Bipolar as an adjective

A Bipolar journey is one of extremes, one of differences, emotions, opposites.  To me, in my eyes it is a spectrum.  The spectrum of someone with Bipolar Disorder can be so vast that many times I feel like no two of us are alike.

Yet I know we are alike.  We have similarities. We follow similar patterns.  We do similar things.  But at the same time we are different.  We do things at different levels, different planes.

Bipolar Disorder consists of so much, it is complex in design.  It is not just the adjective that today’s society has made it out to be.  It is not the the descriptive word often used in every day speech to describe someone who has a mood swing caused my something small or a remark that made someone angry.  It is not just “oh he/she is so bipolar”.  It is not just a snappy mood, or getting angry, or teenage rebellion.

For me, it is many different things at many different times.  It is flying, soaring like a bird, free.  Yet is is Chaos and frustration, destruction and despair.

How can it be all of these things, good and bad, you ask?

Anyone diagnosed with Bipolar disorder understands what I mean when I say that.  You know what it is like to feel all of those things at different times and sometimes even at the same time.

I can describe my mania with good and bad words.  I can explain the euphoric feelings of the “good” mania and then in the same breath I can describe the chaos enriched mixtures of the “bad” mania.

I can explain how in a mania or hypomania induced state I was able to go weeks on as little as 20 hours  of sleep.  How I took my cupboard doors off all of my cupboards (I have a very very large kitchen), repainted inside and out, put all new hinges on them, re hung them and changed the color of the doors, and scrubbed the knobs then then replaced everything into my cupboards in 2 days or less, when I had never done anything like that before.

I can tell you I spent hours in a mania writing some of the best writing I have ever created.

I can tell you how I made raised garden beds and planted carrots, peas, beans, potatoes, and pumpkins and I wanted to raise chickens.

I can tell you that during mania I cannot stay still.  I clean, I cook and I move around my house doing things at alarming rates.

But I can also tell you that I had to keep shaking my leg and moving my hands just to sit to eat, just to check email, just to write. Because I had to move.

I can tell you that I drove around for hours to keep my kids from seeing how bad the mania was getting, even when I truly should not have been driving.  That a friend drove around with me for hours in order to try to keep me focused enough to be able to drive.  In order to keep me in check so to speak.

I can tell you I talked so fast that my husband and closest friends were unable to understand me.  That I jumped all over the place in my conversation that my conversation was not even able to be followed.

I can tell you that I couldn’t read a book because I couldn’t understand what I was reading…but I could research raising chickens for hours on end, or whatever else I was fixated on during that particular mania.

I can tell you that what starts as the fun life of the party mania always turns into more damaging mania.

The one where the paranoia creeps in, where people on cell phones, even complete strangers are out to get me, they are being devious and are plotting something against me.

The one where those two people sitting at the coffee shop table, whom I do not even know and are sharing a laugh over a memory are really (but of course only in my mind) laughing at me.  Making fun of me.

I can tell you about the heightened senses.  About the times when colors and lights are super vivid.  When my eyes hurt because everything around me is over sharp, over focused.  Or about the times when everything is loud, even the thoughts inside my head sound like thunder.  I can tell you about the times I am so perceptive I can almost feel the earth turning.

And those…..they are just the bits and pieces of the mania.  Just the tip of an iceberg.

I can also tell you about the depression.  Not just a passing sadness, but the deep dark hell hole of despair that I am unable to dig myself out of.

I can tell you about the times I want to go to sleep and never wake up, even though I didn’t want to actually die.

I can tell you about the times I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror because I hated, loathed and despised the person looking back.

I can tell you about the times I held blades or hot lighters to my skin just to feel.  Just to get a release.  About the times I pulled my hair or scratched my arms and legs while hiding because I needed to feel but I was unable to cut or burn at that particular moment in time.

I can tell you about the times I sat contemplating suicide.  Just seconds away from downing more meds than I even care to mention, or slicing a knife across my wrists, or jumping in front of a moving transport truck.

