The Stress Monster Is Melting My Brain – Today Sucks… Wonder Why?

I have Bipolar Disorder and ADHD. You will see them both in today’s post. This post will not be edited by anyone. I suspect that the door in my brain is going to try to say things a beta reader would catch. If you would like to see the bullet main points, if there are any, read on. The full story will follow that.  

Why should YOU read further? 

Reason: I hope from all the bits of my heart that you might see something of me in you and know that you really aren’t alone. You’re not. Please, LOOK at me. 

Now, here I am…. this is my version of transparency.  

Today started pretty slowly, but good. And then I left my room. Sigh, sometimes the spaghetti hits the wall early in the day. Normally, I would say that the old spaghetti trick isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Spaghetti good: encourages and stimulates my ability to see more ideas and options. Spaghetti not so good: other stuff out of my control. 

I wouldn’t normally share the specifics of a particular day with you because, well, this isn’t that sort of place for that. However, today, I think that when I talk about stress I’d like to share with you some of my own stresses. I’m going to limit it to this morning and stop right now (1:47 p.m. PST). 

Stress is a constant ANXIETY feeder in my brain all the time. Constantly. It never stops. I never feel “at peace.” What has been happening today demonstrates exactly what happens when it passes over an imaginary thresh-hold beyond which I flounder and may crash and bury my head someplace where the world stops for a moment. 

I clicked on the Word icon and waited for it to launch. I was planning on writing to you. Then Office said it was updating Office. Then it said I was dumb and that it wouldn’t play and was taking its ball and locking me out. This was the last straw. It was the “break the camel’s back” sort of straw. (What does that mean anyway?) 

I became aware that my breathing was very shallow and quick. My throat tightened and my forehead and eyes scrunched up in emotional pain. I began to cry… So, I texted my support team which includes my kids Jessica and Kyle whom I share a home with. We have a group text for things like who is going to making dinner, where we are, grocery list items, giving voice (expressing) to great things and crappy things in our days. Oh, and loads of funny pictures of our pets. 

This is the text I sent them: 

Ok, keeping it brief:
– Word keeps trying to update, fails, then refuses to open
– one the boys in the big boy tank is visibly sick [Fancy Guppy]
– twitch won’t run, so no escape in minecraft
– my anxiety is way past healthy
– only 2 chill pills left
– I am going to blog/write but I guess it will be on paper or Google docs
– I’m soooo frustrated
– I still want to get some new guppies to not kill. To put where? With Banana boy.
– insert much foul mouth swearing
– and… Son of [Some content removed. Sorry.] crispy cracker with toilet exploding hot sauce
– So I can’t play, I can’t write…
on the flip side:
– We did get back from a walk just as the weather freaked out again
– I’m not dead
-I have you guys
– my hand feels better, mostly
[during a wind storm a few days ago I dropped a heavy sharp corner of a bookcase shelf on the scar of the thumb I just had the joint replaced last December 17th. I have RA and OA.]  

I followed that up later with:

I’m struggling

What brought me to this state, besides the obvious? I’ll bet you may have experienced this yourself. (Wait. How can I “bet you may have”? Anyway, on with the.. Uh… show.)

Bailey and I escape the house to walk around the block walking as fast as we can to beat the wind and rain. And… home dry!! That was fun.

I take multiple mood stabilizers. I have Bipolar Disorder Type 1 and run manic most of the time. I experience mixed states and enjoyably also cycle rapidly. Fun! Additionally, (sounds like a speech) I also have the stimulating ADHD. Yippie! We’ve elected not to treat the ADHD with medication. Who needs a stimulant to stimulate an already over-stimulated brain? Not me, thank you very much. 

FYI: I’ve recently, after years of refusing to do it, switched over to having a pharmacy send my medications to me in bubble packs. One of the major reasons I wouldn’t do it is because brain meds can be changed fairly frequently when we are trying to find the right combination that works for me and keeps me from driving everyone around me to the point where they want to duct tape me to a chair in my room and shut the door. 

Anxiety. Remember that? Unless a person has Bipolar Disorder they simply cannot understand what having it is like. They just can’t. I’ll try to sprinkle in a few things to help explain what’s so important about this stuff.

That’s the setup. 

