Subject jumper part 2

Dolphins In HawaiiLook closely enough and you will see me having a great time with my peers.  We are with each other to be supportive, to have fun and to join together as a family.

I am still ambitious.  I want to make sure I educate as many people as possible what bipolar really is.  Not what they think, not what the media feeds them and certainly not what people who stigmatized us tell them.

As people with mental illness we are sometimes shun by family, friends, acquaintances, co-workers or anyone who is a part of our life.  All this because they lack the knowledge and some even lack the desire to take the time to educate themselves about bipolar.

To try to understand mental illness is a beginning.

Learning about bipolar symptoms  and how to recognize them in me, is the beginning of showing me I matter and that I am a worthwhile person to you.

Going to support groups, at times attending therapy with me and even taking the time to go with me and share with my psychiatrist what you observe when I am on a certain medication,  truly makes me feel you really do care about me mentally as much as you do if I have an incurable and visible illness.

Finally, answering my call when I give the secret word that I need help because I am ascending to the top of the roller coaster of mania or rapidly descending from the top that I bypass sadness and drop into the depths of depression.  It lets me know, that as much as possible you will be there with and for me.

I am not a lazy thinker.  If I say I do not know how to do something, please do not frustrate me by continuing to ask me do it after I have repeatedly told you I do not know how.  Not only are you calling me lazy minded but a liar.

I am now offended and any good you have shown seem to make me wonder how much you really have been watching and listening to the real me.

I feel successful when I can make someone genuinely laugh or smile and for that moment allow them to forget that part of our brain is incurably sick.

It is a success to me when despite how much I unwillingly play  tug of war with sadness, I get out of the house and say to hell with sadness.

I am passionately pursuing to be a peer supporter to all.

We are a special breed of survivors.  We are all passionate about helping one another.

Who else knows how to help us best without saying a word.

 

 

Advertisements

Went to far

So it seems as though my last post “Can We Talk” went a little too far.  It appears that I am probably the only one with this problem.

I apologize for those of you who may have found this topic offensive.

On another note.  I am struggling to figure out what actions are bipolar and what actions are just my personality.  Sometimes the lines get blurred.

One of my children says I am outspoken and I am.  I know that is my personality. Being outspoken can be a good thing when you an advocate for yourself or others.  Your voice is the one that fights not only for your rights but the rights of others who have not yet found their voice.  Some are too shy and never will.  That is when being outspoken is a good thing.

On the other hand, it can produce negative results or cause one to be offended, such as the last post.  It can also destroy relationships whether we mean to or not.

I have learned that every thought we have is not for us to say out loud.  This takes great discipline because it causes us to pause and think for a moment the possible consequences that thought might cause.

Even though the lines become blurred at times, there are some signs when I know it is me such as laughing.  When I am me or not heading for or in mania, I laugh at normal things that are funny.  When manic, things are just plain funny, whether others think so or not.  At times I just sit and start laughing.  I have heard people say, “She is in her own world” and I am.  No one knows what I am laughing about and everything is funny to me.

Being outspoken takes a little more thought.  When in a group, I tend to say what I am thinking whether I agree or not.  I say it with an example so everyone understands and most everyone agrees.  It is just that some people are shy but when someone else expresses what they are thinking it brings out what they want to say.  That I know is my personality.  When I just start saying random things and do not care about others feelings on the subject, I know it is not me.  Being insensitive and hard on people is not me.  People do not complain about this.  They just think I am having a normal bad day, but I know the difference and those who know my illness know it is not me.  I am generally a happy person and life is as the character Forest Gump says,” life is like a box of chocolates. you never know what you’re gonna get”

The last part is when I am irritable.  If I can figure out why, then most of the time it is me.  However there are times when I cannot tell if it is me or the bipolar because I may not be able to figure out the cause.  It can be something or someone triggered me.  It can lead to self harm.  Am I self harming as a result of being irritable or am I self harming because I feel misunderstood.  I know it is two in one, being irritable and self harming.

Finally, I truly believe out of all my diagnosis that are current and the ones I am waiting for a report, mental illness is truly a BITCH.  It does what it wants, when it wants.  It is a daily fight.  So is having cancer ( I am a two time cancer survivor. These statements apply to what I have experienced and how I feel). However, if cancer is caught early enough, most times, something can be done to treat it whether surgical or some other form of treatment.

Mental illness cannot be cured. Time and different techniques have been tried and failed.  Hopefully many of us are getting treatment and following our wellness plan.  The sick part of our brain cannot be operated on to make it better.  There is no treatment to make it go away.

The only treatment that works for me is compliance with going to psychotherapy and taking my medications as instructed.  Honestly, sometimes I fail at both.  Yet, because I know it is a matter of giving up and losing my life or fighting and living,  I choose to get back on my regimen and live as long as I can.

