journal writing

A Day In the Life of A Bipolar in Therapy

This is a direct entry from my journal.  Sometimes I have to look back to see how far I have come and to remind myself where I DON’T want to go……

September 16, 2006

I spent the day with MSA from group.  I had a good time.  [My boyfriend’s] friend gave us his tickets to go see Wicked and we went.  This was the second night in a row I felt normal.  I mean, we talked a bit about group and some other things related to our illness, but for the most part, we just had fun.  It was nice to be outside of therapy.  Therapy is so emotionally draining.  MSA and I were talking about how we both needed some intellectual stimulation though because we feel like our brains are dying.  All I hear about lately is depression, mania, bipolar, schizophrenia, and low self-esteem & confidence, which is good and helpful, but at the same time, I am more used to intellectual things.

Right now I am watching Girl Interrupted.  I’m scared.  I am scared about ever going back in the hospital.  It was so scary in there and I hope I never have to go back [side note: I do end up back in the hospital at 2 am Thanksgiving morning and again in October 2012].  Its so weird that I am not living my normal life or a life that people think is acceptable.  I am on disability!!!  Its hard for me to accept that because I can physically lead a normal life.  I thought disability is supposed to be for people that have injuries or physical health problems.  I don’t associate it with mental illness.  Its so hard for me to accept that I was/am so sick inside that I can’t even perform basic things that never before gave me problems, like focusing.

I hate that now, being in crowds makes me so anxious I want to crawl out of my skin.  I hate that I’m always afraid I’m going to have a meltdown around [my boyfriend].  Actually, I’m afraid of meltdowns in general.  I hate them.  Its so scary to not have control of my crying or anger or anxiety that right now I have to take meds to keep my moods regulated because I go up and down so fast and that they are so extreme.

I hate that I get so scared about being alone because of what moods I might get into and I might start cutting or crying and never stopping!  But I like being alone to write and watch MY movies and do MY things.  So I’m always torn in circles and don’t know which one is best.  Being alone with my things or being with someone feeling safe, but not always doing what I want.

How long will it be before I have normal moods, and normal thoughts?  Why does eating scare me?  Why is it so hard to get out of a rut that I am in so deep.  I feel like I am sinking most days.  I feel happy and at peace every now and then, but mostly, unstable.  I don’t want to push [my boyfriend] away, but at the same time, I don’t want to get too close because I don’t want to lose myself again and mold my entire existence around him and his activities and then my own life and things are 2nd in line.  I want to be independent and confident.

I WANT TO STOP CRYING AND START LIVING!!!!!  WHEN??????

Here is an excerpt from the next day….

September 17, 2006

….  Sometimes I want to claw my brain out.  Thoughts come up and they won’t stop.  I want them to stop.  I want to erase all those memories. [some high school and college memories]   We are all guilty of saying things we don’t mean, but why was I always the scapegoat?  What did I do to all of them?  The answer is easy.  I didn’t fight back.  I just gave up and sat in my room depressed cutting myself up.  I was also thinking about what[a staff member] asked me in group about using my beauty as power.  I do not enjoy being only identified by my looks or thinking I got what I want because of them, nor do I want others to assume that either.  I work hard and have worked hard my whole life, but I am now questioning if I got where I am because of my looks or because of my ability.  I feel like I always have to look nice and pretty and perfect because that is what everyone expects of me.  The expect me to be dressed cute and makeup and hair perfect, perfect body.  And I am tired of it. So, so, so, tired.  I want to sleep and sleep and have someone just take care of everything for me.  I am so tired of doing it all and then even my attempts aren’t good enough and there are not enough hours in the day.

I want to just give up.  I want to give EVERYTHING up.  I am tired of trying to be perfect when I am not.  I’m tired of feeling like a loser because I’m not perfect.  I’m worn out.  Ever since I have left the hospital, I am expected to be 100% better and expected to do everything I was before the hospital AND MORE.  When do I get to focus on me?  The thoughts ruminate in my head, but I don’t have time to do anything about it because I’m trying to be perfect….

