Daily Archives: August 24, 2015

See You Later

This isn’t a goodbye. As my regular readers know, I’ve been taking time off from this blog to further pursue my writing career. I’ve found it difficult – actually damn near impossible, to balance both the blog and the novel I am working on. As a result, I am stepping away from the blog for […]

The post See You Later appeared first on Insights From A Bipolar Bear.

First Conference

Met my online professor this morning in a video conference.  We talked about he upcoming assignments and what needed to be done with them.  He was very nice and personable, so that was good.  We had some technical issues we had to work out, but we managed it and had about a fifteen-twenty minute conversation through the learning system Canvas.  The first assignment is to create a video about ourselves and who we are as writers.  One to two minutes he said.  So that will be interesting-I’ll have to learn my video editing software very quickly.  So we will see how that goes.

Bob is home sick from his allergies–his bronchial tubes are damaged from irritation and coughing.  So he took a strong cough syrup this afternoon and is zonked out in front of the TV trying to let his throat rest.  He has trouble of some of this sort most seasons of the year–this particular attack was likely kicked off by a visit to Bass Pro Shop where they have a huge aquarium of fish right beside the stairs to get up to the camping equipment.  He is so allergic to fish that something like that can set off an allergy attack.  Please pray for him to get better.

Haven’t heard any more from my cousin’s situation.  I may hear more when I call mu mom later.  I don’t know what to do except pray he will get the help he needs and quickly.

Hope everyone’s week is starting off well.  Hope everyone has a good day.


Preventive self-care

calendarPlanning ahead is an important part of my self-care. For example, over the years I have learned that from the first of October through the first of January is my danger zone. It has nothing to do with Seasonal Affective Disorder, I grew up in Southern California, then after 30 years lived in Arizona. It’s purely situational relating to a few key events that have happened to me over my lifetime during that time of year.

Last year I learned that if my brain is not functioning well as I get closer to October, I will start a quick descent into hell. Once January hits, if I don’t pull out of the downward spiral by mid-March (again, situational) I will most definitely crash and burn.

Many people may think of this as defeatist thinking. That type of person believes in the attitude of “If you think it will go wrong, it will.”  This is not the case. My pre-planning comes from years of evaluating my cycle. Just like a woman tracking her fertility, I track my sanity. As a matter of fact, there are numerous mood trackers on the internet as well as apps for smarter-than-me phones. There’s an old proverb that is something like “To be forewarned is to be forearmed.”

Therefore, in addition to starting DBT in September (unplanned but fortuitous timing), I will need to cut back on commitments. It’s very difficult for me not to feel selfish about putting my mental well-being first; but as I learned last year, it is vital. Survival of another depressive episode, similar to what I just came out of, may not be possible. I simply don’t know if I (or the people who love me) would be able to handle it again, nor do I want to find out.

This is the year I learn how to say “No.” Apologies and explanations are probably not necessary, but in some cases I will feel compelled to do so.

To those of my readers in similar situations, what type of preventive actions do you practice? Is tracking your moods and episodes an important part of your life, or do you just take it as it comes? Most people who are successful in life, whether or not they have a mental illness, probably practice some sort of self-care. It can be beneficial to everyone.

Tagged: bipolar disorder, depression, mental health, mental illness, moods, planning, SAD, self-care, tracking, wellness

An Experiment in Justice

IsisMost of the time, attending the First Unitarian Church in Des Moines is a joyful experience for me.  I’m fed by the music, the ethics of the community, the wisdom and passion of the ministers.  I feel at home there.

But, because it is an Unitarian community, social justice is a big part of the zeitgeist.  We are called to wake up and “stay woke” to the inequity of our justice and prison systems, to the destruction of black bodies.  Sermons, like Erin Gingrich’s message a few weeks ago, Black Lives Matter, gnaw at my comfort.  Adult education classes include discussion groups about books like Jennifer Harvey’s Dear White Christians and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me.  Affirmed Justice small groups meet to plan how to incorporate Restorative Justice into our schools and courts.

I’m proud to be part of this vibrant, caring community.  I just can’t figure out where I fit.

comptonYesterday, after a particularly fiery sermon, I left with a plan.  I would go see Straight Outta Compton, the movie about the first gangsta rap group, NWA. Rap music scares me.  The language, the violence, the rage—they all scare me.  But, I know that all that is someone’s real, lived, experience.  I thought, I can do this.  I can watch this movie with curious compassion and be mindful of my fear.  I can do this.

