Daily Archives: August 20, 2017

Triggered!

Just about the time I think I’m over all this bipolar business, something happens to remind me that my stability can evaporate very quickly if something goes seriously sideways in my life.

It almost did yesterday. While I won’t go into the reasons for the scare, I will say that my feeling of safety and security was majorly threatened, and I’m still shaken up even though things got better rapidly after all was said and done. I haven’t felt fear like this since 2014 when Will and I almost became homeless. I even had to pop a Klonopin to calm myself down, and I NEVER use it for anxiety, only sleep.

In the meantime, my thoughts were racing, my heart was pounding, and I felt as though I was tipping over into a mixed episode. My butt was glued to the park bench at my grandson’s birthday party, but my brain was on fire and I wanted to run as fast as my feet could fly (which admittedly isn’t very fast). I barely ate; my stomach was tied up in knots, and I was suddenly so irritable that it was all I could do not to yell at the kids who played nearby.

Some might say that my reaction to the stress was normal and completely  understandable given the circumstances, and they would be right. I’m talking about the feeling that I was spiraling out of control, which I haven’t encountered in nearly three years. I’d forgotten what that was like. I was so uncomfortable I even took my nighttime meds a little early, and I welcomed the calm that stole over me as they began to take effect.

Today, after a night filled with strange dreams, I feel like the worst is over. I’ve been assured that my place in the world is safe and I needn’t worry, although it’s going to be awhile before I can trust again. You know how it is when the scales fall from your eyes; there is no going back to innocence once a security breach has occurred. And although I know I’m loved, I have to remember that unconditional love is rare, and I will probably never experience it in the flesh again.

This afternoon, life is back to normal as if nothing ever happened. However, I rose up this morning on guard and more protective of my stability. I hope it won’t be threatened again for a long, long time (preferably never), but I’m not taking it for granted. I’ve worked too damned hard and too damned long for it. In spite of everything that’s happened in the past 13 months, I love my life and don’t wish it to be any different… except maybe for a bigger bedroom and my own bathroom. That’s supposed to happen when we move to Texas. Last night we all sat out on the deck talking about our future and making plans for the move, and it felt good to be part of that discussion.

I can’t wait. 🙂

 


Am I ‘Traumatized Enough’ For a Complex PTSD Diagnosis?

If trauma is affecting your mental health, you deserve compassion, care, and support. Full stop.

Do You Dare To Dream?

It seems like having Bipolar Disorder is a whole exercise in lowering your expectations about life.  Can I achieve anything?  Often getting through the day has to be the achievement that I aspire to.  This makes the dreams I have particularly painful.  You see, I have big dreams.  I wish I didn’t.  I wish all I dreamt was to work a job and pay the bills.  Maybe I could achieve that.  I wish that were enough for me.  But it’s not.  I dream of owning a home, of having dogs again, of having a garden, of starting a community homebuilding program to help others achieve their dream of home ownership . . . these are big dreams.  And they are front and center in my mind.  These dreams even appear in my sleep!  Last night I dreamt that I had two white Great Danes (my dream dog, I have had Great Danes in the past).

I often ask myself, why do you have to dream?  Can’t you be happy just existing?  Can’t being stable and living out of the hospital be enough?  But it’s not!  I have these dreams!  Do I have them for a reason?  Are they meant to be realized?  Or are they just pipe dreams?  Maybe I should take the “Dare to Dream” signs down.  Maybe I shouldn’t dare to dream.  Maybe it’s just making me unhappy.  Maybe it’s just giving me Reverse Gratitude and I should just focus on being grateful for what I have.  I don’t want to fall into a trap of feeling sorry for myself, that’s a rabbit hole I could fall down and have a hard time coming up from.  Is there a way to be grateful and still have dreams?  Can I be compassionate for myself and my dreams?  Can I accept them as just dreams – and nothing else?  Not meant to be reality?  The answer is no.  I believe that they are meant to be reality.  How do I get there, that is the question.

