Daily Archives: April 11, 2018

Shower Power, Revisited

I’m having trouble showering again.

What the hell is the problem here? you might ask. Well, if you Google “bipolar disorder and showers”, you’ll find all kinds of information about it—most of it anecdotal to be sure, but it’s a genuine phenomenon that defies rational explanation. It’s most often a symptom of depression, although with me it really doesn’t matter, I can be manic AF and still not want to shower. I can also be perfectly stable, like I am now, and I still have difficulty shucking off my clothes and jumping in. And as always, I wonder: why??

Well, for one thing, it’s a pain in the ass. First you have to make the conscious decision to do the deed in the first place, then you have to gather up all your stuff and head for the bathroom. You have to find a towel, then take off all your clothes (and who wants to look at oneself naked?) and turn on the hot water. Then you step in and proceed to wash as far down as possible, then as far up as possible, and then the possible. My son-in-law Clark does my hair at the salon each week so I at least don’t have to wash and dry it at home, but I do have to exfoliate every time because I get in there so infrequently and my skin is really dry. That takes awhile and involves being bent over for a significant amount of time, which does not make my back very happy.

Once done, it takes another five minutes to dry off more or less thoroughly and then moisturize, which is something I rarely do in between showers because I don’t like the greasy feeling of lotion. THEN I get to try to wiggle into a sports bra and slide on leggings over skin that’s still slightly damp. None of which is a big deal to anyone else in the house, but for me it is, and by the time I’m finally dressed and ready to face the world, I’m exhausted. Not surprisingly, I also feel like I’ve overcome a big obstacle and I probably pat myself on the back a bit too hard, but you’ve got to take your triumphs where you can, right?

The hell of it is, I like being clean. I don’t know why I forget that in between showers. I enjoy smelling nice and wearing fresh clothes, and I feel a sense of accomplishment much like I do when I clean up the kitchen after a big meal or straighten up my room. I don’t want to stink or offend the noses of family and friends, I really don’t. It’s embarrassing when it’s been so long that I can’t remember the exact day when I last bathed my entire body and my kid has to call me out on it. After awhile, PTA baths just don’t cut it and you’ve got to discipline yourself and get the f##k into the stall. But still, I struggle.

Perhaps I need to make a deal with myself, say, if I can make myself shower twice a week I’ll go to a movie I’ve been wanting to see. Of course, I’ve got to watch my pennies so I can’t do anything too expensive, but a reward may be all I need to motivate myself in the interest of better hygiene. This may have a lot to do with bipolar and I can’t change that, but I don’t have to smell like a goat either and my family (to say nothing of the world) deserves better. So do I.

Running into open air

Sometimes I lean on dirt roads to carry me through the anxiety. Pounding of the hiking path grounding me turn for turn. Easing my agitation. Some people do yoga. Maybe I should try it. I tend to want to run. Maybe try and outrun the demon, at least for an hour or two. Huffing and puffing through the trees. Racing through brush. Just not stopping. Heart racing for all the right reasons.
The walls were closing in this morning. Same damn job search routine. Alarm rings. Rip myself from the bedsheets. Grab some coffee and settle in. Today the self doubt ran rampant. I applied for 3 jobs in the last 2 weeks. Not a peep from any potential employers. My resume sucks! I don’t have any marketable skills! I should have never left my job of over 17 years despite every ounce of me needing to get out. All the signs. Red flags waving. I should have stuck it out. I should have changed. Surely it was all my doing. Me! Me! me. Big fat failure screaming back with each scroll through the job boards.
Financial insecurity-check.
Fear-check
Isolation-check
Desire to not feel these things-CHECK CHECK
In a matter of moments I flew around my house. I need a water bottle. I need my headphones. Where’s my hiking backpack. Who am I talking to? Doesn’t matter. I knew I needed to get out of the house and out of my mind. I needed to breathe. Not filtered gym air, but mother nature’s healing powers. Escape in its purest, healthiest form. At least for me. For this alcoholic.
Music overshadowing “the neighborhood” I charged up the hill. I didn’t look back. Only forward. Step after step marveling in the fact I can do that next right thing, if I choose to. It was more than a choice. It was a want. I wanted to feel the grace that lies outside my front door. So many days I shut in. Cower in fear alone. Not noticing a thing but the heart palpitations that bring me to my knees.
Today I ran in the wind. Through yellow mustard. Stomped in mud. Heard the lyrics of songs that sometimes just pass me by. Most importantly I was in charge of my breath. Fast or slow. It was my doing. I chose to make the sprint to the next bench. I chose to meander near that bee hive…just to watch a community at large be in harmony.
Walking back to the car I felt the sweat down my back. What I didn’t feel was anxiety. Or agitation. I went to check my watch. My barometer of success at times. Did I run long enough or fast enough? I refrained. In that moment my self worth wasn’t to be defined by minutes or miles. It also wasn’t going to be defined by buzz words on resumes. I rested in the peace of mind I rescued myself in a precarious moment. A personal success if I say so myself.

