New look and a Mini Me, Update

I hope everyone had a magical holiday season. I hope you didn’t kill anyone. I know I wanted to a few times. Luckily it ended when it did.

I’ve started a new look to my blog, I will probably change the photo soon, but I wanted a better font and line spacing, especially with the new way WordPress is making me format post now.

Thought I’d give you all a little health update since I left things kind of up in the air. My infections seem to be all gone, or at least almost all gone, no worries about that anymore! Yay! But my tests showed that I have an obstruction in my kidneys. Yes, I said, “kidneys” plural. I don’t know what is going on. I had an urgent referral to a nephrologist, but they seemed to not think it was urgent since I don’t have an appointment until January 7th. I have been told that if there is a change in my symptoms to get the ER immediately. Okay, I can do that. I’m thinking this was caused by inflammation from the infections and it will clear up, possibly on its own? (one can hope) Maybe that’s why they weren’t worried about getting me in there sooner? I did have a pretty severe pain yesterday, I decided to drink something other than water and very weak decaffeinated tea and my kidneys screamed in response, so did my bladder. Maybe it’s not just inflammation?

We had a very quiet Christmas. We had breakfast with Stuart’s father, and we watched holiday movies all day. I ate entirely too much the past couple of days. It’s obvious there is something going on there. I simply can’t stop eating. Either this new medication is making me crave all kinds of crap, or I’m not dealing with things as well as I think I am. Maybe it’s a little of both? All I know is that if I’m not eating, I’m thinking about the next thing to eat. (if I’m honest, I know I’m not dealing with everything well, I still have this underlying anger that wants to break through often. My husband has the patience of Gandhi. I don’t know if I would put up with me for this long. He says it really hasn’t been that long, it feels like a life time to me.)

We ended up canceling our rescheduled Christmas dinner too. That has been hard on me. Not really that we had to cancel, but that it is going to be very hard to plan it now. and the decorations would have made it very festive, what am I going to do with that empty spot in my corner where the tree was? We moved the furniture and now there is nothing to put there. hmmm. Luckily I like minimalism. We decided we just shouldn’t try to do all of that when we don’t know how I’ll be feeling. So I’m waiting until after I see the kidney doctor before rescheduling. We decided to make this dinner much more laid back though, spaghetti with salad and bread (all gluten free of course). Everyone was all on board with this too, amazing! Most of the time I’m hit with…so and so won’t eat that…it’s hard when you ask and ask what people can and can’t eat and then when you make plans you hear that it’s not right. This might be the last dinner I plan. I now understand why they all go out to eat so much.

There is still so much drama here that it makes my head spin. I’ve just been lying low and keeping to myself. Stuart worries that I need to be more social. Maybe when I feel better, but right now, as long as we get out for a little bit once a week, I’m good, just curled up in my chair with heat on my abdomen and/or back, I’m good to go for now. I’m worried about him, he’s been awfully depressed lately. I think this move took a lot more out of him than he wants to admit too, and he’s worried about me…darnit.

Well, it’s getting late and I find myself rambling so I’ll close for now. I do find myself rambling much more lately, can’t stop talking, a sure sign that I’m still dealing with mania, but I don’t like this new medication. It has too many side effects and too many things that can go wrong. I hope there is another option. I see that doctor late January, she took a lot of time off for the holidays and I had to cancel my last appointment right before she went on vacation because of the kidney stuff. I really need to see her though, we called and I’m on the wait list, hopefully an appointment will come available. We also asked for orders to get my blood drawn, since you are supposed to do that within the first month of being on this medication to make sure your live is okay. Got that yesterday, will be having it drawn tomorrow.

How’s everyone out there? I’m looking forward to having some of these things resolved soon so I can start the new year on a healthier note. I does seem that I either go out of a year feeling like crap or start a new year feeling like crap. Within the first hour of this year I had a cluster headache (and every day since) that’s a sure way to start the year off with a dud. 😉 I’m sure that it will only go up from here.

I will just stop and be thankful for all the support and love I have.

and just breathe.

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#WorldBipolarDay 2016

#WorldBipolarDay is celebrated on Vincent VanGogh’s Birthday, who is believed to have had #bipolar disorder.

stary night

This year’s #WorldBipolarDay “theme is “More Than A Diagnosis”, as we want to show the public that individuals who live with bipolar disorder are more than their diagnosis; they are capable of living full, successful lives, despite and in spite of their diagnosis.” – See more at: http://ibpf.org/wbdresources#sthash.TlZ5dveb.dpuf

I have bipolar disorder, formerly known as Manic Depression.  It is characterized by periods of extreme highs and lows that interfere with some or all aspects of a persons life.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health there are an estimated 5.7 million people 18 and over and and 750,000 children in the US affected by this disorder.

