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I have an exciting victory to share–so far as my bipolar goes.  What could easily have been an epic breakdown and precipitated unfixable problems was forestalled by a hard-won exercise of mastery and self-control.

A client of my husband’s came to our home and unfairly verbally abused him, refusing to pay what he’d agreed to despite the hard work and excellent results, leaving my husband shaken and distraught. Depressed already, I was very worried about him (and still am)–besides that money was going to pay two medical bills and car registrations. Now it’s not.

I freaked out, over-reacting with an avalanche of histrionics (letting out what my stoic husband couldn’t, no doubt, express). Overwhelmed by anger, fear, despair, righteous indignation, worry, I could scarcely refrain from running from the phone to call them and speak angry words that could never be taken back. Repeatedly I asked hubby to take the phone and put it in his pocket so I could not. I was sure I was out of control. BUT…

I remembered things that until recently I could not have remembered. I don’t know why, except maybe for my faith…and the example of others.

I counted to ten repeatedly. I recalled scripture after scripture, admonishing me to curb my tongue and not speak in anger. I knew it would only make things immeasurably worse if I did so.

So I vented by writing my feelings down on yellow legal pad, for no one to see. My husband and I drove to town and took some other useful actions to diffuse our tension.

We are still very upset…I am still very upset, and I hope to deal with these feelings further using skills, and eventually achieve closure in the safety of post-crisis reflection.

So…yay! In a blog that is often so depressing, I finally have something happy to report (even if I don’t feel that way I am grateful)!!!!!

All of your positive blogs and uplifting thoughts read late at night have surely contributed to my ability to look at my situation differently and I thank you. It is true that together we can all overcome. ❤ 🙂

 

Reasons why Bipolar is difficult to diagnose:

It has different components, which manifest at different times, so often the doctor has only what s/he sees at a given time to go on, eg:

– has similarities to other illnesses such as major depressive

– when presents as psychotic, any disorder which includes psychosis

– may present as a normal, well person, etc.

This can also apply to someone who is seeing a psychologist for crisis evaluation or a psychiatrist for emergency med management, you can seem normal then too. How? Read on if you wish. (Be warned, it’s another of my personal horror stories, very recent)…

All few of you who read this blog know I’ve been struggling for some time now with a great depressive epoch, and have recently found that some of the symptoms of my “depression” are actually more symptoms of mania. . .. therefore I’m rapid cycling like the wheels of a bicycle racer near the finish line. (please forgive the obvious metaphor, I’m not too creative at the moment, heh).

My life is unpredictable, my family never knows what will happen next. I don’t either. I know something is wrong with my meds, yet I’m reluctant to have them adjusted, especially by a doctor who no longer is familiar with my case, because of the release I’ve experienced on my current meds from cognitive dysfunction, and having regained a lot of my lost memory on the current regimen.

Yet, I sensed a crisis impending so my husband, who also sensed it, did what we both had sworn we’d never do. . . call that place for crisis help again. In this oddly rare instance, a “crisis counselor” was not available, though we’d expressed our reluctant understanding of the need to jump through that deplorable hoop before seeing a psychiatrist. It turned out that we were referred to the main crisis guy, over the phone, who mysteriously was able to produce an opening in the psychiatrist’s schedule on the spot!

Wonderful, we thought. So we saw her, and she, after only a few minutes, pronounced me normal and doing well and no adjustment of my meds was needed and she would see me again in 6 months. No opportunity to dispute that was apparent. Period. Then (unbeknownst to us) she canceled my previously scheduled appointment with my regular psychiatrist, which had been coming up fairly soon. A week later, I had the crisis my husband and I had feared.

Something triggered my destructive half, and I knew I was losing it fast. I felt rage and frustration and knew I was going out of control. So I went to an area where someone had stacked T-posts without consulting me and where I did not want them, and began heaving them out of there. What I was doing appeared like random destruction, to observers, but I had every intention of re-stacking them in a more appropriate place when I was done heaving them out of the stupid place. The kind of thing I had been counseled to do, take out my feelings in a safe way without hurting myself or exposing my family to my “episode”.

