Category Archives: moody

Bipolar – Danger Signs

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solar-flare-1Now that I’m taking 120mg of Latuda again I can consider the signs I was having that I was going into a crisis. I believe it’s important for me, for everyone, to know what happens before we reach a full-blown disaster so we can take precautions and get help early. That said, I recognize that it is often difficult if not impossible to tell when we’re slipping. It’s like standing on a beach when the tide is out. You’re talking to a friend or looking at the beautiful water or a sunset. You’re not paying any attention to your feet, which is unfortunate, because your feet have been slowly sinking into the sand. Now, when you try to move, your feet stick and you fall on your face because you didn’t realize what had been happening while you weren’t paying attention.

The biggest sign that I’m crashing is that I lose my temper violently and in an instant. Most of my life I have been consumed with anger and ill temper. It has kept me from getting to know my family. My father, who is gone now, was as bad tempered and mean with me as I was with him. We reacted to each other like lighter fluid on a bonfire. I believe that he also suffered from Bipolar Disorder.

In addition to a catastrophically hellish temper I was angry all the time. I don’t mean mad. I mean angry like I wanted to hurt someone. My adrenaline was (and is) on all the time. To this day my muscles are hard as rock, cocked as if to lunge into flight or fight. Even after a massage my musculature remains as solid as steel. I never relax.

Over the years I’ve taken medications that cause my face, my jaw in particular, to violently jerk and I can’t talk. I look like I’ve got a massive tick in my face and I sound like I’m hiccupping. Now, when I’m stressed, the tick comes back. As a matter of fact, I’ve been having it happen daily now even during Christmas vacation when I don’t have the pressures of school work. It really frustrates me. It’s so remarkable that people stop talking and stare at my face. It stops conversation dead.

So this time, when my temper soared uncontrollably and I saw my family react to my words as though they’d been slapped, I realized I was in trouble. I thought I was just feeling my temper returning. I felt like I was keeping it under control. I didn’t realize others noticed it until we were celebrating Christmas Day at my brother’s house and I was talking to my daughter and her fiancée when suddenly Sydney stopped short and looked at me as though I’d just stabbed her. I shut my mouth fast. I knew I was in trouble. I had to stop myself from talking the rest of the day unless I was paying attention to what I was saying and how I was saying it.

My med provider and I had a backup plan in place incase reducing my Latuda to 80mg didn’t work. I was to return to the 120mg dosage immediately. So that’s what I did. I couldn’t wait until I was able to get back in to see her in three more weeks. I’m feeling much less volatile now.

I know it is rarely as easy a fix as returning to a medication that I already know works for me. It’s never that easy. This time was an exception for which I am grateful.

We, you and I, impact those around us. Our behavior doesn’t happen in a vacuum. We have a responsibility to control our behavior for our own health and for our family and friends. It’s funny that I say we need to control ourselves because that’s exactly what I’ve never been able to do. Not till I got well medicated.

The take away – be vigilant for signs of crashing. Then take action swiftly.

Bipolar – Never Far Away

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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 – Learning How to Behave

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Learning how to behave… I know that title might seem a bit odd or offensive, but hear me out. I grew up manifesting symptoms of Bipolar Disorder. My father may have been an undiagnosed bipolar person. Whatever he was he had the temper and anger of a demon. Between myself and with my father as an example I learned how to behave very badly. Somehow my Mom managed to teach me some good manners and I could put my polite hat on when I needed to, but much of the time I was just angry and depressed and it came out in my behavior and my attitude.

I behaved badly especially at home. In high school I wanted to be included in things but was too scared to. In college I got involved an everything I could. I’m not sure where that came from. I went to a Bible College and I behaved like I belonged there. When I graduated and left, the façade faded away and again I was that violently angry person inside. Unfortunately, I wasn’t polite or respectful especially to my family.

