I’ll take “brain med” for 500, Alex.


Monday through Friday I have 4 alarms go off – 1 to remind me to wake up and get my son to school, 1 to remind me to take my brain med and anxiety pills (yeah, I have my phone call it a “brain med” as a way of making me feel better about…something or another), a 3rd to remind me to take another “brain med”, and my fourth to remind me to take my last brain med (plus all the rest I take a night) and go to bed.

When I’m tied up at the moment (changing a diaper, pulling something out of the over, etc) I will hit the snooze button, but I never turn it off until I have the pill(s) in my hand, ensuring that even if I forget to take them, I’ll eventually realize they’re sitting in my hand waiting to get tossed down my throat.

I think my husband was the first to call it my “brain medicine” as a way of taking some “blame” off of me for having Bipolar Disorder. It’s hard to get over the feeling that you’re either making everything up or that you’re defective somehow, so every little way I can squeeze in a scientific phrase to repeat to myself about my disorder, I use. I can tell what kind of a mood Im in by how I respond to myself using a phrase like “brain med”. I’m not my best self when I reply (inwardly OR outwardly) that “it’s not a ‘BRAIN MED’, it’s my pill that I HAVE to take THREE TIMES A DAY to remind me that without it, I MIGHT GO CRAZY.”

When I’m not well, I beat myself up with my self stigma better than anyone else could harass me over anything. I use words to describe myself that I would condemn anyone else for using, like “crazy”. Our self stigma is brutal. We hurt ourselves in ways other people can’t.

I can also tell when I’m not feeling well by how I feel about seeing my therapist. If I dread the thought of an upcoming appointment, I’m leaning towards depression. Of course she picks up on it before I even sit on her old ass love seat, which pisses me off even more. She has a “snarky” tone (which is pleasant to me when I’m well) that pisses me off. Her out dated un-flattering pants suits make me want to roll my eyes and automatically discredit anything she might have to say.

Ahh. My dramatic moods. Despite it all, I seem to be able to have more control over my thought processes lately. I recognize these thought patterns, I shut them down. Not always effectively, but sometimes. Improvement, most definitely. Soon, with the help of my meds and wellness team, I’ll be able to successfully masquerade as a person without any disorder(s). —note that I didn’t say “normal person” as I do not believe they exist anymore. It’s just matter of where we all fall on the spectrum.

Grandiose Ideas


Pillars and I have decided that I am going to go back to school for my Masters Degree. (I have a BS in Finance)

I have decided on Industrial Organizational Psychology – very interesting and growing field. By the time I finish my degree, my youngest will be a kindergartner…and life will be different for me. A 3rd grader, a 1st grader, and a kindergartner (if I’m doing my math correctly…LOL lots of good that Finance degree did…). Knowing that I will be able to be a little bit more of my own person is horribly exciting, and scary…which leads me to this post.

The ONLY thing I could ever commit to in my life was to having a family, having babies, and staying home with them as long as possible. But I didn’t expect Bipolar Disorder. I didn’t expect to become frightfully unhappy with my place in the home, or to hate having a little baby in me so badly that I considered stabbing myself in the uterus and then falling out my 2nd story bedroom window.

No, that’s not what the 10 year old, or 17 year old me wanted. I had passing visions of becoming a librarian, an Olympic Gymnast, and was quite certain when I was 17 years old that I would be famous. There were ideas that I could never root myself into – they were fleeting – and one came right after the others. The more serious ones started my senior year of high school, with that “famous” idea. I had no plans to become famous, just knew that I would be. I had no extreme talent. I was good at music, could run fast, steal a soccer ball out from anyone’s feet, was incredibly creative with poetry, and felt everything deeply and madly. I say that in the most sincere way. I lived and breathed my feelings.

https://i1.wp.com/www.photoforum.ru/f/photo/000/165/165931_75.jpg

And starting here, I would like to mentally go through ideas/plans/etc (starting at age 17) that I can now attribute to my illness:

  • Went straight to college from high school, with robust energy, just to return home in 3 months with my tail between my legs. Changed my mind.
  • Bought a house with my boyfriend. Not a biggie, until we BOTH got laid off (from the same employer   and I still thought it was a good idea to continue with the house buying even though neither of us had an income.
  • Started school again to pursue my “knowingly” purpose in life = a music teacher.
  • Re-met (we had dated in middle/high school) my husband on Myspace – immediately left the boyfriend AND the house to marry Pillars in 30 days. Clearly, the wisest choice ever, but still…
  • Dumped school (again) to move to a different state, to “live” with my husband, who was actually going to be in Iraq.
  • Started school (again) and picked a degree out of a hat because I wasn’t going to tell my children that Mommy quit anything.

At this point, I settled into home life. Pillars was home from killing bad guys, and I was happily growing my first baby. I don’t *think* I had any fleeting plans I sank my teeth into until things got hairy after #3 was born…

  • I wanted to become a Realtor. We actually paid near $400 for me to take an online course. I completed it – but never took the test to actually become a Realtor.
  • I felt itchy – I needed a job, I wanted out of the house. I needed to feel like more of a person. Totally understandable. However, this is where the manic episode started, with me getting my first job in almost 4 years and then immediately sleeping with the boss.

It’s difficult for me to commit anymore. I live in my body, in my head. But I don’t control it all the time. My head feels busy, crowded. Lots of white noise, motion, confusion, delay. I didn’t mean to include a Thomas the Tank Engine clip in there…sorry…too many kids.

Sometimes, I feel like I am merely guiding my body in a direction because that’s all I can do.

I am unbelievably lucky to have an anchor for a husband. I know that he will make the right decision for me, even when I am certain that he is wrong and I am right. I am awesome and he sucks. I am fast and he is slow. I am an asshole and he is a saint. I know I’ll fight him about it – I know “it” (grandiose ideas) will happen again – but even if that means taking me to a hospital, I know that he will take care of me. I can’t thank him enough for that.

I have trouble trusting these ideas I get (“Oh, I really want to start a quilt.”, “Ohhh, I want to make some hairbows.”, “I’m going to pick out colors to paint the house.”, “I’m going to get all 9 loads of laundry washed, dried, and put away today!”). I get several *compulsions* a day. And I have to ignore them, no matter how tempting they are. Nope, that idea is not worthy. You, you’re a silly little idea that will just get me into trouble.

https://i1.wp.com/ese.dadeschools.net/TRANSITION1/images/idea.jpg

All of this creates irritation in me. Sometimes, there’s no goddamn yin to my yang. It’s all yin. It’s all yang. And I’m all fucked up.

Did I just do that? Again?


So, if you remember, I told my boss that I have bipolar disorder a couple months ago. Then oddly enough, he retired the next week.

Hmmmmmmm…

Now we have a new boss, and she seems nice enough, and no one has questioned my request to change my work schedule to only weekends (due to needing to reduce stress and manage my sleeping habits better). It’s been 2 months now since I changed from working 5 nights a week to just 2 lunch shifts. Then yesterday, in front of another manager and at least 1 other employee, she asks:

“Melissa, why can you only work weekends?”

Ahhhh shit. I’m unprepared. I don’t know her well. There are at least 3 people in this 5×8 room. Do I tell the truth? Yeah, I never lie about big shit. How do I say it without scaring her? Do I ask her to talk in private?

Then my “I don’t give a fuck” attitude sprung right back into place where it belongs, and I told her that I was diagnose with bipolar disorder about 6 months ago and I have found that a very important part of controlling the disorder was by maintaining steady sleeping habits – which includes going to bed at the same time every night, like a child. I rolled my eyes there – I can’t control my attitude sometimes most of the time.

Her response: *big nod* “OKAY”.

I don’t think she was expecting that kind of answer.

She then asked why I can’t work during the week, to which I replied that I can’t stop multiplying  I have 3 young children – and that I highly doubt I’d make enough money working to pay for the sitter I’d need.