The observers (hubby and daughter) did not know what I was doing or why, and so hubby attempted to interfere with my work. Well, he successfully interfered with it, and there I went, set off. An argument ensued, which quickly escalated into something beyond my control and I began to self-harm in my usual way when out of control, which is to start bashing my head into things.

I was being yelled at to “just stop it! Please stop!”

What my interferer didn’t know was just how hard I WAS trying to stop it. I was bashing my head into the horizontal 2x4s of the horse stall wall instead of the 8×8 cemented support post that I FELT COMPELLED to bash my head into. For example. Also, how when I was smashing the bowl in the kitchen, my body/brain was screaming at me to smash WINDOWS. And other things, which I was given to understand made me a bad person who was acting out on purpose. It ended up hours later with me lying on the thin, softening ice of our stock pond trying to “cool off” but preferably go to sleep there and actually perish of hypothermia.

Unfortunately, my crying kids found me there and begged me to get off the ice. I was heartbroken, for them, but could not move. Then my husband showed up and was a little more belittling than I felt he need be. I felt, soon after I had been gotten into the house, that I was being treated the way Therapist K had treated me all those months ago, calling the police to the mental-health facility, like I was a sub-human animal who was acting out on purpose.

The horror of the whole thing for me was that I had all these self-harm/suicide prevention strategies hard-wired (I thought) into my brain. And yet they were not sufficient.

All this about a week after the psychiatrist had pronounced me normal and in no need of a medication adjustment. Boy were we glad I had another appointment already scheduled with my usual psychiatrist  (who was to be leaving the institution soon).

The next day, of sound mind, it occurred to me that I’d better check that. Make a call to confirm that appointment, since I already knew the system was broken, the front desk people were overworked, and the policies were often stupid and usually detrimental to the mental health patient.

So I called to confirm the appointment and surprise, surprise, there was no appointment. My recently-visited psychiatrist had cancelled all other appointments in favor of the one six months away. I was a bit disappointed about that, considering what had happened last night, and insisted the appointment be rescheduled since I had been suicidal. Oh, no, that appointment was already filled, did I want to be put on a cancellation list?

I explained how important it was that I see a psychiatrist immediately, so I got an appointment for three weeks hence. And I was told I am on the cancellation list, although I’m pretty sure that if I were, I’d have gotten in by now.

My husband has tried very hard to get through to them. Not even my new therapist, who had replaced Therapist K on my case because she was of a more appropriate age and qualification, had anything at all helpful to offer him. So he went to the head crisis  guy, who found him to be in crisis himself! My poor husband, doing all he can with what he has, and has been doing so for 19 years! What greater love can there be from a mortal than that I am blessed with from him???? ❤ ❤ ❤

So, there’s an example of how bipolar can present in ways that result in incorrect diagnoses with potentially disastrous results. In my case, I had the diagnosis, but my status was incorrectly evaluated, or rather, not evaluated at all, because of how I seemed when I walked into the consultation room. So a patient, with or without a diagnosis, should be very sure to make certain the doctor hears the whole enchilada and doesn’t have to go only by what he/she sees in the consulting room.

Waiting to be made Good

despairing here abandoned

trapped in the deeps

between the firmaments

the points of life above

the speckled infinities within

drowning in the deeps

waiting maybe for the spirit of God

to move across the face of the waters

for an evening and a morning

I don’t know where my soul is

to seek, or find or knock, or open

or any redeeming thing

anything would be welcome here

an hallucination for a Comforter

a seizure for an angel

my soul is a world without form, and void

and nothing earthly can fill it

or give shape to it; it shall all be torn away

endlessly old I can scarce believe

in becoming new

Roatcap Fire Smoke

Well, after all that whining I did a while back about how there is no support system for people living with bipolar illness in my area, a wonderful thing did happen. A new therapist came to town, and decided that starting a bipolar support-or therapy- group would be a good idea. And boy, was I happy. I’ve been to every single one so far, because it is so wonderful to sit and talk with others who know exactly what it is like to live with bipolar disorder, things that people without it simply cannot understand, no matter how willing they are to let you try to explain it to them.

