Forgive Me Father, For I Have Sinned.


Or maybe I haven’t.

Or maybe I have, and I’m just gonna go to hell.

Or maybe I have, and it’s forgivable. 

I mean, I broke a commandment. Thou shalt not commit adultery. There has to be some repercussion for that, right? Some penance? I need penance. It’s not a “Oh, she was manic, she has an illness, she loves her husband and didn’t mean to hurt him – it was wrong, but it’s ok, you need to forgive yourself.” That just doesn’t sound right to me. But I kinda feel like that’s what I’m getting from my therapist.

She said I need to “do whatever you need to do to feel better”. Yeah, we’re at that point. 6 months later, and I’m not forgiving myself still. It’s like she’s pulling her hair out and looking confused wondering why I just can’t get over it. I thought it would just happen over time.

I know, for someone who did what I did, that this will sound really wrong, and maybe like a flat out lie. But I have strong morals. Which is probably why it’s so hard for me to let this go. Pillars says he has forgiven me. I have made great strides in attaining a normal mood, adjusting my life so it’s more kind to me. But I’m holding on to this nasty, hurtful feeling, and I’m not sure how to let it go.

My therapist asked Tuesday, “Why did you do it?”

“Because I couldn’t not do it. It was a physical urge. It wasn’t even an option. It was an energy. It didn’t make sense.”

“And that is Bipolar. It doesn’t make sense.”

Pillars asked why I am looking for sense in something that doesn’t make sense. Why can’t I just let it be: something that happened that doesn’t make sense.

I guess because I haven’t tortured myself enough yet.

If I wanna torture myself, fine. But the reason I am trying to figure this out is because I think that it’s coming between me and Pillars, physically. I had been explaining my low sex drive (I’m only wanting it once every 10 days or so) to meds, life, everything else. But things keep becoming clear to me – I’m able to see ways I am sabotaging myself . Ways I am lying to myself, maybe little white lies to others in effort to be what they expect me to be – or what I think they expect me to be. Doing things I don’t want to do, worrying about people judging me for any little thing. I wasn’t being true to myself; I might not even know who myself really is. I didn’t notice I was doing all of this, and now I’m slowly seeing it all.

So it became clear to me last week when we were having sex that I get little flashbacks, images, etc of my affairs. And of course that floods me with negative emotions: disgust, anger, hopelessness, pity, and more. I get really uncomfortable, and Pillars can tell. Therefore, sex = negative emotions for me. Hence why I hardly ever “feel like it”. We figured all that out in marriage therapy.

Now, I want to forgive myself for my husband. So we can have that intimacy back. So I can be his and be present while we are in bed. 0

I think a confession would be a good step forward. It seems to be what my mind always comes back to when I think of forgiving myself.

On the topic of the ten commandments – people commit murder to save themselves, people work on Sundays, people say the Lord’s name in vain, people covet what their neighbor has…

So it’s common place. It happens. A lot. I probably shouldn’t be so uptight about it.

But a little bit of me worries that if I let this go, I’ll do it again. But I’d have to be manic, and I keep too close a guard on my symptoms and my moods, Pillars pays close attention, and I see my therapist(s) too often for this to happen. So I should just let it go and trust myself and all of them.

That’s where I am. Focusing on that. Or trying not to focus on that. Whichever.

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.

Bipolar Support Groups


What’s your experience? I’ll be having my own experience this Friday…

It’s being held at a hospital, and is 2 hours long. When I had previously been told about the meeting, I was still working nights and was sure there was no way I’d ever be able to actually GET to one. But now that that’s changed, looks like I’ll have the pleasure. Or not?

I mentioned the meeting to my therapist at our meeting a couple days ago. A concerned look immediately crossed her face, and the warnings started spewing out:

  • “Watch out for any men attending. Lots of people go to pick up someone.”

I said “Whaaattt?? People do that??

Her response: *shrugs* “They’re bipolar.”

Palm-To-Forehead. Yep. Of course. I was that way only months earlier, why didn’t that occur to me? I have been that. ((insert a butt load of shame here))

  • “They might ask for your number, get that kind of information. Be careful…”

I assured her that I don’t like people anyways, so that’s not a problem.

  • “Being as it’s in a hospital, it’s probably safer and more legit than other support groups I’ve heard of.”

Great. Then I only have to worry about manic, predatory bipolar men asking me for my number and then following me home.

  • “You’re probably going to see people………a lot sicker than you.”

Maybe this should scare me, but my only thought is that it’s going to make me paranoid that I’ll eventually get that sick.

