Tag Archives: Mental Health

It’s been a while………..

aunty-17 It’s a while since I picked up a pen, or danced my fingers across the keyboard to do anything other than check my bank balance (depressing) or see who sent me emails I don’t need/want/require/or are of any benefit. Although I probably could do with the diet pills, I certainly don’t need a penile enlargement, to find out if my partner is cheating on me, a Russian bride, to claim the lottery prizes (of which there are quite a few) that I have won (but never entered!!) or any of the other asinine stuff that comes to my inbox every day.

Digression over, it’s been a while….

It’s been a while since I had any time to myself. It’s been a while since I felt able to string a coherent set of thoughts together. It’s been a while since I have had any sort of peace within myself. And it’s been a while since I simply felt like putting down on paper/screen/(out of my head) my thoughts; because once I do that I have to confront what is there before me. And that’s the difficult part….. The thing with bipolar is I never really trust my own feelings. Are they real? Is my anger justified? Why am I really sad, or frustrated, or discouraged, or upset? Is what I am feeling real at all? I have started sessions with a psychologist and she’ll be teaching me the techniques of cbt, but before any of the good stuff that will actually help is talked about, she’s brought me back to places I’m not sure I want to revisit. She’s brought me back to a time in my life I wanted to just forget, wipe from my memory as if I can just ignore its very existence. She is making me dredge up things I either wanted to ignore, or forgot about in some sort of self-protection approach. She’s a lovely psychologist, but I have left the last three sessions with her in tears by the end. And then I’m upset for the week. I’m facing issues about myself and others around me that I don’t particularly want to face. Because facing issues like that means that action must then be taken. Without some sort of action, this will all be pointless.

I don’t know why I was reluctant to undergo this type of therapy. Strike that, I think I do. – My psych told me at my last two sessions with her that my recent ‘issues’ were not bipolar related – that she feels I am instead having a bit of a crisis and an inability to deal with the stresses of life – for which she cannot prescribe any medication because I’m at the highest limit for my particular meds (we just recently changed the anti-depressant anyway – but she says its not related to my recent anxieties!!); hence the psychology sessions!! The first time she said it, I passed it off as her having a bad day, because surely I can’t be “not able” to cope with “life”. That sounded ridiculous to me. I’ve coped with bp for so long, how can it now be that ‘life’ is getting in the way… how can it be that it is simply the stresses and anxieties of life that is now making me feel this wretched. The second time she said it however, I had to take notice. She suggested the psychology sessions and organized them fairly promptly which brings me to the last month. It’s so easy to label everything that goes wrong in my life as ‘bipolar related’. It’s easy to pass off feelings of insecurity, anger, despair as being the symptoms of the illness I have for so long shouldered. In labeling them that way, then it becomes easy to avoid doing anything about them because the root cause is not of my making, well not really – it’s in my head – its only my ‘illness’ talking. Except sometimes it’s not in my head. That is what this psychologist is making me face. She is making me face myself and my decisions and my actions or inactions in a very cool, calm way – but its wreaking havoc on me. I come out of there a snotty mess. For the last few weeks she’s shook my hand and said it will get better. But before that happens we have to go back….. Go back and dig up stuff I don’t want to. Go forward and deal with stuff I’d rather label as bipolar related, go and look myself in the mirror and say ‘yeah, but how do you really feel’..

And I’m terrified.

I’m terrified of what I will see.

I’m terrified what I will find out about myself

I’m terrified of what I will have to then do about it.

I’m not sure if I have used my bipolar as a crutch my whole life or as an excuse, or as a shield. Perhaps it’s a bit of all three, perhaps its none of those; I really don’t know. And that’s the terrifying part. That and what’s now going to happen.

Shit, I hate the unfamiliarity of all this….

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

Crapshoot, Fate and Genetics!

A few months back, I wrote a piece about having children and the genetics of bipolar. I had my children before I fully realized what my ‘illness’ was and how it would affect me, and those around me. I was almost 27 when I was diagnosed, my firstborn son was nine months old. It started as postpartum depression that just never went away. I have to say I am lucky (if you can put bipolar and luck in the same sentence and not hysterically laugh), but I am lucky that I was diagnosed quickly. I didn’t have to wait years for a definitive answer; I didn’t have to flounder my way from doctor to doctor or specialist to specialist either. I didn’t go through the torment of broken relationships, self imposed and/or inflicted isolation from friends and family, hospital admissions and misdiagnoses galore. I went to my family GP, who sent me to a specialist who diagnosed a ‘rapidly cycling bipolar disorder’ as soon as our first session was over. The fact that he was head of the main Psychiatric Hospital in Dublin at the time probably helped – that and the fact I had a healthy medical insurance plan! It was however, to be a further five years before I actually had a psychiatrist I trusted. (Just because someone is recommended doesn’t mean you have to stay with them. I finally learned this and sought a referral to another psychiatrist from my family GP and have been with the same Psych ever since.)

