bipolar mom shares her insights on everyday life

Archive for September, 2008

Nope. No Tote Board Just Yet

Days have been better, but not great.  I still seem to be teetering on the edge all the time.  One little thing could push me off into tears or, for that matter, laughter.  But, tears are the most common occurance these days.  Sometimes as I sit and cry, I try to figure out if I would be crying even if I weren’t bipolar.  That’s not as easy to do, as one might think.  First of all, you are still so caught up in the moment that reason isn’t exactly knocking at your door wanting to come in.  You have to go searching for it.

Right now there are a lot of outside elements pushing in while I’m trying to create my little “normal” bubble.  And, I can’t exactly ignore them.  So, I know I have to deal with them without letting them rule my life.  Again, easier said than done.

I’ve been sleeping a lot.  Am I depressed because I am sleeping or am I sleeping because I depressed?  Ah, now that would be worth climbing the great mountain of wisdom and asking the guru sitting at the top, “So, what is up with THAT?  HUH?!?” 

I see my therapist on Tuesday, and he usually helps put things in perspective.  I think I can make it until then.  Well, I KNOW I can.  Now I know that the light at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming train.

Okay, Not Quite Ready for the Tote Board Just Yet

A couple of days ago, I wrote about the downslide I was having emotionally.  I wrote before the end of the day, which pretty much ended like it started.  Major sobbing.

Yesterday was a little better, but not a lot.  Fortunately, I had already scheduled an appointment with my psychiatrist.  (I had scheduled this six weeks ago, so what a God-thing on this timing!) 

After talking to him, he, of course talked about raising my meds.  (That’s what psychiatrists do, basically.  Whereas a therapist talks you through stuff.)  But, I did basically just yak and yak about what has been going on and how cruddy I felt.  He offered to up the Lamictal (the mood stabilizer), but I told him it wasn’t the moods that were swinging, I was just going down.  So we upped the anti-depressants.  Plus, suggested taking the Xanax three times a day instead of “as needed.”

As is often the case, I felt better by the afternoon.  Probably because I know there is a plan. 

Better living through chemicals, baby!  Look for that tote board tomorrow.  Maybe Jerry Lewis could stop by….

It Was Good While It Lasted

Well, I truly haven’t had a bad day in a long time.  A long, long time.  But, today was a doozy.  I felt it coming on all weekend.  I’m guessing this is not uncommon for other bipolars.  You can see it coming, but you don’t know what to do to stop it. 

All weekend I was easily irritated.  Just felt “blah” most of the weekend.  But, yesterday, at church was a really good day.  (In general.  I did have to take a few deep breaths to calm myself down before teaching.  Oh, and I cried during the sermon.  Partially because I was so moved and partially because I was kind of sad in general, and I always feel better when Pastor Doug talks.  I really feel God’s presence, so I was able to release some of that tension that was building.)  But, the band played better than we have in a long time.  I think that was due to the large crowd we had at our service.  A lot of people brought friends.  I also won the pie baking contest!  So, really, I had every reason to be happy.  And I was.  I had a great time.

Once we got home, it went back to “blah.”  We had a crowd of boys in our basement working on a robot project, so I went up to my room to be away from the noise.

Tom and I watched the movie “The Mist” based on a Stephen King novella.  That made me a little freaked.  Which is funny, because I read the story years ago and remembered a lot of it.  Tom didn’t, so he was nice and surprised.  The movie ended differently than the book, though, so I wasn’t ahead on that front.

Then, Tom and I got into a heated discussion about the kids and the dishwasher.  It was just about the lamest thing you could argue about, but we made it a good one, I promise you!

The other thing on my mind was that this month’s Bible verse for our Bible Study group has to do with reconciling with others.  I tried over and over to do that.  It didn’t work out so well, honestly.  I would try to discuss things rationally and apologize for what I’d done, but I received a lot of blank looks.  Like, “Okay.  Whatever.  It really wasn’t a big deal or anything.”  So that didn’t really feel all that productive.

So, today is supposed to be my day off, but as soon as Tom and the kids left, I was more agitated than I had been in a very long time.  I was so wound up, I’m guessing I could generate enough power to light up Times Square, if someone was able to “unwind me” quickly.

This resulted in major crying spells.  Sobbing.  Hyperventilating-type crying.  On my knees crying.  I truly thought that maybe that was going to push all the bad, icky feelings out of my body, and I would be refreshed.  Nope.  I was instant messaging my mom at the time who was trying to help.  She suggested taking a Xanax.  Once I got calm enough to be able to take a drink, I took my meds and waited for them to take effect.  I sat and watched my candles flicker and tried to focus on them, taking deep breaths.  A little more crying, but not quite so hard.

