Bipolar/ADHD-Focus or Not to Focus

Bipolar/ADHD – To Focus or Not to Focus, That’s the Damn Question!

I apologize if you don’t like the word “damn.” My mom still corrects me when I use it. You know it’s taken me a really long time to learn how to say it convincingly. I mean, forever when I’d get mad and say it people would actually say to my face things like, “Yeah, no. Don’t say that. You just can’t say that.” I’d ask why not. “You just can’t.” Why not? “Robin. You sound ridiculous.” How, can anyone sound ridiculous swearing!!?? It is swearing!! I thought all swearing sounded stupid. Apparently not.

Apparently, I still sound silly when I swear. My advantage, if I have one, is that when I’m really backed against the wall (read – super, super, very, very angry in a The Hulk sort of way) I may not have the best use or depth and breadth of swear words, but I make up for it in shear fury. Sometime I even scare myself with the power of that, what is it called, that RAGE. I hate rage. Yippie…. If I seem less than optimistic it may be because she referred to me as “atypical atypical.” I don’t know about you… but I dunno what the damn that means.

I’ve been in that place where a ton of stuff has been building and building and I haven’t realized that I haven’t released the pressure off of ANY of the things that need to chill out. I didn’t recognize how stressed I was or how long it had been since I’d had a good long laugh. I hadn’t been doing any of the right healthy things that would have kept me bouncing my life ball along the way I want it to go. Instead, well, yep, the doo-doo hit that fan thing and I went kaboom!

Sadly, I kaboom-ed the day after I started the new medication. My normal reaction would be to stop taking the medication immediately and talk to the provider. I can be very sensitive to some medications and have reacted violently to at least one of them. This time I was certain that I sensed I was feeling my old companion, rage, and not a medication complication. I could have called her up and told her it didn’t work. In fact, not only could I tell her did it not work, I could tell her I became hysterical and physically violent. I threw things and yelled and screamed. I slammed cupboards and the garage door and kicked them some more to make sure they knew they were in for it. I yelled and slammed, and slammed and yelled again, then again. I even stomped on the recycling and got it all ready to be taken out. I was feeling better so I screamed some more.

It didn’t take me long. It never does. All that adrenaline seems to surge around and drive all the clogged moods and emotions directly before it shoving them straight out my mouth and into the air where everyone can hear everything is say and scream. Hence, yeah, all the yelling. This is my most unscientific assessment. What do you think? I kind of like it. There are a few drawbacks to this.

First, while I’m acting all bonkers I sound like a fighter jet screaming in a rage stuck in the face of my kid who has been standing four feet away from me the whole time. I suck. She still loves me. She knows I’d do it for her. We’re a team. An unbreakable team. And, none of that matters. I ask her forgiveness. I apologize. I don’t expect her to help me fix my mess or even ask her to. It isn’t her job. Should I have realized I was brutalizing her emotionally by just raging against nothing? Of course. But, the unfortunate thing about losing one’s shit is that one has lost one’s shit and there isn’t a rotten thing one can do about it at that particular time. I know. It pretty much sucks.

Second, I made a mess and I have to clean up my own mess when I rage-out. This time things were very different than other times. I got to the point(s) fast. Meaning, I talked very fast and I stopped carrying on faster than was usual.

Okay, I say “as usual” but that really isn’t fair. It isn’t a “usual” thing anymore. It used to be my normal state everyday. I might not have thrown things all the time, but that rage was dwelling just behind my eyes, barely under control, for far too many years of my life. Now it is a moment that happens a couple times a year. That’s it. I’m proud of the progress I’ve made. If you’ve struggled with something like this too and you’ve gained ground on it, if you’ve got your foot on it’s neck, even if you’ve just finally figured out where the neck is, then I applaud you! Keep your foot right there and press harder! You can keep doing this. Never, ever stop fighting.

It’s been over a week since I started this new medication. Now that my moods/emotions have finished imploding and exploding simultaneously I can begin to assess how I think the medication is working for me. I ask my two kids who live with me what they think and remind them to take my explosions out of the equation. We’ve all agreed that we shouldn’t make that part of our assessment. We have decided, that for now, all things considered, that I’m not manic and I’m definitely focusing better. Yep. Better focus, but not all the time and we wouldn’t say it’s great. And my ability to chose the right or appropriate thing to be focused about is lacking wisdom.

