Daily Archives: February 17, 2014

Happy ONE YEAR to Bipolar, Unemployed, & Lost!!!

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Happy ONE YEAR to Bipolar, Unemployed, and Lost!

I can’t believe I’ve made it this far with my mental illness. I have learned so much from my fellow bloggers about what I have, what others experience, and how this illness and others have touched so many lives around the world.

I really can’t believe I’ve made it this long.

To commemorate this, I want to paste my FIRST EVER BLOG ENTRY, just to show you how far I’ve come. Its so awesome to have so many bloggers that want to read this blog and connect with me.

To you, Thank you. Thank you for being there when no one else was. Thank you for connecting with me. Thank you for your advice. I hope that this next year, together, we can help our fellow soldiers come down off the ledge, and into our arms (isn’t that romantic…)

Here’s to US. Here’s to ME.

This is uncomfortable. To blog about a my life.

Wait, let me not say that. I’ve actually held a blog for years on another site. I use to love to blog. Back then, it wasn’t called “blogging”, it was a journal. A journal where I wrote about stupid things, funny things, boys, drinking, dancing, about a life that seems so far away. A life I don’t remember living.

What’s different now?

Now, I have been diagnosed with Bipolar, i’m fatter, engaged, and unemployed. I guess this time around I’m looking to reflect, and to understand how I got here. Most people would look at my life and want it. They would want the connection I feel with my fiance, my endless amount of electronics, my house, my friends…but for me, it’s nothing. Have I always been this way. Not seeing what good is around me?

Yes.

The question I want to ask is why? Why am I not happy with what I have? What I have achieved..

I guess this first entry is to remind myself where I am starting, and how low I feel. I want to connect with people just like me. I want to help people who aren’t happy.

Here’s to another journal. Here’s to a new beginning and a fresh start”


Filed under: Ranting, Uplifting

Social Security and my Huge Pay increase

Like many hardworking, tax paying individuals, I gladly paid into the Social Security system, but never expected that I’d have to use it for disability. Since both my doctors will

The post Social Security and my Huge Pay increase appeared first on Depression and Bipolar Disorder:.

Isn’t It Romantic?

Here is the Valentine’s card my husband gave me.

outside

And here’s what it said inside.

inside

Truer words were never … well, mass-produced.

(He doesn’t have bipolar disorder (any type), but has had a couple of depressive episodes, enough to know what the experience is like. Even took Prozac for a while.)

 

 


Once Upon a Time: Chapter1

“For something new to begin, something must end.” Kris King

But what if you’re not ready for that “something” to end?

Once upon a time, I had a full life.  In fact, for years I worked as news director at a little radio station in my hometown of Porterville, CA.  Sounds glamorous doesn’t it?  If only you knew.  I was up at four.  After a couple of weeks I realized doing my hair and make up at that hour was useless.  Only one person saw me that early in the morning and he didn’t care if I showed up with wet hair, no makeup, and in my sweats.  Make up and hair, I figured, could be done between the news broadcasts at the top and bottom of the hour.  As long all my primping was complete by the time anyone else arrived, it was all good, right? 

Well, I’ll never forget my co worker’s face the first time I showed up in the broadcast booth holding a mascara wand.  It was even funnier when I slid into my seat with curlers in my hair.  Funnier still was that he couldn’t say a word about it (or so I thought)…but had to try to maintain a straight “face” on air.   He did “broadcast” it to our little world, though, which set us both off on a fit of giggles and we had to run an ad while we pulled ourselves together. 

I didn’t just do hair and make-up between news broadcasts, though.  I had ten minutes to fill at the top of the hour and five at the bottom from 6:00 until 8:30am so there was lots of work to try to keep the broadcasts fresh.  At 8:30am I helped host a radio talk show. Thank goodness I didn’t have to do it on my own.  Some interviewees were wonderful and we could have spent much more time with them.  But for others…welllll…that’s where having a co-host came in handy.  My time between 9:00 and noon was spent tracking down news stories, mostly human interest as there just wasn’t much hard news to cover.

There were a few coworkers who especially made the job rewarding. Mike, Chad, Ken…yes, all guys, but I was “one of the guys”.  My only real regret was not being there when Ken mooned Mike in the studio during a live cross town rivalry basketball game.  HA!  I missed it! 

Glamorous?  Hardly.  And if I ever began to feel it was, well, all I had to do was go home and clean a toilet or two to remember what was truly important: First and foremost I was a wife and mom.   

