Tag Archives: bipolar

If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Lemon-TreesAlbert Einstein is credited with saying that the definition of insanity is to do the same things over and over and expect different results. So I have been doing the same things over and over and yes, you’ve guessed it; expected a different set of results. I have let my bipolar disorder rule my life to such an extent I feel at times enslaved by it. I determined through pure strength of will that ‘the next time’ I would not be as bad on each up or down. But strength of will either deserted me altogether leaving me feeling morose, miserable and depressed or left me feeling so full of myself I became a bombastic, arrogant, verbose, pretentious, angry idiot: in other words I just repeated the same old cycle year after year. Expecting that with each ‘recovery’ some miraculous curing would happen and the next time round things would be different, but not actually doing anything other than wishing it, is I suppose the definition of insanity according to Einstein (or whoever!!). But I know I am not insane. Why then, has it taken me over half my life to decide that I can’t continue to do this? I can’t continue to expect different results but change nothing. It seems so simple. Change something, DO something else, try out something else. And yet, year after year, I continued to do the same old things and lamented the fact I was doomed to repeat the same old cycles, blaming it all on this “all encompassing” bipolar disorder.

If I am to be brutally honest, I don’t know what scares me more; trying something else and it not working, or trying something else and it actually working and then having to take ownership of the fact I left it so long to alter things. My new therapist said to me recently that in the small time we have been working together she has gathered from our conversations/sessions that I ‘pour myself’ into helping people when they are in need. I actually thought that was a very good way of describing it. I go into overdrive when people around me are in need. I do that for everyone except myself. With me, I surrender: I give up without putting up a fight. I am not okay with the fact I have bipolar disorder, my rhetoric will lead anyone to believe I fight against the onslaught of this illness, but when I am ambushed by its symptoms, I don’t do much to help myself because in that moment I can’t. In the ‘in between’, I haven’t done much to help myself either. I certainly educate myself and try to keep abreast of new treatments, but when I am feeling well, I am just that – feeling well. So I put all thoughts of doing other things on the back burner. I know that eventually a swing will come, but life has a way of taking over. My time is filled with other things, other people, places to go, people to see and lots of things to be done – shitloads of stuff to be done. Somehow, I end up way down the priority list.
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I would certainly say that life has given me a lemon. Bipolar disorder is a bitter, bitter illness that, if I let it, will rob me of everything that is unique and wonderful and special about me. But I can’t change that fact; ever! I have bipolar disorder, it is incurable, lifelong. For now. So I can continue to rage against this illness in word only, or I can try something different. This therapy is something different. Wonderwoman (nickname for Therapist) is of the opinion that emotional intelligence will stand me in really good stead for all of my life; for all of my dealings with everyone in my life. I happen to agree. Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict. I am learning to use emotional reasoning to deal with my anxiety levels. I am learning to come at an issue from the point of view of assertion rather than aggression. I am learning the practical differences between the two and how to cope with my own feelings rather than push them deep down inside of me. I cannot continue to be low on my priority list. Ultimately that is not helping anyone, least of all me.

Instead I am endeavoring to make lemonade with those lemons. I am attempting to do something different. Because staying the same isn’t an option any more.

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Filed under bipolar disorder, depression, depressive episodes, family and relationships, hypomania, Life and Health

‘It’s my bipolar’ – ‘No, it’s not’….!

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I have spent 21 years of my 47 years on this planet living with the label of being bipolar. My life has been seen through the veil, the threat, the symptoms of bipolar. My moods have been described and dismissed as being bipolar symptoms. My whole identity has been so intertwined with being a bipolar sufferer that I don’t at times know where it ends and I begin.

