Tag Archives: bipolar

Hello From My Study :)

I am in the STUDY of my new home, people!!!  Looking out at a gorgeous crabapple tree with gobs of birds in it and a lovely greenspace!!  Oh. My. God!!!  Has my life improved!!  It is sooooo goooood to be gone from the shithole apartment!!! I didn’t realize how oppressive it was.  Well, on some days I did, but I suppressed my feelings about it because I knew I had to live there.  But now, living somewhere beautiful, and quiet, is just so nurturing and happiness-producing!

I did have a setback last weekend.  I found mouse droppings in my living room and I pretty much lost my shit.  I’m pretty sure it came in through the gas fireplace.  I took my ass over to Target so fast to buy mouse poison, your head would’ve spinned!!  I was pretty thrown off for quite a few days, but now I’m pretty sure the mouse is gone.  I haven’t seen any droppings in many days, or any signs that the poison has been eaten any further.  And believe me, I watch it with an eagle eye!  For a couple of days I thought my new apartment was ruined, but alas, it is not.  Hallelujah.

I do have to say, I’m just on this side of functioning in life.  My job is exhausting me!  I just plain wasn’t made to work full-time.  Or maybe it’s my age.  Or my illness.  Whatever the case may be, I pretty much get up, go to work, come home, and go to bed.  I lay in bed on an ice pack and eat something like carrots & celery and drink my “cocktail” (Sparkling Ice) and I fall asleep ridiculously early listening to Oprah Super Soul Sessions podcasts.  Once in awhile my little sister and my niece will come over to swim after work and then we’ll have dinner, but that’s the exception, not the rule.  And after those times I’m super-duper exhausted, but I need the social contact.  I’ve been pretty lonely because my lack of functioning leaves me with very little social contact, besides work.

I’m getting between 5,000-10,000 steps in at work and I’m still tracking what I eat, so my weight is still very slowly going down.  That makes me very, very happy and grateful.  We had a family reunion two weekends ago which was a marathon of socializing and a marathon of overeating.  It was hard to get back on track after that.  I haven’t been walking in the mornings like I was at the old shithole.  I keep meaning to, but somehow I don’t.  Again, it comes down to my level of functioning.  I’m doing what I can, people.  And I’m just keeping the work train humming along right now.

Aside from the mouse crisis and some loneliness, my mood is still pretty stable, thank God!!  Summer makes everything easier.  I do have a bit of a feeling of dread as I notice that it’s getting light later and later in the morning, and getting dark earlier and earlier at night.  That, I hate.  For the most part though, I am still a very grateful person for everything that’s going on in my life.  Things have improved so damn much, from living in the shithole and being jobless, to the job with the horrible commute, to now, where I live in super-deluxe digs, and my job is two miles down the road and I can come home for lunch.  Yeah!  I’m grateful.

I’m curious how other people handle their level of functioning, working full time, having a life, etc.  I’d love to hear from you in the Comments regarding this, or anything else you’d wish to share.  BIG HUGS to all of you!!  BPOF.

Irritable. Hypomanic. Parenting Fail.

Trying to keep hypomania at bay. NAMI training this weekend. IBPF panel next Tuesday. Frustrated with parenting newly adult son with social anxiety and migraines.…

I have bipolar disorder and it’s not my fault

I’ve been really open about my struggles with bipolar disorder.  Before I had a good handle on this illness it really rocked my world.  I’ve come to learn that bipolar disorder will destroy your life if you don’t get the proper treatment and learn how to manage the condition.  It can be life threatening during times of severe depression episodes and suicidal thoughts.  It can put us at risk during manic episodes which often lead to psychotic episodes.

After my initial diagnosis I felt terribly ashamed.  The other day I was thinking about an analogy people might be able to relate to.  If you’ve ever had a night of drinking way too much alcohol and you engaged in embarrassing behaviors, the next day you might wake up with not only a hangover but guilty feelings about your behavior.  The things you said and did while drunk didn’t take away the fact you said and did those things.

This is what happened to me during manic and psychotic episodes.  I’d say and do things and then when I was stable I’d have to deal with the guilt of what happened.  The guilt leads to shame and the terrible tapes rolled in my head about what a bad person I was for having been sick.

But after many years of learning about bipolar disorder, I don’t feel badly about what happened to me while sick.  I’ve come to learn that I have bipolar disorder and it’s not my fault.  What is my accountability is now that I’m stable I need to manage my condition so well I won’t ever end up in a compromising position again.

But if for some reason I have break through symptoms, I’m not going to be ashamed.  I’m going to be proactive and do everything I can to manage my condition.  And if I have moments where I feel a little paranoid, make up a story or two based on that paranoia, I’ll live with it too.

