Realization

Yesterday in the car I came to a realization, one it has taken me years to come to. If I could trade my creativity, ie my poetry writing, to not have Bipolar anymore I would. I’ve never been willing to say that until now. I’ve always thought that the writing came first. But a few things have  changed since then. First, I hope I’ve gotten at least marginally wiser with all the getting older I’ve been doing. I can recognize the value in a normal, stable life. Even if I couldn’t write anymore, I could still love books by spending that many more hours reading them.  I could still blog if I wanted. Basically, as much as I would miss writing poetry and having all the ideas and images floating through my mind, if I could be a balanced, stable person and a normal wife and mother, I would take that opportunity in a New York minute.

I think too that the past few months have helped to bring me to that mindset. Although I’ve been experiencing mood swings more and more frequently lately, the meds I’m currently on have given me way more stability and normalcy than I have had since i was a teenager. Having gotten a taste of what that feels like, I don’t want to give it up. Having seen how much more I can do for my family when I’m like that, I don’t want to lose it.

Of course, this is all wishful, hypothetical thinking. This is not how life works. There may not even be a choice, because although there are heavy links between creativity and Bipolar, and particularly between Bipolar and poetry, it is possible I’d be a poet either way. I’d say not likely, but it is possible. Wouldn’t that be amazing though! The best of both worlds! But more to the point, I doubt God will come from his heavenly throne to offer me a choice no one else gets. I will never be presented with the opportunity to say take this cross I bear and give me normalcy. It is a sacrifice I would make, but I’ll never get to make it. I will never be normal. But at least if it is God’s will, I will always have poetry.

The very fact I would make that choice, however, shows a shift in my mindset. I want a happy life. I want to be a good wife and mother. I am so passionate about poetry and there is nothing I love to do more than to write it. I am not even sure how I could be quite the same person without it. It is hard to imagine that life. But if I could be a better wife and mother, if I could travel the whole world (which is a nightmare for me now as a Bipolar), if I wouldn’t miss hours that turn into days of my life dealing with bad medication side effects, if I could see my friends without worrying that my mental stability might wane before we are done hanging out…….I wouldn’t pass that up.

Since I don’t have that choice, I am going to try to make the most of the poetry that has been put in me. But I long for a day where I could put down my pen and find a blissful equilibrium.

Totally Off

I knew something was off when I woke up this morning, late. Before I even left the house with Craig and Angelica, I could feel that something was wrong. Dark, moody. I went to the Exchange with Craig for him to get his haircut, and then we ran over to the commissary to get a few things. The whole time I felt so unlike me, walking as far as I could ahead of them to avoid them and be alone. Then we ran an errand for me and I felt so absent minded. And I was dying to get away from everyone.

Craig offered to take us all home, but I made the unfortunate decision to go out to lunch as we originally planned because I didn’t want to ruin any weekend plans – or I tried to. We got our menus and sat down, and then I started flipping out about everyone and everything. So we left, and I felt terrible once we were gone for losing my mind like that. It made at least some sense at the time, but afterwards it struck me as bizarre. Everyone and everything has been upsetting me, pissing me off, irritating me, and making me feel lonely and frustrated all day…..and no one has done anything wrong.  My mood is just so uneven and angry. I felt awful. I am one of those people who almost never yells about anything. I mean, once in awhile I lose my temper or get really upset just like everyone else does, but I go months at a time without raising my voice at or about anything. And when I do, it is for a good reason. But I just started yelling.

I don’t even know what to do. I felt calmer when we went home and stayed home for awhile, and I have been taking my medication as directed. I can’t even tell whether I’m high or low. I knew as soon as I opened my eyes that something in my head was wrong, but I am confused. I feel more depressed than anything else, but usually if I get angry or frazzled it is mania. Some of my hypomanias are really pleasant feeling and I am the queen of goodness – and the queen of spending money, high sex drive, and painting things bright colors that aren’t supposed to be painted at all. But once in awhile, in hypomania or mania, I get super on edge. And it is always miserable. For some people being on edge comes with depression, so I could be depressed. But for me it has always been my highs that have the potential to make me feel that way. I may be high and low at the same time, what is called a mixed state. I have had lots of physical energy. I am just mentally cracked and peeling. I certainly don’t feel happy, and the thought of dealing with other people infuriates me and terrifies me. I want to check the mail right now and I am afraid I can’t because I don’t want to run into a neighbor and have to talk and try to plaster some phony smile on my face. I can’t deal with talking to anyone right now. I am struggling to hold conversations with Craig and Angelica. I don’t have it in me to face a neighbor. It has been hard writing this post so far. I have to backtrack and correct repeated words and other stuff. My mind is all over. My head is pounding.

