Daily Archives: March 15, 2018

In too Deep

In deep
And deep within
Depression and my mind
Thick as thieves
The darkness descends
Although it never really leaves
Crawled out of this tired bed
Into the cold blank shower
No scrub can rid me of this filth
Rubbing my face senseless
So a new mug could appear
Happy joyous and free
A smile without fear
As the fog cleared
And the mirror spoke
All I know is
I can’t steer this sinking ship
Rain drops outside
Tear drops inside
The nature of thy mother
Quietly taking shape
Lifeless and Breathless
I sit and wait
For whatever god that may cherish me
To remove this deadly disease
Before It
Decides my fate

 

Guest Post: 9 Myths about Bipolar Disorder by Kristy

9 mythsAbout Kristy

Every time someone casually says something like “Oh I’m so bipolar today” I cringe a little inside. Not because I’m offended, but because I know that so many people have no idea about the reality of bipolar disorder. Here is a list of some of the most common myths I’ve heard.

Myths About Bipolar Disorder

Myth 1. People suffering from bipolar disorder are just moody.

Being moody is more like being a little down because you didn’t lose that last few pounds before your beach vacation. Or being grouchy about the fact that it’s raining on the only day you could go to the pool this month. Being moody is not the same as being fine and functional one day and so depressed you can’t even drag yourself out of bed to eat or shower.

If you’re so depressed you can’t even think straight or focus well enough to do your job, then you’re not “moody”. If you had to drop out of school because you couldn’t concentrate enough to retain the information you were studying, then you’re not “moody”.

You’re not moody if you’ve ever gotten a huge burst of energy and felt so hyper you felt like you could literally jump out of your own skin. And yet, you can’t actually focus any of that energy to do something productive.

Bipolar disorder is caused by actual chemical imbalances in the brain. It’s true that sometimes certain things and events can “trigger” a manic or depressive episode. But often there is no trigger at all. I’ve gone from being perfectly fine to feeling so tired that I needed to sleep 16 hours a day. And then I would STILL be tired. I’ve had to quit jobs because my medications suddenly stopped working (which is actually pretty common with a lot of psychiatric disorders). I’ve been so depressed that someone could be talking to me and I would hear their words fine. But I didn’t have the mental energy to process what they were actually saying and formulate an appropriate answer.

Does that sound like being moody?

Myth 2. Bipolar People Switch From Depression To Mania Often

There are some people that switch faster and more often than others but the idea that people just switch from mania to depression on the turn of a dime is a myth. If you know a bipolar person well enough, you can usually pick up on subtle signs that a transition into depression or mania might be coming on.

Having more energy than usual, talking fast or “pressured speech”, and being more creative than usual can all be signs of impending mania. (For some reason there is a link between creative people and bipolar disorder. In fact, a lot of artists and musicians have the disorder.)

Requiring more sleep, losing interest in hobbies, and social withdraw can be signs that someone is starting to become depressed. (On a side note, I always hate it when people ask if I’ve “lost interest” in my activities. I never actually lose interest. I just don’t have the mental energy required to do the things I like when I’m depressed.)

 

Myth 3. Mania Is A Good Thing

Being manic is a good thing! It means you’re getting happy. Not necessarily. Some bipolar people do feel happy while experiencing mania. But it isn’t simply a matter of feeling happier.

Even if you feel happier than normal, you’re probably going to have a bunch of other horrible symptoms too. Some symptoms include “racing thoughts”, talking faster than usual (which gets on people’s nerves), and a lack of sleep. When I’ve been hypomanic (a less severe version of mania) I’ve been known to stay awake for 48 hours straight. Why? I just didn’t feel tired.

You’ll probably want to do a million things at once (like signing up for too many college classes AND doing volunteer work AND taking up 10 new hobbies). You feel like you can do anything you put your mind to. But you’ll probably be really irritable and you might find yourself snapping at friends and family for no reason.

So being manic is not normal and it doesn’t mean you’re getting happier or better.

Myth 4. Only Medication Can Help Bipolar Disorder

For most of us, taking medication properly is key to managing bipolar disorder. But there are other important things you can do to help prevent an episode.

  • One of the most important things for treating bipolar disorder is maintaining a normal sleeping schedule. When I’m doing well I need about 7 hours of sleep but some people might need less or more. You have to stick to this schedule every night.
  • About an hour before sleeping, turn off your computer and TV. Also, put the smartphone away. Electronic devices emit a type of blue light that signals to your brain that it’s daytime. This makes it harder for the body to produce melatonin. You need to send the message to your brain that it’s time to go to bed.
  • Eat healthily. Studies have shown there is a link between diets that have high levels of omega 3 fatty acids and lower levels of depression. You should also make sure you don’t eat too many carbohydrates. Sugar has been linked to all kinds of illnesses and an excess of it in the body causes inflammation.
  • Exercise. Studies have shown that regular physical activity relieves stress. I try to walk at least 30 minutes every day. When I’m able to stick to it I feel much better.
  • Pay attention to yourself and learn your own warning signs. When you know an episode is trying to come on you can take note of that and tell your doctor. Your psychiatrist may decide to change your medication or increase the dose.

