Tag Archives: bipolar disorder

Bipolar – Invisible Lasers and Behavior

Standard

neuroplasticityJessica moves her hand and Bailey looks for a laser on the floor like a missile on a target, like when an officer arrives and she snaps to attention… she’s completely conditioned like Pavlov’s dog. Bailey follows her around the house waiting for her to use the laser. Jessica hasn’t used the laser on her for so long that she doesn’t even remember doing it. AND IT’S A CAT TOY!! The cat doesn’t chase it, the dog does.

See, here’s the thing, I want to apply it to Bipolar Disorder and maybe other illnesses, but I just can’t think of a similar situation. I mean, I want to say something like, “I can retrain my brain and rid myself of my illness by using Neuroplasticity and remapping my neuro pathways… change me on a physical level… BE CURED OF THIS CRAP!

All I can think of is can I train myself to react in better ways than I do. Can I be trained to respond to situations, to people, to everything and improve my thinking and my behavior so I seem like I’m getting better? Like I’m cured?

I know as well as anyone else who has Bipolar does, that this thing cannot be cured. It can be masked. It can have help in controlling it’s symptoms. But it won’t go away.

It would be so incredibly awesome if my brain could be remapped, conditioned like Bailey’s is.

Bailey is so amazing. She remembers tricks I taught her years ago. She just prefers not to do them for me. She’ll do them for my kids, not for me. Little shit. Well, that’s how it goes.

Maybe my brain has learned some tricks and it will only perform for other people. I wonder. Wait! I wonder who it could be trained for. Nah, I’m not going there.

I understand that my brain really can be changed using neuroplasticity. I’ve done studied it off and on over the years and I honestly believe it can change my brain. Can it cure me of the monster that runs my brain? I don’t think so. I guess it could. Maybe. But I don’t think so. (This is a great topic for a different post!)

Bailey is terribly funny when she tries to chase lasers that aren’t there. Jessica is a turd for teasing her. (I’m going to try to get a video of it so you can see just how strange it is.)Maybe, part of the difficulties that are a part of Bipolar, namely my behavior, can be modified in the same way that I’d like to retrain Bailey to stop looking for lasers. Isn’t that why I see counselors year after endless year? To retrain my behavior? The counselor can’t cure me. That’s not why I see them. I see them so I can be told how to stop acting like I have Bipolar. Um, okay, I’d better stop there.

“Point” is… dog looking for invisible laser… way funny.

Bipolar – Holding Out My Hands

Standard

I’ve been trying to reach a young woman that I am in the same major in at UWT regarding her mental health. To me, it is obvious that she has Bipolar Disorder or something similar. I’ve been in classes with her for three years now. Wow, that’s the entire time that I’ve been going to school there.

I care about this woman and I want to be able to help her understand what’s happening to her. Very often she feels out of control. Outwardly, she’s very loud and emotional. Her emotions are so strong that she disturbs people around her. I really want to get through to her. Our mutual friend knows both our stories and she knows that I’ve been trying to reach her.

We have a friend in common and the three of us have a sort of writers group. We meet one or two times a week after class. I’ve been listening to her and feeling empathic towards her. It hurts me to see her in so much pain, and so confused.

I’ve told her I have Bipolar 1 since last year. It has seemed like she doesn’t understand what I’m telling her when I try to communicate Bipolar to Bipolar… until today. Today I felt that I finally made some headway with her. Our mutual friend agrees.

There were two important things I really wanted to communicate to her and I think I might have gotten through.

  1. You have to work hard to understand this illness and learn how to deal with it. She’s been freaking out about how much we have to do at school. She wants to know how I control it so I can do my school work. Understand, information and planning help me get through.
  2. You have Bipolar Disorder and it will be with you until you die. This is not an illness that you will be healed from. It’s not like the flu in that it runs its course and then it goes away. It isn’t a cold or even cancer which can go into remission. We have ups and downs. Sometimes we do better than other times. Sometimes we’re paralyzed and unable to even breathe. Understand this, you will never be rid of this illness. It will be with you always. You must learn to live with it, understand it and try to use it. Be prepared. Have a safety net. See what I’m doing? You must learn about this illness. It is a beast and you must be brave and face it down.