For example: Do hours of research for business proposal and writing projects by doing deep dives down Google rabbit holes. Nut house! (I’m trying to find someone to make a prototype for me of a product I’ve developed. Since I have so much extra time and not a thing to think about I’m researching crowd funding like Kick-starter

I’ve tried to do this event called The National Novel Writing Month for several years, but every year I… I give up. I convince myself that although I have been working on a viable and interesting story for months or even is some cases for years, I don’t have what it takes to write those 50,000 words in one month. Loads of other people do. But I can’t. So I never try.

This year my daughter and I were both ready to do it and then… um… I got sick. Honestly! I got a really bad head cold. And my arthritis is killing both my thumbs. And my sciatic hurts when I sit. And I sneezed. And I forgot that a mystery has to plant clues. I have to plan more!!!

Oh my gosh!!

Isn’t Scrivener just terrific? It shows you just how much research you should have done before you started writing. Apparently I’m much more of an Outliner than a Pantser. (I’ll explain in another post.)

Any port in a storm. Any excuse in an open schedule when I can waste as much time as possible. And my head cold is gone. And I’m still researching. And it is now November 7th and I have 87 words written towards a 50,000 word count goal. I do, however, have a lot of research including my murder victims, the killer, heroine, places the bodies are found (it happens during the Seattle World’s Fair – “Alaska-Yukon-Pacific-Exposition 1909“), the exact dates they were found, etc. I’m very excited about it. I’ve finally come to realize that once I have my victims all named and given them occupations/affiliations, chosen the day their body is found based upon the group they are affiliated with (groups at the fair have special days to celebrate their organizations), chosen where their body will be discovered and decide how many victims there will be the story will flow very easily. I really have a lot of it worked out in my head already. It’s the logistics that I’d decided I couldn’t do so I couldn’t write it. And then I decided that I wouldn’t be able to write the draft (note that I’m writing a DRAFT) if I don’t actually start writing on the first day of the month.

That was just a silly thought. Oh bother. Way to not believe in yourself bird! What would the kids say???

That’s easy. I’ve already been told off. LOL I talked about it with the daughter that is doing this with me and she helped me with some of the details I was struggling with. She actually got excited about it. The way the actually history of Seattle in 1909 and the real fair, etc fit with my mystery are all very exciting! Her being interested in helping me and talking about it with me really gave me confidence that I could carry on and do this thing.

I feel better.

One more thing before I let you go. In the middle of the day I was ultra productive. I took a pic of one of our cats. Savvy, actually. She’s our youngest. She’s our rescue. She thinks my Kelpie (dog) Bailey is her mother… still! Bailey is still not interested, but still is willing to play with her when she decides to. It’s amazing to see her put her nose under Savvy’s belly and flip her up into the air. Savvy doesn’t seem to mind. At that point, the game is ON!

While my daughter was at school I got a really cute picture of Savvy. I wisely decided to use my time to use some filters (I never do this sort of thing. I think I’ve used filters twice now.) and change the pic up and send them to her so she could feel encouraged. She’s been having some anxiety at school and I wanted to get her mind to snap off that feeling and on to something I know she’ll give 100% of her attention to for a few minutes. (She goes to a school where this isn’t a problem. She can take a break and the teacher doesn’t care.) Well, 30, 35, 40… I don’t know. Some-odd-minutes later I finally finished my very productive time wasting maneuvers and tried to return to doing whatever it was that I was not successful doing before I distracted myself from earlier.

Is it working? Am I focusing better? You tell me. What do you think?

This is what I was doing…. I asked myself, “How many filters could I use to make the same cat, in the same pose, look cool?” You be the judge.

Bipolar Pile Up On the Big M Double-E (Yes, That’s ME)

I’ve got to be quick tonight. I’ve agreed to go with a family member to go with them to their counselor and med provider first thing in the morning tomorrow to try to get her some much needed help.

This week has been a giant pile of poo that I’ve not very successfully navigated around. In fact, I’ve stepped in lots of it. Yesterday, I lost my mind and red lined. I screamed and yelled. I threw things and slammed doors and cupboards. I hit metal doors and kicked them just to make sure I’d smacked them enough. I haven’t been that angry, that full of rage, in a long time.

