Daily Archives: March 15, 2016

For World Bipolar Day


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Other health-related stuff

I figure if I’ve been in a foul mood, it must have been at least partly due to the undiagnosed kidney stones I’ve apparently had for at 6 months. I told my doctor I was pissing blood numerous times, but they never found anything and no one but me seemed concerned. This past Sunday I went to the emergency room because I couldn’t deal with the pain anymore; it was making me vomit all the time and I couldn’t keep food or pills down. They did a CT scan and found a 5mm kidney stone. I don’t see the urologist for a few days, though. I’ve been feeling pretty nice and calm from all the pain meds since then, though, but that’ll only be for a few more days.

Other than that, I am very concerned about what all of this is going to cost and that is causing me a bit of anxiety. I thought I was going to cry in the ER. Not from the pain in my kidney, but from the worrying about money. I haven’t spent much on silly things lately, either. I bought a few records but nothing extraordinarily expensive.

Jockey Jim

The story of the lady great African American jockey, Jim Winkfield. What a story and I play his Rusdian Baroness wife. It a great play, come if you are able and watch mode speak in a Russuan accent 😊  


Out and About

The youngest one went to school today so I went to my therapist’s appointment and that went well.  I talked about how frustrating the kids were being with different things, and we talked about different ways to handle that.  Talked about my writing and how it was going–told her that I wrote a piece everyone liked but I didn’t’ necessarily like it because it was a style I wasn’t used to writing in.  The assignment was to write out of our comfort zone, so I think I accomplished that.  I didn’t expect everyone to like it as much as they said they did.  So that was interesting.

Then since I didn’t get to take the oldest out yesterday for her spring break, we went today  for lunch at a little teahouse-style place  and wound up with her grandmother tagging along so she could take my oldest shopping for things she needs for her upcoming trip to Scotland this summer.  So she will have fun this afternoon.

So now I will try to concentrate on things around the house to do like laundry and cleaning up. My cleaning crew didn’t come today to make sure the flu was out of the house before they came over, so I have a little time to neaten up before they come.  Not sure how much I will get done, but I hope to try.

I can’t believe it’s midterms already.  I need to register for summer and fall in the next couple of weeks, so i’m having to think into the future a good while the next little bit.  I plan to take 20th Century Drama this summer and Forms in Nonfiction this fall; I’ll have the same professor for it that I do for the course I’m taking now. so that should be good to do. 20th Century Drama lasts all summer, which I will need to see if there is anything I need to do for the week I’ll be gone to Disney World.  I was hoping to just take a first-semester class, but they’re not offering a lit course like that.  So this is my only choice.

I guess that’s all that’s going on with me.  I’m feeling pretty good today–the sun is shining and I managed to get out of the house.  SO we will see what the rest of the day brings.  Hope everyone has a good day!

 


How You Doing Out There?

How You Doing Out There? Every day I check where in the world my readers are from. I don’t know why. Maybe I take comfort knowing we are not alone in regards to mental illness. It’s not often I willingly do math, but I twisted my own arm for the basis of this post. Here […]

The post How You Doing Out There? appeared first on Insights From A Bipolar Bear.

This Is Not A Happy Post

Yeah, tuck away the sarcasm and spare me the “your posts are never happy, Morgue.”

Between yesterday afternoon and this morning, one of the free range (stray) kitties went into labor. I had no idea she was even pregnant as she’s sort of feral and looked skinny as a rail to me. I knew the moment the first one was delivered…they were too premature to survive. No fur, no eyes. The first one only survived ten minutes. Then came two and three, four and five. All hairless, under formed. Yet their little lungs worked enough to make these sickly little mews.They kept drawing breath and I cried and cursed whatever deity causes such things to happen. I don’t buy “nature’s way of saying something’s a mistake.”  I know intellectually there’s nothing anyone, even a vet, could have done for such preterm fetal kittens…It does not help me feel any better.

In fact…I felt even worse because while the mom labored and each one was born…she shunned them. It’s that survival of the fittest thing I guess.Makes me glad humans tend to love their offspring enough to at least comfort them as they’re fading away. So…I buried five little kittens as of this morning and…I just want to curl up in a ball and cry. Meanwhile mama cat is fine and face first in the feed dish. Love the way cats grieve.

