Daily Archives: January 14, 2015

Boundaries

A commenter mentioned how s/he has “loose boundaries” when manic.  Sharing too much about your life and thoughts with casual friends, acquaintances, even strangers. I think we all recognize that phenomenon in our lives, manic or otherwise.

Some theories do exist as to why this happens to those with bipolar disorder.  One is that in our manic state, everyone is our best friend.  We imagine ourselves the center of attention in every crowd.  We think of ourselves as coming across as extremely extroverted, happy, seductive, or attractive to other people.  Everyone ought to be interested in hearing everything about us because we’re such interesting people!

Another is the phenomenon of impaired insight.  This syndrome is when you don’t know you’re sliding into a manic state and you simply don’t realize how you’re acting.  You think everything is fine and normal, especially if you’re just coming out of a depressed state.  You may feel relieved that you finally feel like yourself, but don’t realize that you’re already switching to the other mood extreme.

I personally think another reason is that if we find someone interested in listening to our story, we tend to go overboard.  Most folks with bipolar disorder have difficulties maintaining friendships, so when we find someone interested in being our friend, we tell it all just like it is.  This trait can be a double-edged sword; the person we’re sharing with may feel overwhelmed or intimidated by an instant level of emotional intimacy they aren’t yet ready for.

I’m generally very guarded with people, manic or not.  I’ve learned enough about people that the best friendships develop slowly.  A friend is not a dumping ground for all your idiosyncrasies and neuroses and insecurities.  There needs to be a mutual aid relationship where you can support and uphold each other without being all about you.  What are your experiences with boundary issues?


grief and me

Grief didn’t seem confusing a couple of years ago, when this began. It got very confused with depression as time went by, till I started asking myself whether I was one or the other, or both, or whether grief = depression, or?

I’d been avoiding Kay Redfield Jamison’s Nothing Was The Same for a good while. It’s about the loss of her husband of almost 20 years and I just didn’t have the cojones to get immersed in that level of sorrow. And then the notion began to filter through, that it was time to look at my own stuff and that a book by a bipolar person about grief would be a good place to start.

It has been said that grief is a kind of madness. I disagree. There is a sanity to grief, in its just proportion of emotion to cause, that madness does not have. Grief, given to all, is a generative and human thing. It provides a path, albeit a broken one, by which those who grieve can find their way. Still, it is grief’s fugitive nature that one does not know at the start that such a path exists. I knew madness well, but I understood little of grief, and I was not always certain which was grief and which was madness. Grief, as it transpires, has its own territory.
Kay Redfield Jamison – Nothing Was The Same

Of course she goes into detail, but her conclusion is very clear; grief is not depression. Grief is more rational. I googled a bit anyway.

The death of a loved one may the most stressful life event any of us will ever face. Many people continue managing bipolar disorder successfully through their mourning, but others develop “funeral mania,” says Dr. Bennett. This occurs when someone with controlled bipolar disorder attends the funeral of the loved one and almost instantly has a manic episode. source

There wasn’t a funeral, but I was manic for sure. I didn’t know though, I hadn’t been diagnosed.

Then I stopped reading about grief. I can research and write my ass right off, to stave off real emotion – but not forever. If I write anything about it, it needs to be progressive and personal. I might, I might not. I need to get the practical aspect sorted (as usual).

I always thought I had grief pretty much nailed, but when my mother died I realised that I never had. Suddenly my brother, grandfather, great uncle, grandmother, cousin and godmother’s deaths faded and I was left with one deep mofo of a suppurating wound. I’d sworn all sorts of oaths to the universe, but it still happened. And suddenly there was just me and nextofkin left (plus an invisible uncle who doesn’t count).

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Here be pathology … what you and I know as complicated or complex grief, is called Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder and I fit the criteria well. But IDGAF. Acronyms for acronyms eh. I read somewhere that a diagnosis of PCDB or whatever they are calling it, should really only be seen as an indicator that therapy is needed. I need to redefine ‘therapy’ for myself, because a) I can’t afford it and b) I’ve had enough of it for one lifetime. Still, it’s helpful, because ticking all those boxes tells me I need to work on this – it turns it from fear into fact.

I’m intellectualising it again. Avoidance and evasion are how I deal with emotion when it hurts. I’ve read the stages, wheel, whirlpool etc of grief (I’m not kidding) and actually, they haven’t helped at all. My emotions refuse to be categorised that tidily; I’d imagine most people’s are the same. A useful starting point though, perhaps. Or a superficial and colossal waste of time. Whatever works for you.

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Friends with dead mothers came out of the woodwork after mine died, to offer compassion. Many of them said their mother’s death was the worst grief of their lives. (Obviously we are leaving the death of a child out of the equation, because that is the greatest loss and sorrow in the world.) Hearing it was comforting, because I was suddenly a member of a kindly and sad tribe, and annoying, because I wanted to be a special snowflake. One of my closest friend’s mothers died three weeks after mine; I began to curse the universe (and you know I’m good at cursing).

