Daily Archives: November 10, 2014

Comparison and Busyness

For a very long time, too long, really, I have been comparing myself to someone. They pray at the shrine of busyness and, as far as I know, do not suffer from mental illness. They love attention and networking. Why I would compare myself to someone I have so little in common with is beyond me. But the depressed mind brings out all the ugly thoughts, all your flaws both internal and external are highlighted. All the things you haven’t done, haven’t succeeded at and things you fear are thrust in your face, filling your mind with inescapable negativity. I am feeling quite paralyzed  by depression at present.

I’d love to be writing another how to post or showcasing a new DIY. There are plenty of coffees I’ve enjoyed that merit a review, but my mind has little light in it right now. All I can see is the dark. I have friends and family I can reach out to, but even that is difficult, I don’t want to be a burden. Mostly I don’t want to admit to myself how far down I am right now. I don’t want to think about hospitalization or more frequent therapy sessions. Even though I know of plenty of free resources available to me to use via NAMI.org, I can’t make myself go through with it. All I want to do is sleep. People tell me to stop comparing myself to others, to stop dwelling on negative thoughts. But my brain isn’t wired like theirs is. I cannot turn off the thoughts, much as I would like to.

So I again reach out to the people reading, my interwebs family. You all understand what I’m going through so well and I appreciate your encouragement.

Filed under: Wellness Warriors Tagged: comparison, depression, therapy

Sh*t Just Got Real: Life On The Inside, Part 2

It was on my second night in the unit that shit got real.

I had never fallen this far down the rabbit-hole before, and if I hadn’t been where I was, I probably wouldn’t be here to tell the story. That was when I hit rock-bottom and realized that no matter what I might want to believe, this was some really serious stuff I was dealing with and it wasn’t ever going to go away.

You see, I was surfing the Internet on the Kindle Fire they kept at the nurses’ station for the patients to use (with a ten-minute time limit), when I decided to see what was in my chart on the patient portal. I was curious to see what was being said about me. What I didn’t expect to see was a new diagnosis, and for a minute my blood ran cold. Bipolar 1!?? I couldn’t possibly be THAT crazy, could I? It wasn’t that I hadn’t suspected it or that Dr. Awesomesauce hadn’t talked about it, because I’ve had some pretty gnarly manic episodes and it only takes one to be diagnosed with BP 1. But seeing it in black and white like that made me realize that I really was sick, I wasn’t making it up, and it wasn’t just “all in my head” (although it is in the technical sense).

I skulked off to my room before my ten minutes were up, where I proceeded to bawl until I thought I was going to throw up. I did it quietly so the nurses who popped in every 15 minutes wouldn’t think I’d totally lost it and ship me off to the unit where the really sick people were, but it took me about half an hour to get it out of my system. It wasn’t just the diagnosis itself; it was missing my husband and pets, wanting to be home and yet being grateful that I wasn’t, and wondering if life would ever get better.

But as the days passed, it did get better, and before I knew it, my sense of humor returned and I found myself laughing and joking with my fellow patients. I was getting intensive therapy and meeting daily with my treatment team, but there was a great deal of healing in the bantering and the trading of one-liners. There was a single housefly who had made its home with us, and it buzzed us all the time, creating consternation and generally irritating the hell out of us. Someone named it Carl, and we began to share our theories about how he’d gotten through three doors. One girl drew a picture of Carl, to which I added a poem, and we gave it to our therapy leader who was in on the joke.

I know…..only in a psych unit could a fly be the source of amusement.

Patients came and went. One night a fellow came in who I will call Manic Man; he was in a mixed episode, which meant he was suicidal and had enough energy to attempt it. He dominated therapy groups; he paced endlessly and tapped his pen against the table until the rest of us wanted to scream; and worse, he never shut up. Yap, yap, yap. And then it hit me: this was exactly the way I behave when manic. And I understood for the first time why Dr. A works so hard to prevent it, and why my family gets pissy about it. It might be fun for me, but for them it’s annoying!

Finally the day came when my attending psychiatrist, Dr. W, asked me when I thought I’d be ready to go home. They were in no hurry to kick me out—in fact, I got the feeling they’d have preferred that I stay a little longer—but by Wednesday I felt so much better that I wanted out before the weekend. We agreed that Friday would be my release date…..but first, I had some work to do. And that was where the forgiveness letter came in.

To be continued…..

 

 

 

 

 


I’m tired.

“A vagabond existence is fine until the age of forty,” said the watchman. “After that, one needs a permanent address to stop the decline.
Peter Hoeg

I just cooked dinner, had a few bites and then fed it to the dogs.

Get bipolar, experience the bottom falling out of your world.
Take lithium, experience the world falling out of your bottom.

