Just Like Me

I found myself wondering yesterday evening, as I stepped into the shower about an hour before my first Bipolar Support Group started, “Why am I going?? I don’t like people. I have all the support I need between my blog and my family and friends who know. WHY AM I GOING?”. Surprisingly, the answer flowed from my elusive brain:

I want to see what they look like. I want to see just how sick I am compared to them.

Honest thoughts like that from me are hard to come by. Most of them are centered around pleasing someone, and as emotional as I am, I am not very in touch with MY feelings. Recognizing this has knocked me back a little. It feels like a huge realization that is going to change the way I think. It has, in this short time. I can feel myself care less about if someone is judging me. Its odd…Im still trying to figure it out…another day, another blog.

I was incredibly nervous going to this meeting. I found a parking spot quickly, and made my way to the nearest elevator. There was an older woman in a pink shirt that rode to the 2nd floor with me. She carried on to wherever while I asked the nearest nurse where room C is.

I stopped down the hall from the room. I had to decide now if I wanted to see what was in there. I kicked my ass and walked in.

And there’s the lady from the elevator. She joked and asked if I was following her. I didn’t have to spend much time scanning the room, there was only a total of 4 people there. All older (40+).

Sigh. No one in a straight jacket. No one trying to chew their ear, or screaming, or my personal manic favorite – soliciting for sex.

There ended up being 10 including me. I was the youngest. I wasn’t the craziest. Or the least crazy. Trust, I quietly surveyed everyone. My first check was for wedding bands. Aside from the two partnered gay women sitting across from me, I was the only one wearing one

In 15 years, when I’m their age, will I no longer be wearing one? Do I, do we, have the equivalent of the plauge of marriage? I gathered after hearing everyone’s introduction that they had all been diagnosed later in life. I comforted myself with thinking about how I caught it early and am dedicated to therapy and my medication.

I was fully prepared to say that I don’t want to talk. But I found myself eager to share after hearing a few intros: painful, and embarrassing. I listened and watched everything there was to listen to and watch. Clothing, eye movement, voice, sentence structure, and confusion or delay in their story, and most importantly, what their eyes were saying.

Some eyes were sad. Defeated. Hollow. Wild. Angry. Frustrated. I saw myself in every single one of them. They saw themselves in each other as well. There was an understanding. And it was the least judgmental place I have ever been. They knew when someone was feeling low, when someone hadn’t taken their Meds. They asked how the other’s surgery went, and sent a Happy Birthday to another group member’s dog.

There was a sense of protection there. It was special. It just was.

They were people Ive probably seen around town, and they are struggling just like me. They get crazy just like me. They have a temper just like me. I always thought I was a rare breed…

But I found others. Just like me.

Indecision about my indecision

I hate indecision. Over the stupidest things. Before I knew I was bipolar, I could only describe it as my brain stuttering. I had a lot of brain stuttering tonight.

I had the regular work crap: walking across the restaurant and forgetting what I was going for half way there, or just walking back and forth with no idea wtf I was doing.

Then tonight on the way home I stopped for a drink at a gas station. Didn’t know what I wanted…was just gonna let the mood hit me. However, the mood never came, and I stood there trying to decide between the tart Raspberry Lemonade, the sweet Mango Madness, or the indulgent Chocolate Milk.  Chocolate Milk won, but only because I knew I was looking like a fool who couldn’t make a simple decision.

Sometimes I feel like I have a body and a brain but I don’t know how to operate it. Like I drift from place to place because I know on some level that I have to be there, but I don’t know what to do once Im there. Confusion. Sadness over my inability to fully connect the pieces. Then anger because of it.

I plan on thinking deeper about if I have always done a stellar job at hiding my weaknesses, or if they have always existed to this degree, or if they have grown and are finally problematic (not finally as in NOW, but as in the last few years).

My first dosage increase

My husband was kind enough to point out Saturday during our date that I’ve been a little “too happy”. I’m not being sarcastic in saying he was kind, it is very necessary that we all have at least one person who sees us regularly and can be frank with us when they notice a change in our moods. He was right, and realizing it brought me close to tears. I had thought I was just really happy. It upset me because I realized I would have to be careful to make sure I never get too happy. In discussing that with my therapist, she said that I AM allowed to be really happy, that I just need to know when to rein it in, and that once I’m on the right dosage of lithium, things will get a lot easier. I could use easier right now.

Speaking of lithium dosages, I got mine increased from 900mg to 1050mg. I guess that makes me no longer a lithium newbie. I appreciate the slow, cautious increase, but am becoming impatient with the process. I’m getting weary of these feelings and I just want to be fixed. Here is a list of symptoms that warranted my dosage increase :
>Stuttering in my brain, not being able to “connect thoughts”
>Husband says I exhaust him, doing too much, brain is overactive
>Very quick to anger, short and snappy
>Friends told me I’m mean and that they will be avoiding me until that changes
>”cold” and emotionally disconnected
>Feels like I’m in a different world inside my head, that I am just physically there
>Overspending and overeating
>Increased social activity
>Trouble making decisions alone
>Occasional moments of clarity

It happens much less than a few weeks ago, but every once in a while -particularly when my husband isn’t happy with me- I feel like a real dysfunctional shitbag. He never gets upset with me for no reason, he’s my constant that lets me know how far off course I’ve gotten. So when he’s upset and I’m blind to it, and I’m thinking
its going to be a great day, its like a kick in the throat. The worst thing is feeling like I make him miserable, knowing that it could be a while before I’m consistently normal, and wondering how long he’ll hang around for it. He says he will continue to fight for me longer after I stop. But I’m worried he will become bitter and resentful for it somewhere along the way.

Figuring out how to get better takes work. I’ve been working hard in therapy for the last 3 years, battling anxiety and depression, trying to make sense of my dad’s death. I’m ready for a break, and I get handed THIS. Something that requires even more work and more patience. All that on top of raising 3 children, their activities, working, and more… It’s a lot of junk, and I’m scared I can’t do it all. Sadly, they’re all very important tasks, and I can’t just pass on my responsibilities. Mentally, I am fighting a war. And in reference to my first post, one difference between cancer and bipolar is that with cancer you are fighting something foreign in your body. I sometimes wish I could visualise what I am fighting – but all I can come up with is myself. After trusting myself for 28 years, I feel like I’ve turned on me. It’s almost like there’s someone else living in my body, and it’s uncomfortable, and I’m trying not to live there with them until they’re gone. That makes me feel so weird. It’s almost like I’m rejecting myself.

Hopefully this extra 150mg will make me feel better quick. That’s enough confusion and delay for today…I’m going to try to make this a good day.