Grandiose Ideas


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.

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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.

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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.

Did I just do that? Again?


So, if you remember, I told my boss that I have bipolar disorder a couple months ago. Then oddly enough, he retired the next week.

Hmmmmmmm…

Now we have a new boss, and she seems nice enough, and no one has questioned my request to change my work schedule to only weekends (due to needing to reduce stress and manage my sleeping habits better). It’s been 2 months now since I changed from working 5 nights a week to just 2 lunch shifts. Then yesterday, in front of another manager and at least 1 other employee, she asks:

“Melissa, why can you only work weekends?”

Ahhhh shit. I’m unprepared. I don’t know her well. There are at least 3 people in this 5×8 room. Do I tell the truth? Yeah, I never lie about big shit. How do I say it without scaring her? Do I ask her to talk in private?

Then my “I don’t give a fuck” attitude sprung right back into place where it belongs, and I told her that I was diagnose with bipolar disorder about 6 months ago and I have found that a very important part of controlling the disorder was by maintaining steady sleeping habits – which includes going to bed at the same time every night, like a child. I rolled my eyes there – I can’t control my attitude sometimes most of the time.

Her response: *big nod* “OKAY”.

I don’t think she was expecting that kind of answer.

She then asked why I can’t work during the week, to which I replied that I can’t stop multiplying  I have 3 young children – and that I highly doubt I’d make enough money working to pay for the sitter I’d need.

How did I get lucky enough to have to “come out” to my boss twice in the first 8 months? Good thing I’m not shy or ashamed!

Really though, I’d much rather educate people. Having this disorder makes me stronger, not weaker. If I have accomplished what I have with all of these obstacles in front of me, I can only imagine how I could do without them. I will never feel shame – and neither should any of you. Although, I feel plenty of hate. That’s just part of the package.

And as far as any concerns about “Now they’ll look for a reason to fire you”, etc, etc, – insert “I don’t give a fuck” attitude. 🙂

Hi. My name is Melissa and I am living with Bipolar Disorder.


I was really nervous about telling my boss about my illness. I wish I had a better opinion about him – everyone there likes him, so he’s gotta be nice – but in my 4 months there, all I’ve heard from him is that I’m the slowest.

Just what someone who has been recently diagnosed with a mental illness needs to hear.

I couldn’t talk to him until the end of the night. When I noticed he was back in his office, I went back, knocked on the door, and then tried to delay the process by commenting about his lovely flowers on his desk.

I told him I needed to make a schedule availability change. He told me to speak to so-and-so who handles scheduling. But then he asked why.

I just jumped right in. I told him I have Bipolar Disorder and that the lack of a consistent sleep pattern is causing a lot of trouble. I can’t work nights anymore …which means I can’t work during the week…which means I can only work Saturday and Sunday lunch shifts.

He didn’t really like that. He looked like he had just been put in a bad position.

I took the opportunity to say “You know how you say I’m slow? The illness causes cognitive dysfunction. My memory is horrible sometimes, I have trouble processing information, and I get confused and indecisive.”

He expressed understanding and said his daughter is “like that too”. Weird. Her name is Melissa too.

Then he said “You know, technically, you have to be available to work 3 days a week. Why can’t you work a lunch during the week?”

“My (many) children.”

“Ohh yeah.”

“I was only diagnosed 5 months ago, so I’m still learning how to adjust my life to the illness.”

(I made effort to say ILLNESS as much as possible. I had no plans on how to conduct this conversation, but I did know I would be using that word a lot.)

By this point we’re walking out of the office. It felt like the conversation was drifting off, so I said “I’ll make sure to talk to so-and-so. Thanks.” To which he replied “Uh hu.”

Well that’s it, committed readers. Now I have to send an email to so-and-so who I’ve known for 2 weeks and seems infinitely nicer, which means she probably wont be.

My therapist today, upon razorblade revelation, insisted I stop working altogether. Grand idea if you weren’t poor.

She inaisted that if things aren’t taken care of properly and in a timely manner, yours truly would be hospitalized .