I keep shedding my own skin briefly, looking at myself from the outside and asking the question I least want answered. How the hell did I get here? Here living alone on the coast, here driving my neighbour’s daughter to visit her in rehab, here lying every day that I am ohhhh kay. I’m not ok. But it’s tricky. I have to be kind of ok, because I promised my dogs I wouldn’t let them down (too much). I get up and do sane and sensible stuff and I walk my dogs on the beach and from time to time I am a little bit sociable. And every day I think I want to die and for the first time ever, the thought scares me a bit.

Food and cigarettes are no longer enjoyable, but reading is still there and reliable.

“That’s all right,” she said. “We all try to camouflage the monotony. But it takes a lot of energy. To insist on being special all the time. When we’re so much like one another anyway. Our triumphs are the same. Our pain. Try for a moment to feel what relief there is in the ordinary.”

Peter Hoeg

Suffering and Train Wrecks

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Right.

This is one of the world’s biggest falsehoods, right up there with “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

But it’s a platitude we hear all the time, particularly those of us with mental illnesses.

And it’s about time to call bs on the saying. Here’s why people say it:

Suffering hurts. It grinds you down. It makes you less able to function. It keeps you from being the person you want to be.

Except in literature. There, suffering ennobles one – makes one a finer person, a more worthy person, and, yes, stronger.

Once in a graduate-level literature class, I objected to this. I said the thing about suffering hurting and grinding you down.

I got called a sociologist, which apparently is a terrible insult in literary circles. But they were talking about literature and I was talking about real life, so maybe we both had a point.

But back to the saying. There are lots of things that don’t kill you, but also don’t make you stronger. Train wrecks, for example. If they don’t kill you, they can leave you on the brink of death or physically maimed or with PTSD. You may recover some, with help, but your back will still hurt and your leg won’t regrow and you can suffer from memories and dreams.

I’ve compared some relationships with train wrecks – probably most of us have. They simply cause you to suffer and the memories of them may always pain you like a damaged joint in bad weather. One can come through ordinary bad relationships and be stronger for it. But train wreck relationships, the toxic ones that erode your soul, do not ennoble or strengthen you.

Mental disorders can be like that. Yes, you may improve. Yes, you may become stronger in some ways. You may become more compassionate, more aware of others’ pain, better able to avoid situations that will cause you harm, capable of rebuilding a different life with the parts you want to keep. But it’s just as likely that when your brain breaks, it will never be good as new again. There will be cracks in your emotions or reasoning or moods that will be weaker, not stronger, and more likely to rupture again in the future.

We sufferers need strength, but it won’t come from platitudes and bumperstickers.

And you can’t explain this to people who haven’t been there.

Also, don’t get me started on that thing about God not giving you more than you can handle. We’ll be here all week.

As always, these are my experiences only. Your mileage may vary.


Gastric Bypass Surgery Is No Cure For Depression

Most severely obese people experience much better spirits once they shed weight through a diet, lifestyle changes or medical intervention, such as gastric bypass surgery. This is unfortunately not true for everyone, says Valentina Ivezaj and Carlos Grilo of the Yale University School of Medicine in the US. In an article in Springer’s journal Obesity […]

The post Gastric Bypass Surgery Is No Cure For Depression appeared first on Insights From A Bipolar Bear.

Radical Forgiveness

I went to Unity Church in Clearwater, Florida for the first time yesterday, and the topic of the sermon was Radical Forgiveness. It was very thought-provoking and I thought about the people in my life whom I considered unforgiveable. The pastor, who was incredible, likened withholding forgiveness to me drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. The withholding of forgiveness really causes ME to suffer, NOT the person who hurt me. It doesn’t affect theother person at all. There are two people I can think of whom I consider unforgiveable: The first being the boyfriend who beat me up on my thirty-fifth birthday. That experience damaged me beyond belief. It hurt me down to my soul. I haven’t allowed another man to come close enough to me to love me since. And that was thirteen years ago! Who is suffering because of a lack of forgiveness? Me. Only me. This man has gone about his merry way. The second person who I have a hard time forgiving is my youngest sister. She is one of those people who takes the most tender, vulnerable parts of me, and uses them to hurt me. She has no rules when it comes to what comes out of her mouth. She will do anything she can to injure me. So I have no relationship with her, out of self-protection.

The Unity pastor suggested that we take a big yellow legal pad, and fill the front and back of a page, every day, for a week, writing “I deeply and completely forgive -________.” I don’t have a yellow legal pad but I do have a lined journal that will work just as well. I am going to take this challenge, because you know what? I want love in my life. I want healing. I want to stop drinking the poison. This doesn’t mean that I’m saying that what that boyfriend did to me was ok, it was absolutely NOT ok. It means that I am releasing the hurt that sits on my soul, which prevents me from allowing love in. This doesn’t mean that I’m opening myself up to my sister, I’m not. I know that what she has done in the past, she will do again. It means that I see her as a child of God, and that I am praying for her wholeness and happiness. I know what holding on to the pain and hurt has gotten me, this week I’m going to experiment with letting it go. If you can, if you have the need, please join me. Have a great week, everybody.


