Daily Archives: May 24, 2016

Recovering in Phoenix, Arizona

All of us are on a journey in life and none of us get to choose what our challenges may be.  One of the things I have learned along the way is that sometimes when I share I have struggled with mental illness people feel much more comfortable telling me either their own challenges or that of their family.  It is as if by sharing I am releasing a pressure valve allowing people to let out their story and feel understood.

This is something I have found so critically important.  All of us have a desire to feel understood.  Yet those of us who live with a mental illness can sometimes be the most misunderstood primarily because of stigma.  All those myths and misperceptions create a boogey man and then the person who lives with a mental illness is isolated or excluded.

Well this past weekend I was neither excluded nor isolated.  I participated in a reunion with my old work colleagues of more than 20 years ago.  I will admit I was at first very reluctant to attend.  Not because I felt totally uncomfortable about having bipolar disorder,  more so because I had gained 50 pounds from medication side effects.  I completely consider that frame of mind progress.  Here I am after all this time worried about weight gain when I have overcome so much to be mentally healthy.  There is a bit of irony in all of this for me.

The beauty in my visit really came down to reconnecting with people who I have not seen in a long time.  As in all relationships some people you connect with better than others, but I have uniquely found when people have been touched by mental illness we automatically have a kindred spirit connection.  Most people are thrilled that I have become a mental health advocate and have been extraordinarily supportive.

However, there are others who continue to deny or feel ashamed their family or themselves have been affected by mental illness.  These are the people who touch my heart in a piercing kind of way.  I just want to reach out and touch them and tell them it is going to be okay.  But all I can do is observe, listen and keep steadfast to my mission of raising awareness.

Everyday I take another step out into the worlds I used to walk in, I am taking a step forward for mental health awareness.  People need to know someone can recover from a severe mental illness and I am living proof it is possible.

Oh and as for the weight…it’s next on my recovery journey list.  I worked on my mind, I continue to work on my spirit, and now I turn my attention to my body.  My mission now is not only about Mental Wellness it is about Total Wellness and that is truly a lifelong journey.

 

 


Ten Days In Lockdown Part II – Throwback

This week I’m doing things a little differently. I’m doing a throwback every day this week. This is the second post of a five part series originally posted in March 2014 regarding the ten days I was in lockdown. I felt the need to post again. If you missed earlier posts, you can go back […]

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The Hospital This Last Time

Before my most recent hospitalization, I was asked to write a piece for a mental health blog on “11 Small Victories Over Depression.”  I accepted the assignment, despite being depressed and feeling like crap at the time.

I waited until the last minute to do the assignment in January and wrote all the usual things—how getting up to face the day was a victory in and of itself and worthy of celebration.  How listening to uplifting music and reading uplifting books could help your spirits. How prayer and gratitude could help you get through the day when depressed.  I wrote a good article.  Trouble was, I didn’t believe a word of it at the time.

So in February I sat on my unmade bed at home on a Friday afternoon  and weighed several factors–were the thoughts constant? Yes. Did I have a plan? No, not really, not beyond a vague idea of stuffing my head inside a plastic garbage bag.  Did I think I could survive one more day thinking this way without breaking down where the kids could see me? No.   Did I have a reason to be suicidal? No, not really.  My life was fine.  What kind of disruptions would I cause in our family life if I left the house to go to the hospital? Not sure. How long would I be there? Not sure.

I had already had to cancel Rachel’s eleventh birthday family party because her sister Amber was sick with an upper respiratory infection.   Rachel herself was still coughing after going to the doctor on Tuesday.  The family faced minimal disruption because it was only a couple of weeks until spring break.

Waiting on going in until after spring break was impossible—I needed to be well for the dance trip to Mobile and the family trip to Natchez we had planned for the vacation time.  I wondered idly if I got admitted today if I would be in long enough to miss the local dance competition on the next Saturday and decided probably not.


Never Wait for Approval …

… because that f*cker ain’t ever going to come.

Time Travelling Wilburys

Time Travelling Wilburys

Warnings for: swearing, whinging, self pity, & a near death experience

I  had planned to write about yesterday, when two cars nearly hit me on a crossing near our home. Whilst I was in the middle of the crossing. With the green man on. (1)

The driver of the car between me and the pedestrian island on the other side decided that a flashing green light meant, not “proceed with caution”, but rather “clog it”. So, it appeared, did at least one of the drivers whose cars were heading toward me.

Fortunately, they stopped. But not until I stamped my feet and screamed something like “Stop, fuck you! I’m in the middle of the fuckin’ road for christsake!”

Am I apologetic about my bad language? Am I hell. I had an operation on Thursday (2), and I’m moving more slowly than usual. Of course, I didn’t really have a near death experience: not only was there no white light or welcoming relatives, I probably wouldn’t have died, just ended up in hospital and on crutches and sticks for months, years, and/or the rest of my life.

But this isn’t about careless drivers, or even those bloody cyclists who think they can cycle, at speed, on a footpath – the footpath, for pity’s sake! – and come up behind a pedestrian, without ringing a bell, saying “Excuse me”, or anything else. Not that ringing a bell would help people who are hard of hearing, wrapped up in their own little worlds, or not fast enough to get out of the way of an arse-up-their head bloody cyclist.

Blue sky wheeling

Safest place for a cycle to be: yes, it may fall on my head, but far less likely than some idiot on the pavement.

No, this is about the seemingly endless desire we stupid humans have for approval. And no worries, I am most definitely one of those thicko humans, so if you feel insulted, remember, I’m insulting myself, too.

I loved my mum & dad to bits, and I know they loved/love me. And, as well as lessons in manners and other useful stuff, I received praise and approval as a child.