She asked how I deal with the school work. She and I have a class together and we are both doing an independent study program one on one with the same professor. This professor is amazing. She has high standards and demands a lot of us.

How do I get it done? She’s been feeling so depressed and having such anxiety that she’s struggling to get anything done at all.

There are no simple answers, no quick fixes. Remember what I said.

  1. Learn to understand the beast. Ignorance only makes it worse.
  2. You will have this until you die. Be prepared to deal with it every day. Don’t try to ignore it. Fight it. Then I added a third thing she could do.
  3. Work to master your mind in every way you can. Try mindfulness. I’m trying it. We need every advantage that we can find.

I’ve been dealing with Bipolar Disorder for a long time. I’ve worked a little and a lot and failed and succeeded. I understand the beast and I know what it wants from me. I’m doing okay. I’m able to reach out and teach a fellow sufferer. She is so young. This is so new to her. I think, I hope, that today I was finally able to reach her. I think she is starting to understand that I’ve walked this path for a long time and I might have ideas on how to not crash, on how not to burn.

So today that’s what I want to say. Reach out to others who you identify with. If you can, try to share your experiences and help another person. If you don’t know anyone you in person that you can reach out to try to find someone online to support. If you read someone’s blog and you know they have Bipolar Disorder too, leave them a comment. Say something nice. Encourage them. Let them know they are not alone.

I will continue to reach out to my young friend. I will continue to hope that I can reach her. I will be vulnerable with her so she can see that I understand and that I can stand with her.

Okay. I’m manic. Is it obvious? Feel the pressured speech? See me going on and on? Yeah. Manic.

Be well.

Bipolar: It Is Very Difficult to Know

Standard

A lot of the time I hesitate to post because I don’t know what you, my reader, expects to read. I struggle with this every day. I could tell you about my day, but that’s so boring – dull! I could stick to only write about myself and what I’ve learned about Bipolar, but I really feel strongly that this kind of important thing deserves a website of its own so that people in pain or who are looking for answers can go to that site and find answers and acceptance right away. So, I’m developing a website to do just that.

I have Bipolar Disorder Type 1 with mixed states. I also entertain much of the rest of the alphabet. I could drone on and on and try to… well, I think you know where that was going.

Basically I’m a normal 55 year single mom of three who is interesting and has a good sense of humor. I have some compelling stuff following me around that makes me complicated, but who doesn’t? Surely everyone has experienced the strange things accompanying Bipolar, anxiety, depression, ADHD, PTSD, FM, OA, etc.

I have a Japanese Fighting fish like all your neighbors do and speaking of neighbors, also just like you, I politely file noise complaints regarding one nice household whenever my TV starts to loudly rattle. Seriously.

I’m so normal I could bore you silly. Although… did I mention my eldest daughter will be moving in with me in a few months? (Honestly, it’s for the best. I need the support and we can both use help with housing expenses.)

In fact things are sooo boring that I’m going to need to graduate from college with another bachelors degree and I’m going to have two sons and a daughter instead of what has been the standard at my house with two daughters and a son.

See? Boring.

I am first and foremost a woman who deals with an incurable illness and will continue to do so until I die. Well, and perhaps afterward too. I mean, who really knows?

If you don’t mind too much, I’m going to write about all of these things. I might even add in the bits where one of my family members believes that God has them on this earth for only one reason and that is to save his children and to draw them back to Him because they are lost.

Maybe I’ll recount some of my experiences growing upon a ranch as a teen who presented with Bipolar at a very young age and how well that went over with my undiagnosed Bipolar father. Maybe I’ll include fun times at the church I was attending that was into casting out demons. Yeah. Fun times.

