Monthly Archives: April 2016

Five Years it has Been

Patrice will have her kindergarten graduation at homeschool co-op next week.  I truly cannot believe it.  She is my baby.  How can she be knocking on the door of 6 years old?  That seems so old, so grown up.

Right now, she still has the pudgy little fingers that wrap around mine.  She still makes up words or stumbles upon her own pronunciation of those I say effortlessly.

But I suspect a lot of that will fall away this summer as we get closer to that big 6 birthday.

And I am sad.

I am also sad that it has taken until this month–April–to get to a point where my Bipolar seems to be under control.  It seems the meds might finally be right, though tweaking is still being done, I like the therapist I am working with, I am finally getting stronger.  I still feel fragile and I am scared every day that things will get bad again, but so far, I am holding my own.

It has taken 5 years.  Five years it has been since we brought home baby Patrice and my personal descent into hell began, and a myriad of struggles for my family also commenced.

Thankfully I feel like I remember those 5 years, they are not blanked out; unfortunately, they are muddied with the depression, mania, anxiety, and medication side effects.  There is a veil, a haze, I can never un-remember.  Five years it has been.

I am thankful for the time now of clarity and “stability”, I am, but I am sad about the last five years.  There is no cleaning them up, they will always be muddy, but they are mine and my family, part of the fabric of our 5 years .

Checking it Out

Our zoo membership is one of the best investments we make each year.  We live very close to the zoo and love taking a couple hours at a time to check out parts of it at a time.

Last night we checked the long awaited, all new penguin exhibit.  And to say it is spectacular is an understatement.  Check out these pictures to see it through the eyes of 9 year old Caitlyn and 8 year old Sue.

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*very realistic picture

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*very realistic picture, not an actual animal

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*very realistic picture, not an actual animal

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*very realistic picture, not an actual animal

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*very realistic picture, not an actual animal

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*very realistic picture, not an actual animal

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The entire experience was phenomenal, minus the grumpy 5 year old.  It was truly an experience, not simply a display.  When you were walking from area to area, it was built to be like a ship, complete with the waves misting on you and the ship “tossing” around.  We had to leave early, due to said 5 year old, and the 9 year old was so upset.  I had to remind her a few times that we were going to go back…I promise!

The zoo really did a fantastic job with their newest display!

Reclaiming Me

All to the Glory of God–that is why I blog and share my story so openly.  I want others to know it is possible to live and parent well with mental illness.  This, by necessity, causes my posts to be brutally honest, and that is not always pretty. 
I have always endeavored to live by the verse 2 Corinthians 12:9
But 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.

Depression is like other illnesses; the longer it goes on, the worse the symptoms are.  There are lots of twists and turns when it goes on for a long time.  For example, when this last depression started, it was like my others in that I fought it with exercise and movement.  Unlike many other people dealing with depression, I didn’t sleep more, if anything I slept less.  I didn’t move less, I moved more, I struggled to stop.  But, as it continued, the depression wore me down, until I found myself hating the thought of the exercise, and especially the energy it would take from me.  I slept more and more as my brain was less and less capable of doing things I once did with ease.

But then my new medication started to work, and layer by layer the depression began to fall away.  I found myself setting aside some activities that I had clung to during the depression and I began picking up things I had lost in the darkness.

I started with walking.  A bit at a time.  Outside.  And then back on the treadmill for miles at a time.  I felt myself reclaiming me…bit by bit.

But there was one activity I still hadn’t tackled–my beloved exercise PiYo.  I kept it at arms length for reasons I can’t explain…until Sunday.  I found myself reaching out my my friend who has encouraged me and taught me so much about exercise.  We decided to restart the program Monday (yesterday) and we did!!!

And I started singing this.

Mania–My Facts

All to the Glory of God–that is why I blog and share my story so openly.  I want others to know it is possible to live and parent well with mental illness.  This, by necessity, causes my posts to be brutally honest, and that is not always pretty. 
I have always endeavored to live by the verse 2 Corinthians 12:9
But 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.

Recently a therapist did something no one had ever done before.  She asked me what depression and mania looked like in my life–not the books, not the articles, not the assumptions, but my life…what did I walk through.

That last notable mania spell was a couple years ago, but there were a number of things I could tell her about mania looks in my life.

