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.

Bipolar/ADHD-Focus or Not to Focus

Bipolar/ADHD – To Focus or Not to Focus, That’s the Damn Question!

I apologize if you don’t like the word “damn.” My mom still corrects me when I use it. You know it’s taken me a really long time to learn how to say it convincingly. I mean, forever when I’d get mad and say it people would actually say to my face things like, “Yeah, no. Don’t say that. You just can’t say that.” I’d ask why not. “You just can’t.” Why not? “Robin. You sound ridiculous.” How, can anyone sound ridiculous swearing!!?? It is swearing!! I thought all swearing sounded stupid. Apparently not.

Apparently, I still sound silly when I swear. My advantage, if I have one, is that when I’m really backed against the wall (read – super, super, very, very angry in a The Hulk sort of way) I may not have the best use or depth and breadth of swear words, but I make up for it in shear fury. Sometime I even scare myself with the power of that, what is it called, that RAGE. I hate rage. Yippie…. If I seem less than optimistic it may be because she referred to me as “atypical atypical.” I don’t know about you… but I dunno what the damn that means.

I’ve been in that place where a ton of stuff has been building and building and I haven’t realized that I haven’t released the pressure off of ANY of the things that need to chill out. I didn’t recognize how stressed I was or how long it had been since I’d had a good long laugh. I hadn’t been doing any of the right healthy things that would have kept me bouncing my life ball along the way I want it to go. Instead, well, yep, the doo-doo hit that fan thing and I went kaboom!

Sadly, I kaboom-ed the day after I started the new medication. My normal reaction would be to stop taking the medication immediately and talk to the provider. I can be very sensitive to some medications and have reacted violently to at least one of them. This time I was certain that I sensed I was feeling my old companion, rage, and not a medication complication. I could have called her up and told her it didn’t work. In fact, not only could I tell her did it not work, I could tell her I became hysterical and physically violent. I threw things and yelled and screamed. I slammed cupboards and the garage door and kicked them some more to make sure they knew they were in for it. I yelled and slammed, and slammed and yelled again, then again. I even stomped on the recycling and got it all ready to be taken out. I was feeling better so I screamed some more.

It didn’t take me long. It never does. All that adrenaline seems to surge around and drive all the clogged moods and emotions directly before it shoving them straight out my mouth and into the air where everyone can hear everything is say and scream. Hence, yeah, all the yelling. This is my most unscientific assessment. What do you think? I kind of like it. There are a few drawbacks to this.

First, while I’m acting all bonkers I sound like a fighter jet screaming in a rage stuck in the face of my kid who has been standing four feet away from me the whole time. I suck. She still loves me. She knows I’d do it for her. We’re a team. An unbreakable team. And, none of that matters. I ask her forgiveness. I apologize. I don’t expect her to help me fix my mess or even ask her to. It isn’t her job. Should I have realized I was brutalizing her emotionally by just raging against nothing? Of course. But, the unfortunate thing about losing one’s shit is that one has lost one’s shit and there isn’t a rotten thing one can do about it at that particular time. I know. It pretty much sucks.

Second, I made a mess and I have to clean up my own mess when I rage-out. This time things were very different than other times. I got to the point(s) fast. Meaning, I talked very fast and I stopped carrying on faster than was usual.

Okay, I say “as usual” but that really isn’t fair. It isn’t a “usual” thing anymore. It used to be my normal state everyday. I might not have thrown things all the time, but that rage was dwelling just behind my eyes, barely under control, for far too many years of my life. Now it is a moment that happens a couple times a year. That’s it. I’m proud of the progress I’ve made. If you’ve struggled with something like this too and you’ve gained ground on it, if you’ve got your foot on it’s neck, even if you’ve just finally figured out where the neck is, then I applaud you! Keep your foot right there and press harder! You can keep doing this. Never, ever stop fighting.

