Happy Father’s Day Dad. After spending a year

Happy Father’s Day Dad. After spending a year of being 100% bipolar, I sometimes wonder how you made it 50 years, seemingly without support of any kind. I have all the support I could ask for and I think I’ll look like an old war horse by the time I’m 50. 

You provided, but weren’t always emotionally there. I understand that, now. I forgive you and I know you forgive me for not understanding. I’m sorry I didn’t praise you for being a good father when you were alive. All I saw were your short comings. I didn’t understand your struggle. 

I wish I could say it loud enough that I know you’d hear it, 


Turns out I’m NOT mentally ill!

Or at least, that’s what my Mom said.

Yes folks, my mother is in town. I don’t think I’ve mentioned her much before, so I’ll be a good non-mental-person and give you a quick summary of our relationship:

Up until my Dad was found dead in a field in Miami (yes, I know, that was my first thought too…”They have fields in Miami??”), Mom and I were best friends. Called each other every day kinda thing.

Then when Dad died, there was an insurance money hullabaloo. It was really more like a massacre. At least, I feel like it massacred our relationship. 

The plan paid out 100k. My Dad had my brother and I listed as the beneficiaries. So it was split and we each received a 50k check. Mom told my brother and I that 10 years prior, when I was 16 and he was 12, we had all made a deal that when Dad died she would get 50% and he and I would split the rest 25/25.

Yes, she thought it appropriate to hold a conversation like that with her 12 year old.

Either way, my brother and I basically responded with “Umm….negative.” You can imagine her reaction. She was actually trying to convince my husband at my Dad’s funeral to talk to my brother and I and help change our minds. *cringe*

My Mom paid the premium for the insurance for many years…I wrote her a check for twice the total amount she paid. I don’t know, that felt fair. I had two small children, my husband was getting out of the military, and we were planning to buy our first home.

And yes, we all knew Dad had embarked on a path that he was likely not to come back from. And we were right. I remember Mom checking the obituaries for his name constantly, and then announcing to me that he’s not dead…yet. Just waiting on the check to roll in, huh?

So, Dad’s dead, I am overcome with grief and requiring to be heavily medicated, and my Mom is sending me hate texts. I adored her. I thought she was perfection. She knew EVERYTHING. I wanted to be like her. And all of a sudden, I don’t know her. My whole life had just changed.

It’s been over three years and things are less uncomfortable now. Still awkward. My husband says he sees a lot if my symptoms appear whenever she comes around or when I know Im gonna see her.
I know it does. I get tight. I get anxious. I can’t make a decision. I detach; I become an empty shell. I don’t like to move, I tend to stare off. 

She’s in town with her boyfriend, and one of his children, his girlfriend, and their baby. They’re camping about 30 Mins away. They live about 5 hours away, so every year we visit them while they’re camping. Its really funny, and my kids love their Grammy. We visited tonight, and when it was time to leave, my husband and my Mom asked if I’d like to stay the night and spend some alone time with my Mom.

Ok. Easy fix.

“I didn’t bring my medication…”

Yes! Brilliant, once again!

Mom: ” I can just take you home in a bit…?”

I ended up staying for a bit. Failed miserably at bingo, but showed my greatness once again when Mom unleashed a whopper on me while chatting afterwards. Here’s how it went (Mom is in bold):

So how is therapy going?

Which one…?

Well all of them I guess.

Alright. My individual therapy has moved to every other week now.

Have you ever considered using a church counselor?

For Marriage Counseling?

No, for you.

I feel that would be negligent on my part.

Honey, you’renot mentally ill.

*insert big long pause where I weigh my options of looking like a stereotypical mentally ill person or respond with tact*

Actually, there is a normal range of emotions. And then there’s extremes in either direction. That’s bipolar. I am bipolar.

I just think you over think it. If you didn’t worry so much you’d be able to live a little better.

I probably do over think it. But I have to understand the illness in order to control it. And I HAVE to control it. I’m still early into this and need to become more comfortable with understanding myself and how I react to situations before I can just forget about it for a while.

*She nodded to that comment* Then, I strategically pointed out that the camper roof was leaking in a couple places and we got off the subject.

