Pillars and I have decided that I am going to go back to school for my Masters Degree. (I have a BS in Finance)
I have decided on Industrial Organizational Psychology – very interesting and growing field. By the time I finish my degree, my youngest will be a kindergartner…and life will be different for me. A 3rd grader, a 1st grader, and a kindergartner (if I’m doing my math correctly…LOL lots of good that Finance degree did…). Knowing that I will be able to be a little bit more of my own person is horribly exciting, and scary…which leads me to this post.
The ONLY thing I could ever commit to in my life was to having a family, having babies, and staying home with them as long as possible. But I didn’t expect Bipolar Disorder. I didn’t expect to become frightfully unhappy with my place in the home, or to hate having a little baby in me so badly that I considered stabbing myself in the uterus and then falling out my 2nd story bedroom window.
No, that’s not what the 10 year old, or 17 year old me wanted. I had passing visions of becoming a librarian, an Olympic Gymnast, and was quite certain when I was 17 years old that I would be famous. There were ideas that I could never root myself into – they were fleeting – and one came right after the others. The more serious ones started my senior year of high school, with that “famous” idea. I had no plans to become famous, just knew that I would be. I had no extreme talent. I was good at music, could run fast, steal a soccer ball out from anyone’s feet, was incredibly creative with poetry, and felt everything deeply and madly. I say that in the most sincere way. I lived and breathed my feelings.
And starting here, I would like to mentally go through ideas/plans/etc (starting at age 17) that I can now attribute to my illness:
- Went straight to college from high school, with robust energy, just to return home in 3 months with my tail between my legs. Changed my mind.
- Bought a house with my boyfriend. Not a biggie, until we BOTH got laid off (from the same employer and I still thought it was a good idea to continue with the house buying even though neither of us had an income.
- Started school again to pursue my “knowingly” purpose in life = a music teacher.
- Re-met (we had dated in middle/high school) my husband on Myspace – immediately left the boyfriend AND the house to marry Pillars in 30 days. Clearly, the wisest choice ever, but still…
- Dumped school (again) to move to a different state, to “live” with my husband, who was actually going to be in Iraq.
- Started school (again) and picked a degree out of a hat because I wasn’t going to tell my children that Mommy quit anything.
At this point, I settled into home life. Pillars was home from killing bad guys, and I was happily growing my first baby. I don’t *think* I had any fleeting plans I sank my teeth into until things got hairy after #3 was born…
- I wanted to become a Realtor. We actually paid near $400 for me to take an online course. I completed it – but never took the test to actually become a Realtor.
- I felt itchy – I needed a job, I wanted out of the house. I needed to feel like more of a person. Totally understandable. However, this is where the manic episode started, with me getting my first job in almost 4 years and then immediately sleeping with the boss.
It’s difficult for me to commit anymore. I live in my body, in my head. But I don’t control it all the time. My head feels busy, crowded. Lots of white noise, motion, confusion, delay. I didn’t mean to include a Thomas the Tank Engine clip in there…sorry…too many kids.
Sometimes, I feel like I am merely guiding my body in a direction because that’s all I can do.
I am unbelievably lucky to have an anchor for a husband. I know that he will make the right decision for me, even when I am certain that he is wrong and I am right. I am awesome and he sucks. I am fast and he is slow. I am an asshole and he is a saint. I know I’ll fight him about it – I know “it” (grandiose ideas) will happen again – but even if that means taking me to a hospital, I know that he will take care of me. I can’t thank him enough for that.
I have trouble trusting these ideas I get (“Oh, I really want to start a quilt.”, “Ohhh, I want to make some hairbows.”, “I’m going to pick out colors to paint the house.”, “I’m going to get all 9 loads of laundry washed, dried, and put away today!”). I get several *compulsions* a day. And I have to ignore them, no matter how tempting they are. Nope, that idea is not worthy. You, you’re a silly little idea that will just get me into trouble.
All of this creates irritation in me. Sometimes, there’s no goddamn yin to my yang. It’s all yin. It’s all yang. And I’m all fucked up.
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.
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.
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…
I thought maybe it was time to address the other side of my bipolar. I’ve seemed to forget it recently, as I think I may be in my longest stretch ever without it. But depression has plagued me nearly my whole adult life.
Depression has just always been with me. Like a purse. I just carry it around. Keep all my things in it. Freak out if I lose it.
I’ll recall my most recent depression. Mostly because it was my most severe, but also because Im not sure I would be able to remember the others very well. I always wrote them off. I knew what they were, I’ve felt then on and off (mostly on) for at least 10 years.
My last depression started in April of 2010. I can tell you the second it started. It was the second I read my positive pregnancy test.
I had worked my butt off and lost 50 lbs. Granted, it was during a suspected hypomanic episode, that had followed another serious depression…
I was learning to be happy with my body. We had just bought our first home. We had just made the decision to leave the marine corps. I had just figured out how to effectively manage 2 children (then ages 2.5 and 17 months). It was unplanned. Yeah, I was on birth control – but it was the mini pill that only worked when you’re nursing, and (!!!) I had stopped nursing 4 months prior. Whoops. I forgot I wasn’t taking the “regular” pill.