My hubby and I moved to a little town called Mariposa, Ca. and I quickly landed a job as marketing director at a little bitty, teeny tiny hospital called John C. Fremont District Hospital.  Small, but important as it was right outside Yosemite National Park.  A helipad ensured prompt delivery of injured and ill locals and visitors to larger hospitals down on the floor of the central valley if treatment required more specialized care than was offered there.    

I loved that job!  I was happier than I’d ever been in my life.  I loved the job, the community, where I lived in the foothills amongst the pines, being near Yosemite, long car drives with my hubby on days off, the fact that my job was part time and allowed me plenty of time at home, and I adored my church congregation.  The only negative was that we moved away from our adult sons, but they weren’t so far away that we rarely got to see them. In fact, the first couple of months I was visiting them every weekend and cooking up meals to see them through the week.  Sound crazy?  Yeah, but I love my boys.  And to me, they’re still boys even though they’re young men now.  Being wife to my hubby and mom to those boys was extremely important to me.

I went back to school and this time it looked like I was in the home stretch.  One son moved in with us for a bit and we took macro and micro economics together.  You know what was special about that?  First, he wanted to take the classes with me.  But most special was that he didn’t need the classes…he just took them to be with me.  I was later accepted into an online degree program through Chico State University in my area of interest: Social Studies.  Life was very, very good!

But life has a funny way of throwing curve balls at you.  In the spring of 2004 hubby and I found ourselves guardians of two nephews who’d been through hell.  It was our job to bring them out of it.  Years of abuse at their parents’ hands were followed by two years in the foster care program with foster parents who were in it for the money.  And there is a lot of money to be made by fostering children in California.  Try about $600.00 per month per child.  Foster a few kids, hold down a full time job, and life could be pretty cushy…for the foster parents.

Now, prior to all of this…in fact, four months earlier…the hubster and I felt prompted to look for property outside of Cali.  Why?  A coworker of mine brought in some pamphlets of property she was looking at in Oklahoma.  I couldn’t believe the prices!  Small homes in the cheapest part of California were going for $90K and up.  Postage stamp size houses on postage stamp size lots crammed up against other homes. But in the Midwest, wow!  I mean, she was looking at homes in the $150,000 range that were gorgeous and had corrals for her horses, outbuildings…

So, prior to becoming those-whose-job-it-is-to-show-the-two-boys-the-way-out-of-hell, hubby and I flew east just after New Year’s Day and plunked down some money on the house in which we currently live.  Yep.  Just like that.  We shook our heads at this ourselves, not understanding what we were doing or why.  We’d sold a home a year and a half earlier but were priced out of the market in Cali for anything we’d want…which just happened to be a decent sized home with some acreage.  Found it in Missouri, plopped down the down payment, and prepared to move in two years’ time.  Yeah.  You read it right.  Two years.  “Why two years?” you ask.  Good question.  You see, I needed just two more years to complete that degree.  So we settled in to wait.  Meanwhile, life was good.

Now, about that curve ball.  Actually two blonde haired, blue eyed curve balls.  They were a bit of a handful, especially the oldest, who was 12 at the time.  He’d seen the worst of the abuse.  There had been no discipline in their lives and we didn’t know it at the time, but it was going to take a LOT of work to help him overcome his past.  The youngest was only 6 and so was easier to work with.  He’d been sheltered by his brother and an older sister.  Sadly, we weren’t able to take her.  At fourteen she was running away frequently, drinking, smoking, and essentially doing as she pleased.  We were aware she was savvy enough to know that if she didn’t like the rules and discipline we expected, all she’d have to do was say my hubby had touched her inappropriately and our lives would be ruined.  It was heartbreaking.  We knew her background and had wanted to take her when she was young, but CPS told us that until there was evidence of abuse they couldn’t investigate.  And so we couldn’t take her.  And it hurt.

Suddenly, that property sitting out in Missouri looked attractive.  I’ll be honest.  I wasn’t ready to move. 

And this is where “For something new to begin, something must end" occurs.  

Salvaged

The past week has found me busy with work, getting some exercise (Shamrock Shuffle is coming up soon!) and taking care of myself. I’m really amazed at the progress I have made simply by following a routine. Of course routines get boring and you start to feel like you’re living a half life, but when you have bipolar disorder, routine is your friend. My friends and family have noticed I seem a lot more stable and even on my new medicines and I know my new job, with it’s set schedule, is a huge factor into that. I get enough sleep most nights, eat and take my medicines at the same time and overall have some type of stability. This is a huge improvement over my rapid cycling. Not to say I’m out of the woods, but I’m definitely taking time to enjoy feeling quite good right now.

