From: Your Dead or Alive Mother


I feel like a human science experiment. I felt that way when I was pregnant…wasn’t hoping to feel that way again. Ever. But in my search for the perfect “cocktail” of meds, I find myself swinging (in moods, not in partners!), and exhausting my mind and body in trying to keep up with my real world responsibilities and not look like a total nut case.

Shit has to get done, and poor Pillars can’t do it all himself. I *could* just sit on the couch and look like a total wreck all day, I have before, but that’s not something I want my children remembering me for. I want them to remember me as a fighter who put them first, no matter how badly I felt. A mommy who had a lot of patience even when going through the worst moods. I fail a lot of times at this, and I always find myself caught up in wondering how they will remember me when they are older, after they find out about my illness.

I KNOW they will look back on their childhood and try to fill in the blanks. I’m always looking through  their eyes at me, viewing what I’m doing, and there are many times when I don’t feel like it’s good enough. I know I should be showing them that no one is perfect, and how to be accepting of yourself and of others, blah blah blah. Shut up, don’t say it, readers!

I really think most of this is caused by the fact that I look back on my childhood at my Dad and try to figure out who he really was and what he felt. I’m projecting that onto my children, and in turn back to me, and I’m just wasting time. I keep telling myself there is a difference. I’m going to be around to show them who I am, and I’m going to be around to tell them how it feels to suffer this. Unlike my Dad, I will be here in 20 years for them.

It all circles around to my fear of ending up like my Dad. What if I’m not here in 20 years? This morbid part of me actually bought little notebooks to write letters to them for them to read in the future and know how much I love them, because I wish I had something like that to read from my Dad. I’ve written in them a few times, but every time I pick it up, I wonder if I am admitting to myself that I don’t think I’ll be around in 20 years. Don’t get me wrong, it’s also a sweet idea. Who wouldn’t love having handwritten letters from their parent talking about what they’ve done that day as they’re growing up and how much they love them?

I got seriously depressed a couple weeks ago and I’ll tell you the only thing that made me feel like life was worth living was having my kids lay on top of me. Like a mommy-pile. Their weight, their energy, their scents, their giggles, it all gave me a little more energy and a little more hope.

Anyways, I just saw my new psych (because my other one is retiring) and we’re tweaking my meds. We added Zoloft just over a week ago and it certainly brought me out of my depression I was feeling, but it sent me into a hypomanic state. Not a big deal, as long as I’m not bothering anyone. My old psych is the one who started me on Zoloft and he wanted me to double the dosage to 100mg a day after a week, but I told my new psych that I’m just not comfortable doing that right now considering how drastically I felt the 50mg had already affected me. I’ve felt that my hypomanic state has declined a bit, into a more normal than hypomanic area.

Sorry for the morbid title. Nope, no, I’m not sorry. And BTW, don’t google an image for “morbid”. That shit is REALLY morbid.

XOXO (I love Gossip Girl)

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.

Working While Bipolar, Dealing with Stigma


I work at a seafood restaurant that has a nice big lobster tank in the lobby. When I’m done for the night but can’t leave (we have to leave in groups of 3), I sit next to the tank and fiddle on WordPress my phone. That’s right, I read all your lovely blogs while I’m chillin after work.

I’ve never had anyone – much less a stranger to me – sit down pressed against me and lean over and peer onto my phone before…but a guy from the kitchen did a couple months ago. He’s nice enough. For some reason, he sticks up for me when people start to pick on me in the kitchen. I much just look like a little lost kitten.  But then again, when I’m “normal” and not in any form of mania, a little lost kitten is exactly what I come across as. So, whatever. It’s a side of me.

“Whatcha twittering?”

“Oh, I don’t twitter. I’m reading blogs.”

“Oh, you blog?!”

…shit. I know where this is going…

“Yeah, I do.”

“Oh! What do you blog about?”

—pause—

—pause—

—pause—

“I’m bipolar. So I blog about that.”

“Oh really? I never would’ve guessed. That has to be really difficult. How does it affect you at work?”

“I’m still kinda new at it, and I’m not quite sure yet. But I don’t think it causes me many problems.”

 

 

It ended there. And he’s still very sweet to me. We’ll hold the occasional 1 minute conversation you’re allowed in a restaurant.