I thought I was alone. I thought no one could possibly understand how it is to feel trapped by this illness, powerless (at times) to control thoughts or behavior or decisions. . .we’ve been exploring what it means to be manic, depressed, psychotic and found that we can all relate to the ways in which bipolar illness has affected one another’s lives. We may not share the identical circumstances, or have had the same experiences, but yet we can all relate. We can all understand what the other person was going through at the time. It is impossible to express how refreshing that is.

It has also been a wonderful time of learning. There are so many things to know about bipolar illness, and no one knows it all, not even veteran sufferers like yours truly, who has had the diagnosis for decades and been on every medication known to science. . .there is always something new to learn.

For example, I had a psychiatrist who, for many years found my happiness to be signs of hypomania and therefore took me down with more mood stabilizers. This went on for so long that I began to long for “hypomania” just so I could function like a “normal” person, do things, finish them, make plans, be happy.

Over the years, I began to think of mania as a positive state. Okay, maybe not a safe one, but a positive one. Famous actors, writers, other accomplishers of great things operated in this state. Great periods of creativity and grandiosity. These seemed terribly desirable to me. I longed to be manic, despite the dangers.

And I stayed just on the up end of depressed for, it seemed, forever. I came to group thinking, I must not be Bipolar I anymore. I must be Bipolar II, because my disease doesn’t swing toward mania at all. No mania, just deep depression. Periods where I experienced irrational rage or horrible sobbing misery I called “Mixed Manic” states, not sure what that clinically meant either, but applying it to myself.

So when we in group went around and said what mania was, I was enlightened.

Mania is not necessarily positive at all! Good and bad news for me, I guess.

The handout says: 1. Profuse and rapidly changing ideas, exaggerated sexuality, impulsivity, gaiety, or irritability, and decreased sleep.

2. Violent abnormal behavior.

3. An irrational but irresistible motive for a belief or action (been there!)

and at least a week of psychotic behavior.

Characteristics of mania as complied by our group included:

  • Anger
  • impulsivity
  • poor judgment
  • No self-control
  • Racing thoughts
  • Paranoia and delusions
  • Inflated ego, sense of self, or abilities
  • Hallucinations
  • decreased need for sleep
  • talking more
  • unforgiving, can’t let go of things

Wow.  Mania comes in many flavors, and even more than these. . .and some of these symptoms also overlap with depression. I am sure that if you are bipolar and reading this you can think of more characteristics of mania.

I have lived with many of these things for most of my life. Not positive at all. On the mood chart I would mark times of fear, paranoia, anger, impulsivity as “very depressed” when actually I was manic. So I do experience mania, a lot. It’s just not the good kind. I wish I knew how to get ahold of the good kind, heheh.

When I am manic, I tend to talk more, laugh more, become more social, become more consumed with paranoia and negativity, make plans I can’t keep, set unattainable goals for myself, think I have better ideas than I actually do, believe my writing is better than it actually is, and am absolutely sure I am right about everything. I am also absolutely sure I am wrong about everything, and everything is my fault. I get highly emotional, and anger has become a problematic emotion for me. So has anxiety. I become extremely anxious and full of doom. So when I think of mania now, I see that it encompasses a greater part of my life than I ever thought before.

These symptoms affect the people around me as much or more than my depression symptoms do. My husband wants me to come up with a “safe word” or an “off button” that can be pushed when he sees my symptoms getting out of control. Unfortunately when he sees that, I’ve already noticed it too, and have sadly realized (with that bit of rationality that sits in the corner watching myself in horror) that there is no “off button.”

Usually I can break myself out of it, but not before I’ve said or done at least one regrettable thing.  (such as post last night’s entry on this blog!)

The best cure for a manic episode that I have found (and I am talking about the kind I have) is to get off by myself as fast as possible, drink a bottle of water laced with homeopathic aconite, slather myself in calming essential oils, and/or write in my journal until all those feelings are down on paper. If I find myself on the cusp of an epic, grandiose gesture, I picture the cliff I am about to step off of and flash forward to what it will feel like, for me or for my family, when I land. That usually does it for me.