Now that I’m well medicated, am pretty healthy and have been in therapy for years I can look at myself and my current behavior and be more or less objective and honest with myself about my behavior. I’ve learned that I sometimes still struggle with in being courteous, being tactful, using the correct tone of voice, smiling, and having the appropriate facial expressions. Strange list, don’t you think? When I thought about what to write today I realized that these are things that directly impact how my Mom and I get along. She’s coming over today to help me pack my things for my move. I always try to prepare myself and think about how I’m going to act when I’m spending time with family because they are the ones I tend to act the most inappropriately with.

Courtesy – Dictionary.com begins its definitions of courtesy with the following two entries:

  1. excellence of manners or social conduct; polite behavior
  2. a courteous, respectful, or considerate act or expression.

Courtesy is nothing more than controlling my selfishness in all situations. It is respecting other people’s feelings. It is not, as I was prone to do, blurting out what I feel in my bipolar moments. It requires self-control. It is not always easy, especially when I am angry. Courtesy also requires self-awareness. It becomes more possible the more I have a positive attitude and it reflects quality of my goals and passions. The more I devote myself to those the more my behavior moves in line with their essential quality.

Tact – There is a right time for everything and a wrong time for everything. In this case I’m talking about my historical behavior of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Today I will be testing myself on whether or not I’m able to be courteous and speak with tact while spending time with my long-suffering Mom. I have been known to speak out of turn, speak in antagonistic tones, and interrupt her when she is speaking. I have been known to regularly question the soundness of her opinions and comment on any mistake she might make in texting or speaking.

While I am doing well I have no excuse to continue to behave in this manner. I’ve put in a lot of work on myself and this is a simple test for how good I’m doing. Can I keep my mouth shut unless I’m going to say something nice to her today?

Tone of Voice – There is something that we use to express our personality every time we speak and that is our tone of voice. If we say one thing, but our tone of voice says something different, we will be conveying something other than what we might intend to say. When I speak with my mother and I’m behaving badly my tone of voice is the first place it is evident. If I say something to her in a disrespectful tone of voice, but say something I think is respectful you can bet she won’t think I’m being respectful. She’ll probably be hurt that her daughter is speaking to her in such an unloving manner. Bipolar Disorder is not naturally conducive to good behavior.

Smiling – Smiling is much the same as tone of voice. In fact, if you are smiling when you say something it will be heard in what you say. When I’m feeling stressed out and angry it is very difficult to smile. But smiling is something I can control and I can do even when I don’t feel like I can say anything polite. My objective with my Mom today is to smile and be respectful and thankful that she’s taking time to help me. I don’t deserve the help. She’s doing it because she loves me. She still loves me after all the long years of bad behavior on my part.

Facial Expressions – Smiling is obviously one of the facial expressions I’ll want to use if I want to improve my relations with my Mom and other people. I can’t count how many times I’ve gotten into fights because of someone’s facial expression and what I perceive as their tone of voice. I react to facial expressions even if words are absent. Worse, I don’t control my own facial expressions.

If I really appreciate my Mom’s help today, my smile should reach to my eyes and be evident in my tone of voice. I should be tactful and not insult her if we don’t understand what the other is saying. I should be polite and respectful.

Sometimes I have to take a step back and examine my behavior to see if it lines up with who I’m trying to make myself to be or if it is more along the lines of the behavior I’ve tried so hard to leave behind.

I have no delusions that I will behave appropriately in all situations. I’m still human and I still have a mood disorder. It can be hard or impossible to smile when you are really on the down side of darkness. It’s okay.

Do the things you need to do to be healthly and stable again. When you cycle back up you will still have this knowledge you have gained about yourself and how to interact with your world. Take your meds as prescribed, go see your counselor when you’re supposed to, see your doctor if you need to, reach out to others who know who you are and you can trust to support you, exercise and eat healthy meals. If it seems like you’re just going through the motions that’s okay. Those motions may just bring you back to a happier place sooner and bring joy to your life.

Today, I will behave.

{Later} It was a good day. I only snarled once.