Have I mentioned I went to Bible College searching for God? I wanted so desperately for Him to take away the pain I felt that was crushing me from within every day. No? Bipolar, prayer, and demonic possession… seems like there’s a story in there, somewhere.

What’s on your mind? Should I throw caution to the wind and open up a bit more? It all, and I do mean all, ties directly back into this sickness, this life long illness I struggle with. It is all infused with, you know it, Bipolar.

I don’t believe it is a disorder. I believe it’s a disease, an illness and should be treated with the respect it deserves… that we deserve.

Talk to me my Readers. Tell me what you think. Do you have questions? I can’t guarantee I’ll answer, but I’ll read all of them. 🤔

Be well.

Robin

A Bipolar Colonoscopy

Standard

This eyeball is the way the Katy Perry concert last Saturday began.

I apologize in advance for this post. It’s long. It’s not written well. You might have trouble following it… but I hope you’ll think it’s funny. My life has always been strange. This is a snapshot of some of my odd life. Feel free to ask questions. It confuses me too. But, I think it’s kind of funny. Please enjoy. 

My life has been anything but normal. Seriously. My own mother has told me for over thirty years that I should write some of this weird stuff down because no one would ever believe it. Let me give you an example from right now. Yes, this is happening right now.

Okay, I have Bipolar Disorder. Yes, I do. I’m all broken up. I don’t just mean mentally, I mean all the heck over my whole body. Top to toes. The whole thing.

Let’s look at this current adventure – I’ve had the poops since Christmas Day. You heard me. I’m not going to say it again. Do you know how hard it is to get a doctor to see you over the holidays if you’re not dying? You say, “Look, I’m going in my pants! You have to HELP ME!” But no. So you call the after-hours nurse line. Take Kaopectate. I have. Take an extra dose right away. I’m on my second bottle in four hours. Oh. You should see your doctor. Bloody hell. I can’t deal with this stress. I have anxiety problems you know. I’m sorry. You could go to the Urgent Clinic. Excuse me. I can’t stop going. I can’t possibly ride in a car. Oh. I’m sorry. Shit…

Fast forward to the first week of January. Well, I can give you these pills. Later… they’re not working. Can I take more? No, they’ll bind you up. Yes, that’s good. That’s what I want. No, see the specialist. I went to the specialist. She was wonderful. On my way there, my daughter left her car keys in my house and we got locked out. No problem. I have a hidden key. Bloody key doesn’t work. She was with me when we tested it. It worked! It doesn’t work now. My mom drives 30 minutes to let us in my house. It is freezing. We miss the appointment. Shit.

I start calling the doctor. The appointment center is very sorry. I’m like, you don’t understand. I have to be seen. Thank the stars… they had an opening with a female doctor at three in the afternoon, and do you mind, it is in your city. Do you mind driving just 15 minutes? Um, no. Not at all. I love you.

Hi doctor, please help me. I’ve been… I explain the problem. Take these pills. They’re the same ones my primary doctor told me to only take one twice a day. (I looked them up online. I’ve been taking two twice a day for a week and a bottle of Kaopectate a day.) Oh, well you should have been taking two-twice a day. Gee, thanks. I love you. Well, we need to do labs. Fine. I love collecting my own brown stuff. (I puked last time.) Gave them blood. Take more, please, do more tests. Anything. Labs are NORMAL. Shit.

I had a VERY bad experience four years ago having a crappy colonoscopy. I refused to have another one just two months ago. New doctor, who I love. You have to have one. Oh, and you know how you’ve been having trouble swallowing your Bipolar and handful of other pills? Yeah. We’re gonna look down your throat and do an esophagus and see what’s up. Yep, I’m the person you see for both problems. Great. They’re going to spin me around halfway through and do it all at once. Oh hell!

Today, prep day. I’m miserable. I was up all night last night having a panic attack. This is all so good for my stress. My counselor is worried. I called the doctor doing the procedures. I asked his office people, Can I PLEASE take my Chill pill before the procedure? Oh sure. We have people take them all the time. Apparently, everyone freaks out about it. Can you imagine that?

