Tag Archives: Bipolar

SILENCE vs Mental Illness

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Can Silence Improve Mental Health?

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I have been terrified that if I have a moment when my brain is not distracted, I will become consumed by all that is wrong with me. To that end, I have religiously employed as many ways to stay distracted as I possibly can.

I have my television on all the time. Even when I am engaged in complicated readings for my college classes, I’m able to look up and connect to my TV. I’ve made it easier to do this by doing my school work on two TV-trays that I have my laptop and notebooks on in front of my sofa and my TV. I eat my meals there too.

When I walk my dog, I run my workout app on my phone and listen to podcasts or audiobooks via earphone.

Driving in my car, I do the same things as I do when I’m walking, minus the earphones.

When I’m doing housework, I ask Alexa to play classical or country music or songs from artists like Pink, Katy Perry, Lindsey Stirling, Bond, and others.

When I’m doing my “best” to write the all-important papers, short stories, and essays for school, I have the TV on, and I’m parked in front of it… on my semi-comfortable sofa, using my TV trays… I’m keeping my mind full of junk and nonsense.

I’m Never Really Alone

My complete immersion into the labyrinth of digital media plays with far too many triggers that activate my mental illnesses. Bipolar (type 1) fires up igniting anxiety, depression, and mania. As deadlines loom closer and closer anxiety paralyzes my higher brain functions, and I watch TV, unable to focus. The Ritalin I take for ADHD seems ineffectual, even impotent. I don’t know why I still take it… for hope, I suppose.

Today I thought positive, even inspiring thoughts about myself and my future, for a few minutes. I smiled, and my anxiety began to be replaced by hope.

I turned off my TV. I sat in silence. My mind embraced the stimulation that the quite brought. I began to think.

I was thinking, in silence, and I loved it!

I recalled my productive manic times, and I realized I was being touched by the power those times brought.

I Can Think In Silence

I was thinking for myself – and the terrifying anxiety that had been stabbing me for days, as I struggled to find classes to take at the last minute subsided. I had been ready to give back my financial aid and get a job making minimum wage while waiting for my mind to explode.

But then, I came upon the silence, and it was beautiful, and I felt free. I felt astonishingly free.

I will nurture the silence and learn to be its companion. It will take time. I know this. Silence has broken through my anxiety when pills and talking could not.

I know I am not healed and that I will still suffer from all the horrors that my mental illnesses bring, but I have hope. I have learned that sometimes I can be surprised by the excitement and the inspiration that something small and unexpected can bring.

I have learned something new, and I am grateful for it.

Silence – my new obsession… except when I forget about it.


I’d like to invite you to comment on my ideas in this post in the comments section or email me directly. I’ve enjoyed hearing from some of you. Thank you for visiting my blog. I’m glad you dropped by.

Robin

Brain Scan

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brain This morning I’m going to the hospital for a brain scan. It’s for the facial tic I’ve been having forever and because I’ve been falling asleep suddenly and for no apparent reason. I did a sleep study last year and it came out normal so it isn’t sleep apnea. Between this stuff and my Bipolar, ADHD, PTSD, FM, anxiety, RA, OA, chronic pain and all that malarkey I can tell you with all honesty… I’m a bit MORE anxious than normal. I’ve been trying to get all the mental stuff undercontrol by staying on my meds, going to counseling, learning mindfullness and trying to learn to meditate, but it’s been slow going. Oh, and I’m too heavy for my knees. One has been replaced twice and the other one collapses without warning. I’m pretty sure that’s because of the weight and lack of muscle. I’ve been walking my dog Bailey all summer for 1-2 miles all summer 3-4 times a week and I’ve gained weight. Maybe it’s muscle, maybe not, but it’s more weight.

So I’m having my brain scanned. They have me coming in sleep deprived. That’s fun.

Well, I guess I should get ready to go. Wish me luck. May the force be with us all. ;0)

Bipolar – Secrets

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secretsIf I were to describe depression using a color, I would say it is black. Red would fit nicely with the mania and perhaps green or yellow might be anxiety. It would be nice if things were distinct like that so that I could easily identify how I’m doing. It might even be nice for those who are part of my support system to see those colors so they can know how I’m doing. It would be easier than trying to explain how I am when I can barely breathe.

