Tag Archives: mania

The Remains of the Day

My son and I finally cleaned out Will’s closet and dresser drawers today.

It took me almost 16 months to be ready for this day, but it was definitely time. I’ve been looking at his things and steeling myself for the inevitable. I knew it was going to be hard. As we went through the clothes, I remembered how he looked in each shirt, each tie, each pair of pants. It was so sad…and so necessary.

It didn’t take as long as I thought it would. Ethan is a git-r’-done kind of guy, and he swiftly emptied the closet as I went through the drawers. We were finished in less than an hour. What broke my heart was using trash bags to hold everything…it just seemed so undignified, even disrespectful. If it had been possible I would have put it all into gold-plated boxes to take to Goodwill. I just hope those items will be of use to other men who need nice things.

I did save a few of his shirts. They have a lot of sentimental value and they still smell like him. There was a yellow-and-blue striped polo shirt he wore a lot in the summer, and one rather ratty winter sweatshirt that bears the name of the community college where I got my nursing degree. He virtually lived in that for much of the winter. I’m also hanging onto a grey T-shirt with the Carnival Cruise Line’s logo on it, a gift from Ethan and Clark on the one trip we all took together.

Now I have room in the closet and the dresser for more of my own things, something I naturally have mixed feelings about. I’ve acquired a pretty large wardrobe in the past year due to weight loss and anticipation of the coming vacation. Clark says I still don’t have enough. But my closet is crammed full and my drawers are stuffed to capacity, so the extra room is welcome. However, I’d give up the entire space and donate all my clothes to charity if I could just have Will back. In fact, I’d give up everything to have him back.

Except my life. In spite of missing my mate, I’m generally enjoying it and feel content with my current situation. It’s drippy and dreary here, which usually throws me into depression, but this year I seem to be skipping the fall festivities. I haven’t even needed my HappyLight yet. Yesterday, I forgot my Breakfast of Champions and was bouncing off the walls by late afternoon, so I guess I can’t afford to miss those meds any more than I can afford to miss the nighttime ones, even though that little taste of mania sure felt good. And once again, I am amazed at how well these substances control my bipolar illness, and how thin the line is between sanity and disaster.

Anyway, I’m glad the grim business of giving away Will’s clothing and shoes is done. One more step in the process of moving forward. I hate it. But it has to happen; as fondly as I remember the past, I can’t live there.

And so it goes.


I Think I’m Doing OK Now…

But I’m not totally convinced.  I seem to be on a much more level plane then I’ve been on for the last 20 some years, if not my whole life, I’m not sure.  My past before being diagnosed with Bipolar 23 years ago last week was so different.  (see “I Was A Different Person Then”).  I won’t go into all that because I did so already.  But things are different now, again, in a new way.  Earlier this year I was put on Lamictal  (Lamotrigine), a mood stabilizer, in addition to Abilify (Aripiprazole), Wellbutrin (Bupropion), Buspar  (Buspirone) and Klonopin (Clonazapam).  For the first time ever, a medication has actually changed my life.  I still spend some time in depression, but it’s mostly not that bad and I can usually overcome it with CBT  and smart thinking and action.  And I’m not too high either, tho I did try to get off 13 years of Abilify a few months ago (it makes me shake terribly and I hate it) and I had a really bad reaction, so bad I thought I was going to lose it completely.  It was the closest to real mania I’ve come in years.  So I went back on the drug and I’ve been OK since then.  (I had my Psychiatrist’s permission and support to quit, BTW).

I remember telling my counselor at the time that I was struggling with this new reality, because I didn’t know who I was anymore if I wasn’t depressed all the time.  I still feel that way, and it’s actually pushed me back into depression several times since then.  Weird.  You’d think I’d be totally at peace with this and be happy for myself.  But it’s not that easy to change a lifetime of such inbred patterns of thinking and behaving.  I Was depression in the past and it was my total life.  It was hard on me, and on the people I loved around me.  I could stop it occasionally, but not totally, and I suffered with it a lot.  It was my daily reality and it informed all my decisions and actions way too much.  I was scared all the time and afraid of being caught out as a loser.  Too much fear is paralyzing and I was often paralyzed.  I still am to some extent but not nearly so much.  I am better now.