Tomorrow morning I start the last part of the prep for the procedures. I’m not happy.

My birthday was Saturday. I’m 55 now. I qualify for the iHop 55 and older menu. You get fewer pancakes… but it comes out to the same cost per pancake as the normal menu. I was all excited for nothing. Later, Jessica, my eldest and I went to the Katy Perry concert here in Tacoma. It was a great time! We had a blast!

Jessica’s birthday was yesterday. She spent it buying the supplies… for her mother to prepare for the procedures. Yeah…

We spent most of the day together today. It felt great to be with her. She helped me stay calm. I had to take a chill pill before the concert and again yesterday. But today, with my kid here, I didn’t need one. She’s amazing.

So tomorrow is the day. 1:15 p.m. That’s when we get this thing done. Now, I’ve finally been taking enough pills and fiber to stop having to run to the bathroom all the time. Um, that’s exactly what I need to do now. Please, let me go so this thing can go right the first time. I’ve had to take time off of school for this. It’s mid-terms! Imagine explaining to my professors what’s up. OMG

That brings us to right now. I’m having anxiety. I thought maybe talking to you might help.

This is one of the really strange things going on in my life.

Oh, and what if they don’t find anything? Then what? Is my pooping my brains out all in my head?! Don’t go there girl. Focus. But what if they do find something? My dad just died of cancer three years ago. Okay brain, stop it! Time for distraction. TV. I think I’ll watch TV. Why don’t I go to bed? What if I need to, you know, while I’m in bed? What if I can’t move fast enough? OMG!

Well, this has to be resolved one way or the other. I can’t keep being afraid of leaving my house. I can’t keep this up any longer. I have to know what’s wrong.

I have Bipolar Disorder. I have massive anxiety. I have PTSD. I have FM and chronic pain. I take opioids to control the pain. Wait, isn’t that supposed to clog the pipes up? Well it isn’t working.

I would like to get in shape. I would like to sleep tonight. Forget about getting in shape. Time to focus.

I think I’ll start my “going to bed” routine. It takes me about an hour. Just before I lay down I get YouTube up on my phone and start playing a 10 hour relaxing track playing water sounds and some relaxing music. Then I lay down and watch something on Curiosity Stream. That takes 30 to 60 minutes. Or, maybe I’ll read. I’ll decide when I lay down. I pet my doggie and tell her good night. Then I wrap my Captain America blanket around my shoulders and snuggle in for the night. Shortly Maks, my loving cat, will come in and smash his big wet nose into my bare arm. Sometimes he misses and hits my face. He will then purr loudly for a long time. He lets me lay my heavy arm across his body when he finally settles in.

At 8 a.m. my alarm will go off and I’ll get up and do the last part of the prep. Yeah…. Sigh.

This is so damn weird.

You know, I’ve started talking out loud and moving my arms like I’m talking and emphasizing what I’m saying by waving them around… just as I’m falling asleep. You gotta know I wake back up again. Stress? What do you think?

I’ve had enough of this. I thought all the brain problems were a handful. This is ridiculous.

Well, good night. Wish me luck. I’m kind of feeling sad. I travel with a load of mixed state Type 1 BP. I guess I might sleep. Last night I was full of anxiety and mania. I wrote one of my mid-term papers and mapped out a presentation for another class. I worked on my novel the rest of the night. I think I’d like to feel blue for sure tonight. I can only hope it will help me snooze… till 8.

Goodnight.

Insidious Black Box

Standard

I apologize for the length of this post. Please consider reading the entire post. It’s very important. Your life could depend upon it. (Robin)

Emotionmasks insane faces

I take two medications that I considered to have a Black Box warning. They both depress breathing. Together they can stop my breathing altogether… There are other dangers.

I have chronic pain with Bipolar Disorder and Generalized Anxiety. I am prescribed both Oxycodone and Clonazepam by two different providers. They both know that I take both medications.

