My Bipolar Brain is the Not the Typical Brain. Is Yours?

Mood swing in 6 minutes

Today began, as most days do, with the Anxiety Monster meeting me as I swung my feet off the bed. So far so good. So far so good, right? Looks sunny outside. Bonus!

I found Jessica eating oatmeal (barf) at the kitchen table, getting ready for work. Immediately I wanted to nag at her. I wanted to ask, beg her to do some of the “very important” things on my “anxiety” list. I started to do that. I wanted to try to “get” her to fix the anxiety-inducing things. Some things on the list are legit, really truly legit I tell you, and the kids (Jessica and Kyle) should do. In my incredibly stressed-out brain, I’m of the opinion that they ought to do them. They don’t.

I honestly don’t want, and I don’t mean, to send any of my kids off and into the world (You know what I mean. For example, going to work.)  after I’ve driven, their stress levels up. I don’t “want” to make them not want to spend time with me. {Maya, was that a double negative? That’s what I was shooting for.} It’s especially important because we actually live together. Like actually in the same house. On the same couch, sharing one bathroom, no personal space type living together. No problem. But still, it’s small enough that even what passes for a “normal” family would get on each other’s nerves. But that’s not my point. 

It is not, it is NOT normal to wake up with the Anxiety Monster sucking on my head, stimulating my brain, and switching on my flight… not fight… just flight response. 

Not normal. Not healthy. 

I have a med provider (a psychiatrist who prescribes my medications) and a counselor who works hard with me to help me be “myself.” In other words, we’re not trying to make me (gasp!) “normal” like everyone else. What we are doing is working every day, every single F’ing day, to help me attain my goals. 

Isn’t that weird? I’m not working to better or fit in with “normal” people. I’m working very hard, when I’m able, to put into place as many things stacked in my favor as I can so that I can meet MY GOALS and have a LIFE. Does that make any sense? 

My life needs to be MY life. Not what other people expect of me. This can be very hard when my thoughts are hammered constantly by emotions that are out of control. A stampede. That’s what it feels like. A stampede rushing at me as I run in circles around it winding myself up tighter and tighter with every uh… wind?  

So much of the time I’m paralyzed with anxiety, fear, depression, hopelessness, anger, etcetera. 

What then? How do I pull up before I smack into the fir trees across the street? Fir trees are very big trees and not something to be casually crashed into. Nope. Not good. So, what did (do) I do? Well, the first thing I did was take my meds. Then I had my ritual coffee with sugar, powdered creamer, and liquid French Vanilla Coffee-mate. 

Next, I ate breakfast – a banana and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with some water. I then headed for the shower. Bringing Bailey (my trusty dog) with me… okay, honestly, she’s just following me because I always give her a Greenie teeth cleaning bone while she’s waiting. Why? Because she’s my emotional support buddy. Also, I’d flip out if she barked and barked while I was in the shower. So, she comes with and gets her Greenie. 

I grabbed the last (ugg!) clean bath towel from the cupboard and threw it over the top of the shower curtain which immediately attacked me (mumble, mumble, mumble words I shouldn’t put in print). So…. Shower? I’m maybe 5’ 3” on a good day when the atmosphere is causing gravity to take it easy and let me stretch a bit. You know, be a little taller. That’s a thing, yeah? {Yes Robin it is a thing and that ¼” can make all of the difference some days! – Maya}

Small bathroom. Dog taking up most of the floor. Shower curtain everywhere but where it should be and… where’s my bathrobe? Not with me, that’s where. 

And then it was lunchtime. 

I can’t tell you that I’ve figured out how to have a better day or how to stop freaking out all the time. I will be honest and tell you that last week my counselor and I did that test thing that indicates loosely what my current emotional state is. You know, am I moody? Anxious? Depressed? 

I passed with flying colors!! Severely depressed and enough anxiety to make me barf. Literally. 

I have ADHD and I have Bipolar Disorder Type 1. We’ve decided that I’m stuck on being manic pretty much all the time. I mean that. I never stop. I might stop talking, sometimes, but my brain is screaming at me whether I’m talking or not. 

Again, how have I made it through this or any other day?  Firstly, I’ve been writing this all day. I set a timer for 15-20 minutes then dash around cleaning the house, doing the dishes, and housey kinds of things. I play a game or read a book (a page or so). Again, the timer is going. Then I write. Rinse. Repeat. Shake it out. Repeat. Do it all again. Kyle came home, and I took a break. Now I’m back at it. 

Am I depressed? Yes. Am I having stress that shouldn’t be found in a “normal” person? Yes. Am I still alive and able to carry on? Right now? Yes. Over the weekend the answer was no. That’s no with all caps: NO!