I think maybe I’m depressed and I tried to push myself to go out and be around people, and I just kind of cracked. Maybe depression can turn into feelings of unease and anger if I try to hard to push myself. I just don’t know. I havae a lot of energy for someone who is depressed. I want to use Lucy, my light therapy  box, but I am not sure if I should. If I’m depressed, Lucy will help. If I am high or mixed, Lucy could make things worse. Much worse. I don’t know what to do.  I feel like jumping out of my head. I think I am high and low.

This day has been a disaster, an embarrassing disaster. And I am so tired and fraught in everywhere. I am socially frazzled, mentally on edge, physically I am starting to burn out but I’ve been burning birhgt all day. I am hyper and worn.  I am energetic around the house, but the prospect of speaking with people makes me want to scream. I wish everyone in the neighborhood would evacuate and I could just take a walk and not risk seeing anyone. I long to take a walk and I can’t . I’m afraid if someone spoke to me I would scream or cry or yell. I cannot see anmore people.

My Friend Lucy – Light Therapy for Mood Disorders

I’ve been spending a lot of time the past few days with Lucy. Lucy is my Daylight Box. My mood has been unstable, and frequently low, the past several days. On Sunday morning I felt really low, and I started rereading one of my Bipolar books for ideas on how to ward off the depression I was slipping into. It mentioned light exposure and BAM! I remembered LUCY! She is my darling little box of light that lifts my mood. I used to sit in front of her regularly for many months at our old house, but since moving out here in late winter/early spring, Lucy has been packed away and lost among so many things. I decided to go looking for her, and found her in the closet under the stairs with the Christmas decorations and my old instruments. Poor Lucy! So I brought Lucy upstairs to my craft room/office/library spill over room and moved my desk so I could slip the cord down through the gap by the wall and plug Lucy in. Moving that desk so much as a millimeter was no easy job. Since I got her all set up, I’ve been spending twenty minutes to more than an hour a day, about 18 inches from her light, reading and creating. It is helping. I am getting more stable, and while depression is still an issue, I’m not free falling like I was starting to do. My light box gives me a lift in my mood. Basically, she is not a cure all, but she really can help.  I still need meds, plenty of sleep, some light exercise, and family support. But light therapy gives me that extra boost I need sometimes to avoid serious problems.

Light therapy can make a world of difference when you have Bipolar. Light therapy can lessen depression, and in the winter it can help prevent seasonal affective issues. Below is a link where you can buy this light box yourself. I AM NOT AN AMAZON AFFILIATE AND I WILL NOT MAKE A DIME! I am recommending this light therapy box because it is helping me so much, and has helped me a lot in the past. Medication often isn’t enough, though it is necessary. This supplement of light (the right kind of light. Not all light is beneficial for mood. You need white light) can be crucial for treating unipolar or Bipolar depression. Light therapy is a great tool for any treatment plan. I went from being depressed to the point of having difficulty completing simple tasks, to being functional and making use of my time. I’ll say this once more for the people in the back – light therapy is not a cure. It is supplementary. You still need meds. And just like your meds don’t always work all the way, sometimes light therapy may not help you as much as you’d hope. But sometimes the effects of light therapy are amazing and can make all the difference in the world, especially if you catch your depressive episode early. In my experience, light therapy always helps me feel better and function more. Sometimes it helps more than other times, but it always aids me in staying functional and making my life livable when it otherwise would not be.

https://www.amazon.com/Day-Light-Classic-Therapy-Provides-Glare-Free/dp/B0009MFUWC?th=1

To Ward Off Depression

I am depressed this morning and this is really not a good day for a mood swing. One of my closest friends is going to be in town tonight from out of state and we are supposed to get together with our families for dinner in Denver. I absolutely cannot afford to be exhausted, antisocial, miserable, and depress everyone around me. I started to feel stressed and low last night and this morning I feel worse. I just have a sinking feeling.

That’s one of the hard things with bipolar or any mood disorder. Your mood frequently has no connection to your life circumstances. Today should be a great day and yet I don’t feel good. I absolutely don’t want to ruin tonight. Sometimes when you first start getting depressed you can ward it off a little bit. So here’s what I’m going to try to do to raise my mood between now and this afternoon.

-take a walk to the mailbox. Exercise and sunshine are both good for mood issues. I would like to take a longer walk, but with my bad foot that just isn’t possible. But maybe even a simple stroll down the street to the mailbox will give me enough sunlight and exercise to raise my mood at least a little bit.