I do hope this is a better post that more people can relate to.  I do realize that many of the issues I have are are not experienced by everyone or even a majority of people with  mental illness.  Those who do experience it, may not be willing to share.  It is a personal thing.

I share, my experiences, good, bad and not so good in hopes it will help someone to understand they are not alone and it is nothing wrong that they did, it is the illness.

One thing I hope we all agree on:  at times, our mental illness has a way of ruling what we think, our actions based on what we think, what we perceive as real, even though it may not be real.  It is not our fault.  It is one of many characteristics or symptoms of mental illness.

love to all,

hope this helps someone whether they comment or not.

100_0492
Peace within

 

Is it me or mania

The last couple of weeks have been kind of challenging.

The irritability started ever so slightly that I did not notice is was there.  It started climbing and rearing its ugly head more and more each day but only in the late afternoon until early evening.

I have not felt this way in so long, I wondered if it was me or bipolar mania.  Since I was okay in the early part of the day and totally not okay in the latter part, I began to wonder: then I realized it was the mania.

When I am manic I feel it in my arms. It is a strong force that feels as though it is consuming me.  No one including me knows how it is going to go.  Bipolar- different ends of the spectrum.  I could go on the end of funny where it seems as though my tickle box fell over and there was no way to close it.  I would be in fun city and made sure I was only around others who enjoyed a good laugh.  I never know how I will be entertaining myself or others.

The mania does eventually go to the other end of the spectrum where rage takes over.  When I notice this, usually because I have made a relationship mess, I feel as though I need to isolate myself but I do not, I can not.  When I take a day to isolate, it becomes easier to be alone the next day and the next. Eventually I find I do not want to go out of the house and then depression takes over.

It is part of my mental health maintenance plan to get out of the house everyday, regardless.  I try to stay away from people that are a trigger for me.  When I am manic and around them, the mania is worse.

I realized that when I see my therapist while I am in high mania toddling  between funny and angry, it is not a good thing for me.  When I leave the office I am more manic and have a strong desire to go party, to go look for trouble.  Fortunately, I have been able to avoid following through with a plan to do so.  However, I now know, do not go when manic.  Just another nugget to put in my toolbox.

During both mania and depression, I need to spend the greatest amount of time with positive and supportive people.  I feed off this and it lets me know someone is there to help me through the storm.

So, when manic: I feel free, like a different me.  I feel like Jekyll and Hyde.  I can be even keel, then everything is funny and I want to be entertaining.  I have so many ideas that I cannot keep up with putting them down on paper.  I become more argumentative and sensitive than usual.  The other end, the not so pleasant side is the rage side.  It sometimes causes a rift in relationships and has cost me my job in past.  Mania behavior also makes me not like who I am.  When I start beating myself up, I remember it is the mania and  keep it moving.

Stinking thinking comes front and center in manic episodes.  In the past, it would really do a number on me and would eventually lead me into the camp of depression.  Now I recognize it more and have learned to decipher fact from fiction in the majority of cases.

I have not learned to recognize the begging symptoms yet and still struggle a bit with stinking thinking and therefore must keep a watchful eye on the beginning of mania and try to ward it off is possible.

Rage is in a category by itself.  By the time I feel rage, it is too late to stop it.  It usually comes right on the heel of or overlaps mania.

What is your mania like?  Do the things you do when manic cause you to ask yourself if it is mania or just you?  How do you handle your mania?  Is your mania followed by depression?  I would really like to know.

love to all,

pb aka peanut butter

t me know.

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

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

The cycle continues

Just when I thought I had it all together.  No signs of depression, no signs of mania.  Living in the sun even on cloudy days was becoming more and more the norm.

Now, the cycle continues.   Lately, I have been emotionally up and down and feeling like crying various times throughout the day.  I have increased the number of times I see my therapist on a weekly basis.  Sometimes I intentionally shut the lights and the television off and sit quietly in the dark. It calms my mind and stills me. When I feel emotionally overwhelmed and the tears get to my throat I get a pad, any pad and journal.

I have learned more about myself and my emotions as well as fears that have kept me stuck from moving forward in some areas through free flow journaling. It is difficult but amazing. I share these insights with my therapist and it helps me move forward.

The cycle of up and down continues but I don’t stay in the down as long as I used to. I shut everything down, deal with the issue and keep it moving.    Even if I feel like crying when I am out, I might have yo sit in my car, take an anxiety pill, and breathe slowly.  I get out of my car and keep it moving to where I was on my way to despite the emotional knot in my stomach.

I say, it is what it is and keep it moving. I talk to people and try to encourage them or make them laugh or smile and that changes things for me.

The cycle of up and down, happy and sad continues but does not last for long.

Push through and keep it moving. You will see a difference.

 

Love to all

On aka peanut butter

Blogging: good support system for me

I really do miss blogging.