So all in all, she’s just made me paranoid. To top it off, I mention all this to Pillars, and he’s like, “Yeah, that’s what I read…”. Everyone knows more than me about this! Gah!

Someone? Anyone? Give me a glimmer of hope that this will be a good thing? That I’ll see more than straight jackets, alcohol, and someone trying to bite me or some crazy shit like that?

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?

 

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.

Raising the levels.


The psychiatrist’s waiting room is unusually full today. Which means I am sitting elbow to elbow with…colorful people. And it’s not even 9am.

I’m starting to realize how different social situations either make me clam up or come out. It’s odd. I think Ill start taking notes and seeing if I can connect any dots.

Thank God I was the first person called…this big guy next to me kept falling asleep and then jerking awake.

I meekishly explained my symptoms to him. It sounded something like this:

“I don’t know if you remember our meeting last Friday, but I had told you that I had a couple symptoms creeping up. They’ve grown, kinda snowballed. Now I have full hypersexuality, pressured speech, Im witty, productive, excellent multi tasker, inflated self-esteem, Im dressing a little differently…there are times when I know I am not in control and that scares me. It scares my husband. We don’t want to wait until something bad happens.”

He asked when I got my lithium level checked, I said yesterday. He didn’t have the results yet, so he sent me back out to the crazy house the waiting room while a secretary called to check on it.

30 long minutes later he called me back in and said that we had good news, my level was at .7 yesterday. Therapeutic level (for this lab at least) varies from .5-1.2. So, I’m on the “low” side of the therapeutic dose. So we upped it to 1200mg.

This is good. I didn’t want another medication. Hopefully this’ll work out. I’ll have another blood draw Monday to see how it looks.

Yay. There’s hope.

Losing it. Keeping it.


I’m battling an episode. Really. It feels like a goddamn war. One that sometimes I just want to give up.

And I don’t know that I need to fight it. Do I have to? Is it even an enemy? Will it really hurt me?

The “real” me is battling the manic me that likes to go out with barely any clothes on, drink rum and coke until I need someone to carry me, wear bright makeup, and flirt dangerously. <—hey let's all admit this chic sounds fun. And I hear she's hott.

My self esteem picked up. I don't think Im disgusting anymore. Hey, that's not a bad thing, right??

I long for a drink sometimes. But not just one. That can go in the "bad" column.

image

        My Dad liked to drink too…

I talk. And talk. And talk. Good for my job – my guests love it when I continuously engage them in conversation. And it reflects in my tips. Good column.

image

                   Who doesn’t?

And I’m frickin hilarious. Well, at least I think so. Always something witty to say. Unlike the real me who takes 6 hours to come up with a come-back. Good column.

I’m productive. I think easily. Another thing the real me can’t do. I can easily multi-task without having to blink. It’s another trait that makes work easier. My depressed brain stutters. Bad. My normal brain moves at what I would suspect is a normal speed. My manic brain does laps around everyone elses brains. If my brain were in the Olympics…

Oh. Now there’s an idea. Brain Olympics. Bipolar people would totally kick ass.

When I’m shopping, everything grabs my attention. “Oh look, its toddler toothpaste with Pinky Pie on it!….Ohh look at this new training toothbrush with the little finger loop on it so they can brush their little teeth….” Luckily, my husband was in the phone with me (Yes….I was saying all that to myself….) to keep me focused on the goal.

I think that last one should qualify as a bad column. Its using up time I could be productive.

Is any of this anything to worry about? Some may say no, but Im gonna say yes. The hurtful part of all this – the hypersexuality – is dangerous. Because when it hits, the rest of me throws the deuces up and checks out. Anyways, its here. Has been for a few days. I just haven’t been able to relinquish my grip on myself. And I don’t want to.

Hypersexuality – so, how long has it been since you’ve had sex with your husband? My therapist asks.

I think its been nearly 2 weeks.

What?? There’s no reason it should be that long. Especially if you’re feeling hypersexual. What’s wrong?

Idk. The feeling is there, but I think I might be scared to have sex right now because it might trigger something. Or he might see in my eyes that I am not emotionally there. Ans he’s in so much pain anyways, I don’t wanna do that to him.

She ended up getting me in tomorrow with the psychiatrist at which point I have to tell him all my symptoms and also that’s I am scared of myself. She toke me to say that, but it really is the truth. Im not in control of myself.

Either way, its putting us all on edge. Which is weird. Here I am. Im the one that without, people would live a little easier. I seem to bring destruction into people’s worlds. And not even on purpose, but because of an illness, which is even more unfair.

Ugh. Im sure something will done Thur. I’ll let you all know…

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!

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.