bipolar mom shares her insights on everyday life

Archive for January, 2008

Hot Story from the Looney Bin

Probably the most memorable character (and creepiest) from the Looney Bin was “Sparky.”  You’ll see why we nicknamed him Sparky in a minute.  My first morning I met a very nice guy that I called “Socrates” because he was very learned and knew more than I will ever forget!  Socrates told me that Sparky had said to him, “Man, I wish I had a cigarette.”  Socrates said, “What would the point be?  You have nothing to light it with.  Why don’t you wear a patch?”  Sparky replied, “I don’t need no G****** patch!  All I need is a paper clip.”  Socrates decided he needed to see this, so he said, “Show me what you mean.”  (Now, as I’ve mentioned, Socrates was intelligent, but maybe lacking a little common sense.  I don’t think we should be encouraging Sparky.  He was not firing on all cylinders.)  So, Sparky got a paper clip, inserted it into an outlet and sure enough, SPARKS!  Of course, the outlet now had a big black burn mark all around it, but that’s beside the point.

That morning when my husband and mom came to visit me, Sparky approached my husband and they had this exchange:

Sparky: “You got any?” 

Hubby:  “No.” 

Sparky:  “Come on.  Not even for me?”

Hubby:  “No.”  (This was hilarious since my husband had never even met the guy, but Sparky acted like they were best buddies.)

So, Sparky was a little agitated during his stay since he refused the patch, was in there for some kind of “issue” and wasn’t happy about anything.  Sparky got a roommate.  I asked his roommate if he was a little creeped out about being in the same room with him and he said, “Oh yeah.  I asked for another room and they are all full, so I’m going to sleep on the floor of the meeting room on a mattress.”  We agreed that there was no way he’d get any sleep in Sparky’s room.  By the way, completely off the subject, I owe that roommate money because he bet me the Patriots would go undefeated and I said it wasn’t going to happen.  So, if I run into him on the street, I owe him five bucks.

Things just started getting a little more tense with Sparky.  You couldn’t pinpoint it, but he was yelling a lot more than usual.  One morning we all awoke to find out that Sparky had tried to burn down the place.  Nice.  At first, he thought they were going to put him in the padded room.  (Yep. They still have those.)  But, come to find out, they were kicking him out.  Then, he became like a child.  “I didn’t do it!  I didn’t do it!  I promise to be good!  I promise!”  It was kind of sad, actually.  Turns out Sparky didn’t have a home to return to, so the social worker was going to have to find a shelter to take him.  Even though we all felt safer when he was gone, we felt sad too.

I remember when my kids were in preschool they learned this little ditty:

(Sung to the tune of Frére Jacques)

Never ever play with matches.

If you do, if you do

You might burn your fingers.

You might burn your fingers.

Boo hoo hoo.  Boo hoo hoo.

Maybe someone should have sung that one to Sparky.


No Biggie

Today was my visit to the counselor/therapist.  I told him I was watching my “should”s and he was proud of me. 

 Today’s lesson was “Nothing is a big deal.”  He described the brain as having a part that has all the “routine” info stored in it.  Brushing your teeth, eating meals, going to the bathroom, etc.  These are things we do without analyzing them.  Your brain doesn’t get filled with noise because you are trying to figure out why you are brushing your teeth.  This was brought up because I told him that the other day I decided it might not be the best use of my time to take a nap every morning.  He asked me, “Who told you that?”  uhhhhh.  nobody… just me.  Then, I told him that it had been the trigger to my having a breakdown that day.  So, he said, “So, you take a nap every day.  So what?  You don’t need to analyze that or your breakdown.  Just move it to the “routine” part of your brain.  The more you can move there, the quieter your brain will be.”  Sweeeeet!  I realized I do spend a lot of time analyzing why I’m crying, why I’m so touchy, etc. instead of just accepting it and moving on.  He said it was important to have and accept your “body routine” whatever that was.  And, for me, it was taking a nap every day.

I mentioned that I cried a couple of mornings, including this morning, and that didn’t fit into the typical cycle.  Again, he said, “Okay.  So, if I am sitting here and I cough up some mucus and spit it out, am I going to question why?  ‘Why did I cough up that mucus?’  ‘I wonder what I did to cause that mucus to appear in my throat?'”  Well, of course, I said, like a good little student, “No.”  Then he said, “Okay, so part of your makeup is that sometimes you are going to cry for seemingly no reason.  Accept it and move on.  Your body needs to do that sometimes.”   I said that that would have been a good thing to do, because I started getting all anxious about why it was happening, what I had done that might have triggered it, how I could avoid it in the future, etc. and all that took longer than the crying spell did, plus it rose to an anxiety attack.  Not worth it!

If you remember a few weeks ago, I mentioned that I should have listened to my body.  Well, apparently, I was on to something.  We should all respect our body routines.  Whatever they are.  Not one of us is exactly like anyone else in this world.  And, we just get into trouble when we start trying to define our “normal” against someone else’s.

