Talking About Bipolar

Sharing Bi-polar moments


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Pushing past the symtoms

Yesterday was a trying day.

I stayed in bed much longer than normal.  I really did not want to get out.  I stayed about 3 hours longer than normal and I was not tired or sleepy, just had no desire to get up.

When I finally got up, I pushed myself out of the house although I wanted no part of the outside world.  I knew that I had to go out despite how I was feeling even though I did not quite know at the time what I was feeling and why.

It was not until I called someone and realized how angry I was at the world and how bitter I sounded that I finally had to admit that I was depressed.  I have been trying so hard to stay as busy as possible for fear of getting depressed like I was this time last year.

I went to the library to listen to music to get into a different mood.

Later that day, I made plans to get together with someone and go to a movie.  I was a little hesitant because I was afraid my mood would show through and ruin the day for them.  I knew I had to do something fun because it is one of my tools for depression so I don’t give in to it.

It turned out to be a great time, although I overloaded on sweets, but I did not care.

I pushed past the symptoms: anger, irritability, lack of desire to get out of bed, leave the house and the need for isolation, and did not let the black hole of depression suck me in.

love to all,

pb aka peanut butter


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It’s All Good

Today was a really strange day.

Emotions were up and down at times.

The beginning of the day was kind of slow minded and slow moving.  It was hard just deciding what to wear.

Eventually I was out the door and on my way to where I needed to be and everything was fine.

Later today, I felt a bit out of sorts because stinking thinking started acting up.  It was telling me, ” you do not belong anywhere”.  “You are just floating through life and no one wants to hear anything you have to say”.  I tried to shut it off but it kept talking.  It was starting to convince me I had nothing of value to say or to offer anyone.

I have to say that I am not really surprised because I have been feeling like I am doing okay.  I am keeping it moving and trying to do things to keep my mind challenged.  Stinking thinking wants me to give up and just do nothing.

I will not give up,  I have to keep it moving.  I have to keep making positive things happen in my life.

Some days, I feel a part of life and some days I feel alone.  Despite all this, I have to keep getting out of the house and going places and doing things.

Bipolar thinking never gives up.  Sometimes symptoms simmer down, but they never totally stop.  I always have to be aware of how I am feeling and when my thinking turns against me.  I can never forget problem thinking is always lurking around me.

Despite the stinking thinking, it’s all good.  Life is still good and I am still standing.

love to all

pb aka peanut butter


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Fight

We have come a long way in treatment methods for people with mental illness.

Even though we have made great strides in treatment, stigma still surfaces and rears it ugly head.

How can it not?  Everything in society supports it: tv shows, movies and even the news makes sure we know when an incident involved someone with a mental illness.  How can we fight stigma when it stares us in the face almost everyday and why would we fight it?

First, I must fight it because I am SOMEBODY.  My name is Patricia and I am POSITIVELY POWERFUL AND PRECIOUS.  My name is not mental illness, nor is my name bipolar.  Bipolar is a medical condition of the brain called mental illness.  It is not something I control, although I can control responses to my symptoms (in my case, it is with medication, psychotherapy and taking care of me).  If I do not fight stigma, it becomes acceptable and it should NEVER be acceptable.  Once it becomes acceptable I am saying it is okay to call me out of my name, to treat me less than you and to devalue my life.  This will never be acceptable.  I am equal to all I come in contact with regardless of who they think they are.  We are all human beings.

Fighting stigma requires persistence.  It is not a one day battle and go home. It is ongoing.  People need to be educated to what mental illness really is and that it has no boundaries. Mental illness can and does happen in every family, whether it is in the immediate line or not.  Everyone needs to know stigma hurts, it degrades, it takes away hope of a better life from people struggling just to make it through the day one moment at a time.  We need to be vigilant in educating people, standing up for ourselves when called out of our name or treated as less than.  We can go to the rallies and stand with our peers as a united force for change.  Our politicians need to know we deserve better health care and more services to support us.  We are just as productive as everyone else.  We must advocate for ourselves and for those cannot.  We must band together.

