We all know that life changes all the time. We grow, change, and adapt, or problems begin to arise. This is true whether we have a mental wellness challenge like Bipolar Disorder or not.
I’ve never had long hair before, but the first year of covid, I didn’t have any hair cut. The second year, it had grown so long that I decided to let it go its thing and keep growing.
The problem with this, surprisingly, is that I have no idea what to do with it now that it’s past my shoulders. I know, Robin, ask our friend Google.
Here are some of the strange ways I’ve had to learn to adapt:
If you’ve adjusted, good on you. If not, it’s not too late.
Adapting to things doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re big important things; sometimes, they are small, seemingly simple things that may seem trifling or silly. They may not be so minor to you.
Remember my hair experiment? After my hand surgery having long hair made it easy to take care of, except for washing it with one hand while the other was above my brain.
Today I’m adapting again; our shower drain is blocked. Despite snaking it, my son was defeated by hair. And look, my daughter’s hair is far longer than mine! So no shower before I take my thumb to OT. Unlike years past, I don’t have to wear a hat and can enjoy the way all the opinionated bits of hair assert their dominance over me by leaking the not-so-private information that my hair’s dirty. I’m about to use both hands and just put it up!
Long hair has its advantages.
I still don’t know how to style it. My hand can’t hold a brush well yet, so more adapting.
Adaption comes in all different ways. Hair may seem a small and vain thing, but it can be a large part of our identity. I put a hat on my dirty short hair because it embarrassing to go to the campus with dirty hair.
I’ve been meaning to sit down and talk to you about this but, you know how it is. Stress sidelines the DOING bit after the brain thinks of something to do. In my case (this time), I have an excruciating surgery tomorrow morning, and I’m not looking forward to it. I’m not looking forward to the pain. Being able to use my thumb without debilitating pain aim definitely look directly at it. You see, I had the same surgery done on my other thumb two years ago, and I know how horribly, terribly, and frightening that pain was.
Let me quickly bring you up to date. We’ve since discovered that I have the nasty illness commonly called Fibromyalgia. I refer to it as Fibro because that’s just too long. We think that the constant pressure of the cast sent the pain level of a routine harrowing hand surgery above the charts. And no, pain meds didn’t work.
Ah yes, what’s the surgery? I’m having something put between the bones in my thumb joint. I have Osteoarthritis; this disease eats away at the stuff that keeps your bones from grinding against each other and causing intense pain.
Since it is now 2:45 a.m. I’m going to move on quickly. Leading up to today, life has been chaotic, emotional, and expensive beyond our means to pay for.
Bailey, my Kelpie (She’s a cattle dog. Google Kelpie, they’re pretty great dogs.), has struggled with severe skin issues all spring and summer. Our regular vet is booked out for months. Covid hit, and all the vets disappeared. I’m completely serious. In this area, Puget Sound in Washington State, veterinarians have been scrambling to find staff. While we waited to get in, the problems worsened. This leads us to take her to a doggie dermatologist. This is all so expensive. This is also so stressful and is especially so because of my surgery being tomorrow today at 7:30 a.m. PST.
We have a radioactive cat. Maks has growths on his thyroid and had to have feline hyperthyroid radiation treatment. I think I got that right. Anyway, he’s on the mend and zooming around the house. He’s gaining weight, and I think he’ll do really well. While he’s healing, we have to put all the dirty litter in bags, and those bags have to go in buckets, and those buckets have to sit around for 80 before we can take them to the dump. Apparently, they don’t want radioactive waste in landfills.
All these things combined with life in general, Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, PTSD, RA, OA, and Fibromyalgia, and I’m a sitting duck for a generous helping of losing control. I’ve stopped saying that I’m super stressed out because these life events are painful emotionally and overwhelming financially. Marriages and partners break up because of money. Imagine me and my underemployed family (I’m on disability so I’m broke all the time.) We had to borrow money from my mother and charge the rest. She suggested that we put the animals down if we couldn’t afford to get them help. Seriously?
Anxiety, stress, anger… entering the danger zone. And now it’s 3:03 a.m. I think we should add fear to that little list.
I need to post this now. I’ve run out of time to catch you up. Stay tuned to see how this mentally ill woman deals with family members not too willing to stay with me for a while. I won’t be able to do so many things. This time it’s my very dominant hand. My left one thinks I’m dumb if I think it’s going to do right-hand stuff. Self-righteous little bugger. This is a team effort. That hand better get with the program.
I’m going to attempt to get on Twitter and tweet updates on how things are going since blogging are iffy for the time being. I’ve never used Twitter more than a tweet here and there, so this should be interesting. I hope you’ll follow along! Join in my mad life and all the fun and bonkers ways I manage, primarily, to live my Bipolar and highly complex life. I need to learn to do voice-to-text. (I’m too tired to edit this, so I hope it makes sense.)
