My Bipolar Self Care

spirit me purple

self portrait

After Saturday’s bout with bipolar rage and my continued mood fluctuations I’m reminding myself about self care. Eating right, getting enough sleep, getting some form of exercise, keeping a routine, abstaining from caffeine, alcohol, watching or reading anything that is upsetting, or anything that may alter my mood, ……these are a must when dealing with my bipolar disorder.
I’m paying very close attention to my moods and trying to step back and refocus before things get out of control. (yes, I’ve had a few moments of quick anger, but I took a step back, cleared my mind and took a deep breath. I’m happy to say it’s been working well, it’s just hard to stay on top of)
I’m trying hard to stay in the moment. Worrying about what has happened, or what may happen will only make things worse. That worry could be a trigger.
 
I’m attempting to meditate more. Meditation helps to calm my racing thoughts, but I have to realize it’s okay to have those racing thoughts while I’m meditating, I just note them and come back to my breath without judgement. That’s the big thing. No judgement. Beating myself up doesn’t help matters, it will only cause me more anxiety. Being gentle with myself.
 
I have Stuart watching me too. I know sometimes my moods will shift and I don’t realize I’m overreacting. We realized that if he said I was overreacting I might get really angry, instead, when he sees that I’m not acting like myself, he hugs me.  So far, it’s worked.  I was started to get worked up and angry, and Stuart came over and just held me and I melted.  I know there are times that I would not respond well to this, but after talking about everything this was the best option we could come up with, and it’s working…so far.  Another huge thing I’m making sure I’m doing: talking with my husband.  We are working hard to make sure the lines of communication are open.
I saw my psych doc yesterday.  We are adding another mood stabilizer to the mix that helps more with the anger aspects of bipolar.  After I’m on it for a while, we will probably reduce the other one I’m on and hopefully get rid of it, and let the new one take over.  Funny to say “new one”, I think it’s the oldest bipolar med.  I’m going back on lithium.  Wish me luck!

I made him cry. Bipolar Rage

Saturday was a day that I will always remember, some very good, some very, very bad.

We started the day running fun errands.  Going to the library, and then to Michaels.  I got a lovely gift card for my birthday.  Can we say…YARN!  🙂  Then we had a fabulous lunch at a restaurant that we’ve been wanting to try.  They focus on sustainable seafood.  I had grilled fish over greens with fresh pickled vegetables.  Then we shared homemade gelato for desert.  It was a divine meal to top off a lovely morning.

Then we got home.  Stuart was doing laundry (something I can’t do) and I noticed that he hadn’t treated a shirt that I asked him to.  I saw RED!  I flew into him.  I was so angry!!  I told him exactly where I was putting 2 shirts that needed to be treated and he was just disregarding what I asked and was going to ruin my clothes…..I have no idea all of the things I said.

headache 7

self portrait – w. holcombe

After HOURS of arguing, of me closing myself in the bedroom, then getting mad that he didn’t come after me…..over and over.  It was so bad.  I look  back on it and it is a whirlwind.  However, at the time I could not see that I was out of control.  I felt completely justified in how I behaved.  When for a moment I thought I was overreacting about a silly shirt.  (Both of these shirts are shirts I only wear around the house and to bed.  They could be stained, who would care.  However, even if it had been a $200 shirt, it would not have excused the way I acted.)  I blew up about the fact that I can’t do laundry.  How if I was doing laundry and he told me to treat something I wouldn’t have forgotten (yes, I was suddenly perfect!)  He just didn’t pay attention because he didn’t want to do it…..ect, ect.

Finally, it was 10pm and Stuart was trying to go to bed, but I wasn’t finished.   I was still all upset.  It would appear I was calming down now and then throughout all of this, but then it would come back full force.  That’s what happened at bed time.  I was getting ready for bed, then I fell apart, and started yelling again.  I then left him to the bed and said I would see him the next day.  Soon he came out and wanted to talk.  Fine.  Talk.  He was so confused.  He wanted to know what had changed.  He told me that I have been very defensive for the past few weeks.  I’ll be fine one moment then snapping at him for no reason.  He said I’ve been taking much of what he says in a negative way.  I just sat there and fumed.   He then broke down.  He wanted to know if he had changed, had he caused this change in me?   I made my husband cry.  At that moment, the rage lifted, I still felt it’s presence but I took a deep breath, calmed myself and came back to center.  Suddenly I felt relief.  Then I thought: “What have I done?”