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girl painting lips

Paintbrush

I keep my paintbrush with me
Wherever I may go
In case I need to cover up
So the real me doesn’t show
I’m so afraid to show you me
Afraid of what you’ll do
That you might laugh or say mean things
I’m afraid I might lose you.
I’d like to remove all my paint coats
To show you the real, true me,
But I want you to try and understand
I need you to accept what you see.
So if you’ll be patient and close your eyes,
I’ll strip off my coats real slow
Please understand how much it hurts
To let the real me show
Now all my coats are stripped off
I feel naked bare and cold
And if you still love me with all that you see
You are my friend pure as gold.
I need to save my paintbrush though
And hold it in my hand
I want to keep it handy
In case somebody doesn’t understand
So please protect me, my dear friend
And thanks for loving me true.
But please let me keep my paintbrush
Until I love me too.

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Medication changes

How Many Times Can You Pull The “Med Change” card?

Having a mental illness usually means we have tried a medication or two, or two hundred. We all have different reactions to medications  as well. Some medications may help us, but some medications can end up with the unfortunate side effects that are worse than the effects you experience due to your illness and are trying to subdo.  Typically when that happens, you and your doctor will sit down and discuss another alternative to try that may help, rather than continuing in an unpleasant situation.  Since everyone’s body is different and reacts differently to each medication, what works for one person may not work for another. Finding the right combination of medications can be really tricky, and frustrating.  It is pretty rare to find two people with the exact same “med cocktail.”  I don’t know anyone that has the same “cocktail” as me currently, BUT, just because a person is on different medication doesn’t mean they aren’t working properly to help diminish as many symptoms as possible. My newest combo seems to be working drastically different and better than my previous one, thankfully.

When trying to get to that  perfect combo, you can go through some pretty hellish times.  Those medication changes can have effects on your body physically, can affect you emotionally and mentally, and therefore it can also affect your friends and loved ones around you who are there while you go up and down and all around on the bipolar coaster waiting for the medications to kick in (usually 2-4 weeks is when you begin to see the biggest results). Knowing that certain med changes can cause certain behaviors, I VERY intentionally remove myself socially and from social media until the time comes when I become stable again because I have made the terrible blunder of putting myself in social media ans social situations before the meds kicked in but not before lashing out on those around me.  After that happened once or twice, I learned that it was best for not just me, but EVERYONE I know and interact with, to pull myself away because it wasn’t fair to others to have me lashing out like a beast at them for no reason other than my mood was a wreck, and for something that can be so easily preventable by just removing yourself socially for a little while.

So when does it become TOO many times that you have pulled the “med change” card? How many times can your friends handle the torment and torture that you put them through during those med changes?  How many times can YOU handle being the punching bag of someone’s else’s med change drama?

I’ve been put in the situation a few too many times and mostly all by the same individual.  Knowing the way they react with certain medications, we all tend to give a lot leeway during “med change time” because we know the reaction. However, this happens very frequently and despite the frequency, the behavior never changes.  Well, this time it did, and I became just one of many that were thrown under the rug and left for garbage despite years of friendship and us knowing this was just “med change time.”

For me, it only took once or twice before I was so embarrassed and ashamed at how I had acted before I decided to withdraw during those crazy times. So, I guess my questions are:  If you know how you are with med changes, then why put yourself out there to hurt others? And how many times do I have to say its ok and just accept the treatment? Unfortunately, this time, damage was done and Irrational thoughts led to the end of a friendship, and I have been quite sad and upset about it, however, what’s done is done.

Irrational thoughts and things that are done can not be undone, nor will I be the one to apologize for being hurt.  So before you go and use you “med change card,” I think we need to stop and think to ourselves where the least amount of emotional damage will be done to not only yourself, but to your support system and others around you.

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happy or sad sleep

A blast from the past………

Another trip through the Bipolar Hot Mess Archives…..

So, I have been going through journals and re-reading poems that I have written, trying to piece back together what happened and what I was feeling prior to and while I was in therapy. Sometimes, it seems such a blur, and sometimes it seems clear as day. Sometimes, I can’t even remember anything at all. I found this entry in a random notebook:

I came to a conclusion this morning. It’s not that I don’t want to wake up again, but am afraid to. I am afraid of what that day will bring. Will it be good or bad? And the days that I am happy, I don’t want to sleep because I am afraid that I won’t have another happy day again.

