Her Safe Place

Bipolar – Little Bit Nuts

Last night, all I can remember is being super tired and watching a video on my iPad holding it above my face while in bed. Ok, weird. This I know. Here’s the really weird part. I got up at about 5:45 and texted Jessica wanting to know why she was late coming to pick up her uniform. She saw the text and ignored it as she should have done. I’m the one who, only hours before, had reminded her she had today off. OMG

Losing my mind.

Watch this video and check out the pics. Bailey is looking for the cat laser that no one is using. She does it all the time. Poor kid. Well, look who she lives with. Hehehe

Oh, stink. I’ll have to upload this from my iPad then add the images. Np sorry, the video is so huge. Bailey is actually looking for a laser.

 

Bipolar – Invisible Lasers and Behavior

neuroplasticityJessica moves her hand and Bailey looks for a laser on the floor like a missile on a target, like when an officer arrives and she snaps to attention… she’s completely conditioned like Pavlov’s dog. Bailey follows her around the house waiting for her to use the laser. Jessica hasn’t used the laser on her for so long that she doesn’t even remember doing it. AND IT’S A CAT TOY!! The cat doesn’t chase it, the dog does.

See, here’s the thing, I want to apply it to Bipolar Disorder and maybe other illnesses, but I just can’t think of a similar situation. I mean, I want to say something like, “I can retrain my brain and rid myself of my illness by using Neuroplasticity and remapping my neuro pathways… change me on a physical level… BE CURED OF THIS CRAP!

All I can think of is can I train myself to react in better ways than I do. Can I be trained to respond to situations, to people, to everything and improve my thinking and my behavior so I seem like I’m getting better? Like I’m cured?

I know as well as anyone else who has Bipolar does, that this thing cannot be cured. It can be masked. It can have help in controlling it’s symptoms. But it won’t go away.

It would be so incredibly awesome if my brain could be remapped, conditioned like Bailey’s is.

Bailey is so amazing. She remembers tricks I taught her years ago. She just prefers not to do them for me. She’ll do them for my kids, not for me. Little shit. Well, that’s how it goes.

Maybe my brain has learned some tricks and it will only perform for other people. I wonder. Wait! I wonder who it could be trained for. Nah, I’m not going there.

I understand that my brain really can be changed using neuroplasticity. I’ve done studied it off and on over the years and I honestly believe it can change my brain. Can it cure me of the monster that runs my brain? I don’t think so. I guess it could. Maybe. But I don’t think so. (This is a great topic for a different post!)

Bailey is terribly funny when she tries to chase lasers that aren’t there. Jessica is a turd for teasing her. (I’m going to try to get a video of it so you can see just how strange it is.)Maybe, part of the difficulties that are a part of Bipolar, namely my behavior, can be modified in the same way that I’d like to retrain Bailey to stop looking for lasers. Isn’t that why I see counselors year after endless year? To retrain my behavior? The counselor can’t cure me. That’s not why I see them. I see them so I can be told how to stop acting like I have Bipolar. Um, okay, I’d better stop there.

“Point” is… dog looking for invisible laser… way funny.

Bipolar – Fears

Ever since my 21-year-old son moved out several months ago I’ve been alone with my pets. Bailey, my heeler, follows me constantly. She sits across from me when I go to the bathroom and looks at me like she wants me to play ball. Actually, she usually gives me the ball when I’m on the toilet. Or she drops it too far away from me so I say, “I can’t reach it, bring it here.” And she does.

I lived in a rural area for the last 20 years and in the same house for the last 10. I know the families in the duplexes next door and am comfortable with them. One of them I know if something happened she’d be there for me. Like when I fell down the stairs and broke my ankle my kids went and got her and she handled it. I miss her. We didn’t generally spend much time together because she’s one of those people you’d like to know better, but the cost would be hours and hours of listening to her talk about everything that comes to her mind and being aware that she believes she’s an expert on everything she talks about. And she talks really loud and smokes so she has to be able to stand by a door when we’re in one of our houses so she can stick her hand out the door.

Now I’m in town and there are houses all around me. I have a giant apple tree in the back yard that screens me from the houses directly behind me and fencing and laurel trees around most of the small back yard. It’s just big enough for Bailey to really run around and have fun.

