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Petition for the Mother’s Act.

23 Apr

Dear Bloggers and PPD Awareness Advocates:
 
I’ve been asked to post the following link on my site. It is an online petition to support passage of The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act. A companion bill passed in the House of Representatives last fall to a nearly unanimous bipartisan vote! Democratic Senators Obama and Clinton both support this legislation along with Republican Senators including Olympia Snowe of Maine. Please help us gain our target goal of 100,000 signatures for this petition.

As a mother who has suffered PPD, and who has had depression and instability throughout a pregnancy, which turned into a life threatening situation for my and my child and who ended up being diagnosed Bipolar, this bill means a lot to me, even as a Canadian. I took no pills during my mostly alone recovery, and never wanted any. All I ever wanted was what this bill wants to give-funding to help educate medical providers and put the funds in place for resources to help. The thought of any friends of mine in the US suffering alone with PPD saddens me.
 
After just one week, we have generated 10,000 and the petition will remain active throughout May, during which time it will be marked up for review. This bill calls for research to help determine the etiology and best treatments for perinatal mood disorders which will affect 800,000 women next year… and this figure does NOT include women whose babies are stillborn, miscarriage or other vulnerabilities such as adoptive parents, single parents.. stakeholders for this legislation are anyone who has ever been a mother or a child!!

URGENT REQUEST


We Need Your Help Now!
We Must Speak Out in Full Support of
Postpartum Depression (PPD) Legislation NOW.

Click here to Connect and be Counted!
You may have heard the complaints on the internet lately; asking readers to block passage of legislation to help new mothers and their families cope with postpartum depression. The House and Senate both have legislation – H.R. 20 and S. 1375 – that some mistakenly believe is a conspiracy to push new mothers to take medication.

Tell that to the more than 800,000 women who will develop a diagnosable postpartum mood disorder this year! This does not include the 7.5% of women who will develop major depression during pregnancy.

How disappointing! Those who are speaking out against the Melanie Blocker-Stokes Postpartum Depression Research and Care Act obviously know little to nothing about this legislation. Some are even saying that Melanie Blocker-Stokes, who took her own life after suffering this illness, was simply just sad.
This could not be farther from the truth! Ask her mother, Carol Blocker, who has dedicated her life to the passage of this protective legislation named in honor of her daughter.

This legislation does NOT recommend drugs, require drugs, or endorse drugs.

What it does is:
Encourage the Department of Health and Human Services to expand the research into the causes of postpartum conditions and find treatments.
Establish a national public awareness campaign to increase awareness and knowledge of PPD and psychosis.
Make grants available for programs that develop and offer essential services to women with PPD.
Even if you have already done so, please take the time to let your representatives in Washington know that you support this vital legislation. Help counter the misinformation they are currently receiving!

Click here to Connect and Be Counted!

One Person Can Make a Difference.

bipolar people + able to love?

11 Apr

Yes, we are.

Just because we seem like monsters, doesn’t mean we are.

“Only in quiet waters do things mirror themselves undistorted. Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world.”

4 Apr

We forget sometimes, that I am teh crazy.

One of the less than charming things about my brain is the delusional, paranoid thinking I’m privy to. The full list of bipolar symptoms consists of the following:

-MANIA-which involves feeling very happy or very irritable, inflated self-esteem, reduced need for sleep, yappy as all get out, racing thoughts (these are a FUCKING BALL when trying to get to sleep), crow shiny object syndrome (highly distractable), impulsive and/or reckless behaviour (sleeping around, smoking meth, drive like someone from the armpit, spend oodles of money (my personal impulsive behaviour, along with eating)

-DEPRESSION-involves feeling anxious or “sad” for a period of time (holy fucking reductive phrase batman), hopeless, pessimistic, slowed thoughts and actions, low energy, difficulty concentrating, remembering, hard to make decisions (shit, that’s me on a good day), decreased interest in usual activities, low sex drive, WANT TO DIE, generally hates life.

To add to this joy, I seem to have a side order of psychosis which flickers into my life from time to time. Which includes delusions, hallucinations and personality changes & thought disorder. I tend to keep most of this out of the ears of my doctor. It never gets beyond what I can control, and anti-psychotics make me stupid.

This is the brain that we’re dealing with.

If you think I act the martyr, that I believe myself to suffer more than Joe Public, or I believe that my pain is better/bigger/different/more fruity, you might be right. There are some days when grandiose thinking puffs up my life experience and causes me to pull out the “I’m so much more important and special than you card. I feel things more acutely. I suffer more.

But you know what? Unmedicated I have a hyperempathy so strong that I’m incapacitated by what I feel for everything around me. If you’ve been pregnant, you know what I mean. Now magnify that feeling my 100%, and have it all day every day. Deal with that constantly, and you WILL think your life is much worse sometimes.

What you don’t hear about are my calm and normal days, when I’m safely tucked between depression and mania, and I’m proud of myself for recovering from many things in my life, when I’m surprised and quietly smiling about the fact that I made it past 30, that I made it through some relatively awful things. Those days I don’t talk about much since I was not raised to toot my own horn.

I’m secretly proud of myself for not killing myself or my daughter. I’m secretly proud of myself for listening to many of you, and my husband, and admitting myself last summer, despite my cold, stark fucking terror at the concept. I’m secretly proud of myself for becoming a gentler, kinder person. I’m secretly proud of myself for accepting my very flawed body for what it is. I’m secretly proud of myself for accepting my flawed brain for what it is.

But there’s no glamour in admitting we like ourselves for who we are now is there? There’s no story there-just plain old ego.

I hate ego.

What needs to be retained is that I very rarely hold back here. There is certainly a segment of my life and mind I don’t leave proof of-and really, do you need to hear about my delusions that the world is ending, that fundamentalist boogey-men are going to enslave us all? Do you need to hear about the people who very occasionally flicker on the outside of my vision, or the sounds I’ll occasionally hear when no sounds are there?