How did I get lucky enough to have to “come out” to my boss twice in the first 8 months? Good thing I’m not shy or ashamed!

Really though, I’d much rather educate people. Having this disorder makes me stronger, not weaker. If I have accomplished what I have with all of these obstacles in front of me, I can only imagine how I could do without them. I will never feel shame – and neither should any of you. Although, I feel plenty of hate. That’s just part of the package.

And as far as any concerns about “Now they’ll look for a reason to fire you”, etc, etc, – insert “I don’t give a fuck” attitude. 🙂

I HATE PEOPLE


I know, I haven’t blogged in forever, as Pillars keeps reminding me.

November was horrendous. Starting with Halloween. Nothing out of the ordinary, just lots of stuff. Lots of activities, get togethers, birthday party, Holiday, out of town trips…shit that just sets someone like me off. I have had an extremely “I HATE PEOPLE” mood this whole month. I’m quite happy to see the month go and I’m doing all I can to ensure that December goes off a little more smoothly.

Symptom wise, in November, there’s been increased anxiety (from all the above mentioned crap), which has lead to my irritability. I have to pat myself on the back though. My mindfulness about my irritability and negative attitude has really helped keep in IN. It’s definitely still there – it’s just not flying out of my mouth the way I want it to. It’s like keeping a trained fighting dog tied up and muzzled. It’s not easy. And it makes me feel crazy. Here I have this inner voice that is just dying to tell someone that they are SO FUCKING STUPID THAT THEY CAN’T EVEN BREATHE RIGHT.

And then I think, “Gosh Melissa, that’s not very nice at all.” tsk tsk

And then I get, “GOD I JUST WANT TO FUCKING HIT THEM IN THE HEAD!!!!!!!”

This is not normal. But yet, it’s normal for me. It’s natural for me. I don’t make this up. I don’t want to be this crazy bitch.

But I digress, the point is, I’m controlling it. Bad month.

Pillars suggested this evening, as I was verbally assaulting all the lazy fucks who don’t put their shopping carts back, that I should write a book. I think I would name it “I HATE PEOPLE”.

 

 

This is why I’m not blogging – I can’t say anything nice right now. I’ve deleted people from facebook for being dumbasses, and I’ve just un-followed someone here because it’s apparent that all they do is blog all day about mindless “30 day challenge” shit – filling up my inbox with notifications about stuff I don’t want to read.

Dear tiny baby Jesus. I hate being mean.

Unexpected plans


Pillars is out of state for the week for work. Actually, in the town we first lived in together as husband and wife! Our first 2 children were conceived there. A town rich in…well, Marines and strip clubs pretty much. Jacksonville. No, not Florida, but North Carolina. 

It was a short notice trip – I think we found out Wednesday that he had to leave Sunday. I don’t handle stuff like that well. I hope to change that some day. My anxiety heightened, I was irritable and a little detached. I don’t know why – it’s not the first trip. He had a year or so where he was taking trips to California about every other month. I handle them well here at home – I actually feel like I perform better during the trips. Weird. It’s like I’m put to the test and I perform better than just in normal situations. I don’t understand it, don’t care to. 

Wait! I see an opportunity to exercise my new attitude!! I don’t give a fuck!! 

I don’t remember why I started this blog…hm.

Miss you Pillars.

I have a secret.


I did it!

I got my ass out of the house and ran around the neighborhood – without crying!

Pillars suggested that I go a different route than when I went when I was manic, because it always seemed to make me cry. I thought about it, and decided that I was going to go the routes I liked and risk the tears. I haven’t ran them for a couple months, and I have changed a lot in that short time.

I found myself starting to think obsessively about my illness, and arguing stupid points in my mind over and over…like I can actually argue my way out of what has happened to me, what I’ve done, and what I am. I caught the negative thinking and told myself I was going to stop, and I did!

I got back home and had a sudden urge to continue. That was really surprising, given my inclination to sit down at every step and bench I came across. So I ran a little more. 🙂

It was made that much better to see my 2 year old staring out the window looking for me when I made it back home.