This new psychotherapy is playing havoc with my knowledge of myself.   I am having to re-evaluate things, episodes, events, what’s inside me and my reaction and interaction with people that for my whole life to date I have dismissed as being a ‘bipolar’ reaction. Now, I am very aware that the ‘illness’ of bipolar has no personality, but it feels like it has and it’s been grafted onto mine – or that my personality, my frustrations, my anger, my upset my emotions have been attributed to my bipoloar and not given legitimacy in their own right. My feelings have been dismissed and instead they have been commandeered/hijacked/usurped and labeled as a bipolar rant, a bipolar low, a bipolar anger, a bipolar anything and everything. I have spent a good majority of my life apologizing for my mood swings. I have spent a good majority of my life having my ‘upset’ and high emotions, my anger, my frustrations, attributed to my bipolar. I can’t talk about my life in any substantive way without mentioning himself. He’s been a part of it for the past 27 years. We are longer together than we were as separate individuals. I was diagnosed after I was married ; after my first son was born and he has lived my illness with me every step of the way.

But what happens to an individual whose very emotions are called into question and/or dismissed as illegitimate because of that illness. What happens when the person doing it is the one who has supported you every step of the way? Can illnesses like mine turn the very relationship that has been of vital importance all my life into a toxic one? And is it too easy to blame the illness!!

I have spent the majority of my life feeling lucky. I have felt lucky that I did a job I really enjoyed (most of the time), I had three lovely children whom I adored and still do (though they are almost fully grown now), and a husband who stood by me throughout my illness. That is how I describe him. He’s wonderful, he stood by me. He’s amazing, he stayed even though I was a raving lunatic at times. He’s so good to have put up with me all those years. But in putting him up on this pedestal, I threw myself down to the bottom. I became unworthy somehow. My illness became this ‘huge’ thing that no one else would put up with and boy isn’t he great because he did put up with it, how lucky am I.

Don’t get me wrong, I do actually love my hubby, but it’s not an equal relationship we have. And it’s not equal because of how I view myself and how I view him. I view myself as Damaged. Sick. Mentally ill. Broken. Not Worthy. It is those feelings of being inadequate that the psychologist is pulling away at. She’s pulled at a few strings and I can feel everything unravel, but it’s happening at a pace that is hard for me to adjust to – after all I have spent my life feeling this way. To be asked to address the root causes of those feelings is difficult to do. And to be honest I’m not sure whether I want to see the man behind the curtain, or whether I can just stay in Oz, running from the wicked witch of the west.

I don’t embrace change well. I don’t know if I can do this……

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Living in Hope

Missing Poster
There are times I would feel quite at home putting up a poster with these words “Help wanted to find missing person”. Of course that missing person would be me, or at least the part of me that is, at that time, gone. During depressive episodes I feel the real ‘me’ the part of me that enjoys and embraces life is literally just gone, lost and forlorn. We all know the state, its where all hope has departed, where instead of positivity we have the other demons on our shoulders, hopelessness, desolation, anxiety, profound sadness and all their lovely cousins…
It’s a grim state, the depressive element of bipolar. I’m not entirely sure which part of being bipolar I hate the most; the highs or the lows. Each has their own fascinating and treacherous ‘side-effects’! I say fascinating because despite all our medical discoveries, we are no closer to a ‘cure’ now than we were a few hundred years ago. We have made breakthroughs and invented drugs to keep the symptoms of mental illness at bay, but a cure? – Nah! Not yet!

It is however fascinating to realize there is nothing more resilient than the human psyche. I have come back from the deep and come down from the pinnacle and while I can’t and won’t say ‘unscathed’, I have survived. The consequences of my illness mean I’ve lost friends, I’ve alienated those I love, I’ve done many things I wouldn’t even begin to write about. At the same time, I have an unquenchable desire to understand my actions, to comprehend my emotions, to recognize the pits and pendulums so that I can do better, be better.

Nowadays the medical profession prefer to use the term ‘mind’ instead of psyche. Mind, psyche, cognizance, perception they are pretty much the same when dealing with a ‘sick’ psyche (sorry -mind)!! My perception of things is askew because of an imbalance in hormones somewhere within my brain. It could even be a teeny tiny imbalance, the medical profession doesn’t quite know for sure yet! In the past, I’ve been vocal about the lack of understanding, research and treatment for people with mental illness irrespective of the category. But the treatments that have been available up to just quite recently (as cutting edge medicine!!!) were barbaric.