Sitting here today, just reading that, astounds me. That I was so absolutely afraid to sleep because I didn’t want to stop the happiness or because I didn’t want to endure yet another horribly depressing and self destructive days. The progress I have made in my therapy and by taking my medication, never seemed as apparent and clear as it does now, reading an entry like that. I honestly can’t remember the last time I ever felt that badly or could relate to those feelings. Its been quite some time. But, the more time the passes, the better I feel, because I know that I am one day stronger and if I get to that point again, I surely can pick myself back up and eventually be happy again. But today, I’m going to be happy for the day I had, go to sleep and look forward to what lies ahead tomorrow. I’m definitely not scared anymore!!!!!!!!!!!

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Getting rid of dead weight

Fake A** Peeps … Letting Go of “Dead Weight” .. another step toward moving on

I think we all encounter a few types of people in our lives that fit into some specific categories that if not handled the right way, can really affect our lives in a negative way. However, what type of person WE are and how we handle each type of person, makes a huge difference. It can make or break a situation. Take me for example. I’m the person who has to “fix” everybody and make everything, and everyone better, no matter what the cost or toll it takes on me and my life. (I know, it’s a flaw, I’m working on it)

Type A. The Bad Lucker’s

We all know people, friends or acquaintances who tend to encounter some bad luck.   Now you, being the nice person you are, help them out of the unlucky situation, or are there to help guide them through it, and helps things get sorted out until all is good and calm. Time goes by and now you are beginning to realize that this “bad luck” incident was not just “an incident” but instead, this person is a bad luck magnet. You spend more time helping them from one crisis to the next, then suddenly you realize you haven’t even had a chance to think about your own life, nor have you even attempted to begin to fix the shambles that it is in.

Type B. The Cry Wolfers.

Yes, I’m sure we can pinpoint at least one person who you help out of a pretty big jam, but because you had helped them out once in the past,  they keep coming back “crying wolf” with every little tiny thing being  an enormous earth shattering crisis, or disaster.  You spend more time coming to their rescue, again and again, and you have no time to try and reassemble your own life, so you decide to take a stand.  BAD IDEA! When you finally stop acknowledging them and their false alarms, It gets turned around and YOU now have become this evil, horrible person who “doesn’t care” or is “selfish,” and become the newest target for them to set out to destroy and make sure everyone knows what a horribly rotten person you are.  (Apparently the 1,001 “wolf cries” that you were there for and went above and beyond to assist with are suddenly forgotten).

Type C. The One Uppers

Ahhh yes. The  “one- uppers.” We can’t forget those. No matter what you say, do, or have, they make it their MISSION to have something to say that makes them seem better.  Or, they will do something that they view as “better” than what you did, maybe even do as much as they can to obtain and surpass what you have and make it a point to constantly point out “their” new “obsession” and all the ways THEY are better (or more obsessed) than you.

Type D. The “Friend”  Who Vanishes

One day you meet someone and you both seem to have a lot in common. So much, it’s almost eerie, but at the time you don’t really notice much because you are finally grateful that you have found someone on the same wavelength as you. They show a lot of interest in the things you do, so you begin to teach them things. You help them out a bit, open up a few doors, etc. All seems fine when suddenly, they are gone. They have climbed up the ranks and now suddenly, there you are, left down on the bottom and they barely acknowledge your existence. Wow. Well, that was a blow to the gut. Yes, you get over it, but not after you sit and wonder and question why this person would just take advantage and scram. Then, you realize that this seems to be a common theme. You help, and encourage, you wish nothing but the best for them, you help them celebrate their victories. For many, they would then vanish, but with some, you suddenly find yourself completely misunderstood and accused of actions that were taken out of context and shut out of their life completely and you can not explain because there is no way to. A several year friendship just gone, and while they are moving on and the world has no idea what happened or the horrible things that were said to me, I am left to sit back and watch and witness my other friends go on as nothing happened. Why don’t I speak up? Because despite the ill sentiments that were thrown at me, I do honor and respect a request when someone says to not tell anyone else.