It’s been a long time, I didn’t even recognize the signs.

Bipolar Rage

 

All this mess with my medication, well it appears I’m not on the right mix yet.

But do I blame all of this on medication?  Why did I not realize I was being more confrontational then usual?   Normally, I’m very aware of changes in my behavior.  I know when things are off,  I’m very proactive about it.  This time, I was blind sided.  All of my coping strategies out the window.  How can you incorporate coping strategies when you don’t see anything is wrong?

I’m much more aware now.   I’m doing a lot of deep breathing exercises and trying to meditate more.  Exercise would be good, but I’m not allowed to do that until my back gets better.  (I haven’t mentioned I hurt my back yet?  I’ll try and write that up soon)  I’m trying to stay in this moment and not beat myself up over what happened on Saturday, or what has been happening over the past few weeks.   Remembering to be gentle with myself.  And I’m pampering my husband as much as I can.  He needs to know that it isn’t him.  He needs to know that no matter how bad I act, I still love him and would NEVER hurt him on purpose.

 

Read more about Bipolar Rage:

Bipolar & Anger: Getting Control of Irritability and Outburst

Bipolar Disorder and Anger: Stuck on the Rage Road.

Bipolar Disorder Symptoms and Triggers  this gives a rundown of all the symptoms associated with Bipolar Disorder.  It’s not just mania and depression.

Mindfulness Monday – Toni Bernhard

 

butterfly color

“Without the bitterest cold that penetrates to the very bone,
how can plum blossoms send forth their fragrance all over the universe?”

~ Toni Bernhard, How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers

 

“Behind every stressful thought is the desire for things to be other than they are.”

~ Toni Bernhard

 

*artwork by Wendy Holcombe.  Do not use without permission.

Floaters and Flashers

A few days ago I started seeing flashes of light in my left eye, with this came a lot more floaters than I had before.  Suddenly I have all kinds of shadowy lines and wavy creatures in my field of vision.  It’s just filled with trash.  That’s what the eye doctor called it, “trash”.

eyes

Eyes dilated after seeing eye doctor

According to WebMD:

“Most floaters are small flecks of a protein called collagen. They’re part of a gel-like substance in the back of your eye called the vitreous.”

You can read more about floaters here.

I wasn’t worried about the new floaters, I’ve had some floaters for as long as I can remember.  The flashes concerned me.  It looked like one of my little floaters suddenly caught fire and burned out just as quick.  Zap!  This can be a sign of that your retina is detaching, so I needed to see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible.  Truthfully, I wasn’t really worried, my vision was fine, and the flashes were just now and then.  They seem to be more when I’m tired.  *shrug*   I tired to stay in the moment and not worry.  I had to wait a day to see the doctor (if my vision had been compromised I would have gone to the emergency room).  I consulted Dr. Google and decided I could have a Posterior Vitreous Detachment….hmmm.

The trip to the eye doctor was interesting.  I was confused from the start.  I decided to go back by myself.  I didn’t think I needed Stuart to have my eyes examined.  The technician who took me back began to tell me to cost of an eye exam but if I wanted a more detailed exam it would cost more…..I told her I was there for a medical reason, she wrote it down but still asked if I was there for a glasses or contact lens exam.  So I thought I was not only getting checked out but I was also getting an eye exam.  That’s not what happened.

I should say that she talked really fast and wouldn’t look straight at me when she spoke.  Yes, I did explain that I’m deaf and I needed her to look at me when when spoke and I really needed her to slow down.  I stopped her three times and asked her to SLOW DOWN.  She’d say, “sorry”, and then talk just like she was before.  No change what so ever.  So I’m not exactly sure what she had to say.