-study the Bible. I need to draw nearer to God.

-make a gratitude list. Reminding myself of everything I have to be grateful for can sometimes lift my mood. At least for a little while.

– paint. Doing something creative with my hands is good for my mood.

-digital scrapbooking. Having another creative Outlet and one that lets me relax while I do it might help me.

-Blog. Writing out my thoughts can be very helpful. I really enjoy keeping this blog. I think it gives me more mental stability. When you are bipolar you’re never truly stable, but I do think that blogging helps me maintain some equilibrium some of the time. Maybe I will make my gratitude list on here.

– be proud of what I’ve already done today. In spite of how I feel, I have given my daughter homeschool math lessons and taken a shower. I suppose neither of these things is Earth shattering, but taking a shower and getting through any homeschool is hard to do when you are depressed. But I powered through and did two major tasks and its 10 in the morning.

-try to do some housework. The feelings of pride and accomplishment I get from a completed tasks might help me. Of course the worse you feel the harder it is to get up and do housework, but if I can at least get rid of those dirty dishes in the sink maybe I will feel better.

By publishing this list I’m giving myself a sense of accountability. I need to do these things and I need to do them before my husband gets home from work. So my deadline is about 2 o’clock.

Mixed State

For the past few days I have been in a mixed state. Not a full-blown mixed state, which is where you are Manic and very depressed at the same time. But rather a softer mixed state. I am hypomanic and depressed at the same time. I am agitated, struggling with patience, creating until my mind gets so tired I can’t function, obsessed with reading and bright colors and research and music, dying to be alone, wanting someone to talk to, exhausted, and unable to stop moving and thinking. Simultaneously.

Mixed states are really hard. On one hand I’m grateful that I’m still creating and using my mind and living a life. On the other hand beneath all that I still don’t feel good. I long to be alone and I can’t be until the babysitter comes back to work tomorrow. She has been away for 2 weeks. I am constantly having to bite my tongue because I feel so short-tempered that I’m even in a bad mood with my family. I don’t want to yell or say anything short-tempered or unkind, so I keep silent. I have been biting my lip a lot!

If I could do anything right now I would take some art materials and books to a hotel room and just work and think quietly by myself for a couple of days. Or I would pay for a father-daughter weekend for Craig and Angelica and I would stay home and wander from room to room by myself. The whole time I would be lost in my mind without repercussion.  I am very lost in my mind now, but that is a negative thing since I am not alone.

I had to take Klonopin and a sleeping pill in order to turn my mind off and get some sleep last night. I hope I do not have to do the same thing tonight. But as long as I get some decent sleep I’ll be happy. It’s probably the only thing that can stand between me and Mania. I just pray I don’t crash into depression.

Body and Mind

Today I hate Marie. Me. I haven’t lost any weight in three days and I am disgusted with myself and how I look and everything about me. I have been going back to throwing up my food to help jump start the process of losing weight or to make up for any times that I go over my calorie limit.

But why do I feel this way? When I started this diet I was dozens of pounds heavier and I was actually happy with myself. I just wanted to be able to shop in the regular clothing departments. I was perfectly satisfied with Marie. I like her. But now I’m never satisfied, at least not lately. I’m always waiting to drop the next pound. And I don’t like myself and I’m unhappy until I do.

Sometimes though I have to ask myself why I don’t like me. Because sometimes I’m totally okay with me and I’m even quite a fan. As sad as that is. Sometimes I think it’s bipolar related. I don’t like to think that because I don’t like to think that my perception of reality is so heavily based on a mental illness, a chemical imbalance in my brain. I like to think that my perceptions belong to me and are perceived through a lens that is no more distorted than anyone else’s.

But I have to admit that if I hate myself for being fat, it doesn’t make sense that I hate myself more now that I’m down to about 160 than I did when I was over 200. So what has changed since then? I’ve taken up new hobbies and been reunited with my husband and I have been writing like crazy. So basically on the surface my life is just as good or better than it was a few months ago when I weighed over 200. One thing is different however. When I started this diet I was mentally stable. Completely stable, which felt amazing because I hadn’t been stable my entire adult life. Now I’m not stable. I’m having mood swings. My anxiety is high. I’m not balanced. I’m by no means the worst I’ve ever been. But I’m definitely not doing nearly as good as I was. And as my mood has started to deteriorate, I find that I no longer love myself.

