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????????????????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.

 

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

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.

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.

Cow

I have been fighting depression and anxiety a great deal of late, and hard at that.  As the behavioral-ists say, as if I were a cow, “Have you been ruminating again?” Because, they say, “ruminating” upon feelings, occurrences, or memories that have me really pissed off, frightened, or saddened reduces my chances for victory. Well, yes, excessive obsessing can do that.

Yet I find that having these feelings, occurrences, memories, or whatever else cycloning around in my racing thoughts makes the sedentary, passive activity of “rumination” quite impossible.

Me no moo.

Rather, focusing those preoccupations through writing actually can help. Writing is not a form of “distraction” found in a Distress Tolerance list; neither is it a “pleasant activity.” Most especially, it is not rumination. Writing is looking hard for the splinter in your hand and stabbing it with a needle until the splinter comes out and you realize why you couldn’t see it without going through the pain: it was a tiny sliver of white wood, burrowed in there, invisible.

Sometimes you’ll do it through poetry (even if the esthetic results are dismal, the process is the point).

Sometimes through fiction.

I highly recommend writing in a journal (that’s what I do; I write in a journal). I don’t recommend “journaling”.  God, no! “Journal” must never, ever, become a legitimate verb! Please don’t help it to be so.

Or, and this is no new thought either, you could puke your guts out in a blog, which sometimes edifies, but usually just embarrasses. And yet we keep on doing it anyway! Go figure.

It may not solve your problem or cure your depression, but it’s bound to occupy your mind and could help you work through something, stall a suicidal impulse, become a prayer, slow the racing thoughts, ease the anxiety, be the only entity in the universe in whom you can confide the real you. . .whatever it does, it’s better than “ruminating.”

I may be obsessive, but I am NOT a cow.

“Organizing your sock drawer” is commonly a euphemism for sitting around with your thumb up your ass, or prioritizing the wrong thing, or belittling someone’s request for your presence by saying “I have to organize my sock drawer.”

But having an organized sock drawer is more important than you think.

First of all, the process of organizing something as simple as socks can be a very grounding, effective exercise in mindfulness. The socks are a jumbled mess. Some have holes. Some are missing their mate. The ones at the bottom are those loud leggins from the 80s, which you may then choose to continue wearing as a fashion statement, should they still fit; or throw away if they’re “hosed” no pun intended; or donate if they’re in excellent condition. Then, as you dig further, you might find that secret buried treasure you had forgotten where you hid or even forgotten that you had!

If you really focus on these things, each separate thing, you can clear your mind from all else and enter a mindful zone.

Start by putting your socks in pairs. Lay one out, its mate on top of it, then fold the pair in half. I don’t recommend hooking them together by folding the tops down; this just stretches out the top of your socks. Then separate them according to whatever categories please you. Then, stack them neatly. Yes, that’s right, I know it sounds crazy, but just do it. Wow. You have more room in that drawer than you imagined, don’t you?

Your reasonable (rational) mind has sorted, organized.  Your feelings have chosen the most pleasing arrangement of things you want to keep and enjoy. The tidy sock drawer is now a reference point for a grounded, wise mind state.

That is just one of the benefits. Another is, you’ll be able to get dressed faster, especially in the dark, because you just grab a pair and know they’ll match!

Another is, every time you open that drawer you will not feel despair at the jumbled mess that signifies your life. Instead, having that secret place neat and tidy that no one else sees will actually help your mind. You will begin to find more ways to experience yourself as clean on the inside. You are liberating yourself, no longer limited only to whisking together a hurried facade, to hide the crazy under the rug.

You will be able to begin to organize your life and free your mind and heart in other ways, ways that are more significant to you.

So, if you choose to, go clean that sock drawer.

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