One day people are going to realize mental illness doesn’t make you crazy, it just makes us vulnerable.  I wouldn’t blame myself for having cancer.  I’m not going to blame myself for having a mental illness.  And neither should the general public.

 

 

 

 

Next Tuesday: International #Bipolar Foundation Panel

International Bipolar Foundation Women’s Mental Health Panel July 31, 2018 at 6PM Mission Valley Library 2123 Fenton Parkway San Diego, CA 92108 Ask about my and other women’s experiences living with bipolar disorder. To attend, register HERE.

Forever on my mind.

It’s all this iceberg.

 

 

iceberg

Anhedonia and Alienation

I have a hard time feeling pleasure. That’s anhedonia – the inability to feel pleasure. I have a wonderful life and I’m really satisfied in many ways. But I find that I really don’t ever get truly excited about much of anything anymore. I can remember times in my earlier life – before I had The Episode that wrecked my life at 44 and I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder – when I was joyful and full of energy and had a great time living my exciting life. I may not have been the life of the party like so many BP folks are, but I sure did love to party and I had fun doing it. Now I rarely get pleasure from even the simple things of life – a smile sent my way, a cool piece of art, or a song I once loved. These can still humble me but they don’t give me the same level of enjoyment they once did. It’s hard to muster up the energy to be pleased anymore. I fake it a lot.

I know this is a common issue for people with bipolar, yet it’s still very discouraging. Even tho I know my diagnoses and how they play out, sometimes it just sucks bad. I don’t mean to whine. But this is so overwhelming to me that I just have to write about it. I really try to walk with beauty over the Rainbow Bridge, as the Navajo (Dine) people sing so movingly about. I try to follow the advice of Gandhi and live the change I want to see in the world. But now I don’t really care much if I succeed or not. Before The Episode I was very socially engaged – managing a food co-op, founding a non-profit educational center where I met hundreds of people, producing concerts where I affected even more, and working at a lively collective cafe where we made our own ice cream, which I got to make. Yum!! Lots of good people came thru that place and I met my first real boyfriend there from behind the ice cream counter. Good times.

Which is why this is so fucking hard on me now. I was used to a different way of life than I lead these days. Now I live far away from the bustling world of gay society I was such a part of for so many years. It’s more peaceful here, and I have a wonderful home and a loving partner to share it with. But it lacks a certain energy and queer sensibility I was used to and I’m starting to miss it a lot. Last night we went out to the Gay section of town for the first time in years. We saw a hot Drag Show. Wow, those girls (and boys!) can really dance and sing (Lip synching really, but who cares…). It was so Very Queer – it was amazing. I lived right there for over 20 years, at different times, and it was my life. But I haven’t been in that area of town for a long time now. It made me feel so nostalgic I wanted to cry. In fact when I got home I stayed up till 1:30 writing in my journal. I had to stop often to cry. I haven’t cried that hard in years. It all hit me – how far I’d come from those days of merriment and engagement. How I didn’t feel the joy of it all anymore.

I’m a very social person, but I’m an introvert too, so it’s always been hard on me to socialize with other people. But I was so damn hypomanic so much of the time back then that I overcame my insecurities and went out and did cool things. Now I’m too scared to interact with anyone, and I just garden at home. Don’t get me wrong – I Love it and it nurtures me greatly. But there aren’t any People there. It’s all just plants, and tho I used to relish that alone time I got with them, now it feels more like a trap. I’ve tried to join gardening circles, but I have little luck because I get too insecure and scared and stop myself before I even get going. Another common thing we folks with bipolar do. I want to but I just don’t Feel like it. Even tho I’m a very sexual person (even at 67 – never give up!) there are so many times I just don’t give a damn about it, tho not always. 🙂  Not my usual self at all. I just don’t feel sexual and I hate it so much. I hate not being able to always laugh at my partner’s silly jokes. I hate not being able to engage with the neighbors when we go out for a walk. And I hate feeling like nothing will ever make me feel again, ever.

Yeah I’m blowing it all out of proportion, but that’s what it feels like to me, and if there’s anything we Bipolar folks do a lot it’s to live thru our feelings, much to our dismay at times. Emotions are tricky to live with and when you have bipolar they trick you even more. They may always be real, for you, but they aren’t always reflective of consensus reality, if you get the difference. When you live thru your feelings instead of your intellect you often mistake your feelings for the reality others experience. It’s not! It can really fuck you up bad. You mistake simple social cues and you interpret things thru your own lens too much and it’s not always what may be really happening. You may feel awful when there’s no need to. You aren’t being talked about behind your back and you aren’t being thought of as “lesser than”, the way you feel about yourself. People may actually like you, despite your horrible sense of self and lack of ability to take in any compliments that may come your way. It’s kinda stupid and kinda sad when you think about it, but it’s all too real to me.