I’m gradually learning to accept and revel in the “new” me.  I just had a counseling session with my new counselor and he asked me to do a narrative of my life – positive and negative.  I found myself listing tons of positive things about my life, but not that many negative ones.   A total surprise to me.  In the past it would have been much more tilted the other way towards extreme negativity.  When I’m depressed it’s all I can see, and it’s the same way with being OK I guess.  I Am my emotions way too much and if I’m doing well I think l’ve always done well, despite the memories of the failures and awfulness of depression. When I’m depressed it’s the opposite and it’s all I can see and feel.

Staying balanced is a real struggle for me even now.  But I can do it most of the time.  I’m amazed, but still frightened by the new me.  I still don’t know how to interact or be with people very well.  I still fall back into the old patterns of depression if I don’t keep up my guard all the time.  But I have real support in my partner Louie, and with my friends, my counselor and psychiatrist and other health care folks.  So I think maybe I can do this.  I sure do hope so, tho hope can be a trap too if you’re not careful.  Just ask a student of Buddhism.  Today is my 67th birthday and perhaps it’s the start of a new reality for me.  A truly new year of life.  I think it could be and I’m trying to believe so much that I can pull it off.  I have a lot of faith in myself these days, and it’s not based in my usual hypomania, but in reality for a change.  Plus I’m older and wiser now.  I understand myself, and life in general, much better.  Staying real and giving it time are my current mantras.  Maybe I really am doing OK now…  Time will tell.

peace,  Steve


Filed under: Aging, Bipolar, Community, Depression, Emotions, Faith, Hypo-Mania, Invisible Illness, Mania, Medications, Mental Health, Peace, Relationships Tagged: Aging, Bipolar, Change, Invisible Illness, Manic Depression, Medications, mental-health, recurrent depression

From depression to brief relief

I’m having a brief evening’s break from depression it seems and it’s such a relief. There are signs it’s coming, before I realise it’s here:

I’ll have a drink – not much left of that bottle of white wine. Small glasses, straight or tall glass of kir.

I’ll listen to familiar ‘up mood’ music: invariably this will consist of Underworld, Mew, maybe some Psychedelic Furs. But always Underworld. ‘Two Months Off’ especially

Such a relief; just to lift that mood that’s persecuted me for weeks, months. Try to forget that this break will more than likely last no longer than an evening. I’ll wake tomorrow filled with anxiety, low mood, suicidal ideation and OCD-driven thoughts and ideas I wouldn’t wish on my enemies.

An evening off.

The music in my head and in my body. Moving. Feeling. Being.

An idea that everything might be alright; not forever. Hell, not even for a day. But for now, it might be good. Shift those thoughts, overcome those blades and car crashes, live for another day.

Such a relief, so impermanent. A relaxing of muscles, a loosening of nerves. Just being someone, something, other than who I am. That can wait.

Breathe in, breathe out. Sleep, because tomorrow’s going to be the usual bastard of a day.

 

 


Dare to Dream with Me

You politely asked to step into my dream
Even took your shoes off
As a sign of respect
This is my domain
This is my subconscious
Enter at your own risk
The pendulum is often swinging
Of its own accord
Gingerly find your place
Within my fierce space
Sometimes I see the messiah
Sometimes I am him
Other times
I am my own monster
Raging within
If you can dance in darkness
And in light
I welcome you to my dreamscape


Review: Birth of a New Brain #PostPartumBipolar

Dyane Harwood thrilled me when she sent me an advance copy of her memoir, Birth of a New Brain: Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder. (I pre-ordered it and was anxiously awaiting it’s October 2017 release.) Her memoir fills a much-needed…

Guest Post: Some Words From My Husband

Hey. Man. Have things taken a turn for the worse. God I really lost my motivation. And one of my closest friends is in the hospital for trying to OD on his bipolar meds plus some other stuff. I’ve been an emotional wreck. I can’t even write. I don’t know what’s wrong. And the negative … More Guest Post: Some Words From My Husband

Is Bipolar Disorder for Everyone?

people picI have two main points to make.