Well, I don’t know what else to say, and I’m getting a migraine here, so quitting now. If anyone reading this has any more insights on mania, I would love to hear them. Good night! 🙂

 

 

Sorry to write another pissed off post.

A prisoner againI am very upset by today’s sermon. This was my SECOND time back to church in-at least-over a year, –after months of being immersed in scripture and praise– and now I have almost no inclination to return. I feel that the pastor said he condemns (or strongly implied that God condemns)  people who lack self-control (are “out of control”) because they are crazy-makers. No argument there, but it was also directly stated that “people with no self-control are trying to defy God’s relational law of physics.” (read: purposly, frowardly spitting in God’s face).

So, because at times I lack more self-control than others, being bipolar, I am therefore worse than others. There was no tolerance expressed for people like me who cannot control themselves. At so many times. What am I to do, be grateful to God that I have to work 3x as hard as other Christians to do so?

Romans 3:13 was used “Let us behave decently as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.” That was the scriptural basis for “OUT OF CONTROL: OUT OF BALANCE BECAUSE OF CONTROL ISSUES.” This was not a sermon to help people such as this. It was a sermon for how people can protect themselves from someone like this. I am not saying such a sermon is not important, or has no application, but I am saying that a sermon that blindsides people with problems and blames them for other Christians’ troubles is unacceptable to ME. A major example that was given was the difficulty of dealing with alcoholics, who just “CHOOSE not to deal with it” or are “in denial.”: Giving no quarter to anyone with an ADDICTIVE DISORDER. By extension, us who live with bipolar illness must only be exhibiting our symptoms because we just CHOOSE not to repress them and intend to use them to control others and/or are in denial. What about everyone else with mental/emotional challenges? Where is the compassion? Nowhere to be found here.

This is bullshit and may have just nipped my joyous returning to church in the bud.

There was also a lot of talk about setting up boundaries against people like me, even though no one seems to have the least iota of respect for MY boundaries. Galatians 6:25: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ…each one should carry their own load.” I have been told more than once that this disease is my load to carry, not a serious burden that needs to be helped and shared by others. If this is true, well I suck at carrying my own load and should be “loved without rescue.”

Proverbs 19:9: “A hot-tempered person must pay the penalty; rescue them, and you will have to do it again.” Well all I can say to that is extreme thanks and appreciation of those wonderful people who have rescued me in the past and will do so again, because I need rescuing; I have not chosen for God to give me this disease; I am not in denial about it; and I am doing my level best to recover and not be a burden to others. So thank you for your superpowers of rescue, good loved ones, but by all means change your behavior now because this sermon has shown you that I am just a piece of crap who needs not to be helped but to be reprimanded: Matt. 18:15 ‘ir your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault.” Otherwise, you will have to rescue me again and will be an enabler of my sociopathic behavior. Yes, please confront me and point out my faults, because I don’t know that I’m a sinner and I could give a crap that I hurt you. I just sin wantonly.

That I pray for forgiveness to God, and pray forgiveness of others, apologizing to them, confessing my sin, every time it occurs, is irrelevant, for now I find that I’m actually commiting these sins of bipolar illness on purpose, for I am a crazy-maker.

I do not want to go back and listen to this pastor’s crap anymore. this is the first time I have EVER responded to a sermon that “convicted me” without being pissed off. I did not choose this. I do not use my symptoms to control others. Every time I hurt someone inadvertently I apologize. I do EVERYTHING I can not to hurt those around me to the extent that I am able. And then at church to be treated in the sermon as one to be Boundaried against because I am a bad person is just too effing much.