But ever since then, he’s had me considering just how this affects me at work. I’ve become more mindful of how productive I am, how confused I get, how well my memory is, etc.

I’ve come to the conclusion – and this is still a study in progress – that I am at my worst times (normal mood – luckily, I haven’t had a depression while working outside of the house), just an average worker. Forgetting stuff here and there, a memory that is about as hard to catch as a feral cat, not too social with the guests, not very fast, not very vocal.

At my best times (which would be hypomanic/manic episodes), I am amazing. Super productive, very fluid movements, very vocal, conversing with the guests, memory like a steel trap, etc. I love working like that. I make more money like that. I don’t get in trouble with my bosses for forgetting stuff, etc. Its much less stress free.

I’m on the down side of my last hypomanic episode, and worked last night. I’m losing all of those lovely qualities I just mentioned :(:(

I kept forgetting stuff. Losing stuff. Having a hard time concentrating. Damnit.

 

My therapist was insistent that I not tell anyone at work about my illness. But, I don’t think I can do that. It would feel too much like hiding, like I have something to be ashamed of, like there is something wrong with me.  And that’s just not the truth. She thinks (heck, maybe she knows…she’s been doing this for over 20 years) that people will use it against me. Maybe they will. But the naive side of me (which I didn’t even know existed any more) thinks that I’d like to prove to them just how awesome I am so that when they find out, it will help them understand that we can be productive.

Oh, Oh! Another funny story from work concerning mental illness…I was dropping dishes off with another server, and he said something about schizophrenia, and then “Can someone even work with a condition like that?”. My reply:

“Yeah, actually. We can. I’m bipolar.”

—silence—

“Well, I’m tri-polar.”

“I’m quadrupa-polar.”

Then we both laughed and walked off to finish working.

Since then, I’ve noticed he’s a little softer to me. He usually is very sarcastic and picks on me a lot. Maybe related, maybe not.

I guess something really bad is going to have to happen before I stop fighting the stigma. I am awesome. I am bipolar. Therefore, bipolar is awesome. Sometimes. 

 

Hypomanic/manic shopping trips


We know that bad spending habits is one of the “symptoms” of bipolar. Luckily, this is one things I don’t take to the extreme. I’ve always been really thrifty. Occasionally a couponer, when the mood strikes. Always a deal getter. I am coming off of my most recent high, slowly, thanks in part I’m sure to an increase in my Lithium. But a few days ago, I had the please of grocery shopping and came home with these lovely gifts:

Now, in my defense, my oldest is starting Kindergarten in a few weeks and needs lunch box stuff – and those 12 packs were BOGO. Score!

AND, those other 5 packs, were B2G3 FREE. Double score!

I never buy cookies, even with 3 kids in the house. So it’s just a little weird when I come home with all of this. But I’ve seen much worse…I have a friend that I don’t see nearly enough lately, but whenever I do get to her place, there’s always something new. New furniture, new electronics, new toys, new clothes. It’s definitely the classic bipolar spending. She’s aware of it. But I’m glad I don’t do that. Yet. Never say never!

Fortunately, I found this cool new deodorant designed to help “rebalance” me. HAHA We’ll see ab0out that.

On Being Overweight, Miserable, and Bipolar.


First off, I would like to start this blog post with a warm thanks to a fellow [woman!] blogger who stated [in a blog] that no woman should ever be over 140 lbs unless they are pregnant or 6′ tall.

On to more substantial content.

My husband was cleaning out a closet tonight and found a pile of pictures that contained some of my Dad. He asked if I’d like to take a look at the whole pile, because there may be more pictures. Of course I did! I think I’ll make a separate post of those pictures another time 🙂

As with any other old stack of photos, I found some of me with an ex.

More importantly, me, just over 200 lbs.

Here, enjoy one for yourself.

Sorry. Didn’t mean to scare you!

Please note the candy canes in my center pocket. For proper snacking later on. After grimacing at the pictures for a couple minutes, I wondered, “Hey. Why am I wearing jean overalls in allllllll of these pictures??” And I instantly remembered. They best hid my figure. It was all I had that I could fit into, and a little piece of me was refusing to buy new – bigger – clothing.