There are people living on both sides and across the road from me. There are people behind me. There are people up and down the streets in the neighborhood. In short, there are people everywhere. I’m crowded in a way, but I’m also very much still alone.

I’m in town and closer to my kids. They’ve been great helping me move in. I’m looking forward to seeing them more.

I’m in a strange house. I’m so overwhelmed by all the boxes that I’m having trouble unpacking and finding places to put things away. I’m unsure of myself. I’ve lived with AC for the last 10 years and now I don’t have it. I don’t feel comfortable having the windows open all night and we’ve been having really hot weather. Yesterday was the second hottest day of the year so far. It was 85 inside when I went to bed. It really frustrates me.

Since I moved I feel more alone. I think part of it is from the loss of my cat and the circumstances surrounding that.

It’s strange because I’ve had two family members whom have never visited my home drop by already. You would think I’d be happy to be around people and where I can see my family more often. But I’m not. Not yet.

The death of a pet and moving are major life stressors. In addition to that last fall I started back to college and before that my father died 6 months after being diagnosed with cancer. I feel like I’ve had enough.

I’m trying to accept the situation and keep busy. I’ll make sure to keep my appointment with my counselor next week. I’ll start walking around the neighborhood in the next few days, though the unknowns of that scare me. I don’t like the unknown. And there seem to be dogs everywhere.

Speaking of which I have another major event coming up. My daughter is leaving the Air Force and I’m flying to Tampa, FL to drive back her to Washington State with her two cats. I’ve never done anything like that. Besides the incredible challenge of the trip, I’ll have to trust my kids to take care of my animals while I’m gone. I’m not certain how that will work out. Both Kyle and Sydney basically work full-time and they work odd hours that are usually different every day. I worry about Bailey. Sydney and her fiancée Toni are planning on bring their young Pitbull over and sleeping here with both dogs since they both sleep with their people. She sleeps with them and Bailey sleeps with me. That would put two good size dogs and two people in my queen size bed. I can’t see it myself. Their dog is much more aggressive playing than Bailey is. She scares Bailey.

Unknowns…

I might change my major at school as well. If I do need to change my class schedule this fall quarter a little because I’m thinking of changing my major.

I feel alone. People do drop by, which I’ve never had happen before. The mail lady is friendly and says “hi” and gives Bailey a bone. I’m less alone than I was, but I don’t feel that way yet. My emotions are stirred up and a bit chaotic. I’m being careful to take care of myself. Although I have to admit I’m scared to go to the new grocery store I’ll be using. I’m a worrier and that fear comes from that.

Maks, my cat, has started protesting that I won’t let him sleep with us. He climbed up some mattresses leaning against the wall in the third bedroom. When he got to the top the bedroom light was turned on. Then, last night, he got on the peninsula in the kitchen and started knocking things over. So just as I was going to sleep there was a loud crash as he knocked things over. This morning I woke up to things I was putting away (unpacking) all over the floor. This has got to stop.

I got a free Comcast security system installed yesterday. I freaked out about setting it right and not setting off the alarm. Man! What an alarm! That sucker would scare Jesus.

So what to do. Today it’s only supposed to be 76F. Tomorrow it should be about 80 again. I should go for a walk in the morning. I should, shouldn’t I?

It would be great if I could tell Rebecca, my counselor, that I’ve gone for a walk, but I’m not sure I can do that yet. Bailey has really been pulling on her leash a lot. I’ll have to use her prong collar.

Facing my fears… fears of the new, fears of the unknown, and fears of not being able to have the courage to do the things I need to do.

I should take a chill pill and in 20 minutes I should go for a walk. I’m not sure that I will. I’m feeling a little relaxed right now. The evil cat is sitting next to me on the sofa. Bailey is napping in the recliner. I’m snuggled in my favorite corner of the sofa.

I wonder what the difference between sofa and couch is?

I’m going to try my hardest today. At the very least I need to unpack and put away a few boxes.

Here’s to all of us who are afraid of anything. May we find the hidden strength to face some of those fears today. We can do it. I know we can. Let’s start today.