Mental illness was once mistaken as demonic possession. In an effort to ‘cure’ the infected, holes were cut in their heads to force the demon out! This was called trepanning or trepanation. What’s weird (or weirder perhaps) is that practice is alive and well today, I kid you not….demon pic

Trepanation is the practice of making a hole in the skull in order to improve the brain pulsations and hence the overall well being. A trepan is the instrument used for making a hole in the skull bone. It is sometimes spelled trephine. The idea is to pump up the brainbloodvolume. It’s known that one’s level of consciousness is directly related to the volume of blood in one’s brain. As a result, trepanners say, one feels happier and more energetic.

For more on this wonderful technique see http://www.trepanationguide.com

Hydrotherapy was also another wonderful treatment thought to ‘cure’ mental illness. Some patients were mummified in towels and soaked in freezing cold water for hours on end. Other patients were strahydrotherapypped into freezing cold baths (sometimes for days on end) and only allowed out to the toilet. If that wasn’t bad enough, patients who didn’t respond were subjected to hosing from high-powered jets! Needless to say, this type of treatment was discredited for lack of tangible results.

In the early 1900’s the purposeful infection of a patient with Malaria to induce a high fever to cure their illness was first used. The procedure was hypothesized and carried out by Austrian physician Julius Wagner von Jauregg (who incidentally was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1927).
After that came along came a young Polish neurophysiologist and neuropsychiatrist named Manfred J. Sakel. While an internist in the Lichterfelde Hospital for Mental Diseases, in Berlin, Germany, he provoked a superficial coma in a morphine-addicted woman, using an injection of insulin, and obtained a remarkable recovery of her mental faculties. He then embarked on a coma inducing rampage treating patients with this technique for years. Despite claims of a greater than 60% success rate, controlled studies showed that a long-term cure was not achieved and that improvements were many times temporary. But, since Sakel’s method was the gentler and less harmful of all somatic (affecting the body as opposed to the mind) techniques, it was still in use in many countries until recently.

Up next comes a Hungarian pathologist named Ladislas von Meduna who in 1933 reasoned that, because schizophrenia was rare in epileptics and because epileptics seemed much happier after seizures he hypothesised inducing seizures in schizophrenic patients with the use of drugs would make them calmer. So the drug Metrazol was pumped into patients at varying levels. Of course, inducing a seizure had side-effects including fractured bones and memory loss, so doctors soon turned away from this treatment.

And of course, lets not forget the Lobotomy! Destroying a persons’ frontal lobe is to me a bit like throwing out the baby with the bathwater!! According to Wikipaedia:lobotomy pic

“The procedure, controversial from its inception, was a mainstream procedure for more than two decades (prescribed for psychiatric and occasionally other conditions) despite general recognition of frequent and serious side effects. Whilst some patients experienced symptomatic improvement with the operation, this was achieved at the cost of creating other impairments, and this balance between benefits and risks contributed to the controversial nature of the procedure. The originator of the procedure, António Egas Moniz, shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine of 1949 for the “discovery of the therapeutic value of leucotomy in certain psychoses”, although the awarding of the prize has been subject to controversy. The use of the procedure increased dramatically in some countries from the early 1940s and into the 1950s; by 1951, almost 20,000 lobotomies had been performed in the United States. Following the introduction of antipsychotic medications in the mid-1950s, lobotomies underwent a gradual but definite decline.
Lucky us huh!!

So, along with probably hundreds of other ‘treatments’ (I use that term flippantly) tried out on us mental patients over the last three hundred years or so, the above gives a glimpse of what our predecessors had to endure for a cure. There is no doubt that casting a glance backward and seeing how modern treatments were developed, it makes me feel extremely lucky to be alive at this time. Medicine is not perfect, but it’s better than the above. Necessity is the mother of invention. With so many of us struggling with all sorts of ailments, some environmental, some psychological, some physiological, perhaps now the ‘necessity’ for something more lasting and complete than medication will finally come along. One can always live in hope……

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Reaching the sunset of 2014…..

