Daily Archives: July 2, 2017

I Am Still Bipolar*

Last week I wrote a post that said I had stopped psychotherapy for bipolar disorder. But I am still bipolar. (And for those of you who object to that phrasing, see below.*)

Because my bipolar disorder is under some degree of control, it would be tempting to say that I no longer have it. That I am well, cured, normal, healed. That I am not bipolar.

But I still am.

I can work (at home) and earn a living, but I cannot go out and work in an office 40 hours a week. I can go out and run an errand occasionally, but one or two is about my limit. I spend most days on a fairly even keel, but I still cry for no reason sometimes or get myself in over my head when I think I can do more than I really can. I can travel 50 miles from home by myself, but I can no longer travel alone overseas as I once could.

I am still bipolar.

I always will be. Like a diabetic, I will always be affected by my condition. Like an alcoholic, I will always be recovering, but not recovered.

My symptoms will come and go. I will have good days and bad days. But I can never say, “I am cured.” Honestly, I don’t think I’ll even get to the point where I can say, “I am in remission.”

I am still bipolar.

I still have to watch for triggers and symptoms and pay attention to self-care and have someone to help me when I can’t. I still have to take my meds and I most likely will for the rest of my life. I still need to see my psychiatrist and have a psychotherapist’s number that I can call in case of emergency.

And that’s okay, sort of. I have learned to live with it, deal with it, cope with it, sometimes even ignore it.

But I am still bipolar.

 

*Grammar Note:

I understand the reasons that many people will not say “I am bipolar.” “You wouldn’t say ‘I am cancer,’ would you? I am not my disease,” they explain.

And that is true. You would not say “I am cancer” and you are not your disease.

But “I am bipolar” is still a perfectly accurate thing to say. Here’s why.

“Cancer” is a noun. You generally don’t use a noun in the “I am….” construction. It takes an adjective. You don’t say, “I am happiness (a noun),” you say, “I am happy (an adjective).”

The thing is, “bipolar” is an adjective (as in “bipolar symptoms”) as well as a noun.

There are plenty of words that work the same way. “Fat” is both a noun and an adjective. You can say “I am fat,” but usually don’t say “I have fat,” unless you specify, “I have fat around my waist.” That’s why “I have bipolar” sounds so weird to me. I’m used to “bipolar” being an adjective and perfectly acceptable in the construction “I am ______.”

So, I am not my disease. But I am still bipolar.

Nonetheless, I won’t try to make anyone else follow my rules. If you don’t want to say, “I am bipolar,” then don’t. I won’t object. But if I say I am, understand that I have reasons. Pedantic, academic reasons, but that’s where I come from.


Filed under: Mental Health

Struggling

I could just be super sensitive and whiny because I am on day 5 of PMS with spine crushing cramps but…I swear if I have to be ASSAULTED one more time by some shiny happy people post about mindfulness or visualization or ‘make it happen, stop being a victim’…I AM gonna start removing spleens with a rusty spork.

And what’s worse than the true believers of this sunshine spewage are the ones who spew it, almost with a question mark tone, as if they want to believe it, need to, but aren’t sure if they do.

Guess what? Life just often sucks.

My meds aren’t working. Lithium is destroying my self esteem and life. My mother, who leaves her bedroom twice a month, has lost 40 pounds sitting on her ass just drinking Kool Aid with artificial sweetener. Meanwhile, I drink nothing but water and run around after a 7 year banshee 24-7 and I just gain weight. Fuck you, lithium. I want off the stuff. I can’t even remember the last time I had a sexual thought that wasn’t wishful thinking or forced. I’m far from mania so I just want lithim gone, lamictal’s got the mania part under control.

As for anti depressants, I don’t have a clue. My tried and true has failed me. My Wellbutrin mixed with the others makes me nod off if I take it any time other than bedtime and half the time, by then, I am so drained from the spawn and her posse, I forget to take it.

I AM STRUGGLING.

And yes, it’s making me bitter and I wanna smash everyone else down like a bug if they are doing well and have found something, no matter how idiotic I find it, that helps them…Because I am petty that way. Depression is a selfish, petty, vindictive bitch of a disorder that turns otherwise decent humans into venom spewing monsters who want to set rainbows on fire and clip the wings off a pegasus and shoot ricin laced arrows at adorable cherubic cupids.

Life is ugly.

But even when I am not hormonal and off in the abyss…I still find all this pom pom waving positive attitude stuff like an assault against my senses. We tag things for having swear words or self injury triggers, so why the hell can’t people just tag their sunshine spewage so I know to avoid it? It TRIGGERS me. I become hostile because I have tried it all and NONE of it works for me and it’s not that I am simply negative or unwilling to change. I am an individual and one size does not fit all. So when repeatedly assaulted by all the pom pom waving and reminded how it does not work for me so I must be a freak…

It adds to the depression. Which isn’t helpful. And since things aren’t tagged with shiny happy labels, I never know what I am walking into when I click until after the damage is done.