Fast forward to a hot little me coming off of a hypomanic episode (3 months ago):

I mean, in this picture, even I wanna touch my boobs. And you can’t see it…but I’m wearing this tight mini-skirt that I love.

I’ve gained 10 lbs since this picture was taken. Yeah, 10 lbs isn’t anything, really. But on a 5’4″ girl, it can actually look like a lot. I blame this on just a few key reasons:

  1. I’m not nearly out of my mind.
  2. I’m on medication that has been known to make people want to eat.
  3. I don’t have the manic energy that was driving me to run 10-12 miles/week all those months. I’m lucky to get 1 mile a week now.
  4. I’m sorting through a lot of CRAP about my illness and what that means/the pain I’ve caused/how to move forward/etc, etc. That’s left me self medicating with sweet stuff. And nachos and cheese from 7-11.

Either way, that previous picture was all I needed to get my thick ass pounding the pavement this evening. 

I’m running, and as usual I end up crying. No biggie. I cry nearly every run now.

As I mentioned, I ran a lot when I was in my episode. I stayed in the neighborHOOD, but I’m certain I ran every street possible. I’ve continued to run in the same places, but every time, it brings up memories of running during my episode. Maybe it’s similar to a recovering alcoholic hanging out at the bars they used to get trashed in.

I usually come out of the tears less than a block down the street, nobody notices, and I actually feel better after having cried. But this time, when I got home I didn’t feel any better. I was uncomfortable. The memory and recollection of the feelings from months ago weren’t gone.

I know you’re expecting this to go somewhere, but it’s not. I came inside, took my shoes off, went back outside and paced in front of my house for a few minutes. I don’t know why I took my shoes off and then went back outside. That’s just how my mind operates sometimes. Fun, no?

But my lovely husband gave me a nice shoulder and face massage when I came back in to help calm me. And it did. He always gets me into such deep meditative states when he massages me (which is daily, might I add!). I even start to drool.

Once again, it’s great being me!

Living without fear.


I had my latest appointment with my therapist yesterday (I’ve been going weekly for 3 months now…). She made me come close to crying. In the 3 years I’ve been seeing her I haven’t cried yet. I think it’s a good sign really.

Either way. She had me list my symptoms of my hypomanic episode that lasted from the end of December 2011 through April 2012. As I was listing them out loud and on paper, it was another one of those moments when I realized how sick I was. I try not too think too often or too long about how I felt then. It disturbs me.

So after listing them, I had to put in order as to what came first.  My list looks like this (although is constantly being rearranged and added to):

1 – lack of sleep (or lack of need)
2 – over active (excess energy)
3 – mean and irritable
4 – inflated self esteem
5 – pressured speech
6 – hilarious and witty

She told me to make a little check list and every day check off what I recognized that day. If I have a few days where I’m seeing a pattern, I’ll know something is wrong.

The main goal behind this is so that I can live without fear. Because right now I’m fearful. I didn’t tell her this, so it must have been obvious. I don’t like getting excited. I don’t listen to certain songs. I try not to talk to much. I get nervous when people find me funny. Ultimately, I’m constantly scared that I’m in an episode and just don’t know, or worse, don’t realize it.

I know I can’t live forever like this. But Im still *new* at this,  and Im hoping that over time Ill become more comfortable and I wont need to do any serious mind bending in order to get there. I’m tired if that shit.

She specifically wants me to push my boundaries. She said exactly that. To which I replied, “Oh I can’t do that. That makes me really uncomfortable.” She wants me to do all those things I don’t like doing… laugh a lot, make other people laugh, get excited, listen to my music loud, etc.

She wants me to educate myself about my illness. I told her, Dear Woman, I have been doing nothing but educating myself since my diagnosis. Ask Mr. bRaving. He’s complained about all my bipolar research. Then I promptly displayed my fact finding skills and told her that my fear is not for lack of knowledge.

I told her that I think I don’t want to accept my illness. Its not a conscious thought. Rather, its more of a feeling I get when I think about it. I can SAY  I’m bipolar all day long, but my thinking process is hitting a brick wall and negating that statement. Then, naturally, my mind goes to my affairs and reasons that if I’m not bipolar then, that I did that stuff in my own accord – which I know not to be true. Then I say, I’m certainly bipolar. Then something inside disagrees, and around and around we go.