It’s been over a week since I started this new medication. Now that my moods/emotions have finished imploding and exploding simultaneously I can begin to assess how I think the medication is working for me. I ask my two kids who live with me what they think and remind them to take my explosions out of the equation. We’ve all agreed that we shouldn’t make that part of our assessment. We have decided, that for now, all things considered, that I’m not manic and I’m definitely focusing better. Yep. Better focus, but not all the time and we wouldn’t say it’s great. And my ability to chose the right or appropriate thing to be focused about is lacking wisdom.

For example: Do hours of research for business proposal and writing projects by doing deep dives down Google rabbit holes. Nut house! (I’m trying to find someone to make a prototype for me of a product I’ve developed. Since I have so much extra time and not a thing to think about I’m researching crowd funding like Kick-starter

I’ve tried to do this event called The National Novel Writing Month for several years, but every year I… I give up. I convince myself that although I have been working on a viable and interesting story for months or even is some cases for years, I don’t have what it takes to write those 50,000 words in one month. Loads of other people do. But I can’t. So I never try.

This year my daughter and I were both ready to do it and then… um… I got sick. Honestly! I got a really bad head cold. And my arthritis is killing both my thumbs. And my sciatic hurts when I sit. And I sneezed. And I forgot that a mystery has to plant clues. I have to plan more!!!

Oh my gosh!!

Isn’t Scrivener just terrific? It shows you just how much research you should have done before you started writing. Apparently I’m much more of an Outliner than a Pantser. (I’ll explain in another post.)

Any port in a storm. Any excuse in an open schedule when I can waste as much time as possible. And my head cold is gone. And I’m still researching. And it is now November 7th and I have 87 words written towards a 50,000 word count goal. I do, however, have a lot of research including my murder victims, the killer, heroine, places the bodies are found (it happens during the Seattle World’s Fair – “Alaska-Yukon-Pacific-Exposition 1909“), the exact dates they were found, etc. I’m very excited about it. I’ve finally come to realize that once I have my victims all named and given them occupations/affiliations, chosen the day their body is found based upon the group they are affiliated with (groups at the fair have special days to celebrate their organizations), chosen where their body will be discovered and decide how many victims there will be the story will flow very easily. I really have a lot of it worked out in my head already. It’s the logistics that I’d decided I couldn’t do so I couldn’t write it. And then I decided that I wouldn’t be able to write the draft (note that I’m writing a DRAFT) if I don’t actually start writing on the first day of the month.

That was just a silly thought. Oh bother. Way to not believe in yourself bird! What would the kids say???

That’s easy. I’ve already been told off. LOL I talked about it with the daughter that is doing this with me and she helped me with some of the details I was struggling with. She actually got excited about it. The way the actually history of Seattle in 1909 and the real fair, etc fit with my mystery are all very exciting! Her being interested in helping me and talking about it with me really gave me confidence that I could carry on and do this thing.

I feel better.

One more thing before I let you go. In the middle of the day I was ultra productive. I took a pic of one of our cats. Savvy, actually. She’s our youngest. She’s our rescue. She thinks my Kelpie (dog) Bailey is her mother… still! Bailey is still not interested, but still is willing to play with her when she decides to. It’s amazing to see her put her nose under Savvy’s belly and flip her up into the air. Savvy doesn’t seem to mind. At that point, the game is ON!

While my daughter was at school I got a really cute picture of Savvy. I wisely decided to use my time to use some filters (I never do this sort of thing. I think I’ve used filters twice now.) and change the pic up and send them to her so she could feel encouraged. She’s been having some anxiety at school and I wanted to get her mind to snap off that feeling and on to something I know she’ll give 100% of her attention to for a few minutes. (She goes to a school where this isn’t a problem. She can take a break and the teacher doesn’t care.) Well, 30, 35, 40… I don’t know. Some-odd-minutes later I finally finished my very productive time wasting maneuvers and tried to return to doing whatever it was that I was not successful doing before I distracted myself from earlier.

Is it working? Am I focusing better? You tell me. What do you think?

This is what I was doing…. I asked myself, “How many filters could I use to make the same cat, in the same pose, look cool?” You be the judge.