I see a pain management specialist for my pain. I have for some time now. To be treated there, I have had to sign a contract that governs my behavior with regards to taking pain medications, I have to take a pee test every time I go in and they count my pills every time as well.

My med provider handles my Clonazepam prescription for anxiety. I suffer from extreme anxiety. Sometimes I feel like my brain is going to explode. Recently, this woman, who is the 4th or 5th provider I’ve had since I started going to this clinic, told me that I’m more likely to kill myself because of anxiety rather than depression. I was always told that a depressed person was more likely to commit suicide when they started to feel better. When they started feeling better, they finally would have the energy to follow through with their suicidal inclinations. Apparently, there is more to it than that.

My counselor and every med provider I’ve had is intimately aware of my massive anxiety and my inability to get it under control. We’ve tried all the counseling type of solutions including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (talk therapy), mindfulness and other techniques. I’ve not had success with any of them.

My med provider is content for me to only take Lamotrigine, which is primarily to treat my Bipolar Disorder depression symptoms, and not to take anything other than Clonazepam for anxiety. From talking to her, it appears that this is primarily to treat the depressive symptoms that I experience. I have not been able to get any of the med providers who have treated me to give me anything for anxiety other than Clonazepam.

She, my med provider, told me at our second meeting, that people with anxiety are more likely to commit suicide than people with depression. Since I suffer primarily from anxiety, you would think someone would have warned me of this. I understand now why I feel so self-destructive while I’m exploding with anxiety.

She has told me that her goal is to get me off the Clonazepam completely. Now that I’m taking my runaway anxiety and the real chance I will kill myself because of it more seriously, I’m also taking the mix of these two medications seriously. I always have, but my frantic response to my anxiety has created a situation where I’m so afraid of what might happen if I stop taking the drug for anxiety.

I’ve always felt like I’m most insane when my anxiety is at its peak.

I understand that long-term opioid use for chronic pain is not the most effective way to treat it. I’ve wanted to find a different solution for a long time. My pain management provider doesn’t offer other alternatives than pain medications.

I normally don’t want to die. I’ve always had urges that are normally short in duration towards it, but I haven’t had times when I sit there with my bottle of Oxycodone ready to take it all. But, I could.

I’ve never told any of my mental health caregivers that I have suicidal thoughts. I know that my community does not have good facilities to treat acute mental health emergencies. I don’t want to become one of those people who is shuffled into a hospital emergency room with a guard sitting outside my little room. That’s what they do. I have first-hand knowledge of this.

So what’s the answer? Do I chance dying in my sleep? Or do I chance ending my life while I’m awake? Both are real dangers.

I’ve decided to deal with my feelings of self-destruction now. With the danger of the two medications and my new understanding the relationship between anxiety and suicide, I have promised my family that I will talk to my counselor on Wednesday when I see him. I will admit that I think about suicide. That’s a huge step for me.

I’m afraid. Admitting how I’ve been feeling for years is like admitting that I can’t control the one area of dealing with my mental health that I always felt I could say I didn’t have a problem with. I’ll finally be admitting I have no control over my depression or my anxiety in relationship to staying alive.

As I say, I don’t want to die. When my anxiety runs away I cannot always control myself. I can become violent and destructive. I break down and cannot function. I become paralyzed yet also hysterical.

Yesterday I talked to my mother and all three of my kids and admitted the truth to them. My youngest who is a psych major at the same university that I attend (so is her partner) said she had been wondering if that was a problem for me. They all agree that they would rather I call them than I call a suicide line. I’ll talk to my therapist about that.

I have tried to learn to practice mindfulness several times in the past. I never fully committed to it. Mindfulness was just part of the learning experience in one of my classes I just finished. It’s time for me to review the materials I have about it, I have lots. I need to try to learn how to harness it’s potential in earnest this time. My life depends upon it.

