4 Things I Never Wanted to Know About Bipolar Disorder

  1. I have to do MORE to feel better. Pills are not enough for me.
  2. Sometimes I’m a bitch and it isn’t my illness.
  3. I have to be my own ADVOCATE all the time. 
  4. 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. 

  1. There are always going to be things we really don’t want to know about Bipolar and wish they’d just go away. 
  2. Bipolar Disorder sucks.
  3. We have intensely intense moods and thus – emotions and we can’t always control them. Sometimes we completely lose that argument. 
  4. 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. 

Bipolar and the Spam Man – When Anger Threatens to Pop Your Brain

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.”

“Uhhhh…”

“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. 

Redux | I want to pick my nose and other true stories from my Bipolar life.

So. I had three procedures performed on my nose in an operating room on December 30. The approval letter from my ever-reliable insurance company arrived this week, Wednesday. It said I was approved for “a procedure in my nose.” Very specific, don’t you think? Just get to the point. Approved.

It has been inferred that since my name is Robin and I have a deceptively long, narrow, and pointy nose that I must have had a nose job to make it look like a nose that isn’t such a beak.

Thanks. That’s not why I’ve had surgical instruments stick up my nose. 

I’ve always smelled things first and more potently than anyone I know. I can smell fires and melting plastic before anyone has a notion that something might be wrong.

In opposition to this oversensitive olfactory ability, when pollen follows my intake of oxygen, limited though it has always been, over my chicken like lips and on up into my greatest physical ability, and I start sneezing.

Sneezing. My mom tried all through my formative years. At our greatly modified Christmas dinner this year with the four of us when I ate like a starving bank robber around my black ski mask, she urged me to sneeze like a girl. That’s what it was called when I was young. “Can’t you sneeze more quietly? Like a girl?” Of course, this holiday she’d skip the socially inappropriate, “like a girl,” and shoot straight to telling me, ” Robin! Can’t you do that more quietly?” No mom, the nose… I can’t. I’m just loud.

I have Bipolar Disorder and I can’t breathe. Man, what a horrible combination. Just to continue my silent yet fervent life long quest to breathe and sneeze like a “not girl,” I have learned what may contribute to my difficulty practicing controlled yet relaxed breathing, maybe being sabotaged from the get-go by my lack of the good stuff. You know it. You use it too. Oxygen.

Apparently, breathing in through my nose, holding it, then breathing slowly out through my mouth first requires me to draw in something more than pollen and things that are burning.

Did you know that if my brain has access to unlimited oxygen it will (hopefully) better deal with itself? Meaning, that my brain meds will probably welcome the assist that oxygen will provide. That’s the learned consensus anyway and I am unanimous in that.

Naturally, the rest of me wants to help out with this breathing idea and generously and impulsively tossed in asthma via “Twitchy Lungs,” and I must not forget to mention the delightful Sleep Apnea piece of the party.

Yeah! I whistle as I struggle to draw in that oxygen stuff I’ve been referring to through my chicken-like, thin, and collapsible nose holes, while my tongue clogs my throat and I stop breathing. Oh goodie.

I’ve demonstrated to my doctors over the years this flashy trick I can do with my nose. I draw in a quick snout full of oxygen and the holes slam shut and nothing gets in or out.

Bummer. Great for swimming underwater, not for breathing actual air. 

I’ve had one or two “big brain” moments in my 57 (soon to be 58) years. I’m particularly proud to show off my solution to the “keep the water out” ability I have. You see if I could just find the perfect size straws I could fashion them into reverse nose plugs by sticking them up my nose holes to hold them open. 

Not one doctor listened to my complaining and my surely novel solution. Surely I was messing around. After all, I’m kind of expected to act (think as well) just the least bit bonkers so I was kidding, right?

No, not kidding.

Slowly racing to December 2020 because still, no air, I meet an ENT doctor who, after watching me pull my nose holes open from behind her mask confidentiality and yet without any fanfare nor pomp and circumstance that she could “fix” that easily. No problem. She paid attention and “got it.” That is, she said she could move things around and easily fix them. Again, no problem. I like her.  

Just like that, I was scheduled for nostril surgery to correct the deviation, move some stuff around, and then prop the little holes open so that the much sought after oxygen could wind it’s way to my little grey cells. 

Yeah. I have stitches, some pain, and the faith I’ll have human nose holes instead of chicken slits very soon. Oxygen I’m coming for you!

I’m in a beautiful manic/depressed/agitated/anxiety phase now. I know, seems about normal for me. This is true, but my brain is carrying on like a “stuck pig,” as someone in the family used to say. It fits pretty well. I think some oxygen might be useful about now.

Let’s see, asthma is apparently under control until the next “twitch.” My nose has been enlarged on the inside and the doors propped open. What could possibly go wrong?

Sleep apnea. Twice in the last week, I’ve woken up in a panic, gasping for air. That’s how it works, yeah? The brain gets distracted by… whatever and forgets to do its job and move the “structures” in the back of my throat so I can breathe. About 20 times an hour. Two sleep tests and keeping in line with my “no oxygen” theme… 

Well, you know how people trying to calm me down urge me to take a breath (Robin you’re holding your breath. Breathe!)… Yeah, doesn’t happen.

I’m telling myself that this is too much information, the story is out of control, but it isn’t, not in the real world. This breathing stuff is part of every moment of my life and it reaches every single hit and tittle of my being. Bipolar Disorder does as well. Can it be corrected? That’s another thing about me that gets tricky and isn’t the focus of this story. Yes, it does have a focus. 

I’m struggling. My brain needs a break and let’s face it, oxygen would help. My thoughts, moods, and emotions are busily doing the River Dance on me and on those around me. That last bit. That makes me sick. Hurting those I care about is a very hard thing for me. 

Sometimes an assist comes from bizarre and unexpected places. For me, this first month of 2021, aid has come via nose holes (without the straws). Nose HOLES. No more chicken beak! Have you ever studied a chicken’s beak? Next time look for those nose holes. I think you’ll agree that chicken beak nose holes just are not enough for me. Nope. Need bigger holes.

I sneeze loud. I talk loud. I even whisper aloud. I wonder if my Tarzan yell will be louder? Ooohhh, now that’s something to look forward to trying. 

And my brain having a Bipolar spike… I think it might just enjoy better nose holes too.

These nose holes are my unexpected aid in managing my illness. I’d like to know if you have nose holes that have the potential to help your brain out too. Can’t think of anything at the moment? That’s okay. You might recognize something any time now. 

Be patient. 

I wonder if Bailey could be trained to wake me up when I stop breathing…. Maybe. Oh, that’s not one of my kids. She’s my fantastic dog! 

Nose holes and chicken lips. Ew…

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.