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This has been a hell of a year. In fact, this year has just been hell. I have had such a deep depression this year, it is a wonder I am still here. There was a point, half way through the year, I didn’t think I’d make it to the end, because thoughts of ending it all came almost daily. The thought of the peace that would come from such an act was very seductive, but still here I sit, tapping away at the keys. It is only with the support and strength of those around me that I made it through this year. In my darkest moments I know I caused real concern as himself didn’t have a clue what to do or how to help. He doesn’t even realize that just by saying ‘don’t worry about anything – I’ll take over’, he helped more than he has yet to comprehend.
My folks, who live just around the corner, don’t realize that by visiting or phoning every day, (even when they got a “hrrumpphh’ as an answer to their queries) they kept me grounded at times when I really felt I would just be swallowed by a veil of sadness.
My sisters’ emails gave me a reason to open my computer every day and it was the blogosphere where I poured out my pain and was greeted by those who truly understood. For you all I say thank you so much. To my sister, were she here I would envelop her in my arms and not let go till next year! She knows how I feel about her.
My children: my beautiful, growing up children don’t realize they are the ones that kept me anchored to this world, when all I had were thoughts of leaving because this was just too hard a year.
And my ‘shrink’, my wonderful doctor who doesn’t allow monosyllabic answers, doesn’t allow the short cuts I used to get away with – who pushes and pushes for how exactly I feel so she can treat me properly, to her I owe a debt that no money can repay. And while I tell her thank you after every visit – I have never written it down and sent it to her. Shame on me for that.
To my best friend who I treated terribly this year, I will have to say “I’m sorry and I love and value your friendship every day”. She already knows this, but it is wonderful to hear it said however. She hounded me, dragged me out for coffee, which made me at least wash some days and even when I didn’t want to talk, the knowledge was there at the back of my mind that she was there.
There are some very special people who have helped me more than they realise (they don’t even know it) this year – I will find a way to tell them and repay them.

I walked through a valley of shadows this year. I nearly didn’t make it out. But I did. I didn’t and couldn’t do it alone. I don’t know what next year will bring, but the fact I am looking forward to it at all, if even just to be out of this year, is a blessing I will take. I will do anything not to relive the experiences of the last twelve months. I’m sure that’s a statement many would nod their heads in agreement with. But I am here and this year is nearly ending……
I have a framed verse: ‘Footprints in the Sand’, where a man looking back on his life at the moment of death, talks to God and admonishes him for leaving at the worst moments of his life. God answers that at those moments, it was the time he carried the man, not left him…. I looked at that almost daily. I know that many people carried me this year; my family, my long suffering husband, my children, my friends: and I am still here. I’ve been carried through what has been the worst year of my life on many shoulders. Maybe it takes a lot of people to do that, so that we all come out unscathed at the other end. I am so lucky and I know that. It’s strange to sit here and think of all that has gone on last year and be able to elucidate clearly. Above all I am grateful I am still here and 2014 is nearly over. So I can turn the page and start again. Ain’t life wonderful that way…. Roll on 2015………………………….

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Bipolar among the top ten most disabling disorders in the world!

In Ireland the term ‘soft day’, means it’s raining, but not the lashing rain we sometimes get. It’s not quite a mist either – its somewhere in between, what we’d term a drizzle or ‘soft day’ and it goes on and on and on!
Sometimes that is what my depression feels like – not quite bad enough to have me well, depressed, (despondent, sad, melancholy, disheartened, down) but not quite gone/under control either. It’s like an itch I can’t scratch. It just is there, saturating how I feel (let’s keep the rain metaphore going here!!)