The lows include extreme depression.  Sadness most of the time, changes in sleep paterns, appetite and possibly weight. There is a feeling of worthlessness and guilt and an inability to find enjoyment.  A person often has thoughts of death or suicide.

The highs, or manic part of the cycle, include increased levels of self esteem and grandiosity.  The person seeks out pleasurable and risk taking experiences often to the point of danger, including  sexual prowess,  drug and alcohol abuse and shopping sprees.  Mania can also include sudden outburst of violent and unpredictable behavior.

Bipolar Disorder can be treated most often with mood stabilization medications and psychotherapy.

Like all illnesses following a wellness routine is essential.  Stay mindful of your moment to moment experience and recognize the signs of mood swings early.  Be sure to get enough rest, eat well, exercise, take your medications as prescribed, and develop a strong support network.  Often these steps are very hard to do, but it is essential that we take care of ourselves the best we can.

I have never hidden my diagnosis.  I know there are many people who feel they can’t share their diagnosis due to prejudice against the mentally ill.  We should all fight to stop the stigma surrounding Mental Illness.

Always remember we are #MoreThanADiagnosis.  I am a friend, wife, artist, blogger and more.  I am creative, intelligent, loving, compassionate and much more.

The people at the International Bipolar Association “…encourage people who live with bipolar disorder to remember that they can accomplish great things even though they have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and to remind them that there is a very supportive community out there for them to reach out to.”

#WorldBipolarDay, all day.

Happy Birthday Vincent!

 

 

Being Bipolar….will I ever really be stable?

Bipolar
Bipolar by SimoneBryne at deviantArt.com

Note….At this time one of my medications has stopped working, my psychiatrist has replaced it with another medication, but at this point, I am not stable.  I have recently read through the past year of my blog and my personal journals and feel I haven’t been completely stable for a long time, but I have been manageable….most of the time.  When I reference Bipolar Illness below I am referring to Bipolar I.  There are different types of Bipolar, when you think of classic Manic Depression, you normally think of Bipolar I.

This post is going to come from the heart, and will reveal things I haven’t freely talked about outside of my therapist’s office.

From all the tests, and talking, and everything else psych doctors do, my psychiatrist feels I have had Bipolar tendencies most of my life.  My first suicide attempt was at 11 years of age, but it wasn’t the first time I thought of it.  It just isn’t right for an 11-year-old to think that dying would be for the best.  I remember my sister and I had been arguing….I think…I don’t remember what it was about, or if it really even happened.  I guess that wasn’t important.  I know I silently went into my parent’s bedroom, they weren’t at home, I opened the top drawer of my father’s chest of drawers and took out his pistol.  I knew nothing about guns.  It was in a little holster thing.  I don’t think I even took it out….after all, wouldn’t a bullet go through that leather?  I put it to my head and pulled the trigger.

Nothing happened.  I tried again……Nothing.   By this time I was shaking and thought my sister might find me, I replaced the gun right where I found it, after all it didn’t do me any good.  I don’t know if the gun was empty, if the safety was on…or what.  All I know is that it didn’t do what I thought it would.  What I wanted it to.

How can an 11-year-old child be so depressed that she puts a gun to her head, and pulls the trigger?  Was I scared, yes.  But not because of the reasons you may think.  I was afraid of being caught, afraid of doing it wrong, and very afraid of who would find me and have to deal with the mess.

I didn’t tell anyone.  Not for years and years, actually, not until recently.  Since then I’ve had 3 more suicide attempts and serious thoughts and plans for others.  When I’m depressed I simply cannot believe it will ever get better.  The lady in the dark is whispering her promises that it will be better with her, and she is all I can hear.

When I’m more level, or a bit manic, I cannot believe I would ever think that way.  I even have a hard time when  others are feeling suicidal.  How could that be?  I have had a number of friends reach out to me when they have felt the cold comforting hand of death reaching for them and they are so very tempted to reach out and take hold.  I often just can’t understand how they could feel that way.  They have friends, they are loved…look, they have me.  But didn’t I have friends?  Don’t I have friends?  Was I not loved?  Then why…why can I feel it would be so much better if I simply didn’t exist?  Please don’t get me wrong, I can empathize with my friends who are going through their own darkness, I talk to them and understand their feelings…or at least most of them.  But feeling suicidal is very personal, each person has their own demons.   I know I can’t understand all my friend is feeling because their demons are their demons and I can’t hear or see them.  I can only see the light on the outside, and try to help them see a little glimmer of that light, just enough to give them a bit of hope.  However, I would never judge a person who cannot find that hope….that flicker of light that they need to help them out of the darkness.