Mental illness can be isolating but we don’t have to be alone.  We need to help each, support each other, encourage each other and advocate for each other.  We are brothers and sisters.  We are an connected: we just have not met yet.

There is so much we can do, but everyone with a mental illness has to get involved.  It is up to us because it is our life.

love to all

pb aka peanut butter


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Someone who truly understands

I completed my training yesterday for the Peer Support Specialist.

It was an emotionally draining week with all the information that was given in 40 hrs.  Needless to say it was intense.

There was a lot of role playing and sharing of personal recovery stories and how we are living day by day with mental illness.  I myself, am dual diagnosed- alcohol and drug recovery and mental illness, (bipolar  and PTSD with anxiety).

One thing I realize is that when someone is in recovery from drug/ alcohol addiction/ living with mental illness, a bond is developed when you are in a meeting, training, conference, at a rally or whatever with others who share recovery.  When we all come together there is strength, support, encouragement and hopefully you walk away with a new friend.  We need to have people in our life that truly understand what we have been through, are going through and the journey we will always be on.

People in our support system such as family members, friends, acquaintances, psychiatrists, therapists and counselors may understand from the clinical side, but for me, the reality is, if you have not been through it or are not living with it, you cannot begin to understand how I feel and therefore I am skeptical that you can help me get through those really though moments.  Maybe those professionals who studied can understand without experience, however, I have always heard, “experience is the best teacher”.  For me, show me or tell me your experience and then I will trust you with mine and then I will be okay with you helping me get back on my feet or move ahead.

My therapist is great, but she can only treat the parts that I am able to explain. With bipolar and other mental illnesses, there are feelings that you cannot put into words and only someone who has been there will be able to understand without you being able to articulate it.  There is a gnawing pain that comes with depression but for me it has proven to be indescribable.  When I begin to explain it to someone who has been depressed, they understand exactly what I am trying to say.

Get together with others who have a mental illness and are living well.  Be involved with a group of great people in recovery from drug/ alcohol addiction.   You just might find a person who really understands and can relate.  It is just that vital.

love to all,

pb aka peanut butter


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The shift has begun and I am okay

I know when fall is upon us before the weather feels like it.

Normally I get about 5 hours sleep a night.  Six hours makes be wake up feeling tired.

Friday night I was up until about 3:30 am.  When I could not sleep, I went for a coffee run around 3 a.m.   Coffee does not keep me awake.  If I am sleepy, I am sleepy no matter how much coffee I drink.   I drank half a cup and went to sleep.  I woke up at 4 am and was up until late last night.  That is my shift change.

When it starts approaching time for us to turn the clocks back, my sleep cycle changes and everything on the inside of me as well.  I get a creepy feeling of uncertainty about how I am going to do.  I have to fight my mind that just because I went through a major depressive episode last year, it doesn’t mean it is going to happen this year.

It was about this time last year that I started feeling lonely, then sad, then alone in this world.  These feelings increased as the days went by until I could not take it anymore.  I began to experience suicidal ideation and was hospitalized.

Even after leaving the hospital I was still fighting depression even though I no longer had thoughts of suicide.  Accompanying major depression from bipolar, I also had SAD (seasonal affective disorder); a double whammy.

As of mid December 2014, I have been doing much better and have been on a good level.  There is no reason for me to fear (which is False Evidence Appearing Real) a repeat episode.  Everyday I am taking measures to avoid the triggers of last year.

One thing I have been doing is getting out of the house everyday even when I don’t feel like it.  If I have no plans, I still find some place to go so I can be around people.  Even though I can be around people and still feel alone, I know if I need help, I can call out and someone will call for an ambulance.  I am much less likely to hurt myself in public than I am alone at home.

I am also looking into volunteering at places that I can give back to others (until I start a job) such as a domestic violence shelter, mental health community place and places for people in recovery from drugs and alcohol.  Helping others helps me stay safe, heal and give hope and encouragement to my peers.  We are all in this together.

