Daily Archives: March 19, 2018
My son is now roughly the same age that my daughter was when I was hospitalized the last time and underwent ECT. The most terrible part of my experience with that procedure actually happened in the many months that followed it, and that was realizing how much stuff I had forgotten. I would have conversations […]
It has been about a week since I wrote my last post saying I didn’t know when I would write again because of depression. Well, I never thought that the very thing that was keeping me from writing would actually inspire me to do so! And that is only one of the many things I …
Interview with the Author of Bipolar Disorder, My Biggest Competitor: An Olympian’s Journey with Mental Illness
Amy Gamble is a Mental Health Speaker, Coach & Advocate. Olympian and Bipolar survivor. Find out more about her and her cause and fight at amygamble.com.
Amy Gamble is the Executive Director of NAMI Greater Wheeling. She’s been speaking for the past two years and has reached over 4000 people. From conferences to commencement speeches, Amy has given over 100 talks in two years. She’s well know for her inspiring and educational talks. Amy has a unique pathway to becoming a speaker.
She has written a book entitled Bipolar Disorder, My Biggest Competitor: An Olympian’s Journey with Mental Illness .
Some more information about her Olympic Career: She graduated from John Marshall High School in 1982) and is one of the Ohio Valley’s greatest female athletes of all time. Gamble excelled in three sports – basketball, track and women’s handball.
She became Marshall County’s first Olympian when she competed with the U.S. Women’s Handball Team in the 1988 Games held in Seoul, Korea. Earlier, the U.S. Women were crowned as champions of the Pan American Games.
Gamble was selected as the West Virginia Women’s Basketball Player of the Year in 1982 after leading John Marshall to the state Class AAA championship. She averaged 23 points and 18 rebounds on a 22-1 record team which avenged its only loss by defeating Elkins in the state finals. Captain of the All-State Team, Gamble was a two-time Class AAA first-team honoree. She was chosen All-OVAC and All-Valley three straight years.
She was the first JMHS girls’ basketball performer to score more than 1,000 points and the initial Monarch athlete to have her jersey retired. She scored 1,498 career points. Gamble was ranked as the No. 4 girls’ basketballplayer in the country her senior season when was named to the Parade, Street & Smith and USA Today All-American teams.
Recruited by Tennessee, she played as a backup on the 1983 Lady Vols’ squad that finished as the NCAA tournament runners-up, losing to the Cheryl Miller-led Southern Cal powerhouse. She left Tennessee at the end of that season and transferred to West Virginia University but played just one season before deciding to try team handball.
After her appearance in the Olympics, Gamble returned to basketball and enrolled at the University of Arizona. Despite having just one season of eligibility remaining, Gamble was the team’s leading scorer and she earned Pacific-10 Conference player of the week laurels.
Her high school track career was also brilliant, as Gamble set numerous invitational meet and OVAC records in the shot put and the discus. She established all-time OVAC standards in both events and was a West Virginia state champion in both events. She was a three-time All-Valley honoree.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
What are you most proud of in regards to your mental health advocacy work?
What are the biggest obstacles you’ve encountered dealing with bipolar disorder?
Do you think there will be a cure for bipolar disorder in your lifetime?
Are you married? Do you have any children/grandchildren/pets? Tell us about them (bragging a little is tolerated.)
Why did you decide to write the book and how long did it take?
Therapy peacocks???WTF, Morgue? Lolol. It’s an Arby’s commercial and it cracks me up. I believe in therapy animals, but a therapy peacock on an airplane…That’s just funny.
Golden days…I had one last Thursday. Kids playing in the yard, got stuff done, even survived my creepy brother hanging out, uninvited. (Sorry, love him, but a 23 year old who spends all his time wanting to hang out with my 8 year old is fucking creepy.) It was just a rarity, to feel in a decent mental space, to have major stressors like noisy kids, other parents, and people to deal with, plus 45 minutes of homework four nights a week which in Spook time turns into ninety minutes cos most is spent having a fit…I handled it beautifully. Golden days.
More often, I have pyrite days. Fool’s gold. Up and functioning, but so stilted by one or another disorder that it’s not a quality day. That was Friday. Temp dropped from sixties to thirties, gloom, off and on rain. Couldn’t get warm. Had to work up the courage to call the doctor’s office about the whole gabapentin situation. The nurse was supposed to get back with me Thursday but didn’t. It took another three hours after I called, me wringing my hands, breaking out in hives, stomach churning the whole time. Limbo. Ick. This new doc has me rattled to the nth degree. I don’t want to be viewed as some troublemaker constantly in need of attention but at the same time, I can’t be held responsible for their short staffing issues. It is perfectly logical to contact the doctor’s office when you are having trouble with a medication.