Some days it just doesn’t seem to matter what I try to tell my little grey cells. Just won’t listen. Reminds me of a kid of any age. Listening might not happen. 

I try to find a way to maintain, but I want more than to just exist. I want it all. Have I worked out how to have it all? It depends upon what I mean by “all” doesn’t it? And when. And what. And other stuff. Okay, it’s all relevant to whatever. I’m here. I’m pretty satisfied – for the moment. 

Viktor’s light is broken again. He’s staring at me. He’s shedding. Molting? No, that’s chickens. Anyway, life goes on. There are things I HAVE to do. The dog needs to toilet. The fish need to be fed. The cats, all four of them, have to eat. I have to eat.….. and so on…. And so forth. 

I can honestly tell you that for me to make it through the day I take it as it comes. Do what I must. Find something to do that I WANT to do. And goof off. Truly. Goofing off really helps. 

I also have taken my meds. That’s extremely important. TAKE MEDS. A few months ago, my psychiatrist told me to “utilize my chill pill.” I was shocked. The clinic has the policy to try to keep people from becoming addicted to benzos, so we’ve been trying to find ways for me to take fewer each month. Now, during these very additionally stressful times, she wants me to take it. I can take it every day. I do take it every day. Still, I struggle. 

If I can keep my eyes from trying to see what the opposite ear is doing, I’m a happy girl. 

What about you? How have you been doing? Can you identify with anything I’ve shared about my day? If you can, I want you to remember always that you are not alone. Never alone. I, we, others just like you and I, we understand. 

The wrap up:

Managed to shower without getting water everywhere! 

Fed animals and so on. 

Um… what else? (This is where I space out and have to reread everything for the eighty-second time.) Skip it. 

Sometimes it’s best to not worry about stuff and move on. So, I’m moving on and I’m sharing pics of Viktor hungry and Viktor’s dinner as it tried to make a break for it! It didn’t make it. Just sayin’. 

Hold on. Tomorrow will be here soon enough. Dang. I’m rambling. 

“Hey, Maya! Can you make this shorter or something?” (Maya is my awesome friend who thinks I’m funny. I’m not sure if that’s funny looking or funny as in laughing. Oh. I guess I might look funny too. I’ll just leave it as she thinks I’m funny but not funny looking. OMG! Just stop!!!)

{“Robin you have a funny looking brain that makes you HaHa funny, just to be clear. Then again mine is a bit funny looking too. hmmm…”}

I hope you have a safe and day and that I’ll talk with you again soon. Please feel free to leave a comment, go to the contact page and email me or share this post. I would love to hear from you.

Robin

Everyday Life and Bipolar Disorder – How to Thrive

I’ve been lying. I’ve tried to stay very close to talking about mental illnesses, like Bipolar Disorder, without going into all the rest of the messiness that is me. I’ve felt that if I talked about other things in my life (other health issues or family stresses for example) you might focus on me and those other things and, god forbid, feel pity for me. I don’t want that.

Together we stand… or sleep.
Apart we flounder.

I want to always be BETTER. Always Better!

I want this for you as well.

You and I working to always be better.

I believe that we can.

I also believe that it’s time I share with you how I navigate my brain in the actual world and honestly tell you how that does, or doesn’t, work out.

I’ve always been honest with you, but now I want us to walk together and learn about what happens when things are painful and when things are wonderful.

Life is very messy. Mental health is challenging. Let’s walk and learn how to be better together.

My goal is to strive to be vulnerable with YOU.

Life is strange. It challenges me to sit on my brain and figure out how to not only survive but to THRIVE.

I Want Always… to Be BETTER. Always better.

My desire is to teach, through examples from my life, how to be MORE. I want always to be more than my struggle with my mental health challenges, don’t you?

I have decided to talk to you about mental health, from my perspective and experiences, in the context of real life. What this means is that you can expect to see:

Successes
Stories
Ideas
Musings
Failures
Whims
Challenges
Knowledge
Understanding
Humor

You can still expect the same me, only I’m going to bring it all. ALL of me and my actual life. I hope you’re ready. Things are going to be wide and varied just like our lives are. As I like to say, “I’m Un-Niche-Able.” I bet that you are too.

Here is a small example of one of the things I might talk about:

My arthritis causes me pain. It sometimes limits my ability to do things I want/need to do. Sometimes the pain is too much. All this “non-Bipolar” stuff greatly affects my emotions. There are times when I’m driven to despair. It is exhausting to constantly fight against chronic pain.

How do I deal with pain? How does it impact me and my emotions? Do my emotions, my moods, dictate how I deal with severe pain?