This past week, I realized how much it helped me when I was depressed and posting a lot.  It was part of my support system.

I would share how I was feeling or what I was going through and people would respond.  It assured me I was not the only one in that situation or having those thoughts or unpleasant experiences.

When I could not sleep at 2 or 3 in the morning, I would start blogging.

One time while I was going through major depression, I sat at my computer and blogged.  It was a safe place for me to be.  I was expressing how I was feeling and being there kept me from harming myself.   I knew others would read what I had written and respond with encouragement.   When they did, it was of great comfort to know that someone understood what was happening to me.  It felt like I had a listening ear that would not interrupt me.

Once I got better, I stopped blogging.  I did not think I had anything to share unless I was depressed or manic.

Recently, I was starting to go up and down.  You know the pole I am talking about.  I did not waver to much but enough that my therapist strongly suggested I start to blog again, so a few weeks ago, I started posting again.

I really miss having the internet at home.  It was why I was able to post so much.  Hopefully, by the winter I will have it again.  In the meantime I will have to be at the mercy of the library ‘s computer use.

Last week, I really got into some trouble with stinking thinking.

I was having a great day.  It was late one evening when I had to return a phone call and then it started.  The phone call quickly went south and then another call went south and then stinking thinking started.  The person said to me, ” I could say some things about you, but I don’t.”  They did not say good or bad, but because they made that statement and did not clarify it, I started taking it in a negative manner because they were annoyed with me for calling them out on something they were doing.

I was using tough love speech to wake them up about their life because I care about them.  When you see someone doing something that you know is destroying them, you speak out because you care.  Sometimes you just want to shake them and say “what the hell are you doing?”  That is what I was doing with my words.  I was trying to shake them.

They shook me without even knowing it.  They turned the table on me.  This person knows that when you make a statement like that to me you have to say what it is and they did not.  My mind is always trying to figure out what someone means when they make an open ended comment.  Unfortunately, I always, always, think the worse.

A switch in my mind  turned after the call ended.  Everything that is logical became illogical.  I started beating myself up with thoughts of self hatred and disgust.  There was nothing I liked about myself.  Everything good anyone had said about me, I turned it around to something negative.  I started sending crazy off the wall text messages to this person.  I was expressing how disgusted I was with myself (there was nothing logical about what I was doing).  In the end I begged the person to forgive me and to call me and let me know I was forgiven.  The call never came.  I was so upset and distraught that I took 3 Ativan (for anxiety).  I started hallucinating that one of my friends was in the house with me and I was asking her if she wanted coffee.  When I turned around for her answer I did not see her so I thought she went to the restroom.  After a few minutes I realized she was never there.

Things got a little hairy when I thought to myself, ” I wonder what it would feel like to cut my arm.  Not a deep cut, just the surface.”  It was then that I reached out to one of my friends who worked late.  They came over and listened and assured me I did nothing wrong.  They told me to leave it alone.  They prayed for me and left. It was the first night in 3 nights I had more than 3 hours sleep.

Lack of sleep the previous nights was throwing me into the beginning of mania and I did not realize it.  Once thinking stinking started, I was going downhill.  Thank God for supportive people in my life whether or not they know I have bipolar, they are there for me without question.

Never be afraid to reach out to your true friends.  They are the ones who are available by phone or in person whenever you need them.  For me, they are turning into a rare breed of people.

The person I was trying to help:  the next day I was still shaken so I went to my therapist.  She asked me if I thought this person’s ex would agree with what I said about their life and I said, “Most definitely”.  That really made me realize, I did nothing wrong except to reach out to them in love and what I said struck a cord.  They took a shot at me to turn the tables.  It worked then, but because I used my support system, I was fine in the end.

Love to all

pb aka peanut butter

 

 

Perhaps I should not

Perhaps I should not have blogged about my drug using days.  It was not to glorify or insult or make anyone feel uncomfortable.

I shared that particular blog to show 2 things that are important for me to help others see:

The first reason was to show how far I went (any may people often go) when bipolar or any other mental illness is undiagnosed/ untreated.

After my first psychosis incident and hospitalization, I was diagnosed and treated with the use of prescribed medication.  Although I was attending psychotherapy sessions, I was not taking advantage of the treatment.  I went back to using drugs as soon as they told me my insurance ran out and I kept using for a while, until I felt like I was taking my last breath after doing drugs all night. That night was the last time I did drugs.

The second reason was to show how Russian roulette was similar to me regarding my drug and alcohol abuse.  To me, any time I used drugs, could have been the last time, especially since there were instances where I was hallucinating, speeding and just being wreck-less with my life.

Once I decided I wanted to live, I got clean, started taking medication only as prescribed ( I was also a pill popper) and on time.  I also started attending therapy more frequently and was honest with the therapist, finally admitting to her I had been using drugs (it was almost the same as not even being treated).

