Tag Archives: Mania

Bipolar – Learning to Live with Anxiety

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Bipolar anxiety is no joke. I already live with a wicked mix of depression and mania and when you add to that general anxiety, well, I feel like I might just be out of luck. I was. For several months the pressure in my brain was so bad that I could hardly talk. I couldn’t get myself to go to the new grocery store near the house I’d just moved into by myself. Week after week I convinced my kids to go to the store with me even though we didn’t live together.

It couldn’t last forever. I knew I’d have to go to the store alone one day soon. None of the counseling was helping. I was walking and playing with my dog. That wasn’t helping. I was eating and cut caffeine out of my diet. Nothing. I took all my meds as prescribed every single day and I stopped taking my Ritalin—just in case it made some small difference. I started trying to meditate and practice mindfulness to no avail.

If you feel like you’re holding on for dear life… you are. Don’t let go. It can get better.

I was at the point where I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. I was overcome with despair.

I started taking Gabapentin and my symptoms got worse. My face developed Turrets like symptoms. They were violent and I was biting my tongue and cheeks. I couldn’t talk normally. I was scared. I know that ticks caused by medications can quickly become permanent.

I couldn’t get into see my doctor or my med provider. I was starting a new term in college and I was freaking out. I’m still trying to relearn how to learn. I went to community college some 30 years ago. It’s difficult.

I talked with the triage nurse on the phone since I couldn’t get in to talk to anyone. She told me to stop taking the Gabapentin immediately.

Then the med provider told me to take my chill pill twice a day if I needed to and to go back on the Ritalin at least once a day. Slowly, day by day, and doing all the other things I was already doing to help myself, I started to calm down. The Gabapentin scare really freaked me out. I thought I was losing my last hold on reality. I felt like an alien, unable to breathe the air around me.

I suffer from chronic back pain and I’m see a new pain management doctor now. While all this was going on she was treating me like she was going to take away my pain meds because she thought I was abusing them… which I wasn’t. They just counted the pills wrong. Not my fault. That added a massive amount of stress to me too.

Today I go to the grocery store—when I’m totally out of everything, but at least I go. I’m not freaking out about school, not yet anyway. And I’m finally sleeping a little better.

Then I was in a car accident on my way to a school event. Side swiped. My car is totaled. I like my car. It’s a good car. I know I won’t get enough money from the insurance company to get one as good as this one. Stress. Anxiety. Take a pill. Remember what it feels like to calm down. Never abuse my meds. Especially not my chill pill or my pain pills.

It’s time for me to do homework now. I stress and have anxiety over homework. I’ll take a chill pill and wait for it to work before I sit down to do some serious writing.

Anxiety is like a beast that has already pounced and has its claws plunged clean through you. Believe me when I say that the claws can be removed. It is slow and painful, but it can be done. So don’t give up. There’s hope for you too.

Bipolar – Does It Make Me Stupid?

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Stupid chicken

Am I stupid? Or am I just depressed?

Over the years I’ve said that I feel like I’m dumber than I was when I was younger. The older I was getting, the stupider I felt. I was honestly concerned that this was a part of the natural aging process and was happening to me early or a part of Bipolar Disorder. Maybe over time Bipolar Disorder destroyed the brain and I was naturally losing my ability to think because that was something that came with the illness.

Felt.

Years later I learned that the way I felt had nothing to do with my intelligence. I have a mood disorder, not an IQ killer.

I wasn’t becoming mentally challenged. It was all about moods. Not intelligence.

Intelligence.

Mood disorder.

Not the same.

The way I thought about it was with violence. I was so angry and frustrated that I couldn’t think things through. I made bad decision after bad decision. I “felt” stupider. That’s key with our Bipolar Disorder. We can feel stupid. (If you don’t ever feel dumber, you can skip this post.) If you have, keep reading because it is important that you understand what’s going on in your brain.