I’m trying to convince me to love myself again and to assume or acknowledge that this is just a passing phase with an unstable mood. But yet I can’t quite seem to do that. Maybe I’ll come out the other side of this and be able to write a post that future me can use to get out of this obsessive and self-critical blues. I’m definitely going to try if I snap back out of this. And hopefully I will, since so much in my life is cyclical. But for now I know that there’s no winning. Or at least I can’t find a way to win. If I get up in the morning and get on the scale and I haven’t lost weight, or even if God forbid I have gained a little bit of weight, I will be miserable. If I have lost weight in the morning I will be dissatisfied. I will wish it was more and start planning and plotting for how I can change the numbers for the next morning. And either way I will not like Marie.

Mood Instability

For the past couple of weeks I have been on edge. High anxiety, stress, feeling over stimulated, overreacting to things, mood fluctuations. I am tired and hyped up and short tempered and withdrawn all at once. I have had a couple of days, and sometimes a few hours a day, where I feel fine. The rest of the time not so much.

I hope I bounce back on this medication. I hope it still works. I was doing great until that horribly stressful end of my trip back to Virginia. Since then, I have been unsettled.

Tomorrow I have to take Angelica to Vacation Bible School by myself and pick her up by myself. Same thing on Friday. Craig is starting his rotation again and will be on day shift. Bringing her to Vacation Bible School really shouldn’t be a big deal, but I dread the noise and the throngs and all the kids running around and the music playing. I wish I could take a Klonopin before we go, but I can’t drive like that obviously.

Lately I have been so frazzled that I crawl into bed at around 8 and I just kind of shut down. Some days I do better than others. I have been able to go to the grocery store, although I got uncomfortable, and I have been able to hang out with a friend. I have also been homeschooling Angelica. So I have had enough stability to get some stuff done and have a little bit of fun too. So this is definitely not the worst I’ve ever been . But periodically I just crack. All of a sudden I take a dive into depression or I get really irritated for no reason  or I get so over-stimulated I start shutting down.

I’m trying to make the most of the time when I am doing well to do housework or to paint. Painting makes me feel better, and of course house work is necessary. And truthfully housework can even make me feel better when I am able to do some. I don’t do as much as I should, but what I do makes me feel accomplished.

I am trying to keep learning, cleaning, reading, writing, homeschooling, and painting. I’m trying to make sure that life goes on and that I am accomplishing something. But underneath things are not so good.

Television

Since coming back from Virginia I have had a terrible time dealing with TV. At my parents house the TV is almost always running and usually pretty loud. My mom helped me by moving my chair out from under the TV so that I didn’t have it blaring directly behind my head. That definitely made a difference. But the constant TV is still leaving me with this uncomfortable feeling every time the TV is on at my house. I keep leaving the room to find someplace quiet. Of course this isn’t really fair to everyone else who lives here. Both my husband and my daughter like watching shows. I definitely don’t begrudge them that. I just don’t want to be in the same room as the running television. But me leaving makes them feel like they can’t watch TV, which is not what I want. It’s just overstimulating. And I can’t hear myself think so that I can write or read or create anything or even just enjoy some quiet.

I have a love-hate relationship with television. There are some shows that I really like, but even then I don’t like to watch them all the time. Overall I actually hate television. I’ve gotten better at watching movies. I went through a period of time where movies were too stimulating and I didn’t even like to go see them in the theater, but I improved. The TV has some really interesting documentaries that I like and some very artistic shows that I enjoy, but yet truthfully for me it is just a big box of noise and speed and anxiety. I secretly hate the TV. I tried to spend some time by myself when I was at my parents house. A lot of that is just that since I am bipolar and I have anxiety I need some time to myself in general. I cannot function if I am being social 24/7. But part of why I went back to the room I was staying in was just to get away from that TV. Everyone else has a right to watch as much TV as they want. I just can’t stand to listen to it.

I am diving deeper into art and writing. I still have all these great books to read, and I have begun with a book of persona poetry. And of course the book about homemaking that I have been writing about.

I got up early this morning and went for a drive. I like to do that, to just get out and put on some music I like and enjoy some space.

I am trying to get rid of my social exhaustion but so far I have not been very successful. I enjoy being back in my little nest with my little family, but I just don’t really want to talk that much. I keep to myself with my books or magazines or paints. I blog because for some reason I seem to be able to pour thoughts out on the page better than I can to another person. I have some friends that I would like to get together with but I just don’t seem to have it in me right now.

Truthfully I wish I could take a separate trip. All alone in a quiet little room with books to read and paints to use and a pen for writing. Just absolute silence except for the rare occasion I want to play some music. No TV. No interruptions. No conversation. Just me alone.

Introverted and Tired

The past couple of weeks have been hectic. I visited my parents for two weeks in Virginia. Some of the trip was very nice.