It frightens all of us. It terrifies me because I remember being lost in the rage everyday for years and the thought that I might fall and land there… it’s unthinkable. It scares my kids horribly. The son that lives with me hasn’t seen me like that. He came home after it was over and I’d already started cleaning up my mess. He got mad that I was mad.

My daughter that also lives with me, she has seen me like this and although she wants to be angry when I go through this, she knows it won’t help anyone. She waited. I finished. I cleaned up as soon as I was done.

What caused it? So many things. Right? Things pile up and up and there isn’t a proper release. Then, POP goes the weasel!

My plan is to post more frequently. I wanted to share this with you and I knew if I waited until tomorrow I’d get busy and then I never would.

I have no magic answers for how to avoid or fix myself (or anyone else) when these situations happen, and yes, they realistically will happen again. What I do know, is that if I can be resilience, if I can move forward. Let me share with you what resilience means:

Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back at least as strong as before. Rather than letting difficulties or failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes. 

Psychology Today ( https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/resilience ) Please read the remainder of the article.

So, for my sake and for my love for my family, I’m going to try to learn to practice more resilience.

Good night friend.

Robin

Bipolar – When We Fall

Falling Alone is Terrifying.

I never thought I’d have the great backyard that my yard is becoming. Two of my kids are making it into an amazing place to hang out. They’re constructing raised gardens and putting up a trellis for the climbing roses too! I’ve never had climbing roses. And there are lots of vegetables and colorful flowers. I was gone for a week, and they blew up the garden that was here when we moved in. Someone built a pergola by the garden, but here in WA when it rains, that’s not a load of help. We had a guy put fiberglass over the top of it so we can go out and use the previously ineffective and silly pergola in the rain. AAAnnnddd… of course, it leaks. A lot! A seriously, a stupid, moronic and gigantic leaking, leaked, and just damn leaky wet.

Last night the lawn was mowed and the weed eating all done. I was banned from doing any of the work because I’d tripped (as usual) fallen hard on my left knee and arm (my left shoulder has a rotator cuff tear). I couldn’t move my leg for a while. It sucked. I had images of the “Help! I’ve fallen and can’t get up.” commercial in my head. Later on, my eldest son said he had been thinking the same thing. We had a good laugh over it.

The next day Kyle, the same son, skipped work so he could come and walk with me. I was afraid I’d fall again. I’ve been knocking over things every day. Every single day. Coffee travel mug? Got it covered – all over the floor. Water bottle with lemonade? Yep, the hardwood floor is really clean except where I missed it. Now it’s just sticky in places and gathering dust. I guess I’ll be able to find those spots easily enough.

Today I made two messes. The second one was pretty spectacular. As I started crying, I noticed that my night pillbox had opened and three nights of pills spilled on the carpet. We have four cats and a dog, and I nearly freaked out. I had to leave. What if I missed some of them?

Why is this happening to me? Don’t I have enough to deal with without this silliness?

I see a neurologist like next month sometime. Originally it wasn’t for this dropping, knocking and generally blundering along with business, but I think that’s what we’ll have to talk about. Right now I have something else on my mind. Okay, I’m having all these weird issues. The question is what am I going to do now that I feel like I’m losing it?

Bipolar Disorder very often comes dancing along with another illness as you may already know. I do line dancing with ADHD and a few other dirtbags that are better left in a Looni Balloon (not to be confused with Looney Tunes) flick destined to be beaten with a gigantic red rubber hammer where no one will cry over the violence of the act. Sometimes the fear and panic provoke anger and even rage. It seems best to leave such emotions in

I have no spiffy answers for you, but I can tell you what I did to survive my day and end up where I promised I would be.

First, I called my daughter at work. It went to voice mail as I expected. Then I texted her “911” and dictated a message to my texting app. Next, I let her know that whatever my phone put in the message was not my fault because I wasn’t going to read it over for mistakes and that I was taking half a “chill pill.”

Second, I called my son that lives three minutes down the hill from us. He didn’t pick up either. I texted him as well.

The whole while I searched for help I kept trying to breathe. I’ve been practicing a breathing method? Is that what you’d call it? Anyway, I couldn’t get it right so I gave up and let myself just breathe.

It was going to be okay. Right?