It is sometimes hard to explain how I feel. Inside my own head, I know there is something wrong, my thought processes are not right, my ‘feelings’ about things are not right. They are off, but not quite discernable to others. So when my behavior is viewed as something other than what it is, me having a bad day, then problems can start.
I wish everyone could just know what it feels like to be suffering from bipolar for a week. I wish someone else could experience a swing, the highs and lows that tear your mind apart for a while. I wish everyone else could really and truly understand what it is like being ill. Because by going through it, then perhaps there can be more understanding for what we go through.

I didn’t know this, but bipolar disorder is ranked by the World Health Organization among the top 10 most disabling disorders in the world. It was the subject of a study by Javier Ballester, MD, and colleagues.
The study concluded that “BP, particularly during acute episodes, is associated with increased self-reported verbal and physical aggression, anger, and hostility. These results provide further evidence of the need for treatments to prevent mood recurrences and prompt treatment of acute mood episodes in subjects with BP.”

Well, tell us something we don’t know then!!!!!

I didn’t know about the ranking, although I can understand why. But why isn’t this stuff more widely discussed, more widely publicized, more widely understood.

If it was, then those of us who struggle may be less (mis)judged, misunderstood and less alone in our struggles at times.
No matter the support, I really feel we go through this alone. There is no one inside our heads to help. It is a lonely illness this bi-polar.

Lonely and disabling! The WHO says so!!

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Taking “Wellness” for granted

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I’ve been thinking a lot about the times in my life when I had a prolonged period of ‘wellness’. We were looking for some holiday photos that I really thought I had transferred to CD’s so I went through all the unlabeled CD’s I had in my case. And I came across a little treasure trove of family movies from when the kids were young.   I sat for hours and watched movie after movie. The picture is pretty shaky, the colours not so great, but I can see how balanced I was at that time. It’s a little snapshot back to the past. And I can see how I took that wellness for granted. I squandered it – I wasted the ‘normality’ of it all. I didn’t realize that relapses can happen – to the degree that it did recently- where I feel my life is in pieces and I can’t quite seem to pick them all up at the same time and put them back together…..

If I concentrate on one area, something else gets broken or left behind – when I make an effort to concentrate on that, then something else gets abandoned. I am at the stage where I am in awe of the fact that at one point I did it all; raised young children, worked, ran a house, was a wife, mother, sister, friend and everything else to everyone else in my life. I am in awe of people who do this every day without a second thought to how fabulous it is to be able to do that, without even thinking it is something special.

I am under no illusion that life is stressful and I am sure at some points I was under stress; lets face it, everyone is; sick or not, but the way in which we cope with stress is now actually fascinating to me. We have made this life so stressful for ourselves. We fill it with ‘stuff’, with work, with the pursuit of money, with things that sometimes don’t matter at all. But when the acquisition of stuff, or doing those things that are not important become more important than actually living life to the full and being happy while doing it, that’s not good at all. Because how can we enjoy the simple happiness, and the balance and normality of it all if we are too busy. That I think is what I am lamenting here. That I filled my life with ‘things’ without realizing how special it was to be well, to be able to do all those things and be all things to all people and not even have to think about the cost to my wellness. I was just able to manage it without ever having to think about it too much.

Some of my happiest memories are of me and the kids just messing around in the back garden, or in the house, but where we are engaged with each other; where we are covered in paint from arts and crafts, where we are laughing ourselves silly from jokes they are telling in the hopes of outdoing each other. And all this is caught on tape and I love it.

I love the fact that their childhood was happy, that I can see I am balanced, that I made them happy, that I was engaged with them and that we have it caught on tape for us all to watch and remember together.

When I have put all the pieces back together this time, I will not take my wellness or my lack of symptoms for granted. I promise to treasure every day, every conversation, every thing I do because it is a special thing to be well and balanced. And its something not to be taken lightly or for granted.

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It is NOT okay to take your own life……

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I was on a train on Friday afternoon, something I haven’t done in years. And it was full of university students on their way home for the weekend. I sat at a table alongside three of these students, one to the side of me and two facing me. I put on my ipod and I tried to drown out the clackty clack sound of the train and the din of the voices as people chatted and laughed.