 

Being a Bipolar Mom

Tonys House

My brother’s mid-century modern home for Mother’s Day

This is my first Mother’s Day completely alone. My last kid moved out a few weeks ago. I’ve been depressed, but not too bad. Then there was today… alone with myself and my dog. I talked to my eldest for almost two hours and it was so wonderful. I miss her a lot. I hoped to hear from my other two kids all day… but I heard from my mom instead. We exchanged greetings and love.

My youngest finally texted me and said she’s had phone trouble. I told her to call me. I’m not about to text with my kid as a visit for Mother’s Day. She called and we talked for a while. I told her how sad I was. I’d just cried a little. It was good to talk about it with her. I miss her. She moved out almost a year ago.

I was taking my dog out to go do her evening duty and my phone rang in my pocket. 10:00 p.m. and my son was finally calling. He’d called earlier while he was out shopping with his girlfriend. Thank you but if you respect me you’ll give me your full attention. I was hurt. I told him I was outside and that I’d call him back.

I did call him back after I got the cats fed and my coat put away. I was feeling grumpy and hurt. I called and by this time I had nothing left to say but to tell him how I felt about him calling me while he was shopping. He’s done it before. It isn’t respectful to me or the person he’s with. It’s very selfish.

We talked for a couple of minutes and I didn’t have anything else to say. I feel that way sometimes when I’m feeling hurt.

Mother’s Day was lonely. I feel sadder today than I did yesterday, but I’ll be okay.

We got most of the family (accept my son and his girlfriend) together at my brother’s for a BBQ Saturday. It was a beautiful day and we had a nice time playing cards and eating. The picture is of his and his partner’s mid-century modern home.

I should have gone for a walk today. It was a bad choice for me to choose not to go out. The sun would have been good for me.

I’m going to get my mind off myself and read some of Eleanor Roosevelt’s Autobiography. I find that it is good to read biographies and autobiographies of people I admire. I can hopefully learn helpful things from them and maybe even be inspired. You never know when inspiration will sprout.

Happy Mother’s Day fellow mom’s.

New Counselor – Full Disclosure

barney in bean cushion_001.JPG

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

Bailey in chair summer 20150611_165245

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.

I’m Learning to ACT Rather Than REACT

20150426_185732

{Please be patient. This is a little long. I hope you’ll stick with the whole thing.}

One of my favorite things to do is to respond to things from habit, rather than thoughtfulness, especially when talking with my mother. I REACT rather than ACT with thoughtfulness. The difference between the two is that:

REACTING is when she says something that I think is stupid (I start by judging her) I respond to her habitually with my emotions and treat her like she actually is stupid and I’m disrespectful as well. There is no consideration of her feelings or how what I say might impact her.

ACTING is when I have taking a moment to consider the situation and respond from thoughtfulness rather than just emotion. It is a response in a reasonable manner.

Ideally I should respond to her with my intellect managing my emotions. If I disagree with her I can say that I disagree with her instead of talking to her like she’s a moron.

For example we’re house hunting right now. We’re working together to choose a house for her to buy as an investment and me to live in. This would be a bad time for us to start fighting. Meaning, it would be a bad time for me to start acting primarily from my emotions and be a bitch.

One of the first houses we saw was well below her top price and so it was attractive to her for that reason. I walked into the kitchen and immediately announced it had to be completely gutted. It was an older obviously had never been updated and had no counter space. In her mind she probably saw that it was a kitchen that I could cook in. I saw that it needed good counter tops, new flooring and cabinets. She thought a coat of paint would work to fix it up. I struggled. If I became argumentative now it was going to be difficult to continue looking at houses without stress overtaking me.

Fortunately, our broker spoke up then and agreed with me about completely gutting the kitchen. I heard my mom take a small breath. I think reality was starting to catch up to her.

By the third house she seemed to start to understand that the less we spent, the more renovation would be needed. There was no way we were going to get a house in this area for the price she wanted to pay. I knew that. So far I’d managed to keep my mouth shut about it. I hadn’t informed her from my vastly superior intellect that there was no way we could find a habitable house in the area for her target price.