You can see how anhedonia and alienation can intersect here and how they’ve so harshly impacted my life and the lives of so many others. If you can’t feel anything you feel disconnected and alienated. Duh. It makes sense but it’s an awfully hard thing to live with. For me they seem to go hand in hand, but it may not be that way for everyone. I don’t really know. But I do know that many people with bipolar feel both of these things, whether in tandem or not. We just don’t feel good about ourselves so how can we feel good about life? It’s not easy. We feel that we’re not good enough to even deserve a life full of joy. And that hurts us terribly in many ways. It makes us unwilling to engage in things that may hurt us more. We shut down. You can only handle so much pain at any one time. Why ask for more? That seems crazy, but it may be the only way to get over it. There are potentials for joy on the other side of it if you can just hold on.

Maybe it’s just my age – I’m almost 70. But I see so many older people still loving their lives that I don’t think that’s all of it. I feel young at heart really and I look and act like it. I’m not a couch potato or a slob. I take good care of myself and try to do the right thing always, even tho I doubt myself and don’t really know if it’s right all the time. I second guess myself with people so much it drives me crazy. I’m sure none of them like me or want to hear anything I might have to say. I feel alienated from them. But if I could still feel their energy it would be so different.

I do still remember, tho it’s been so long, what it feels like to really enjoy life. And I do enjoy it sometimes, I’ll admit. I’m not totally shut down – not yet. I still feel love and give it in return. And I know it’s real and not in my imagination. So I have some hope that things can change. I always try to end these posts with something positive and this is the best I can do. I’m attempting to believe that if I keep trying to feel, that eventually I’ll get there, at least sometimes. I just can’t give up. I have to stay present in my life to integrate this and to find peace and serenity, which may be far better than happiness anyway. So I’m still hanging on, but it’s by the skin of my teeth, and my teeth are getting so sore…. 🙂

I hope you’re feeling something good today…

Steve

Visual hallucination.

 

A strange night, warm and humid. I slept badly, as always. The difference with last night (in the early hours) is that I had a visual hallucination.

It was a figure, in the darkest part of the room, a yard from my head. The figure was an exaggerated one; marching on the spot, monochrome, side-on to me.

(“All colours will agree in the dark.” – Francis Bacon)

It didn’t appear human. Without lifting my head from the pillow I reached out my hand to touch it, a couple of times. Nothing solid, and no reaction. As unusual as this was, I wasn’t afraid and was too sleepy to react further. I turned over, facing the opposite direction, and fell asleep again. Next time I woke in the night there was no figure there.

 

The Ghost of a Flea c.1819-20 by William Blake 1757-1827

William Blake, ‘The Ghost of a Flea’.

 

Delusion or truth. Again.

Hallucination or Vision? Age 17-ish

Midnight, I’ve walked to the top of a local hilltop, Twm Barlwm with my best friend. The news headlines the evening before was a new Middle East war. Despite not being religious we decide to pray for peace. I do this with the Lord’s Prayer, silently to myself. At the end of this I feel a firm hand on my right shoulder. I assume it’s my friend but on opening my eyes I see he is some distance from me.

A thick fog has enveloped the hill, with a visibility of just a few feet. We are on a hilltop with fog and darkness all around us. There’s the sound of a sheep, or a lamb, which we decide to follow. It leads us all the way down the hill, bleating continually so we can follow as we’ve not seen this creature.

Getting back to the house in the early hours of morning the radio says a ceasefire in the war has just been declared.

 

 

Vision or hallucination? Age 17-ish

Late at night, I have just left my girlfriend’s house to walk the half a mile home. It’s a clear night, bright and dry. Fifty yards from her house I stop still as there is a bright light in the night sky – not a star, but the planet Venus. I don’t know how long I stop there, transfixed. Several minutes, not that long.

The star tells me a story: the meaning of Love. I return to my girlfriend’s house, make myself unwelcome as it’s quite late now. In the kitchen I proceed to tell her all about Love as transmitted to me. This takes an hour or so of manic speech. I eventually leave, and run home – ecstatic, full of intense energy and happiness – jumping off walls, climbing over obstacles, unable to wear myself out.

Some years later I discover this story was a re-telling of Plato’s Symposium, something I’d obviously never read at that age and indeed had had no exposure to.

 

 

I miss the mad me

 

It sounds, I imagine, unbelievable if I were to say that I miss madness. Time is on its side, after all; 55 years until I sought help for what, by then, I knew well enough had to be bipolar disorder. Manic depression. This was three years ago.

I exist now with no medical or psychiatric help; all I have is a small cauldron of medications to keep me sane.

My moods are indeed more stable, with the top and bottom of them clipped. That still leaves an awful lot of space in-between for, well, potential insanity.