You don’t. So we don’t talk about that.

I have this site for a reason, or at least, I have reasons now that I didn’t have before.

1. Because I needed a safe place to deal with my past, and relate to others with it.

2. Because I searched for a lot of common things about bipolar before, and I couldn’t find it. I like to think that I’m helping that a bit.

3. I wanted a place to write, and admittedly, get feedback.

I have this site for me, but not just for me. I have it to help give perspective to others, and so I can meet others and have them provide perspective. People like Kate and Bon and Kimberly, Jason, Venessa, and even Carin. Because I don’t know know what it’s like to lose a baby, to be visually impaired, to raise your children alone, or to wonder how to stretch a budget further than maybe it can go and stuff a freezer while going to school and raising 4 kids.

I yearn for perspective, even when I don’t agree with it, even when it bugs me, or I think it’s whiny or frivolous. Do I sometimes think evil thoughts about the lives of others? Hells yes. Do you? Hells yes. Everyone does it, even if it’s just for a fleeting moment.

I do not like to be judged. I do what I can to not judge others. Somedays, the creature in my brain talks shit for me. Sometimes I let it, because I’m feeling that way, or I’m conveying something from the past.

Somedays I’m just pissed off and angry and feeling entitled because I want to see the goddamned sailboat too. Because I’m tired of feeling broken and worn out. Because I’m tired of negotiating with my brain, tired of negotiating with a world that I have increasing trouble navigating. Because I’m absolutely terrified that this will get worse. I lash when I’m scared, and alone.

I’m always told to not judge, to think of others, to have caution for their feelings. Which is fine and noble and the right thing to do. But what caution for the crazy? What space, what room for them?

(And yes, I’m more than well aware that somewhere, right this very second, someone is even crazier than I am.)

“Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be made strong, in fact. But the process is like all other human births, painful and long and dangerous.”

4 Apr

Cranky, pissed off, unhappy, lonely, vengeful, angry, sad-with a dash of hypomania thrown in.

Sometimes the pills work, sometimes, not so much. It bleeds through.

I’m constantly wondering-what is the pills? What is the bipolar? What is just the fact that it’s April and my mind focuses on one thing-my mother, the day she died, her last days-and I see the mother’s day shit in store windows and I think of her face, puffy from treatment, her grey boots, her withered hands, her naked body the day she died, the absorbent pad underneath her.

Am I angry because of this? Am I angry because I have devoted zero time and energy to the fact that this April is our tenth wedding anniversary and I feel spent and unable to care? Am I angry because I’m so lonely right now, because my anger locks me in, makes me a prisoner? Am I angry because I cannot share this, not really, because it needs a reason and goddamn it sometimes I just want to be angry, then sad, then weepy just because I have feelings and some days things just hurt.

I have no real reason to be unhappy, or pissed off or sad, other than a sinking feeling that I’m missing something, and I don’t have the time to figure out what that is.

All I know is that I fucking hate April. Renewal and growth my ass.

I hate this. I hate all of it. This fucking grief, an never-ending cycle of it, this dull throbbing ache that eats away at my every movement, judging me…”Don’t yell at the kids-you might die tomorrow”. The sucker-punch of a little whiny fool inside me, wanting to moan and bitch about her loss, and how hard it was. The knowledge that since I was a little girl I’ve had to suck it up and deal with it while the people around me are free to whine about their perfect little lives and vastly lessened pain.

Lose someone! I want to scream-feel your heart ripped from your chest and forever altered-feel yourself die! Anguish-feel it, really feel something for the first time in your little fucking lives feel something REAL.

It’s not as it was years ago, when as a mute child I screamed why into a sky that had no answers. It’s not as it was years ago when I awoke from a suicide attempt convinced that that day wasn’t a good day to die, and I had only myself to count on, since no one, NO ONE around me was listening. It’s not as it was when the never-ending chorus of “just do it-die die die” played in my head.

But it’s still angry as fuck, harsh and hard and bitter and on days like this it’s a pill I just can’t swallow. Why me. Why the FUCK is this life mine. All the beauty in this life becomes so hardened and pale to me most days, because it’s blinded by a wound I can’t seem to find a way to close.

I can be rational. I can use logic and tell myself that life isn’t fair, and this is how it is. But some-days, I don’t fucking well want to.

********************************

The sun is beaming in the sky today, flooding my work area with light, and that slight lift up feeling you get from the first few days of real sunlight, the knowledge that winter has retreated and sister spring is asserting herself.

I hate it. I remember the sun of that month, and it wasn’t healing. It was harsh and white and brittle and it hurt my heart to see.

I’ll never grow up will I? I’ll always be that little girl curled up on a couch in a family room, eating junior mints and pretending her mother wasn’t dying on a cold rainy spring day. I will always be that sad little girl.

Difference is, lately, she’s just angry.

“do bipolar people ever get better?”

25 Mar

I get a lot of search hits along these lines-people looking for answers. Possibly the newly diagnosed, scared and worried that they’ll be on drugs for the rest of their lives, and maybe in and out of hospital. Possibly a boyfriend, a wife, a cousin,  looking to see if their own private confusion and heartache might stop sometime soon, if there’s any point in hoping, waiting for things to get better.

In a way, there isn’t.

Unlike cancer, or heart disease, there is no end date to bipolar. There is no “remission”, no little breaks from the disease, and no discounts on your mortgage either. You either have it, or you don’t, period.