I had read in the church bulletin that next Sunday would be the Blending of the Waters ritual.  Congregants bring water from a significant source, talk about what it symbolizes to them, and pour it into a common bowl.  It’s a way to acknowledge the gifts we all bring to the community.

So, when I got my popcorn and diet Coke for the movie, I filled the cup to the top with ice.  This would be my offering to the bowl next Sunday, this ice that would hold my fear and my courage.

I came out of the movie shell-shocked, over-run by the full range of my bipolarness.  I drove home crying, raging, and ultimately locked-down.  I sedated myself and went to bed, hoping for clarity in the morning.

And, by gum, that’s what I found.

My feelings of ineptness and desperation around social justice mirror my old feelings about work and being a productive member of society.  I had to keep trying to go back to work until I learned that my mental illness took that ability.  The stress of working is now a trigger.

Now I know that the stress of being an activist, of even considering being an activist, is also a trigger.  I can’t keep the pain, injustice and rage outside of me.  My boundaries aren’t that strong.

Knowing one’s triggers is important information for anyone with mental illness.  Self-knowledge and insight are vital tools.  Going to this movie set me free in many ways.  It gave me a new sense of clarity and purpose.  I will never be on the front lines with those in my church fighting for social justice, but I will be right behind them armed with my own kind of courage.

That’s what I intend to say next Sunday when I pour my melted-ice water into the community bowl.


Panxious Polly

In spite of a Xanax and being home alone in relative peace…My panxiety is off the charts. I’m not sure why but pretzel gut has me tied to the bathroom. And no, I don’t want to overshare, but I do want to demonstrate just how bad the anxiety gets when it manifests physically. And it’s an even bigger problem when you have to venture into the dish, go to a job, or socialize.

There is zero reason for this level of anxiety when home in my bubble without too much noise. Yet here it is. I can’t focus, my gut is twisting, I am breaking out in hives, my hands are shaky. The little mind tricks ain’t working. There ain’t a stop sign big enough to quash this shit.

It makes me wonder if it’s because I know I have to brave people and traffic palooza to pick my kid up later. In which case, it’s gonna be a long agonizing school year. Because my life isn’t agonizing enough with the normal anxiety, I totally need even more. Wondering if the shrink would write me a note stating I need to pick her up in a more secluded area because this is detrimental to my mental and physical help. I know Dr M was awesome enough she’d have done it. This guy…Doubtful.

I’ve tried mindless busywork in an effort to distract. It ain’t working. If anything, when I move around, I get more paranoid, as if I am a moving target. I can be mindful and apply logic til the cows come home…It isn’t helping. I am loathe to take another Xanax, that just makes me too lethargic. (Makes me wonder how I functioned all those years on 3mg a day.)

I need to go to the grocery store. I need to mow the lawn. I need to do a lot of shit and the anxiety is pretty much got me tethered.

Ya know, standing on the outside looking in, the whole panic/anxiety/paranoia thing probably does seem silly to those without it. On the inside…It’s not silly, it’s called my daily existence.

I don’t think I should be called negative for calling it like it is- anxiety sucks. Period.


Protected: all aboard the fucking suck bus

There is no excerpt because this is a protected post.

Baby Sporks

FB_IMG_1440419385724I couldn’t be arsed to come up with a better title for this post. I’m busy balancing the post stress of dropping my kid off amidst the mini vans and SUVs puking forth little pastel clad demons and the morning med hypomanic burst. It feels a lot like carrying grenades barefoot across broken glass and the pins are out, so one false move…BOOM.

Yesterday was blah. I had to find my give a damn to do some housework when I noticed my kid eating dry cereal off a plate. All the bowls were dirty. Demmit. Tossed in laundry, washed my bedding, cleaned the cat boxes. With all the enthusiasm of one facing a firing squad. Which is how I approach pretty much everything these days. Later in the evening Spook and I went over to R’s for pizza and to watch some Flash in prep for the new season. I was so low I didn’t think it’d hurt. I mean, the professionals say getting out is supposed to make it better.

It really doesn’t.

