Daily Archives: January 20, 2015

Painting Again Feels Wonderful

Fe001els really good to be painting again. This is a painting I am working on right now and plan to hang in our guest room.

It feels so good to have paint all over my hands and clothes and be messy. This is my first time trying to paint something that is not weird but I am actually happy about how it turned out.

Today has been pretty good, played some games and painted and killed some time without whining.  It was refreshing to feel like I had something to do with my day.

My mood is still up, not sure how long it will stay here but I will enjoy it while it last instead of asking myself each day when the bad will come. It’s counteractive, it’s basically just wishing the happy away.

I’m going shopping for some paints today and I will paint more tomorrow. I will be happy today and hopefully happy tomorrow.

Long Time, No Type-Type, Friends

I was afraid to look back at my blog and see the last time I posted, but I knew it had been awhile.  No particular excuse, other than living life and trying to get through the mess of the holidays and the mess and aftermath of parental divorce and enjoying the awesomeness of meeting someone new.

I have missed reading blogs for a few weeks now, but am going to start setting aside time to do that again, so you should see me popping up on your page every now and then again.  I miss the interaction on this blog, in the comments, between blogs, what have you.  I miss my blogging friends!

Seems that something of an Internet break was much-needed.  I think it is too easy to get wrapped up in writing and commenting and following and liking and more reading, writing, commenting.  Between WP and FB, I was spending far too many hours staring at a computer screen and here lately have started to remember what life is really all about.

It’s about love and family and friends.  Dogs and movies and conversation.  The little things, the big things — life doesn’t happen solely online, although you can live a mostly online life if you would like.  I started to recall the last few years of my life the other day and realized I had spent quite a a bit of it online.

I don’t regret any of that — the reading, the writing, the friendships.  For me, however, I have to have more and I wasn’t really allowing that to happen.  Over just the past few weeks, I feel like I have come alive.  Granted, there was some mania in there, but lately I feel like I have made some really good decisions and I feel good.  That’s right.  I feel happy and content and (mostly) free from anxiety.

Prior to my Internet departure, I was taking Klopin PRNs daily, but since, I have only taken one or two.  I have re-learned how to soothe myself and have remembered how to look out for numero uno.  I have reintroduced openness, love, and hope into the equation.  I am seeing someone very dear to me and am having the best of times with it.

Who knew I could ever do these things or feel these feelings again?  Nearing the end of 2013, I made a resolution that I was done with men.  They were all jerks.  So, I stopped looking and stopped caring, and lo and behold, the loveliest relationship is now blossoming.  It seems that the old wise words are true — when you stop looking, it will happen.  When you least expect it.  Indeed.


Filed under: Daily Tagged: anxiety, Bipolar, decisions, depression, Goals, happiness, joy, love, mania, relationship, resolutions, return to blogging, romance

Being a Writer

As I said I was going to do, I quit school, cut back on volunteer obligations and have shifted all my focus on being a writer. As some of you may recall, I made those decisions based on feedback from both my pdoc and my therapist. I was struggling in school and due to some […]

The post Being a Writer appeared first on Insights From A Bipolar Bear.

swing low: a life – miriam toews

At the age of seventeen, he was diagnosed as suffering from the mental illness known then as manic depression and today as bipolar disorder. His method of self-defence, along with the large amounts of medication he was prescribed, was silence.


image source (the author is the youngest, blonde girl)

I’ve reviewed two of Miriam Toews’ novels, All My Puny Sorrows and A Complicated Kindness; Swing Low: A Life is a biography of her father, written from his point of view. He was a Mennonite, a manic depressive, and ultimately committed suicide, a fact which lead Toews to write about mental illness in her fiction.

When I was two I choked on a peanut and my mother said that incident might have shifted the fault lines in my brain and made me the anxious man that I am today.

The narrative moves between past and present, the present setting being a private room in a hospital run by his brother. Mel battles cognitive dissonance and the damage he has done to his family. As readers, we already know that the conclusion is suicide, so we’re following the trail of history and waiting for the future, to find out how and why.

We read to know we’re not alone. C.S. Lewis was a brilliant man in my opinion. He believed in God, he was a good writer, and a kind person by all accounts. One question I would have liked to ask him, however, is this: how does a man feel less alone when he can no longer read?

Some faith in words, but not all. Where to turn when words stop making sense?