There is a long and somewhat ‘dark’ history of mental illness on the maternal side of my family. It’s all a bit deep and mysterious! For sure schizophrenia is in there, for sure so is depression. As I am sure happened the world over, bygone members of my family were locked away in what was then termed ‘lunatic’ asylums, (a more offensive name than lunatic would have been difficult to come up with) to while away their sorry existence doped up to their eyeballs. This at the time was cutting edge treatment. So mental instability is inherent in my genes. I didn’t quite comprehend all this before my own diagnosis. The subject never really ‘came up’ and my uncles’ illnesses were spoken of in hushed tones. I certainly didn’t understand the gravity of my own diagnosis – not for years really.

So I had three children. Three wonderful, relatively well adjusted children. And all was well in our household.

But last year, wasn’t the best of years, not for me and not for my eldest, who turns 21 this year. At the tail end of last year, my son came to me and told me he was in trouble. What comes to mind when a son says that to his mother is all sorts of random things; pregnancy, drugs, problems with girlfriends (or boyfriends) or pals, anything but mental illness. He went on to explain that for the past few months he had considered jumping off a bridge he has to cross every day. (He both crosses the bridge every day, and every day he thought of jumping off.) The fact that he came to me and admitted he needed help was a minor miracle all its own. He tends to internalize things, like most young men do, but over the years I have talked to them all about my ‘condition’ and made them promise if they felt they needed help they would ask. And he did.

It’s very hard to explain how I felt when he opened up to me. There was a part of me that was extremely grateful that he had come to me and not done something stupid, that goes without saying. There was another, a much bigger part of me that was filled with pure white terror. Of course Mammy mode went into overdrive, so I arranged an appointment with the family doctor, sent him there (because he’s an adult and no matter how much I would have wanted to bring him I couldn’t) made him tell me word for word what the doctor said and then phoned the doctor afterwards (yep – that mammy thing again) because a referral to a specialist was necessary. I think this is as much to do with my family history as anything else. So I arranged for my son to attend the clinic of my psychiatrist. I trust her therefore he gets the best. Luckily, luckily, my son is only depressed. (That almost makes me laugh to write that!!) What I mean by that is he is not bipolar!

Terror = fear, horror, dread, fright, shock, panic

I don’t know how I would have felt if he was diagnosed as bipolar? Its genetic, therefore it would have been my fault. I would have been responsible for this person, who I love more than life itself, having to take a much more difficult path through life. I suppose my own experience could have helped him, but I know that ultimately, you are alone with your head and in your own head a lot of the time. While others can support you, they can’t really help you.

Fate = providence, destiny.

Don’t tempt fate = believing that events are predetermined and can be changed/altered negatively by the mere mention of them.

It hasn’t altered my opinion of whether to have children or not. It’s all a crap-shoot in the end, the odds are just slightly more weighted. But I don’t think I would have been as blasé about that decision as I think I was, if it even factored at all.

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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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The Deception of Bi-Polar – Welcome to Dr Jekyll and Mrs Hyde.

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“How do you feel”, I am often asked. And I answer ‘I’m fine’, because that is what is expected. I think we regularly ask people how they are feeling without ever wanting anything more than a ‘fine’ answer. That would mean opening a real dialogue that perhaps we may not really want to start. So we all ask the question of each other and we all answer ‘fine’ to the question asked of us, irrespective of the veracity of the statement itself.

The truth is, being bi-polar is like having a split personality. It is living a life of chronically fluctuating emotions, not knowing sometimes what each day will bring; in Forest Gumps’ succinct words “life is like a box of chocolates, you’re never sure what you’re gonna get! That’s how it is for me some days. I never know what way I will be when I wake up, or how that day will pan out. Will I be even and relaxed, will I be frantic and slightly mad (my own view of myself), or will I be so down, I don’t even want to get up, preferring instead to just pull the covers back over my head and wait for tomorrow?

Even with my meds, I swing; they are not as ‘violently oscillating’ as they would be were I not medicated at all, but it is still discernable if I look hard enough – yet manageable most of the time.