We have what is known as a mood disorder. That is, we have moods that are extreme and can fluctuate wildly compared to a regular person. Instead of being sad, we become extremely depressed. Instead of being angry, we become enraged. Instead of being excited, we become manic.

These mood fluctuations and extremes impact the way we think. They don’t make us stupid, but we can feel that way. The moods interfere with the way we think.

People tell us to think positively, things will be okay. Unfortunately, the weight of depression can prevent us from feeling like we can think at all, much less think positively.

When I first heard of Tony Robbins, success coach and public speaker, I tried out one of his 30-day programs designed to teach me to be successful. All I had to do was follow the directions spelled out on the card that went with each day and listen to the 30-minute tape that went with it.

The program challenged me to change my thinking. That was the basis of the program, change your thinking to be successful. I was depressed. I didn’t feel like I could do it. So, I quit. I felt like I was too stupid to understand the lessons. That had to be what was wrong. It never occurred to me that my illness could be impacting my ability to think clearly and keeping me from focusing on the lessons and understanding what Mr. Robbins was teaching. I’ve gone back to Mr. Robbins teachings recently and discovered that I understand him just fine. I wasn’t depressed this time. I was able to understand what he taught and use some of the principles he presented.

I’m not stupid.

I have a mood disorder.

If you have a mood disorder, please understand that it does not mean you are dumb.

I don’t know how intelligent you are or are not. I do know that Bipolar Disorder does not make you less intelligent.

Bipolar Disorder does not make you dumb.

It is a mood disorder, not a brain eater.

Why Do We See Therapists?

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Lucy Therapist

In my experience therapists and counselors are working there to work with me to help me get through the day, the month, and even the year especially in the midst of a depressive episode. They are there to try to teach me how to handle my episodes. They meet with me to teach me how to work with medicines for treatment, to use self-management methods to deal with mood cycles that always plague me, and to teach me how to function better in both work, family, and other real world settings.

Therapists help me learn what to do when I’m depressed, which is difficult to do when I’m depressed. It’s so hard to be objective about whether my medications are working when I feel like I need more of everything or something new when what I really need is a little tweak in dosage or patience to let a new medication have a chance to work.

They try to help me see myself for who I am beyond my illness and to work with me when I’m manic and have delusions of grandeur. I admit it’s hard for me to listen to them when I know I’m right about everything. I have a friend that also suffers from severe mental illness, she has found the same problem that I have found, that when we’re manic it is difficult to find a therapist that you respect enough to listen to.

For the last year I’ve been lucky enough to have a therapist that I respected me and I think knew me fairly well. She was always supportive and encouraged me to believe in myself. She never let me bamboozle my way through when I was trying to get away with acting badly.

She just retired so I start with a new one in a few weeks. I’m hoping that I’m humble enough to believe that she has something to offer me. Otherwise I’ll go and sit there for an hour and think about how dumb she is while were talking. Has anyone else experienced anything like this?

Because I’m on disability I have very few choices on where I can go for treatment. I think, I hope, I’m going to the better of my two choices. Unfortunately I’ve gone through four therapists and am soon to see my fifth at this place. Two retired, one went into private practice and I fired the other. Sometimes you have to take drastic measures like firing the therapist to make sure I get the help I need. The reason I did was that she was really new to the job and she kept reading to me from her computer and printing out things for me to take home to read. We didn’t have any dialogue. I made the hard call and asked for a new therapist. I’ve never had the courage to do that before.

My new therapist’s name is Rebecca. I’m already working on my attitude and trying to prepare myself to be open to her being able to help me. I’ve committed myself to not judge her before I even meet her. I need to give her and I a chance to get to know each other and see if she can help me survive and even thrive.

I welcome you to leave your opinion. Do you find that you experience the same things? Or have your experiences been vastly different? I hope to hear from you.

If you’re interested in the books that I refer to the most visit my books page.