Speaking of people in my support system, sometimes there are thoughts or moods or things I’ve done or thought about doing that I am afraid to speak of, things I think are better left never spoken of.

I try not to think about those things or those thoughts. They bring with them pain and even humiliation.

I would not want my family to know parts of the person I was during some of my manic times. They are not aware of some of the more horrific behaviors that I experienced.

As much as I don’t want to revisit these horrible moments in my past I can’t help but wonder if they now contribute to the over state of anxiety that lives with me each moment of my day.

The tick I developed as a result of medication(s) I was taking seems nearly gone with one major exception: whenever I am in anyway anxious it comes back and I can hardly talk. It seems to those I’m talking to to be a violent case of stuttering, only I know it isn’t. I feel embarrassed when it overwhelms me. No matter how much I try to relax when it starts, the only way I can stop it is to remove myself from the situation or to stop talking. Imagine yourself working with your physical therapist and trying to explain how your therapy at home has been going and suddenly not being able to talk.

Is it possible that dealing with some of the long-buried moments of horror might enable me to experience less overall anxiety? In my current state, I must say “no” because to deal with those secret things terrifies me far too much. I hope that I can use the tools I’m learning to deal with these hidden anxieties. I hope I can use them by myself to find healing from my past. If I can’t do it myself, I hope one day to be able to deal with them working with someone who can help me walk through them.

Today, that’s what I’m choosing to believe: I can deal with them myself. Just because I’ve got a mental illness or three doesn’t mean I must air all my dirty laundry. Some of it I must learn to deal with on my own.

Some secrets… I choose to remain as secrets.

Bipolar – Latuda

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I usually check carefully over the side effects and warnings on my new medications. I’ve been taking Latuda long enough that I assumed that I’d do okay with it. But, I guess I didn’t do it because if I had, I’d have noticed right off that the source of my ticks and twitches was probably right in front of me.

From the Latuda.com website: Tardive dyskinesia (TD) is a serious and sometimes permanent side effect reported with LATUDA and similar medicines. Tell your doctor about any movements you cannot control in your face, tongue, or other body parts, as they may be signs of TD. TD may not go away, even if you stop taking LATUDA. TD may also start after you stop taking LATUDA.

I have Tardive Dyskinesia. It is sever and interrupts my communicating with others. It is especially a problem in my classes at the university. This morning I actually had to stop talking. I felt that I had to explain my difficulty because they were trying to listen to me and I couldn’t talk. It was maddening.

This condition may be permanent. I’m not taking it at all now. I stopped two days ago. I hope that as the drug passes out of my system the tic will subside. God I hope so. I’m trying to relax. I’ve noticed that when I get nervous it gets worse. Talk about motivation to learn to chill out.

Bipolar – My Best Friend

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90e0b3c0b78324323204c14bdfffde84  I have three kids ages 25, 22 and 19. My eldest, Jessica and I drove across the country back in last August from Tampa, where she was stationed in the Air Force, to Washington State. She and her two cats and I took 11 days to make the trip. I have to admit that I was worried about how I and my Bipolar were going to behave on the trip. I can tell you in all honesty, it went far better than I expected it possibly could go.

Jessica and I have great relationship. We’re very close. We’re both going to college, different ones though. We don’t live together, but we often cook and eat meals together and we study for school together. One of my favorite things to do with her is to go for walks. We take my Kelpie/Australian cattle dog Bailey (she’s 3) for a walk around the neighborhoods around my house. We talk the whole time. We talk about everything from family and school to politics and science. We like a lot of the same TV shows too. Sometimes we watch them together, other times we watch from our respective homes and we might be messaging each other about them. Needless to say, she’s my best friend.

Jessica also suffers from depression and anxiety. While she was in the Air Force she was receiving counseling for it but couldn’t take any medications for it because she was an air traffic controller and they can’t take most drugs. Now that she’s out, she’s seeing a counselor and a med provider. She’s taking something for anxiety and is finally feeling some relief.