Many people think ill of those who commit suicide, and even those who have fought the battle and continue to fight.  I’ve heard how it’s the most selfish thing someone can do.  How they are doomed to everlasting hell.   I don’t think like that.  I know many people who contemplate suicide do so because they think they are such a horrible burden on the people they love.  They are trying so hard not to be selfish.  They do not want to cause those they love any more pain.  Yes, the pain from the suicide is something a loved one cannot get over, but to the person who is deeply depressed and sees this as the only way to save their loved ones…it is the most selfless act they feel they can perform.    Do I think someone who commits suicide is doomed for everlasting hell….no, personally I think they have already been living in it or they never would have committed suicide in the first place.

Suicide is not performed by people who are mentally well.  I will never judge a person until I have lived their lives while looking through their soul.  A mentally ill person does not see things the way a healthy person does.  My views on suicide are just my own.  Please do not judge me.  And please, at this time, do not argue with me….I’m not even sure I could handle a grown-up discussion of different views.  You see, I’m having trouble with my medication, and I’m not stable.  I need to release some of these feelings, but I’m not stable enough to debate them.  I promise, when things are better, I will open this discussion up again, if anyone wants me to, and we can discuss it then.

Oh, the Bipolar…..That is what I started to talk about isn’t it.  It isn’t all about the depression that takes me to the depths of my own hell.  There is that other side, the euphoria of mania.  It can be so seductive.  Many people who are Bipolar I, will often stop taking their medication because they feel numb.  No, they don’t miss the depression, but the mania….it’s like a drug.  Some of the best artist (of all kinds) have been Bipolar, or more as it was more commonly known, Manic Depressive.  When one decides to go off their medication, I don’t think they think about the depression that seeps the life out of them, they are thinking of the high they get from the mania.  Speaking from experience, it is so very hard to feel that high of creation when you are taking your medication.  I used to have sparks of inspiration and spend days in my studio, never leaving, barely sleeping….painting, and painting, and painting….I have never felt that surge of creativity since I started my medication nearly 20 years ago.  Do I miss it?  I could never express into words just how much I miss it!  I do not believe I have created a piece of artwork that stands up to anything I created before I was diagnosed.  So yes, I miss it.  But do I miss it enough to risk the rest….NO.

Bipolar doesn’t just include the extreme lows of depression and the euphoria of mania….it also includes uncontrollable anger, confusion, for some a loss of time, and a myriad of other symptoms…always to the extreme.  I used to notice when I got happy from something, it simply didn’t stop.  I didn’t just get happy, it kept growing and growing….oh it’s so hard to explain, but that’s how I felt about most of my emotions.  The emotion would start, like any normal person’s emotion would, but my emotion wouldn’t stop….it grew, to the point where I felt the emotion was no longer mine, I was the emotion.  I have huge gaps where I simply lost time.  I have no idea what happened during that time.   There have been out of control arguments, but I can’t remember anything about except the anger.

When I first started getting serious with Stuart I decided I had to be honest with him if we were going to have a real relationship.  It was very hard to tell him I have a mental illness, I am Bipolar.  Due to this, I have no idea how many men I have slept with.  He took it like the man he is, with grace and sympathy.  He held me while I cried and explained more about my illness.  How I was being treated…ect.   (He is a very good man.)

There is much more to my story, some I can never tell, because I simply do not remember it all.  Some I can tell…perhaps I should write a book.  *smiles*

Please forgive any typos, or grammar errors…or anything like that.  I started to proof-read this and needed to stop.  If I have offended anyone I apologize.  I hope I have brought a little bit of understanding about what it means to be Bipolar I.  Or what it means to be me.

Living with Bipolar Disorder.

I would like to write more about my other chronic illnesses, not just Meniere’s.  It’s just that Meniere’s has ruled my life for a long time now.

Today, I’d like to discuss what it means for me to live with Bipolar Disorder.

First I’d like to explain there are different types of Bipolar Disorder.  (Formally known as Manic-Depression)

Bipolar Painting - J FLoRian Dunn artist (http://fineartamerica.com)

The following definitions of the different types of Bipolar Disorder is copied from the Mayo Clinic website. You can find the entire article here: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bipolar-disorder/DS00356  It’s a very interesting article if you want to know more about Bipolar Disorder.

“Bipolar disorder is divided into several subtypes. Each has a different pattern of symptoms. Types of bipolar disorder include:

  • Bipolar I disorder. Mood swings with bipolar I cause significant difficulty in your job, school or relationships. Manic episodes can be severe and dangerous.
  • Bipolar II disorder. Bipolar II is less severe than bipolar I. You may have an elevated mood, irritability and some changes in your functioning, but generally you can carry on with your normal daily routine. Instead of full-blown mania, you have hypomania — a less severe form of mania. In bipolar II, periods of depression typically last longer than periods of hypomania.
  • Cyclothymic disorder. Cyclothymic disorder, also known as cyclothymia, is a mild form of bipolar disorder. With cyclothymia, hypomania and depression can be disruptive, but the highs and lows are not as severe as they are with other types of bipolar disorder.”