It will not end until death. You might compensate for it a little better, or you might find a drug, or drugs that work, or therapy might help you, but you will always have this brain sickness. You will always be privy to possibly emptying the bank account because the desire to buy something, anything overrode every other piece of common sense in your body. You might eat everything you can find because it just tastes so good and makes you feel better and you hardly even notice that you went up a dress size in a month. You might launch into a rage so foolhardly and blinding, you’ll tell the people you love to leave before you beat the ever loving crap out of them. You know you mean it.

You might spend days wishing, dreaming about your death, and not even know that this isn’t normal.

This is what you live with. This is why you will never be totally better. You cannot irradiate bipolar, at least, not that anyone has figured. You cannot pump nitroglycerin into it, or transplant your brain for a new, fitter model. You are stuck with it.

I say stuck, but I don’t always give my bipolar the credit it deserves. It gives me perspective. It’s given me a certain “fuck it” attitude which allows me to enjoy my children, and my life in different ways, ways that I know many other parents can’t. My bipolar continually reminds me that we cannot judge people by how they look or act, despite a strong desire to do so. Being bipolar not only makes me see the dark sides, it allows me to watch the sunset again ice covered tree limbs, and know that beauty lies there.

We won’t get “better”, not in the way we think of when we say we’re better from the flu. We will become steady. We will become stable, and sadly in some cases numb. But with the knowledge that one has to take their pills each day so they don’t become psychotic comes the realization that better, and normal, is something unreachable, and possibly even a goal not worth reaching for in the first place.

“can you ever be normal with bipolar?”

19 Mar

Do I look not normal? Do I sound not normal?

on second thought….don’t answer that.

********************

I consider myself high functioning. Any doctor I ever had always expressed surprise and shock at the fact that I’ve been able to hold my jobs unmedicated.

I suppose they’ve never really heard of the ability to compartmentalize things. The ability to soldier on despite pain, or suffering or debilitating unfocus. The ability to pretend.

Girls are good at this sort of thing.

I look normal. A bit weird, but I seem fine and well to most people most days. I laugh, I snort, I read books, I do my job. Most days I am normal.

You don’t seem crazy when you sit quietly and fight the delusion that the world is going to end and you should go stockpile food and water. You don’t seem crazy when you’re quietly telling yourself you don’t want to die. You don’t seem crazy when you’re quiet.

Aside from those days, I’m just like everyone else. I live my life. I take my pills. I sleep little.

Normal is a relative thing after all.

**********************

I suppose one could say that I will never be “normal”-if the context of normal means never having to take pills to not hit things and never needing to watch my sleep patterns in order to make sure that I don’t get stupidly hypo manic. If normal means never having delusions or hearing strange voices or noises, then no, I’ll never be normal.

Are you normal with cancer? Heart Disease? Diabetes? No?

I will always be sick. It’s the one constant in my life. I will always have a chronic disease that can interfere with my normal life-with my job, with my marriage, with my parenting. I will always be “not-normal” because of this. I will be different. I will react to screaming children or smart alec husbands in different ways than others. But so do many people who aren’t sick.

My normal is your weird. My normal is fighting internal voices, my normal is countering the cackling bitter manic woman with calm placid thought. And I’m fine with that.

You’ll never be who you thought you’d be. But no one is. In my case, I believe I’m someone much better than I would have been if I was “normal”. I’m me.

Maritime What’er?

17 Mar

So, sometime in May (as yet to be determined since a certain Canadian singer/poet guy has thrown gunk in the mix) a group of us local writers (I am NOT saying blog…I refuse) are going to meet in a little Nova Scotia town, eat cupcakes, drink beer and talk about you. Yes, you.

Just kidding. I’m sure our in person conversations will be a little less intellectual than our online ones, especially once I get drunk. (I curse like a lonely sailor girls-fair warning)

I’ve been thinking about this trip a lot the last few days, and I’ve been getting a little anxious over the silliest things.

What if I’m the fattest, least educated, least successful person there?

Judging from everyone I see who has committed to attending, I will be. Everyone looks so lovely and content and successful. And I’m not, not really. I work a job I like, but it’s very much not what I wanted in a career (I don’t know what is) I have kids, I love my kids, but I don’t really know what it is to WANT kids. I know I’m not a moron, but there are no degrees plastered on my walls.

The indicators for success in our culture-I have none. Or at least I feel like I have none. I feel like a gaping failure compared to most of the women I interact with. So I’m skeevy.

I’m scared of meeting people who feel out of my league socially.

There. I said it.

I’ve already started composing reasons in my head why I can’t go, why I shouldn’t go, just so I can avoid the awkwardness of knowing I’m the least in the room, the weirdness of feeling shut out of conversations about things I know nothing about, and never will.

I don’t have res stories-I dropped out of university my first year, partly boredom, partly other shit. Almost as soon as I was notified that I was accepted into the Honours program, I dropped it. I didn’t hack it. I don’t have stories of parties and late night studying (at least not from university).

I have stories of going to work because I couldn’t get my shit together enough to just do it already.

And so the people I knew, I know, the people I held a bond with at some time, many are moving on in the world, making real money, securing their futures, building houses. I sit in some piece of shit house I don’t have the will to fix alone.

I see you other, successful women and I wonder how I got it all so wrong-how I managed to fuck up a life so completely.

Maybe it’s just the bipolar talking, through the jetlagged tired, but I always end up feeling like a dirty snot nosed little kid around a group of women, and I hate it. I hate feeling like a kid, looking up but never keeping up.

“do people that are bipolar hang out together?”

26 Feb

Is this a trick question, along the lines of “do black people only hang out with black people”?

I don’t have a manic depressive quota to meet. In fact, in real life, I know one bipolar person. We hung out in high school, and I never knew that she was a nutter. She was fucked up, but I figured being a very out lesbian in a small town living with your ex-stepfather who snorts coke was enough to fuck anyone up. I miss her like a sister, but we never hung out because we recognized something in each other. We hung out because she had great taste in music and she loved my derby blue docs.