Last week I was feeling down, frustrated and I suppose a little angry. As in all of life, not one thing is contributing to these feelings. I know a major one is that my dog is sick. She’s in pain and, I can’t do anything more for her. Our veterinarian is short-staffed, so they’ve closed the urgent half of the clinic. A month ago, I made an appointment for her and it’s finally arrived. Its been agony watching something that has been consuming her and is growing worse every day. We don’t know what’s wrong, but we can see the results. She’s tearing her skin off. She itches so badly that she passes the pain from earlier scratching and digs deeper, trying to stop the itching. Next month, she’ll see a dog dermatologist. Thankfully I made this appointment with her regular vet. I’m hoping that they will give her something for the pain, reduce the itching, and help her heal. I don’t see any infection, but I’m not a vet.
I think I know how she feels. In the past, sometimes my skin itched so badly I couldn’t resist the urge to itch it. I’ve woken up the night with blood on my fingers. The despair and anxiety that come with that are immense. (No, I don’t have OCD.)
Those horrible emotions appear in various places in life. When my Fibromyalgia flares up and my Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis flare simultaneously, they invoke those same horrible feelings in my soul. I want to withdraw and lay in my bed until I feel better. But, sadly, that’s the worst thing I can do. (One of our cats just went to the bathroom, and I think I’m going to die. Be right back.) I’ve been learning about Fibromyalgia, and one of the first and most important things I MUST do is be active. Physical activity is one of the major and only things it seems that I can do to help me, hopefully, have less pain.
Pain, this is what I want to mention today. Mental and emotional pain can easily be as crippling as physical pain. I might believe I just can’t get out of bed, but I must. I must move around and not stop. Not doing so can let the anguish take hold and cripple me further.
I’m also learning that Fybromyalgia causes something referred to as “brain fog.” Let me just say that I have strategies that I’m trying to use to fight my already beat-up brain from Bipolar Disorder and ADHD. (Thanks brain.) The treatments for those two things are in direct conflict, so we had to choose one to address with medication, the other I try to work within other ways. I’ve chosen my Bipolar because adding a stimulant for ADHD would make the mania so much worse. I’m already so manic that I easily drive my family bonkers; I just don’t need more stimulation. And I’m aware now, that Fibromyalgia also makes things messier.
So, where does that leave me? I’m not exactly sure. So far, it seems that brain fog is a mysterious thing. None of my doctors have offered me a solution or even a way to cope with it. I don’t hold this against them. This illness is very debilitating and, like Bipolar, it is lifelong and I must find ways that work for me to cope. Cope. I hope I can thrive, not simply cope.
I want you to know these things about me because life sometimes sucks for each of us. I can’t possibly understand your frustrations anymore than you can understand mine. Pain, mental and physical is unique to us all. We know that already.
However, let me assure you that I am not alone and, neither are you. As people, as humans, we all struggle with unique things every day. This, as you can imagine, makes the advice that we can give each other very hit and miss, and it misses more than it hits. Why? Because we are as unique as our illnesses or combination of illnesses are.
They say that our uniqueness makes us special; I believe this is true. We each grow with our individual strengths and weaknesses and these things make us special, unique and wonderful. I choose to believe that these thing are true.
Saying that we’re special always makes me feel a bit frustrated. When I’m feeling crushed beneath the weight of life I don’t feel special. I do feel unique in that sometimes I think that no one understands, and no one can help me.
Do you ever experience these things? I’d bet all my money that you do. Okay, I have no money, so that’s not a real bet, but I think you understand. We may have illness(es), and sometimes they make us feel crazy. At least, sometimes I do. But, thankfully, I’m not crazy. And honestly, what does being crazy mean?
I can say that I understand depression, anxiety, frustration, anger, physical and mental pain, and the struggle to think straight or think at all. Those things I can promise I know about. You’re not alone in your struggles.
You are not alone. Not ever. We all feel crazy sometimes.
I have to do MORE to feel better. Pills are not enough for me.
Sometimes I’m a bitch and it isn’t my illness.
I have to be my own ADVOCATE all the time.
Other stuff goes wrong because my brain is connected to my body and my body to my brain and they annoy each other. I think.
[I’m feeling snarky so please excuse me if it pops out here and there. ;0) ]
Do you know what comorbidity is? According to the first result from Professor Google Head it means: “the simultaneous presence of two or more diseases or medical conditions in a patient.” That means… stuff and things. Right now the imprecise cormobid thing is fibro. Yes, that all over good feeling aka as Fibro or to use a longer group of letters – Fibromyalgia (FM). Now this one Professor Google Head has tapped this: “a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain and spinal cord process painful and nonpainful signals.” Note #1
I have to confess that I have an alphabet of letters that follow my brain and I around. FM is not the best companion for anything, and in my oh so humble opinion it is totally garbage for me. (Totally not humble, but loads of opinion.) I thought I’d sprained my left foot so I did all the sprained ankle stuff. It did not get better. Then the, “hello, I’m not actually calling myself a migraine, ‘cause, you can still see, see? But I probably am. I dare you to say it. MIGRAINE.
