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.

A Happy Bipolar Birthday

Today is the day for champions… and so is tomorrow.

I’ve been thinking a lot for a long time. Too long. Too much. That’s okay.

Today really is my birthday. My dinner of choice was made for me and it was yummy.

It snowed. It SNOWED!! It hardly ever snows here, but it did today! On my birthday. (Feb. 3rd) Three hours later it was all gone. Not a big surprise. It was beautiful.

My beautiful dog Bailey (she’s a Kelpie). She did NOT want to sit in it.
The front of the house.

I’ll catch you folks tomorrow. The topic on deck… what happens in my brain when my already overloaded circuits are confronted with Sleep Apnea and the demonic CPAP.

Taking a Moment for Myself, Even Though I Can’t Sleep

So often I start to flip the panic switch in my brain when I can’t sleep… because I believe that I KNOW that I’ll be overcome by anxiety, exhausted, irritable and so on. I’ll be angry.

That’s been the situation too many times lately. I takes time to affect change, to see what will work and what won’t.

In the meantime, I’m taking about 8 minutes to slow down, to deliberately pause and cut myself some slack. I usually find it easier to do things like this using music. I’ve been listening to “Peaceful Day” and I really enjoy it. It’s very short. It’s beautiful. It’s restive. I think you might like it. Check it out!

Peaceful Day

Bipolar – When We Fall

Falling Alone is Terrifying.

I never thought I’d have the great backyard that my yard is becoming. Two of my kids are making it into an amazing place to hang out. They’re constructing raised gardens and putting up a trellis for the climbing roses too! I’ve never had climbing roses. And there are lots of vegetables and colorful flowers. I was gone for a week, and they blew up the garden that was here when we moved in. Someone built a pergola by the garden, but here in WA when it rains, that’s not a load of help. We had a guy put fiberglass over the top of it so we can go out and use the previously ineffective and silly pergola in the rain. AAAnnnddd… of course, it leaks. A lot! A seriously, a stupid, moronic and gigantic leaking, leaked, and just damn leaky wet.

Last night the lawn was mowed and the weed eating all done. I was banned from doing any of the work because I’d tripped (as usual) fallen hard on my left knee and arm (my left shoulder has a rotator cuff tear). I couldn’t move my leg for a while. It sucked. I had images of the “Help! I’ve fallen and can’t get up.” commercial in my head. Later on, my eldest son said he had been thinking the same thing. We had a good laugh over it.

The next day Kyle, the same son, skipped work so he could come and walk with me. I was afraid I’d fall again. I’ve been knocking over things every day. Every single day. Coffee travel mug? Got it covered – all over the floor. Water bottle with lemonade? Yep, the hardwood floor is really clean except where I missed it. Now it’s just sticky in places and gathering dust. I guess I’ll be able to find those spots easily enough.

Today I made two messes. The second one was pretty spectacular. As I started crying, I noticed that my night pillbox had opened and three nights of pills spilled on the carpet. We have four cats and a dog, and I nearly freaked out. I had to leave. What if I missed some of them?

Why is this happening to me? Don’t I have enough to deal with without this silliness?

I see a neurologist like next month sometime. Originally it wasn’t for this dropping, knocking and generally blundering along with business, but I think that’s what we’ll have to talk about. Right now I have something else on my mind. Okay, I’m having all these weird issues. The question is what am I going to do now that I feel like I’m losing it?

Bipolar Disorder very often comes dancing along with another illness as you may already know. I do line dancing with ADHD and a few other dirtbags that are better left in a Looni Balloon (not to be confused with Looney Tunes) flick destined to be beaten with a gigantic red rubber hammer where no one will cry over the violence of the act. Sometimes the fear and panic provoke anger and even rage. It seems best to leave such emotions in

I have no spiffy answers for you, but I can tell you what I did to survive my day and end up where I promised I would be.

First, I called my daughter at work. It went to voice mail as I expected. Then I texted her “911” and dictated a message to my texting app. Next, I let her know that whatever my phone put in the message was not my fault because I wasn’t going to read it over for mistakes and that I was taking half a “chill pill.”

Second, I called my son that lives three minutes down the hill from us. He didn’t pick up either. I texted him as well.

The whole while I searched for help I kept trying to breathe. I’ve been practicing a breathing method? Is that what you’d call it? Anyway, I couldn’t get it right so I gave up and let myself just breathe.

It was going to be okay. Right?

OMG! I’m home alone. I need to go babysit my mother’s elderly dog. I’m trying not to freak out, how am I going to get there? It’s important. I have to go. My mom needs a social life. I HAVE to go.

I had my Bluetooth stuck in my ear by this time and was talking to Kyle. He was gently helping me back down. I knew today was his only day off, and I felt bad about bothering him, but he talked with me anyway.

Weird that I’d be thinking of how I was bothering my kids right?

Yes, I do have another son. This one is very hard to reach. He lives with his wife fifteen minutes from our house. Scott, well he’s not the topic of this post, so maybe another time he’ll come up.

I eventually arrived at my mom’s after listening to an audiobook all the way over here. It was a thriller. Maybe not the best choice for this drive, but there it was.

I explained to her what my week was like. At first, it was amusing because I’m always clumsy. Then I got to the point where I fell two days in a row and then escalated to dropping and knocking over more things more often and larger in size.

This is plain silly.

Peel away the story. Remove the falling and the dropping. Strike out everything, but the panic, the difficulty breathing, the 911 messages to my kids, the chill pill and you have my mind reaching out into my world and mixing stuff up. The important things to take away are that I had a system set up already that let me reach out for help. I also could have called my second son and my mother. Everyone knows the drill. Mom (Robin), 911 text – something is very wrong.

I strongly urge you to create your own emergency plan. Get some of your people in on it. You will quite possibly need to educate them about Bipolar Disorder and how it is with you. Tell them what kind of help you may need. If you feel that you just don’t have anyone to trust, and yes, you should be able to trust them. You may be putting your life in their hands so make sure this is the real deal and not just an acquaintance that you want to get to know better. That’s not the person I want you to enlist in your wellness plan.

We’ll talk later about what I like to think of as a wellness emergency plan.

  • Reached out to my people
  • Half a “chill pill”
  • Audiobook
  • Two ice cream bars
  • Talking with you

I feel much better now. Time to do some work.

All my best,

Robin