I take:

1. Mood stabilizer in the morning (A)

2.The same mood stabilizer in the evening only double the dose (A)

3. I take another mood stabilizer in the morning (B)

4. I take the same mood stabilizer in the evening (B)

5. I take a “chill pill” (one in the “benzine” family) ( C) 

6. I take one before bed (D)

Fine. I do that. Only at the moment, I’m completely out of

1. A in the evening

2. B morning and evening

3. C (OMG)

4. D

These are ALL MOOD STABILIZERS! I don’t have any of them. 

Remember my mentioning my thumb. The next day I fell on that thumb and while it saved my face from planting itself in the garden at the Vet’s office. ALL my weight landed on that hand. I weigh over 50 lbs. I’m sure 50 lbs would have hurt a lot. I weigh over 100 lbs above that. My thumb/hand has been hurting, but only when I use it, touch it, or put pressure on it – think ice pack or heating pad. 

I called the bubble pack pharmacy again (did it yesterday as well) and practically begged the poor lady to tell me that my missing FOUR brain meds would be here yesterday. She couldn’t. 28 minutes later I came away with a USPS tracking number and the medications that should be in it. ALL of the medications [A, B, C, D] are in that box. 

Of course, I jumped on Jessica’s computer (now not trusting my own) and looked it up. [Insert creative bad words developed while growing up on a ranch. Use your imagination.] They appear to all be in the same package. The package took 24 hours to leave OH. (Uh…) 

See – things progress. I don’t pop on Facebook to visit friends. Rarely. It is now 4:08. While I sent myself that text message from my phone (SMS) to FB messenger, copied it, and pasted it here I saw an ad that indicated it might lower our energy costs. Stupidly, I clicked it. Ten minutes this sales guy calls me. Seriously. I had just been trying to find out if they were legit (I couldn’t) when this name pops up on my phone, “Blah Blah Solar Company.” Oh hell no. No, no, no, no. Nuh-uh. Having been in businesses I and my family have owned I can tell you that this ad clearly misrepresented themselves and what they were offering.  

I am known in my family as the one to go to if you need someone to kick-back. Meaning since I think I know more than they do I will explain to them what exactly I think about whatever-it-is and how it’s going to be. I shot of pic of the ad from the monitor and was getting ready to send it to my city utility company to see what they knew (and probably to show them something possibly fraudulent – no, I have no idea what I’m talking about. 

Remember how things are going today and that those precious lost medications for anxiety, that’s part of mood stabilization, are completely out of my system. Blotto. 

Blotto. I don’t know what that means, but I like to say it. [Use Google Mom!] Google says I was spelling it wrong, but it essentially means “extremely drunk. ‘we got blotto.’”)

When I use the word “blotto,” which I do, I mean something like “the shit hit the fan.” Yes, I think that works. Or maybe more gently, “Crap.” But sometimes I just say “blotto” just because I like the way it feels when I speak it. Weird. Right. 

Can you see anything? Yes, of course, you can. Bipolar mania. ADHD. 

How is my day? Blotto. But, it’s getting better. 

4:35 p.m. Kyle get’s home from work. He asks me how I’m doing. I say, “Fine.” (More abbreviated chit-chat. I hate it when I talk like that.) “I’m not making dinner. Can you two deal with it?” He says they will. I make licorice tea (decaf). Set a five minute because I always forget it. Put on headphones. Stop writing this for a few minutes while I get ready for music. The playlist I made to help me hold on has been “misplaced,” so I’m making a new one. Bluetooth. Headphones. Volume is very high. Kyle comes back in and gets my attention. He didn’t know I’d plugged my head in. My tea, it was done. Oh yeah. Yeah! Headphones die. Kyle sets them to charge. He loves me. “Mind if I play music, uh, loud?” Sure. :0)  

YouTube playing. Right now. Breath… out. Imagine with me just that. Breath… out as the music draws me in. Eyes close. Head embraces the sounds. Nods. Taylor Swift. Gretch Wilson. What??? 

5:00 p.m. “Redneck Woman.” I sigh and begin to relax. “Fight Song.” (“…. cause I still gotta lot of fight in me.”) 

Hours remain before bedtime and I’ve lost focus. I’ve written all this down (thankfully skipping all the interruptions like talking for 28 minutes to the new pharmacy and all that stuff) for just two reasons. 