The first one is the one that aggravates me and I will tell you that sometimes it upsets people when I talk about it.  I think bipolar disorder is way over diagnosed and glamorized.   When I hear people have bipolar disorder and they once in awhile experience mild depression, I feel that the doctor should not have called it that.  There is bipolar 1 and bipolar 2, but I am not talking about that. I am talking about how there is a difference between someone who gets depressed occasionally and someone who has extreme mood swings where the manias land them in psychiatric wards and the depressions are so low that they often end up in suicide.

What goes along with this and I think diminishes what people with bipolar disorder really endure is how famous people think it is “cool” or say it to draw attention to themselves by saying they have bipolar disorder.  I am not saying that some of them really do have bipolar disorder. I am talking about those who are clueless as to what it really means to have bipolar disorder and basically just say they have it so their names end up in search engines online.  I think this is sad and they should be ashamed of themselves. If they have been actually diagnosed then like I already stated, so many of them probably should not have been.

The second point I want to make in this blog is:  Bipolar Disorder is NOT for everyone.  It takes a special, strong person to live the life of someone with bipolar disorder.  It takes endurance and passion.  It takes a willingness (not chosen) to live a hellish life.  The stigma of the serious mental illness of bipolar disorder makes it even harder and those who are open and honest about it are brave!

50% of those with bipolar disorder have attempted suicide.  Ref1 Bipolar disorder results in 9.2 years reduction in expected life span, and as many as one in five patients with bipolar disorder completes suicide. Ref2   This goes to prove that living life with bipolar disorder is not easy. It is not only difficult, but oftentimes leads to death.

I hope that if you are struggling with bipolar disorder, that you get the help that you need and don’t end up being a statistic. I also hope that you know that you are brave, courageous, strong, and deserve a pat on the back for living this long with this horrible disease.  If you think you might have bipolar disorder, please see a doctor as soon as possible and get the help that you need so that you don’t end up being taken from this world too soon.

So, Is Bipolar Disorder for everyone? NOPE


I have Bipolar Disorder: Am I a Failure?

failureIt is easy to think of yourself as a failure when you are extremely depressed. You get into a slump where you think you are nothing, but your illness. You live secluded from the rest of the world and dig yourself deeper into a hole where you feel worthless and unworthy of happiness. Because of these dark feelings, you are going to feel like a failure. You will feel like you have let your family and friends down and in reality you have let yourself down.

When you are manic, it is sometimes the opposite:  You feel like you are wonderful and can do no wrong. You are positive and think of yourself as successful even if in reality you are not. What are considered delusions of grandeur can make you feel like you are special and nothing can knock you down.

However, when it comes to my manic episodes, I fear them.  The repercussions are horrific and I almost would rather stay depressed rather than get manic and lose friends, spend money I don’t have, do crazy things I later regret, and basically end up in a spiral where even though things look wonderful, in reality they are only temporary.

When I get manic, I feel like a failure. The medicines very rarely work lately.  Therefore, I am left with the hopeless feeling that things are going to spiral out of control quickly and there is nothing I can do.  Before getting manic there are things I should be doing to take care of myself and because I don’t because I am so depressed, when I get manic those things are not set in place. For example, I should be exercising, eating right, taking time to relax, setting time each day to do something alone and enjoyable.  It is easy to not do those things while in the funk of depression. However, if they were already in my routine, it would be easier to keep them going when I enter a manic episode.  Chances are too that if I was doing them all along, they might even prevent me from getting manic in the first place.

Yes- I can feel like a failure when I am depressed or manic. However, all in all, I think people who battle bipolar disorder should not be viewed as failures. We are up against a lot and it is not an easy battle to endure day after day.  So, if you are thinking that you are a failure, you are far from it.  You are strong and can fight these battles.  You can do it. Think positive! Stay true to yourself and know that even when you go through these cycles, you are a person just like anyone else. You make mistakes and that is okay. Learn to accept yourself with all your faults. Take it one step at a time and learn from each episode.  Learn something that will help you through the next manic or depressed phase.

In answer to the question, “I have bipolar disorder, am I a failure?”  I would have to say…

You are NOT a failure. You might feel like you are a failure sometimes, but you are a strong person who has endured a lot and will continue to fight an awful disease and that makes you a winner in my book.

 


Beware I am Manic

bewareAs part of my action plan, I always let the people who care about me know that I am seeing red flags and am concerned that I am getting manic.  This way they can be on the lookout and know that I know that I am in trouble.