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 – Indecision and Moving Forward

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house

My new home.

To be successful in dealing with Bipolar Disorder or acquiring wealth I have to be able to make decisions and then right away put them into action. Despite my lack of inspiration recently, my goals and dreams, my passions are still the same. Now that I’ve realized that I was sitting still and not moving towards or away from my goals I know that I have to decide to do something to move me towards my goals and then do it right away.

Oh look, my Mother and I just went out with our broker looking for my first house to buy.

This is one way I can help get my enthusiasm back. Action.

We found THE house!

Having my definite main purpose is the first step on my road to success. In the past success was a stranger to me. While my illness was running wild even if I could decide on my purpose I couldn’t take action on it. Or at least it felt that way and this disorder is all about feelings isn’t it.

My Mother decided to make an offer on it. She’s buying it for me because I have no credit because I am on disability and don’t work. I’ll be making the payments (essentially buying it from her).

Then life pops in and loudly declares that things are not cut and dried. Things are messy and take time and are full of surprises. Such as…

My Mother added a letter with the offer explaining that the house is for her adult daughter who is disabled and asked them to take that into consideration. There were higher offers, but we won the house!

My anxiety tinged mind is making popcorn now.

On Aug. 7th, just after I move, I’m flying to Tampa, FL to drive cross country to bring my daughter home from the Air Force. I’ll have just been in my new house a few days. My kids will take turns living in my new house for me with my dog and two cats. How ironic. I feel jealous. I’ll have to work fast to unpack everything. The house is so much bigger than anything else we looked at. It’s beautiful. I wanted a yellow house. It’s yellow. It’s on a quiet street and has a fenced in back yard to keep Bailey safe.

What was I going to decide? Right, I need to decide where to buy moving boxes from. I’ll do that Monday. There, I’ve made a decision.

No, that’s wrong, I was going to make a decision to move me towards my main life goals.

Well now my goals include moving and all that entails.

I’ve just taken half a chill pill. My right leg is bouncing like crazy. Bouncing/tapping legs is a symptom of my anxiety.

Focus. Okay, I’ve written this blog. Time to work on another project before things get moving too fast. I have a lot of work to do to meet the goal of my life’s passion. My newest goal is to keep working on my chief aim (main goal), my passion, even as I prepare to move. I start back to school in the fall and I won’t have as much time as I do now. I can’t waste time being paralyzed by excitement and fear of the unknown.

Control. I need to control myself. Yesterday I walked up and down the highway with my heeler Bailey for an hour. After I got the news we went for another walk. I had to put the energy someplace productive. Today my knee is stiff, which is funny because it’s my new knee. I’ve had it replaced twice.

I’m going to put the joy I feel now into my Enthusiasm book. I’m going to make it more an encouragement notebook. I’m using one of those school test books.

If I crash later today, I’m going to look in my book and remember how I feel now.

Oh lord, I’m going to have to deal with my Mother. She’s wonderful but she micro-manages everything. I mean everything, like she’ll call and ask me if I’ve been packing every day. Patience isn’t my strong suit. But, it’s one of the parts of having a pleasing personality, which I want to have, so I need to work on it. I don’t want to scare people away with my moodiness. But a pleasing personality, that’s a post for another day.

Find something wonderful to think about today even if it’s a frog hopping across the yard or your dog finally sitting down when you tell them to. Anything will work. But do try to find something positive to think about.

It’s the trying that counts.

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.

New Counselor – Full Disclosure

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This picture is of Barney, one of my companions growing up. He is clearly focused on what he’s doing.

I met my new counselor today. She seems nice. I said “full disclosure” in the title of this post. By this I mean that she will be reading my posts so she’ll know what’s going on with me. I will have to choose to be confident and not self-edit. I don’t want to only say things that I think will make her think I’m doing well or minimize problems I might have. I offered to my last counselor the chance to read my blog but she didn’t do it. Now that I have someone I’m pretty sure will read it I find myself thinking, “Huh…”

I guess this is like beginning a new chapter in my growth. I hope so. I choose to make it so. She’s going to be giving me homework that I think she’s going to expect me to complete. I’m never good at doing that. I have great grades at school but for work from my counselors never seems to happen. I don’t know why.