I just don’t think my Mom believes in mental illness. She hasn’t said it, but she’s said everything else. She doesn’t have to say it. It’s the feeling she puts off. Like it’s just an awesome excuse for being weak or for not knowing how to prioritize or think or for just being stressed out.  My favorite phrase she likes to use: “Honey, WE ALL are a little bipolar.”

So that’s right folks – You Too Can Be Bipolar!

My husband had a very interesting idea: that my Mom is in denial because if I really do have a mental illness, then my Dad probably did too. That means that he wasn’t just being a douche when he had his addiction problems that she left him over. I imagine if she chooses to believe that he had something wrong with him, like me, that she would feel immense responsibility and guilt for their relationship ending the way it did.

Ugh. I get so stressed out being around her.

Thoughts on bipolar infidelity, being poor, parental death, and other cheery stuff.

I am tired.

I am tired of struggling.

I am tired of crying over my Dad’s death.

I am tired of never having enough money.

I am tired of having BIG problems always looming over my head.

I am tired of not trusting myself.

I am tired of questioning who I am.

I just want to go back to a time when my biggest problems were organizing play dates, paying bills, cleaning the house, etc.


Every day is filled with thoughts of my infidelity. My mistakes. My loss. My burden. My Dad. My responsibilities. MY MISTAKES. My short-comings. Questions about my future. I don’t care what extra shit being bipolar gives me. It can have it back. I don’t want it. I don’t want anything I’ve done because of it.

It’s all in the family.

My Dad was bipolar. Among other things. No one will ever really know now. And while we can look back on his life and his actions, we don’t know what was in his head.

For so many years, I believed that my Dad just didn’t love his family enough. That’s was my Mom says, still. And Mom’s word was golden, at that point. But then again, I’m fairly certain she doesn’t “believe in” mental illness. So things are kinda weird when I’m around her right now.

Dad was a hero when I was a little girl. He brought me gifts when he came home from trips, was fun, was strong.

But something changed somewhere along the way. My parents started fighting. While I loved my Dad, I was Mommy’s little girl. And I could see that Daddy wasn’t making Mommy very happy. In fact, she was down right miserable. They spent more time away from each other when they were home together, and there was an awkward tension when they were forced to be in the same room.

So a girl who was blissfully naive to the world became a girl who felt the need to run away from her home. Don’t worry, I only got to the end of the driveway. But what matters is that there was a lot of thought and emotion behind what I was doing.

The separation continued to grow. Mom and Dad staying away from each other, and my staying away from my Dad. My brother, 4 years younger, always went with Dad, and I always went with Mom. And so our family was divided. There were lines drawn. Crossing them would be a betrayal to our “main” parent. I was fine avoiding my Dad, that was easy. But my brother couldn’t avoid my Mom. There was, and still is, 20 years later, a lot of animosity between them.

As the seperation grew and grew, the fights on all sides grew as well. Me vs. Brother, Mom vs. Brother.

Dad? Oh he didn’t fight. I’m not sure I ever saw him angry…just a little pissed.

Fast forward to my age of 16. Dad could never get to a soccer game, a band performance, and ultimately missed my high school graduation. Work was always more important. I wish I hadn’t of felt like I had to pick a parent.

Dad started acting different. He’s not silent anymore. He’s funny, he’s laughing, he’s wanting to go out and do things. This isn’t the dad I’ve known for 16  years. He starts singing some country song about buying an ice cream and driving real fast, then he suggests we drive to Dairy Queen to get some. I was all in for this. I would love to see Dad like this. We did.

This Dad would communicate with you if its what you want. He’s not silent and unavailable. We spent a very brief interlude in this moment, before he went down the path that took his life.

The happy Dad quickly turned into a dangerously happy Dad. Too in your face. Loud. Driving too fast. Easily irritated. He would get into confrontations with strangers over trivial things. That’s what scared me. Mom told me he was abusing his medication. I’m not sure what meds he had, but that sounds like a manic episode to me. He ended up turning to street drugs, and Mom ended up making him leave.