It was hard watching her suffer while she was still in the military. Talking about it wasn’t enough to help her. I was worried that she’d be against going to be seen for her anxiety and depression because she watched me do it her whole growing up life. I didn’t need to worry. She knew she needed help and knew how to get it.

When we talk about it we understand how each other feels. Although my moods are much more violent and farther reaching than hers are (thankfully she doesn’t have Bipolar), she still understands me.

More than just being someone to talk to she challenges me to try to be better, to push myself to go further.

I am so thankful for Jessica. Before she came home I was so lonely. I know that we’ll only have time like this until she transfers to school in Seattle in a couple of years, but until then, I will enjoy her companionship and try to learn as much as I can from her. She teaches me how to be better, to be stronger, to believe in myself more. She has no patience for my well-practiced pity parties.

Ours is a very unusual and unique relationship. I never thought I’d have someone I love like this as a part of my daily life who wasn’t my partner.

My two other kids know how close Jessica and I are. I try to spend as much time with them as I can. I also try to get them to spend time here when Jessica is here. They’ve grown apart during the years she was gone. Now that they’re all adults they’re getting to know each other really for the first time. I try to encourage that.

My other daughter and my son also understand about my Bipolar. They are also part of my support system. I depend on all three of them to help me when I’m in a bad place or when I’m struggling with being stable. Each one has a unique role to play. I’m so thankful for the three of them. I don’t know what I’d do without them.

Bipolar –  Mrs. Sherlock Holmes

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6357405020812055051488693726_anxiety-charlie-brown“A single electric bulb looped down from the uneven ceiling. It sparked hot white. A man with dark features stepped into the bright circle below it, which lit up a scar near his left eye.” Mrs. Sherlock Homes, by Brad Ricca

I was looking for something to read at Barnes & Noble today while I was waiting for my dog Bailey to be groomed today when I found the book I just mentioned. I read the first sentence and I was hooked. “A single electric bulb looped down from the uneven ceiling.” In some way, it struck a chord with me and I was hooked. I had to read the rest of the book. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m planning on it. I just have my daughter’s wedding rehearsal tonight at 6:00, counseling tomorrow at 1:00 and the wedding itself Saturday at 1:00. School doesn’t start till Monday. I should have time to at least get started on it.

Then I remember that I’m taking two literature classes this quarter and I realize buying more to read right now might not have been the best idea. But still, I love that sentence…

I’m going to school to learn how to be a writer. That sentence is the kind of sentence I’d like to be able to write. I don’t know, maybe I can already. But, I don’t know, maybe I can’t.

I’m afraid. I’m afraid to try. I’m afraid to try to do something I’ve been studying since high school. I feel inadequate. My anxiety turns my brain to dough and I don’t believe in myself… so I don’t try.

One of the benefits of having gone back to college (and one of the biggest challenges) is that I’m tasked with writing on a regular basis. Last quarter I had Creative Nonfiction in which I had to write creative nonfiction essays. I started out not knowing what one even was. Now, I’ve written three and I passed the class with an A. This quarter I’m taking Introduction to Fiction where I imagine I’ll get the chance to try my hand at writing fiction. I’m paranoid. I don’t know if I can tell a story. What if I can’t think up anything to write?

That first sentence really spoke to me and inspired me to read further and to try my hand at writing my own fiction. But, I’m so afraid…

Classes start Monday. I’m going to have buck up and face my fear. What if I can’t do it?

I got a great grade in Creative Nonfiction. I can do this. I just have to try.

What if I can’t do this? What if I quit? Then I won’t have to expose myself to possible failure. No. Stop.

I’m going to keep going. I’m going to do this.

I can carry on.