I’m wondering if my fellow friends with Bipolar Disorder have dreams that seem unachievable, and if so, how do you deal with them?


Filed under: Bipolar, Bipolar and Overambitious, Bipolar Disorder, Bipolar Dreams, Mental Illness, Psychology, Psychology Shmyshmology Tagged: Bipolar, Blogging, Daring To Dream, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Psychology, Reader

Does Emotional Abuse Cause Bipolar Disorder?

I belong to a fair number of bipolar support groups on Facebook and I often read posts or comments from people who attribute the cause or the severity of their bipolar disorder and/or PTSD to emotional abuse, particularly in childhood and particularly from family members.

I can’t really comment on PTSD since I don’t have it (though one therapist mistakenly diagnosed me with it), but I do have some experience with emotional abuse.

First, let me say that what I experienced was never physical abuse, unless you count deserved childhood spankings, which I know some people do. No sexual abuse, either – no “funny uncles” or neighborhood predators. (There was one older man that all the kids warned one another to stay away from, but I did, so I don’t know if the rumors were true.)

My childhood was pretty idyllic, if you get right down to it. My parents never divorced. We lived in a neat suburb of starter homes with excellent schools, where I got good grades and praise. We frequently visited our extended family in the next state, with plenty of aunts and uncles and cousins, farms and chickens and horses, along with occasional trips to local state and national parks. We went to the nearest local church, which did not emphasize hellfire and brimstone. If there was any mental illness in my family, I never knew about it.

And yet, sometime during that childhood, bipolar disorder began to manifest.

My life, of course, was not perfect. I was smart and loved school, and was very different from my parents, who weren’t big readers and didn’t know what to do with me, especially in the area of developing social skills and guiding my education. I fought with my sister, but not any more than other siblings I knew.

But then there was the bullying at school – the first emotional abuse I can remember. I’ve written about that before. At one point I noted:

There was the boy who chased me around the playground, threatening me with what he claimed was a hypodermic needle.

There were the kids at the bus stop who threw rocks at me while I tried to pretend it was a game of dodge-rock. Never being good at sports, I came out of that episode with three stitches in my forehead. I don’t know which upset me more, but by the end of it all, I was hysterical. And not the good, funny kind.

And there was my best friend and the birthday party. The party was for her younger sister and all the attendees were about that same age. My BFF and I were supposed to be supervising, I guess. But while I was blindfolded, demonstrating Pin the Tail on the Donkey, she kicked me in the ass. Literally. In front of all those younger kids.

It seemed a bit extreme.

I have also read about bullying and its relation to emotional abuse, and written about that:

“Our results showed those who were bullied were more likely to suffer from mental health problems than those who were maltreated,” says Professor Dieter Wolke of the University of Warwick in the article. “Being both bullied and maltreated also increased the risk of overall mental health problems, anxiety and depression.”

He adds, “It is important for schools, health services and other agencies to work together to reduce bullying and the adverse effects related to it.”

So. Emotional abuse in my childhood, in the form of bullying. Did it cause my bipolar disorder?

Probably not. But it sure didn’t help.

I was already at the least depressed and most likely bipolar by the time all that happened, and was certainly bipolar by the time I encountered undeniable emotional abuse in young adulthood.

But I firmly believe that the roots of my bipolar disorder were located squarely in my brain, between the synapses, due to the lack or overabundance of neurotransmitters or other brain chemicals. That’s the current thinking, and it makes sense to me. (Of course there’s the possibility that in the next decades genes or gut bacteria or some other factor will prove to be involved, but given present science, I’ll stick with the brain chemistry theory.)

I don’t think that the emotional abuse caused my bipolar disorder. But I sure as hell know that it exacerbated the illness, which has made it all the harder for me to make progress in finding peace and healing over the decades.

But I can only speak for myself. Your mileage may vary.

Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: bipolar disorder, bullying, childhood depression, emotional abuse, emotions, mental health, mental illness, my experiences, psychological pain