Myth 5. Bipolar Disorder Only Affects Mood

I wish! If it only affected your mood it would be easier to deal with. When you’re sad you can usually continue to function. Unfortunately, this disorder causes cognitive and physical symptoms too.

It can make it hard to concentrate on anything. Imagine being in college and doing well enough to have the highest grade in the program. You even make Dean’s List. And then you find yourself declining to the point that you read a paragraph and can’t remember or process what it said. You try again, reading it over and over but you are so fatigued all you can think about is going back to sleep. And then the next day is the same thing. And the next day.

Bipolar disorder also causes random body aches and pains, changes in eating patterns, psychomotor agitation (pacing, finger tapping, and other “restless” motions). It can also cause psychomotor retardation which is a slowing down of both physical activity and thought. You end up missing appointments, forgetting to do things at work, etc.

Myth 6. ALL Bipolar People Self Medicate

There are some people that self-medicate with drugs and alcohol, but not everyone does. The closest I’ve ever come to self-mediating is taking over the counter sleeping pills when I can’t sleep. And it’s important to note that drugs and alcohol DO NOT cause this illness but they can definitely exacerbate symptoms.

Myth 7. All People With Bipolar Disorder Are Abusive

Some abusive people have bipolar disorder, but not all bipolar people are abusive. I’m listing this myth because I’ve seen a lot of people say their exes are bipolar because they were cruel. I understand a lot of times a victim of abuse is desperately trying to find some kind of logical reason for they were treated like crap. But the truth is if someone is abusing you it’s being they’re a horrible person. Plain and simple. Remember, there is a line where the disorder ends and the real person begins. Some people are just jerks.

Myth 8. People With Bipolar Disorder Can’t Have Normal Lives

This isn’t true. There are many people with this illness that work or manage busy households successfully. With proper treatment over 75% of people go on to live normal lives. Chances are actually pretty good that you know someone with bipolar disorder and don’t even know it. Anyone from lawyers and doctors to fast food employees and anyone in between can have this disorder.

Myth 9. People With Bipolar Disorder Had Bad Childhoods

Experts believe that it’s caused by a combination of environment and genes. So, in other words, you can have certain genes that predispose you to bipolar disorder. But it’s your environment that helps turn those genes on, so to speak. But this doesn’t mean that abuse is the only environmental thing that can affect you. There are other types of stresses that someone can experience. I read a case about a woman that developed bipolar disorder after a head injury.

References: WebMD    Every Day Health

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Depression: How I Want To Feel Versus How I Really Feel

It has not escaped me that this blog has become a major downer and yes, I am aware many must think, “Does she ever do anything but complain or beg for donations?” I can tell by my views, likes, and lack of comments for the most part that I have lost people’s interest and that saddens me. Because I am having a tough time now financially and I am reaching out but only because I am about to get my power turned off due to the dual billing caused by the move and my fund availability coming after the due date. And I have given them every cent I have to apply toward it, but unfortunately, it doesn’t change anything. I haven’t had a disconnect notice in seven years, this is a tough bitter pill to swallow. It is, however, my reality and in spite of my misanthropy…there is a smidge of hope inside that some kind person might understand the predicament my daughter and I are in and help out. Seven years of keeping the power bill paid, obviously this is an isolated incident not born of my own choice or any wrong doing.

Having said that cos well, to quote TLC, “I ain’t too proud to beg…”

So, yeah, the fact that this blog has become Downerpalooza and Complaint Central…I thought it being a mental health blog focusing on bipolar depression and anxiety that the perception would be of the disorders and how they alter thought patterns as opposed to it becoming my entire personality and identity to never be happy and complain incessantly. That was never the intent but in all fairness, I was ambushed with a lot of bad stuff right after another and am faced with so much change, and I fail miserably at change. Even without my wonky brain chemicals, I’d say my emotions of frustration, anxiety, and depression are pretty valid.

The other thing is…NO ONE CHOOSES TO BE DEPRESSED OR ANXIOUS. That is why we are diagnosed with disorders. When those disorders take over every faction of your life, perhaps the rare good things that do happen get lost in the chaos. I am not inherently a miserably whiny person. If anything, I am rebellious fighter and I fight my own mind with everything I’ve got. But it’s that same mind that is beating me up and causing me to feel things more deeply and in a more negative light. Trying to convince myself otherwise is like putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound. I do try, but it is not effective.