OMG! I’m home alone. I need to go babysit my mother’s elderly dog. I’m trying not to freak out, how am I going to get there? It’s important. I have to go. My mom needs a social life. I HAVE to go.

I had my Bluetooth stuck in my ear by this time and was talking to Kyle. He was gently helping me back down. I knew today was his only day off, and I felt bad about bothering him, but he talked with me anyway.

Weird that I’d be thinking of how I was bothering my kids right?

Yes, I do have another son. This one is very hard to reach. He lives with his wife fifteen minutes from our house. Scott, well he’s not the topic of this post, so maybe another time he’ll come up.

I eventually arrived at my mom’s after listening to an audiobook all the way over here. It was a thriller. Maybe not the best choice for this drive, but there it was.

I explained to her what my week was like. At first, it was amusing because I’m always clumsy. Then I got to the point where I fell two days in a row and then escalated to dropping and knocking over more things more often and larger in size.

This is plain silly.

Peel away the story. Remove the falling and the dropping. Strike out everything, but the panic, the difficulty breathing, the 911 messages to my kids, the chill pill and you have my mind reaching out into my world and mixing stuff up. The important things to take away are that I had a system set up already that let me reach out for help. I also could have called my second son and my mother. Everyone knows the drill. Mom (Robin), 911 text – something is very wrong.

I strongly urge you to create your own emergency plan. Get some of your people in on it. You will quite possibly need to educate them about Bipolar Disorder and how it is with you. Tell them what kind of help you may need. If you feel that you just don’t have anyone to trust, and yes, you should be able to trust them. You may be putting your life in their hands so make sure this is the real deal and not just an acquaintance that you want to get to know better. That’s not the person I want you to enlist in your wellness plan.

We’ll talk later about what I like to think of as a wellness emergency plan.

  • Reached out to my people
  • Half a “chill pill”
  • Audiobook
  • Two ice cream bars
  • Talking with you

I feel much better now. Time to do some work.

All my best,

Robin

Mood Disorders, Sunshine and Me

Have I been fighting all these years against SAD? Depressed? Missunderstood? Reeling in the darkness? Or have I just been an ass?
Well…. Take your pick. Everyday is a new day.

I’ve heard for years about how some people suffer from fall and winter depression and I’ve accepted it as a matter of fact. I had never paid any attention to my moods as the seasons of the year toddled on by. Every year someone seems to ask me if I became “worse” in the “dark” seasons. I’ve never had an answer. Why would I? I thought I always felt the same – enraged, depressed, angry, bitter, anxious, sinful, doomed, damned, unliked, manic…. out of control Bipolar. Then I went to a Bible college, got married, had kids, showed postpartum depression which lead years later to my diagnosis: Bipolar Disorder Type 1.

This year I seem to be at a place in my life where I’m able to…. scratch that. I’ve been noticing that I’m not as “normal”* as usual. I’m happier. I think I’m funnier. That alone is awesome. And I don’t even care if my friends laugh when I think I’m being funny and my kids don’t. HA! HA!

*When I say “normal” what I mean is that I’ve been in a couple of months long consistently better place. I know, that doesn’t mean anything either but who cares. I’m happy right now and I’m happy that I’m happy.

Dark seasons. Do I? Beats the heck out of me. I’m just glad that my years of feeling rage and horror 99.5% of the time are over. I hope they’re over. One can never tell with things like this (Bipolar).

At my home today the weather is beautiful. It’s going to be about 71F which is warmer than normal here. The rest of the week it should be in the ’80s! Of course, much higher than normal here in the Greater Puget Sound area. It’s nice to accidentally plan a family BBQ (Thursday) when the weather will be so wonderful.

Am I happier in spring and summer? Well, it rains less and I can go outside and get sunburned in 10 minutes, my dog can play ball and only get wet when I spray her with the hose. Hell yeah! Give me spring! Give me summer!

Go ahead! Burn this Irish skin. Do your best sun. I’ve got all the rest of the year to fade back to my spotted white.

Let’s burn, this time with the sun. Not with rage and hate.

Angry, Raging, Bipolar

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I scared the ever living poo out of my fancy beta fish a minute ago. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Victor move so fast! He hid on the bottom and refused to take his dinner from me. All I did was walk up to his tank when he didn’t see me coming.

Fish. I feel rather like a fish.

