Skip navigation

Tag Archives: depression

????????????????These earrings personify the bipolar experience for me. When I am manic, I am like the skeletor face and when I am depressed I am the personification of the drooping mask…even though we are required to wear masks in our day-to-day life I don’t know about you, but it is nearly impossible for me to wear a happy face in all arenas.

For the longest time I was reluctant to wear these earrings because I thought they were too weird and Aztec pagan, but recently I realized they are the perfect expression of my personality. Someone from outside could look at these and think they are weird or cool. But no one but myself will know what they truly signify. And I don’t know about you but sadly being bipolar is part of my identity.

I think, from DBT class and a lot of other blogs, that bipolar shouldn’t define a person. You can use your social and behavioral skills to mask it and not rock the boat for anyone else. But, right or wrong, being bipolar is part of who I am. I cannot escape from this, no matter how acceptably I behave; no matter what positive philosophy I adopt.

And I truly do believe that these positive philosophies are the way to go. Bipolar DOES NOT own you. But for my part, though it doesn’t own me, it is still a part of who I am and I do get sick of all the “positivity” and “cheerleading”. Does that make me a person who gives up? I don’t think so. Being aware is OK. It keeps a person ready to think a moment before reacting to something.

Because you are aware. Awareness isn’t a failing. Acknowledgement is not a failing. Acknowledgement is important and really the best way to help yourself.

Acknowledgement is not the same thing as characterizing oneself. I have been guilty of this. Acknowledgement does not give the disorder its power. Its power comes from characterizing yourself.

You are more than your bipolar disorder. But acknowledging it, even gaining personal power from the knowledge and experience, are good things, in my opinion as a person who has struggled with self-hatred and inferiority from this disease.

So I do like my earrings. They don’t mean the same thing to everyone.

Nothing does.

There is power in personal symbols.

 

Advertisements

About the Letters.

this is a share off of Facebook.

GreatTrees

Five Trees

“On the sheltering hillside
where the fence has fallen
the great aspen and the great pine
stand tall together
like brothers
guarding
the tiny, frail sister between them
and the two younger pines
like cousins
stand watch behind them.”

This was the little verse I wrote two years ago, after I had buried my knife up at Ryman Creek, to help me find it again someday. This past Sunday was that day.

Knife

Sunday

“Three pine cones make a nest. Dry leaves and twigs a writhing mass caught in stasis, no doubt to be rearranged by the weather before my return.

Upon this hillside I tell myself, “To punish myself is to punish my family more.” I repeat it over and again.

But the urge to cut myself is like the urge to breathe, to scratch Zil’s itchy spot, to drink the living water from whom I seem to have banished myself…

Ritualized actions, I think. A scene from House comes to mind: ‘ritualized, you play the same Sara McLaughlin song over and over every time you do it . . . .’

So I make up a new ritual, even as my hand, almost against my will, prizes the Winchester knife out of my tight jeans pocket.

I dig a hole, imagining as I do the poetic elements for my future clues. I wrap the Winchester in the only protective shroud I have on my person. A fudge rounds wrapper. Then I secure it with oversized dandelion leaves and bind them with grass.

My son is watching me now, and playing with the dry, brown puffballs with their coffee-colored smoke. He gives me a knife and I carve my initials into the aspen: Interestingly, AT. I’d meant to put ATR but I am thinking of CStJude and I know I can’t put all that…the tolerant aspen chosen to stand guard over the Knife has given enough. So I forget the final ‘R.’

The knife I am using is a hunting knife of my son’s that has a bent point, making it difficult to carve and certainly to hunt with?

(clues for as we drive in) To the left of the road, a small root-clan of aspen reaches toward the road. The corrals are distant. The great aspen is only visible at its top. The brother trees look like a huge pine with an aspen wig on top of its head. This is just past the top of the entrance just after the road that has doubled ends, then I will look to the left for the reaching root-clan. Just past that on the hill stand the mighty pine/aspen twins.

