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?

 

Me, the future Olympian.


I’m blogging this while walking on the treadmill at the gym. Clearly, I am not a future Olympian. Besides the obvious dedication issue, I’m much too old for that shit.

I was testing out my energy. I am proud to say that I have no manic energy. That’s not to say it won’t surface tomorrow, or in a couple days. I’m such a pessimist.

Of note, my Husband had offered to let me go back to bed after he woke up this morning. That’s nothing out of the ordinary, he’s awesome like that. But when he woke up, I was still awake. I didn’t jump back into bed. That is unusual. And even now, after 2.75 miles here, I am not looking for a corner to curl up in. Weird.

It’s the energy. It’s trying to resurface. I guess I’ll just give up my fight and let my body do what it’s going to do. I can be mindful. I can communicate. But hating what’s happening won’t stop it.

Mood charts, symptom charts, and a non-detrimental episode?


A lot of bipolar people chart their moods. I started in the first week of July. Well, I “started” in March, during whichI time I was still in my episode, but didn’t record anything worth transferring into this new chart:

Aside from this mood chart, I’m keep a sort of symptoms checklist. Every night, after I fill out my chart, I also check off what symptoms I experienced that day. These were symptoms I displayed during my last episode:

 

Ewwwwww. Nice trend, right?

Sometimes, knowing the difference between a normal feeling and a NOT NORMAL feeling is difficult, but it gets easier every time.

So some of the blocks in the symptom chart are 1/2 filled in, because a little bit of the symptom was there, but not a full case.

For example, when I get in the mood for some love – that’s not hypersexuality. When I get a fire in my temple area that runs down my back to my hips, have had much more frequent (and raunchy) sex,  and I am really aroused all day – I consider that hypersexuality.

The inflated self-esteem option is one I keep finding tricky. Last week, I didn’t want to undress in front of my husband and was regretting having traded my granny one piece in for a bikini because I felt so unattractive. Now, I’m feeling significantly more attractive and wouldn’t mind  putting on a bikini. I’m not cocky. I’m not walking around like I’m the baddest bitch. But I’m also not walking around self-loathing like I had been. And what I feel now is a significant change in what I was feeling last week. So, I don’t know, doesn’t that count? Maybe a half inflated self-esteem? If I compare how I feel now to how I felt about myself during my last episode (Dec – April), I think I’m about 3/4 of the way there. So yeah, I guess how I feel now would be considered a 1/2.

I’ve lost 4 lbs in the last couple weeks. Don’t worry, I’m not running again. Yet. I just came out of my self-loathing diet. Fast food and soda decreased. Although I am going to the gym today with full intentions on running. I am curious as to how it will feel. That will also be a good indicator for me. When I ran during my episode I got continuous hormone releases. It was a continuous high. It brought a crazy smile to my face whether I had just stepped out the door or if I was 3.5 miles in.

I totally feel like the Joker sometimes. He never seemed very in control of his face or his body.

Seeming as my symptoms are gradually building up, I mentioned it to my psychiatrist Friday. I told him what I’ve been noticing and asked what the odds are of me having another episode. He said “slim to none”. I can say that the symptoms are being contained/held in/smothered out like a fire quite nicely. But there is a trend so it’s my job to be watchful. I’m also not sure he understood me initially, because he said “What I think you’re experiencing is disappointment.”  (Ummm, I think I can recognize disappointment…) “Lots of people are disappointed once things go back to normal after a manic episode.” Yada yada yada. C’mon dude. I’ve done my reading. I know this. Disappointment is like the #1 thing you hear about when you research going onto medication and leveling out. So, I restated my question, and he brushed it off again as nothing to worry about. Okkkaaaayyyyy…Now I’ll mention this to my therapist next week, and she’ll tell me I just didn’t word something right for him – because he needs some form of speak other than plain English.

When I reminisce about my previous episode, it is of how I felt about myself. My energy. Is it possible I can have those positive sides without slipping into the same mistakes I made before? Is it? Is it possible for me to slide into this hypothetically speaking only positive side effects hypomanic episode without any fear of it turning into something much worse? I guess if I don’t worry about it, that would be the bigger problem. Maybe until it happens, and I realize it is possible for me to have a productive episode, I’ll feel scared about it. And that’s ok. Just uncomfortable and scary.

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!

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?

Married woman, looking for punishment.