And 300 mg of gabba gabba kicked my ass and left me wishing for death so it was crucial to get hold of them, not because I am unwilling to try it-I’ve heard and read great things about it as an anxiety med. I just want to start at a lower dose. And so I need to get thee into town to the pharmacy to pick that up.
I engaged in some exposure therapy over the weekend. Not because I wanted to but because things had to be done and I figure if I do the exposure therapy thing it will either fix me or melt me down further so they have to put me on lockdown. Either way I am trying.
I dropped my kid at mom’s for a sleepover, braved Aldi, was doing ok in spite of the dismal rainy weather…Then I hit Hellmart. I mean Walmart. ARGGHHHHHH. I hate that place with the burning intensity of a thousand suns. But in keeping with exposure therapy I used one of the self check outs for the first time. It was as awful as I figured it would be. I had a ton of food, the bags kept ripping, I couldn’t find the UPC codes, the case of water ripped open…there were people behind me waiting impatiently. I couldn’t figure out how to ring up an onion and the lady that was supposed to be helping at self check out was busy with a line of people so…I started cussing and panicking right in plain view. It was as bad as any job I ever had, the stress of doing it all and doing it quickly cos people were waiting. I did not handle myself with dignity, but then, who does when in a panic? I am all for anything that lessens my need to deal with other people but when it makes my life more frustrating…fuck your self checkouts, Wal-mart.
To my chagrin, my dad called on my one kid free night and asked if I’d go out to dinner with him since my brother was out with my nephew and stepmonster was out with nephew’s fiance. I was like a deer in headlights. Dad is a downer. Both my parents are cos they are so critial and dismissive of anything I say or feel. A counselor who met them described them as toxic and told me to limit contact for my own well being. And of course, there’s the whole ‘in the middle’ thing. It’s been 21 years since my parents split and yet they still put us in the middle so if we’re nice to mom, it irks dad, and if we’re nice to dad, mom thinks we’re sucking up to him.
My fatal flaw is, in spite of how rough around the edges I am, I really don’t want to offend or hurt people. Plus a free meal out…I was trying to convince myself dad’s not that bad…when he said, “I was going to ask your sister first but since she has your kid, I’m asking you.” Ha ha ha ha, second choice, as usual, feel the love. Oh, well. I went. He dragged me to some farm and home supply store. They had a live pig there named Curly Sue so while he looked for his redneck stuff, I spent twenty minutes talking to the pig. I am an animal person. Then we ate at Long John Silver’s and after, he took me for the same old cruise of the semi truck lot he used to cruise with us when we were little kids. Yay. I wish I could get excited for such things but…I can’t, it’s not my thing.
Saturday evening I curled up on the couch and watched Deception and For The People. Gotta say, I had my doubts about these Tv Free Way digital antennas but as long as you’re okay with 10 channels not of your choosing…they work like gangbusters. Everyone thought I had cable, the picture is so clear. I lucked out the day that dude left those at the shop cos they didn’t work with his analog tvs. Free stuff is always good and better when it actually works.
There was one scene on From The People where the two women were walking across the bridge in New York and I was just mesmerized by the lights and view…but I also felt my heart start pounding and my breath quicken because all that activity overwhelms me even from a TV set. That alone should give the professionals an indication how life altering my disorders are, even TV shows set me off. If only I had a therapy peacock…
Sunday I faced another daunting thing. I cooked and had my mom and sis and nephew and his gf come over to see the new place. I worked my butt off getting the place cleaned up and organized-ish. And it went well. Except for having to hear about how much Spook told them she hates it here. All the while she tells dad’s side she likes it. Kid is sheeple, she tells people what she thinks they want to here. She knows grandma doesn’t like it here, so she hates, but poppy does like it here, so she likes it. I don’t know what it’s like to be that malleable but it must suck.
Anyway…I survived it all. Downside, I was so exhausted physically and mentally, I went to bed at 8:30 last night and I slept hard and without any sleep meds. Dealing with stressful stuff tires me out quickly, I tend to hit a wall.But I have at least earned an E for effort.
So…I did ok aside from the cussing panicking meltdown at Walmart. When I go there, I need a therapy pet cobra to do my hissing and venomizing for me. Or…I could just never have to go there again.
