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.

Stress – I Can’t Breathe

Breathe
Photo by Tom Fisk from Pexels

Life isn’t greener in the neighbors lawn.
They have a gigantic cherry tree that covers both their lawn and my driveway.

Life isn’t simple.
If it were I wouldn’t be taking my Day Timer, Google Calendar, pad of paper and Todoist with me every stupid place I go.

I have taken the ADHD workshop.
I understand my ability to schedule and understand time is next to zero.

My caretaker-companion-daughter-best buddy is leaving for a wonderland trip to China in about two weeks… for two weeks.
I know I have to be careful. I’m trying to breathe

People tend to associate Mondays with the beginning of five days of disasters.
I may be beginning to agree with this line of thought.

Without details, I ask you to trust me on this, Monday was horrible.
Tuesday started at the emergency vet with my companion (I prefer her her name, Bailey. She’s my Empathy Dog) was not showing the Vet how she’d been unable to breathe clearly just an hour ago. I have a witness! She’s still doing it, but an expensive x-ray later, they can find nothing. Could my bonkers emotions be affecting my empathy doggie (Read: Emotional Support)?
Took my mom to see Captain Marvel with Kyle (eldest son). She tried to get the tickets for Avengers at the box office, which she thought we could bypass because she bought them online through AARP. Nope. Had to go outside, pay full price and pick our seats. It was Tuesday. Discount day. OMG! Kyle was in a bad mood. Always in a bad mood after driving around and around “stupid” drivers… which he does for a living.
Then, Kyle yelled a couple times at some drunk guy in the theater to be quiet for a little longer, the movie was almost over. Okay, if I’d said something like that to that very drunk man, I’d have, well, been really, really nice about it. Kyle was in a mood, again… OMG! Such a good thing I took a chill pill. Then I had Kyle (who I call “Sunshine“) drive me – after his day of driving – all day – which he hated – home. Sigh.
Tuesday still, I think I skipped the real fun part of suddenly discovering I might have been asleep in my chair. Why else would my head snap forwards? Did it again. Headed down the hall. I just wanted to visit the little girls room. Entire body did it… twice. Yes, I know. I see the neurologist next week and I’m thrilled. I’m trying not to think about it. It seems nothing is ever simple. It is either in my head, or I need surgery. Everything seems to fall at one pole or another. OMG!

Wednesday, my day started with half a chill pill. Residual bonkers feelings from Tuesday I suppose. Breathe.
Concluded freaking out with the second half of the pill later on. Very slowly, did my physical thearapy. I regularly use this time (supposed to be twice a day, but I’ll take what I can manage) to practice breathing and relaxing my muscles.

With all this breathing I should be chalk full of oxygen. I wonder if that actually helps anything?

Thursday, today – Insert your favorite really bad word before I even begin – ___________________________________________________
11:00 Pain Mgmt guy – Jason / Missed Appt. CAR WON’T START AGAIN!!! This is the FOURTH TIME!
12:15 Waaayyy missed Pain guy appt. Waiting for eldest child (Jessica) to come home and give me a lift to next appt.
1:50 Dr. XXXXs – Orthopedic Surgeon – (I know I’m being angry and judgemental and a little bit bitter) He LEFT ME A MESSAGE after reading my MRI and said three things: torn rotator cuff, bursitis, and frayed something else. Last week when I fell, he called between patients and didn’t even consult my chart. He said he didn’t think it was a big deal and I probably didn’t need surgery. In the first message he said I probably DID need surgery. OMG! I see him today. I’m taking a witness and a recording of his first message. Yes, I’m that mad. Today, we discussed it together and decided to have him put two more shots in my shoulder… where they would actually help.
2:40 Physical thearapy on that stupid shoulder. It isn’t Gab’s fault, but it hurts like ______________ after that. Later – Yep. PT on that shoulder. She maniuplated it around so it would move the fluid around a little. Kinda hurt.
4:30 Arrived back home. Car still does not run. My keys for it were not in mailbox or taped to the door or even a note left saying, “We left your car here because it’s stupid.” I called the garage and the same young guy from the morning didn’t know anything about it. Didn’t realize they left it and took the keys. Couldn’t reach them by phone. I have no idea what’s wrong.
My car is a 2001. I’ve put $1000 into it just this year. I paid $3000 for it three years ago. I can’t afford to buy a new car! These guys have replaced just about everything. OMG! I have no words… I need a nap.

Nap didn’t happen. But, I’m happy to tell you that I only had to get two shots in my shoulder and then run over and do PT on it. Yummy. Man, I hope that the shots work.

It is bedtime. I’m finishing this up on the bench I made out of an old toy chest. Bailey is laying… um… in her box. I’ll show you a picture another time. She’s still breathing like a horse snores. I’m not sure what that sounds like, and I’m pretty sure they don’t snore (I was raised on a ranch), but if they did, this might be what it sounds like. I don’t like it one bit.

Friday – I have nothing on my calendar.
Ideas: Going for a hike before I find myself in a body cast with just a straw to drink through and one eye open to watch TV (quality time). Mouth covered. It will rain. We have raincoats. This is Washinton.

  • Reading / Writing – All day with breaks for playing with Bailey and eating.
  • Watching a movie that both Jessica and I agree upon.
  • Oh yes! She wants to make a quick day drive to Mt. Rainier!

We are going to attempt a drive up to the first popular on the mountain from our corner of the park. We’ll be heading for an area called Longmire.
Breathe. We’d take Bailey with us normally, but she hasn’t been in the car this long yet. I don’t think she’d care, but the National Park Service doesn’t allow dogs in the parks. Well, here is what they say at Rainier.

Saturday – Please, no one touch me or talk to me. I’m done.

Sunday – Sigh, it is almost Monday again. I don’t care. Bailey and I are going to the pet store to support the pet adoption program.

So did I survive this week? Today? Well, it is now 5:00 p.m. When I can manage to slow down a bit, I’ll take a nap in my chair in the living room. Before that, I contacted one of my people and she was able to come to me and help me out. She got me out and off meeting the rest of my appointments. I got those rotten shots. Now, we’re home. She’s reading. That alone helps me calm down. I love my people (Kyle and Jessica in this case). My mom and I talked about it on the phone. That was very supportive too. That’s what I needed today, support. People who love without qualification. Finally, that’s part of my family. It’s been a long time coming.

My Friend, make your plan(s), go over them with the people in your life who are willing to commit to help you out. Make sure they understand it’s serious. It isn’t like you have a paper cut and need a bandaid. No. You need them. You need one of YOUR PEOPLE. Make sure they understand that.