So- I sin now with my bitterness, my tongue, my lack of self-control, and in coming to bed so I can “govern my tongue” against saying angry words makes me also guilty of the sin of sloth and not being a good woman who “worketh willingly with her hands” (Prov. 31:13) and “girdeth her loins with strength and strengthenist her arms.” (Prov. 31: 17)

Plus, I haven’t yet found a Word condemning this yet (but I know it’s out there), yet I have taken 2 whole clonazepam tablets, knowing full well they will NOT help me with my depression or anger, but after the desire to be knocked out so I will not be governed by my bitter tongue and cause further grief to my loved ones thereby, as I do so very often.

Now I thank God for revealing this stuff and clearing my head through his Word. I should be convicted in a constructive healing way by the sermon but I am just pissed off. I have begun, after weeks of being immersed in scripture, to harden my heart again.

Prov. 28:14 “Happy is the man thart feareth alway; but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.” Yay.

That being said, I do not blame God, am not mad at God, and continue to immerse myself in his Word, both to become a better person in Him and to live gracefully with my bipolar disorder. But I’m back to “screw church” sorry.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Losing focus . .  . it is the first sign of change for the worse. It means that I am either stepping up from hypomania into irritable disorientation and rage; or slipping down into useless depression. It doesn’t take me long to figure out which. And the feeling of losing focus, which I’ve been lost in among the ravages of paralyzing depression, is a terrible thing. So, since it is my current condition, I will try to be mindful and describe the feeling.

Losing focus is trying to grasp a tendril of smoke that wasn’t smoke before. It’s anxiety producing.

It feels like . . . hmm.

Searching among fragmented paths for a way home

Fermented clouds soaking the brain

Plucking at harpstrings of dry wool

Bird bashing head against green-glass walls, while frenetic wings continue flapping

Slinky nooses around a mind of gleaming burlap in the night

My head hacked on, off, and into. . .

So . . .

If I were focused, I could make poems of these.  I wish I were.  I am trying to get there.

Hey you guys

I hope everybody is OK. . .I’m not seeing many new posts among the blogs I follow and read. If you’re like me, depressed and blocked, I’m pulling for ya!

I am depressed right now . . . keep thinking I’m coming out of it but it’s exactly like the 72-hour migraine I had recently. . .every time I thought the end in sight, another stab came at me. Writing? Normally, depression triggers vomitus on paper. Not lately. I have writer’s block, so there’s my excuse.  Perhaps maybe this time, when the depression lifts a little, on a sunny day, I’ll have something to share.

Right now all that I can share is that I pray for everyone who struggles with this disease. For one more good day. For the bad days: understanding that another good day is going to come along. Or hopefully a whole bunch of them!

God bless.

The rescued cat
huddles
in the old chicken coop.
Not knowing, as I do,
that it is safe.

This foolish elf
broods
in her decaying tree.
Not knowing, as God does,
what uses there may be left
in her life.

 

the tree of the whole

10/2012

 

Brainspace

That’s all I wanted. Just a little room to think.

I’d done it. I’d forced myself out of the worst of the depression by using Opposite Action (a DBT skill) and getting out there. I’m a better wife, better mother, better participant, more effective homework-helper than I’ve been in months. My latest walk with my horse included two family members, their horses, and a volunteer with a rescue! But it feels like I’m never alone now. Will no one SHUT UP?

Brain space, please!

Or not. Here in the mixed-manic state, for which I do not know the real definition, my mind races with others like tongue-flapping pups in the sun, and it flees alone into wildernesses. Wildernesses of bogs and dead cedars; of dry reservoirs with sharp rocks, hungry mud, and rusty coyote traps; of thick, hot showers where the songs are hollowed out from themselves and filled with monsters; of flat, gray skies over swarming snowfields and a heart so frozen that the sad, mascaraed eyes of a teenage girl evoke no compassion or curiosity.

I thought I needed brain space, but whenever it found me, they were waiting. Inevitably, my thoughts would curdle into miasma, to be met by my demons. The old, familiar ones: self-doubt, worthlessness, learned helplessness, blame of God, self-blame and -hatred; and the newer ones: rage, fear and paranoia that have not shoved their sticky eyeballs into my sockets since the Great Desperation of ’02.