Finding out, all these years later, that we’re both manic depressive was kinda cool actually.

In my everyday life, I don’t know anyone. I know people online, but if the people I ran into in the psych ward are any indication, I don’t know if I want to hang out with anyone else that’s nutty for very long. I can’t imagine it’s a healthy way to live. My own bad ideas are toxic enough-having someone else along for the ride-that would end badly.

I like talking to others online who have this disease. It makes me feel less alone, allows me to find the answers I need sometimes. But on those days when we all need to pull away, I’d hate to imagine being stuck together as friends-over sensitive, possibly vengeful friends.

And really. It’s not a club. We don’t hang out together and trade tips on what to do when the lithium shits hit or what could possibly help bring you down from a nice session of hypo-mania. At least for me, this shit doesn’t happen.

And you know how groups of women tend to synchronize their periods? Imagine if that happened with a bunch of depressed bipolars. Man, we’d drop off like flies.

The entire idea just bothers me for some reason. And don’t bring up the goth thing-most goths I’ve known were disgustingly well adjusted, wallowing in “sorrow” like I’d go slumming in Regent Park. Listening to bad music doesn’t make you crazy. Just stupid. We aren’t squirrels or lemmings. We’re people. Just because I have bipolar doesn’t mean I want to hang out with other crazies. Just because I have a vagina doesn’t mean I like women.

We’re just people, just like you.

“does bipolar go away?”

23 Feb

No. No, it doesn’t.

I don’t think that there ever was a time I didn’t have this disease in my brain. I think it was minimized, something I could control to some degree, something I could compensate for. But my extreme sensitivity as a child? My varying moods, my shyness-all things that could be normal in a child, but which seem, in hindsight, to be indicators, potentials.

Being molested by a neighbour, watching my mother slowly die over a number of years, only letting go when told there was no point anymore, trying to hold on to the splinters we called family-I can’t help but think these things, and puberty, forced the hand and took me from merely strange, to a little crazy.

I had a nasty habit of hitting things when angry. Things like thick wooden fences and concrete walls. I’d turn on friends in an instant, for no reason even I could discern. I’d shut myself off, blocking the world out for days.

I found lovely delicious drugs which liked me back.

I think most of my adolescence was spent in denial. Denying anything was wrong to any of the shrinks who saw me-pushing away anyone who might have wanted to help me.

What’s surprising is that Mogo was willing to be with the mess I was, and staying through all the late night accusations and needy MEMEME that involves so much of bipolar for me. Nothing was ever enough. I needed to be shown, I needed his love to be proved. As if staying with someone who’d sit in a bathtub running cold water when she was freaked out wasn’t proof enough.

Babies came. PPD came. My mind left.

There’s an awful sense of doom when you’re diagnosed and you realize that this is it. After years of not knowing what it was, years of Mogo saying “I think you might be manic-depressive” and me snapping “Fuck off-I’m not crazy”, years of pretending everything was ok and maintaining a life that was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain, you suddenly think it will be ok. You have a reason.

But then you realize that that reason is a life sentence. You will never escape your disease. It IS you. It’s part of you, it’s formed you and in some ways, you’re at it’s mercy. You’ll take drugs for the rest of your life, and you’ll hope like hell they don’t stop working. You’re thankful that there are drugs that make you mostly normal.

Bipolar doesn’t go away. There’s no magic switch to turn on and off. There’s no secret formula to fix your brain. It just is. Cancer you can cure. You can get a new heart. Your brain? All you can do is drink a magic potion, and hope it works.

Do I wish there was a magic switch? Hells yes. I worry daily that the drugs won’t work-now that I’m on Lithium, and it works, and I can see the chaos I spawned and what the ultimate ending I was headed for I worry. Because my BPD, untreated, is a death sentence. If I was still untreated, it’s more than likely I would be dead by now. I could feel it building. It’s why the periodic feelings of “hey, swallow those pills/cut yourself” scare me so completely. Because they are still there, and I fear them. I fear that voice, and I fear, more than many things, returning to that state of living.

You don’t realize how bad those voices, those thoughts are, until they’re not there. Every day, for years, I thought of dying. Of taking my own life. Those thoughts became friends-bad friends, but friends nonetheless. They were always there.

Now, living without them is such clear bliss that I would have trouble going back to living with them in my head everyday.

I wish it would go away. I wish I didn’t have to take 4 pink pills every night. I wish I didn’t have to worry about my children, how I’m affecting them, if they’ve inherited it. I wish I didn’t have to worry about my husband, who has spent far too many days wondering where his wife went, and if she was going to survive. I wish I could say I’ll never be hospitalized ever again.

I wish, I wish….but at the end of the day, it’s not going away. So we pick ourselves up, and soldier on, hoping we stay strong, yet preparing daily for the worst.

The difference between brave and crazy

19 Feb

Brave in our world is taking Lexapro for slight depression.

Crazy is wanting to kill yourself without being depressed.

Sitting here, struggling to work, my head pounding through my head as I pop more and more acetaminophen, I hold the bottle in my hand and wonder if it’s enough.

In the store, I stared at the Entropen and remembered the feeling of that bottle, those pills dry down the back of my throat over 15 years ago.  The packaging has changed, but the jolt of recognition is the same.

I’m not unhappy. I’m not depressed. I don’t want to die. So why are these thoughts dancing in my head, veering in and out? I’m tired, and the breathing thing is starting again, but otherwise, I’m fine. If anything, I’m a bit numb.

The thought that the Lithium has stopped working, that this could possibly happen scares me and makes me just want to lay down and cry.

My will is stronger than my whirling thoughts, so I’m not worried that I’ll do something. What I don’t get is where it’s coming from.