I guess in this case, I am the one who was the “peep” that “needed to be let go” and that is a whole new feeling. I was hurt, and I was hurt so badly and taken by such surprise that it took me several months before I could discuss it without bawling my eyes out or being depressed for many days. Over and over in my head I wanted to know what I could have done to have saved that. But, everyone always says that good friends will only stay mad at you for a little bit and will come back to you to work things out.  It’s been a few months and there is no progress. Posts I had written have been taken down like I don’t exist.

Type E. You are the excess baggage

It is a lot harder to deal with when you are the one who has been kicked to the curb. If I had done something unforgivable, then I could understand. I wish nothing but the best for this person. I always have and I always will. It’s taken a while for me to not get so emotional about it (I still do, but it’s become easier).

When it comes time for you to cut ties with someone, either any of the above mentioned, or just a friend in general, put yourself in the their position when you decide to say goodbye.  Don’t do it when you are in an angry state, or if you are going through a medication change. Those times can cause the most hurtful comments. Take a bit to cool down beforehand and then reasses the situation and see if you are still upset or if it is still rational.

For me, it’s quite unfortunate that a friendship has ended and I’m deeply hurt by a misunderstanding, but I’ve spent many months going over and over everything in my head wondering what I could do differently and at the end of the day, I’m the one who was the excess baggage.

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image

Mental Health Awareness? Oh yes….

This post was originally posted on another site last year, but has been taken down, so I thought I would post it here.

 

Oh yes I am very much aware of my mental health.   I am very aware that I take a handful of meds each morning and evening in an attempt to maintain stable mental health.  To stabilize the bipolar cycle, to boost the depression, to reduce the anxiety levels, to make the racing thoughts stop just enough so I can catch a few hours of slumber, yes, every morning and evening I am reminded of my mental health state; I mean, how could you forget?

Then there is YouTube.  Just watch a video or two and you can be instantly reminded of what stability looks like and what happens when your stability becomes a stable stream of depression and negativity.  The pros and sometimes maybe cons of being a blogger and logging the ups and downs in various media formats is that you can see yourself at your best and see yourself at your worst and then hope that the best will come again and the worst will fade away faster than it swooped on in.

In 2006, I was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder.  With that diagnosis, I found hope.  Why?  Because there was actually a name for what I was feeling; thus resulting in a plan for treatment.  There was a bright light at the end of that incredibly long dark tunnel I had been walking through for so long.  I began to learn about the illness, took my medications as prescribed, joined support groups, and began writing about it.   There I was, knee deep in Mental Health Awareness.  I was aware of my own mental health and was learning all I could about how mentally “unhealthy” I was.  This part is actually called “self-awareness.”  Once I accepted that I had a mental illness and that there REALLY WAS a way to make me “mentally healthy,” the real hard work came.  The real hard work is waking up everyday and following all your doctors instructions, keeping up with regular visits and adjusting your life so that you can live each day as close to “normal” as possible.  And so I did; and this is what happened.

So, for several years, I lived “mentally healthy” and accomplished some great things.  But, as those who have bipolar disorder know, cycles come and go.  Some cycles last longer than others.  Some of the longer lasting cycles are not always the stable “happy” cycles like we hope.  Sometimes the dark cycles are the ones that last longer.  Its not that you don’t try to get the cycle back on the upswing, but part of mental health is “self-awareness” and knowing when you are down, and knowing that when you are down, you can always come back up.  Why? Because you have before.  And the good thing about being a blogger and documenting everything, is that you can look back and see, and be reminded, that there is an “up.” That things CAN get better, they did before.

I think it should be called Mental Health EDUCATION month, because, lets face it, a majority of us that have mental illnesses are “aware” that we have them.  Those that have them and are not diagnosed, well, this is the month that we are educating people about them and maybe they will recognize the symptoms and seek treatment. Those that do not have mental illnesses, well, this month is here to help educate you so that you better understand what your loved ones who do have mental illnesses experience and can be better equipped in dealing with them and even supporting them.

I know I am definitely “mentally aware” of what is going on with me, and yes, I am currently on a downswing, but the education that comes from so many different sources throughout this month helps my friends and family understand me, and even educates me on new treatments, studies, and better ways of self-care.

This video reminds me that even when you feel you are at the top, you can still cycle way down.  You just need to believe and have faith that you can rise back up again.  Because you can, and you will.  I know I will.  I have before.

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