I met with my therapist today, and brought up the 3 reasons I think my sex drive is lacking.(https://bravingbipolar.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/sex-sex-sex-blah-blah-blah/)

She said I’m looking for punishment. That I want to be punished. 

Yeah, I’ve always been a self-defeatist. I’ve always beat myself down for any little mistake I’ve made. And this mistake, not so little. And it doesn’t matter if I have bipolar to blame for everything I did, I don’t let myself off the hook. I can explain how it affected me, how it contributed to everything I did, and how I think it was the sole reason I ever even touched someone else. But I still hold myself accountable. I don’t cut myself any breaks. 

At least I’m not a finger pointing asshole though. I guess it could be worse. I think I’d rather have to learn how to take it easy on myself instead of learning to take responsibility. 

The therapist asked a lot of questions today, and while I can answer them, I’m going to force myself to look deeper into them to make sure that I am being honest with myself. So I feel heavy in my chest. More work. More internal work. It would be so nice if we could just take a break from all of this. I’ve been doing internal work for 3 years now…when am I going to be done?? Probably never. I mean, no one is perfect. But I’d at least like to stop having huge problems to work out. It’s so exhausting. 

Another thing my therapist told me to work on, was starting to run again. I used to run about 10 miles a week, back when I was in a manic episode though. Since I’ve been put on medication, I’ve lost all my energy and drive to exercise. She told me I should run once a week again, more if I want to. But that I had to kick myself to do it. That’s what “normal” people have to do – they have trouble going to the gym. I didn’t have that trouble, because I was in an episode. Now I’ve got to push myself to the gym like everyone else does. Yay.

Don’t make me go bipolar on your ass!


I’m now 9 days into my dosage increase. I felt pretty even today. I had my normal ups and my normal downs but nothing too extreme in either direction. I was 10 days into treatment with my previous dosage when it started becoming clear that it wasn’t enough. So keep your fingers crossed. If its still not enough, we can just increase it again. I’m reminding myself its not a huge deal. I’m just impatient and want to resume “normal” life asap.

So a few nights ago, I wrote my previous blog. At the time, I was a little to the right, as I say. Yeah, that’s a political phrase, but it feels like it fits the bipolar spectrum as well. If you think of normal being center, then to the left you have depression, with far left being pretty bad off. Then to the right you have mania, with the far right meaning you’re out of your body and out of this world. Luckily, I’ve never been that right. Hopefully, I never will be. On a number scale, ranging from -10 to 10, I’d say the farthest I’ve ever been in either direction is -7 and 7. We will talk about just how crazy (and I say that with love!) I’ve been later. However, back to my first point. When I wrote my previous post, it was about midnight to 1am. I failed to realize I hadn’t taken my lithium since 8pm the previous night, and I didn’t realize that a matter of a few hours would make such a big deal. By 1130pm, I started getting the urge to run. I didn’t care that we are in the ghetto. I had fast, pressured talking, was getting frustrated very easily, and couldn’t understand how to operate the bold/italicize/underline options on the keyboard. I was getting angry with my husband while he was trying to explain it to me. It wasn’t until he gave me a “you’re being a raging BITCH” look that I even questioned how I was behaving. Then it occurred to me the time lapse in my meds. Please don’t think that I don’t take my situation and meds seriously, because I do. In fact, my husband was telling me last night that he thinks I read too much on it, bringing me to my next topic.

Say you’re in a war. You have to know your opponent, right? The more you know, the better your chances are at surviving. I think being diagnosed with a mental illness is the same. Your brain has waged war on you. My hypersexuality could have ruined my marriage. He thinks I read too much about it, but we are just going to have to agree to disagree. Until I learn all there is to know, I’m going to keep reading. I want to know everything there is to know about something that threatens to take my life from me. Something I could have passed to my babies. The more I know, the better prepared I will be to help them when\if they ever need it.

On to other news. I start a new job tomorrow. I’m excited…people there can get to know this medicated me. Right now at work, people keep asking if I’m ok and what’s wrong. It is annoying. Nothing is wrong, I’m just not crazy right now. Again, said with love. 🙂 I don’t think I will ever say that word the same way again. And I will sincerely try not to take offense when I hear other people say it. Speaking of, I heard someone say at work tonight, “Don’t make me go bipolar on your ass!”. I had to stop what I was doing and educate him. Glad I did all that reading…

Burning.


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.