Mel was diagnosed at age 17, after breakthrough symptoms that earned him his first hospital stay.

I’m as crazy as an egg, I thought. Who will keep me warm before I break?

The author appears to get under her father’s skin effortlessly, with a level and style of overthinking that typifies bipolar perfectly. She gets the self loathing right too, with Mel’s daughters reassuring him that he is a good father, and his instantaneous and total disbelief of the statement, for example. The workings of a manic depressive mind are expressed firmly, while the rest of the cast show themselves gradually, tentatively. Of course the book is shot through with tragedy snd pain, but Mel’s wry and dry humour comes through clearly too.

Sorrow, silence.

He constantly weighs and measures himself, he finds himself wanting every time. The search for mental health is conducted more for his family than himself and he tries desperately to think and write his way out of his personal hell. And meanwhile, his wife is elsewhere, trying to recover from hers. The hells that mental illness make are so deadly separate, aren’t they?

I am personally responsible for Elvira’s demise, I intone rather formally. I drove her to despair. No, says the nurse, you did not. You are ill, that’s not your fault. How naive and kind of him, I think as he pats me on the shoulder.

He was warned against the two things he credited with his survival.

My psychiatrist had, when I informed him that I was planning to get married, expressed no small amount of shock and dismay. He told me that those who suffer from manic depression have a lot of difficulty making marriages or any long-term relationship work, and when I told him that I was also planning on becoming a schoolteacher, he almost hit the roof. The responsibility, Mel, the consistency, the patience, the endurance … all these things are extremely difficult to maintain with an illness like yours … won’t you reconsider?

Having learned how to be silent in his childhood, he spent his adulthood trying to supress his illness more and more, for the sake of his family and an orderly life. Of course, they all sustain significant wear and tear as a result.


I had come to believe that I wasn’t going to survive the trip anyway and that brings a certain sense of calm to a man, in a strange way.

Toews could have sucked the above thought directly out of my head. How did she manage to get it all so right, without being bipolar herself? Perhaps she takes after him a lot in terms of characteristics? Of all the words I’ve read and people I have talked to about surviving a suicide, this book was the most surprising (by far) in terms of empathy and understanding. How on earth did she process grief that way? I can’t even imagine reaching that point myself.

It did cause my eyes to leak a bit, at the end (don’t tell anyone).


Number of things that are fine: zero.

I have no criticisms about this book and I recommend it to you as heartily as I possibly can. Whether you’re bipolar, or you want to understand someone who is, Swing Low has a lot to say and to teach. I recommend both of the novels I mentioned earlier too. Despite the recurring themes, the perspectives are so different that I felt I learned more from each one, and enjoyed getting other perspectives on things.

Shoo! Go and buy a book or three.


The Strength of Mental Illness

It is so easy, as one with mental illnesses, to wander through life buying into society’s blanket “mental illness is weakness of character” party line.
It isn’t until the chips are down and you find yourself still battling that you realize, “Wow, those people are full of shit, I am toughing out stuff that has caused others to break.”
Mental illness makes you have weaknesses, no doubt.
But it also gives you a strength, and a resolve, and every time you think you’ve hit the wall of “this is it, I can’t do this anymore”…You keep doing it.

The last five days have been like a kick in the head for me, physically. I have the whole allergy thing in which my nose thinks it’s a faucet. Then I lucked out with bronchitis, the kind that makes you double over hacking up both lungs, a pancreas, and a spleen. Oh and I got hit with that agonizing shark week. At some point, I stumbled and landed in a doorway, thinking my boob took the brunt of it.
Surprise, I have a severely bruised rib. I am fine as long as I don’t move, breathe, sneeze, cough, or have to participate in life.
Which means I am pretty fucking miserable.
After three days, I think it’s getting less excruitating, though finding a comfortable sleep position is challenging. As was trying to bathe my kid last night. Ever played Twister with a bruised rib? And the thing that makes it more fun are the spontaneous coughing fits that make it feel like a steel toe boot is kicking me right in that spot.
Still, amidst my random cries in pain…
I am here, I am managing. I am definitely not bringing my A game. It’s more like a z game. I need to shower but it’s going to hurt to wash my hair, so…delay. I need to take my meds…They’re up high and that’s gonna hurt. delay…
(And funny thing is, when I miss taking them by several hours, all my wonky brain chemicals start rapid misfiring and I become an anxiety riddled paranoia mess like yesterday.)
I need a helper monkey.
I should train the cats to be helper monkeys.