Pillars took it poorly…he was planning on my contribution to our financial well-being being more than two days a week.

Ill let you know what the scheduling manager says!

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 hard? Or hardly working?


Me and my relationship with stress has changed a lot over the past 4 months.

Wow. Its only been 4 months? It feels like an eternity.

The pre-bipolar-diagnosis me was a go-getter. A project starter. A task taker. I laughed in the face of more responsibility. It was like I was in one of those dance-off movies and it was stress vs. me, and I was like, “bring it!”. *sigh*

People told me to back down, take it easy, etc. But I just scoffed and continued to try to be awesome at everything I did. And a lot of people would tell you I was awesome at everything I did. I was one of those “if you’re not first, you’re last” assholes.

But something about losing your mind and almost wrecking your family changes something about a person. Well, maybe not all people. But me.

I pass on responsibility now. No thanks, my plate is full (this motto doesn’t apply at Thanksgiving dinner though…). This is such a huge change for me. A change in thinking that I didn’t have to work at. A positive one at that!

I love it. Its good for me. Its good for my illness.

However, not good at a high stress job. It gets to me sometimes, but other times, I have employees ask me why Im not running around crazy like everyone else.

“Um. Because I don’t want to.”

Don’t get me wrong, I work hard. But I find that Im more productive with a chill attitude. I like to think that’s important.

The General Manager at my restaurant had to go and pop my “Im awesome” balloon tonight. Here are some of his exact words, none of which were taken out of context:

“You’re the slowest person here.”

“Im like the sheep dog, herding the sheep, and you’re the sheep in the back.”

“I don’t want people to think ‘aww I’ve gotta work with Melissa tonight'”  (yeah, Hi, Im Melissa in case I haven’t told you…)

He said all of this within 5 feet of someone (not an employee).

I don’t let people see me cry very often, and certainly not at work. But I found an empty corner and squeezed a couple tears out before he came back to bark at me again.

I told a couple people I work with and they just snorted and told me not to listen to him. Ugh. I wish I could forget that. Its a nice record to play in my mind next time Im spinning into depression.

I’ve been busting my ass to try to be good, despite everything I have going on in my personal life. And I do know that I really am good, and he was just having a bad night, and I called him out on a mistake he made…which probably pissed him off…

Whoops.

Basically, he took a short cut with one of my guest’s meals, I watched him do it, he told me to take the food to my table, I did, and they immediately returned it back to the kitchen and insisted on a free meal. So I got the pleasure of finding him and saying “Hey remember how you ——— ? Yeah, the guest didn’t like it and now doesn’t want to pay for anything.”

And they didn’t. But they still loved me and tipped me. Well.

Wait a second…

Im the one that sucks?

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

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. 

 

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.

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        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.

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                   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…

Coming Out


I’m still new at work. Not the newest, but still new. I don’t talk too much…I just watch and listen. I’ve been having dizzy spells for the past 4 or 5 days, and mentioned it to a girl at work last night. She said she was having dizzy spells too, but that she just started a new medication.

I was just listening. She’s really chatty and jittery, so there wasn’t any awkward moments, until she spilled “I have anxiety. I’ve been convinced for months that I have a brain tumor.”  Silence. I just looked at her…thinking that I know that is more than anxiety, and thinking of a way to tell her that I think she should see a professional. She fixed that silence by continuing her ramble saying the she knows it sounds crazy, and that she is a little crazy.

I’m sensitive to the word “crazy”. So I instantly started talking when I heard it, exposing myself. “No no no no no…you’re not crazy…” I told her I’m bipolar. To which she said “I am too.”

Then I high 5’d her. Yeah, right there in front of a dining room full of guests. It seemed like the most appropriate thing to do. We didn’t continue any personal talk about it that night, but I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a warm, friendly feeling between us from then on,

Which leads me to the best part of this post. Mr Braving (thepillarsofherearth.wordpress.com) asked me:

If 2 bipolar people high 5, would that be a bi-5?

I provide the material, he creates the jokes. Most of the time I am the material.

What are your thoughts on coming out? Experience?