Reason 1: In some crazy way I hope you focused a little on my day and not your own. Maybe this you were entertained? ;0)

Reason 2: I hope from all the bits of my heart that you might see something of me in you and know that you really aren’t alone. You’re not. Please, LOOK at me. 

5:15 p.m. Pink “Just Like Fire.” The music helps. First deep breath. Thank goodness. 

…… And now the med provider has called to try to rescue me!!! I’m talking to you while I listen to him type out “emergency” orders for my local pharmacy. So funny.  ADDENDUM: The pharmacy received the orders. Insurance denied. The pharmacy says  I can pay cash. No, I can’t. Called the med provider and left another message as he asked me to do if there was a problem. There is indeed a problem. Further TRANSPARENCY: Thankfully my kids kept bugging me to try cannabis (legal here) just like my MD has been trying to get me to do for over ten years. 

Alright. I think that covers the majority of my day. I hope I haven’t bored you or convinced you to head for the hills. This, this post, is me being “transparent.” I’ve wondered what a day in the life of a “stable and normal” person is like. I see them posting about how I can conquer my anxiety and depression and they know because they’ve done it too. I’m sure some have and are doing great. The problem is that I’m reading what they say from a bunch of clean whiteness with sharp letters that make up clean looking lines containing words. What? It looks, with the eyes, clean. Life isn’t clean. It is so messy. I’m messy. I’m guessing you can see that. I just always want to know something of their story. What were they like before they were able to write this logically layed article with bullet points? 

Robin, STOP. FULL and or HARD STOP. 

Okay, geeze. 

Always honest. Always trying to be better. Always here, even when I’m stuck inside my head. Please reach out or feel free to leave comments. How are you as we head into more stressful days. I don’t know about you, but this Thanksgiving especially is going to be more stressful than the normal stressful. We don’t want to give or get the covid. (That’s what we call it now. Just, “the covid.”) It gets complicated. 

I’ll be back. 

A question I was asked today: 

Do you have any desire to harm yourself?   [something like that]

No. No, I do not. 

(This is what transparency looks like from me.) 

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 Stress – Focus on the Normal

Many people with Bipolar Disorder, myself included, sometimes experience feelings of failure, doom and gloom. But not right now, no, not now.

Today I was playing with Bailey, who has saved me from myself many times when I had the super wonderful idea of playing a trick on her. She’s always been good at “don’t touch,” “leave it,” and “stay,” but I wanted to challenge her and see if she could resist picking up her new training “toy” and obey my commands. This is where “focusing on the normal” comes in…..

A dog like Bailey should be worked with and trained often. I admit that I don’t do it as often as I should. Today I focused on Bailey and… um… teasing her. Okay, sometimes she looks at me a little crazy and I’m inspired to tease her. This is a very normal activity for us.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about things that I normally take for granted. I’m not talking about the whole toilet paper “problems” or similar things. I’m talking about my never judgmental and always present companion – Bailey, my six-year-old Kelpie.

My focusing on my normal today was to work with Bailey. The picture following shows the results. The commands were, “don’t move” and “don’t touch.”

Bailey following commands:
Don’t Move & Don’t Touch

Today, think of something in your day, something normal, and focus on it for a bit. If possible, try to focus your normal on something you enjoy.

What delights you? What do you think is fun? Do you have trouble thinking about things like this today? That’s okay. Relax. What were you just doing? What are you going to do when you get offline? Have you eaten something yummy today? Have your guppies had babies? Let your mind wander. It doesn’t matter if anyone else in the entire world thinks that what you focus on is “normal” to them.

Ask yourself… what “normal” in my can I focus on in my day today? Don’t try to find something amazing. Think “normal.” Think your normal.

One last thing, consider this, you are Un-niche-able. What’s that all about? It is very simple. You are unique. Whatever your normal is will be uniquely yours because you’re – Un-niche-able.

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.

Bipolar Carnage – The Aftermath

Since I posted on the third, my brain has imploded. You know how it is. Imagine being on the top bunk of a three-bed bunk bed, in a tree fort, playing on the ladder against the house, running up the giant stack of bales of hay, climbing on the dirt dad just had delivered for the front lawn, you know, fun stuff, and then falling off straight away and landing on your face, the top of your head and your feet all at the same moment. Then, when you get around to it, you open your eyes only to discover that someone is standing on your face while they’re attempting to ascertain if you’re alright because you’re so dirty that they can’t tell which way your face should go. That is what my brain has been doing with all its time.