My mania doesn’t haunt me very often.  It, unlike depression, is easily controlled by medication.  But it does peek through sometimes.  This last Thursday was one of those times.  I noticed later in the day that my brain was getting noisier and it was harder to sit still.  I was constantly looking for something to do.  And it was harder to keep track of my thoughts.  They weren’t fragmented, they were just a little harder to keep up with…each seemed to jump to another topic.

Friday morning, it felt like the mania was coming, a wave of it would broadside my mind, but then it would recede.  As the morning continued, the waves were coming and staying.  The waves of busyness were not going away of their own accord.  I reached out to a friend who advised me to contact my doctor.  I heard back from my doctor in record time.  She increased one of my medications and offered me an appointment for Monday afternoon.  I took both.

And then I started moving.  Mania comes with a lot of energy.  And grumpiness.  I repeat to myself over and over what I should do next to channel both…first, must clean house…all laundry must be done and folded.  Kitchen must be cleaned up, sweeping must be done.  When all house tasks, including homeschooling, were done, I started walking.  A lot.

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Saturday, I continued with the energy.  I am tired, but it feels like something is chasing me–if I stop I will fall apart, so no stopping.  It’s only been a day, but I can’t really tell you what I did.  My feet were protesting the walking of Friday, so my steps were a little slower, but I still made my mark.

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I did clean the fridge and I am so proud to say Caitlyn came in and offered to help me.  She cheerfully scrubbed shelves and drawers as I emptied areas and refilled places as she cleaned them.

Today my mind has been quiet.  I sat calmly through an hour+ service, I sat in a chair to help the girls with their Bible verses for AWANA.  I am sitting here typing this post.  That is something I could not have done the last few days.  I still did pretty well on my steps…I decided to keep one thing of this last mania stretch…an hour of walking…

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Mania does not look like the tv shows.  It is different for each and every person that lives with bipolar.  Mine tends to be shorter and easily treated.  It does not come with giddiness or an overly joyful persona, it tends to come with a fair amount of anger.  There is an increased desire to spend.  I try to stay away from stores (and amazon) when things are moving too fast.  If I absolutely must go to the store, I have a pre-made list in hand and focus all my energy on staying as close to the items written down as absolutely possible.  My mind comes up with a million projects I want to do.  I used to drag the girls into all those projects, but now I try to let them direct what they get involved in with me.  It does get harder and harder to control all of these areas as the mania continues.  I get grouchier, staying with the list seems impossible, and I lose my ability to complete any of my projects, but I do try.  I really do try.

Again, mania is different for each person.  I have a team of people that know what mania looks like for me, and how they can help me to keep everything as even keeled as possible.

Those people make all the difference.

Easing Back In

As you know, I dealt with months and months  of a depressive episode of bipolar.  Praise the Lord, I am coming out of it.  My mind is quiet–there is no depression or mania.  Just quiet.  And it has been beautiful.

But there have been some things that surprised me.  I have found I am not jumping back into activities that I did before or during the depression quite as easily as I thought I would.

In previous depressions, exercise has been one of my main weapons to fight the darkness, but as this recent one wore on, I lost all interest in the treadmill, any classes at the YMCA, or videos I had been doing at home.  I went from exercise, exercise, exercise, to nothing–absolutely nothing.  I assumed that when the depression ended, I would get right back into all of it–but I have found it to be a very slow process.  I, just a week ago, started walking again, shooting to get my 10,000 steps in daily.  I have not yet popped in any videos and the social anxiety is keeping me from going to the Y.  My first time on the treadmill brought up all kinds of emotions.  I was excited to reclaim this part of my life, but at the same time I felt like I was walking back toward the depression.  I am beyond pleased that I did not walk back into the familiar darkness.

Also, during the depression, I knitted hat after hat.  It was my fallback activity when I couldn’t face the world.  I was making up to a hat every two days.  I haven’t touched the one on my loom in weeks.  Not one single stitch.  I’ll get back to that…someday.

The social anxiety has gotten a little better.  I can go out of my house, and grocery shopping isn’t quite as terrifying, and I have made it to church the last two weeks, but at the same time, phone calls are still excessively difficult, going to stores continues to be an ordeal, and talking to people still brings physical pain, but I am working on it, bit by bit, I am working on it.

I am surprised at how much I am still sleeping.  It is not as bad as with the depression, but I guess more of the sleeping was from medication side effects than I thought.  Oh well, if my mind is quiet, it is worth needing to nap every day.

Little by little, I am easing back into life.  It doesn’t look quite like I remember it before the depression, but it is mine, and my familys’ life and we are embracing it.  We are blooming where we’re planted.