I am a loner by nature. Alone with my brain, I imagine all sorts of wonderful pastimes. I could write, imagine, draw, torment a variety of musical instruments from which my fingers have not evoked dissonance in far too long … instead, I find myself procrastinating these diversions, and my responsibilities too. Rather I brood. I brood, and wait, and fear them and what they will do and when they will show themselves and what I will do when they do.  !!!

People have hurt me and my family. They are still hurting me and my family, and they will go on hurting us, because that is what people do. Reality can be so intrusive.

So can bipolar. I can’t plan anything, because I never know. Mood charts, group therapy, medications…none of them predict how I will react to another person or an unexpected situation. They only marginally protect. They are loose loopy mail against the slings and arrows, and they are something.

So I’ve gone and re-learned something valuable for myself, which I suppose I must go on through life continuing to forget and re-learn. Even lacking friends, I learned of the great help in “keeping busy” and staying part of everything, even when I have not planned on it, am not trying to, and above all, don’t want to. The grandiose assumption that I have finally risen above the depressive is illusory for now. All that is keeping depression down is busy-ness and faith, and that’s OK for now.

For Now = Things Always Change. It WILL get better.

So screw the brain space for now, and just enjoy the love that is all around.

 

OK, depression, I’ve got you in my teeth like a wild warg and I’m slamming you this way and that and you better just lie there, bloodied and broken and submissive, at least through tomorrow.

Uh, does that sound manic? Am I manic, or just excited? How do I tell the difference?

Last night we survived being pulled over, on the way home from my daughter’s 4-H club meeting.

I thought it might be that the officer thought I was drunk because, with a benighted dashboard before me (that will never again illuminate its information) I could not see the speedometer. I was trying to flip down my highbeams, turn on my dome light, stay in my lane, and peer around my own shadow to read the speedometer by the light of the dome, all at the same time. With two squealing teenage girls in the back seat, I fought visceral terror at the flashing lights behind me and pulled over.

I couldn’t open the window on my side for the officer because I hadn’t pulled over far enough for the officer to be safe there, and I couldn’t open the window on the passenger side, where he arrived, because it was broken. So I opened my passenger door, and the officer was treated to the spectacle of my nervous, fumbling hand vainly searching in the glove box among flashlights, dirty napkins, fuses, dirt, and other things that weren’t gloves, for the registration. He watched me move the envelope around for a while, then suggested that that might be it. I handed it to him.

The girls tittered and joked around while the officer retired to his patrol car. They were what kept me sane. Then he returned, offering to check the function of my highbeams. It seemed to him that one of them was out. Sure enough, both headlights worked except on highbeam, the driver’s side didn’t brighten. He issued me a friendly warning.

What a vigilant fellow to notice something like that and then pull them over for it. We all thanked God and went on our merry way, and somehow my mood became elevated…just like that.

So today, before my daughter’s birthday cake and ice cream, I made good on my promise to myself and got my butt out to the barn and took a walk in the sun on the snow and the ice with my horse beside me. We walked for an hour and it felt like 15 minutes. When I got back to the house I discovered we had no birthday candles. My daughter, with perfect teenage nonchalance, blew out fifteen imaginary candles on the lopsided chocolate cake my husband had baked, and the party commenced.

Tomorrow I’m going to a boot camp for writers. I used to be a writer. Yes, it’s true. At least, that’s how I thought of myself. But I haven’t written in years, and now all of a sudden with the fog clearing, I think I want to try to write again. But in a public, structured setting with PEOPLE there??

I guess I’m better off than a painter struggling to re-emerge. At least no one will observe my hesitant strokes while I’m trying to create.

I see this plan to attend boot camp as a positive step against the force of depression, a willful lurch out of paralysis. Unfortunately I cannot say or guess how long this positive surge will last… but I will ride it gladly, toward whatever bright vistas, as if it will never end.

It will take work. There will be things I will have to make myself do: pull on my boots, drive my falling-to-pieces Jeep, step across thresholds, speak with people I know and don’t know and whose names I am mortified I don’t remember, but hopefully it will be worth it. If anyone is reading this, please wish me luck.

Also I shall wish myself luck. Good luck, me.

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