Okay, okay, we’ll call it a 12 hour every day near migraine running from about 9 p.m. to 5-7 a.m. with no relief. I’m taking stuff to keep me from hurling now too. It’s a simple headache, right?
Obviously this isn’t all about FM or the severe all over my entire body pain and the severe headache that won’t let me call it a migraine. Alright, maybe not so obviously. Let me be clearererr.
I really hate it when ANYONE says, “and let me be clear…” However, let me be clear… [I’m so, so sorry. It popped out. I swear it just popped out!]
I have Bipolar 1 – mixed states, rapid cycling and am pretty much stuck in a ground hog loop of being manic. I’m manic ALL the time. Ask anyone who knows me. Ask my mom or my kids. They’ll be happy to tell you. I NEVER STOP.
Now let me stop for a moment and pull all this out of – someplace, and hopefully make it mean something interesting or whatever. There must be a better word to use than “whatever.” That’s so 80’s.
Sever pain of any kind, especially when it also prevents me from sleeping, is worse than garbage. If you know Bipolar you know moods, you know emotions, you might even think of it as a kind of emotional pain. Not sleeping exacerbates (I love that word) my brain’s peculiarities. In other words, my brain flips out. My emotional pain explodes and implosion may follow. I could end up in the psych ward because… honestly, I don’t plan on dying. Ever. [Sorry kids. You’ll never get to read my journals. Stop laughing!!! Love you.]
If you have Bipolar of any of the several types I want to remind you that YOU have your own personalized illness. No one, not one single person, experiences what you do. That goes for me too. I have my own special loving and kind letters that help me with my Bipolar. Let me share a few with you and I do promise to restrain myself – FM, OA, RA, ADHD, PTSD. Full stop. Seriously, I’m stopping there. I’m not sure if the other stuff has just letters or full names so just forget that I’ve mentioned there may be more.
Hang on a second, I need to close some of these tabs I have open… 1, 2, 10, 17, 25. You have to be kidding. Wait, there are still 20 open in this window (Chrome). Geeze. Another window with 11 more. Okay, I’ve closed that one. Manic. Always manic. I want to tell you that exhaust my kids. They’re all in their 20’s and they are exhausted just looking at me. I mean, how? How do I exhaust them if I’m just talking?! I’m just sitting here. Talking. Well, incessantly. Constantly. All the time. Seriously! How about you my friends? Do you find that happens to you too? Oiy! Headphones. That’s the only way I can stop myself. Or, leave the room / house / car/ area / etc.
Severe pain + severe Bipolar = severe disaster potential extremely high. I know, that’s using “severe” too many times. But this is a severe situation!
You know those fire danger warning signs? This is like that. All the way to red. No fires allowed for any reason. [And no alcohol in the campground. Zero. I imagine that means cannabis as well. It’s totally legal for those over 21 here, but I doubt that it would be a good think to get stupid while camping. I only say “get stupid” because that’s what I’ve observed via personal experience. Stupid. Benefits? Sure. Maybe. Possibly. Stupid? Certainly. IMHO – right? Don’t forget how humble I am.]
This is me… at the time of this writing. Post. Whatever. Now.
This is very near my home. I love living here. This is Reflection Lakes at Mt. Rainier in Washington State. It’s about two hours away from where we live now. We used to be able to drive there in an hour. But, we moved to the city. I don’t think I really like living in the city. This is my first time to live in one. People! People and noise and crime and abandoned houses and people walking dogs and waving hi and people ignoring me being friendly saying hello, have a good day or saying the same back to me. In my brain space! Holy cow Batman! [See the end of the post to find a virtual tour of Mt. Rainier. See if you can find this place. Post in the comments if you find it and if you find anything else you think is interesting about the park and the mountain. Let’s take a moment away from being bonky and share this truly remarkable place. Note #2]
This picture is where I want, where I need my brain to be. The fires have to be suffocated. Um, maybe that’s not the right word. I still don’t want to die so no suffication. Right? Yeah. Nope. Let’s just work on putting the fire out for now. Dang! Such a beautiful place. Come visit! Honestly, loads of places rain way more than it does here. I promise.
There are so very many things I never wanted to know about Bipolar Disorder. I’d say the biggest thing would be that it totally and completely sucks. It does suck. Maybe if I wasn’t so aware of it, if I didn’t realaize how much it sucked, it wouldn’t suck as much? Yeah, that makes no sense to me either. Well, it does suck. I know, that you know that too.
There are things that we have in common and I hope you’ll remember them.