I can tell you about the actual suicide attempt, about the hospital stays when the mania or depression gets too bad.

I can tell you about the countless medications I have taken to try to tame the Bipolar Beast. 

I can tell you about the times I don’t want to get out of bed and the times I don’t want to even get into bed.  About the times I don’t want anyone to touch me and about the times I need someone to hold me tight, to hold me together because I am falling apart.

And these are just some of the things I can tell you.

There are mixed states and manias, depressions, medication changes, hospitalizations, complications to medications (scary ones), times I drink alcohol just to feel, times the anxiety is so bad I feel like I am dying and the times I actually feel crazy.

But even though all of these things are a part of me, a part of my disorder…..they are not all of me.   I am so much more.

I have periods of “normal” mood, no mania, no depression. Periods where I work and become a functional part of society.

For me Bipolar Disorder is a spectrum with extreme mania on one end and extreme depression on the other.  But in the middle of the two are milder forms of the mania, hypomania, milder forms of depression, mixed episodes and of course the “normal” periods.

Because I am not just made up of the adjective Bipolar that people like to use.  Bipolar disorder is so much more.  So the next time you say “I am so Bipolar”  or “She is so Bipolar” perhaps you should take a moment to read some information on what real Bipolar disorder is all about, because I am fairly certain you won’t use it as an adjective after that.

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Bipolar Whispers is 2

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Bipolar Whispers Blog is 2.

I cannot believe it has been 2 years since I first started the Bipolar Whispers blog.  I started this in a Manic high to let out frustrations to write to my hearts content and to express things I could not even begin to express in my ‘real’ life.

This past year was a lot slower than the first 6 months or so of the blog, but lately I have been trying to get some content out.  Thanks to everyone who has been reading for the past two years and thanks to all my new readers.

Be sure to read through my older content, you will find a lot of good information and a lot of soulful and heart felt writings there. 

Lets hope that I can get back to the basic reasons for starting this blog and make year 3 fantastic.

Bipolar Whispers is 1

I have been blogging here for a year. A whole year.

I started Bipolar Whispers in a manic phase.  A time when I was full of possibility.  Another grand idea was formed because of mania.

A time when my ability to write came back.  Back after years of dealing with horrific writers block.

There were days when I wrote several articles, days when I published more than once.  Days when I did not publish at all.

Days when what I was writing made total sense, and days when I wrote in gibberish.

There were days when I was stuck inside my head, days when the words were screaming to be written but I couldn’t form more than a few coherent sentences.

I wrote with passion.  I wrote deep truths.  I wrote about pasts.  I wrote about futures.  And I wrote about right now as the words were forming.

I wrote with questions, and I wrote looking for answers.

Sometimes I found the answers, and oftentimes I found many many more questions.

I wrote when I was manic.  I wrote when I was hypomanic.  I wrote when I was depressed.  I wrote when I was flat and I wrote when my mood was ‘normal’.

Sometimes I didn’t write at all.  Because whatever I may have been dealing with at that time was bigger.  Bigger that I was able to deal with, bigger than I was able to write about, bigger than I was okay with.

But Bipolar Whispers became so much to me.  It became a haven.  A place to go and not worry about anything to bare it all and let it all out.

I met great friends through blogging.  I have read other peoples stories, their life stories and understood.  I related to them.  I understood them and they understood me.

Even when I disappeared for a bit because the medical issues in our family was more than I was able to deal with, you were all here when I got back.  You continued to embrace me and hold me up.  You held my hand, and you gripped my heart.

Some of the most understanding people, some of the easiest people to write to, some of the easiest people to relate to have been the blogging friends I have made because of Bipolar Whispers.

And I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being here, for reading, for listening, and for hanging on.

I love you all,

Being a Mother with mental illness (Part 3 – Final)

So far in these posts I have talked about how I hated the thought of being a mother with mental illness, how it made me feel, how I thought I was hurting my family by having a mental illness.

But now it is time to talk about how it has changed my life, how it has strengthened our family, and how I am surviving.