And Im not kidding when I say it took me at least 10 months to figure out how I got pregnant while on birth control.
I spent the next 9 months loathing life, more and more every day. Im certain that part of my depression was due to my fear of developing the same health problems I had with my first two pregnancies (pre-eclampsia). Both of my babies had ended up in the NICU and I was certain that this third one would too.
I would think:
-Im hurting this baby by having it.
-Im going to get little to no sleep. Again.
-My life is over.
-My body is going to stretch out. Again.
-This baby is going to be sick, and its my fault.
-I don’t want this baby.
I actually found myself hoping for a miscarriage. I had no emotional connection to the baby. I started becoming concerned that I wouldn’t have a connection with the baby when it came out, or that it could feel my hostility towards it and would be an angry little person.
My sex drive changed. I had less and less of one every month, and by the time the baby was born, I really didn’t want to have sex.
I had a lot of anxiety, and a lot of trouble sleeping. Even with my ambien. There were many nights when I had to take 2 to go to sleep (20mg).
At my lowest point in the pregnancy, I was laying in bed, angry that I was pregnant and couldn’t sleep. I imagined going into the baby’s room and stabbing myself im the uterus (That’s right. Not just the belly) and then coming back to our bedroom and throwing myself out of our window (2 stories up). Whoa.
I never took any steps toward this. Only daydreamed about it.
Another scary point is that for about 9 months after he was born, every time I would drive over a bridge with my kids in the car, I would daydream about driving off if it.
Eventually, my beautiful baby boy was born. I couldn’t get out of that no matter how hard I daydreamed. I fell in love the moment I saw him. I never got sick. This made me love him even more. He was the baby that proved to me that my body could function properly.
I’ve had a different kind of relationship with him than the others. I guess because he’s the baby . And he very well might be the last.
So even though I loved him when he came out (thank God), my depression continued with poor sleep, extreme loss of patience, increased irritability, disgust with sex.
Eventually my husband tired of it and insisted I start taking my zoloft again (I had gone off of it early in the pregnancy). I did, and a few short weeks later I spun into my worst hypomanic episode to date.
I didn’t take my depressions very seriously. Maybe because I’d grown so used to them. Maybe because they’d never posed a real threat to my life. I can guarantee you now that I will. I know I don’t have to live that way. That’s fixable. Its not something I just have to put up with.
And I had a valid concern when I was diagnosed: if that was my lowest low yet, and the hypomanic episode that nearly cost me my marriage was my highest high…what happens next? I was (and still am to a degree) genuinely concerned that the next depression I have would lead to self harm.
I don’t think it will anymore. I’m working really hard on being observant, seeing my therapist
too much, and am medicated. Plus, I’ve got the best possible teammate working with me to keep me healthy 😉
That’s what my therapist told me shortly after my diagnosis. And my first thought was “Dear God, what if I get cancer AND am bp…can I take my meds together? Will I have to choose between dying of cancer or a severe depression or episode that makes me wanna kill myself anyways?…..” She could see my eyes glaze over and asked what I was thinking, and for one of the first times in my 3 years visiting her, I was totally honest. She told me to forget she said anything. Too late. I’m pretty sure I’ll be asking the next medical doctor I see if Lithium and chemo mix well. A girl needs to be prepared.
It hasn’t quite been 2 weeks yet, but it feels like forever. I’m sure the fact that I am acutely aware of everything I think and dissect each thought to make sure it is a reasonable one doesn’t help. I have had plenty of time to research the disorder and find stories of varying kinds about the ups and downs of bipolordom. HAHA, a pun! The stories that remind me that the illness brings life and creativity give me hope, while the stories like that of a seemingly normal mom who choked her 5 year old in a bathtub threatens despair. (www.oprah.com/world/Coping-with-Bipolar-Disorder)
I’m on the starting dose of 900mg of Lithium. I see the psychiatrist again in about 3 weeks, and he said we will probably up my dosage to 1050mg then. I had my first Lithium levels drawn almost a week ago, and he said they came back just fine (.5), not anywhere near a dangerous level. That is one topic I need to research. I trust him, but I will never be a doctor’s blind sheep.
There are a few things of which I am sure, and many more things of which I am confused, angry, scared, and ashamed about. But mostly confused. What things did I do that were coerced by this illness? How far back in my life does this reach? How strong of a hold did this have on me, and WHO AM I? I have my morals (although some were corrupted by the illness), and my love for my husband, children, and my family. But past those 2 things, I do not know what hasn’t been touched. That makes me feel like an empty shell. I know I will warm up to it and embrace what I am and not be so hesitant and questioning about my feelings some day. Hopefully some day soon. But for now, I just have to let this sink in and sift through the last 20 years of my life to make sense of it all. I want to know who is looking back at me in the mirror.