I ripped the band aid off yesterday and finally, after four years, filled out the child support papers, sealed the envelope, put a stamp on, and tossed it into the mail box. The thought of him insinuating himself back into our lives makes me want to throw up. His mind games are damaging to me and eventually to Spook. The law may say he has rights, but when you walk out on three kids and fail to support any of them…I think paying support without any visitation rights would be appropriate. I’m an evil bitch, though.

I need to call Safelink about toilet phone. I have to buy my own since this is the third one to be destroyed (I only did this one, the other two were my mom’s doing, cos sitting an electronic device next to your sweating tea glass is totally appropriate.) I think then I have to call for them to send one of their chips and that’s an hour or two of my life i’ll never get back. I gotta renew the food benefits for Spook. At some point I have a shrink appointment coming up, I’ll be damned if I know when though.

I’m so on top of things,I noticed after two days that the half gallon of milk I bought wasn’t in the fridge.  Nope, because it was in my trunk. Cottage cheese, anyone?

I kept breaking out in hives all weekend due to anxiety. I wish the doctor could see that. I know they are hives because they vanish as soon as I am calmer. Not to mention it was diagnosed when I was a teenager and there were no animals or greenery to explain an allergy. “You internalize stress and your body breaks out in hives.” Brilliant. Not a solution. Of course the solution is always the same useless shit. Exercise, diet, sunlight, blah blah blah. Tried it all. Epic fails, all of it.

For all my bitching about the heat…It’s cooled down drastically and I can feel my mood going further down every morning when I’m shivering and finding it hard to pry myself out of the warm covers. Lack of sunlight, my ass.

I feel doomed. Not in some paranoid way. Just…I’ve been doing the med bit for so long and I get better, I go down the rabbit hole, and the doctors and counselors are at a loss so they just think it’s some personality flaw. If sheer desire counted for anything, I’d never need a pill, never feel depressed, never have to rely on disability for income and jump through flaming hoops to prove I have a legit illness…Without a mental health team that gives a damn I’m truly on my own. And while they wanna get out there pompoms and say, “You’re functioning in spite of it all, you can do it!” it’s always that way. I’m doing it until I crash land and I never see it coming.

Guess I will watch more CSI and putter about. I could fold the four baskets of laundry. Ugh. Unfolded laundry never killed anyone…I don’t want to think negatively but when things just turn out negative again and again…Optimism seems inappropriate.

Now stick a spork in me, I am done.

 

 


psychosis and the kitchen sink

(scheduled post) The kitchen sink-o-meter reached red alert hazardous scary danger level, indicating that if I had a mind, it’d be floundering. I sacrificed some goats to the gods of war manic depression and did a pain dance to summon hypomania. Eventually it worked and then I Washed The Dishes. All hail Lamictalia, patron saint […]

Past Tense

One of the blessings of being in remission from bipolar disorder is the fading of bad memories from past mood episodes. It’s been almost eight months since the last of the depression left me in early January, and now I’m questioning whether it was really all that bad back then, or if it’s just that good now.

I suppose I shouldn’t play this game. It’s too easy to dismiss what was a very serious episode in the light of day, and I have both the hospital record and the diagnosis to prove it. But the intervening months of stability have mellowed my recollection of events to the point that I’ve found myself doubting that diagnosis…if only a little.

I’ve talked to a few of my friends about this, and of course they think I’m full of shit. And they are probably right. Time may have muted some of the horrors of depressions past, but it still happened and unfortunately is likely to happen again given the cyclical nature of my disease. But then I get to thinking about how much longer it’s been since I had a manic episode, and I can’t help wondering if those were as severe as I’ve been told they were, or if I’ll ever have another. I haven’t had a single manic spell in almost two years; in fact, I’ve only had downswings (along with a couple of mild hypomanic phases) since October of 2013. The meds are great at preventing mania…so how come they don’t keep the depression away too?

Anyway, I’m not wasting too much time ruminating because Will and I have been incredibly busy since we moved in with Ethan and Clark earlier this month. The living arrangements are still being worked out; I don’t get to roost in the bathroom for an hour every morning like I once did, we still have a new routine to get used to (which is more like no routine at all—it’s different every day), and our bedroom has yet to be fully organized. But there’s no question in my mind that the move was the right thing to do, and we are VERY glad to be here. I don’t know about Will, but I never felt comfortable at our last place, never felt “at home”. Here, we are family, and that makes it home.

And I’m still taking showers most days. :-)