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.

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.

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.

Living Life In A Straight Jacket

I actually came out of therapy today excited. I know, I’m a weirdo 😉

Here’s how our convo went:

Iris: “So you had your first marriage counseling session yesterday…how was it?”

Me: “Good. Awkward. Uncomfortable. We were with a new neutral person, and here he is – the victim. And here I am – the offender…”

Iris: “Victim?? Offender?? He’s NOT a victim. You are NOT an offender. Why are you using those words? You didn’t commit a CRIME!”

Me: *eyebrows raised* “I BROKE A COMMANDMENT”

Iris: *laughing* “Yes, what you did was wrong. It’s good that you know that.” 

At this point, I’m wondering why I feel so strongly about the commandments, and why she’s taking it so lightly. It looks like that huge ass tapestry of Jesus on my Granny’s wall and the constant play of Ben-Hur had more effect on me than I know.

Iris: “Who made you feel like you don’t matter?”

Me: “My parents, I guess. My Dad was always busy working, and when he wasn’t, he tried really hard not to be around. Emotionally, or physically. And my Mom was always busy cooking and cleaning and making sure everything was ‘just so’.”

Iris: “So they never really engaged you?”

Me: “No, I guess they just maintained me.”

Iris: “Did you have meals together.”

Me: “Oh yeah. Every night. Those were the worst. So tense and uncomfortable.”

Iris: “What?! That’s horrible. What were they like?”

Me: “I always had a nervous twitch going on…my leg shaking, tapping, stuff like that. And I always got fussed at by Dad for it. Anything that wasn’t -just right- got you fussed at.”

Iris: “Your whole life was like that. When someone came into your room, it was ‘Oh no, what did I do?'”

Me: “Pretty much.”

Iris: “You never got to figure out who YOU are because you were forced to maintain what they expected you to be. Normally, after leaving home, kids rebel and decide they’re not doing anything they were required to do at home. You never did that, you just carried all those expectations and requirements with you into marriage, and into motherhood. You had your little rebellion recently, I hope you enjoyed it because it’s not happening again. Now, I don’t want you to do anything you don’t want to do. If you feel like eating chicken every night, eat chicken. If you want to go to bed at 9, go to bed at nine.”

So basically, my goal is to not feel like I have to do anything because of someone else. Every day I am to take 15 minutes and write down what I LIKE. Anything. The goal is to learn who I am and what I like – without anyone’s influence.

She hit the nail on the head, for sure. I have always felt that way. Like I wasn’t able to be myself.

Now, I know my core values. I know I married the right man :):):) I know I love my children. That much, I know without a doubt. I guess it’s every other detail I have to ponder.

She said that once I figure this out, I’ll be less nervous. She said she sees a lot of women that don’t know who they are. They have just been something for someone for so long that they never figured it out.

Well, at least I’ll figure this out before I’m 30. Barely. lol

What will my children think?

I find myself wondering fairly often, about what my children will remember about me when they are older.

You know, that moment when we (or I) tell them that Mommy has a mental illness that is genetic and they may develop it as well. After they have been educated on the signs and symptoms, etc, and they walk away from the conversation, will they see me differently?

Will they remember the days I was overly excited and constantly busy with projects/housework/etc. When I wore clothes that showed a little more than usual, and wore bright make-up? Will they wonder where I actually went when I had a sitter come over for a couple hours?

Will they think about the says when Mommy was too tired to get off the couch, leaving the house a horrible mess? Will they remember how I would occasionally start to cry in the middle of a conversation with them?

And when they remember these things, what will they think of me? Im guessing things will start making me sense. We have at least 10 more years before this conversation has to be had, and I’m sure they’ll see more before then.

I’m *hoping* that even though I see myself as weak under all of these emotions and moods, that they will see me as strong. That they will see if as proof that it can be overcome, and in a manner other than what their Pop Pop did.

I remember them when Im feeling the pressure if these moods, and I remember to give them extra hugs and love so that when the time comes, they also know that my love for them was always just as intense as my moods were.

Heritability of bipolar disorder

I have three beautiful children *beaming*

For as long as I can remember, all I have ever been sure that I wanted to be was a mama. As early as 5th grade, I can remember daydreaming about holding a baby and I would get that warm fuzzy feeling. A couple years later, I would meet the boy who would eventually give me babies to hold. As with any parent, we have both learned to go days without a shower, sacrifice things we would like to do or have, for the benefit of our children.

So it’s really a face palm moment when you’re diagnosed with something hereditary like bipolar disorder after fulfilling your life’s dream of procreating. Life just gave you the finger. Now it’s just a waiting game; your hand has already been dealt. All I have thought of to do is to read up on symptoms of children with bipolar, and to educate myself on the illness as much as possible so that if we have been dealt a bad hand, I can help them as much as possible. I will be the best help (other than good docs) they could ever have.