That’s crazy.

“I CANT HANDLE LIFE ANYMORE”

15 Feb

You searched for this and it makes me want to cry in that little girl, please move the mountain it’s just too big kind of way.

I have been there. I have stared into the mouth of that dragon, pills on the left of me, knives on my right. I have faced that beast and stared him down, but became weaker each and every time. I have felt the utter emptiness of life, the echoing horrifying void of a world you don’t fit into, and don’t particularly like. The sweet whispers of that little voice that say “go ahead. No one will miss you.”

Life is hard. Life is full of pain. Heartache. Terror. Off the top of my head I can think of 5 things that terrify me in life that have nearly caused me to off myself in the past. My self loathing would be the biggest. I hated myself for a very long time. I can’t forgive myself for the events in my past, even those I had no control over. I couldn’t handle what I had become. Only a tenuous loyalty to those who loved me kept me here. I couldn’t bear the thought of hurting them. My only true suicide attempt was a failure-the old joke right? I suck even at killing myself?

The truth is, I always wanted a reason to live-but I also wanted the pain to stop. The pain of living overrode every other sensation in my life. I could stare at the most fantastic images the world could throw at me and still be apathetic and uncaring. The efforts of others to cheer me were futile.

Life is something you need to handle-in all seriousness, would you want a life with no barriers, no pain, nothing to offset the normal? The sweetness of my daughters is all the more apparent on the days when they are not so sweet, and I want to coat them in butter and leave them in the backyard for the raccoons. Life is not fair-because there is no one around stacking the deck-it’s just you bub, and it’s what you make of it.

I don’t believe in gods, so I won’t be telling you that a higher power wants you here, is testing you, is punishing you, etc, etc. What I do believe in is YOU. And me. Think of all the books, all the words and thoughts you haven’t read. The songs you haven’t sung. The paintings your eyes haven’t bathed in. Think of the people who might change your life you haven’t met. The places you haven’t seen. The food you haven’t tasted.

You create the world around you-you create the life you live. If you’re sick-get help. I did. The world is a vastly different place today than it was Feb 15 2007. I have hope-hope! for the first time in my life. I am happy, and at peace with my life. I’m going to start painting again-I’m reading, I’m writing and having wonderful conversations with people I love my family and I wake up most mornings excited to see what will happen.

I feel excited for the first time in years.

I want this for you-all of you who feel that the pain is too much and that the front of that bus that just went by looks awfully attractive. I want you to stop at the end of your driveway and marvel at the sunsets, every night. I want you to run your fingers through the hair of your children, your nieces, your pets. I want you to find your path through this world minus the hurt and the tears and the helplessness. I want you to find the beauty you hold inside of you.

I want you to be free of that dragon on your back.

There is no secret code aside from your will and your patience. And time. I’m still not perfect. I still have the odd grey day, the skittish thought that slams through my head yelling “justkillyourselfalready!!!!” and disappears. Life without these thoughts is odd-they’ve been my companion for so long…it’s like living in a house that’s full of smoke, and one day that smoke is gone and you realize the walls were cream, not white.

You can do it. You will see the walls too.

“is my wife bipolar or a bitch”

14 Feb

bwahahahahahahahaaaaa…..

I can’t only imagine how many times Mogo asked this to anyone who was listening. 🙂

“do bipolar people have feelings”

5 Feb

Jebbus…..what the hell do you think?

I know my reaction is knee jerk “do you think us monsters?”, and that isn’t the point.

I know that many people, including my long suffering husband, have been hurt by this disease, this ragged excuse for a mentality. When we rage-we rage hard. Mogo has been on the receiving end of many s screaming fit-angers so vivid that it’s a good thing the “Will and Word” doesn’t exist. My body would shudder, and quake, and it took all of my control to not strike out at him. Our walls still hold the reminders of this violence.

We have feelings. The problem is, we have too many. While you feel an aching sadness at the news that someone stomped their baby to death, I feel an all consuming anger and sadness. It infiltrates my brain, and my heart, until that child might as well have been my child, and I can feel their tiny heart beat out it’s last pulse. When you feel a quiet happiness for someone who just had their child, I become obsessive, needing to do everything, be there, give oddles of advice, and feel maybe like a mother might.

While bipolar, there are no half measures. Happy is happy, sad is sad. There are feelings-immense feelings that overwhelm.

But to you, the outsider, it may seem like there are no feelings inside us as we blithely ignore your wants, your needs. Ours are paramount. We may recognize that you have feelings and needs, but they will never trump ours. We are important. You live around us.

Isn’t that horrible?

It’s difficult to have an interdependant relationship with someone who is bipolar, because that inter part? We have trouble with that. On a manic day, our ego will exceed you. On a down day, our misery will be all that matters. You….well, you won’t.

Now that I’m medicated, I can see what I was doing, how I was hurting people around me. I see people finally coming back out of the woodwork to talk to me, after years of avoiding me, aware of my sudden shifts and callous nature. Suddenly, I see all my wrongs, and I’m pentient, and unaware of how to fix it.

Feelings are there. We aren’t psychopaths. We just don’t know how to direct it to you, or how to say the words we mean. We just don’t live on the same plane sometimes.

Where I hate on Lithium, but groove on my girls.

26 Jan

Im not enjoying 1200 mg a day. I am nauseated, I have a pounding headache and I’m thirsty no matter how much I drink. And I’ve been this way for the last three days.

Ick.

I just feel BAD. Physically exhausted despite sleeping in (with the radio on for white noise-lord knows what crap I listened to unconsciously) and just plain blech. The headache is the part that’s killing me.

If this lasts, I’ll have some issues with it. But it works. My brain is normal, when it’s not foggy like it’s been lately, useless at work and everywhere else.

It works. So I suck this shit up, and deal.