My first impression is that she’s smart and seems to listen well and is observant. I think she expects me to respond to our work together with growth and that seems reasonable and desirable to me. I want to grow.

I want to join ancestry.com. I want to have my genes tested and see where my people come from. When I ask my mother and her eldest sister they always say, “Canada.” I’m like but where before that? People came to Canada from someplace else. Oh well. Maybe later.

I’m feeling scattered. I can’t seem to focus my thoughts on what I want to say. I want to work on my book but I as I say, I can’t seem to focus. Oh, I just took my second Ritalin of the day. I should give myself a few minutes don’t you agree? It really makes a difference but it isn’t magic. I like the idea of it magically tightening my mental labor into a focused thingie. But nah, the kind of focus I want is only achieved through effort, determination, and through concentration. I could add a few more words but you get the idea.

Sigh.

I think Barney had the right idea. Time to chill and let my brain reset. Maybe I should work on being mindful again. I’ve done it some in the past and it helped. I don’t know why I stop doing things that are beneficial, but I do.

Focus Robin.

Important Person

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Yesterday I went to visit my youngest daughter and her dog for a play date. She has a 4 month old pit bull and I have a 2 year old heeler/kelpie. My dog is not aggressive at all. In fact when another dog tries to play with her she runs away very fast. It does not make me happy. My daughter I think let’s her do it because she’s so young. In my opinion, she should be curbing that aggressiveness already.

Today my mom brought over her older Jack Russell Terrier. After two years of her dog rolling on her back and letting my dog smell her belly, they finally played. I mean like leg slapping, hopping around, and acting silly playing! Finally, Bailey actually played with someone!

It’s hard not agreeing with some of the choices my kids make like letting the puppy play roughly. But, I have to let them do their own things now that they’re all grown up. Well, she’s 18, so barely grown up. I guess my choice is to talk to her about it again or not get together for play dates anymore and I don’t want that.

I did learn something about myself yesterday. I can hold my peace when I disagree with my youngest. I said I thought she should start teaching her now and then I left it. I did good.

Today I didn’t do as well. My mom sat down and immediately started picking on me about something that was important to her, but I felt she shouldn’t have made a big deal about. I also didn’t appreciate her getting on me right off like that.

Before she left I got a chance to snap back at her and then apologize for my behavior.

My moods have been all over the place the last 48 hours. Right now I’m feeling a bit bitchy and irritated. I have no reason to feel that way. There is no one here for me to fight with. I called my eldest daughter and just chatted for a while before she had to go to bed (she’s on the east coast and I’m on the west coast). It made me happy to talk to her. It almost always makes me happy to talk to her. She’s like my reset button. She doesn’t tolerate any crap from me. She calls it like she sees it. If I ask her opinion, she’ll tell me what she really thinks.

What’s cool about our relationship is we talk to each other as adults. I do with all my kids, but Jessica is different. She’s the eldest and she’s the one who took care of me after I had my first knee replacement. It didn’t go well. I had a couple blood clots and was in a lot of pain. She had to give me her full attention. She was amazing and I will forever be thankful to her for that.

Huh. I feel a little better now. I guess I need to manage what I think about a little bit more. I need to not expose myself to negative people so much. I’m affected by negative people really easily.

Let me share something I found today with you. I’m going through my stuff and getting ready to move and in my papers I found this:

You Are the Most Important Person Alive.

You are full of miracles and magic.
Now is the time for you to open your eyes and mind and see.

Sight. Sound. Thought. Touch. Emotion. Smell.

Think a thought… become that thought.

With your imagination, your mind, you conceive a thing. Whatever you conceive, that you will achieve. Like magic.