Filed under: Bipolar, Bipolar Disorder, Bipolar Spiritual, Forgiveness, Psychology Shmyshmology Tagged: Bipolar, Hope, Mental Illness, Psychology, Radical Forgiveness, Reader

Groggylicious

    Good Monday morning, everyone,  how are you? This past week I’ve gotten off to such a slooooow start in the mornings.  If it wasn’t for the roaring LifeFlight rescue helicopter I heard at 5:00 a.m. (we live across the street … Continue reading

Are Psychiatrists held to the same standards as other Doctors?

psychiatry“Do no harm” is something that all doctors say when they become a doctor….

If a cardiologist prescribed a medicine that his/her patient was allergic to and the patient died, would the family be able to sue for malpractice win? most likely

If an oncologist did not present their patient with an option that they knew about, but could save their life and the family found out about it later, would the family win a malpractice suit? most likely

If a psychiatrist came to their office with obvious symptoms of tardive dyskenisia, a side effect of a medication they had prescribed and the psychiatrist did nothing about it and it became a permanent problem, would the psychiatrist get into trouble? not very likely

On the other hand, if someone went to see their primary doctor who had recently prescribed a medication and the patient showed signs or symptoms of a serious side effect and it eventually lead to a serious condition that could have been avoided, would the patient be able to sue? most likely

Let’s say a psych patient went to emergency room seeking help because they were really depressed, suicidal, hearing voices or told their doctor that they were so manic that they feel they might do something harmful to themselves or possibly someone else.  Regardless of pleasto be admitted or at least evaluated better get ignored and the doctor tells them to go home.  Is this doctor held accountable if the person leaves and kills someone, robs a bank, flies across the country with money they don’t have ,  has sex with people they don’t know, has a drug overdose, does something the voices tell them to do, etc? No

If a doctor ignored signs of a stroke or a heart attack, it could be deadly and if they did the family would win a law suit.  However, if a doctor ignored symptoms of a mental illness and did not preventing that person from ending up doing something that could potentially be deadly, nothing would be done to that doctor.  Although they did not prevent the person from doing something harmful to someone else or themselves, the medical community does not view mental illnesses and how they are treated or mistreated like they do heart attacks and strokes. Both could be deadly. However, it is excusable to ignore signs of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, etc. It is not okay to ignore signs of a stroke, high blood sugar, kidney failure, or heart attack.  

If a psychiatrist saw a patient who told them they were depressed and suicidal and they dismissed it because they thought the person was making it up or not serious and they committed suicide, would the family win a malpractice suit? doubtful 

If a psychiatrist told a patient to wait until Monday when the patient stated that they thought they were getting manic and they went and got in their car without sleeping for a few days and killed someone, would the doctor be held responsible in some way? I don’t think so. However, if a endocronologist did not advise their patient to go to hospital because they showed signs of a diabetic shock, they would most likely be held responsible if that person got in their car and ended up killing someone.

You probably see where I am going with this.  I know the answers to most of these questions from personal experience and by hearing from other patients with mental illnesses.  I can tell you that most of the time, psychiatrists are not held responsible.  They are allowed to over-prescribe medications that they get kick backs from pharmaceutical companies, can  misdiagnose, dismiss what their patients say,  ignore symptoms, not be there for patients when in need with no one on call, and drop patients that won’t take medications that they recommend for various reasonable reasons.  

Over-prescribing medications is common among all doctors because of the kick-backs they get  from the pharmeucitical companies. It might be because they are uneducated about alternative ways of treating illnesses.   However, other doctors can’t dismiss what their patients say and get away with it. They can’t ignore symptoms that cause harm and suffer no consequences, they have to be available for their patients or have another doctor on call and I would have to assume most would not drop their patients because they ask for an alternative treatment. 

In the world of psychiatry, it is a whole different story.  I know from personal experience and have heard so many horror stories. I don’t know the statistics, but I guarantee there are a lot more malpractice suits filed and won against “regular” doctors vs, psychiatrists.  Psychiatrists hold their patient’s lives in their hands yet that does not seem to matter.  Psychiatrists are not held to the same standards as other doctors and this is just wrong!

 


Why I Should Be Banned from Technology

There is a reason I married an IT guru.

(Well. Aside from that fact that he is kind, supportive and dashingly handsome of course.)

The reason being that I should LITERALLY be banned from technology. Yes. Literally, not figuratively (I’m looking at you, Ted from How I Met Your Mother). LITERALLY.

tedhimym

I shouldn’t even be allowed to keep this blog. I’m actually fairly impressed that it hasn’t exploded in my face or something.