One thing I still have trouble with is pain left over from my break up with my ex fiancee. Time and distance and individual growth have all helped me to see we were always doomed. But logic never removes emotion from memories. I was feeling especially sad about it recently and decided I needed to stop beating myself up, to stop replaying the memories and to just breathe. I decided to be kind to myself and I’m happy to say I had a wonderful day as a result. I got a lot done around the house, but still managed to relax. I did a little decorating, a little cleaning and a lot of acknowledging just how far I’ve come. I’m not curing cancer or finding an alternative to fossil fuels, but I’m living my little life pretty well right now. When you’re in the throes of bipolar (or any mental illness) daily life is a sometimes insurmountable struggle. My depressive state would find me unable to take care of the house, myself or be effective at work.  But in the last few weeks I’ve been able to stabilize my finances, make progress on certifications necessary for my job, start running again and spend time with my family. These are all things I’ve previously never been able to do simultaneously in my entire life. So yeah, pretty big deal to me.

I suppose that is what my message with this post is- to take time to be kind to yourself. Instead of looking at everything you haven’t done, or all the things you aren’t salvage your mood and focus on all the things you have done and all the things you are, which I’m sure are all quite awesome.

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Filed under: Self Discovery Tagged: bipolar, bipolar disorder, depression, medication, routine. self love

When The Light Bulb Comes On

It just occurred to me this morning that I’ve never really talked about therapy in this blog.

Unlike most patients in the mental health system, I’m fortunate enough to have a doctor who does therapy as well as medication management…..one-stop shopping, as it were. Maybe I’m just spoiled, but I would feel awkward sharing my innermost secrets with anyone else. It’s bad enough when I have to tell him what fresh hell my brain has cooked up—I’d seriously hate to have to tell the same sad stories twice.

I don’t remember exactly when we started all this; in fact, there really never was a formal declaration of “Hey, we’re going to do therapy now”. I believe it was somewhere between the first and fourth visits, when it became clear that this would be a long-term relationship rather than just a couple of consultation appointments. At any rate, we had one thirty-minute visit a few weeks into treatment—I think it was the one during which he became 110% convinced I was bipolar—and when we got done, he announced to the front-office staff that we would ALWAYS have full 50-minute appointments from that day forward.

I have no idea what “brand” of treatment we’re doing, but it seems to be a hybrid of cognitive-behavioral and social rhythm therapies. The former assists the patient to replace maladaptive thought patterns with more positive ones, while the latter integrates the teaching of interpersonal skills with the establishment of healthy routines (hence my “curfew”).

So, given the fact that I’m still battling mood swings, what have two years of therapy accomplished? A LOT. For one thing, I no longer believe I’m a POS who doesn’t deserve to be happy. For another, I’ve come to understand that not every negative outcome is due to a personal failure. And I’ve learned that no matter how much I may wish otherwise, I am dealing with a chronic lifelong illness that will recur, even if I do absolutely everything right….and I need to let myself off the hook for it.

As a result, I’m finding that I’m able to talk things out more of the time now, instead of ACTING them out like I did before I was diagnosed. I used to go through life with my head down and my fists up; now fighting all the time seems like a colossal waste of energy. I’m not an angry person anymore; yes, I can get angry, even crazy-angry, but I don’t have screaming fits anymore (although that can probably be at least partially attributable to medication) or go for 90 MPH car rides.

I don’t even engage in political debates like I used to; when I do, it’s a reliable sign that my choo-choo is about to jump the tracks. So when I catch myself getting hot under the collar over Obamacare or some other sensitive subject, I know it’s time to step away from the keyboard and do a gut check.

I’ll be the first to admit that the process slips badly once in a while, particularly when I’m irritable or manic and my filters go missing. There are a number of people (family members for the most part) who can and would truthfully attest that there are still times when I act like a crazy woman. But overall, two years of therapy and medications have made me a much more pleasant person who doesn’t always have to start—or finish—an argument.

Yes, boys and girls, therapy can be a very good thing indeed……especially when the light bulb over your head comes on and you finally “get” a concept that’s eluded you all your life. Finding out last week that my frequent relapses are not a result of something I’m doing wrong was a HUGE breakthrough for me. And since I’ll likely be in some form of treatment for the rest of my days, I think it’s safe to say that I can look forward to many more discoveries. :-)