I did not get to this point quickly, nor easily. It has been a long, hard and bumpy road.   But I have arrived at a better place. I am not saying I am always stable, always balanced, because that is untrue. There are times when I need to get medication adjustments, times when I have to make the trip to see my doctor because I need help.

But there are some things I have learned over the past few years.

The first and foremost is that it is okay to ask for help.

For a long time, a lot of years I choose and actually preferred to “go it alone”. There are even times now that I find myself keeping things bottled inside and trying to hide from everyone. But I know that when I become unstable I need to be able to talk to my doctor, and we need to be able to figure out what is happening and work on making me balanced again.

Another thing that I learned was to try to take other peoples advice when they say I am manic/hypomanic. I have been in situations where I was very very manic before any of my immediate family had the, I want to say “balls”….but I will be nice and say “nerve” to tell me just how sick I was.

Because as you know in the beginning, the hypomanic stages feel good, the increased activity, the projects, it then begins a slow decent into something more sinister, and then the snowballing effect begins and it happens a lot faster, and I very quickly lose control.

So, learn to ask for help, and learn to take advice (maybe with a grain of salt, but take it none the less).

These are two very important things in my life right now, two things that are part of my “stay healthy” tool box.

So Bipolar disorder changed my life, but not when I got diagnosed. It changed my life 20 years ago when it started showing up. Little things, that at 13 I did not understand, I was scared, and I was afraid that I was “crazy”.

It caused a lot of hurt, heartache, frustrations, and hate, within myself. Mostly because I did not understand what was going on, I had no one to educate me, to explain things to me, or to tell me that everything was going to be alright.

Instead I suffered within myself, and continued to suffer and get worst for years. I let my insecurities get the better of me.

But over the past few years, Bipolar disorder has strengthened our family. I know most of you are probably sitting here and wondering how it is possible that my diagnosis actually strengthened us. How is that even possible?

But it did, the diagnosis came after a lot of very difficult years, and some extremely difficult months. And although it took a long time for me to forgive myself enough to see that we were becoming stronger, we indeed were.

I had a better relationship with my children, because I was taking my medications, I was doing what I needed to do to be a balanced bipolar person. I was trying very hard with therapy and walking that line, trying very hard to stay very balanced.

Having a diagnosis made it easier to explain what was happening some of the time, it made it easier for my children to understand that mom was not well, it made it easier for my husband to understand that I was not trying to be difficult, or understand the extreme moods that had often inhabited our lives.

Because I have come to accept my diagnosis of Bipolar disorder, I have started making changes within myself, healthy changes.

I have finally given in and realized that writing while I am manic, for me, is amazing. I have done this a lot over the years, but mostly in a journal. Books on top of books I have written thoughts and sentiments in, only to read them months or years later and destroy them. But now I am writing and keeping my writings, because for the first time in my life I have realized that my writing is part of me, a good part, a part that I do want to remember, ill regardless of what topics I write on, I finally like my writing and have finally given myself the leeway to write whatever it is that I feel like writing and letting my mind and hands just take control as I type.

Having this diagnosis of bipolar disorder has made me more of a survivor, because now I know what I am dealing with, I know more how to help myself, my family knows what signs to look for, and it is just finally easier to ask my doctor for help, I am finally on a path that makes sense. For the first time since I started getting sick at age 13, I have embraced this as part of who I am. After getting my diagnosis it was easier to look back and shake my head and say, yes, now I understand.   This has made some of the situations from my past make sense, finally. After years of being confused, years of not understanding, years of being misunderstood, my illness had a name, and once it had a name it was easier for me to deal with it.

It was easier for me to fight, easier for me to get help, easier for me to understand, once the name, Bipolar disorder was given to my illness.

So I am a mother with mental illness, in fact, more than one. But this does not make me a bad mother, maybe this makes me a different mother but not a bad one. I know it makes me a strong mother, a fighter. It makes me more open to things my children are dealing with, it makes me more understanding. It makes me fight harder for what is right in my children’s lives, it makes me more vigilant.