I suppose what I have learned most of all over the last two decades is that because of my being a rapid cycler, the mood high or low doesn’t last too long, so I just roll with it, as best I can. Normally that is good enough, but sometimes it’s not.

The last eight months are a case in point. It’s been eight months since I was diagnosed with depression, but according to Dr ‘PC’ , (who is my savior for sure), the bout of unrelated standalone depression has started my bi-polar swinging again. So that is what I have been feeling in the last few weeks (aside from and as well as the depression).

This seesaw of emotions, from high to low, from angry to sad, from morose to manic is the result. I can’t remember the last time I felt this unbalanced. But looking back at my blogs of even just the last two months, it is quite easy to see the swings.

I’ve said it before, to live with anyone struggling with a mental illness must take some kind of amazingness! To live ‘with it’ takes more courage than those who don’t struggle will ever know. To a degree my bipolar defines who I am, because it takes so much strength just to be an active and ‘normal’ member of society. To a degree I am the ‘me’ I am in spite of and because of my bi-polar. I often wonder what type of person I would be if I didn’t struggle with this illness. What would I have accomplished without the highs and lows that have plagued my life? What type of mother would I have been, were it not for the highs and lows? What type of wife would I have been, without hubby having to deal with a manic depressive half the time? But what ifs’ serve no purpose other than to make me feel a failure and I am not a failure. I may be Dr Jekyll and then Mrs Hyde from month to month or time to time, but my struggle has left me very aware of my own and others’ feelings as a result. I am in touch with them in a way those who don’t deal with a mental illness perhaps are not. That is because I have to be. I have to be vigilant, ever watchful of any excess and because of that, I can recognize in others, their emotions. It makes me very empathic and that empathy has helped me in my life in more ways than it has hurt me. But it is a high price to pay for empathy. So where there is disadvantage, there is also advantage. Welcome to the world of the bi-polar. Welcome to the world of Jekyll and Hyde; welcome to my world.

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With age and Wisdom comes freedom (Part 2)

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One of my friends read my blog piece on ‘age, wisdom and intolerance’ before we met up for a night out recently.  A school-mate had come home from afar and those of us who live close spent a wonderful night in her company regaling her with stories of our lives and catching up with hers.  Towards the end of the night, the few smokers among us were outside the venue and as we sat beside each other, my pal (the other smoker!!) told me I was wrong to feel the way I did about other people or certainly how I expressed it in my blog.

My friend told me that for her, the opposite has happened.  She used to be closed off to the influences of other people, to the ‘camaraderie’ of other people, because she somehow felt they would have no interest in her; getting to know her, to talk to her and as a result she stayed ‘closed off’ to them.  It is only in the last few years that she has opened herself to more opportunities, to meeting new people, to not prejudging what others will think of her and letting what will happen just happen, that she is now willing to open a conversation and see where it goes.  My friend feels that this has enriched her life and that by opening herself up to new people, new experiences, new approaches to life that she is the better for it.

I understand all that.  I understand the feelings of confinement within the restrains of my personality, my life experiences, my life indeed!  For me, freedom came when I recognized I am important; not more important than anyone else, but as important as everyone else.  I understood that to grow in this life, I needed to open myself up, to free myself from who I thought I was.  Part of that freedom, that new found sense of self didn’t go down well with those who constantly saw me unwell; as someone to be ‘minded’ to be ‘guided’, to be ‘led’.  Because for me, wellness brought a new sense of self worth, I didn’t want to be minded, guided or led any more.  I wanted to take my place alongside them, not behind them.  I wanted to open myself to the possibility of re-connecting with other people.  In that I think I agree with my pal Tina.  I do open myself up to other people now, in a way I didn’t in the past and I get rewarded time and time again, because other peoples opinions, their life experience, their sense of who they are is wonderful – different – divergent – stimulatingly wonderfully different to mine – and that’s what’s unique to them.

I think that we are actually on the same page, Tina and I.  I just think we came to the same conclusions through different routes; and express it differently  Its not that I am completely intolerant of other people, don’t get me wrong; what I am intolerant of though, is the feeling that some would put me back ‘behind’… Those are the ones I will spend no time on – those are the friendships I won’t take any further, those are the ones who are ‘not worth it’.  But I will talk to anyone!  I can be outrageous and it is absolutely freeing, because I now have only one real critic: myself.