So far we haven’t done so well finding houses that might be suitable for me, my two cats, and my dog even though she raised the amount she was willing to pay. The housing market in this area is very tight. I have basically till September to find a house. After that I’m going back to school or getting a job and I won’t have time to just run off to look at houses. It will be more difficult to have time to view houses and move.

It’s hard for me to be patient with the whole process. My tendency is to ask mom everyday if she’s heard from Rhett (the broker). I know that’s not going to be helpful and might make her stress about it. I’m shooting for asking her every other day. I talk to her every day since my father passed last year so I’ll have to remember which days I bug her about it.

We just told Rhett that we wanted to narrow the search area to areas where crime wasn’t so high which meant areas that weren’t crammed together and really low income. She and I actually agree on the areas where we want him to look. If I hadn’t controlled my mouth, which can really be hard, I probably wouldn’t have been able to agree on looking in the more expensive areas. I don’t want to live in the Eastside and most of the places he was showing us were in the Eastside.

Since I started this adventure out on a good foot by controlling my tongue and my tone of voice I’ve given us a chance to actually enjoy each other’s company. I’m even tolerating her dog coming along with us better as we go on. I don’t care for her dog. Her dog is mean to my dog. I don’t like that at all. Oh well. It’s good for me to learn to be more tolerant. Isn’t it?

Every time I’m going to spend time with mom looking for houses or even just talking about them I try to prepare myself and get my emotions under control beforehand. I’m having a lot of anxiety. It would be so easy to take my negative feelings out on her, but they have nothing to do with her. It’s all about controlling my negative emotions and shutting my mouth unless I have something helpful to say. (How many of us have said that exact line?)

My therapist (the one that’s leaving) taught me that I can be the one to “drive the bus” as she put it. I could control my behavior or I could sit in the back of the bus and go where my emotions take me. And believe me, they take me a lot of bad places by habit even when I’m not totally depressed. It just feels natural.

Between working with my therapist and spending my own time reading and thinking about myself and my behavior, my emotions, and my thoughts I’ve gotten to the point that while I’m having trouble with anxiety (My son moved out a little over a week ago so I live alone now.) and even anger over not finding a house right away I’ve been able to treat my mom with some measure of respect and patience. So far. I give myself credit for that. It’s important to remember to give myself credit when I do well. It’s so easy to only recall the times when I explode in violent anger or crushing depressing.

Even though I’ve been doing well so far there is no telling when I might swing and become really depressed or manic. I’ve got to be careful to control my anxiety with my chill pills and take my handful of regular pills every morning and night. And, I have to watch out for my triggers. I take time for myself and think about the person I want to be. I really try to focus on that for longer than just a second or too. I really try to almost meditate on the specific person I want to be. It helps. And I take time to play with my dog. We walk and play. She’s my emotional support.

I can’t control when we find a house, but I can try to control my responses to that the search. That’s my goal. I’m going to control my behavior towards my mom, whom I love a lot, no matter what my feelings are about house hunting. I’ve committed myself to that. My mom deserves that. I deserve that too.

Bipolar is Liquid Metal

liquid metal

I think one of the most amazing things about bipolar disorder is the liquid speed with which it can strike. It’s hot like melted metal, able to disintegrate a person in an instant. I feel it playing at the edges of my consciousness. I’ve had a stressful day. I’m feeling like I’m walking on ice with shoes that have heated soles. I could fall to the floor at any time.

I think I made the dog depressed. I really had to work hard to get her to play. I had to get out her favorite squeaking donut. It’s driving me crazy.

Physically, I feel pretty good. I’m afraid that for the first time in my life I’m going to become depressed and try to eat myself out of it.

Melted chocolate pie.

My anxiety level is growing. It might be because I’ve left the television on E! and Keeping Up With the Kardashians all day. Come to think of it that might be what it is. I’ve never watched it before.

My First Day as a Grown-Up

maks balloon

Apparently I set my alarm wrong or didn’t set it at all because at 9:32 my youngest daughter Sydney called and scared the snot out of me. I was so confused and I dropped the phone and missed the call. Oops. I got the phone off the light stand and onto the bed with me so I could call her back but she beat me.