I know one thing for sure it is making me a bigger and bolder advocate when it comes to my daughter’s mental health issues, because I am not walking in blind. I am able to see what is going on, I am able to help, and knowing that I have dealt with these things, that makes it easier for her to talk to me.

So yes, bipolar disorder might have made some devastating changes to my life, perhaps it even ruined some things that were meant to be. But in saying that, it has done so much for me that no one would expect of a disorder, and for that I am thankful.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to sensationalize or romanticize Bipolar disorder, because there is nothing romantic or sensational about it.  It is a hard diagnosis to live with.  I am just trying to find the good in what once was hard for me to understand, find good in what I am dealing with, find good in me as a person.

For in finding some good, some light, I know that I am not my entire disorder, I am in fact a survivor, a fighter, and advocate and very vigilant.

And I…..I am okay with that.

Days like these

I am irritated today, it came on quickly and I don’t know why. It has been a week of not the best sleep, some moderate anxiety off and on, and our youngest son has been sick almost the entire week. I guess I can attribute these stressors to what I am feeling. I honestly just want to crawl into a dark hole and sleep.

I don’t know what is wrong, it’s the time of year where I should be relishing in the sun, it’s an absolutely beautiful day outside, sun is shining and it is very warm…but here I sit, wallowing in some discomfort within my mental and emotional self.

Something that I can hardly pin point.

But it is there in a big way, like my elephant in the room, demanding to be heard and seen.

I hate days like today. When I have no rational reason for what is going on inside me. Those are the worst for me, the days that I cannot explain.

Days I do not want to be touched, I don’t want to be talked to, and I do not have the energy or nerve to deal with anything or anyone.

I am struggling to just deal with myself today….

Being a Mom with mental illness (Part 1)

Being a mom with mental illness was a difficult sentiment for me. I found out I was pregnant and immediately stopped going to therapy. My Psychiatrist and Psychologist were concerned, while I was adamant that I was okay and I would continue to be okay.

In my mind at that time I just did not want to let him win. I wanted to prove something, to myself and to everyone else. I needed to prove that I was stronger than any of the circumstances that lead me on the path that I was currently walking.

I was tired of letting him control my life, I was tired of mental illness creeping in and taking control of me. I was tired of not sleeping, I was tired of self-injury, I was tired of having trust issues, I was tired of…..well to be completely honest, I was tired of being me.

So I decided to try to be someone else. Someone without mental illness.

At first I tried to pretend that I was okay, but inside I was struggling and my mind was in chaos.   I hid things for a long time, or at least tried to. But sometimes it was impossible to hide, things were obvious.

I would have melt downs. Like some child having a tantrum. After it was over and I had time to think, I would be embarrassed. I hated how I felt, I hated the words that I spoke.

More than once in my life I wondered what was wrong with me. I thought I could just move on, forget the past and be a good mom. But by suppressing everything I was getting sicker and I was not being the mom or wife that I wanted to be.

Inside I knew I was messed up. But I was trying not to show it. I became the master of deception. But who was I really deceiving?

I pretended that I was “normal”. I avoided the nagging voice in my head that was telling me something was wrong, that nothing had changed, that I was still dealing with mental illness.

My conscious mind was beginning to not be so quiet. I tried to suppress it, I kept pushing it deeper and deeper inside me, telling myself that I was fine.

But I wasn’t.

And I was scared because it no longer was just me that was affected by my mental illness. I was married and I had children, and everything I did not only affected me, but my entire family was affected.

Eventually, I was unable to fight it any longer. I needed help, and I needed it now. I was hospitalized for 5 ½ weeks. Therapy was mandatory. Medication became a life line.

And I fought, fiercely fought to become a better person. I spent over a year walking on egg shells, still trying to pretend that I was not sick. But fighting a fight within myself that I never thought I could win.

But even though I thought I couldn’t win, I had to continue to fight, because I was fighting for them…for my family.