My friend has opened herself up by starting a conversation with people who years ago she would have just nodded at and then quickly passed the other way.  I am doing the same thing; opening a conversation with others.  We both agree that it is freeing, it is liberating in a way and it is truly wonderful.  I know for me, I don’t want to be put back in that box I created for myself.  And that is what I meant by being intolerant of others.  Perhaps intolerant is too strong a word.  Perhaps it is freedom I seek most of all: freedom to be who I really am.  But isn’t that what we all seek?  A freedom to be, a freedom to think, a freedom to act – responsibly!!  This life is not a dress rehearsal for what is to come; (and THAT is a whole other conversation), but what we have and who we are should not be squandered, should not be wasted.  For me, age and wisdom has meant I can be free to be who I am.  I am still learning all the time; through my family, through my siblings, my children, my parents, my husband, and all those who know me.  And it does bring a ‘reluctance’ to spend time with others who would not value that time in me as I value it in them.   I don’t mean that everyone who comes into my life HAS to enrich it; there are those who simply pass through, who I may engage in conversation at a door and enjoy the banter but that is fleeting, it is not those I speak of, when I write here. So perhaps my friend Tina is right:  Intolerance brings its own form of danger to a person, and standoffishness means I can be left being ‘intolerant’ on my own!  So lets end this by saying; with age and wisdom comes freedom! – And a reluctance to have that freedom quashed!

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Down the Rabbit Hole Again!

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Deep in the dark recesses of my brain, somewhere that is still conscious of what is going on, I know that I am in a place I wouldn’t want to be had I a choice. Deep down there too, is the knowledge that I am in big trouble.

Deep in my brain is the wisdom, the knowing that I can’t help myself and I end up screaming at myself every night; because at night time – when I am asleep – is the time my subconscious can reach up and punch my conscious mind.   But that constant punching causes problems with my mind during the day, as I struggle to cope with the waking hours having spent all night battling myself as I tossed and turned with my mind screaming; assaulting me with images, thoughts, struggles, pressures, worries that refuse to let me sleep a restful, useful sleep.

Having slumbered, tossed, and turned, my waking moments are lived in slow motion, with words forgotten, tears coming uncalled and the world seen through a veil of cotton wool, as if everything is dulled, muted and I slovenly work on half speed, with a mask in place to pretend I am still me, still fully there. I feel a lot of things and absolutely nothing at the same time. It is as if I know I should feel, am remembering a feeling but am equally incapable of feeling that feeling; I am recalling it as if from memory and not from the process of actually feeling it. My world is getting smaller, it wants to be smaller, and I want to be alone – to be quiet.

As if my very spirit has been stolen, my life is lived purely by going through the motions; as if I have to do it, but no longer want to do it. It is as if someone has turned off a light in my head, in my heart. My brain just refuses to work at times and as I struggle for words more and more it makes me worry, angry, sad, and weary… Not even the words want to come from my head. Just be silent. Just to be silent, that would be wonderful.

To be alone and quiet and peaceful, resting, if that could happen, then perhaps I could mend….

Being depressed, suffering from depression is not a choice; it is an action, something that happens TO you, unwanted, unbidden and sometimes by complete surprise. It is also a battle; a fight with an unseen, powerful thing that sucks the very life out of everything you see, you touch, you do, you are…. It is an insidious illness that can destroy your very spirit, soul, heart, mind and life.

I have bi-polar disorder. I have struggled with this for twenty years and for twenty years I have managed the highs and lows with the help and support of my doctor, family, my husband and my children. But even with me, after so many years and so many swings I was in the depths of clinical depression without realizing it. Despite knowing and managing the symptoms of depression before, they snuck up on me this time.  I felt ‘deflated’, I felt unmotivated, flat and devoid of the slightest hint of energy or joy. I forgot the simplest of words regularly and struggled to put sentences together sometimes. I wanted quiet, silently screamed for it, in my surroundings, in my home, but most of all in my head.

When I slept, I tossed and turned, I didn’t get a refreshing sleep, not for months. I am exhausted both mentally and physically but being in a position of having to go on, I did, until I couldn’t any more. When I began to imagine myself crashing into the nearest truck just so I didn’t have to go to work and I could get some rest I knew there was something wrong. Who does that; imagines themselves slightly hurt; enough they’d have to go to hospital where they could sleep, be quiet and not be disturbed for a few weeks??

This is not like the depression I had felt before with the bi-polar. This came on so gradually I didn’t even realize I was different. Not until having seriously thought of hurting myself over and over and then wanting to do it morning after morning, did I admit to myself that I could be sick. So I asked for an emergency appointment with my doctor who has looked after me for over ten years and she told me that I was suffering from clinical depression.

