an online course last night that I found both intriguing and disturbing.

“Emotions are something that happens TO us and, therefore, they’re outside of our control.”

Can this be true? I currently understand that Bipolar Disorder is a Mood Disorder and is thought to be caused by something going bonkers in my brain chemistry. And for those of you familiar with Agatha Christie I will say that it is thought that my little gray cells have gone bonkers. Okay, just the “little gray cells” is from Christie, but it’s still awesome.

I’ve been actively discussing my illness with myself since I was initially diagnosed with it in…. ah… before 1992. No, after. I’ll have to look it up. Anyway, it doesn’t matter because I’ve been dealing with myself and all my symptoms since my early teens. (I’ve acknowledged to my dear mom that I understand now what a handful I was and that it was most likely me imagining that I had a rotten life and when my life wasn’t actually rotten. My dad probably had Bipolar Disorder too, that made for frequent fireworks.

Wow. That was that too much? Let’s see if I can make it better –

I grew up in an affluent tourist town nestled in a beautiful harbor in Puget Sound, WA. I didn’t have bling, a rock star car, or cloths to die for. Instead, I had a horse, dogs, cats, acreage, forest, forts, climbing on haystacks, and cops and robbers.

When I was at the age when I should know right from wrong I started misbehaving. Like, misbehaving on purpose. That is, I couldn’t seem to help myself. Much of the time I felt that I was the only right one and that everyone else was wrong. I was always angry, so angry.

My father misbehaved.  Mom suffered in silence. As I’ve said, my symptoms began early and grew worse and worse as the years went on. Is it real? Or is it Memorex? (You’ll just have to Google it.)  {Oh man. I’ll keep working on my pressured writing. These things… they tend to stay around. Do you agree?}

So… maybe that didn’t help. All I’m trying to say is that my pressured speech spills over into my writing and I tend to go on and on and on…. (sorry!) and that some people believe that my emotions are caused by something outside of my body. It happens TO me, not from within me.

Is something being done TO me? This idea is very troubling. Okay, no. It is down-right frightening and deserves to be thought on some more.

You may have noticed that I tend to question everything. I spent about 25 years chasing god just to see if he existed. I didn’t want to spend my life in service to a god that didn’t exist. This was my greatest attempt, at that age and with no knowledge of what was going on, to try to help myself. It didn’t work. Knowledge failed. Prayer failed. Was it I who failed? Exorcism failed.

I admit that there is definitely something wrong with my brain. (Grrrr…. I want to argue about that last sentence – maybe another time.) My moods or my emotions or whatever, whack my thinking around until I make very bad and sometimes dangerous choices. My thinking seems to meander and become clouded. Or, the coals get stirred, and mania sets up house and lights it on fire. Then I’m all ripped me up and anything I do or say will probably smear ash on others.

I’ve been thinking for too long what my next post would be – this wasn’t it. This is the result of what I’ve read and thought about just yesterday and today. I hold these ideas, these issues, in a very important place in my mind and in my life. Beginning to understand some of these things may help me, and I hope you might find help.

I want to learn more clearly what’s really going on with/in us and what WE can do about it. Is there any hope that we will ever feel – normal? Actually, I like to think that “normal” is my being able to be at peace all the time. I believe that there must be a way for us to know peace and even, control ourselves – if we want to.

I plan to toss these ideas around in my next post, but you know how it is – can’t keep my attention from zipping down the crazy rabbit hole every 27 seconds. <wink>

Bipolar Disorder + ADHD = One hell of a busy brain!

ROBIN, slow DOWN!

Don’t tell me what to do!

See ya next time and thanks for staying for a while. Forward me to your friends if you are so inclined or maybe you could sprinkle unicorn sprinkles around. Maybe they can fix something.

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 – Dealing with Emotional Pain

Siberia1
There are any number of examples I could talk about concerning dealing with emotional pain. I’ve been going through a lot the last year and a half. This last week was one of the worst weeks that I hope I have for a long time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bipolar – Self-Motivation

“Personal initiative” are two of the least meaningful words to me as a person with Bipolar Disorder that I can think of. Let’s call it “self-motivation” instead. Depression and sometimes anger take up a lot of my emotional energy and emotional intelligence and derail the best of my intensions.

Daily I face stresses which make it harder to manage my bipolar. Right now immediate issues include putting my cat to sleep today (three hours ago) and three days later beginning moving into town. That’s just this week. After that on August 7th I’ll fly to Tampa, FL so I can drive with my eldest daughter from there to here (near Seattle).

I have to remember that I am striving to break the old patterns of behavior that come from years of my illnesses running unchecked and creating all manner of bad habits. One of those habits is being “self” orientated and completely unmotivated.

Often all I can think about is myself and how to make it through the day. Sometimes it takes all my energy to taking one breath after another, eat regular meals, take my meds, and take care of my animals.

Bipolar Disorder is all about sever mood swings. Swinging sometimes swinging slowly, sometimes quickly from the far left to the far right. I live in a state of movement and flux. Some days, I celebrate stability and forge ahead on the path to my future and my successes: chasing my passions.

I’ve had trouble blogging recently. I’m moving and finding the time and energy to do it has been a challenge. Nevertheless, I still think of my goals and am mindful of how everything I do either moves me towards them or away from them. I’ve been letting the television suck my brain out again. There are endless hours’ reruns of home improvement shows on HGTV and DYI. They’re great channels, but come on, watching a rerun for the fourth time of Flip or Flop? Seriously? I need to get my head out of limbo and start being mentally active.

So look, I’m starting moving Friday unless something goes askew. The movers will be here Monday. I could waste all that time I’m not actively moving because it won’t be convenient to write then, but writing is what I’m trying to do. I feel like chaos has taken up residence in my brain and my thinking processes are all mucked up.

I’ve learned that it doesn’t pay to do anything connected with my definite major purpose, my major goal, my passion, without the deliberate intention of doing it better than I have done it before. I need to always reach further than I have ever done. If I can’t do that I might as well not waste my time because that’s what I’ll be doing. I’ll be going through empty motions and I don’t have the time or energy for that silliness.

Personal initiative, or self-motivation, is an important part of striving to reach my goals. Using it I learn to act as soon as I can, not later when it is convenient, but now, when it matters. When I use it I will want to get started on my work with eagerness knowing it is bringing me closer to my chief aim in life. It is not just about doing my best working for other people, it’s very valuable in pursuing my own passions.

Dreaming big dreams doesn’t make them happen. Getting off my butt and taking the steps towards completing them does. That’s what “personal initiative” is all about. Getting up and making things happen yourself, on your own, without anyone goading you on and trying to get you to strive to go the extra mile. It’s being self-motivated.