Life is good and I am looking forward to living it.

love to all,

pb aka peanut butter


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What do I say now?

For a while I stopped posting because I was not depressed and thought I had nothing to say.  My therapist strongly suggested that I start again and so I did.

Now I am at a point again of thinking I have nothing to say.  This could be true or it could be stinking thinking trying to slip in.

I have been asked why I divulge so much of myself and I explained that this is my place to let people see the whole me.  The good, the bad and the not so good.  Trying to hide parts of who I am or what I have been through seems to give me a feeling of being lost.  Openness seems to free me.

How can I be me when I hide parts of me?  Everything I have overcome and am facing right now, are all part of what makes me uniquely me.

We are all unique in our way.  The problem is that some of us never realize this and go through life lonely, lost, feeling defeated and asking God why were we ever born.

This was my life until recently, before then, there were very brief moments that I saw a glimmer of being someone special but that did not last for long.

Now, finally, I know without a doubt that I am just as special and unique as everyone else, but in my own way, just as everyone is. It has taken me a long time to really believe that in my heart.  Now that it is in my heart, no one can take that away from me, not even stinking thinking.

Negative thinking and self doubt still knock at the door and sometimes I slip and crack the door a bit, but quickly realize what is on the other side and slam the door.  “I am unique and somebody with a purpose for living”, I quickly tell myself.

I am a bit more aware of my symptoms and can apply my wellness tools before the symptoms take root and turn into a full blown episode of depression.  I have to work on recognizing mania sooner.

What I have come to realize is that when I have extremely busy days back to back to back, it is hard for me recognize the beginning of mania.  Lately I have not recognized it until I felt rage.  When I hear myself say, “My head is full”, as funny as that sounds, I know mania has been here for a while and I am only a couple of steps from full blown.

With full blown mania, it is not safe for me to drive or be around people.  I have to protect the people in my life from my rage by isolating myself.  The isolation usually leads to depression and I drop like a roller coaster drops when it reaches the top of the ride.

Now that I know isolation is a trigger for depression, with sadness and/ or mania as precursors, I need to slow down and be more aware of my moods and actions: they will tell me a lot.

I guess I did have something to share.  I guess I will keep posting.

Sometimes it gets a little discouraging but then I remember that I started posting for 2 reasons.  One reason was to find others who could relate to things I was experiencing, feeling and wondering about.  The other reason I started and keep posting is to free my mind of the overloading thoughts.  Those are the main reasons I started (beside the fact that my therapist suggested it as an assignment).   Now I do it hoping that it encourages someone or lets someone reading it know that they are not alone in how they feel.

I know sometimes what I say may seem jumbled or illogical, but ” it is what it is” and what it is, is how I feel.  I hope you will keep reading and I hope people will keep leaving comments.  The comments I have received have been encouraging and keep me going in so many things I do.

love and appreciation to all,

pb aka peanut butter


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Getting it together

Wow.  It has been some year.  I don’t mean a calendar from January 2014 but a year from last September until today.

I have been feeling really good without a visit from depression and with only a couple of small episodes of mania.

When things happened this year that normally would have set me way back in the past,  happened, I bounced back quicker than I have in the past. Using the tools from my bipolar toolkit with additional skills learned from IOP last Oct and Nov and from COVA groups, I have been getting it together.

Understanding my illness better and knowing the difference between what is my personality and what is the illness has helped me grow as a person and has caused me to appreciate myself.  I really care about and love me, all of me: the good, the bad and the not so pretty parts that are a result of the bipolar.

I am learning to control my anxiety better by recognizing when something does not feel right and addressing it sooner rather than later.  To address an episode of anxiety, I try breathing exercises: if that does not work, I take my medication before it gets worse and continue to breathe and talk my way through it.  I have to set boundaries with people that cause anxiety in me whether we are face to face or speaking over the phone.  Communication with these people have to be kept to a minimal for my health.