There are always going to be things we really don’t want to know about Bipolar and wish they’d just go away.
Bipolar Disorder sucks.
We have intensely intense moods and thus – emotions and we can’t always control them. Sometimes we completely lose that argument.
Lastly, for this post, Bipolar still sucks.
I’m so tired. The pain needs to stop so I can sleep so I can be less bitchy. Confession – I’ve been a tiny bit bitchy the last few days… weeks. Only the last few days you understand. I’m not normally bitchy. Honestly, I’m not. ;0) Last night I fell asleep in my office chair. My son scared me when he came to take Bailey out to use the lawn for a toilet. Thankfully, she’s a dog. Heh. By the time I got to be in bed the headache was so bad I was carrying around our designated puke bucket. [Kool-aid container. I know, I know, ick! But it doesn’t splash like a bowl. Give it a try. Don’t forget to take the lid off. I’m winking. Can you see me, winking? Sorry, no pic available. Maybe another time.]
Being true to my little grey cells I must confess that short posts are probably going to be infrequent. If this bothers you maybe you could read the first and last sentence of every other paragraph. What do you think? Of course, you might miss things like Kool-aid containers make good puke buckets and then where would you be? That’s right. Puking with your face in the toile that’s where. Or on a table or in a bowl. Ew. Kool-aid. Try it. I mean, if you need to puke.
Okay, I’m going to pretend that I’m going to sleep now. I swear someone hates me and is squeezing my brain. It’s pure pulp now and I’m not having allergies. Ew. TIM… TMI. TMI. Yes, that’s it.
Hey Dear Reader you can now find me on Twitter @Reduxbpd.
NOTES: #1 You can find this where PGH found it at the Mayo Clinic.
#2 This virtual tour includes Reflection Lakes (see the image above). I’d love to bring you all here, but for now, check it out and enjoy Rainier’s beauty.
As a person with Bipolar Disorder (Type 1) I have always considered my anger as a considerable problem, even a terrible liability. But you know what? I had a moment today when I harnessed that power and made it a defense, perhaps even a weapon.
I don’t know for certain that the same uninvited man called me today, but he sounded like it. The background noise was considerable. I could hear other calls being made that sounded exactly like what the man had just said to me. It was like last week. Last week! In a four hour period the same man called me ten, TEN times. 10 TIMES!
This time I started off with:
“No, you may not speak to Robin. Who are you and what do you want?”
“Eh, is Robin there please?”
“No. You may not speak to her. What do you want?”
“I’m calling from Website Design… blah, blah.”
“She doesn’t want to talk to you. You sound like you’re calling from a boiler room.” (I don’t think he knows what a boiler room is.)
He stopped talking for a second and I struck like a crow stealing food from the middle of our road. Crows remember stuff. Did you know that? I mean, never throw a shoe at one or send your dog after it. Those eyes… yikes!
“Do not call again. Do you understand? Not again. Not ever. Do not call again.” I took a breath just to let him digest that a wee tiny bit, but not too much of a bit. “Do you hear what I’m saying to you? You will not call me again. Take me off your list and do not call again.”
“If you call me again I will report you to the FCC. Do you understand? Do not, do NOT call again. Am I being clear? Do NOT call again. You will not call me again.”
I hung up. Okay, honestly, I may have repeated myself a few more times.
Damn that felt good. Using my “I’m really pissed off and not having it anymore,” voice at a specific person felt so nice! Yeah, yeah, he was just doing his job. Look, just take me off the list. Last week I told him I was going to come find him if he called again and smack him.
I have a temper. Yep. A temper. Today, my anger was my own and I put it to use. It did not rule me. Today I told someone where to get off, concisely, specifically, very firmly. If I were him, I wouldn’t call again. I’d delete Robin from the call list.
I will answer if “robocall” does call again using any of the variety of numbers that have been used. Seriously, ten calls? Amazing, right? I will answer and I will honestly, earnestly and very firmly use my words to defend my privacy and myself.
There are ways we can feel and be more in control of ourselves and our lives. This is one tiny example of how I’ve reclaimed my power.
I know that sometimes those kinds of things can make us feel like victims. We can become afraid of answering our own phones. The spam filters don’t always work. We don’t have to tolerate that kind of stupid stuff. Without swearing, without yelling, I expressed the anger that I felt. Holy bananas that felt so nice!
Don’t feel like you can’t say anything when people step on you. Speak up. Be firm. Be polite. Stand your ground and be proud. We must stand for ourselves. Today, and last week, I assumed command of my expensive phone and phone service. I called my phone carrier last week and she told me that honestly they really can’t do anything more than let my phone tell me it’s probably spam. Seriously?
Go ahead and call me morons. Get paid to annoy me. I shall annoy you back. Hopefully my “mental illness” will reach you and scare the poo out of you. Be afraid of who you call next. Let’s get personal. I dare you.