Bipolar and Chronic Pain Just Plain Suck

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Monday my Bipolar brain took a chance an had a lumbar steroid shot to attempt to relieve massive pain I’ve been experiencing for years. I respond quickly to medications and other treatments and it’s been this way with the lumbar shot. By the next morning I was experiencing muscle cramps and painful spasms. Although I wanted, in my strange way, to think something had gone wrong I decided that these things were happening because my body was moving more freely because there was less pain. Even a slightly longer reach or stretching a muscle beyond what it has been doing for the last 25 years.

The second night my back lit up. All the nerves in my lower back were on fire again. I got an ice pack and sat in my recliner (which my mother thoughtfully gifted to me) and tried to ride out the storm. No such luck. Kyle was staying up late playing a game on the X-box and for the first time he saw a little of the hell my body puts me through. I thought I could get it to calm down with the ice. No such luck. I was reclining in the chair to better freeze the painful area. I couldn’t stand it any longer and I started kicking my legs and groan with the pain.

My anxiety level was reaching critical mass and I felt I was losing control. My mind was unable to restrain or reign in my response to the pain. It was excruciating. I asked Kyle to rinse out the tub for me (Bailey, the puppy, loves to play in the tub when she’s not having a bath.). Not knowing what else to do he did so quickly. I climbed in before the water got more than a few inches deep. I sat with my back to the spigot and the water turned hot. I was so tired I kept falling asleep.

I don’t know why I didn’t use the heating pad. That’s what it’s for really. That and the big ice packs. I think when the pain becomes so great that we can no longer think clearly. Also being Bipolar I’m not always prepared for nor able to deal with such pain. I was so drowsy. I walked close to the wall so I wouldn’t fall down the stairs. Finally I realized I’d not taken anything for my back all evening because I was feeling better. I jumped the gun.

I keep a record of when and what and how much of each drug I take during the say so I don’t over or underdose. I was way under.

Today I asked Kyle if he’d ever seen me like that, in that much pain. He hadn’t. I told him how this was only some of the pain I have been in. If it had been any worse I wouldn’t have reclined my chair because I knew I would break it. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t need to. I know he is starting to understand.

This, this is Kyle in the first grade. Today he is a sophomore at UWT (University of Washington at Tacoma)
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I’ve tried to hide my infirmities from my kids as they’ve grown up. The fits of anger and depression, the aggression and the manias… I couldn’t hide them all the time. Maybe never. I’m not sure. Today all three are remarkable individuals.

Raising them I was in constant physical and mental pain. I nearly lost myself. Today, for the first time in…. forever I put away the groceries anfter shopping and wasn’t in any pain. No pain in my physical body at all.

I had no idea how much pain I’d been in… until after some of it was gone.

It is my hope, that now that some of the chronic pain is alleviated my work to balance my mind will be more successful.

My friend, I have learned many lessons from this experience with ongoing pain. I didn’t know I was blinded by the pain. I didn’t know the pain made my mind, my Bipolar mind, more messy. If you experience other pain in your body that can be addressed, pain so great it alters your daily activities including you need to be doing with your kids. Myself… I couldn’t even stand long enough to cook. When coaching softball my pain was like a monster. I’m sure I wasn’t very effective. I cared a lot about those kids though. I just thought the pain was part of carting around sports equipment. I was wrong.

Consider your body… has it got a hold on your mind? On your Bipolar behavior?

Be well my friend.

Sleep Eludes Me Again

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I try not to try hard to sleep. However I want to sleep really, really badly. I’ve managed to stay awake all day today. Tonight I’ll take a sleeping pill and read for a bit. I hope it works. I’m definitely manic.

To someone who has never been manic, saying this probably means the totally wrong thing. Just trust me, it isn’t something taken lightly. Lack of sleep induced by mania can lead to psychosis and eventually to a psychotic break.

And again… psychosis and psychotic break are probably not what you expect either. Honestly, they are probably so much more horrific.

When I am more awake and my brain feels a bit less like a pot of sludge, I’ll try to explain. Wish me good night.