The therapist recommended I attend an outpatient hospitalization program 5 days a week, all day. This proved to be of tremendous value.  In the program, I was with others in group sessions, who were also living with bipolar.  We learned valuable lessons from each other as well as the facilitator and our individual sessions with the psychiatrist.  It was there I became totally vulnerable as a person with a mental illness by letting my guard down.  I shared the things I had done, my fears for the present and for the future, such as what kind of future could I have being bipolar.  Others had that same concern/ fear.  Together we worked through issues that come with the territory of mental illness and together we learned about the dark hole mental illness can take you into.  We became a second family to each.  We were supportive, encouraging and caring to each other.  I believe this saved my life.  I no longer felt alone, ashamed or frightened of having a mental illness.  I knew there were so many other people with the same struggles I had before being diagnosed and since being diagnosed.

By the end of my time in the program, I had learned that this would be a life long struggle but that I was a lot stronger than I had ever believed.

It is not uncommon for people living with bipolar who are not in treatment to start using drugs/ or abusing alcohol or even to be promiscuous.  Some even get to the point of having multiple arrests, although not everyone does.

Mental illness has taught me not to judge others who are on drugs, alcoholics, or who do things that do not seem correct.  I almost never know at first glance is someone has a mental illness.  It is not always for me to know.  What is important, is to treat everyone with the same respect and dignity.

love to all,

pb aka peanut butter

We are all a lot stronger than we could every imagine.

Support system

A support system is an invaluable tool for getting and staying mentally healthy.

Your support system may or may not include family and good friends, but it definitely should include a good psychiatrist and therapist.

Your psychiatrist should be a person who listens to you so he/she knows if your medication needs to be adjusted or changed.  He/she should also be able to tell by talking with you if your are improving and if you need to be seen more often or less.  You will never have to stop but the time in between your visits should be longer.  Most important, they should sit down, ask you questions and really listen to your answers as well as make sure your questions are answered.

I believe that a good therapist is a key support person.  They should genuinely care about you as an individual and you should be able to feel that you are a person and not just another client on paper.  You should be comfortable talking to them and should never feel rushed during a session (although we are on the clock because of the time the insurance company approves).

I am extremely blessed to have an awesome therapist.  Whenever I need to see her before a scheduled appointment she always tries to accommodate me (rarely has she not been able to).  And when she can’t get me in, she talks to me on the phone until I am in a better frame of mind.  Being able to talk to her has kept me from doing a lot of impulsive and sometimes dangerous things.

When I travel, she is on speed dial and there has been many times that I needed her when I have been away.  I truly thank God for her.

There were a few times while I was on a trip that I went into manic mode or just hysterical.  I was able to reach out to her and she helped pull me through.   I was able to hold on until I returned home and was able to get the help I needed.  She is truly a God sent.

I think what I love the most is that I am able to talk about my faith and she encourages me to do so as part of my wellness and recovery.

There should be more therapists like her.

Make sure you are comfortable with your therapist.  He/she is the one you will probably have the most contact with when you need help learning how to get through your mania, depression and those impulsive moments.

Love to all

pb aka peanut butter

Remember to purpose to have an awesome day.

 

New dose of anti-depressant

I am now on day 3 of the higher dose of the anti-depressant patch.  Is it too soon to kown if it is working?

Nothing has changed yet so maybe it is too soon to tell.

Depression Cycle
Depression Cycle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Still sleeping at odd hours and getting up between 12 and 1:30 am.  Try as I might, cannot go back to sleep.  But I must also say that sometimes I do go to sleep around 4 or 5 in the afternoon and sleep for hours.  Then I get ready for bed and may or may not take my night meds and go back to sleep.  All in total, I get between 5 and 7 hours off and on.  I guess I am doing good.

I wish I could stay sleep longer because soon after I am up, I want to cry.  I can’t seem to stay even keeled right now and have not been able to do so for a while.

The last time I remember being on good mental health ground was in April of this year and even then I was manic most of the time.  Once the mania left I started going downhill.  This way and that.  Up and down.  Manic and depressed and then the mania stopped.  Just depressed.

Moments of laughter, but nothing stayed.  The depression is always lurking, sucking the ilfe right out of me.

I have an appointment with the therapist today and I don’t know if I am going to keep it.

Even though I have been up for a while and it is still not daylight yet, I have no desire to get dressed or leave the house.  Hopefully, that will change once daylight hits.  I am usually able to force myself out of the house but this morning feels very different.

I have already been in and out of being on the verge of crying and am still trying to keep it together.  I do not want the floodgates of sobbing to start.

I purpose to try to have a eureka day, but it doesn’t feel like it.  It feels like I’m in a battle that isn’t going very well.  Where is the sunshine in my heart, in me?

peanut butter aka pb