I have a rich fantasy life.
After I packed my clothes, I called Bob’s mom to ask her to come sit with Rachel until Bob got back. My father-in-law answered and said she wasn’t home and didn’t have her cell phone with her. I didn’t tell him what was going on, just said we would call back later.
I packed my contacts and makeup, knowing to leave my meds and other valuables at home. By then Bob was walking in to a hug from our youngest and asking me how I was doing. I stayed strong and didn’t cry in front of my daughter. We called Dr. Bishop’s office since it was still office hours for him, but the staff there told me to call the hospital directly. I called the behavioral health unit and was told to go to the ER since they had closed assessments for the day. Everywhere I turned it seemed I was being palmed off on someone else.
We decided to just drop our daughter off at Bob’s parents’ house, and Bob called to tell his father we were on the way. His father said that would be fine and wished me well at going into the hospital if that was what I needed to do.
We went to St. Dominic’s with very little talk, mostly about logistics and who needed to be notified that I might be going inpatient again. Again we landed in the ER, and again I was taken back to a windowless room with a wooden bed and a rubber mattress and asked to change into disposable scrubs.
Let’s talk about reaching out. More importantly my seemingly inability to do so. I have been in the social services profession for over half my life. My sole purpose is to be there when others reach out to me. I can attest to the relief it can bring for the other person. The so-called burden has an opportunity to be lifted by the very virtue of sharing with someone else. Releasing what’s typically rolling around in the “wrong neighborhood” of the mind can be cathartic.
Armed with this information and actually witnessing it to be true, you’d think I would jump at the chance to fill someone’s ear with my stuff. Not the case. Well, not entirely accurate. The idea of this prospect is wonderful. Unleashing the demons that constantly plague me would be so beneficial. But, knowing this is not enough. Speaking my truth is so scary and difficult, I prefer to hide behind my written words. I mean conveying my pain in some form or fashion is helpful. But, again, not enough. Realistically, some days all I’m able to do is furiously type on this computer and hope to be brave enough to send it out into cyberspace.
What is this fear? Fear of being a burden. Misunderstood. Unable to express what ails my mind, body and soul. The questions you might ask to clarify. Statements you might make to “help” me. Having to dive into deep shit I don’t know how or want to. Having to admit I have bipolar disorder and all the chaos it has created. The manic and depressive episodes that have rocked me to my core. Rocked my marriage possibly to its breaking point. Wanting to expel the details from my memory, but also not dredge up the pain it encompasses. Wondering if you could possibly understand. Or, maybe you do so much that I must then console you. What a selfish thought that is! Baggage I guess is part of the fear.
Just the other day I was quite distraught the whole day. Many many tears shed in the confines of my home. Well, and into the dark black fur of my kitty. Back to bed I went after 2 cups of coffee. I had received news the prior evening I did not get a job I felt highly qualified for. The interview had gone very well in my opinion. I even brought up a few ideas and sparked a discussion. Does it get better than that? I was able to speak to my weakness within the proposed position, but more so self myself as an asset. I recounted this experience to a few friends and they agreed it sounded positive. Case Management is in my bones, I told them. 15 years of direct experience..successful experience. Over 20 years in a social service delivery model in general. I could learn the “ins and outs” of the agency.
I suppose I could have picked up the phone that day and relayed my utter disappointment. But, I just couldn’t. We could argue didn’t or couldn’t. For me it was a could not. I sent out a few rushed texts. One to my husband and one to my brother. Both expressed sympathy, but just to move on to the next one. Typical advice. But, I’m not a typical person. I guess no one is. My bipolar brain was beating me up through and through. How does anyone know that if I don’t share? I keep it all locked inside. Tears fell on the couch and into the bedroom. My husband asked if I was crying as we nestled under the covers in the darkness. I said no. We both knew I was lying. I can’t share pain in the moment of pain. It feels physically impossible. My body will not let me. My mind won’t allow words to come out of my mouth. I just shutdown.
I have the opportunity to share my ups, downs and in- betweens with a woman who is willing to be my sponsor in AA. This equates to another human being willing to hear what ails my mind, body and soul. Can I lay down the walls and accept this possibility? Leave the baggage at the door and honor this for what it is..space to learn how to share myself. Space to learn about myself. Space to forgive myself.
Let’s face it. I don’t need space. I need connection. Honest emotional interaction. So, let’s talk about reaching out. How do you do it?