Bipolar – Happiness

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97726fe8f02ba122e9436eb80a28fb2aHappiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being defined by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. Happy mental states may also reflect judgements by a person about their overall well-being” Wikipedia

As a person who struggles with mental illness daily I can attest to the fact that many days I’m not a happy person. I would love to be happy all the time. I wish that there was a happy pill. Not a pill like I take for my mental health, because they’re only somewhat effective, but a real, magical happy pill. But there isn’t one. No… I change my mind. I want to be able to be happy on my own. I want to experience organic happiness. Then it would come from inside me on its own be real and I wouldn’t have to depend on a pill, something manmade, for it.

Scientists say that “positive emotions affect us over and above what negative emotions do.” I hope that’s true. I don’t feel like it is, but I hope that it is. I’m going to choose to act as though I believe that it’s true because if I do, I give those positive emotions the chance to blossom and grow.

The effects of stress build up in our brain. It is thought that positive emotions “short circuit the effects of negative emotions,” like stress. That’s an amazing thing to think.

Can anxious and depressed people be happy? I suffer from them both, can I be happy? Scientists say yes.

I choose to believe it’s true… it gives me hope.

My Daughter is Getting Married in 9 Days

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My daughter is marrying her fiancée in 9 days. I still haven’t picked up my outfit from the tailor or got my hair cut. Today I’m having an apple tree removed from the back yard so it won’t happen today either. This stresses me.

I don’t have any stress that my daughter is marrying a woman. It is hard to think of my daughter as old enough to get married. She’s my baby. She’s also the only one in a relationship. They’ve been together about two years I think. They were going to get married when they graduate from college in two years, but they’re afraid they’ll lose the right to marry in the current political climate.

I’m very happy for them. I really am. I’m also feeling a little scared. After all, she’s my baby as I said. She’s dealing with something very personal and very intense and I’m trying to support her. I’m learning, but some days it’s hard. (It has nothing to do with being gay.)

I asked her yesterday what she wants for a wedding gift. After thinking about it for a few hours she said they didn’t need anything, but she would like to feel like an adult and have a bottle of wine. (She’s 19 and her fiancée is 20.) She tried some wine I’d bought for my other daughter to drink sometimes when she’s at my house and she liked it. That’s what she wants. (Her sister has since decided she doesn’t like wine.) So, okay, wine it is. I’d love to help her feel like an adult. I know that they don’t usually drink and if they drink it responsibly, I’m okay with it.

I thought she was going to ask for something that cost more than I could afford. Wine. Who would a thought?

You know what I’m very thankful for? She doesn’t have Bipolar Disorder like her mom. It’s such a relief!

Bipolar –  Rumination… Not Right Now

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I try to do things that keep me from always digging into my own brain. Introspection is best done in measured doses. If I spend too much time and effort thinking about how wrong my brain is, it becomes worse. So, I try to occupy myself with other things that might be helpful to me whether it is learning something or it is something that I do for the simple pleasure of doing it. I’d put going for a walk or reading a book or watching TV or even spending time with family and friends in this category.

Reading can be especially challenging when I’m manic and can’t settle my mind long enough to concentrate on just doing one thing. When I’m depressed, I just don’t read. It’s one of the major indicators I notice about myself when I’m first starting to become more depressed.

I like to listen to audio books while I’m driving about town and to school and back. I find that in just a few weeks I can listen to quite a long book without listening to it at home, although I do also sometimes listen to them while I use my elliptical, which I need to spend more time doing. Currently I’m listening to A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn. It’s book one in her series A Veronica Speedwell Mystery. I just finished listening to book two, now I’m working on the first one. I know, I got them in completely the wrong order. Not sure how I managed that, but regardless, I’m listening to book one now.

The series takes place in 1887 London and is about a Victorian adventuress and her friend Stoker who is a reclusive natural historian. The book is a historical mystery and adventure story. Unlike so many books today, it is not a romance… I’m thankful for this. I’m enjoying the story of a woman and a man in a real relationship that is meaningful and exciting and doesn’t need to use sex to keep the story going. I’m also thankful for that because I’m not in a relationship like that and reading about them can make me sad. So, I sometimes like to avoid them.

Another thing I do is to study to improve myself and to increase my knowledge. Well, and for pure entertainment too. I’m going to college and that keeps my brain very busy.