Travel was extremely stressful. The trip home was especially bad. I had an anxiety attack in the middle of the Dallas Airport. Luckily there was someone else there, another Christian, who helped me and kept me company and prayed for me and helped me get through the day. Our second flight had been canceled and that’s what set off my anxiety attack. Luckily the airport staff got me on the next flight out, but that was delayed because there was some sort of problem with the plane and they had to fix a part. We got home late and I was completely threadbare by the time we did, but I was just grateful to have gotten home.

Now I have returned to my quiet house facing the mountains, and I am retreating back to my quiet life of books. When I got home I had many new packages of books waiting for me. I was ordering books while I was at my parents house, and I ordered some before I even left that just hadn’t arrived before I was out the door.

I live so much inside my own head. My passion for books is only burning brighter as I get older. Ever since the day I learned to read I have been obsessed with books, but as an adult I am absolutely immersed in them. As an introvert and a bibliophile I am one of those people who just needs a lot of time to themselves to decompress and be quiet and alone. And there is nothing I like better when I am alone than to get intimate with the corporeal and spiritual realities of a good book. A book with artistic language and fascinating imagery can thrill me for hours. I’ve been enjoying some time to myself for the past couple of hours. Craig and I went on a date today, but when we got home he was really tired because he worked last night, so he went to bed and is still sleeping. Our babysitter is here, so I am free to study great books and let my mind ignite.

I know this is only my second day back but I still feel so tired. I don’t think I want to travel alone again for a long time. Next time we travel Craig will be going with us. I will wait until he can come. I am just mentally and physically exhausted. I’m in this really weird state where I’m starting to be creative again, and I’m beginning to do my tasks as a homemaker again, but I find myself feeling worn down. I want to take a rest, but my mind won’t. At this point I am not even sure what rest would look like for me. Diving into books allows me to access myself almost as fully as writing does. At the same time all the ideas and images can run me ragged. I think I need the books and the time to read and write. I am just coming down from an anxiety attack. Sometimes after I have an anxiety attack I am tired and quiet for a few days. Maybe reading and writing and homemaking will help bring me back to normal.

Vindicated

I have been on Depakote, with very few small breaks, for 8 years. The day I was put on it it made me tired. And on the rare occasion I was off Depakote I was often on something else have at least moderately sedating. But Depakote was always the worst. I have been sleeping in till 10 or 11 almost constantly for years. I would miss half the weekend with my family and miss out on going to church because I could not wake up. I would set all kinds of alarms. I would ask my husband to help me whenever he could. Everyone kept telling me that I needed to change my body clock, that I needed to get up early whether I was ready or not, that it was lazy not to be awake by 8, that I needed to start going to bed earlier, and all sorts of other advice or criticisms. But the thing is I tried to change my body clock. I went to bed between 8 and 9. When my husband would force me to get up while I was still that tired (usually at my request the night before) I would end up too exhausted to move all day and I would have a mood swing. And no matter how many days I did that my body still wanted to sleep and sleep.

Past a certain point I privately began to wonder if people were right. Maybe I was just lazy. I didn’t know anybody who laid in bed as much as I did. Everyone else got up in the morning. Not at noon. Some people get up for their jobs, some people to do activities with their kids which I was missing out on, and even the people who periodically sleep in as late as I was sleeping in were capable of getting up earlier and being functional people, especially when they needed to do something. For me it didn’t matter what I needed to do it was a nightmare to get up in the morning. But I seriously wondered if maybe I was lazy. I wondered if it was a character flaw.

Over the past week I have been vindicated. The doctors pulled me off Depakote. Initially that wasn’t good because I went manic, but since then the other drugs they have put me on have kicked in and they are much less sedating while still keeping me stable. I’ve been getting up naturally between 4:50 and 7 every morning without setting any kind of alarm. I get up and I spend time with my family or I do work around the house or I get ready for church. I spend a full busy day doing stuff and enjoying my life. I am not laying around in bed, and I feel great. I really hope this continues and that these drugs work as long as possible. But even if these burn out, as almost everything I have ever taken has, I have learned that I will refuse to go on Depakote again. I will never ever take that drug again. It’s heavy stabilizer and it prevents Mania, but that’s not worth what it does to you. You miss half your life sleeping.

I am just enjoying being awake so much! And it feels so good to know that it really was the medication and not something morally wrong with me. I felt so bad. I think a lot of people don’t realize just how strong some of these medications are and how many different bad side effects they can have. And sleeping all day is not even the worst thing that can happen to you. But long-term it’s a pretty serious consequence of the medication because sleeping 12 to 15 hours a day is no way to live. I will never go back to that again.