Adding to my frustration is the brown car is doing it’s “die at every stop or yield sign” thing even though the weather has warmed up. It took 20 minutes to get Spook to school and get back. It normally takes under ten minutes. I was cursing and just livid. Dead kittens aren’t fucking enough? Ya can’t just make ONE thing work as it is supposed to, universe?

My father us apparently pissed at me. Because I dared say, “Too bad that Grand Am isn’t maroon like that car you got Mom.”

He went off on me as if he were the color red and I called him a slack jawed sheep fucker. Seriously? We all have colors we prefer over others. My first car was maroon. I like maroon. It was such an innocuous statement, not meant to be rude, and now he’s all up about how ungrateful and snotty I am.

I can’t win with my family or with life, period. I don’t need to win an award. I just want to have a few days a month that don’t involve dead animals, broken down cars, butt hurt people, and all my mental tentacles running riot.

So…I’m sad about the kitties not making it. I am irked with the brown car, irked with my dad, and irked that after a week of not speaking to me, suddenly R wants me to watch the shop tomorrow so he can go to a funeral where he’s pall bearer and he will buy me smokes. Not “let’s write off the labor and parts on that Grand Am.” Nope. Let’s not help Niki one fucking bit but bust her chops every chance we get.

I am within about fifty dollars on the fundraiser so I can get that red car on the road. I would have had it already but ya know, wepay takes a percentage which is fine, but it does lower the amount going into my bank account. The DMV, for some reason, won’t simply round up and call $198 dollars $226 dollars. So…shameless self promotion.

CLICK THIS LINK OR THE FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER WILL EAT YOU WITH GARLIC BREAD.

Just kidding. Humans are way too fattening for his diet.


Put up a picture, we are gonna be here a while

Yes, that is what is happening, normal life, which, to everyone else, is so boring, is for me uncharted territory, full of mystery and adventure. I should pack in my tent, flashlight and remember my camera!

3 tips for training for the mummy marathon

picture of Mariska Meldrum after finishing 5km charity run

Successfully completing my first ever 5km charity run (3rd from right)

Do you ever get to the end of a day and feel like motherhood is a race?  I must admit that I do.  And it’s not a quick 100 meter sprint – over before you realise.  It’s one of those long marathons… that can be both something we always dream of doing and something that’s totally overwhelming and beyond us.

I’m not a runner, by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve watched as friends have trained for a half-marathon.  And I’ve noticed something that all of them have done – TRAIN.

Unlike a 5km fun run – which even I managed to do (once – see proof in the picture above!) with minimal training – you can’t front up and just run a marathon.

You need to have a plan for how you’re going to mentally and physically tackle the race. You need to put in weeks and weeks of training. And you need a support crew around you – not only cheering you on but also being there with snacks and water.

Watching a close friend prepare for an upcoming half-marathon got me thinking.  If more of us approached motherhood like a marathon, we’d probably enter into it a lot more prepared.

For those of us with a mental illness, fronting up to motherhood without having put in the necessary preparation is as unwise as expecting to run 25 or 50km without conditioning your body.

So here it is, my three tips for training for the “marathon” of motherhood:

  1. Have a plan

Your pregnancy, birth and first few months of your baby’s life may not be a trigger for a relapse of your Bipolar Disorder.  But research shows that this is an incredibly vulnerable time for women like us.  Make sure you tell your obstetrician and hospital about your condition – and make time to write Bipolar Disorder Action Plan with your psychologist or psychiatrist.   This will help you and your family to know what steps to take if you become unwell – and what the plans are to ensure your wishes for the care of you, your baby (and any other children) and home are, where possible, respected.

  1. Get in some training

Haven’t had much to do with babies or children?  Now is the time to get as much hands-on experience as possible.  Offer to babysit your nieces and nephews, or hang out with a friend who has had a baby.  Talk to friends and family about the day-to-day reality of being a mum – ask for the “warts and all” version, not the “Hollywood” show reel.

You want to feel as confident as possible when embarking on the marathon of motherhood.  Already a mum and feel unsure about your parenting skills?  Enrol in a parenting course – or ask your GP or local council if they can recommend a support group.  Don’t leave it until you’re at crisis point to ask for help.  You wouldn’t expect yourself to run a marathon with no training, so don’t expect yourself to throw yourself into motherhood without giving yourself the same courtesy.