So, there you go.  So, if you try to call me any morning between 9 and 11, I’m probably not answering the phone, but dreaming of George Clooney my husband and me on a deserted island.  I’ll call you back.

Permission for Plastic?

I promised in an earlier post that I would share the story of the guy who couldn’t get a knife at the clinic.  Here’s that story:

While eating lunch one day, a guy at my table, we’ll call him Pele because he looked like a soccer player and always wore Adidas workout outfits, had chosen a meatball sandwich.  Pele had decided to eat the sandwich open-faced because he didn’t want the carbs.  (Okay, now this was funny in its own right.  He was in the clinic because he almost drank himself to death, and he’s worried about carbs?  How about your liver, buddy?)  Anyway, he tried cutting the meatballs with the side of his fork and it was bending.  He wanted a knife and asked how to get one.  I told him he had to ask a nurse for one.  So there were two nurses in the lunchroom and he chose the “not as friendly” one.  She asked him why he wanted the knife.  He told her, she then told him, “You don’t need a knife.”  What?!?!?!  He came back to the table and was very unhappy, needless to say.  I put my hand on his and said, “Pele, honey, you needed the knife to butter your roll.   That is always the right answer when you need a knife.  You’ll get one every time.”  He nodded his head and made sure to remember that piece of advice.  The scene got worse when the “nice” nurse, who was sitting and chatting at another table, raised her hand and said, “Can I get four knives over here?”  Pele just about lost it, and who could blame him?

After telling my husband this story, he started laughing and said, “You’ve been in here a day and a half and you are already giving people the inside scoop?  What is your payment?  A carton of cigarettes?”

Laughs from the Looney Bin

During my stay at the clinic, the patients could look through a binder with movies in it, and request them for the next day.  There were several pages of them, but they were VHS, so you can imagine they were not the most current, and they were not rated R. 

The first movie we watched was “Funny Farm.”  Now I looked around the room and started laughing.  I mean, “hello!”  If you’ve ever seen this Chevy Chase movie, you know it is not about the Looney Bin, but the name alone cracked me up!  I kept thinking, “Does no one else find this hilarious?”  Apparently not. 

The next movie we saw was “As Good As It Gets.”  Again, I’m dying with laughter.  Jack Nicholson has OCD, but let’s face it, he’s nuts.  In fact, my favorite line of the movie is, “Go sell crazy someplace else we’re all full up here.”  It was killing me.

Finally, we watched “Young Frankenstein.”  Great movie, but again, Gene Wilder is called crazy during the film. 

I realized from this experience, that you really do have to laugh at stuff like this.  It also made me feel much more like myself, since I find stuff like this hilarious on a “normal” day.  And, believe me, boredom is one of the toughest things about the clinic, so watching a movie was a nice break. 

I’ve had people ask me if “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” was on the list.  I’m fairly certain it was not.  Otherwise, I’m sure it would have been the main attraction!

Patience, Shmatience

After a wonderful weekend, yesterday stunk.  I had a great and productive morning cleaning.  Then, I went grocery shopping.  About halfway through, I started to have an anxiety attack.  I finished my shopping and drove to my folks’ house.  Where I bawled and bawled.  Took a Xanax and in 20 minutes felt much more calm, but it pretty much shot my day.  I was exhausted and depressed.  I thought I had it all figured out.  I hadn’t taken a nap.  Usually I take a nap in the morning.  One or two hours.  I know.  Wouldn’t we all like that?  Last week I had lunch with friends and didn’t have a breakdown at 1:00, but I did have a nap that morning.  So, that must have been the problem. 

Then this morning, I woke up very depressed.  But, I got the kids off to school and sat down tried to talk myself out of it, but ended up bawling again.  Then I got worked up because I didn’t have any trigger to explain it away.  It wasn’t the right time!  I didn’t even have time for a nap!  It wasn’t an anxiety attack, it was plain ol’ depression!  What’s wrong with me?

I called my doctor’s office and told them that even though I had an appointment on Thursday that I was having a tough time and would like to see him today, if possible.  Sure enough, he had an opening.  I took a nap, had lunch at my folks’, and headed off with them to see the doctor.  Of course, by then I was my usual self.  But, it was still fresh enough in my mind to be able to explain what all had happened.

He agreed I shouldn’t still be feeling like this, so he’s going to increase the bipolar medication, but because of the nature of the medication, I can only increase it a little at a time, so it will be another month before I am at my full dose.

Two things entered my mind:  “Seriously?  Another month?”  and “Oh, well, at least we have a plan.”  My biggest worry during this time has been that this is as good as it gets.  Not that I couldn’t deal with that if it were true.  But, it certainly was not what I wanted to hear.  God bless that doctor.  When I asked him flat out, “Is it going to get better?”  He said, “Well, we’d like to have you not having these breakdowns.”  YES!  So, even though I’m feeling like a burden to my family and had given them a target date of end of January/beginning of February, which has now been extended to middle/end of February, I do know that this is NOT as good as it is going to get.  I will have more than just a couple good days in a row.