-this task has been so absorbing that my mood has improved-”

All that is what I wrote two years ago in a small notebook that I take on hikes. It is not dated. I don’t remember what I was so upset about. Probably nothing tangible. But I was miserable and fatalistic and filled with the urge to self-harm. Now I am no longer in danger of cutting, and have not been in a long time. I would like to say not since that day, but honestly I cannot be sure.

Here are the five trees:

Five Trees

The five trees as approached from the side of the hill

And here are my initials, right where I left them:

Initials

and here is the knife, unburied, at the foot of the aspen:

Unburied Knife

…still cradled in its Fudge Rounds wrapper.

The heron is a significant bird.

When I’m left alone, there’s nothing to distract me. No creativity. It’s all gone again.

Sometimes it seems to just be buried beneath the surface or scratching away at a wall.

I can’t see the herons. The boundaries are closing about the lake, the world of the fish. Soon they will have nowhere to go and the herons will eat them.

Maybe the water that covers my soul is going away too, and my soul will flop struggling to the surface, stranded on the shore. Gasping not in death, but in awakening from a pool of death. And swallowed in the rebirth of a heron. I hope.

"I am angry enough to die." - Jonah 4:9

“I am angry enough to die.” – Jonah 4:9

I am like a bucking horse – I mean, a horse that bucks. Almost every horse bucks, eventually, during his or her life. Some are forgiven; some are not. I’m like one of our rescue horses, given to instantaneous bucking fits, no warning, just instant bronc mode. Sometimes though, I give warning, crow-hops, but in general, these warnings are ignored.

I figure I must live in a state of forgiveness for my bucking, or I would be shot or abandoned by now. Committed to an asylum or sent to the sale barn. Yet it doesn’t feel like I’m being forgiven. It feels like I am kicked and beaten every time I’m down. That I’m still here argues for forgiveness. These repeated beatings argue for unforgiveness.

Things begin to happen, but like my stories, they go nowhere. I need to be sent to a sale barn. A sale barn for useless, problem wives, to be auctioned off, packed into a truck, and taken away on a journey that will end in slaughter. Humane or inhumane matters not, since being stuck in this life is in itself inhumane.

Today, I hate being bipolar. Today, it seems bipolar is me, so I must hate myself and my life. I have tried and tried not to let bipolar get me down, but it’s apparently hopeless. Apparently, I am supposed to be grateful for my disease because it is teaching me so much about life – that would be useful to me if I didn’t have the disease, but as it is, such knowledge is useless!

Suicidal ideation was happening! I was so mad at hubby and frustrated with my earlier behavior that I wanted to pop a bullet into my brain, the very horror I had believed would never manifest again.

I would have gone past considering it, I think, if the family wouldn’t lose everything without my disability check. Or, if I didn’t owe them all better for having lived with and tolerated me and my disease for so long already. Or, if I didn’t owe God for dying for my sins. Or, if I didn’t care about ruining my children’s lives.

I cannot believe God tolerated Jonah’s anger and simply explained to him why it was unjustified. But he did. For that, God only deserves gratitude on the part of Jonah and of me.

 

 

Sad to say, some days being bipolar is like being part of the game called “Minecraft” (or as we like to call it, “Mind Crap”). I feel right now like a “creeper”, shuffling along in perpetual  anguish through a life with no ultimate destiny except to explode when I encounter people.

Ain’t it pitiful. Hah. At least the thought of this brings a smile to my face! 🙂

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! 🙂

 

 

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.

Living with Intent

Liberate from convention and live with extraordinary intention

The Bipolar Dance

My journey from hell and back and back again with bipolar disorder

not enough tissues for issues

Something's got to give......

Maybe Real Natives

Adventures from Denver

A Christian Overcomer

My Human Journey to God

Werner Nokota Horses

Bluebell Ranch Sweden

maggiemaeijustsaythis

through the darkness there is light

Spring Creek Basin Mustangs

Tracking the Wild Horses of Spring Creek Basin