Something of me has gone. Maybe it’s me? After all, you live with someone long enough you get to know them, maybe very well – or what you imagine to be so. What’s gone for me is my creativity first and foremost; I am a poet, novelist, photographer, painter. Or at least I was. No, I still am. I just don’t do it as much. I’ve started to write a small amount of poetry again and I’ve always taken photographs. I’ve written no fiction in a few years and as I say, a piddling amount of poetry that I don’t know the value of. Is it any good? Well, it gets published – is that an indication in these days of online magazine and journals? Depends which one I suppose.

Madness gave me a sex life. Rather too much of one I suppose. And with it, some confidence and a way around the crippling social anxiety I have now or when sane. Luckily I escaped the uncontrolled spending that may people with bipolar have. I’ve had no inclination to go out and buy a Harley Davidson or a sports car. I did buy several Fairport Convention albums and a load of cheap watches. I am holding down a good job (I have no idea how) and I can handle this limited expenditure.

After all, in the past, whilst manic, I’ve got married soon after beginning a relationship. And bought a one-way ticket to India (and used it).

I read a lot of blogs and articles about bipolar; I’m pretty much a textbook case, though one of my psychiatrists (when I had some) said I was an ‘unusual case’. This, I assume, is because I have both ultra- ultra rapid cycling (ultradian) bipolar as well as a more typical cycling form that has varied from rapid cycling to a longer cycling model.

Some things are much easier for me now, medicated. I had several months of CBT but it didn’t seem to have worked for me. Maybe if I’d been medicated at the same time it would have helped? Some things surfaced during that therapy that I didn’t like, didn’t feel at all comfortable with. Specifically, bipolar dissociation and even DID itself. One of the more ridiculous things my therapist suggested was that I free the other self inside me (and in the mirror) to see what happens. No, thank you.

I can’t honestly say the ‘extremely intrusive suicidal ideations’ are any less present. Maybe a little less severe though. Maybe not.

You might have by now a sense of what I mean by missing madness? When manic or hypomanic – and especially when in mixed moods – I often have no idea what I’m doing. Sometimes I know afterwards, often not at all. I have memory lapses (dissociation?) that scare me. My short term memory is wrecked. I live a separate life in dreams, though I’ve not slept through the night even once in decades.

I’ve put on a load of weight since starting the meds – I usually sum up the choice of being medicated or not as fat or mad? I seem to have chosen the former, though as I said at the beginning of this piece, I’m far from convinced that I’ve made the right choice.

 

 

Home Sweet Home!!!

porch flowers

Glory Hallelujah I am in my new home!!!  The last time I wrote a post, I was on the verge of moving, and now, the move is complete!  The new place is better than I could have imagined!!  It is so nice, and I am SO GRATEFUL for it!!  I really feel like I “put in my time” in my little shithole for the past year and a half, making it work and even being grateful for it, because it was my own home, however humble.  I had somewhat made peace with the dirt and the noise, because I wasn’t going to let it drive me crazy.  But now here I am in a super-beautiful, super-spacious apartment (I’m in my STUDY writing this post right now!), and I’m just so blown away at how much better life can get!!!  Just a month ago, I was wondering if I was going to have to move in with my Mom and Dad, which was a dismal consideration.  Don’t get me wrong, Mom and Dad are great, but at almost 52 years old, moving in with Mom and Dad, even for the best of reasons, would be a real letdown.  Plus, I love living alone!!  My home is my refuge!!  And this new home is a REAL refuge!!

I now have a new couch (woooo!) – the old place didn’t have room for a couch, and I have a coffee table, boxspring, headboard and nightstand on the way.  Right now my mattress is on the floor because my previous bed broke when I moved out of my sister’s house a year and a half ago.  It’s exciting to buy new stuff and a little anxiety-provoking at the same time.  Any time I do some major spending, I get afraid that I’m manic.  But this has all been planned out, and I’m not leaving myself high and dry financially.  I’m still on solid ground.  And, I know I’m done spending on furniture now.  I’ve ordered what I needed to complete the place, and I’m done.  I have to admit, I wish I could buy a little more.  There is a little high that comes with getting new stuff.

Aside from hurting my back last week from irresponsibly lugging around some huge desktop computers, the job is going well.  I remain very grateful for my job, and I believe that I’m doing a good job.  The stability of having a job and a steady paycheck is doing wonders for me.  Even though I questioned whether or not I could work full-time, and I do find it exhausting, the structure and social interaction is good for me.  And financially it’s very good for me.

I feel like practicing gratitude is a very important part of my life now.  I believe it has helped me get to where I’m at, and that it will keep me going in a positive direction.  I’m going to keep focusing on being grateful for everything and everyone in my life.  Including YOU, my dear readers!!

I hope you are all well.  Please check in with me in the Comments below, will ya?  I love hearing from you!  Have a Happy Sunday!  Love, BPOF