Oh, well. Guess my point is, you don’t know what you are capable of til put to the test. Yesterday I wanted nothing more than to lay at home yet in spite of it all, I went to the shop. he wants me there again today. I promised Nancy I’d changed her wifi encryption at her house. I have to go to the dmv to renew my license.
I don’t want to do this stuff. And for once, I have physical agony as an explanation.
This isn’t a bad mental health day for people to mock.
So instead of caving in to my own need to allow myself to be a victim and take advantage of being out of the game to an extent..
I am going to keep pushing myself. My Z game will have to suffice for now.
Least I’ve got game.

Puppy Love

When I was young, I had crushes and puppy loves like all kids do, but one thing was consistent—when I fell for a guy, I stayed in love for quite some time.  Bruce was for at least three years.  Mark was for two and a half, Darren probably a year or so.   I never dated in high school, I was an outcast for several reasons, so it didn’t really matter whether I liked a guy or not, he wasn’t going to ask me out.  But I still stayed stuck in love with them for long periods of time regardless.

And when I fell for someone, I fell hard.  It was always the same pattern—I’d be giddy just being around the guy, I’d try to be around him as much as possible, and when he would talk to me, I’d be at my funniest and most silly trying to hold his attention. (Yeah.  Classic mania.  I know.)

The last was true particularly in junior high, when I fell for a senior guy in the band—he was the drum major and our grandmothers were neighbors, so I knew him fairly well already.  I went so far one time as to jump off the top step of a school bus, intending to land on my feet on the ground.  Instead, I hit my head on the top of the bus door, blacked out for ten seconds and collapsed practically at his feet.  I came to with him standing over me going, “Julie?  Are you okay?  Are you okay?”

I struggled to my feet and said yes, coming away from the whole incident with a big knot on my head and an even bigger bruise to my ego.  That was about typical for how I operated around guys I liked an awful lot—embarrassing myself and them in the process.

31 days of bipolar: 2

Me me meme.


2. What is your baseline mood/state? How does that impact your life?

It is, I am not proud to admit, depression.

The impact is probably obvious, so I’ll try to find some less obvious and even positive things.

I’m quite good at depression; it gets to a pretty serious level before I even notice it much. I know the difference between suicidal ideation and intention. Because it’s always been my default state, by the time someone finally said hmmmm … bipolar … I’d already gone through that whole bs of thinking I could stop taking meds, so I’m sweetly meds compliant now. I’d like to think it has made me compassionate towards sad people. And of course, I’m a walking encyclopaedia of info on antidepressants and so forth.


Because I’ve always, always spent most of my life wishing I were dead, I’m (too) good at living in the now. I’m self aware to the point of being extremely tedious. I think too much. It took too long to realise that although I did need to get out of my head, there were healthier ways to do it than those I employed.

It makes things tough for people who love me. It makes the question how are you fraught with overthought obstacles for me. I miss such a lot, because I either can’t be arsed to go anywhere, or don’t enjoy it when I do. It means I haven’t got a clue what euthymia means. It makes me so bored with myself. It makes me think well, it’s all been more shit than shine for the past 40 odd years, what’s the point and who cares and … all of those adolescent emo things. I hide and isolate; good things have always come with mania and dire consequences. No, not always – the very existence of the people I love is testament to that. And books and music. Lots. See, positives.

Every time I open my mouth about it, I worry people will think I’m fishing for sympathy, or expecting them to solve it. A large part of why I needed this blog, was to have a place where I could puke it all out without those fears.


And now that I am aware of it all, mania isn’t fun anymore, so that’s no longer a relief. Right now I seem to be shifting from depression to mixed again. Kill me nao.


When the Voices ComeBrain-sick.

It’s how I describe my state in the worst of my bipolar symptoms.  It feels more positive than saying, “I’m having a bad day” or any other way of answering the question “How are you?”  But, after almost five years of blogging, I’m still hesitant to announce it.  As a rapid cycler, the icky way I feel now will change soon, so why carp?  Why give the demons a voice?  Then, the mood changes again, so I’m right back where I started.  To tell, or not to tell, that is the question.