The chance that you may have given this nasty illness to your baby is one of those thoughts that creep into your mind when you’re having a down moment. It’s the same with feelings of regret for things you did during a manic episode, and feelings of disfunction/sadness over having the illness at all. These are thoughts that bring you down even lower. Dangerously low. So, ha, one might suggest that you just don’t think about such things. But I do, because I don’t like to be an ostrich and stick my head in the ground. I just prefer to be prepared. Granted, no one should dwell on that stuff. Like I said, the hand has been dealt, there’s no changing that.

In my research, I found a pretty cumulative  study done in 2003. It says:
> When one parent has bipolar and one parent doesn’t, a child has a 15-30% chance of having BP
>When both parents have bipolar, the chances raise to 50-75%
>If there is already one child with bipolar, your chances of having another child with it are 15-25%

the study

Boy I’m glad I’m the only crazy one in this marriage. Oh, take a minute to ponder just how difficult it would be if both partners were BP. Or perhaps, they would understand each other better, or easier, than a non-mental person would. I would never call one lot easier than another, we all have our problems. One thing I can thank bipolar for – I am no longer a judgemental person. I used to be quite the perfect little housewife, but I smashed that title with a sledgehammer about 6 months ago. I am much more accepting now, and I don’t presume to know someone’s story just by looking at them. Good lesson learned, the hard way.


I finished “An Unquiet Mind” by Kay Redfield Jamison today. I loved it, and it’s helped me find a little more peace in life right now. I found many passages that touched me, and I’ll eventually share them all. There is one that I found in the last few pages today that has changed the way I view my illness now, and I wanted that to be the first one I share:

“I have seen the breadth and depth and width of my mind and heart and seen how frail they both are, and how ultimately unknowable they both are. Depressed, I have crawled on my hands and knees in order to get across a room and have done it for month after month. But, normal or manic, I have run faster, thought faster, and loved faster than most I know. And I think much of this is related to my illness – the intensity it gives to things and the perspective it forces on me.”

I personally have always felt like I feel everything, be it good or bad, to the extreme. I always passed it off as me being an emotional nut case of a woman. I mean, we’re all emotional right?

I have been viewing bipolar (or manic-depressive if you prefer) in a totally negative way. True, it can be destructive. And, it’s been destructive in my life recently. But it’s also to blame for the intense GOOD feelings I have. It’s why my mom has always called me a perfectionist and why I always pushed for perfection in everything I did growing up. I kinda liked that label until the last several years, when I felt like my internal drive for perfection was interrupting how much enjoyment I was getting out of life. I was too concentrated on making sure everything I was doing was RIGHT instead of enjoying the moment and enjoying what I was doing.

It’s why I feel a burning passion for so many things: music, children, running, art, sleep (HAHA). I sincerely mean a “burning” passion. I thought everyone felt that burn, and it’s those people who don’t feel any passion that are “wrong”. But it turns out that there’s a more normal side to passion, and while I am on one extreme the feeling, those that don’t feel the burn are on the other. And if their extreme is wrong, then so is mine. Needless to say, I no longer thing they’re wrong for not feeling a burn. God gave all their burn to me.

It’s why I can sit outside, anywhere, and be brought to tears from the sound of the wind and the smell of the grass.

In short, I can’t hate this illness. It’s made me who I am. It made me a good musician, an artist, a lover, a hater, a runner, an eater, a worker…a feeler.

Lithium, nursing, rage, oh my.

I wanted to list some of my lovely Lithium side effects. I am 2 weeks into treatment, 900mg daily.

  • slight tremors in hands
  • occasional dizziness
  • increased appetite <—LEAST FAVORITE
  • confused easily (some might say this isn’t anything new)
  • tendency to space out
  • sleepiness

All of these have become less and less intense over the last several days, which the psychiatrist told me would happen. Good deal. And I can’t complain about the increased appetite too much, because compared to some of the other more serious side effects, it’s really no biggie.

I am still nursing my 17 month old, which the psychiatrist advised against. But I didn’t take his opinion 100% serious after he expressed his slight disgust at the idea of anyone nursing a child over the age of 12 months. So I called the lactation consultant I have been using on and off for 4 years and she told me what I was thinking: all research on lithium and nursing was done on newborns, and all of the studies concluded that the older and heavier the baby got, the less lithium showed in their blood work. So she supported me continuing to nurse, which I happily did, but I made an appointment to get the baby’s blood work done asap to check his lithium level. I found out yesterday that his level is normal (as was mine a week ago). This is a relief.

One slight concern I have had recently is my “short fuse” as my therapist called it. I have always been a very patient person, which is why I always thought I would have many children.  I lost my patience a few months after the 3rd was born, and attributed it to the fact that I was a busy, over-worked, over-tired mommy. However, it’s gotten a lot worse in the last few months (my hypomania started in December). And it’s not just with my kids, it’s with my husband, co-workers, strangers driving like idiots…

And I know that everyone gets pissed at other drivers, but I’ve been driving for 13 years now and have never felt like this.

So the therapist told me that if I don’t feel like my temper is any better by Monday to call the psych and see if it’s something that needs to be to be addressed before my next appointment with him (3 weeks away).