I was glad to be rid of him. I hate saying that now. But he was an oppressor for so long. He got upset if we didn’t hang our towels straight, and little mistakes were looked upon with disgust. It was a rough way to grow up, with constant expectations, not allowed to just be.

So in his absence we made messes. We painted our rooms colors other than beige, slightly beige, very beige. I went extreme: Crayola yellow, green, and blue. It felt SO GOOD! While we’re enjoying our freedom, Dad is out snorting coke, and sleeping with hookers.

I was never able to express my anger to him, until one day when my brother called the house from Dad’s house. Somehow, Dad had managed to buy a house in town. Of course my brother went to love with him as soon as possible. Living at home, he was camping behind enemy lines. So my brother calls, in a panic because Dad is in a room and won’t open the door. I was 17. I drove to my Dad’s house and went inside. Dad seemed to have tied the door handle to the bed post so no one could get in. My brother said that a woman was in there. After failing to get the door open, or any response, my brother and I went out to my car to leave. Before we could leave, Dad came out. All I remember is screaming from the street “How could you????“.

One day, my Mom noticed that my guitar was missing. She told my brother and me to get in the car, and drove us straight into the crack district. She parked across from a house and said if she isn’t out in 5 minutes, to call the cops. Less than 5 minutes later, she came out with my guitar.

Dad ended up moving down to South Carolina, and my brother went with him. We didn’t talk, except for a card that came every birthday that didn’t say more than “Love you. Miss you”. My Mom always insisted that my Granny (Dad’s Mom) picked it out. My brother kind of bounced in between the two houses.

A couple years later, I spoke to Dad. He had invited my brother on a trip to the beach and he had turned him down. I jumped at the chance to spend some time with Dad, and get to the beach. He picked my boyfriend and I up in a rented convertible. He let me drive the whole way down.

We got there, checked in, and ordered pizza delivery for dinner. I remember Dad commenting that he had really wanted a room near the busy part of the beach (he had me make the reservation). Dad was really live. My boyfriend thought he was funny; he was making a lot of jokes. It just made me nervous. The night was short, we were exhausted from the trip. When we woke up in the morning, Dad was gone and so was the car. I called my Mom, and after he hadn’t shown up after a couple hours, and we didn’t hear from him, she came down to rescue us. Awkward drive home. I was so angry. About 30 minutes after Mom dropped us off at our place, Dad knocked on our door. I had left my favorite CD in the car and he had it in his hand. I took it, silently, and before I could slam the door, I heard “I’m sorry Sis…”.

We didn’t speak much after that. I called him to tell him I was getting married, and I wanted him there. I told him my brother would be giving me away (God knows I wouldn’t depend on him to be there). He ended up coming, sitting in a pew towards the back of the church, and then quickly leaving as soon as the ceremony was over.

He stayed long enough for pictures, and those were the last we ever took together.

I sent him a handwritten letter about 6 months later while my husband was in Iraq. I felt the need to connect with him. I told him when my husband got home that we were going to try to have a baby. I never heard back.

About a year later, when his first grandson was born, I wanted to let him know. I didn’t have a number to reach him at, didn’t even know where he was, so my husband called my Aunt to try to find him. She wouldn’t give us any information. That was my last time trying to contact him.

About a year and a half (and another baby) later, it was the first Wednesday in March, my brother called me. He was crying. “Dad’s dead.” He had been found in a field in Miami. The medical examiner concluded he had died of an overdose of Xanax, Cocaine, and Heroin.

We buried him a couple weeks later. I was still so angry with him. I thought he was just an addict. I thought he didn’t love us enough to fight it. In speaking with my Granny, I found out he (and she) were bipolar. I started looking into bipolar illness then.

Three rough years later, I was diagnosed bipolar. Needless to say, I am no longer am angry at him. I know that I would have ended up right where he is sooner or later, without a lesson learned from him and without good support from my husband. Now when I think of him, I feel sad for him, angry at the people along his path that let him down.

I had the best example of how no therapy and no medication can end up. So while a lot of bipolar people resist it, I embrace it. I know my Dad would say that I am stronger than he was.

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.