Yesterday was one of those days where I didn’t dare pay attention to my own thoughts.  I went to the movies instead.  It’s a kind of meditation, giving the thoughts a padded corner to fuss and do their gymnastics while I turn my attention to the soft darkness of the theater, the popcorn, and the old friends up on the screen.  I went to three movies in row, seven hours of peace, seven hours of safety.  The twisted thinking and sorrow waited for me outside the theater.  We went to a nice dinner together where I ignored them with my journal and pretty fresh strawberries with whipped cream.  I forgot to take my sleep aid, so they woke me up early for another day together.

This is just the way of it.  There are days of moving forward and days, like these, where standing still is an enormous victory.  I’m thankful that I don’t judge either any more.  I’m grateful that I can simply accept being brain-sick.  It’s almost as comforting as returning to Middle Earth.  Almost.


6 Months

It’s been 6 months now since my diagnosis and 3 months since starting Lithium with my Prozac.
For the first time in, I don’t know how long, I feel like myself more than I feel like an alien from another planet. Ha

I have noticed so many things that are just different than they used to be. My capacity to handle things is better than it has been in years. I am able to be emotional without allowing my emotions to control me which is an amazing feeling. I know I probably still need some adjusting in my meds because I know I’m not completely there yet. But I am so much closer than I was 6 months ago.

For the first time in a long time I feel like I have the power. I know that one can control my thoughts and actions and truly feel that I have the ability to do that without it being a struggle, sometimes by the minute to do so. I know everyone doesn’t find the right meds right away and that there are so many intricacies that make this all different for every person. I don’t know why I have been blessed to the point that the first stab at meds seems to be working pretty well. I do know that for all the years I struggled and all the things I walked through its an amazing feeling.
There were so many things that I didn’t understand or see 6 months ago. I can’t imagine things being that way ever again.
God has been so so good to me. And I am grateful everyday for an amazing family and a husband that didn’t give up on me and that gave me that one more chance.  I have made to decision to honor that in any and every way that I can. And I have the confidence for the first time in years to know that my thoughts are where they need to be and I have enough control over my emotions to handle whatever comes along without damaging the amazing life that I have.
My husband and I got in a pretty big argument last week. Probably the worst we’ve had since I moved back in in July. Anyway, the difference in my feelings and the way I reacted is world’s different than what it was 6 months ago. The only way I know to describe it is a peace. I had absolutely no fear about anything. I knew that my husband loved me, and that we both probably expressed frustration or boredom in the wrong way. Most important for me personally I was truly confident in our love and relationship to the point that I knew this one seemingly bad fight wouldn’t break and destroy us. I have always had that safety and security. Much of the credit for that goes to my husband who has really run with the ball of getting mentally healthy and learning new ways to handle things and new ways to word what he has to say.
We are growing together. For that I am so grateful.
I’m going to try to be better about posting. I’m gonna have to do some work on my concentration  and my ability to be focused on whatever I am doing.

For now, if you are well  God bless you that your treatment is working. If your treatment is more difficult God bless you and I pray that God will reveal to you and your doctor the very best way to handle whatever it is that comes your way. There is power in knowledge, and there is power in a single persons ability to keep moving, working and growing.

Much love. Be blessed.


DSCN5317  DSCN5317

Well, I haven’t written a post in what seems forever to me. My mind is quite blank. Not active, quite sluggish. There really aren’t any thoughts coming into it except depressing thoughts. I don’t want to write. I have not much to say anyway. I am tired and achy all over my body. My thoughts are quiet, so is my speech. I cry very readily. I have no interest in much of anything. Well, what do you know! I find myself in the middle of a depression. Though not severe, still dulling, still well, depressing. A marked change from my normal state of being which is interested in everything, very vocal, ideas coming out by the dozens. This depressed way of being is boring and sad and sort of useless.

I am still cooking dinner, still going to Zumba and it is still FUN! Thank goodness for small favors. In fact, if Zumba stops being fun, call the EMT’s haha.

Just wanted to write about what it feels like to be in a depression, for people who might be in one or families of people who might be in a depression.

It isn’t fun. Although luckily, at this stage, it isn’t too painful. I am going to see my doctor on Friday. Let’s see if he has any magic tricks in his little black bag. I hope so, because I don’t want this thing to get more severe and out of control. That’s a funny thing about me, I don’t like suffering more than I have to.