What I want to feel…I want to feel JOY. My daughter and I are getting a fresh start here. This is our first house, we spent 9 years in a ramshackle trailer with a landlord who never wanted to spend a dime to fix anything. Now we have a decent (if old) place where everything works and is in decent shape and the new landlord busted his butt getting the pipework fixed when he learned the previous tenants destroyed it all by using a blowtorch in an effort to thaw frozen winter pipes. This a huge step up for us. We got to keep our cats.

We have a better car now, an ’01 Lumina, and it runs great. It’s the newest car I’ve ever owned, and it’s paid for, no loan, though I do owe my father since he bought it and I’d almost rather owe some guy named Guido who would just break my kneecaps instead of using the debt to control my every thought and action…Being in debt to my dad for $1400 means he’s up in my business, telling me when I can make trips to town, etc. Not that I listen to him since it’s in my name and I pay insurance on it, but still…he’s so far up my ass he may as well be an enema. Still…he cared enough to replace my DOA car so can I really complain?

I am TRYING to view things positively.

The depression, however, puts a dozen spotlights on every negative aspect. It amplifies every anxiety. It quashes hope for the future. It convinces me the new doc is so busy and apathetic toward me, I am doomed. (That one may be accurate, just sayin’, my experience with shrinks has been horrid.) The depression is a dark cloud over head, always raining and gloomy even when it’s warm and sunny outside. I could win the lottery and my mind state would be, “Great, now I gotta pay taxes on it.” It doesn’t matter how accurate the emotions are or how silly they might be. They are there, they are real. I can choose to take them with a grain of salt when my mind is strong enough to do battle but sometimes…it just is not.

The ‘sundowning’ part of the depression really has me feeling low. The one plus is that it used to happen around 5 p.m., now the mood crash doesn’t happen til 8 p.m. or so. It results in me feeling so exhausted (if you met my child, you’d understand why I am tapped out by 8) I am in bed by ten p.m. Because it takes awhile to nod off and the sooner I start my toss and turn and counting backwards from 1000 in odd numbers ritual…I might be asleep by 11 p.m. I used to run on 4 hours sleep over a 2 day period. Now the days seems so long and grueling (even when nothing bad happens) sleep seems to be my only escape.

Does anyone really think that’s how I want to feel?

I’ve lived manic episodes and minus the poor impulsive choices…I WOULD KILL TO FEEL THE ENERGY AND OUTLOOK OF MANIA EVERY SINGLE DAY.

I hate feeling down, hate feeling strung enough on anxiety, hate living in red alert mode.

The fact that I keep trying has to count for something. I am trying. So very hard.

Just remember when you read this blog…my disorders, and their ensuing mind frames and emotions, do not define my personality or me as a person. Under all that bleakness…there’s a feisty sarcastic woman who wants to shed the depressive skin, start slathering on black eyeliner again, and view life as a gift, not a curse.

But…that’s the rub. What I want to feel versus what depression makes me feel.

Here We Go Again

“Here we go again.”

That was the major thought in my mind in March 2018 when I found myself being driven to the hospital in Jackson where I had always ridden out my suicidal urges.  This time was more serious—I kept imagining picking up the big knife laying on the kitchen counter and chopping at my left wrist with it.  Just go ahead and cut it and bleed out.  Get it over with; be done with life.  I don’t know if such imaginings are what’s called command hallucinations, but something serious was definitely going on.

It had started Monday.  I had experienced such thoughts throughout my day through the afternoon.  I told Bob, “I need to talk to you,” as soon as he came through the door with our youngest daughter in tow from dance practice.

He sent her upstairs to change, and I tried hard not to cry as I told him where my thoughts had been going throughout the day.  We tried my doctor’s office to see if they had an emergency number for him, but there was none.  We ate dinner, and Bob kept asking me how I was feeling, if I still wanted to go to the hospital.  By now we had made my daughter aware of the situation, and being thirteen and us having recently had a talk about my troubles, she knew the situation was serious.

As we went through the nighttime routine, I got calmer and calmer.  After dinner, we decided to watch old Bugs Bunny cartoons on DVD to get my mind off the seriousness of the situation.  I sat and watched the classics on the DVD—where Marvin the Martian was introduced, the Barber of Seville sketch, one of the “Duck season! Rabbit season!” sequences, and ended with the “Kill the Wabbit” masterpiece featuring Wagnerian opera. 

By then I thought I would be okay through the night.  I took a hot bath and went to bed.

 

  

Penny Positive #73

From An Optimist’s Calendar

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