Shit. I’ve got more mind bending to do.

I was a little loose.


Still being fairly new in my diagnosis, I’m still looking back in my life with a fine tooth comb. Trying to find previous episodes that went undetected. How serious had I gotten? Were my 2 previous episodes of depression and hypomania my worst? Do I think any future episodes may be worse?

So I was just casually thinking aloud to myself last night as I was crawling into bed with Mr bRaving. I was thinking of past moments that qualify as hypomanic episodes. Those were what I was oblivious to. Who would question such a good feeling anyways? Especially when they were always peppered with depression.

Any hypomanic episodes I can remember are mainly characterized by hypersexuality. Looking back on them, I wonder why I did that. It wasn’t getting me anywhere. There was no emotion behind the sex. No desire for the person, just the act. At the time, when I questioned it, I summed it up to Daddy issues. Last night, it was clear to me what all that was.

It’s been clear to me for weeks that that’s what that was. But then I let my mind take it another step and ask, “Why didn’t anyone tell me I was doing something wrong?”

Who would’ve told me? The guys I was banging? Um, no. My Mom? Yeah…like I’d tell her the way I was behaving. My boyfriend at the time? He never found out. My friends? I didn’t have any. Me? I was following an instinctual drive.

It was souless. Very much like pounding a pawn around a game board. I was just hitting the spaces, counting up the numbers.

Then it occurred to me that I had no boundaries at that point in my life. No marriage vows to break. No rules as a single girl in her late teens/early 20s, living away from home.

Fast forward to now…rules are in place, and I broke them. My pawn hit the “Got to Jail” square. And finally my illness is revealed.

I wish I had known all this before I did something that I’m having a very hard time living with.

My Incredible Shrinking Brain


In an effort to help me get over my guilt of what I’ve done, I’m doing more research on what amounts to the proof of the existence of Bipolar Disorder. Yes, I know it exists. I know. But I’m trying to help myself believe that I wasn’t in control of myself. I need to quit beating myself up. My husband has managed to forgive me in a way I haven’t been able to forgive myself. That in itself confuses me.

I’m not expecting to find much I don’t already know, as there isn’t much to know, and I researched the heck out of it in the weeks following my diagnosis. In order to live with this illness you have to learn to manage it. In order to manage it, you have to understand it.

I found a study that used digital brain imaging to compare Bipolar brains to “normal” brains. It was a pretty large study, with over 600 people in each category. They concluded that Bipolar brains shrink. The biggest question the study raised is whether the disorder (which is seemingly a brain disease) CAUSES the brain the shrink or whether the shrinking brain CAUSES the disorder. I found this BBC article a much easier read than the study. Maybe because my brain is shrinking.

I’ve had an increasingly shitty memory, but I’ve attributed that (along with a lot of other negative attributes) to having given birth to 3 children over the span of 3.5 years.

To be honest, I’m not even sure if a picture of my brain being all crazy would help me forgive myself or not. I think I have all the scientific information I need. My forgiveness needs to come from inside, not from a study. But I’m still angry at myself. My intense feelings are still confusing me. I’m just not able to do it yet. But I’m moving in that direction. I want  to forgive myself. I just don’t trust myself right now. Every time I get excited, my radar goes off, and I start questioning my feelings. Then I can’t really enjoy being excited.

I often think this would be easier for me (and possibly for my husband, too) if I had just had an affair. A regular old affair. Emotions or not. That’s something you can heal from and then be in control of for the rest of your life. I am devoted to my medication, my therapy, etc. But I don’t trust myself still. I guess because this came from out of the blue and sucker punched me. I thought I was OK when I was sleeping with my boss, running 10 miles a week, getting drunk, considering becoming a stripper. I really did. I was happy. I thought I was awesome.

I just wanna be able to feel happy and awesome and not stop in my tracks to question if I am stable or not.

So we’ve established that bipolar disorder is not fair. Not fair at all.

Running & Bipolar Disorder


Or maybe more appropriately, Energy & Bipolar Disorder. Hm? Anyone nodding their heads yet?

At the beginning of this year, within a month, I went from not being able to run .25 miles before giving up (and hating running) to running 10-12 miles a week. I craved it. I remember one night going to the gym after work (it was around midnight) and running a few miles.