I have a particular fear: I’m terrified of my anxiety. I know what it does to me. I sometimes feel the insidious devil of insanity creeping through my mind trying to take over, and it literally shreds my mind.

If you have any Black Box warnings for medication yourself, please take it seriously. Now that I am self-aware of my true situation I’m ready to find a way to deal with my symptoms.

 

My main medications:

Chronic Pain – Oxycodone / Nucynta

Anxiety / PTSD – Clonazepam / Benzodiazepines

Bipolar Disorder / Depression – Lamotrigine

 

Oxycodone – Warnings

“To make sure this medicine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • a history of drug abuse, alcohol addiction, or mental illness
  • if you use a sedative like Valium (diazepam, alprazolam, lorazepam, Ativan, Klonopin, Restoril, Tranxene, Versed, Xanax, and others)”

https://www.drugs.com/oxycodone.html

Clonazepam – Warnings

Risks from Concomitant Use with Opioids
Use of benzodiazepines, including Clonazepam, and opioids may result in profound sedation, respiratory depression, coma, and death. Because of these risks, reserve concomitant prescribing of benzodiazepines and opioids for use in patients for whom alternative treatment options are inadequate.

Observational studies have demonstrated that concomitant use of opioid analgesics and benzodiazepines increases the risk of drug-related mortality compared to use of opioids alone. If a decision is made to prescribe Clonazepam concomitantly with opioids, prescribe the lowest effective dosages and minimum durations of concomitant use, and follow patients closely for signs and symptoms of respiratory depression and sedation.
(The above Warning is taken from: https://www.drugs.com/pro/clonazepam.html)
Concomitant: (synonyms: attendant, accompanying, associated, related, connected)

Lamotrigine – Warnings

To make sure lamotrigine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • A history of depression or suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Some people have thoughts about suicide while taking this medicine. Your doctor will need to check your progress at regular visits. Your family or other caregivers should also be alert to changes in your mood or symptoms.

https://www.drugs.com/mtm/lamotrigine.html

Nucynta – Side Effects for Health Care Professionals

Psychiatric – Common (1% to 10%): Insomnia, confusion, abnormal dreams, anxiety, depression, irritability, nervousness, drug withdrawal syndrome, restlessness, sleep disorder, hallucination, depressed mood.
https://www.drugs.com/sfx/nucynta-side-effects.html

 

Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines may be used in the treatment of anxiety, panic disorder, seizures, or sleep disorders.
https://www.drugs.com/drug-class/benzodiazepines.html

 

Bipolar – Danger Signs

Standard

solar-flare-1Now that I’m taking 120mg of Latuda again I can consider the signs I was having that I was going into a crisis. I believe it’s important for me, for everyone, to know what happens before we reach a full-blown disaster so we can take precautions and get help early. That said, I recognize that it is often difficult if not impossible to tell when we’re slipping. It’s like standing on a beach when the tide is out. You’re talking to a friend or looking at the beautiful water or a sunset. You’re not paying any attention to your feet, which is unfortunate, because your feet have been slowly sinking into the sand. Now, when you try to move, your feet stick and you fall on your face because you didn’t realize what had been happening while you weren’t paying attention.

The biggest sign that I’m crashing is that I lose my temper violently and in an instant. Most of my life I have been consumed with anger and ill temper. It has kept me from getting to know my family. My father, who is gone now, was as bad tempered and mean with me as I was with him. We reacted to each other like lighter fluid on a bonfire. I believe that he also suffered from Bipolar Disorder.

In addition to a catastrophically hellish temper I was angry all the time. I don’t mean mad. I mean angry like I wanted to hurt someone. My adrenaline was (and is) on all the time. To this day my muscles are hard as rock, cocked as if to lunge into flight or fight. Even after a massage my musculature remains as solid as steel. I never relax.

Over the years I’ve taken medications that cause my face, my jaw in particular, to violently jerk and I can’t talk. I look like I’ve got a massive tick in my face and I sound like I’m hiccupping. Now, when I’m stressed, the tick comes back. As a matter of fact, I’ve been having it happen daily now even during Christmas vacation when I don’t have the pressures of school work. It really frustrates me. It’s so remarkable that people stop talking and stare at my face. It stops conversation dead.