What’s my point? Surely I’m not trying to get you to read or listen to this series I’m into. If that’s what you think, you’d be right. I want to convey to you that we need to stretch our minds beyond what they insist upon thinking about. We ruminate about terrible things all the time. It’s part of the nature of Bipolar Disorder. We get stuck thinking about how horrible things are or let ourselves get caught up in anxiety that won’t stop.

My main way to distract myself has been to watch TV. It keeps my attention, but I don’t feel any better after I turn it off. What I want, is the strength to engage in something else, something beyond my moods and dark thoughts.

I’m feeling reasonably well right now. I’m taking advantage of it by watching interesting documentary videos on that new streaming video service called Curiosity Stream. I’m checking out the first month that’s for free to see if it has documentaries that I’ll find interesting… stuff that will take my brain in other directions than it normally does. I’m trying to watch TV that isn’t just drama too. I’ve been watching shows with my daughter like The Incredible Dr. Pol that is about a rural veterinarian. I dvr it and then we have dinner together and watch the show. Not only am I watching something other than a drama or sitcom, I’m doing it with someone I enjoy spending time with.

Again, what’s my point? I realize that I’m healthier when I think diverse thoughts… when I break out of the cycle of rumination and allow my brain to play. Whether I’m talking with someone, watching TV or a video, reading a book or listening to an audio book, the more I embrace a variety of interesting things, the better I feel.

Sometimes I can watch a whole documentary. Sometimes I can read a whole book. Sometimes I can only read a single page. You know what? That’s alright. Even one page – that’s a success.

Find something new to occupy your brain with. Try out watching something on YouTube you’ve never watched before. You can find so many things to watch and listen to on YouTube. Sometimes I like to be inspired by watching a TED Talk or Tony Robbins (he’s a success guru). Other times I’m in the mood for music you don’t normally hear on the radio like that from Two Steps from Hell or I might want to watch Lindsey Stirling who is a violinist, dancer and performance artist.

The point is that when our brains are cooperating enough for us to expand beyond our illness we need to seize the opportunity and embrace it. We will be better because of it and our lives will be richer for it.

Bipolar – Urges – So Hard to Repress

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I first recall having these urges when I was a teenager and I was babysitting some kids in my neighborhood. The house was beautiful. One whole wall was glass and was above an embankment leading down to the woods far below. I was sitting in a chair facing the glass. Suddenly, I had an overwhelming urge to throw myself through the windows and down the embankment. Confusion and fear overwhelmed me. To resist, I held onto the arms of the chair I was sitting in. The urge was terrifying. I continued to have similar urges through the years.

Later, when I was in Bible college, I remember clearly standing in line for lunch and having the same terrifying urge. I tried not to whimper as I struggled not to act on my urges. I felt like I had to scream and run around knocking people over and throwing their food trays. I couldn’t understand what was happening to me. It was so frightening.

What made it so much more difficult to understand was that two professors at the school had been trying to cast demons out of me. I didn’t think of the urges as having anything to do with spiritual things (more about this another day) and I still don’t.

Through the years the violent urges continued to occur to me with frightening fury. They didn’t stop after college. Sometimes I gave into the dark urges. I would throw things and break them to pieces. I screamed and yelled and threw more things.

Eventually I had three children. I was divorced and raising my kids on my own. The kids were often terrified. Sometimes I did snap and the urges would overwhelm me in public. I frightened some people and made others angry. My brother’s partner wouldn’t talk to me for years because once at their business (they own the family business) I lost my temper and the urge to strike out won. I picked up the lunch room table and threw it across the room while screaming and raging.

The violent urges are still with me. Lately they’ve been growing in intensity again. Just yesterday at school I had to restrain myself from screaming at people and shoving them violently.

I was petrified. What if I couldn’t control myself again?

Last night I was thinking about what I was feeling and I realized that I’ve never told any of my counselors or psychologists about it. I’ve decided to keep track of these disturbing impulses and explain what happens to my counselor. I hope I can get across just how disturbing and powerful these urges are.

Does anyone else experience these kinds of urges? How do you deal with them?