  1. Gather a support crew

Motherhood is one of the most amazing things you’ll ever do.  But it’s also one of the most draining, frustrating and – at times – tiring things too.  The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” is so true.  It’s important to have people you can rely on to help if needed.  Whether this is a supportive partner, family, friends or a church, you need to know that someone is there for you as a mum.  It’s important that there’s a handful of people in your support crew know what your key triggers are, what symptoms to look out for and what action to take if you become unwell.  They also need to know what’s in your Bipolar Action Plan – and how they can support you if you become unwell.

Motherhood isn’t a short sprint – it’s a marathon.  Whether you have Bipolar Disorder or not, it makes sense to get yourself as prepared as possible.  That way, you can embark on your motherhood journey feeling confident in yourself and your ability to juggle both motherhood and your own health and well-being.

Mariska xx

PS.  Do you have any tips to share with women with Bipolar Disorder who are preparing for motherhood?


3 tips for training for the mummy marathon

picture of Mariska Meldrum after finishing 5km charity run

Successfully completing my first ever 5km charity run (3rd from right)

Do you ever get to the end of a day and feel like motherhood is a race?  I must admit that I do.  And it’s not a quick 100 meter sprint – over before you realise.  It’s one of those long marathons… that can be both something we always dream of doing and something that’s totally overwhelming and beyond us.

I’m not a runner, by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve watched as friends have trained for a half-marathon.  And I’ve noticed something that all of them have done – TRAIN.

Unlike a 5km fun run – which even I managed to do (once – see proof in the picture above!) with minimal training – you can’t front up and just run a marathon.

You need to have a plan for how you’re going to mentally and physically tackle the race. You need to put in weeks and weeks of training. And you need a support crew around you – not only cheering you on but also being there with snacks and water.

Watching a close friend prepare for an upcoming half-marathon got me thinking.  If more of us approached motherhood like a marathon, we’d probably enter into it a lot more prepared.

For those of us with a mental illness, fronting up to motherhood without having put in the necessary preparation is as unwise as expecting to run 25 or 50km without conditioning your body.

So here it is, my three tips for training for the “marathon” of motherhood:

  1. Have a plan

Your pregnancy, birth and first few months of your baby’s life may not be a trigger for a relapse of your Bipolar Disorder.  But research shows that this is an incredibly vulnerable time for women like us.  Make sure you tell your obstetrician and hospital about your condition – and make time to write Bipolar Disorder Action Plan with your psychologist or psychiatrist.   This will help you and your family to know what steps to take if you become unwell – and what the plans are to ensure your wishes for the care of you, your baby (and any other children) and home are, where possible, respected.

  1. Get in some training

Haven’t had much to do with babies or children?  Now is the time to get as much hands-on experience as possible.  Offer to babysit your nieces and nephews, or hang out with a friend who has had a baby.  Talk to friends and family about the day-to-day reality of being a mum – ask for the “warts and all” version, not the “Hollywood” show reel.

You want to feel as confident as possible when embarking on the marathon of motherhood.  Already a mum and feel unsure about your parenting skills?  Enrol in a parenting course – or ask your GP or local council if they can recommend a support group.  Don’t leave it until you’re at crisis point to ask for help.  You wouldn’t expect yourself to run a marathon with no training, so don’t expect yourself to throw yourself into motherhood without giving yourself the same courtesy.

  1. Gather a support crew

Motherhood is one of the most amazing things you’ll ever do.  But it’s also one of the most draining, frustrating and – at times – tiring things too.  The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” is so true.  It’s important to have people you can rely on to help if needed.  Whether this is a supportive partner, family, friends or a church, you need to know that someone is there for you as a mum.  It’s important that there’s a handful of people in your support crew know what your key triggers are, what symptoms to look out for and what action to take if you become unwell.  They also need to know what’s in your Bipolar Action Plan – and how they can support you if you become unwell.

Motherhood isn’t a short sprint – it’s a marathon.  Whether you have Bipolar Disorder or not, it makes sense to get yourself as prepared as possible.  That way, you can embark on your motherhood journey feeling confident in yourself and your ability to juggle both motherhood and your own health and well-being.