So this time, when my temper soared uncontrollably and I saw my family react to my words as though they’d been slapped, I realized I was in trouble. I thought I was just feeling my temper returning. I felt like I was keeping it under control. I didn’t realize others noticed it until we were celebrating Christmas Day at my brother’s house and I was talking to my daughter and her fiancée when suddenly Sydney stopped short and looked at me as though I’d just stabbed her. I shut my mouth fast. I knew I was in trouble. I had to stop myself from talking the rest of the day unless I was paying attention to what I was saying and how I was saying it.

My med provider and I had a backup plan in place incase reducing my Latuda to 80mg didn’t work. I was to return to the 120mg dosage immediately. So that’s what I did. I couldn’t wait until I was able to get back in to see her in three more weeks. I’m feeling much less volatile now.

I know it is rarely as easy a fix as returning to a medication that I already know works for me. It’s never that easy. This time was an exception for which I am grateful.

We, you and I, impact those around us. Our behavior doesn’t happen in a vacuum. We have a responsibility to control our behavior for our own health and for our family and friends. It’s funny that I say we need to control ourselves because that’s exactly what I’ve never been able to do. Not till I got well medicated.

The take away – be vigilant for signs of crashing. Then take action swiftly.

Bipolar – Run Away Mind, Rather Than Matter

Standard

running-meredith-fritzI was supposed to see my counselor yesterday. I was glad. The timing couldn’t have been better considering how I’ve been feeling. And then reality hit. I’d convinced myself that my appointment was an hour after it really was. I was convinced that I was there at the right time. Nope.

I do this to myself every once in a while. I convince myself that something is one way and it’s really another. It usually has to do with interactions with other people, but sometimes it’s more like this. I was really upset about it. Now I will be seeing her January tenth. January tenth. This sucks. We have more people who need mental health care in this state than we have mental healthcare workers. So, we are forever not getting the counseling we need. I average an appointment with my counselor about once in about every six weeks. Okay, it’s somewhere around eight times a year if I’m lucky.

My youngest daughter was over here last week and we did her FAFSA for college next autumn at UWT. She’s had trouble getting it done again this year. I was irritated and I guess I must have let that show. I remember feeling like she was being rude to me. In fact, my eldest daughter remembers me telling her how rude I thought her sister had been. I’ve asked my family to keep an eye on my behavior and tell me if I start to slide back into hell’s mouth. The youngest apparently though I was mean to her.

I was what?

I don’t remember it that way. Was my daughter was being hyper-vigilant and looking for me to act in the least not perfect? Seeing something small and making it really big in her efforts to help me? Was her mind running away with her? Or was mine?

I don’t know.

I do know is that my memory is impaired, I admit that, it has been for years. But, I don’t think I’ve become mean. I don’t want to be mean. I don’t want to treat my family badly.

One of the things I suffer most from when I’m afflicted with my illness is extreme irritability. I blow my stack over the slightest of things. Sometimes I go nuts over imaginary things, thinking things are different than they really are. This is one of the things I’m most afraid of becoming again.

I was reading today that extreme irritability is evident in both the depths of despair and the fury of mania. I agree with this. I think it shows how although the illness is called “Bipolar Disorder”, there are symptoms that cross the boundaries between the two poles. I know that this can sometimes be confusing and even misleading. Some may ask, “How can you be irritable and angry and say you’re depressed?” For me, it’s easy. It’s part of the way things have always been for me. I’ve always been severely irritable no matter what my mood.

Lesson learned: When I ask my family members to watch me I need to be more specific. I can also use these times to teach them more about the illness so they understand me better and I’m not just their “sick” mom.

I hope that I can show each of my children how much I love them every day, regardless of what state I’m in. But, I know that isn’t always as easy as it may seem.