I read somewhere that hypersexuality and having a lot of sex is also linked to the energy. That we use sex as an outlet for our overabundance of energy. It’s merely an act to get rid of the energy. I can agree to that.

I remember the energy getting uncomfortable. Particularly being in situations or places when the feeling overran me, was spilling out of my finger tips, and I had no way of releasing it.

One time in particular, I was at work and felt the need to run. Obviously, I couldn’t say “Hey Boss…can I take a 10 min break to go do laps around the restaurant?”. Well, I could have , but then he would’ve thought I was weird. I talked about my energy while I was there. It was hard not to tall about it. Shit, it was hard not to talk. I found myself having a hard time not moving, being incredibly witty, full of punch lines and puns, and of course…undeniably sexy. Hey, even if I wasn’t, I thoughtI was, and that’s all that matters when you’re Bipolar.

It was almost a physical pain. Not being able to run when I felt the rush of energy hit me was torture. It was like a drug, one that got me high. Just like the sex. I literally felt a rush radiate from my body over and over again while I was running. It came from my chest and spread through my fingertips and my feet. It felt like electricity.

I. WAS. ON.

Oh that energy felt good.

I continued running through my diagnosis and starting Lithium. I went from being an awesome newbie runner to not enjoying a single step and giving up .5 miles into it, frustrated, sad, and a little angry that my drug had been taken away from me.

I didn’t run for about a month and a half. I started again last week and was so happy when it felt comfortable. Not exhilarating, not orgasmic, not like torture. But normal. I didn’t want to stop early into it. I think I did about 1.5 mi my first run “back”. I’ve done 2 more since, both equaling about 1.25 mi each (Im not sure of the distance when I run the neighborhood …I just got wherever looks good). Im so glad this new healthy habit wasn’t taken away from me permanently.

Anyone else in the BP club like to run? Or do anything similar?

Throw me yo dolla billz!


I get to see my therapist tomorrow, after a 2 week hiatus. That’s a long stretch for me. Unintentional though; I came down with strep throat (for the 2nd time in 3 weeks) and didn’t want to infect her office. Plus, I couldn’t talk, so…

I keep a journal for therapy purposes, keeping track of my moods/how I feel/anything notable I wish to discuss next time/etc. I don’t think I’ve written in it in 2 weeks or longer. No bueno. I keep telling myself I need to get on track but I’m not sure why I’m avoiding it. Probably because I’m hating therapy. Its old. I’m tired of it. No way will I stop therapy, but every time I walk out, I realize that my childhood and/or family is even more fucked up than I thought an hour ago. And we can’t forget the other patients…sitting with them in a tiny, old, dirty waiting room makes me feel even more mental.

I’m feeling less down than I was in my previous post (black moods). Still down, but I think the fact that my job is working me 7 days straight this week has had a big influence on that. I’m there late. Usually not home till after midnight, and then my youngest is up at approximately 6am. I’ve discussed the importance of sleep…and I’m not getting enough. I emailed the boss and politely said “WTF YOU CRAZY BITCH? I HAVE A LIFE! I can’t maintain a 6-7 day work week and would like to change my availability to 3-4 days a week.” A big change, yes, but one of the big things I have learned is to not push myself. I’ve always pushed myself until I broke. I thought it was ok, it made me a hard worker, a better person. One more task. One more project. One more thing on my list. Until all of that responsibility and stress caused me to become the exact opposite: a bad person. Lazy. Neglectful. Mean.

Oh, oh, oh! While we’re on the topic of what I was a few months ago, I need to disclose something I find  HILARIOUS now:

I was this close to becoming a stripper. Hey. It was an a.w.e.s.o.m.e. idea at the time. I even applied for a new club downtown. It made perfect sense, and hot damn I was gonna be good at it.

Its weird, I have a friend who is bipolar and she stripped during a manic  episode. Makes you wonder how many strippers are bipolar. Hmm…

I’ve got lots more to talk about, particularly about how I ended up screaming at the top of my lungs on my drive home last night, m8 alas…the baby wakes in 5.5 hrs, so that’ll have to wait.

Thanks for reading, and happy stripping.