I know that if I am in a situation (say a job) and start feeling anxious and breathing exercises are not working and I cannot calm down by talking with one of my support people, then I know it is time to remove myself from that situation.  If I stay in it and have to take anxiety medication on a regular basis, it is time to remove myself.

Case in point:  Over the summer I had a part-time job.  From the first day, I got an anxious knot in my stomach but I thought it would go away.  At the time I started the job, I had stopped taking anxiety medication.  Soon after starting the job, I had to start back taking it on a regular basis.  I started feeling heaviness on my chest the night before work and on the morning of. When taking 1 to 2  pills a day as prescribed did not help, I knew it was time to leave.  I got it together quit and have never looked back,

Getting out of the house everyday (one of my goals for mental maintenance)  and having a place to go that feels like home has help make a difference in my life.  I am surrounded by peers who understand me without explanation and it feels great.

I have and continue to learn who I am, what is me and what is my illness.  Learning helps me make better choices and when I can’t quite figure something out, I have people I can run things by and their suggestions give me food for thought.  Making decisions are not based on circumstances alone or what may seem logical in general,  but also on how they will affect my mental health.

I am getting it together.  I am finally on a journey to living my dreams instead of just dreaming.

Depression and Mania, you are no longer in control.  Though you might rear your ugly head, you will not win.  I have weapons (tools and people) to fight you and fight I will.

You do the same.

love to all

pb aka peanut butter


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Me and purpose

The more I attend groups at this place name COVA, the more I discover about my true self.  I learn about my personality, my strengths, weaknesses, what I have to give to others, etc.  The most important thing I have learned is to love me, to realize that I am someone special, even if it is just to me. I am the one person I should seek to please because I am the one person who I can never get away from.  Out of all the people in my life, I need to have my own approval in regards to decisions I make and things I do.  I need to be happy with me.

I know I live with bipolar disorder (manic-depression) everyday,how can I forget, but there is more to me than the symptoms of bipolar.  There is more to me than the unplanned behavior that comes front and center in my life when it chooses for me to be manic or depressed.  I have learned to accept that the people in my life have not yet realized that I do things differently when manic or depressed.  The way I act, feel, respond, think, etc, changes when I am manic or depressed.  What normally is logical is now illogical to me and vice- verse.  When in an episode no one can tell me different.  I challenge what they say when I am manic and ignore them when I am depressed because I do not want to talk, I also do not want to hear.  One thing I wish people would realize is that when I act in rage, it is not a fore-thought that I will respond to situations in that manner.  Rage is something that I do not call upon, it calls upon me.

Here I am continuing to gather tools to help me cope with rage and other symptoms.  I am proud of me for taking the steps to continue to live mentally well with bipolar.  I am not trying to boast or brag (about what), but I am learning to recognize the good in me and the fact that I am persistent in learning to handle my illness and not have the illness dictate how I live.

As I walk around this place, I feel good about myself.  My confidence and self-esteem has increased. Most importantly, I have found purpose for my life and it makes me realize and accept that I am even more special with the bipolar disorder.

Having bipolar disorder has brought me to this place to learn about me.  I learn about my personality and what makes me tick when manic and depression are not front and center.  I learn how to handle not only my bipolar illness but my other medical issues as well.  Being in the program, going to groups, talking to everyone here including staff people has all happened because I decided I want to go back to work and needed help preparing to do so.

When I first came to COVA, I thought I would learn skills like Microsoft Office, or some other job oriented skill.  What has been more valuable is getting coping tools so that when I get a job and symptoms or triggers come, I will have tolls in my arsenal to stop them or lessen the effects of them.  I had never had that before so when a hiccup or bump in the road came across my employment path, I would just stop. The symptoms were so bad and I had no support person to talk with and I would give up.  I felt I had no choice.  If I had support people like I have met here, things would have been different.

This shift in my life has made me believe my purpose is to help others on their journey to living mentally healthy (their journey called Recovery).  I am going to be attending a training class called Certified Peer Specialist.  The most important thing they look for in this type of job is experience, life experience.  I want to take all the good, bad and ugly that has happened in my life and I have overcome, and use it to encourage/ help someone get to their point of self sufficency, joy and pride in self and living mentally and phycially healthy.  I want someone to hear about me or see me and realize, that their life can change and they can have their hopes and dreams realized, even with a mental illness.