Letting others know is important, but that is not the reason I am writing this blog.  It is more of a warning to myself.  These are things I need to remember when I am hypomanic in order not to do things I will regret later and to stay on track so as not to get into a full blown manic episode.

Here is a list of things I try to do when I know I am in the danger zone.

Get enough sleep. I tend to have a lot of energy and sleep does not seem to be needed as much, but it is important to keep a regular sleep schedule as much as I can. I try to start unwinding around 10 and try to be in bed by 11. I don’t always go to sleep, but I need to at least rest my eyes and brain. I will make myself lay there for at least two hours.  If I can’t get to sleep, I take a medicine that helps me sleep. Oftentimes, I don’t sleep very long, but that is to be expected and I have learned to not panic.  As long as I go to sleep, get at least 3-6 hours of sleep and am functional the next day without doing manic-like things, I settle for that.  When I do wake up, I try and stay in bed and read or watch tv or do something that does not stimulate my brain.  When that does not work, and it often does not, I get up and start my day.  I take advantage of all the excess energy that comes along with the mania.

Eating right is important.  It is easy to forget to eat when I am manic.  Since I am overweight, it is tempting to not eat as I just don’t feel hungry. However, this is dangerous.  Making sure you eat several small meals a day is important. Eat healthy as since you don’t have much of an appetite, that will help me lose weight in itself. It helps to prepare meals ahead of time as then when you get busy doing all the things you manage to fit into a day, you can just grab and go.

Exercising is so important as it helps to burn off all the excess energy you have. It also helps to focus your mind on things rather than letting it wander. It is easy to get side tracked when you are manic so if you exercise and make yourself do it for at least 30 minutes it is a time that you can reflect on things you need to do and prioritize.  Exercise is good for anybody at anytime, but when you are manic, it is really important as it grounds you.

Pacing yourself is important.  Setting goals for the day and week by making lists helps with this.  Since oftentimes I am coming out of a deep depression and have not done much in months, it is easy to just go all out and get as much as I can do before I get depressed again. This, I have learned, is the wrong way to do it.  Finish one project before going onto the next.

Think positive. This too shall pass. Yes-there are benefits to being manic, but for me it usually ends up badly if I don’t take care of myself.  I have learned over the years to do everything I can to stay out of a manic episode. I, unlike many people with bipolar disorder, and it sounds strange, but I would rather be depressed (and I get severely depressed), than manic. This is because I tend to do a lot of things that I regret when I am manic.

Remember I am not perfect.  I will make mistakes and screw up.  I will do things that I regret later. I will say things to my loved ones that I wish I could take back.  I will most likely lose friendships. However, if I do the best I can do when faced with mania, that is all I can do.

Journaling might help as it focuses your brain on what your goals are and prioritizes what you should do rather than start a lot of projects all at once. It also can be relaxing and this helps when you are lying in bed and can’t sleep.

Do things that help you relax.  Walking, taking a bath, listening to soft music, going out with friends, getting fresh air, or whatever else makes you chill out and enjoy the day. This can really be hard when manic, but it is probably one of the most important.

Take it one day at a time. Things will get better.

Make an appointment to see your doctor or therapist as they may have ideas of what you can do differently.

Take your meds regularly. They may need to be adjusted, but only do so after talking to your psychiatrist.

Take steps that prevent you from spending money. Some people do drastic things like handing over their credit cards to a loved one for safe keeping. If you really want to buy something, put it off if you can until you know that you have come down from your manic high.

Drive safely. If you don’t think you should be behind a wheel, then don’t. Arrange for a friend or loved one to get you places. If you can’t, then it won’t kill you to stay home. It is better than the alternative of hurting yourself or someone else. If you do decide to drive, be very careful and obey the speed limits and take extra precaution.  While manic, you will take risks you normally wouldn’t take so keep that in mind.

All of these things have helped me over the years. They are not full proof, but hopefully gave you some good ideas. I would love to hear from you if you have some other ideas, contact me on my Facebook page, Bipolar Bandit.


I used to be- Yvette Hess

The post below is a reblog of sorts. One of the founding members of Our Lived Experience, Yvette had stopped writing a while back. In fact, she’s been floating in […]