Then, after awhile, it dried up. Because, more often than not, that’s just the way these things go.

You want to do something? Then do it. Be it art, writing, being the best knitter this side of Milton Kenyes, the ultimate in extreme ironers, the fittest you’ve ever been, just do it.

Dye your hair for you. Bake that cake for you: yes, even if you end up giving the whole damn thing away, because it’s a present and that’s what you always planned to do. If you stop eating cake, stop it for you, not some tosser who thinks you should be slimmer. That goes whether the tosser is a friend, partner, relative, or some idiot you saw on the telly, or in a magazine.

Of course, you probably do have (some) relatives and friends who celebrate your achievements, and realise what’s important to you, is important to you, because it’s important to you. I do, too. Damn it, the playwright Robert Bolt said it so much better than me, in “A Man for All Seasons“, but I haven’t seen my copy of the play in years, & I don’t have time to stop and look for it, because I have a short story collection to be getting on with.

Because I want to. Because it’s important to me. And because I can’t hang around for the approval ship to turn up, just in case it’s hit that big bad iceberg of indifference.

And I need to get a move on because death doesn’t hang about, either.

Have a nice day! Airy Fairy, Sheffield, home of lovely art, & cake.

Airy Fairy, Sheffield, home of lovely art, & cake.

(1) For those who aren’t familiar with British traffic signals, the green man is a light which tells pedestrian it’s safe to cross the road.
(2) I do wish I could apologise to the postman who was in earshot when I later shouted, “I’ve just had a fucking operation, for fuck’s sake!”

Tagged: Airy Fairy, approval, art, creativity, cyclists, drivers, family, mortality, pedestrians, safety, self improvement, surgery, Travelling Wilburys, writing

It’s Called Life…

IMG_8936

The story before the graduation, it looked like there was not going to be anyone to celebrate with! My brother was supposed to arrive at 9:30 am the day of the graduation, they bumped him off his flight from NYC to Buffalo, and he couldn’t get another one. My sister missed her flight from LA to Buffalo due to a traffic jam, and couldn’t get another flight to Buffalo. My niece (the soon to be Cardiologist) was going to drive in from Philadelphia, and something came up so she couldn’t come. A few of my friends could not make it, and I had no idea how many of my son’s friends were coming.

The night before the graduation, my son was going to visit his old friends across the street from our old house and for some reason that triggered so much anxiety in me that I could barely breath. My anxiety told me something AWFUL was going to happen, I could barely breathe, everyone was asleep, it was me alone with my anxiety and panic, me alone against my anxiety and panic. I texted and called my son, but he didn’t answer. I cannot tell you the awful anxious, panicked state I was in… I calmed myself down, I took 125 mg of Seroquel instead of 100 mg. And went to bed, the next morning, I awoke groggy from the Seroquel, took a cold shower, dressed and went to pick up my son, he, of course, was fine! My anxiety does not run the world, has no effect on it whatsoever, just shortens my life, if anything. So off we went to the Center for the Arts at the SUNY Amherst Campus, where the Law School Commencement was held. I even got a few pictures of my son and his girlfriend backstage:-)

I just put the thought of that awful, horrible anxiety from last night out of my mind, and attacked the day with vigor, elation and pride! My husband cried so much as my son passed us by in the procession to the stage. I thought I was going to cry, but I forgot to cry a lot because I was so busy comforting him, hahaha.

My brother, upon learning that he had no seat on his flight, got in his car at 6:30 am in NYC and made it to Buffalo for the Commencement. My sister arrived in time for the dinner the night of the commencement! My niece texted and talked to all of us from Philly. So it all turned out in the end. It also gave me ammunition against my anxiety and panic attacks, I can refute what my anxiety says, I can refute the catastrophization binge that my anxiety takes me on. Oh lord, please go away anxiety and never darken my door again!

So it was just life, and it all turned out fine, and I have to have faith in the life I, my husband and my son and all my beloved family have built. Yes my… our past has been FULL of tragedy, but that doesn’t mean our present and future has to be, or will be. So take that anxiety!

 

 

 

 

 


My Son Is A Lawyer!!

May 21st was a very happy day indeed! My son is a lawyer! He even got his grades today from this last semester, he got A’s and B’s in all his courses so he really did graduate! With a GPA of 3.5, pretty good for this silly boy, considering he hardly ever went to class, I know, I know, I told him to attend his classes, but… oh well, he graduated. The next thing on the agenda is passing the Bar exam. He starts his Bar preparation course tomorrow. This one he will not be able to miss at all, every second of this one counts, so he’ll be attending all two months of it and taking the bar in July. After that, an extensive job search, he is staying in NY State, but most likely not Buffalo. These are the first free minutes I’ve had for the last three days! We’ve had the Commencement at SUNY Amherst Campus, the dinner the night of at San Marco, the cocktail party the next day at Rue Franklin, the dinner tonight at Trattoria Aroma, lunch at Soupherb. Seems like we came here to eat, but all family gatherings happen while eating great meals! Companion means something with whom you share bread, so there it is, we broke a lot of bread together. And had a wonderful time! Everyone was so proud of my son and his achievement, it was a happy, happy occasion! My husband and I are the proudest parents you can imagine. It is gratifying that my son is now in possession of a degree that will make it possible for him to have a wonderful career and life. Everyone wished him well, and brought gifts and blessings!

A few pictures are below taken with my cell phone. I took a million pictures with my Nikon camera, but forgot to bring the cord to download them onto my computer, so either I go get another cord or wait to download them till I get back to Louisville…

Aral Grad

Aral Hood

Being hooded!

Me and Nej Aral Commencement