Taking both girls on their own excursions today didn’t help. I’m bloody exhausted.

Moving on….

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Ros was going to get a much needed haircut, but she refused to sit still. I’m sure having the toy section right outside of the cheap hair place in Wal-Mart didn’t have a thing to do with it. Vivian needs the haircut more anyway-she has the dreaded lady mullet.
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She’s got the dreaded mother as well…
The great thing about tiring them out is that at bedtime there are no battles. Just sweet, blissful silence. Can you hear it? It’s absolutely lovely. I have an open beer downstairs, and I’m nearly finished Francis’ blanket. Things are good, ignoring the ick.
Oh, and some silly cooze actually HIT ME WITH HER CAR as I walked ON A GREEN light with Vivian and a friend. HIT ME. I had to scream blue murder before she noticed, since apparently, HITTING SOMETHING is no indication. Then she tried to act like it was the sun-which I would have believed had she not been wearing sunglasses.
Seriously. And y’all wonder why I refuse to ever learn to drive, and think cars are the tools of evil. It’s because everyone seems to forget they could KILL ME when they’re paying more attention to what’s in a store window.
I mean really….

Reclaiming the Crazy

23 Jan

Went to see El Shrinko today, after three months of rescheduling due to deaths, meetings, general busyness and assholish receptionists. My doctor has THE most passive aggressive receptionist I’ve ever seen. My last few appointments I’ve had to turn down because of work commitments and snow storms, in that order. Last week she called, saying my Dr really wanted to see me, could I come in tomorrow. She had left me a message, so I didn’t call her back since I knew I had to check my calendar at work.

She calls me 2 hours later at home.

Of course I find out the next day that there is no way in hell I can change my day around, so I leave a message cancelling, saying it’s no problem to wait until today. I figured my levels were either low or high, but not really bad, or they’d be insisting.

Well today, the wench calls me in the morning to remind me, which is fine. Then she adds “Oh, so you’re actually coming this time?”

If I could have reached through the phone to throttle her, I would have.

Then I make it to the appointment, only to have my doctor be 30 mins late anyway. I know these things happen, but after dealing with Miss. Bitch, I was annoyed. So I let my doctor know just how irritating this woman is, mentioning that if I was, oh, I don’t know, really depressed, being treated the way this woman treats people would NOT HELP AT ALL.

The doctor didn’t seem surprised, which kinda weirded me out truthfully.

But really-you work at a mental health center. One would think that you would be a little more empathetic and kind. And that you’d realize that not all crazy people are on welfare with nothing to do. Hell, I’d imagine even people on disability or welfare have things to do other than jump when their doctor has an open appointment.

But I digress.

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I’m a little hypo-manic lately, have been for about 2 weeks now. Nothing major, but enough that when she told me my levels were off, I wasn’t surprised. My appetite is up again, I was down at Christmas, I’m talkative as all get out-I know something was up. But I enjoy my sessions more when I am a bit manic because then we get past the “Woe is me-the sky is falling” scenario, and just talk.

I started blathering on about something, maybe about how crazy can’t talk to crazy about things (referring to how 2 crazy people don’t make sanity) and she immediately got excited.

“You’re not crazy!!!”

I stopped and stared at her. “Erm, yeah I kinda am. I mean, I’m not bag lady hiding dead squirrels under the buggy crazy, but I am mentally ill.”

“But you aren’t crazy!” she seemed offended, really bothered that I’d refer to myself this way. ” And you sound like you like saying you’re crazy!”

I tried to explain to her my philosophy of reclaiming the crazy. I’ve had other mentally ill individuals take umbrage with my matter of fact usage of the word crazy, and frankly, I don’t care.

It’s important to me to stand up and say “This is what crazy looks like. This is what mentally ill really is. Not necessarily dirty and homeless. Sometimes, just like you, just like your mother, or your teachers or your nurses. We ARE you.”

I’m tired of crazy being relegated to this Victorian idea of asylums and electroshock therapy. I’m tired of people being ashamed of having a disease over which they hold no control in it’s happening. You can, to some degree, outwit cancer, heart disease. Live well, exercise, yadda yadda yadda. Mental illness? You can’t eat your way away from crazy. It is something you have, period. And yet we act like somehow it’s a person’s fault, that they could have done something, that they are lesser beings because of a defect in their brain. Why the value judgement? Why blame the victim? Who is that serving?

I use the word “Crazy” because you recognize that. In your mind, when I say crazy, you form a specific mental image of what and who crazy it. I want to be your cognitive dissonance. I want you to have a new picture, a new understanding. I want to alter the ways in which you, and the people around me, handle a crazy in your midst.

It’s quite simple actually. Treat us like we’re real. Treat us like we matter. Treat us like you would have if you had no idea that we were crazy.

My doctor looked surprised over my little manifesto, and asked who I tell about my bipolar.

“Everyone.” I said. “I tell everyone, so maybe they’ll start to get it.”

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There is no easy way to changing the public perception of mental illness. I mean, there are still millions of men who think women were put on this earth to serve them-we’re not going to change anything overnight. But with perceptions going from “Village Idiot” to ‘Autistic’, people are beginning to see that for those of us afflicted, we aren’t just putting it on for fun. (And really, who would do this for fun? I have this and I don’t want it. I’d give it away in a heartbeat) Many of you aren’t able to be as open as I am, for various reasons ranging from “I just don’t want to” to “I’d be fired”. I hate that you can’t, and I feel driven in someways to put it out there for you.

If I can help one person understand, if I can comfort one person who’s going where I’ve been, then it’s worth my time and effort. If I change someones mindset, and they go on to support a spouse, a sibling, a parent, then I’ve done at least a little good in the world.

And I will have reclaimed Crazy, and made it something to be proud of.