 

Chocolate Bunny

As in, I am sitting here eating the entire thing at once in one sitting.  I am going to feel awful about myself after I finish.  I just feel bad about everything I am missing at my treatment center and worried that they haven’t called to say my car is ready yet.  I am so angry about this whole situation.  I am eating to try to cheer myself up.  But I don’t think it’s going to work.

I feel rotten that I haven’t accomplished anything I meant to while I was going to be at home.  i just want to crawl back into the bed and stay.  I thought I was getting better and so did the folks at my treatment center.  I just don’t know what to do with myself right now.  Now I want a Coke to wash all the chocolate out of my mouth.  I need to get a handle on this right now.

And I just called and they said the car wouldn’t be ready at noon like they said; it’s not going to be until 2:30 or 3.  I guess I need to call my treatment center and let them know.

I am so angry.  I hate it when this happens.  If Bob has wanted to he could have taken me to the treatment center, but he used work as an excuse.  But he’s fine with taking off this afternoon to go pick up the car when it is ready.  I don’t understand what the difference is.

Finally some good news.  Just talked to my treatment center and they said that not only would they not charge me the no-show fee, they would credit my account for the day I missed on next week’s payment.  Now I feel better.

 

Countdown to Muskogee . . . 9

Between bipolar-fed emotions and apathy.

Between nit-picky preparations and diversionary RedBox rentals.

Between reaching out for one, last, meaningful human interaction and being totally done.

As a Libra, my sign is the Scales. The alignment of the heavens stamped my forehead with “Balance.”  Bipolar disorder is the antithesis of balance, but maybe that was the message all along.

Seek. Hold the extremes and everything along the continuum. Notice. And try to ride the teeter totter with joy.

Getting off the bipolar rollercoaster!

rollercoaster

I was having a conversation with a mental health care professional.  We were discussing the need to treat bipolar disorder.  The conversation was inspired by a young man I met who had his first episode of bipolar disorder.  I’ll call him Matt.

After he was released from the hospital Matt came to talk with me at his mother’s request.  He told me about smoking a lot of marijuana with high THC levels.  And I replied, “Not sure if you know this but it can cause psychosis in people who are at risk for mental illness.”  He answered, “Yeah.  I know.  They told me that at the hospital.”

We continued our discussion and it was clear to me after three weeks in the hospital Matt was still not stable.  He admitted to “cheeking” his medications.  The hospital than begin to give him injections.

So, as I was discussing with the psychologist about what happens to people with bipolar disorder who have had psychotic episodes and don’t stay with a treatment plan, I said, “Matt is headed down a bad pathway, if he doesn’t stay with his treatment.”  The psychologist looked at me and said, “None of us have a crystal ball Amy.”

Well…I wouldn’t claim to be clairvoyant but I am rather intuitive.  More importantly I have seen my family members struggle without the proper treatment (my sister had over 40 hospitalizations), I personally have had my own challenges and every single person who I have met with bipolar disorder road a rollercoaster until they got the proper treatment.

I had another experience just a few short weeks ago with a person who I helped get to the hospital.  She was released long before she was stable.  I was livid.  She is now a missing person.  Her brother said to me, “I can see how people become homeless.”

I’m not intending for this to be a downer blog post.  There is a lot of hope when it comes to mental illness and bipolar disorder.  I live a meaningful, productive life.  But I also have been on that rollercoaster ride.  Even if I’m not a psychic, I know with 99% accuracy, if you don’t take bipolar disorder seriously, it will destroy your life and will impact the lives of everyone in it.

The mental health care system is terribly broken.  And mental health care professionals must start educating people about their conditions, including the possibilities of what can happen if the proper treatment plan is not in place.

I see two doors.  Door number one is not taking medication and staying on a high-low rollercoaster that wrecks havoc and keeps us sick.  Door number two is difficult.  But we learn everything we can and keep learning about wellness strategies, how to recognize symptoms, how to deal with depressive episodes, how to keep fighting.  It’s not an easy peaceful path.  But door number two…is the audience choice on Let’s Make a Deal.

We can’t allow our frustrations with something we deal with on a daily basis to keep us from persevering.  If you live with bipolar disorder, you must learn as much as you can about this illness.  It is manageable, treatable and you can learn to live with it.  Doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.  But as with other illnesses a person who has it must take responsibility.

None of us bought the ticket for the rollercoaster ride bipolar disorder takes us on.  But when you can get off the ride, life gets a whole lot better.

Cats and Dark and Stuff

So here I am, laying in bed in the pitch dark. This is actually pretty huge… Read More Cats and Dark and Stuff