I know, what kind of awful human being finds positive thinking a bad thing? Hmmm. The person who spent 20 years trying to positive think her way out of therapy, shrinks, meds, bad marriages, horrid family members, constant financial strife…only to NEVER HAVE IT IMPROVE, EVER. So yeah, I like ‘cautious optimism’. I like expecting the worst and from time to time being surprised when I turn out to be wrong and there are good things and good people out there.

One size doesn’t fit all yet if you’re not a positive thinker, the world wants you to feel bad. As if positive thinking is the only size and any other size, like cautious optimism, is abhorrent. What I find abhorrent is a world that wants us all to be cookie cutter people.

So to be clear…Apologies if I offended any sunshine spewers, take what works for you and I wish you well. Just realize it cuts both ways and if your sunshine spewing makes me feel more depressed…maybe I’ll just stick to what works for me even if you consider it gloomy.

Also…Talk to me in about 6 days when I am likely to be back in my non hormonal mind. I’m really a bitch beast this month. Physical pain makes me meaner than usual.


Challenging the Truth

My therapist and I finished the program specific to PTSD in Seeking Safety by Lisa M. Najavits.  Some of it was good, some lame, but one particular exercise moved my whole life in a different direction.

We all have beliefs—things we know to be true.  But beliefs can keep us stuck if we don’t risk challenging them.  In “Discovery,” we take beliefs and create a plan to find out if they are really true.  In my first round of Discovery, I looked at how I believed I was helpless to stop getting lung infections every year.  I did two things to test that truth—I hired someone to come clean my apartment once a month to see if getting rid of dust on a regular basis would help, and I arranged to see a pulmonologist.

The effect of better housekeeping won’t show up for a while, but the pulmonologist I saw a week ago gave me some straight dope.  It’s doubtful I even have asthma (though I went through more testing earlier this week to be sure), and aside from anemia there was only one other cause for all my physical symptoms.  Obesity.

When I read that in the doctor’s report, I phased out for a bit.  Dissociated is the clinical term.  The brain protects itself by going bye-bye (My experience of dissociation feels like I’m about to faint—my hands and feet go numb, I can’t hear, and I lose time).

There’s something about food, dieting, fat and binge eating that feels too horrible to face.  If I thought I felt helpless about my lungs, the belief is multiplied a thousand fold around controlling my intake.  I can’t control it.  I never have been able to control it.  I firmly believe I never will.

But, I also knew the doctor was right.  I used to be a nurse.  I still remember a little physiology.  Increased risk of infection, higher blood pressure, skin breakdown, joint pain and damage can all be hitched to the Obesity Train.

So, I went back to Discovery, because I’m very stuck in these beliefs around food.  I talked to both Megan, my therapist and Sarah, the nurse practitioner, who are my mental health team.  We drew up a plan to test my truth, and I decided early on to say, “yes” to whatever they proposed.

Sarah suggested I try switching to a low carb/high fat diet (one diet I’d never tried).  It seems counter-intuitive, and feels really weird, but I’ve been doing it for four days now.  After eating vegan for a couple of years, it seems wrong to buy sirloin and pork cutlets.  But, I’m doing it.  I still feel like I have the flu—urpy, roiling gut, drop-dead exhaustion—but I was warned about this “adjustment period” as my metabolism switches from burning carbs to burning fat.

The compulsion to binge eat is still there, but there’s not much to binge on.  It seems easier (at least in this initial phase) to go do something else.  But, I hate the way food feels in my mind.  It’s like a rubber band that’s stretched too tight.  I don’t know that I’ve ever noticed that before—the discomfort, the pressure, the tension.  I’m seeing how I seek to be numb where food is concerned—something to explore in therapy.

I will lose weight, I always do.  It’s just that I’ve never kept it off and usually gain back more.  This feels like my last chance to figure it out.  I would love to have a toolbox for Food as comprehensive as my toolbox for Bipolar Disorder.  Pretending the problems don’t exist isn’t much of a tool.  Neither are the industry standards in nutrition.  As Sarah said, “We have to do more than think outside the box.  We have to create a whole new box.”

They’re both doing this low carb diet with me, and when I go for my appointments, we’ll do them walking around the block.  I feel like there’s a chance we could actually create something new.

Life is never what one dreams.  It is seldom what one desires, but, for the vital spirit and the eager mind, the future will always hold the search for buried treasure and the possibility of high adventure. — Ellen Glasgow