You should know that while I’m only 53 I have rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and I’ve had cataracts removed and I wear full dentures. I ain’t got no choppers. This is interesting to know because of what happened next. Getting the phone in the first place was painful and I almost dropped it behind the bed because of the arthritis in my hands. Morning is especially bad for my hands.

Sydney called before I could call her. She was very excited and upset. I was still effectively asleep. She launched into her problem which has nothing to do with my morning in general so we’ll skip that.

I was trying hard to sound like she hadn’t woke me up, but it was no use. In morning especially trying to talk without my teeth in is like talking to me drunk with mashed potatoes in my mouth. Fortunately Sydney can translate most of what I say so that’s good. Thankfully I don’t have to make up a story of why I sound like I’m drunk.

Next I try to get out of bed. This is not as simple as you would think. I’ve had my right knee replaced twice so I’m careful getting out of bed because I don’t want to skip forward in time and have to have the other one done especially since I live alone now. I tried to get my feet to the floor but I couldn’t slide off the bed.

During the day, I can sit on the side of the bed and my feet dangle a good ten inches above the floor. On a normal morning I can’t find the floor. I couldn’t find the floor today. I swear this bloody memory foam mattress conforms to where I’m sitting and won’t let my butt go. So there I sat, trying without success to scooch over to the edge of the bed where I could work at getting off the bed. No luck.

So I try switching it up and go for trying to get just one bun closer to the edge. Finally, a little movement. Slowly I start the long and slow effort to the edge, all of four inches to the edge. I made it! I was finally sitting with my legs dangling over the edge of the bed. I leaned back and started the fearful journey of trying to fall towards the floor. It always seems like it is farther away from my feet every morning.

Yeah!!! I make it to the floor.

Next, the pain and stiffness of the arthritis in my legs and ankles speaks up and rudely tries to make me stand there like an old woman frozen in place. I wonder how my hair looks.

Eventually I make it to the living room and sit on the stool and slowly put my shoes on. It’s painful to bend over and pull my feet up on my knee to get my shoes on.

Eventually, success!

Why am I putting my shoes on without socks on and teeth in? Gotta take the doggie out to do her business. Then she wouldn’t poop. I’m out there getting my feet wet in the lumpy thickish dewy grass and fast getting annoyed. I give up and we go back in the house.

Ah ha! I remembered to feed the cats when I came back in the house. They’re food is downstairs so it’s not like I normally think about feeding them, which, is now my job.

The cats were Kyle’s job. Of course, now that job falls to me. None of the kids took a cat with them. I want them to take the cats with them! I tend to forget to feed them and when that happens Maks, the older of the two, goes in the kitchen and opens and closes the cabinet doors and lets them bang shut and do it over and over until you get up and feed them. Little asses.

My dog is a heeler/kelpie, meaning, she’s a herding dog. She loves to herd the cats. Somehow she knows when they cats are doing something wrong and chases them downstairs at full speed. It’s pretty funny. So if I’ve gone to bed all I have to do is open my bedroom door and poof! The cats are downstairs. Then I go feed them. If I have to be woken up it’s good to know the culprit that woke me up is getting theirs for doing it.

Sometimes Maks (cat) plays with helium balloons. I got one for Valentine’s Day from the kids. The cat takes hold of the string and takes it around the house. When I had my first knee replaced he started bringing all the balloons to me at night. The record of overnight balloon commando maneuvers was 15. He grabs them by the bottom of the string and carries them into a bedroom. The balloon in the picture ended up in Kyle’s room all the way downstairs this time. I don’t know why he does it, but it is so funny.

Now that my Oxycodone, Ritalin and my other pain pill have kicked in I feel like a human. Now would be the time to take Bailey out, but she can’t wait this long.

My first night alone was good. My two youngest kids both called to make sure I was okay. I love them. Kyle reminded me to feed the cats, which I had already done. Yeah me! We’ll see how I do tonight.

What am I going to do today? I’m going to work on my writing projects. I’ve been neglecting them. Fortunately, using the computer isn’t impacted by my prematurely aging body. I wonder how my brain is doing. I do have some mental health issues, a whole bowl of alphabet soup full of them, but I don’t have any old people brain issues. I’m awesome!

And thus began day one of my new life living on my own.

Ew, now it’s my job to do the litter box. I hate that.