I’m feeling more comfortable with myself. I realized that I’m a fighter, and that I’ve been fighting for many years. The difference now is that I know my opponent, and common sense says that if you know what you’re fighting, you have a better chance at beating it. You can prepare yourself.

So yeah, I feel stronger…but I expect to be knocked back down again. Shit I might knock my own self down. I might stay down for a while. But I’ll never stay down forever. And I expect to cry again. Probably tomorrow. But that doesn’t make me weaker. Every time it knocks me down and I get back up, I’m stronger. I win that one.

I’m starting to realize that this didn’t beat me. That I control whether or not it does.

And I’ve got news for you…I’m a stubborn bitch!

I have a secret robot crush on Optimus Prime. Although I guess it’s not a secret anymore…

Optimus Prime and the Bipolar Bucket.


I’m gonna make this quick because Pillars is in CA, it’s been a CRAZY night with the kids (who just went to bed…), and my bed and Netflix are calling me…

I saw my therapist again yesterday after an excruciating 3.5 weeks. She had been on vacation. I went in kind of dreading it really, because I was going to have to recap my confusion, anxietydepersonalizations and depression, and it’s just a lot of stuff to cover.

She said that this week, she wants to conduct an experiment with the confusion/anxiety/depersonalization symptoms. She thinks they’re all anxiety symptoms, even though they don’t necessarily leave me shaky and nervous. So, I am regularly taking an ativan every day. (Although, I’m thinking it may need to be 2 per day). We’ll see if this week shows any marked improvements in that area. I expressed the symptoms being related to the lithium, and possibly lowering my dose, but she really wants me to try this first. I don’t mind. I like ativan. 😉

She has said it many times before, and said it again yesterday – I really don’t handle it well when things don’t go the way I want them.

I know this. It didn’t stand out as anything wrong until I was a grown adult with children. THEN, only then, did I say to myself, “Why am I acting like a 3 year old? I know how I should be acting/reacting. This is not it.”

Whatever. I’ll throw this in the bipolar bucket (see definition below). And by “whatever”, I don’t mean that I can get away with nasty behavior like that, but I mean that I am accepting that it’s not happening because I am a spoiled brat. That there is another factor involved.

Bipolar Bucket: My imaginary bucket that I will envision throwing all of the things about my bipolar self that I cannot change. If it were something I like, it would be pink with hearts and horses on it. Instead, I’ll make it black and put a big sticker of Optimus Prime on it. Because I’ve recently discovered that he’s awesome. And he has a sexy voice.

(Pillars has a sexy voice, too)

“Bipolar symptoms, ROLL OUT”

 

Who am I, anyways?


I always had this clear vision of who I was, who I wanted to be. I was a dreamer growing up. Not the distracted dreamer, but I had big

plans for myself and I was confident about them. I knew that if I wanted it bad enough, I would get it. Something drove me inside; I felt strong inside. I attributed some of that strength to religion. Times got rough, as they do, but something always happened to pull me out of it. I was confident in my SELF.

The indecision and confusion that has been plaguing me for a few days reached it’s worst point yesterday. Thankfully I was off of work. I seem to be in a better place today. I don’t work again until tomorrow, so it should be gone by then. Thankfully, it never seems to last more than a couple days. It’s a slow slide into it, and then I have a virtually nonfunctional mind for a day or so, and then I wake up on the upside. Maybe still a little foggy, but I can think clearer, and make a decision easier.

Lucky for me, not only did I have yesterday off, but Pillars took the day off. Not because of my incapacity. It was nice. It’s always nice to have him around of course. 🙂

My self esteem hits rock bottom when I’m trying to do something simple like make a box of mac n cheese for the kids and I have to read the instructions 5 times before I even understand the first step. I don’t like looking like I’m stupid in front of my husband. I know he knows I’m not…and he thinks my mind is beautiful. But when he talks to me about what we’re going to do, and my head is EMPTY, and his words flow in, swirl around, and flow right back out – none of them finding a place to stick – I have to say “I’m sorry, what are we doing after that?”.  Or worse yet, “Just tell me what to do.”, because my memory isn’t on. I’m a body. I’m breathing. I can smile. I can laugh. But I can’t hold any information, and can only perform small, easy tasks. And even then, it takes me forever.