I’m the girl who called the IT department to my office on a sunday afternoon because my computer wouldn’t turn on. Hassled and grumpy on the phone. “Yes I am pushing the right ON button.” Sheesh. What do you think I am? I have VERY IMPORTANT work to do here!

IT arrived and I pointed out my computer accusingly. They pointed out that it wasn’t plugged in.  I apologised profusely.

Just the other day I downloaded a new photo editing app on my phone. I was swiping this and tapping that and suddenly – I SWEAR I don’t even know how – I ended up in some sort of dating application with a baboon face as my profile picture, being invited to “flirt” or “send kisses” to people. A BABOON face. I’m not even exaggerating. I couldn’t make this shit up.

In half horror, half hysterical laughter, I shut down the app which I kind of regret because it would have been endlessly amusing to see if anyone “sent kisses” to me; the baboon. Surprisingly, I feel, Hubster wasn’t as amused as I was, questioning why I was even on a dating app in the first place.

“If I WANTED to be on a dating app, do you REALLY think I would have chosen THIS  as my profile picture?” I pointed out, flashing him the baboon photo.

“Fair call. It’s not your best angle.” True love, that.

I can’t even handle landline technology. While in hospital I called Hubsters work line for something or other. It was quite late and this guy answered the phone whose voice I vaguely recognised. For some reason I panicked.

I let out a strangled “Hubster…..is that youuuu?!”

Almost immediately I realised it was Hubsters boss and I slammed down the phone before he could reply.

Smooth.

But the worst, the absolute worst time was when I saw that I had a message on Skype from  a friend. A MALE friend, I might add.

I was breastfeeding at the time. Well. Not at that actual moment, but during that general time period. I was full and sore (you mothers know what I am talking about) and, well, to put it simply – topless.

Multi tasking, choosing clothes, juggling a baby (you mothers know what I am talking about) I quickly replied to the message then noticed that I had accidentally clicked on what seemed to be some sort of bad homemade pornography site. There was a bare chested woman cavorting across my screen. What. The. Hell.

A closer inspection and I realised that it wasn’t porn. It was me. Topless. I was video calling my friend. Topless.

Abort! Abort! I ducked down and closed the window. I LITERALLY (not figuratively) could have died.

In a panic, and because it seemed like a good idea at the time, I sent him a quick message. “Did you see that?” Super casual.

“See what?” he responded. Super casual.

Yep. He saw it.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I should be banned from technology.


Saying Yes

Coming of AgeThe last couple of weeks created a lot of thrashing around for me.  In IPR, I was required to recount my history—something I’m loathe to do as it is only painful and seems to trigger the dark side of my bipolarity.  At the same time, I cast off my life-long dream of ever controlling my compulsive eating enough to lose weight and started seriously working on accepting myself as I am.   Self-love and PTSD may be strange bedfellows, but they seem to be making progress together.

I had a Bathroom Revelation—you know, when you’re in the shower or on the pot, your mind blissfully drifting, and BLAM! the Next Great Idea materializes out of the ethers (so to speak).  E=mc2 came to Einstein this way, so who am I to question a loo’s creative holiness?

Anyway, this simple thought came:

Mindfulness is Not Enough.

And from that, I understood that nothing would ever be enough.  Nothing I do will ever cure me of this mental illness.

Of course not, right?  Everyone knows there’s no cure.  But everyone isn’t me, and I was sure I could crack this nut.  I would find the Key—my own, personal Incantation—that would unlock this prison.  If I worked hard enough.  If I followed every lead.  If I…

But, suddenly, I understood what Luke Skywalker tried to tell me this summer about striving, how there was no way to win that game.  Working hard at managing my bipolar disorder became another club to bludgeon myself over the head.

What happens when I let go of that dream as well?  What happens if I really accept all of who I am—obese and bipolar, creative and destructive, intelligent and compulsive, single and romantic, mindful and delusional?  What happens when I relax into all of that?  Allow all of that?  Say, “Yes” to it all?

So far, it means pulling back from the rigidity of my routine, from documenting every gnat’s ass detail of my brain flatulence.  It means trusting myself a little bit more, following my instincts a little.  And crying a lot.

This is new territory for me, this saying “yes” business.  It’s different than galloping after compulsions or riding a manic wave.  Saying “yes” comes from a loving place, a place of plenty and safety.  When the depression was darkest last week, it meant holding myself and saying, “Yes, this is part of me, too.  I’m not broken or wrong.  I am simply this, too.”

There is benefit from a Plan when the illness is raging at either end of the spectrum or when I’m sliding into those two extremes.  That’s when I forget what helps.  That’s when I can’t remember “yes,” and a Plan is needed to wade through to the other side.  But I’m trying to live looser in the between times.  Instead of scribbling out a Daily Plan, I look at this on my way out of the door.

Nurture

Create

Connect

 

And maybe that’s enough.  We’ll see.

Because I’m still On an Adventure.