It turns out that I’m not a big fan of pain.

Things change. I change. I deal differently with myself all the time. As I learn new things I can apply to myself and make me a better person I put into use right away. Why?

I believe that I can BE BETTER. I believe that I can DO BETTER.

And I know that I can easily stumble and face-plant. Then, when I can collect myself, I’ll figure out how to get back up, no matter how awkwardly, and decide what to do next.

A topic that I feel passionately about is that I believe that who I am as a person, my character and core beliefs directly impact everything I do while I’m Bipolar… which is all the time. Every day.

I’ll be exploring all these ideas and much more in the coming days. I do hope you’ll feel welcome to drop bye for a visit.

I’m working on a way that we can chat with each other and find fellowship, acceptance, positive talk and even funny stories. My goal is to have a safe space for us to hangout. I’m not considering Facebook because too many people go to some of the mental health groups intending on dumping or unloading on the other people in the group. Some give terrible advice while others belittle those who ask honest questions that need answers. They don’t deserve to be chastised and compared to others.

Build up. Encourage. Fellowship. Laugh. Silly stories. Ideas for survival and SUCCESS.

When I find a place that I’m comfortable with I’ll invite those of you who are interested to join in. It will be a closed group and people will have to ask permission to be a part of the group. More will come on that as I continue to develop it.

Be well my friend.

Robin

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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.

I’m ANGRY. I have Bipolar. I Feel Stunned. I Have Hope.

When last I wrote I talked about how I was focusing on the normal and that doing things that were usually part of my daily life should continue to be just that… part of my daily life.

This year has been unexplainable. I’ve felt so at a loss of words and when I do have words they are too many, coming too fast, are angry and sad and sometimes even afraid. Then, there are the days when I come to a realization about something, almost always about my thoughts, or behavior, or my interpretation of someone else’s in which I discover I might have been trying to impose myself upon that other person. These might be my values, morals, conduct, expectations of what a community ruled by laws, and other things.

“Belief, strong belief

Yes, I went there. My 78 year-old mother just called all her kids and grand kids and told us all to stay away from this block, only 12 blocks from my home, because tonight there was going to be a vigil at eight p.m. Tonight. A vigil for another black man who was killed while being arrested by police. This time in my city.

triggers the mind…site to see more information.

The following is a partial (and I’ll say up front – somewhat misleading quote from The Tacoma News Tribune in an article posted at JUNE 03, 2020 10:26 AM. “County Medical Examiner’s Office has determined Ellis died of respiratory arrest due to hypoxia due to physical restraint.” *

I’m angry.

to figuring out ways and means and how-to...

NOW… I hope you’ll keep reading because it’s important to me that you do. If you have no other reason than to see whether I’ll fan the flames or offer you a way to keep your Bipolar brain throbbing then keep reading.

And believing you can succeed

It doesn’t matter who you are or who kills you. Homicide is immoral, illegal and inhumane.

makes others place confidence in you.

I have many opinions, emotions and strong words. I try to keep them contained in my brain or in my writing.

However. Please read carefully. Remember.

Stay focused. I’m not going to lecture you or to preach at you. You probably have a good idea of what you should do. Or not do.

“Belief, strong belief, triggers the mind to figuring out ways and means and how-to. And believing you can succeed makes others place confidence in you.”

(David Schwartz)

Focus on your mental health. How do you calm down? Can you? Can you redirect your thoughts? When I can do that many times my emotions follow.

I know I might seem silly to some, but I’m doing what works for me right now. I’m not in the hospital. I’m not taking so many psych drugs that I can’t function. I’m helping myself anyway I can. But let me be honest too… sometimes I do yell or stomp off to walk around the block. Sometimes I do sit in the dark with my arms crossed and stew in anger. Sometimes, that’s all I feel I can do.

I admit I’m a bit wacky, but I prefer myself this way. Let me share with you some of the ways I manage my thoughts and feelings.

My daughter bought me Legos. She hoped they would make me focus, have fun… and stop talking. It worked!

Trying to figure out how to play with a dragon….
dang he’s fast!
…. act like a cat?

Truth – the truth is that we must still FOCUS. In my last message to you I said:

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

Choose to be abnormally normal. Choose to challenge yourself and follow your heart… and your head. Do what is best and right for yourself and others. And don’t neglect to consider that Bipolar or not good advice is still good advice.

“Belief, strong belief, triggers the mind to figuring out ways and means and how-to. And believing you can succeed makes others place confidence in you.” (David Schwartz)

Now, does anyone remember how I organized my research….. sigh.

{ * The link to the quote from the Tacoma News Tribune. }

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.