I got in the car and headed to my folks’ house.  I felt a little guilty about going, but I promised I would if I sat crying for a long time.  Any of you who live close to your parents may have this issue as well, but I was thinking, “You know, these two raised me for 18+ years, and now that they are retired and able to enjoy life, here comes this whack-job who needs their support.  Not exactly what they were planning to do on such a beautiful day.” I know they love me, are concerned about me, and want to help, but still.  I would like to be able to handle this junk without having to mess their day/life up.

But, of course I went anyway.  Instant love.  Loving touch.  Was it really that easy?  You know, it really was.  I still did a lot of deep sighing, and didn’t exactly start doing backflips or cartwheels, but I did feel a lot better.  A LOT.  I had lunch with them, and we talked about things other than my bad day.  Probably because I was so much calmer.  If you’ve got a good thing going, don’t mess with it, right?

So, now it is 4:20.  I feel 85% better than I did this morning.  Almost 100%, but I am so tired, plus I can’t decide if I should go to church tomorrow to teach the preschoolers some songs.  What if I wake up again and feel like crap?  What if I worry about this all night?  I really should just call someone and tell them, “You know, I had a tough day today, and I have no idea what tomorrow will bring, so I think I should probably tell you that I won’t be there.”  The world will not come to an end.  I was told they would be thrilled to have me once a quarter, so my telling them I would come once a month was a bonus in their eyes.

In closing, let me say that in As Good As It Gets when Jack Nicholson says to the other patients in the psychiatrists office, “Do you ever think, ‘What if this is as good as it gets?'” I used to wonder that same thing.  I now know it does get better, but now I am like a manufacturing plant that has one of those tote boards that say, “27 accident-free days!” except mine will say, “27 breakdown-free days!” and now I’m starting back at 1 tomorrow.

Zuzu Lama is Here to Help

In my last two sessions with Kent, we discussed meditation.  I told him that I was having a little trouble with racing thoughts.  I couldn’t concentrate.  Especially while praying.  Other than reading a book, my mind is often 17 places at once.  Now, while I realize that this happens to even “normal” people, it can be extremely disruptive for someone with bipolar disorder.

I was expecting him to have me close my eyes and go to a “happy place.”  What I was not expecting was a lesson in yoga!  But, apparently, those yoga folks have the right idea.  Here’s why:

calm down

calm down

  • Sitting in the cross-legged position on the floor gives you a sturdy, triangular base, so that your back can be straight, and your body doesn’t sway.  When you stand and don’t move, your body does begin to sway.  Not so with this position.  Now, just keep in mind, you don’t have to put your feet on top.  Just sit like you did in Kindergarten to listen to the latest Dr. Seuss book.  Or “criss-cross applesauce” as my kids learned in preschool.
  • Now that arm thing.  Palms up on your knees.  What is that all about?  Well, that brings your shoulders down and back naturally and keeps them that way.  You don’t need to necessarily touch your middle finger and thumb together, but if it feels comfortable, do it.
  • By sitting this way, you can breathe properly with your diaphragm.  My choir teacher, Mrs. Goessman would be so proud!
  • No humming is necessary, but breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth allows your mouth to dry up so that you don’t swallow, which can be distracting.  (This one was a shocker to me!)
  • You also need an external sense to focus on.  For example, sight= a candle’s flickering flame, smell = incense or the candle’s scent, taste = (I teased Kent and said his must be coffee.  He grinned and said yes, but he also uses cherry cough drops.  Okaaaay.), sound = one of those tabletop waterfalls.
  • Then, you begin to count from 10 backwards.  He said to envision it like the old elevators that showed you what floor it is passing at the time, or stair steps.

Practice doing this when you are already calm.  Trying to do it for the first time while you are anxious, may make you more anxious.

I practiced a few time last week, and then was able to use it in real life on Sunday.  It was when it was pouring down rain and the wind was high.  I hate driving in either of those weather conditions, much less both of them together.  (I know.  I know.  I sound like an old lady.  These conditions just make me anxious and drive with white knuckles all the way)  I decided I needed to calm down.  So, I went upstairs to my room and started to meditate.  It only took me two trips down the elevator to completely calm myself!  It really did work!

I hope this helps the next time you are nervous or anxious about something.  A trip to visit the Dalai Lama is expensive, kids!  I only wish George Harrison had come to me instead of going all that way.