I was absolutely amazed at the confidence of those three girls. One sat there with her laptop and typed notes (I presume), while the two facing me talked about their lecturers and other students at the university and what they would do this weekend. They oozed self-confidence. It seemed to just come from their pores, from the inside out. Their faces were animated, they gestured with their hands and they were alive – so alive….

I don’t remember being like that at their age, but I am sure I was at some point; that almost ‘cocky’ self-confidence that is the preserve of the young (and sometimes the not so young!!). It’s almost like an ignorance of the trials of life and what can come your way and because you haven’t been visited by the ‘school of hard knocks yet’, you are exuding poise and trust and belief in oneself.

My daughter had to go to a funeral on Saturday. One of her school pals had taken her own life; she was 16. There are probably many reasons for this and it is information no-one will be privy to now. Her boyfriend who had recently broken up with her sat like a statue at the back of the church and none of them quite knew what to say to him. He didn’t engage, he didn’t speak and left after the ceremony. My daughter didn’t know the girl very well and while she was upset, she wasn’t devastated. On Sunday morning, she came into my bedroom and said she NEEDED to go to her friends house; now! When I asked her what was up, she said the young chap had been found dead that morning (Sunday). He too had taken his own life. There will be no explanation for his parents either… What is glaringly obvious is two families are now in tatters. My daughter knew the chap. She had just finished school with him. They had just been to their graduation ball a few weeks prior. When I looked at the devastation this has caused and then juxtaposition that to the confidence and the poise of the girls on the train, it just breaks my heart. Nothing stays the same. Things change, circumstances change, life happens! It can get worse, for sure, but it can also get better.

It makes me realize how precious life is, how fleeting it can be and how nothing will stay the same. We are the sum of our experiences, we live with our mistakes but we learn from them. We rejoice in our triumphs and celebrate our uniqueness. But nothing stays the same.  I have tried to tell my children this over the last few days; reinforcing the message that things pass, things change and no matter how bad or sad they feel, I am here always; to listen, to be a shoulder to cry on, to be their most ferocious supporter and the one who offers unconditional love. I needed them to know it’s not okay to give up, that the devastation that any action causes will ripple out and leave those who love them in a very bad place for perhaps a very long time. I made them promise that if they ever felt so bad they might do something stupid, that they would come to me. I just hope they have listened.

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Its not easy living with someone who is Bi-polar.

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I’ve been working on this particular post for the past two months…..  For a long while I was afraid to post it.  Because it hits a real raw nerve with me and I wasn’t sure I wanted to expose that, even to myself.  I keep coming back to edit it, so maybe it’s meant to be;  meant to be out there.  Verbalised!

I can only write about what I know; my own experiences, my own family.  I’m not an expert, actually far from it.  I have a lot to learn, a lot of living still to do.  But I have lived with bi-polar for the past twenty two years, so I do have some insight into the condition that affects me.  It is through my own filter, but it is no less relevant, no less ‘true’.

I am sure it’s not an easy ride living with someone who is bi-polar. The insecurities I feel are very real to me in every sense. It’s difficult to find a balance sometimes. When depression hits, its bad. The mania can be worse sometimes – but only sometimes.  I talk fast, I work fast, I am animated and very productive – until I’m not.  And then I’m this angry out of control, irrational, screaming bitch.  Its very difficult to cope with;  I can’t control the anger.  It just comes in waves.  At the crest of the wave or anger outburst, you can find me screaming; as if I was throwing an adult temper tantrum.  I can’t stop.  I just feel angry, more than angry: I feel pure white rage.  There is no controlling it, there is no stopping it; at least not ‘in its tracks’ anyway.  And I am dangerous; dangerous to myself, dangerous to those around me. Am I aware of it?  On some level perhaps whilst in the middle of it.  But it’s not on a conscious enough level that I can stop, because I can’t.  I simply lose complete and utter control.  Afterwards, its like something is crawling under my skin.  I can’t sit still.