Mariska xx

PS.  Do you have any tips to share with women with Bipolar Disorder who are preparing for motherhood?


To The Friends That Knew I Couldn’t Do This ‘Mental Illness Thing’ Alone

When I hear your footsteps approaching me in the dark, what you don’t know is that I’m quietly muttering under my breath, “Please, please don’t be angry.”

I hide the bite marks on my hand. I keep my face hidden under the hood of my coat. I try to will myself into disappearance.

I fucked everything up.

I’m bracing myself for impact.

I didn’t want to hurt anyone.

You don’t remind me what I should or shouldn’t have done. You don’t remark on the inconvenience of it all. You don’t tell me, through clenched teeth, that I should know better by now.

You both sit down next to me – someone asks me if I’m okay, someone else puts an arm around me. And while I don’t move or respond to that touch, it takes everything in me not to.

In that moment, I am afraid for you to know how much I need you.

/

When I was young, I tried to do it all by myself. I didn’t know who to talk to – so I talked to no one.

For the first two years, I sobbed into my pillow so no one could hear me at night. I left cuts and bruises where no one would see them. I ran off into cold, Michigan winters and laid in the snow until I couldn’t feel my body.

No one looked for me then.

There came a day when the weeping stopped. When it took so much energy to scream that I ceased making noise altogether.

I hid in my closet and pondered how many minutes I could cut off my own breathing without dying.

No one asked about me then.

I thought that I was protecting people. I thought that if they knew about the darkness, the darkness would trap them, too. I thought that I would rather endure the pain alone than inflict it on someone else.

I thought I was being benevolent.

I didn’t yet call it “dying.”

/

The first time I ever loved someone, ever trusted someone with the darkness, it swallowed him whole.

I still remember late at night, curled in a blanket on his couch, when suddenly shadows were falling out of the ceiling and crawling across the room.

In my paranoia, I was convinced that the shadows had come for me.

I was screaming, and seizing, and I couldn’t form words – and the next thing I know, my head is hitting the fireplace, someone is holding me down against my will, and I hear him yelling the numbers, “911.”

Those numbers will always be burned into my mind, a looming threat, a weapon to be wielded.

Six months later, dialed in, the phone waving in front of my face as I stutter, as I weep, standing in a cookie-cutter Midwestern suburb, begging, “Please, please don’t be angry.”

He says, “You shouldn’t have run away.”

I say, “I didn’t know what I was doing.”

He says, “If you don’t come with me, they’re going to take you away.”

In my desperation, I lunge at him, grabbing the phone and breaking it on the ground.

And I run.

Because all I knew to do back then was run.

/

You tell me that we’re going back to your apartment. I keep my eyes closed for the entire drive because if we’re going to the hospital, I don’t want to know until we’re there.

It wouldn’t be the first time that I woke up in a hospital parking lot.

The first time was after a film – a film which spoke candidly about suicide, which I later realized must have set me off – when I have a panic attack so bad that I think I am dying.

In the chaos of his screaming and mine, I start hitting my head on the car window.

I black out.

I wake up to someone shaking my shoulder. I try to make sense of where I am when I see the words “EMERGENCY ROOM” in bright lights. I start to scream again. He tells me he had no choice.

I don’t know what is happening, but I know that I’m not safe here.

I run out of the car and towards the street. He catches me, grabbing me by the shirt, telling me that I either go willingly or the police will find me.

911.

I tell him he doesn’t love me. I tell him he wants to ruin my life. I tell him that he’s not helping. I tell him that no one will believe him. His grip loosens on my shirt, his eyes softening.

He begins to cry.

I see my opportunity.

I don’t console him – I break free from his grasp, running into a lane of oncoming traffic, the sound of car horns and screeching tires piercing my eardrums.

/

We don’t go to the hospital.

Like you promised, we are back at the apartment.

When I step out of the car, I am stunned that no one has grabbed me or is forcing me in. No one is fighting me.

And I’m not running.

I was not tricked into an emergency room. I was not carried away in handcuffs. I was not screaming and neither were you.

No one is angry.

I am still hiding inside a jacket that is two sizes too big (maybe more). Someone asks me if I have everything I need to stay the night. And someone else puts an arm around me again, and an unexpected emotion overtakes me.