The Man Behind the Scenes

Last night I was looking for something to watch on TV, and since we don’t have cable, my choices were limited.  VERY limited.  So, I turned to my trusty laptop and searched www.hulu.com for something that would capture my interest.  Well, since I’d already watched all the “House” episodes that were offered, I decided to venture into the unknown.  I had heard about the series “30 Days,” which is done by the guy that made the movie “Supersize Me.”  He does a job or joins a community for thirty days and gives you an idea what it would be like to be a part of it.  Cool, huh?

I chose the episode where he was a coal miner.  About a third of the way through, it hit me.  It’s rigorous and dangerous.  Wait.  Dangerous?  To go deep into the earth is dangerous?  This was stressed many times throughout the episode.  The exposure to the coal dust, etc. is not safe either.  Okay.  So the host is putting himself in this situation, as are the actual coal miners.  Well, what about the camera man/men?  They are going deep into the earth, exposing their lungs to the black dust, and yet no one even knows who they are!  Yeah, the host is doing a lot of manual labor, so it may be physically more exhausting, but I’m guessing that it’s no picnic to haul the camera and sound equipment around.  And, their reward?  Their names on the screen for roughly two seconds.  And, if you are watching on tape, TiVo, or online, you’ve already quit watching by the time their names are displayed.

So, next time you are watching one of these shows, (“Dirty Jobs” also comes to mind) take a moment to think about what the cameramen have to do to get those shots.  I, for one, am impressed.

Thanks. (I think.)

Many times it is obvious when you should say, “Thank you!”  For example, when someone opens a door for you.  If you don’t, the considerate person may actually shout out, “You’re welcome, Your Majesty!”  (I don’t think I have to point out that when the doors are automatic, you don’t have to thank anyone.  You may feel like a Jedi, though.)  Sometimes, however, a statement that is meant to be a compliment, it may make you raise one eyebrow in confusion.

Yesterday, I taught the middle school Sunday School class.  We had roughly twelve in the class, and they were awesome!  I loved every minute of it.  We were discussing friends, and what the Bible says about friendships.  I did ask them what the word, “adversity” meant.  When they didn’t know, I grinned, and sang, “Are you smarter than a 42-year-old?”  They laughed and I explained the meaning.  Then later, the kids would read the Bible verses aloud, and I would forget the beginning part, or the ending, and I would say, “Well, I am guessing your memory is better than a 42-year-old’s!”

At the end of class, one of the students said, “Mrs. Farmer, you don’t look middle-aged!”  Woah.  Middle-aged?!?!?  I don’t feel middle-aged.  Am I really “middle aged?”  Well, I guess if I make it to age 84, I am.  I am planning on making it past that, but if you make it to 84, people do tend to think, “She had a good, long life.” 

So, while I massage my arthritic knees and drink my prune juice, I guess I’d better start looking for a nice long-term care facility.

Ewww! What is wrong with them?

I was sitting in the waiting room of Kent’s office.  The door opens and in walks a teenage girl, a woman (with a broken foot, so she’s in a wheelchair), and a man.  My first thought was, “Hmmm.  I wonder which one of them is in for counseling.  Or is it all three?  I wonder what is wrong with them.”  Part of this is because whenever I walk in, I can almost hear the thoughts of the people in the waiting room, “Wow.  What’s she in for?”  I want to shout, “I have bipolar disorder!  What’s wrong with YOU?”  But, I restrain myself.  Plus, they might all shout, “Well, we knew it wasn’t anorexia, Lady!”  (This office is littered with eating disorder pamphlets.)

As I sat there, I realized that this was the only place I did this kind of thinking.  I enter my psychiatrist’s waiting room, and I never think about it.  Everyone that comes and goes, does so without my even taking a second glance.  (Except for the possibility that I might know them, so I do take that first glance.)

When I go to my OB/GYN, it is pretty obvious why many of them are there.

Even at my Internist’s office, I never wonder, “Hmmm.  Do you think they have strep throat?  Oh, how about Lyme Disease?  Oooh, maybe Bornholm Disease!”  (I actually had that.  Look it up.)

Why is this?  I realize many people may do this at any doctor’s office.  But, do you go to the post office and think, “I wonder what they are shipping?”  Doubtful.  How about the bank?  If you actually go into the bank, that is.

When you take your child to the pediatrician, there isn’t much reason to guess.  Most around here have well-visit hours, and hours to examine children who are ill.  Doesn’t take Louis Pasteur to know that a kid with a runny nose has some issues and to steer clear.

It would make it a lot easier on those of us who do wonder about these things if everyone would just come in and write their malady on a 4×6 index card and hold it up for all of us to see.  Think that would catch on?  Yeah.  Me neither.

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