Bipolar Disorder |  When Stress Becomes Danger | 4 Hours Left

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.)

Follow me on Twitter @etiquetteofmad

See you on the other side.

Mental and Physical Pain – Mental Wellness

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. 

This is Bailey.

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. 

Be well, 

Robin

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…

Bipolar Mom Takes 28 Year Old Daughter to ER

The view from here…

I’ve been thinking about you a lot. I’ve been developing an idea I’d like to try – but this isn’t the time for that. Not right this moment.

I’m at the Emergency Hospital (ER) with my daughter. I’m amped up on “fight or flight” in my brain. I’m sitting in my car because I can’t be with her. I’ve been struggling with experiencing a mixed state anxiety/depression and as always, manic (thank you ADHD).

Now, firstly I want to say that even though she’s all grown up, I still want to hold her and comfort her. But not this moment.

We’re here because an important medication didn’t arrive before she ran out. Two days after she ran out… We’re at the ER.

No Covid.

Medication.

I was here just a few weeks ago for a medication problem as well. Not Covid.

I was tested yesterday, but only because I’m having surgery on Wednesday.

I’m happy. I’m calming down. I’m breathing better.

Wait….

Sure, she’ll be out soon.

Breathe…

Breathe…

There are, there ARE times, when the mom in me is able to crush the brain shannagians.

Brain shannagians. That’s my brain. How about you?

And now – I’ve distracted myself and I have no … Wait… Nope. It’s gone. I’m sure I’ll remember when I can’t write it down.

What the heck is You Tube playing for me. I like it, but what is this?

I just want you to know that my butt has gone completely and totally asleep. Wait, wait. Man! Now I want the bathroom.

Well, I need to get out of the car and walk a bit, in the dark, at night, downtown. Uummm, I think I’ll walk in front of the ER windows, where the guards are.

Yeah, guards and, AND, hand sanitizer. Always the sani.

Wear your mask. Tell everyone you love, actually TELL them, that you love them. Tell all of them. Covid, asthma, car crash, slipping on the frozen asphalt — life is so fragile.

We, you and I, people with shannagians going on in the brain, we can do what we must. We must.

I’m struggling with my shannagians. Struggling hard. I don’t care because at this moment, which is the only moment I know, shannagians just have to step back. And wait.

At least, that’s the plan. It’s my plan for this moment.

Rejoice! You survived the holiday! Well done.

Tell them you love them. Tell them all. And if they ask you why you can always just admit the truth and say, “Because I love you. I love you.”

Be well friends.

I am so hungry.