So, I will need to remember the following Bible verse that was read this morning on Christian radio station Joy 97.7 FM from 2 Corinthians 12:7-10: 

7To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

When I prayed this morning, I asked God for help.  I told Him I did not want Him to remove this disorder, but to help me and those around me understand it more.  Plus, I asked Him to help me use it to His glory and benefit. 

I do believe that God only gives us what we can handle (with His help, of course), and I used to laugh and say, “I just wish God didn’t think I was so strong!” 

Now, I’m just looking for patience.  If you have any extra, feel free to throw it my way.  However, just about every mom I know needs it too.  So, I guess I’ll just take a number…

Happy Birthday, Aunt Sher!

It is my aunt’s birthday.  Well, let me correct that.  Yesterday was.  I was so excited about my good experience at church so I had to write about it.  Then, I took a very long nap.  Then there was this mammoth Mythology homework assignment that my son had that took much longer than either of us anticipated.

So, back to my aunt.  She is my father’s only sibling, so she is very special to us.  I only have three sets of aunts and uncles, so we are a small family and everyone is so special.  (Now, I don’t want to get a ton of emails from people with big families saying that their families are special too.  Yeah.  I’m sure they are.  Write your own blog.)

I have been compared to my aunt by both of my parents, but usually my mom.  And, it’s always such a compliment.  The one I heard (and still hear) the most is, “you get your musical ability from your Aunt Sher.”  I had no idea until a few months ago that she played the drums in the marching band.  I learned to play the drums from a library book a year ago.  I think Aunt Sher’s genes might have had a little to do with the success of that.  I also got my good skin and good hair from Aunt Sher according to Mom.  Thanks, Aunt Sher!  I appreciate that one BIG TIME!

What I didn’t inherit from my aunt is the love of clothes and shopping for them.  That skipped a generation and went straight to my daughter.  Oh my goodness!  I would love to see those two let loose in a mall together!

Now, I’m sure that scientists will disagree that I could get these traits from my aunt.  There would be some explanation about DNA, blah blah blah.  Whatever.  You meet me, then you meet my aunt, and you tell me about DNA. 

I Made It to Church!

This morning I woke up and was so excited about getting to go to church.  I was really tired after our small-group get-together last night, but in a way, it fired me up to go this morning!  When you are surrounded by people that love you and care about you, it is quite the boost.

I was greeted by many with good, two-armed hugs.  Not just a one-armed, “Hey.  How’s it goin’,” kind of hug.  And, after the fifteenth hug or so, I started to get a little choked up.  I mean, I hadn’t even made it into the sanctuary yet. 

Several of my friends from the church band went out of their way to give me hugs.  My friends from MOPS gave hugs.  Kids from Sunday School gave hugs.  The sweet couple next to us in the pew gave hugs.  WOW!

And, just when I was starting to gain some composure, the music started.  To give you a little background, every Sunday that I’ve stayed home, I listened to my Christian music cds and read the Bible.  I would sing along with the music and tears would just flow.  Music has always been an emotional thing for me.  I find comfort in it, I use it for praise, and can truly feel a connection with God.  So, when we started singing “Shout to the Lord,” no one was singing louder than me.  Then came the line, “My comfort, my shelter, tower of refuge and strength…”  Time for the Kleenex.  Fortunately, I was prepared and had one in my pocket.  And, forget about “Who Am I”.  That one required and used a whole Kleenex.  To my friends who are in the band, you all were awesome.  You really were.  I loved sitting there and listening to you lead us in worship of our King.

Today was an amazing day.  A three-Kleenexer.  🙂  I knew God was “in the house!”  I can’t wait to go back next Sunday.  And hopefully, the following week I can take up the drums again and play on Sundays.  I will continually pray about this decision and take it up with the counselor on Friday, but I think I’ll be ready.

On our way home, my son asked me if I was okay.  I said, “Yes.  I just love our church.”  I got a little choked up about halfway through that sentence.  He said, “I know, Mom.  Everyone in church loves you too.”  Awwwww.

Pastor Doug asked us in his sermon this morning, “Have any of you received too many blessings?”  Of course, we all laughed.  No one could receive TOO MANY!  I felt very blessed this morning.  I never once felt, “Are you kidding me?  YOU want to hug me too?  YOU missed me?  Oh, please.  ENOUGH!”  Not once.  You just can’t feel too loved.  God loves each of us so much and sometimes when we are broken, we are even more amazed that He would send His son just for us.  So, whenever you feel alone, remember that you are certainly not.  God is with you, waiting to be asked to comfort you.  And He gives the best hugs.

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