“This person we’re trying to poison, does he have any dietary restrictions?”
—The New Yorker
Surprise! The people at my job have gotten their shit together and given me work to do! What a relief!!! It’s so much better than staring at my screen reading mind-numbing Security articles eight hours a day. I mean, I want to be productive. That’s why I’m there, right??
Towards the end of the week I got assigned to a couple of projects and both the work and the training started coming. The work is fine, the training is intense and tiring. But that is totally fine. I’m there to learn and grow! This is what I asked for! So I am grateful. But by Friday I have to tell you, I was exhausted. On Friday morning, I had to double-check my medicine box to make sure I hadn’t taken my evening medication, I was so tired!
Working 40 hours a week is normal for most people but for me it is totally exhausting. My whole existence is geared towards keeping the Work Machine up and running. Something that is of utmost importance for people with Bipolar is sleep, and I am not getting enough. In my lackadaisical part-time days, I slept 10-11 hours per night, waking with the morning light, and that was ideal. I know that sounds like a shit-ton of sleep, but for some reason I function better on a whole lot of sleep. Now, I am getting 7-8 hours per night, which is why I was so tired by Friday. I don’t think it’s enough to throw me into mania (God I hope not), but it’s enough to exhaust me.
I am having to become a real stickler for self-care, and being somewhat regimented, which I am not fond of. But this is an endurance test to me, and if I don’t take care of myself, I’m not going to be able to keep going. So, I have to do things like plan ahead and make my lunch the night before work, and cook on the weekends so I have something to eat during the week. I’m also really lowwwwwww on funds so there’s no eating out for me! I have to plan carefully and then shop and prepare food. This is a discipline I’m not used to. Again, not a fan.
I don’t know where all of this is leading me in my life but I have to believe I’m becoming a better, more whole person every day. I’m learning, I’m practicing some discipline and self-care, I’m getting out into the world with other people and interacting (hard for me), and I’m exercising every morning. Maybe some day I will lose one pound, I don’t know. I think I’m in a good place, and I’m grateful for that. For all his bullshit, Dr. Drugs has got me on a good cocktail and I’m behaving like a somewhat normal person. I believe this is progress. I hope it continues. I’m taking it one day at a time and very much staying in the moment.
Hope you are all doing well, please let me know. Sorry I haven’t kept up with the comments, I promise to do better!! Love to you all! Peaches!
So I just got off the phone after talking with an East Coast graduate student for almost an hour about my bipolar disorder. She is with a group doing research for the University of Virginia, part of which is reaching out to people with the illness and asking them a lot of questions about how it affects them. I found out about the study from a reputable source and thought I’d participate for the fun of it. I also get a $20 Walmart gift card for my trouble, but that’s not the reason I did the interview. I did it because I am passionate about mental health and I want to do whatever I can to further understanding of brain disorders…mine in particular.
I was asked first about when and how I came to be diagnosed with bipolar NOS, and why it changed to bipolar 1 a couple of years later. How did that feel? Well, gobsmacked was the first word that came to mind, and I said as much. Then it was relief that there was a name for what ailed me and a way to treat it, even though it was incurable. Then came the denial, which I still fight even today, because I’ve felt so good for so long that I forget how bad things really were in the past. It’s a good thing I have this blog to remind me of how it used to be when my illness was raging out of control, and it was even worse before I got help.
She asked me about my medications, and what I call my love/hate relationship with them. I think I’ve finally gotten over the temptation to tinker with them, but I had to admit I still hate having to take so many for just this one reason. (We won’t even talk about the blood-pressure meds or all the supplements I take for various health concerns…suffice it to say that I’m on a hell of a lot of pills.) I think she was actually impressed with the quantity because she let slip a “Wow” while I was giving her my statistics.
We also discussed in depth the impact that BP has had on my life. I don’t think I’ve ever really put it all together before, but it boiled down to this: in the short term, the disease ruined me. I used to be a high-functioning, employed, successful nurse holding down a very responsible job, maintaining a household, and participating in society. Now I’m on disability, unable to even imagine going back to nursing, relying on my family to help support me. At first glance, my life looks terribly depressing…and yet, there is incredible optimism in my heart.
After all, I’ve learned to appreciate my many blessings, like my current stability, the aforementioned family and the fact that I have a safe place to lay my head at night. My husband is gone, but I am used to it now and while I will always love and miss him tremendously, I know he wouldn’t want me to mope around feeling sorry for myself and crying for him (well, I still do that on occasion, but I think he understands). I have friends, both online and in real life. I have four little dogs to love and play with who tend to bark at unfortunate times, like during this interview. (She got a kick out of that.) My blog is doing well and I’m getting a lot of page views these days. I even get to go on nice vacations like the one coming up in December. What’s not to love about my life?
This all came tumbling out as we neared the end of the survey. I don’t know how useful my story will be to the research project, but to me it was worth the 45 minutes out of my day. I think she thought so too; “awesome” was the word she used.