Questions about Bipolar can drive you batty.

18 Jan

Sara asks how I deal with the innumerable pain in the ass questions that surround bipolar.

If you aren’t crazy, let me introduce you to the life of a bipolar.

We never just wake up on the wrong side of the bed. If we’re cranky, there must be a reason. The drugs must not be working. We must have forgotten them, or stopped taking them. We must have been drinking the night before.

We’re never happy. If we’re bouncing around the house, singing, we’re asked if we remembered to take our drugs. If we’re whistling at work, we’re asking what the hell we’re so happy about, asked if we stopped taking our meds. We’re asked to stop being so bloody annoying, and gee, are you sure the drugs are working?

It’s hard enough handling the mood swings. Having the added benefit of doubt surrounding you really puts the icing on a shitty cake.

What some people don’t seem to realize is that even on drugs, one will still experience the full “bipolar express” that they did before. Only it will be something you can deal with. Sadness will be just that-sadness, and it won’t descend into suicidal thoughts. I will still get a little manic, just not to the point of draining my bank account or talking all day long.

I am still entitled to my emotions. I am still entitled to a full range of life as a human being. Just like all of you.

Truth be told Sara, I don’t handle it well at all. I get pissy, and annoyed. BUT, on the other hand, I have gone off my meds before, and it’s pretty much the thing that precipitated my hospitalization. So I’m not exactly trustworthy all the time anyway. But I get nervous when my husband gives me the eye and wonders if I need my dose upped. I start to wonder if there is something wrong with me, with the me that’s inherent in this body, and I start wondering if he’s trying to cover it by encouraging me to ask about having the levels adjusted. Then I get sad, because honestly, I don’t know who “I” am at this point.

That’s what bothers me the most. The feeling that everyone else knows who I am more than me. I’m a different person in my head constantly, a nattering mess in my brain. But they have the benefit of the relative silence of my external self, and I don’t.

Most of the time though, I don’t get many questions. You may have noticed that I’m a tad bit vocal about my illness, and this does transfer into my real life. I will tell even if you haven’t asked. I am not ashamed of my illness, and I am very open with the people around me, even if it makes them uncomfortable. They wouldn’t act weird if I had cancer, and I wouldn’t hide that either.

I found the best defense is offence. I’ll let Mogo know, repeatedly, that I will never be 100% normal. EVER. (Not that I ever was) I will still get moody, especially around my period. (HOOOO dog does that SUCK now that I can tell the difference!) If I’m manic, I’ll try and warn him-it’s usually been helped along by too little sleep, too little exercise and too much coffee.

There’s a healthy dose of “in one ear and out the other” as well. I can’t get mad at his concern, not truly. This is a man that stuck by someone who has been continuously suicidal, full of rage and meanness for the last 3 years, someone who was depressive and mood swingy even before descending into the maelstrom. He has weathered this with me, and is entitled to his concerns. Because sometimes it’s scary, wondering if it’s just a glitch, or if the meds have stopped working.

That thought gives me nightmares. The thought of going back to how it was, to the volatile madness that was my life and myself. We wouldn’t make it through that again, and I think we both know it. His vigilance is security, really.

Keeping it in the context of “they love me, they care, and they want to help” is likely the only way to preserve your sanity. Because they do. The people who surround us truly love us, or they would never, in a million years, have stuck with us for so long.

Someone through the looking glass

17 Jan

When I went nutso in July, it was like the world stopped and I was finally able to get off. Everything tunneled into one single decision-help myself.

I still remember leaving the house to go. The solid faith I had in my decision, the fear that they wouldn’t be able to fix me. It was pouring rain, so I stood under a tree while I waited for the bus. The rain fell through the leaves, and I was grateful, because I could then pretend it was merely water from the sky coursing down my face, not tears of agony as they were.

Facing my demon, facing ME-it’s the hardest and yet most satisfying thing I’ve ever done. No one can take away from me the fact that I pushed past my illness, pushed past the easy road, the simple road, and helped myself. I had help from those around me, but at the end of that day, it was I who stepped into that ER, and nervously said “I think I’m going to hurt myself. Please help me.” as I trembled, cold and frightened. I was raw-one giant exposed nerve which frayed when the nurses and doctors treated me with kindness. Such solemn gentle kindness they showed that night, such that still makes me tear up a little.

I haven’t spoken much of my experience in there. It was only a week or so, and I spent most of that time in my doorless cubby, crocheting or thinking or writing in sporadic waves about the people around me. The people who were also trying to beat their demons, but possibly not succeeding.

I stood in the grocery line tonight, looking for my favorite magazines to feed my addiction. Everywhere I looked was the face of Britney Spears, and headlines reading ‘INSANE!’ “Family wants her COMMITTED!” “What the boys saw!” like it’s our business or something. I want to look away but I can’t because it’s everywhere. A woman’s demon is on display and we blame her-she must want it there since she goes out in public, and dressed like that! She has it coming.

Not to long ago we thought the same of rape victims as well.

If she’s having a psychotic break, a vast manic state, then she’d be like the dude who kept staring at my boobs on the ward who claimed god spoke to him, or the little bastard that talking about hand jobs during lunch and thought he was a wrestling champ. They put it out there, because they were sick.

Difference is, I didn’t have to look. I could walk away. But I cannot get away from Britney, or her face, or the thought of a mother losing custody, or the thought of a mother helpless to help her daughter.

Maybe she is just being an asshole. But what if she isn’t? And what if she’s unable to wring her demon by the neck and carry it to the hospital until someone else subdues it for her as well? What if she comes through this, comes out of it, and has to look full in the face what she has done, because the media archive will be huge….what happens then?

The main lesson I learned last year was that interdependence is not a bad thing. Asking for help, needing help does not make me weak.