To be honest, some of it was a relief. The idea of forgetting my words when I enjoy writing so much was very frightening.   When I talked, I couldn’t piece a sentence together without struggling to reach the words that were just ‘gone’. Simple words for everyday things were missing, unknown, unreachable, vanished completely from memory. This is a symptom of depression.

The idea of wanting to harm myself for some peace and quiet was seriously wrong, but this is a classic symptom of depression.

The thought of getting up day after day and going to work  – just doing the ‘run of the mill’ things we all have to do, was destroying my soul, my being and I was beginning to be incapable of doing it; this is a symptom of depression.

The idea of peace and quiet where I can be on my own to just sleep, to rest, is a symptom of depression.

Flashes of anger were not uncommon with my bi-polar but with this episode, it was more like absolute apathy, a feeling like I was wading through glue and no matter how hard I tried it was never going to get any easier, it was just going to get worse…

If I had thought my life was no longer worth living I would not be sitting here writing this now. Fortunately for me, I realized before that happened, there was something wrong.

What I am trying to tell you is that even someone who is used to a bi-polar disorder can struggle with an episode of clinical depression. This one snuck up on me, blindsided me, left me very depleted, more depleted than I have ever felt in my life. This is not a choice, this is not something I am in control of, this is not something I want nor would I wish this condition on any other person, friend or enemy. Unless you have suffered depression, there is no explaining what it does to your mind, body, soul and spirit. No explaining how depleted and spent and lacking in determination, joy or love you feel for life in general, for your life, for the lives of those you do actually love and who surround you every day. It’s not easy getting over depression. It takes an enormous effort from everyone, from the one struggling with it, to the ones who surround that person. I am extremely blessed to have a husband who understands me: my mind, soul and heart. His love, patience and caring is what at times gets me through the darkest of days, even when I feel absolutely nothing but apathy for him because of that very illness. Surrounding yourself with loved ones who know the real you, who can wait for the real you to come back is more important than they will ever understand. To those who say to people who have been struck down with depression like me “just snap out of it”, I wish you never have to feel this way. There is no ‘snapping out of it’; that’s the whole point. Were it that simple, don’t you think it’s a choice we would quickly, wholeheartedly, delightedly make? But depression takes time to recover from; time to heal, time to rest, time to come back to oneself. I am on that road now. I travel it as quickly as my mind allows. I travel this road more than willingly and I know there are times when I feel like I’m back at the start, moments when I feel utterly distraught for no reason, there are moments when I just want to sit down wherever I am and just not get up ever again, there are times when I just don’t want to talk to anyone for what feels like ever again, but I will get there.  I know I will – how long it takes, I’m not sure…..

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I don’t have to like it…….

 

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I had a panic attack today in work. It crept up on me slowly like the warm feeling that comes over you when you climb into bed on a freezing cold night.   Under the blankets for the first few moments you feel chilly, the sheets are cold and then slowly you warm up until eventually you realize you are absolutely toasty warm; without really realizing you were beginning to feel that way. At first I didn’t recognize what was happening until I couldn’t breath and I couldn’t stop crying.  All I could do was put my head between my legs, try and slow down my breathing and wipe away the tears that flowed without a sound.

 

I was so embarrassed afterwards.  Everyone looked at me for the rest of the day, some with concern and some with questions in their eyes.  Some still didn’t look at me at all, not knowing what to say or how to react.  What brought on the attack was not ‘one’ thing I can put my finger on, as I said it came across me slowly until I was a mess on the floor of my office.  I’ve dealt with depression, I’ve dealt with elation, I’ve dealt with my own share of stress and anxiety.  But I’ve only ever had a handful of panic attacks in my life and they are not pleasant.

 

Afterwards, when it had subsided, I had a headache and a knot in the pit of my stomach, which hasn’t really gone all day.  I am sitting down in my home now not sure if I will share this, but needing to get it out and down all the same.

 

My mother always says ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ but that’s strictly not always true.  Whatever it was that brought this on so quickly today, is still there and I am now terrified that this will happen again in work.  I used to think that the older I got the more adept I would get at handling my bipolar.  It gave me a sense of control I now feel has been taken away from me.  I haven’t felt afraid of my mental health in a long time; not since the regime of medication made me relatively stable.  But knowing that something else can come along and knock you flat without warning now leaves me very unsettled…

 

Such is life…,

 such is the trials and tribulations of life… 

But I don’t have to like it.