I hadn’t had a full blown ‘high attack’ in a very long time.  Yes I can get angry in my life, it doesn’t mean it’s an anger brought on by my bi-polar.  I am just like everyone else;  I can smile, I can laugh, I can get angry, I can cry.  I can be perfectly normal in my reactions, because at times I am perfectly normal!

But what happens when its an anger brought about because of a high?  I got angry recently.  I was consumed by it.  I couldn’t help it, I couldn’t stop it.  I was absolutely and utterly helpless.  It was a screaming, furious, explosive kind of helplessness.  I frightened everyone in the house, but most of all myself.  I haven’t been this helpless in a long time and its not a pleasant feeling.  The only thing I could do to get myself calm was drink.  Its not the recommended treatment, not by a long shot, but I’m up at the highest level on my particular meds.  It was that or do something completely and utterly stupid that I could not come back from, so I drank.  And slowly, I relaxed.

Its like someone takes over my body.  I am literally not in control of my feelings.  Waves of pure white rage wash over me leaving me screaming like a lunatic and wanting to do anything to get rid of the feeling, the bursts of energy that comes alongside it.  At best, I can just jump up and down while balling my fists so tight it hurts; but at least that way I’m only hurting myself.  At worst, I can wreck a room in a few seconds flat, although I haven’t done that in a long while.

With the depression side of the bi-polar, I am insecure, miserable, dejected, – reduced to a mumbling mass of despondency. Everything in life is seen through this veil of “it’s not worth it”, or “what’s going to happen”, or “this is the worst time in my life”.

There have been times in my life when himself has been less than supportive, less than understanding, less than even civil. There have been times when I needed him most, he wasn’t there – didn’t understand what I needed, or was not prepared to give me the leeway I needed to work out of a bout of depression or mania and it just made things more difficult for us for longer.

But then again, I’m not easy to live with. Or should I say my condition is not easy to live with.  I can’t help that I have bi-polar.  It is entwined within me and as unchangeable as my fingerprints.  Would I rather I didn’t struggle with this illness:  God yes, absolutely, affirmative, take it away now…

But realistically that’s not going to happen.

What happens after times like these is simply like looking at the wreckage after a terrible storm.  I have to deal with and look at the fallout of my behaviour.  I understand I am not in control at times like that.  Himself understands that too, but there are times I know that while he understands he is still angry, still hurt, still unforgiving!  And its at like these I hate my illness.  I hate myself too.  I hate the unpredictability of this illness and of my own emotions.  But I understand that being a wife and mother, I’m not easy to live with at times.  I find it hard to live with this mood disorder, so what is it like for those around me?   At times I want to give everyone a book on my condition and say ‘HERE – READ THIS’ and you might understand.  But while it’s not easy living with it, it must be terribly hard to live with someone with it!  That’s my life.  That’s his life and my kids’ lives.  For better or worse, that’s what it is now…..  Without ever actually living the highs and lows of bi-polar, I wonder can you ever really understand it though?

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Stress then swing, or swing then stress??

girl-on-a-swing

Stress and Bi-polar; is there a way to avoid swings?

Okay, so I am writing this for myself; To clarify everything I have read in the last few days about ‘de-stressing’ my life and learning to cope with the swings, paying particular attention to my ‘stressors’.

But the truth is, even after 20 years, I only know a few of them. Stress is one of them. I know the stress of my job nearly killed me. I worked in a wonderful office environment, where we had great fun as work colleagues, but the stress of the ‘actual work’ was horrendous. I didn’t cope well at all. Luckily, I worked alongside himself so when I was having a reaaaaallly bad day, I’d get up from my desk, put on my coat and leave with no explanation necessary. I was really lucky. But when the stress of the job got so much I considered sending the car under a truck just so I wouldn’t have to go to work, I knew I was in big trouble.