There is much more to know about Bipolar Disorder, but I won’t bore you with tons of details when you can look them up.  I know most of my readers like to research things.  This post is more about my experiences being Bipolar.

I have Bipolar I disorder.  When I would have an episode, it disrupted every part of my life.  I lost jobs, relationships, once I lost the place I was living, and I almost lost my life more than once.  During my episodes I would have periods of lost time.  Once, I couldn’t remember almost a month of my life.  Most of the episodes when I lost time were episodes of mania.

The depression episodes, sent me into the deepest darkest caverns of despair.  I was convinced no one cared, and the world would be better off without me in it.  I was in such agony, and couldn’t see any way out of it.  I thought of suicide many times, and attempted it more than once.  One time I came very close to succeeding.  I was involuntarily admitted to a mental hospital for nearly 3 weeks.  My best friend of 9 1/2 years and roommate decided she couldn’t take it and moved out the day I was released from the hospital.  I lost my job.  There were a few jobs where I lost control, was convinced my co-workers or boss were out to get me, and I walked out.  With nothing to fall back on.

The mania was at times sweet.  (this causes many not to stay on their medication, they miss the high of mania)  I would have creative binges.  I would paint for days on end, often not eating or sleeping.  But it had extreme down sides.  While in a manic state I didn’t think anything could hurt me.  I tried drugs, I had risky sexual exploits, I spent money I didn’t have…  During one manic episode I bought a Jeep, had the people at the dealership take the top down before I left the lot, and then drove to Washington, DC to meet someone I’d only talked to on the phone, or emailed.  He did work for the same company I did, but in a different city.  No one knew where I was going.  I was lucky, when I think of what could have happened, I shudder. (BTW – it took me a long time to figure out how to put the top on my Jeep) I would get credit card bills for things I didn’t remember buying.  I loved to treat people when I was manic, and I loved to buy gifts.  I would meet people who knew me, but I didn’t remember them.  By the time I found out I was Bipolar, I was facing bankruptcy.

At times I did what’s called rapid cycling.  I’d be low one moment and high the next….over and over.  It was mind boggling, and very scary for others around me.  I couldn’t keep friends.  Mania can turn to anger quickly.  I pushed people away, sometimes during awful fights, when I’d say things I didn’t mean.  I was cruel.

While depressed I was convinced things would never get better.

I was originally diagnosed with Bipolar disorder in my mid 20’s, after a suicide attempt.  Then a year of two later, I was told they were wrong, all my symptoms were caused by hypoglycemia.  Depression set in and  I was then diagnosed with clinical depression, and put on antidepressants.  These sent me into a major episode of mania.  I was taken off the antidepressants and told I had anxiety disorder, with another medication change, and another attempt at suicide.

This roundabout when on for some time.   One night, I cut myself numerous times trying to get up enough nerve to cut deeper.  Instead I called a suicide help line, and ended up being committed to a mental hospital.  This was the best thing that ever happened to me.  Even though I was once again misdiagnosed while I was there, with Borderline Personality Disorder, the group sessions were very helpful and I was now in the system.  This helped me find a therapist and psychiatrist who understood, and helped me.

After getting on the right medication, my life began to normalize.  However, I had learned behaviors to overcome.  I’d been undiagnosed for so many years, I only knew how to react to situations as I would before. I over reacted to everything.  Not to the extreme I would before, but I only knew to run or fight when confronted with strong emotions.  I did not know how to have healthy relationships.  Finally, after many years of therapy I feel I am the person I want to be.  I don’t blow up (most of the time).  I have good relationships.  I understand that much of what I did in the past was out of my control, but how I live my life now is my responsibility.  And that’s OK with me.

I wanted to add, this is one reason having PMDD/PMS disturbs me so much.  I’ve worked very hard to understand my emotions, and control them.  When I have these hormonal symptoms I again feel out of control, often so quick to anger it scares me.   Scares me more than I can explain.  I never want to the person I was before.

As of this writing, I’ve been stable for over 15 years.  (with only a few minor episodes when my medication needed adjusting.

I started this post on January 3rd.  I do not hide that I’m bipolar.  I’m quick to talk about it, to share my experiences so others may get help.  However, this was a difficult post to write, remembering who I used to be, the people I hurt, the self-destruction…  Mental illness and suicide still carry a lot of stigma.  Let’s start talking about it.  We need to make sure people are not afraid to seek help.  We need to help everyone understand that people with mental illnesses are still people.