Accepting Bipolar Disorder


Expectations have caused me a lot of trouble. For some reason, I have lived my whole life telling myself I was doing everything wrong until weeks (or maybe a couple months) ago when I realized my thoughts. It goes something like this:

(this is all me thinking to myself)

*me doing something*

“I should really be getting different results. It should happen THIS PARTICULAR WAY. Everyone should feel THIS PARTICULAR WAY. If it doesn’t happen that way, I’m doing it the wrong way.”

“Why does it have to be that way? Why do you have to get those particular results? Aren’t you good enough just the way you are? Isn’t the way you do things OK? Why do you feel the need to conform to some mysterious perfect way?”

“I don’t know…”

“You can appreciate other people’s individuality. You look past their mistakes. You can acknowledge that your husband does things differently than you, and he’s happy, he gets desirable results, and you love him because of all of those things he does that makes him himself – and not someone else. Maybe you would happier doing all of the little things you have always wanted to do but felt like you ‘couldn’t’ or ‘shouldn’t’. Maybe you’d love yourself a little more if you were more YOU.”

Aw hell naw. I think I might have been living as someone else this whole time.

This is parenting gone wrong. I think I was conditioned by my parents (mostly my Dad). I can remember him telling me to sit a certain way (when the way I was sitting was quite comfortable), cross my legs a certain way (no, sorry folks, I’ve never been a lady). I was told how to do everything. And when I wasn’t being told, I was watching my Mom conform herself into something she thought she should be that she wasn’t. It was always obvious. Always uncomfortable.

I’ve been thinking wrong for a long time. The way I do things is fine. My expectations should be exactly what I do, and nothing more. And I should do whatever feels good. Whatever I want to do. Because, I am a good, natural mother. I am a good wife. I am natural at those things. When I was trying to be something else, I was not as good at them as I could have been. When I stop trying to be proper, I am actually quite funny. And quite funny looking with this new hair cut…

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It’s Alive!


I’ve been gone for a while, sorry. I think I felt like I was drowning myself in being bipolar and hindering my recovery.

I started school about a month ago and it’s going well…I’m looking forward to building a career, envisioning my life as a functional, contributing person in society.

I got my meds changed about a week ago, and I’m now taking 100 mg of Tegretol 2x a day, and 30 mg of Restoril at bedtime. I have my mind back, and it’s overwhelming sometimes when I realize how heavily the Lithium had affected my thinking. It was like brick wall had been built in my head, not allowing any thoughts to come in or to go out. It was a great mood stabilizer – and that’s why I put up with it for so long. I figured, hey, I’m not manic, I’m not severely depressed, so this MUST be the “normal” me. I thought it was just the life I was destined to live as a medicated bipolar person.

But the fact that I was an idiot half of the time started to chip away at my self esteem, and I did some high level critical thinking for me (being as thinking AT ALL was difficult) and decided that I was NOT an idiot before the Lithium (and not just because I was manic), and therefore, the Lithium was MAKING ME an idiot.

I realized that before I was bipolar, I was an incredible person, and that I still am that incredible person. There are just some things that need adjusting so I can get back to showing everyone that I am incredible.

If I have to choose between being an idiot on meds or being off meds, and thus a little unstable, I am going to choose being slightly unstable.

So here’s hoping that the Tegretol works. I’ll exhaust every reasonable medical intervention before I go sans-meds, but in the end I want to be the best person I can be for my children. I feel like being “alive” mentally is more beneficial than having an empty shell of a body because of all the meds.

I would rather them think in 15 years:

“Eh, Mom was a little crazy sometimes, high energy, telling jokes, always happy, and sometimes she seemed really sad and slept a lot, but she always made us feel loved”

rather than

“Mom wasn’t really ever ‘there’…she never seemed able to make choices very easily, couldn’t help me with my homework, never seemed really interested in my life, and was never really active with us”.

I think we’d all choose that first option. And I can understand now why people choose to come off their meds. It’s a really fine line.

But let’s be optimistic and believe that we will all one day find that perfect cocktail that will allow us to be mentally/physically/emotionally active and we won’t have to worry about all those nasty side effects of the meds or from being off the meds.

Cheers!

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?

 

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.

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.

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.