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Oh for Sleep…..

Will the pounding ever cease.
Will the urge to shut my eyes
and dream all day, ever go away
My body aches for bed……

My temper rises without fail
God help those in the way
For my tongue is very sharp today
I am just so tired……

My muscles won’t react
They don’t want to be pushed
Into activity they can’t do today
Oh, the strain, the strain

God, my eyes won’t stay open
The burning sensation is just so strong
Each time I blink,
Each lid becomes so damn heavy

I pause and try to think
But all thought flees
I am just so tired
I want to sleep……

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Innuendos

Innuendo

How can it be that this is so,
When did it change to this.
Within the blink of my eye,
the knife fell and it threw me over the edge.

My mind screams to answer back your words.
Because behind them is not the meaning you meant – but the meaning you mean!
But I only smile nervously.
And You – you hide behind your grin.

A hand (mis)placed upon my shoulder and a shiver worms up my spine.
As I turn to look at you my eyes meet your sneer
You’re secure in the knowledge, there’s no one else near.
Innuendo’s, sly strokes, recklessly placed hands, insinuations,
All designed with only one thing in mind,
to undermine me and leave me open
to what you have in mind – on your mind.
You’re out of your mind and I’m losing mine!

I am strong, I AM strong, I say over and over.
But your sexual ranting’s leave me tongue-tied
and speechless and squirming inside.
Like a small child caught with her hand stuck in the cookie jar.
But I am no child – no child…..
And you – you’re less than nothing,
a cowards – a man without balls.
Reduced to preening your ego by destroying someone else,
younger, weaker,
by destroying someone else – Me!

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Sticks and Stones – or more than that?

There comes a time in a parents life when reason and understanding simply go out the window.  In fact that can happen multiple times if you have more than one child.  I refer of course to a time when someone really upsets your child or teenager.  I don’t mean a little fight or exchanging of words among friends that will be mended quicker than the fight lasts and are not worth worrying about.  I mean when another adult or peer upsets your child to the point of tears.  That’s not so easy to shake off, no matter what you say to convince your little person that the words or actions are only that: “Sticks and stones may break your bones but names can never hurt you”, that was a phrase my mother repeated to me a lot when I was young and would come to her crying over some slight or insult offered up to me by my pals on the road where I lived.  Looking back, of course it did me no lasting harm and was long forgotten before I went to bed at night.

But what happens when someone really hurts your child or teenager, by their words or actions.  What happens when you have a fully grown adult who verbally attacks your child or teenager?  What do you do?  I know what I want to do!  I want to punch their face in, no doubt about it.  I want to scream and yell and hurt them as much as they’ve hurt my child, but being an adult I can’t really do that either!   So what’s left open to me then, especially if this is someone that mixes somewhat in my circles.  Do I trade pleasantries while at the back of my head the thought of just throwing one good punch keeps popping up? Do I ask for an explanation and then let it go?  Do I avoid them at all costs in case I do something I will regret because I just wouldn’t like to stoop to their level of childishness?  Or do I just ignore it?  That is the least favoured option:  I’m not that kind of person, I’d rather get things out in the open and sorted and move on afresh from there.  But that applies to me, if someone hurt or upset me or I did them, I like to resolve issues.  But when its your child, I don’t know, this primal instinct just takes over; this willingness to inflict actual bodily harm to someone else, the source of their pain.

One of my teenagers is quite fragile.  They come across as very independent and sure of themselves but underneath they have had their fare share of problems.  They’ve faced bullies at their school and we had to take her out and change schools.  In fact that bullying lasted for years, without us parents realising how bad it actually was and how badly she was being affected by it.  All sorts of issues resulted from that and while she is now a year later back on track, her confidence is actually still fragile.  As her mother, I know that, as her mother, I can read her like a book, like no-one else on this planet can.  Perhaps because I have my own issues with confidence it makes me more susceptible to seeing her issues.  I can see past the facade she puts up, because I am used to placing up my own.  I don’t know, it could just be I am a mother; her mother!  I loved her before she was born, I’ll love her till I take my last breath and every day in between.

There are times when sticks and stone are not the only thing that can wound.  I often wonder which is the worst wound: the physical or emotional kind.  I often wonder too what is it that drives one adult to fight with or belittle another adult?  I have no doubt that when the source of their ire is a child or teenager there is only one word that fits then: Bully!  And I don’t like bullies!!!!

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