You’d think we’re fish as much as we’re listened to when time after time we beg for different medication. Something has been going on with me mentally for around 3 or 4 months. I just thought it was growing anxiety because I have one more quarter to go and then I’m finished with school. I’ll need a job. I’ve never been able to hold a job for over a year. Even my own brother had to fire me because of my behavior, and my anger.

I take that back, I have worked for longer. When I worked for myself, I was able to manage to work with the management.

This feeling that’s been growing… I told my family in December that I’d had thoughts of hurting myself, and I honestly was. I’d had those feelings on and off for most of my life. Telling them seemed to help. Maybe it did. I felt that way tonight for about 10 minutes.

Then despair, anxiety, rage. Do these feelings take your face and squeeze it till it aches with the pressure?

Anxiety. It has been growing in my mind like a pustule about to burst black tar all over my mind.

I came to understand yesterday, through thinking over the end of the quarter problems and verbally fighting very loudly with another student – repeatedly, a colonoscopy I had to have two days in a row, a painfully torn fascia in my driving foot in December that is still painful (I’m so sick of this boot thing. It causes a painful lump on my shin bone.), intestinal troubles since Christmas, and runaway away anxiety I continuously tell my med provider about (I even take my counselor with me to make sure she’s listening. Oh yeah, that’s working great.)… I get it. I’m in a rage.

I used to live every day, every moment consumed with rage. I wasn’t a good kid. I wasn’t fun for my family to be around. My mother has finally agreed with me that I was, a terrible child. I was full of hateful and blinding – rage.

I have those feelings again. The ones I fought so ineffectively to be rid of. That consuming anger. I feel like I’m about to blow up on someone who probably did nothing to me. It’s just this thing my brain does sometimes day after day, month after month til years are wasted in fury and hate or like now when I’ve been crying out in fear and pain only to be ignored by those I dutifully trust my life to.

I’m so angry. My mind burns and I want to break things and hit stupid people. But I don’t.

I am often moments from saying things that could get me kicked out of school or arrested. But I don’t.

I’m so tired of fighting all the time. I just want to have a life free of pain. No more arthritis or Fibromyalgia. No more being too big to be healthy. No more chronic back pain. This is no life for me. This isn’t what I signed up for. I’m SO ANGRY! It’s like emotional cancer that manifests in feelings that most people can say they understand, but they don’t. Not really. If you have Bipolar Disorder Type 1 and you have had violent, angry, manic episodes you probably understand.  If not, please don’t give up on me.

Question is: what’s gonna give?

Addendum: Read on, please. This changed everything.

This morning I was listening to a TED Talk called, “the role of human emotions in science and research. Great title, right? Sounds like just what I need. At the end of her story, Ilona Stengel said this: I do not suggest that we should use feelings instead of facts. But I say we should not be afraid of using our feelings to implement and catalyze fact-based science and innovation. Emotions and logic do not oppose each other. They compliment each other. And they reinforce each other. The feeling of being dedicated to something meaningful, of belonging to something bigger, and of being empowered is crucial for creativity and innovation. Whatever you’re working on, make sure that it matters, and take it to your heart as much as you like.” [I’m pretty sure this isn’t a word for exact word match.]

Suddenly I understood. All my life I’ve believed I’ve had a purpose. I thought it was within the church, but I was always told, “No, it’s not time now Robin.” And my heart would be broken and my life stripped of meaning.

I believe without meaning, we relinquish our lives to the feelings I have been feeling. For this moment, I remember the meaning of my life. It will not be easy to follow. It incurs great emotional risk (something people with Bipolar Disorder should try to avoid). But if I can remember it. If I can remember it every moment of every day, I won’t have to rely as much upon others for the stability of my mind. My mind will be fighting my emotions with logic. I’ve done it before and I’ve succeeded. I must try again. My children have left my home. They’re all grown up. That role of the parent is gone. I feel like I have no purpose.

But I do. I do. I’d just been swallowed alive by the vomit of extreme emotions that allowed rage to consume me. For this moment. For this morning. I say no.

She said: “Whatever you’re working on, make sure that it matters, and take it to your heart as much as you like.” I am taking up my mission again. I must. If I don’t, then what’s the point? 

Do you understand?

What’s your mission? Tell me.

Robin