It’s those days that rubs my nose into the fact that I’m not “normal”.

On to happier news, I think I’ve gained more weight. I say “think” because I’m avoiding the scale. I know it’ll only upset me more. I’m trying to avoid things that upset me. I’m in a sensitive enough place as it is, and have had despairing thoughts and more suicide ideation than I care to admit. So, no, I’m not stepping on the scale. It’s not a surprise that I have…I used to run A LOT (while manic, of course), and now I just want to sit in a ball on the couch.

I don’t need a scale to tell me that I’ve packed a little on. So I decided to go running yesterday evening. As before, it started off fine, and then I ended up angry and crying about half way through. I realized I didn’t want to be running. But that 5 months ago, it was all I could think about. I’m drained of energy. But 5 months ago, I felt like I was busting at the seams with it, and had to restrain myself from doing jumping jacks all day. I cried because I want that energy back. At least some of it. At least enough to be able to feel alive, because right now, I don’t.

I said to myself, “I want myself back!”. But then I realized that that wasn’t myself. Then, who am I? When were my “normal” periods between episodes? When? I don’t think I have any way of knowing. So does that mean I have to figure that out now? Then my inner voice started screaming that I didn’t ask for this. I don’t WANT THIS. This isn’t how I was SUPPOSED TO BE.

Bipolar isn’t want I dreamed of being 15 years ago. 

We live across from a church, that has a nice little water fountain, and benches. I took my angry bipolar self over there, thinking it would calm me down. I sat on the bench, still crying a little bit, and asked if this is what life is for me. All the flowers there are bloomed,  and beautiful, and I wondered when I would be able to find my internal passion, hope, optimism, and beauty again.

Will I only know my “normal” when there is a absence of symptoms? I’ll realize I’m “normal” when I’m not checking anything off of my nightly symptom chart?

 

The Anxiety Strikes Back


All my clothes are getting tighter, and Im waking up to see a soda can sitting at the end of the bed. Ugh. Yeah, 3am potty break and I grab a soda too. :/ No wonder everything is tighter. I haven’t been to the gym more than two or three times in the past month.

However, I’m writing this from my favorite machine – hip abduction/adduction. What woman doesn’t love working her ass and inner/outer thighs at the same time?

Now that my oldest has started school, its time for me to reestablish a routine, and Im going to try to include the gym.

My mood chart reflects what I already know…that I’ve been in a depressed mood for the past 10 or so days, along with heightened anxiety. No signs of a hypomanic episode of course. That’s got me wondering…if I keep track of my elevated mood symptoms, why don’t I keep track of depressed mood symptoms? They are equally dangerous.

I haven’t considered it because I am so used to depression. I don’t have to reflect on my day to realize it. I don’t know if this is something that is necessary. Maybe it would be to help me know when to ask for help. Its one thing to just be down in the dumps for a few days, and something totally different to be thinking about harming yourself. So maybe Ill make a little list like I have for my higher episode symptoms.

I broke down and started taking Ativan again for my anxiety. Anxiety hasn’t been a problem for quite a while for me (maybe for a year even…which is amazing) but over the past few days, its returned to its pre-diagnosis paralyzing form. I appreciate having something available to help me, but I have forgotten how dysfunctional the anxiety makes me feel. At least when I am depressed or hypomanic, I truly believe that (a) I’m a horrible person, fail at everything I do, and my very existence is harming my children, or (b) that I am effing AWESOME and can do ANYTHING better than ANYONE.

But the bad anxiety makes me feel ill. My thoughts bounce around so bad that I can’t complete a simple task like putting away the mac n cheese my kids didn’t eat. I walk into the kitchen a few minutes after starting the task to see an empty pan, the leftovers in some tupperware, and then can’t remember ever STARTING that task, WHY I stopped it, or WHAT I did when I walked away.