Fun.

I won’t give you a messy laundry list of my troubles because I don’t think that’s necessary. I do believe it is essential to share a couple of really critical truths that we must all remember even when the you-know-what goes sideways when it hits the fan.

  1. Life rolls along for everyone like the surface of the ocean with ups and downs all the time. Sometimes, those peaks and valleys thrash about much higher and lower for some of us. That is OKAY. We don’t need to punish ourselves for that. We’re not bad people when we become angry or depressed or talk a lot. We are not mean, we are not evil, we are not trying to hurt anyone.
  2. We often are not able to (or equipt to) deal with our emotions and situations that cause them to intensify so when they grow and grow, they eventually reach critical mass and we implode. (Which was my case this time.) What have I learned? Stop punishing myself and blaming others for not rescuing me. It happens. Stuff happens. Reset. Get rest. Recreate. Hit go and begin again. Oh, and maybe cry and scream and barfing might help too. And throw something. But only break things that are yours and don’t cost anything. Seriously.
  3. I realized some time ago that at the top end of mania is anger and then rage. Deep below that dwells depression and anger and then the rage. Why always the rage? That’s how it is for me. I’ve asked several counselors and they seem to see that as well. Have you found that too? When you’re very depressed to you rage at the world because it has abandoned you? Has your world collapsed and left you to die? Tell me. Do you feel the rage too? It’s okay to feel the rage. Would you know it if you’re feeling it? Words. Do you know the words to express it?

I realize that’s only a couple things to think about, but this isn’t a book and a couple things to think about is plenty when your brain is Bipolar. Just considering the idea that I’ve been blaming myself for the way my illness makes me feel has been a bizarre thing to think about. I mean… what the heck am I supposed to do with that? If I were a public speaker, I’d wave at the screen behind me and say something wise like, “Now let’s unpack that…” Sure. I’ll have to think about it longer. That’s the best I can do. I’m still picking my face up.

Wait! I had two very specific moments that set me off into Never Never Land and I was trying to do the same thing both times. It was that CPAP thing. I don’t like things covering my face, blah, blah, so on and so forth…. I just couldn’t do it. I literally ripped it off my face and became hysterical. The first time (I practiced watching TV trying to get used to it) I managed a panicked 20 minutes. The second time I made my kids try it first (they didn’t mind it) and I lasted something like 0 minutes before I ripped it off with the same hysterical glee as the first time. Nope. Not gonna happen. “And I am unanimous in my decision.” (See Are You Being Served, A British comedy show that I think is sooooo funny. You can find it on Amazon Prime via BritBox)

I’m up because my kidneys are suffering a bit from the medication I take for my RA. I can’t take Advil or anything like that because it makes it worse. So, in my infinite wisdom, to get rid of the headache I was giving myself because I was getting myself all wound up, again, I took some Excedrine Migraine (has caffeine) because I really didn’t want to throw up. That’s what that particular sort of headache does to me. The headache goes away, but I’d like to bang my head until I’m asleep before that happens. I mean, we have five or so ice packs and I’ll have them all up and down my back, neck, and head and the headache will still be there. Then heat, gentle stretching, gentle exercise, moving around, walking, etc. Uhhhh. Anyway… (Thinking Carol Burnett at the end of her show… wow, brain, slllooooowww down!!!) (See Taylor Swift’s new song, “You Need To Calm Down.”) Holy cow Batman!!! Someone, take my laptop away!!!

Remember me? Manic … uh …. Mommy??? Lol That’s a Hard Stop. Hard NO. Full Stop. (Did I get any of those right?)

Good morning people. I’ll be sharing the playlist I made to help myself stay afloat during my “time” (honestly, what DO you call it?) with you tomorrow. I think I finally have it the way I want to share it. I’m picky you know. Sometimes. Here, I’m talking with you. Conversation. Not so pucky… picky. ;0) Anyway, I’ll put the link up here tomorrow. It’s already publish under my name on YouTube. (shhh… so is a bunch of junk playlists…) I bet you can’t figure out which one it is.

I promise, it will be here later today… I really should learn not to say things like that.