I was placed in the exam room and the doctor came in shortly.  He was an older man with a very fake smile.  I told him what was wrong and he kept nodding his head up and down smiling.  I began to wonder if he really heard me.  Then he said, “That’s what everyone is here for today.  Floaters and flashes!”  BIG SMILE – chuckle-  I guess this was supposed to ease my mind.  If he was smiling like that then surly it couldn’t be serious.  It made me very uncomfortable.  I began to wonder if something was REALLY wrong.  Then he puts the dilating drops in my eyes.  If you’ve had this done, you know those drops burn.  He didn’t warn me that they would burn.  He just smiled as he put them in and handed me a tissue.  I said, “You didn’t tell me it would burn”  “Oh yeah, they burn.”  SMILE  “good thing I already knew they would”  Blank stare.   Then he left.  I was alone in that room with nothing to do but think.  Was Dr. Smiley hiding something?  What if my retina detached?  what if I lost my eye sight?  Could I survive with being deaf and blind?  Yes, I worked myself up a bit, but then I took a deep breath and calmed down.  I brought myself back to center and just breathed.  Whatever may be, it will be.   Deep breath.

Finally he came in to see if I was dilated enough.  He told me that I looked like an owl.  He then did a very thorough eye exam with a LOT of very bright light shinning in my eyes.  Thank goodness I did not have a migraine.  He said he saw the big floater and a lot of little ones.  (The big one is the new, looks like a piece of string all crumpled.)  He said my retina looked good, no signs of detachment.

He explained that the gel sac (vitreous) in the back of the eye is detaching from the back of the eye.  He said that since I am extremely nearsighted that my eye is already stretched and pulling on the back of the eye, now it is coming loose.  The floaters are the “trash” from where it pulled free.  This big floater will hopefully break up and be less obvious over the next few months, but he warned me that he has one that he still gets flashes from after 2 years.   This is pretty much right, but I like the way it’s worded below better.

I have what is called Posterior Vitreous Detachment.   “Most of the eye’s interior is filled with vitreous, a gel-like substance that helps the eye maintain a round shape. There are millions of fine fibers intertwined within the vitreous that are attached to the surface of the retina, the eye’s light-sensitive tissue. As we age, the vitreous slowly shrinks, and these fine fibers pull on the retinal surface. Usually the fibers break, allowing the vitreous to separate and shrink from the retina. This is a vitreous detachment.” *National Eye Institute.   For some the symptoms are not noticeable.

I have to keep a watch out over the next couple of months, if there is any change in my vision or if there is an increase in the flashes I need to be seen as soon as possible, as that could mean complications, like a retina detachment.

I was seen to the front desk to check out.  I was very confused because I didn’t get an eye exam.  The same technician who checked me in told me that when the doctor needs to see you for a medical reason he doesn’t do an exam that day.  Confused much?

If you want to know more about Posterior Vitreous Detachment please see these links: Posterior Vitreous Detachment   and Facts about Vitreous Detachment.  I found it very interesting.

 

Mindfulness Monday – Birthday

Pooh Bear with Blue Baloon1

“When asked what he wanted for his birthday, the yogi replied:
‘I wish not gifts, only presence.'”

~ Author Unknown

 

“Each morning we are born again.
What we do today is what matters most.”

~ Buddha

 

 

*please note, all images on Picnic with Ants are created by W. Holcombe unless otherwise specified.  Please do not use images without permission.

Mindfulness Monday – this moment

day lily

“Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace

 

*photo by w. holcombe

Me Without Healthcare….

Nikki isn’t being dramatic, this is real. Many, many people will die if this health care plan goes into effect. Please contact your representatives and tell them to vote against BRCA.

AS I LIVE & BREATHE

Again, a rare occurance to get political on my blog. Because whether people agree with me or not, this is a matter of life & death. The AHCA/BCRA must not pass!

I do not joke about death. Yet, after asking nicely with no movement & amendments sure to get worse, I know no other way to get through.

The 13 authors don’t want to be called heartless or murderers then don’t pass this cruel bill.

Some may say it’s extreme, but I’m tired of playing nice & being ignored, & getting canned responses about how I must take more personal responsibility when I’ve taken plenty.

I’ll be sending this mock obituary through to my delegation tonight because I think they need to see the consequences of a “Yes” Vote:

Nicole “Nikki” S. died of chronic rejection in a Philadelphia hospital.

Nikki was born on May 25, 1977 in Watertown, SD…

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