After recognising my mother’s death as worse than all my other losses added up, worse than a decade of child abuse, worse than … anything, I began to realise painfully that knowing all the theories does not absolve you from doing the work and feeling the feels. I probably had the longest manic episode of my life, starting when she got really sick. I proceeded to make catastrophic mistakes, injuring people, betraying myself … etc.

I finally did a sensible thing and came back here, with a plan to do nothing. By nothing, I mean nothing beyond the absolute basics. Well hello Maslow …

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Whatever current thinking is about that hierarchy of needs, the first tier became my sole focus and that stood me in good stead. The physical aspects of the second tier appeared too, and slowly, slowly, some aspects of the third.

I lost my main job and within a few months of that, I lost most of what was left of my mind. Although I’d had sporadic psychotic episodes since 1995 at least, they had never worried me (or anyone else) until early 2013. I took my focus off grief for various things and fixed it firmly upon what I saw as my own impending insanity. That plus the bleakest depression of my life consumed my mind. At the end of July I was diagnosed with Bipolar.

That brings us (me) to the start of this blog, which I began as a place to work stuff out. And here I am, having reached the stage where burying my head in research doesn’t cut it anymore. I do not want to write (or even think) about my feelings about my mother and her death. I can’t even begin to describe how little I want that. Howfreakingever, the wound needs cleaning and this might be the right approach.

That Awkward Moment When It Was 2014

If I could sum up last year it would be; “That awkward moment when it was 2014″

Because really, the whole year was a series of awkward and unfortunate events. Today I have written about a few of these moments, in no particular order of “What the Dickens?!”

1) I had the strange experience of being a patient at three different hospitals within a 12 hour period. I was resident at one psychiatric facility. Transferred to another psychiatric facility. Then admitted to a surgical ward at a third hospital through the ED. Some people bed hop. I hospital hop. What a tart.

2) When I was transferred to the second facility it was in a van with a CAGE in the back. I went to get in the back then noticed all these bars everywhere, then was all insulted and “Dude. I’m not riding in a cage” to the driver. He laughed and said he could handle me me, so I got to ride shotgun. I didn’t mention the word “shotgun” though.

3) My entire family were stricken with gastro when I was admitted back to the medical ward due to surgical complications. I wasn’t expecting to be admitted so spent four days without so much as a paperback or pyjamas. I did, however, possess a sense of impending doom as I wondered what would happen to my abdominal surgical site once I, too, got an attack of the vomits, seeing as an unexpected sneeze rendered me incapacitated. Unfortunate for me perhaps, but less unfortunate than for Hubster, who spent an evening attempting to clean projectile vomit (Master D’s. Not his. Or so he says) from every square inch of our car.

I can say this because today I had the privilege of performing the exact same task. I spent close to an hour trying to remove Master D’s car seat, with a pair of pliers (don’t ask), I was covered in various bodily fluids that, for once, were not my own. All I will say about the matter is that lying in bed with a morphine drip would have been a blessed relief.

4) I walked into my assigned room only to find a young girl in there. Masturbating. That wasn’t awkward at all.

5) I somehow acquired and wore someone else’s underwear. The horror. I never found out who’s unmentionables I had inadvertently stolen. All I know is that they were six dress sizes larger than me.

6) I kept coming across people I went to school with. Not as fellow patients, but as my treating medical professionals. As a patient with mental illness and an embarrassing gastrointestinal disorder that was just, you know, AWESOME.

7) I was propositioned for sex. I am not even kidding.

8) I had to wear a canvas sack for a few days. That’s right. I literally wear a sack and get propositioned for sex. I am not quite sure what that says about him. Or me.

So there are some of my most treasured moments of 2014. We can all learn a thing or two from this.

1) Always pack a bag if you go the ED.
2) Knock before you enter.
3) Check your laundry…
4) …and forget bars and clubs. Psychiatric hospitals are the place to pick up.

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ISO: 1,000 Voices for Compassion

Bipolar1Blog:

#1000Speak
1000 Voices for Compassion.
1000 bloggers write on Compassion and publish it all on the same day, February 20th. Lets fill the blogosphere with Compassion!

Originally posted on Just Gene'O:

Updated: The publication date is Feb. 20. The hashtag to use if you want to help this along is #1000Speak. (01/13)

I’ll make this quick. I’ve signed on to a project to get 1,000 bloggers to write about compassion and publish the pieces all on the same day. You are invited. The posting date has not been set and I have no idea how long it will take to find the 1K bloggers.

I already have my post idea. Once the date is set, I will make a decision about whether I can deliver or not. The writing schedule is TIGHT right now. Even if I can’t join in with a post, I’m giving this as much social media support as I can manage. There will be a hashtag, I am sure. And you know how much I love some hashtags. :-D

Here’s a Facebook group if you are…

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