It makes me human, fallible.

My time on that ward reminded me that my life could be worse. I could be crippled by anxiety, delusional, full of rage, a danger to myself and others. I could be more than just moderately crazy.

So why can’t we stop looking?

The Medicated Child

9 Jan

We watched this Frontline program last night, and sat rapt, staring in horror at what we’re doing to our child.

While I’ll never doubt that some bipolar is evident and needs to be treated in children, there needs to be a better way. Being on that many drugs before puberty cannot be good. One kid was 16, had tics that wouldn’t go away from the meds, and slurred when he spoke. Another kid was 4, and was on about as many drugs.

4. Years. Old.

It will be a cold day in hell before I put either of my daughters on psychiatric drugs before puberty.

If you have some time, go watch it online here. I don’t have the time to really get into the issues, but needless to say, I was rather horrified. I know what anti-psychotics do to me-I can only imagine the effect on a child who is just acting like a child.

“Why do bipolar people push partners away”

8 Jan

Man, there’s a novel right there.

For a long time, I’ve kept my husband at arms length. While lithium has improved and stabilized my bipolar, old habits die hard. It’s easier for me to block myself off, to remain remote and mute, to huddle on the couch and speak little for days. The interior dialogue in my head helps me forget that I’m not actually talking most of the time anyway.

Frankly, it’s easier to push you away than to try and deal with you.

Partners represent many messy, painful things. Trust. Love. Commitment. Responsibility. Things that sometimes, we want to forget. Things that scare us. Trust is a big one for me. I have a very hard time trusting anyone, partly from being abused, and going on to lose my mother, partly from my latent paranoia. There is a gated complex around my heart and brain, and very few people have access to it. I do not trust people enough to allow them the privilege of potentially hurting me. (It took awhile to get over this with my children)

Letting my husband in has taken time, and even now can be a shaky thing. I’m so raw in some ways, that trust equals exposure. If I hurt, it means it’s even easier for him to hurt me. So best act fast, suckerpunch, and move on. That way he can’t say or do anything that might break my heart. It’s the equivalent of people who break up with their respective other only because they heard that they were going to do it, and they’ll be dammed if they’ll let their girl/boyfriend do it first.

I push him away because it hurts less. It’s not so dangerous.

In my experience, things that I love go bad. They die. They hurt me. They betray me. The thought of willingly exposing myself to these things-it’s chilling, and terrifying.

Most of the time I’m not even aware that I’ve pushed him off, to the side, away from me. I’m just angry and hurting and while I might want his arms around me, his words soothing me, I’m fucking scared and stubborn and generally, irrational. He becomes the enemy, the thorn. I must protect myself.

None of this is fair to the partner who is at the other end of it. There’s even been times when I’ve been like “Divorce? AWESOME idea.” Those times are scary afterwards, when you figure out how close you’ve come to ruining everything in your life that actually holds any meaning.

Your partner isn’t pushing you away because it’s you, not likely. It’s what you represent, what you are. Hug them anyway. Tell them you love them. Break down that wall.

Let them push. But hold firm, and catch them when they fall back to earth.

I’m sorry Britney Spears.

4 Jan

Who isn’t there honey? What caused that aching void that eats you up at night, that fills your body with toxicity, which keeps your hands shaking and your mouth turned up slightly in a nervous grin? What monster moves you, jerks your body from side to side, makes you late, makes you sick, makes you so unreal you nearly cease to exist?

Today, in more places than I could count, on freaking BBC News you were there, on a stretcher, in your glory. I can’t watch, I won’t watch, but despite myself I read. I read about a hammer being used to tear down a door, small children held as pawns, a woman surrounded by people incapable, or perhaps unwilling to help. I can imagine you there, huddled between the toilet and the wall, shaking, wailing silently into yourself, your money no protection or solace, maybe just the cold clink of a whisky sour in your hand, diluted only by tears. Maybe you stare into the distance, giggling through tears about ending it all, about the fantastic movie it will make some day, about how your sons will have money, in their trust, for years when you aren’t there.

Maybe you stare at your wrists and will it to be so.

They laugh when we call it bipolar, or post partum. How could we know? We only see what we see, what they let us see, what we want to see. But some of us know, oh how sorrowfully we know, the full depths of despair, that which cannot be quenched with things or placating voices, that place that calls to you late at night, the place which spurns even the fruit of your loins, and beckons, like a siren calling you home.

I ache for you Britney. I ache for what you’ve become-for what has happened, for what people have done to you. I can see some of me in you-two children too close, an itch that cannot be satisfied, a need to be recognized. A want for love and security and all those things Hallmark has told us were simple and true and available at any time. You want the dream, and dammit, you were supposed to have it. So what happened? Why did your brain, and body betray you so?

We’ll blame your mother now you know. Not your father, oh no. Just your mother. She who raised you, who raised two daughters who seem to not know any better. We’ll hitch up our pants and feel superior, clearing our throats we’ll say “Not my daughter, nope.” and gloat silently, unaware of what awaits us in 10 years or so.

It’s so easy to be right when we aren’t there yet. It’s so easy to forget that children are people, not merely stretches of light from their parents arms, but people, cacti that will do as they wish, especially with an entourage and millions of dollars. All the mothering in the world can’t fix the worldly overwhelming you endured.

You’ll make some people feel better about themselves, having someone to laugh at, to point at, to consider worse than them. You’ll be the worst case scenario, but they won’t write a book on how to survive you. You’ll be laughed at, mocked, judged, and eventually forgotten until you manage to slice through your delicate wrists, or you perform a comeback tour at 50. We’ve destroyed you, yet we will completely, and utterly forget you. Pop WILL eat itself.

I’m sorry Britney. Mother to Mother, crazy to crazy, I’m more sorry than you’ll ever know.