So yes, work was a huge stressor for me. But I’ve not been working for the past eight months and I still find myself rapidly swinging between depression and mania. Granted it’s not as bad as it was back a few months ago, but I have no work stress now?

I read an article on this very subject and it said that people with bi-polar disorder are seven or eight times more likely to develop a ‘decompensation’ (wonderful description!!) in response to a stressful life event.

It went on to list the life events I am familiar with; family rows, marriage problems, the birth of a baby, the death of a close relative or friend, job loss, financial worries and so on.   But I have to ask the question; are some of these situations caused by the bipolar or are they a stressor; what comes first?

Obviously the usual suspects of a death or a birth are understandable, a death can bring tremendous grief and a birth while a glorious event can be followed by post partum depression as was my trigger.

But rows in our house are because of my stress levels and not a resulting factor of them. (Mind you, they are not as prevalent as they were years ago, but I do still cause a lot.) I know it takes two to tango, but himself is a long suffering spouse of an eternal pessimist, not because of who I am, but because of what bi-polar has turned me into. I spend half my life weighing up options and always coming up with the ‘yes but what if….’

I don’t do change well. I find it hard to cope with new situations and while I AM not a shy person, I find it hard to meet new people. Completely contradictory I know, but there you have it!!

As one of my fellow bloggers recently said in her blog; what comes first; the chicken or the egg; so what comes first; an episode then stress or stress then an episode!

I suppose it is all about trying real hard to identify my triggers and either avoiding them or negating them. But what if you have no triggers, or none that you can identify. Sometimes I just AM depressed, or I just AM manic. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to them. Sometimes they catch me completely unawares.

Yes a good diet and exercise are important and can help, but when I don’t have the energy some days to even get up out of bed, that’s exercise gone out the window for a while.

And what happens when I go on a major binge because of a craving for carbohydrates? There have been times when I physically can’t stop myself eating. Yes, I try not to buy crap and have it in the house in the first place, but I just find something else to eat. Compulsion is a powerful thing!

Now with more time on my hands, I find I am doing a lot more research on bi-polar than I have done for many years. And quite honestly it’s depressing! (no pun intended here!!!!). So perhaps it’s time to just get on with living my life instead of trying to fix myself. Just roll with each day and see what it will bring. I am all for self help, but when there appears to be so little still known about bi-polar it really pisses me off!!

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Filed under bi-polar, depression, depressive episodes, family and relationships, hypomania, Life and Health, Mania, relationships

A mothers love knows no bounds.

books picture

I came across this about a year ago, and I loved it so much I printed it out on really fancy paper and framed it.  It now has pride of place in my hall.  Any time my kids feel I’m being unreasonable (which is a lot of the time), I simply point to it and tell them to read it again.  It encapsulates so much what I feel, who I am as a mother and what I feel I have to do to protect them from themselves a lot of the time.  My kids are almost adults, my eldest son is 20, my daughter 18 and the baby of the family is 16.  A lot of the time when they hear the word ‘no’ from my mouth, they are unable to understand the reasoning behind it.  Having to explain it in terms they understand can be difficult considering when they were younger the ‘no’ could so easily be followed by ‘I said no’ and that would be the end of the conversation.  God, rearing kids can be difficult!  Protecting them from outside influences make me the enemy sometimes.  But its one of the most important jobs I have to do and I can’t ever give that up, just throw in the towel and say I am done….

My Promise to my Children

For as long as I live, I will always be your parent first and your friend second. 

I will stalk you, flip out on you, lecture you, drive you insane, be your worst nightmare and hunt you down like a bloodhound when I have to because I love you. 

When you understand that, I will know you have become a responsible adult. 

You will never find anyone else in your life that loves, cares, prays and worries about you as much as I do. 

If you don’t mutter under your breath “I hate you” at least once in your life, I am not doing my job properly.

Now ain’t that the truth!!!

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Filed under bi-polar, depression, depressive episodes, family and relationships, hypomania, Life and Health, relationships