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 had a dream last night. I woke up feeling like I had been in a long standing cycling nightmare.
In reality it was probably all of 5 minutes long.
It was so vivid, in a weird black and white kind of way. If that makes sense.
I dreamed that myself and another woman ended up in a psychiatric hospital.
I have no idea who this woman was, no recollection of who she was suppose to be in my real life. She had curly hair, was taller than me and skinny.
The hospital was, crisp. Black and white with silver tones. Everything was bright. Vivid.
We were both checked in and put in the same room. (odd I know)
The room was oddly shaped. Instead of the standard rectangle one wall was like the short end of a rectangle with a window on it and a bed going down its side just off from the wall.
Then there were two long walls….the sides of a standard rectangle.
But one wall was shorter than the other. The one on the right entering the room was shortest and it sort of made this diagonal corner space.
This was where my bed was.
I remember a nurse talking to me. And then being in shock because my husband arrives. I remember wondering how he knew where I was and then realization setting in that the hospital staff must have called him.
He walks into the room, he does not hug me, he does not touch me, he does not ask how I am.
He proceeds to take his wedding band off and he holds it out. I put my hand out, palm up and he drops the ring into my hand.
Our eyes lock, and he leaves.
I begin to cry, feeling as if my heart is breaking.
**This is where I wake up**
I felt like I had been dreaming a nightmare of epic proportions.
I have had a yuck day every since. Of course because of the dream I did not sleep well last night. Today I read for a bit and then slept for a bit. I feel more rested now than I did this morning.
Realization for me: I am terribly afraid that my mental illness will eventually push him away. I am afraid of symptoms getting worst, I am afraid of changes in my mood, behavior. I am afraid that eventually it will all be too much for him.
And I am most afraid that at that point he will be….
The past day or so I have found myself exhausted but not tired, not sleepy…..just exhaustion clouding my mind.
At the same time I have found that I do not have much patience. I want to do about 10 things at the same time. Sit. Write. Watch a show. Clean. Do dishes. Read etc. And because of this I have little patience with myself.
And at that very same time I want to do nothing.
And I still feel Flat.
There was a time when I loved the flat feeling because that meant I did not have to feel anything. No hurt, no pain, nothing. I relished it.
In the flat, I just was. I did not have to “be” anything more.
I no longer love the flat. In fact I do not even ‘like’ it anymore.
I have OCD as you all know. Sometimes it seems to be a lot worst than other times.
Yesterday was one of those days.
Just bad, bad, bad.
When I do things it has to be in even numbers and I tend to do them in sixes most of the time. Yesterday was way worst than normal.
I was running on little sleep, which is not altogether that strange for me. But things have been a bit stressful and the combination of no sleep and other issues just seemed to combine and really cause some issues.
I counted while I brushed my teeth (I do this anyway) I counted using soap to wash my hands, I counted while rinsing my hands and I counted while drying them, had to do it a certain number of times and had to do it a certain way.
I cut food in sixes.
I took out a grey plate for my sons lunch, I had to put it back because I HAD TO HAVE the blue plate for him or something was going to happen. Same thing happened for my plate, my fork, my glass, everything I did and touched had to be second guessed, and changed if my mind told me to.
I counted fingers, and letters, and words.
I went over lists and other lists over and over.
I could not make any decisions yesterday with out second guessing myself and having to do things another way.
Some of this I do anyway, yesterday was just brutal.
Today was much better. Yes I am still doing a lot of those things, but it is not bothering me as much as yesterday.
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.
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.
Because I had mental illness I thought I would not be good enough. I would not be a good enough person, I would not be a good enough wife and I would not be a good enough mother.
I thought that I was worthless. Nothing.
I imagined that my family would be better off if I were not in their lives. That they deserved better. A better wife, a better mother.
My hospitalization and therapy helped me to realize things differently.
Talking to the doctor and nurses in mandatory therapy helped to mold my thought process into something that made a little more sense.
They explained to me that if I had a physical illness like diabetes or cancer it would not make me less of a person so why should a mental illness make me feel that way. At first I just could not grasp it. It made no sense to me.
But, If the role was reversed and you had mental illness I would be the first person to tell you that it did not make you less of a person, that you were strong, that you deserved to live. But within myself all I could do was see the negative, feel the depression and continue to hate myself.
I hated everything that I had become. Everything that mental illness did to me. I hated my decision process, I despised.
One thing that a nurse told me was that statistically if I committed suicide my children would have a higher possibility of doing the same. This struck me fiercely.
The last thing I wanted was for my children to end up attempting suicide because of decisions I made, or because they felt inadequate because of something I did.
This was the beginning of fighting the suicidal thoughts. Really fighting them. It was not easy, but I had to start somewhere.
My kids and my husband were the reason that I wanted to live.
I did not know what I was going to do with that life, with that willingness to fight, but I knew it was a start.