I think having a mental illness brings us to places in life we normally would not go. We change careers to accomodate the symptoms, we surrond ourself with people who undertand and therefore can be a support for us or a cheerleader,  “you can and you will do it”.  Do what?  Get past where you are now and get to a better place.  I will be there to help you.  That is my purpose, to share of me so that someone else will not only see themself as they are (suffering with mental illness, or drugs or alcohol) but as what they can be (conquerors and champanions of their life).

People are surprised when I tell them I did cocaine and crack and was a heavy boozer and pill popper. I am always told I do not look like it.  When we learn to manage our mental illness and our our illness of drugs and alcohol, we do not look like what we went through.  We become heroes to ourself and we look and feel marvelous.  My purpose is to help others become their hero and to feel marvelous.

I am writing this in the library with phones ringing and children crying, I hope this post makes sense to those who read it.  Comments are always delightfully welcomed.

love to all

pb aka peanut butter


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A new dawn

I have been doing really good since I came out of depression in mid Dec of 2013.  There have been no major episodes of depression and only a few manic episodes.  

Now it is time for me to move into the next phase.  It is time to go back to the work force.  I know part-time is the ideal way to re-enter the workforce however, my insides are screaming for me to go full force with a full-time job.

Since I have not worked in about 8 years, I know the wise thing to do is to look for part-time work.  The last few years that I was employed I was in the insurance industry.  It is hard to find part-time work in that field.

I feel as though my life has shifted and that all I have come through is turning me toward another direction for a career.  I would like to take all my life experience as a past victim of domestic violence, drug user, alcoholic and now as a mentally healthy person living with bipolar and use it to encourage others.  At times, we all need someone to share their experiences with us so that we will realize that we too can over the challenges in our life.  For me, there is no greater example a person can give except what they have experienced in their own life.  When I hear about your challenges and triumphs, it shows me I can do the same, that is the message I would like to take to others.  A message that says, you can do it.  I am here for you.  I will go with you if you need or want me to.  You are not alone.  I understand.  

People need to know that no matter how dire a circumstance is, there is always a light somewhere, we just need to find our way to it.  Sometimes we are able to find that light on our own after stumbling in the dark and sometimes we run into someone who has already been on that path and are willing to help us get to that opening.  It’s good when we can find that light or way out on our own, but it’s great when someone is there with us.

love to all

pb aka peanut butter

 


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Healing

I have had cancer twice, almost died twice from high blood pressure at age 15, was addicted to drugs and was an alcoholic.

For 23 years I was abused by my ex-husband in ways that I could not say out loud in divorce court so I walked away with only my life and a few pennies he was forced to give me so that I would sign the house deed over to him.

Once I was diagnosed with bipolar, I did not divulge that I was still doing drugs.  I kept doing drugs while taking the medication for bipolar.

After feeling like I was having a heart attack for the third time, I decided that I was not leaving this world due to drug use.  My alcohol use had already stopped.   I prayed at that moment for God to deliver me from drugs and I have not touched them since that night. The funny thing is that I was living with someone who was lighting up at that very moment.  Even though I kept living with that person  for  a while after I stopped, it never bothered me.  I never craved drugs again.

Now my biggest challenge is living with bipolar, anxiety and an array of other health problems.

Life is good and I am healing more and more from my past everyday.  Healing is a process and my goal is to help others who are victims of domestic violence, drug users, alcoholics and those who live and struggle with mental illness everyday.  Helping others is part of my healing journey and that is what makes it a process.

Today,  driving to my place of refuge, the rain was coming down and I asked God to keep the sun shining inside of me even though it was raining on the outside and that He would use me to bring a smile or a laugh to someone today: this is my medicine.

Have you started your healing process?

love to all,

pb aka peanut butter

 

 

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