It’s hard enough to understand that I am allowed to walk up to that house on my own. It’s even harder to understand that someone is now holding me.

Why isn’t anyone angry? Why isn’t anyone yelling?

I want to cry but I’m afraid of being vulnerable. I’m afraid, still, that you’d know that I failed to take care of my shit, that I couldn’t do this by myself.

So I sit as still as possible and I desperately hope that my stillness doesn’t make it seem like I don’t want to be touched.

I do want to be touched.

I won’t tell you that.

I don’t remember what we talked about but I remember the calmness in everyone’s voices. I remember waiting for a lecture that I never received. I remember conversations about pop culture and I would expect nothing less from you both.

I remember laughing and how good it felt to laugh.

I remember being told, gently, that we would go to the crisis center the next day – I would be picked up in the morning, and my friends would be there, and my partner would be there, and I wouldn’t be alone.

There was no trickery.

And I remember being surprised that no one was trying to trick me.

/

Three years ago, my therapist asks me why my eyes well up so often but I never cry.

“I can’t cry,” I tell her.

“Why not?”

“It’s just not something that I do.”

She pauses, waiting for me to say more. In these pauses, I always tell myself that she’s doing it because she knows I’ll fill the empty space, and that I should stop obliging her.

Even when I tell myself not to, the silence between us is compelling.

I always oblige.

“I’m afraid that if I start crying, I’ll lose control.”

“Would that be so bad?”

I remember this conversation when you are both looking for food for me to eat in the kitchen.

I know that if I start crying, I won’t stop. I know that if I don’t stop, I’ll start screaming.

And I know that if I scream, you will know a part of me that only two people in this world have ever known – the part of me that is profoundly broken, the part of me that breaks hearts – and you will never see me the same way again.

One day, I will let my guard down and you will know what it’s like to hear something so painful come out of me that your heart collapses like a trapdoor.

But I am not ready to break your hearts.

Yet.

/

You let me sleep in your bed that night. You replace your ex’s water cup with mine, which strikes me in that moment as really meaningful. We watch television and I laugh at your running commentary, which is so perfect and makes me smile, even when I don’t want to.

Sometimes you touch my arm and I don’t have the words to tell you what it means to me when you do.

Just then, I am reminded of all the nights I spent alone as a teenager.

When I was too afraid to call anyone, when I was too afraid to tell the truth, when I was too afraid to break hearts.

I am reminded of how close I came to dying because I was never brave enough to say, “I need help.”

Tonight, I will not die. I will sleep next to you. I will wake up occasionally, look over at you, and feel relieved that you’re still there.

I will remember all the nights that I rejected the people I cared about, thinking I was some sort of protector, some sort of martyr. Thinking that these walls I built were so tremendous, that I had done the world a favor.

When I hear you breathing next to me in the middle of the night, I will wonder why I ever thought I was so noble for going it alone.

I wasn’t noble.

I was just scared.

/

“What happens if I’m hospitalized?”

“It will be okay.”

“And what about my parents?”

“They will be okay.”

Quietly:

“And me?”

“You will be okay.”

/

When I leave your house in the morning, you say – in your very particular way of saying things – that today is going to be an adventure.

I stop in my tracks, looking back at you.

“An adventure?” I repeat back.

When you tell me that everything will be okay, I believe you. I’m learning to believe in you.

Everything you said yesterday was true, too – when you promised that no one was plotting against me; when you promised I could take a nap and not wake up somewhere else; when you promised that if I told you where I was, we would make things right.

I don’t know what you mean by an adventure, but I believe you when you say it.

/

The psychologist at the crisis center has assessed my responses.

“Rapid cycling,” he says, “Brought on by the hormone fluctuations when you ran out of testosterone. It set off your bipolar disorder.”

I breathe a sigh of relief.

“You mention here,” he says, looking at the dozens of papers that I filled out, “That you were experiencing some bouts of suicidality.”

“Yes,” I say quietly.

“What kept you from acting on your impulses?”

I think about it for a moment.

“My friends.”

He pauses, in the way I guess all therapists do, in the way that makes me feel like I need to fill in the spaces.

But this time, I don’t fill the space.