My whole head almost feels fuzzy, like it’s vibrating. Like a piece of metal hit on something and then vibrating for a minute afterwards. I tend to move a lot too. If I’m not physically moving, then it feels like I am, because I’m vibrating. Ugh. Dear Baby Jesus. Where is this elusive “normal period” that I hear Bipolar people have? I don’t feel like I’ve had it yet, and that’s not very fair. I’ve had maybe 10-12 straight “normal” days, according to my chart, but that’s not long enough. I need a break.

Depersonification


Depersonalization disorder occurs when you persistently or repeatedly have a sense that things around you aren’t real, or when you have the feeling that you’re observing yourself from outside your body. Feelings of depersonalization can be very disturbing and may feel like you’re losing your grip on reality or living in a dream.

(http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/depersonalization/DS01149)

This is my “go-to” method of dealing with stress. It hasn’t always been, but it has been for a while now, and I’ve only recently become stable enough to even notice what I’m doing.

For me, there are varying levels of depersonalization. I’m doing it right now. It’s been a rough day. Luckily, I can form sentences right now, and be fairly comical. About an hour and a half ago, I had glue in my brain. An empty look in my eyes, a quiet, monotone, emotionless voice, and couldn’t finish a thought, much less hold a conversation. I was trying. Pillars and I were out on a date, and I was trying to talk about today’s therapy session, but as soon as I found a thought and spoke 3 words of it, I lost it. After some mental constipation, I found my thought, spoke 2 words of it, and it was gone again. It was embarrassing.

I think that if someone was listening in on our conversation, they may have thought I was mentally handicapped.

After a few minutes of this, what little bit of me was in me could sense my husband sitting there next to me. Wearing his nice business casual clothes, arms propped up on the table, concentrating on listening and piecing together whatever-the-hell I was trying to spit out. While I’m sitting there hunched over in uncertainty, at least one tiny hole in my shirt, another hole in the crotch of my pants, and greasy hair from not having showered in a couple days.

What does he think of me? Does he think I’m faking any of this? Is he tired of my troubles?

He asked if the music was distracting me. I couldn’t figure it out, so he suggested we go sit outside and talk. As soon as we were outside, I could form a complete sentence. I wasn’t fully there yet, but in a much better place.

I should add that on the way to this date, I got lost. Turns out that having a smart phone doesn’t actually make you smart. Damn.

So after talking outside for about 15 minutes we head home. I insisted I follow him…didn’t want to end up lost again. Har. I struggled staying present the whole drive, finding myself slipping in and out, and maybe even coming close to falling asleep a couple times.  I don’t know, that’s what it felt like to me.

We come home, I step out of the car, and I’m back. Immediately. Not 100%, but at least 80%. How did that happen, when I was gone just a mile ago?

My therapist told me to keep an eye on this, that it may be a coping mechanism, may be something else, but that we need to track it. She told me not to let myself do that. But I couldn’t help it. Id been dying to do it for weeks, since earlier in the month when my Mom was here and I had done it when I was visiting with her. Who wouldn’t, when you hold conversations like this?

She visited, I checked out of my mind for the visit, then climbed up into a hypomanic episode, and managed to bring it down with an increase in Lithium. Since she came into town, I could feel the nagging sense in my mind, wanting to go away, disappear, check-out, leave my body…whatever. I guess the feeling just got too strong for me to be able to ignore it. It wasn’t a conscience choice, or thought, like, “Hey, I’m tired of this shit, let’s bounce.” It was that I was stressed out, trying desperately to cope, and then all of a sudden I’m not there. I’ve turned from frantic on the inside to calm. My face is emotionless. I can smile, but it’s not my smile.

It serves a purpose – the stress is gone. But it leaves me as a bumbling idiot. I’m not good for anything that way, and I can’t function. At it’s worst, I actually need someone to hold my arm to guide me while I walk. So…what’s the sense?

Either way, I’ll write it down and discuss it with my therapist for sure next time. It was definitely disturbing.