Category Archives: Bipolar Disorder

Soothe Your Soul

Back when Patrice was just a few weeks old and my brain was on hyperdrive due to the postpartum depression by hubby took the girls and me to a park that I had never visited.  I immediately fell in love.  I felt calm and at peace for the first time since we brought our third baby home.

I went back as often as possible.  I still do, no matter what the weather.  It is my healing place.

The last few weeks have been…odd.  There have been some mania type issues.  There have been some struggles with depression.  I have reached out for help and am looking forward to getting this all sorted out.  It’s not an impossible place to live, just not comfortable.

But yesterday…

We went to my park.

Frazier and I walked and walked.

All three of the girls caught fish.

The girls fished with daddy.

And this place right here is my favorite place anywhere.  It just invites me forward, asks me to run or walk.

I think we all came home a little refreshed, a little healthier.

Bumpier Than I Hoped

Treating any illness is a balancing act of sorts.  Always adjusting as you go.  How much do you put up with medication side effects?  How much do you rest?  Where is the trade off equilibrium?  Always shifting, always adjusting.

I hate it.  And I am not very good at it.  Six years into Bipolar and I still doubt my every move…except my running.  I don’t doubt that.  That, honestly, I hold sacred and am currently shaping the rest of my treatment around it.

A few years ago I was a few months from running a half-marathon.  Suddenly I went from running 10 miles at a time to 2-3 sidewalk slabs at a time.  I tried compression socks.  I tried changing my route.  I tried adding music to my runs.  Anything I could think of and it just kept getting worse until I gave up running altogether.

Turns out, it was a medication side effect I was on.  It was causing extreme muscle weakness.  By the time I realized the cause, it was too late.  I could no longer run.

That med and I parted ways due to other issues.

I ultimately started running again and did alright until an injury sidelined me.  Last August, finally found me well enough and confident enough to give running another go…and here I am, talking about it non-stop.

Then, a couple weeks ago, I started to feel that heaviness in the legs again.  This time I had a clue what was happening…I looked up my newest medication and there is was listed under side effects…muscle weakness in the legs.  I dropped that darn med like a hot potato (with medical approval) and the heaviness is gone.

Next, I got to thinking about the shortness of breath that has plagued me.  I have had a full heart work up.  That is not the problem.  I recently had pulmonary tests done.  All good there.  I have been able to get some relief with a great essential oil I use, but it is still nagging me.

Um, wait, I am still on one of my psych meds that I am actually allergic too and the reaction is trouble breathing and swallowing.  We have been able to keep those to a minimum with a lower dose, but what if that is part of the problem, so, again, with medical approval, I went off that medication.  The breathing is better.  Not perfect, I am still a little frustrated there, but I have hope.

Unfortunately, being without these meds has its drawbacks.  Getting off of them has been a bumpier process than I had hoped.  My mental reactions have changed.  I am seeing some red flags I know I have to keep an eye on.

And I am bummed.  I had envisioned coming off the meds without a hitch.  In my minds-eye, I didn’t need the doctor’s cautions about why we use those meds and what might happen without them.  So what am I doing?  Contrary to logic, I am getting lazier with the meds I am still on.  Because that will help, right?  Last night I decided I didn’t need my meds, I would be fine without them…so I got 3 1/2 hours of sleep, which really helps things.  On the upside, last night reminded me how important my medication regimen is…I took my morning meds exactly as I should and trust me, I will take all of tonight’s dose.

I am still hopeful that with lots of self-care and hard work, I can stay on the new medication plan, but at the same time, I am scared.  What if I can’t do it?  What if I am stuck with meds that will influence me physically?  What if I am not strong enough to do it all?

 

Sugar Butts

I am the potty mouth in this house.  My hubby never, ever swears…well, okay, he did when the camper flipped over and he was trying to control the car…but that doesn’t count, does it?

So, when someone gets in trouble for saying a “bad” word in this house, mommy is to blame.  Sigh.

Today, Caitlyn and Sue were working on putting together some projects they received for Christmas.  Caitlyn started her catapult yesterday and teased Frazier today by launching pieces of burnt bacon.

Sue started her robot today and was having a hard time finding one of the pieces–“damn!”

“Mommy, Sue said damn.”

Sigh…time to head to their room for a chat.

“Sue, you can’t say damn.” “But I can’t find the piece I need.”  ”

“But I can’t find the piece I need.”  ”

“I know, but you can’t say that word even though mommy does.  Say, um, ‘sugar butts’ like daddy does.  Or dude.  That’s the one I like.  You can say it with emphasis.  DUDE!!!”

Insert eye roll and a big, heavy sigh.

A few minutes later she is still searching for the piece, looks over at Caitlyn and mutters, “sugar butts!!”

My work here is done.

I’ve had a couple “sugar butts” kind of days lately.  It has been raining.  I have not been running.  I am coming off two medications due to side effects.  I am recommitting myself to eat low FODMAP to control some health issues that are obnoxious and kind of hard to control.  And there is still homeschooling and its duties, May has a couple super social days in it, and another birthday for me.

Sigh and a big helping of “sugar butts.”

What is your safe word to say around kids or that your kids are allowed to say?  If you don’t have one, go ahead and have ours.  We’ll share!

Just a Loss

A half-marathon.  13.1 miles.  I want to run that.  All of that.  I am afraid that might be a pie in the sky goal.  I have been running consistently and often.  I push and push but it takes all I have to eke out 3.1 miles on the treadmill.  That is a far cry from the 13.1 I need to make running a half-marathon a reality.

I almost gave up yesterday.  I literally sat and cried after not being able to push myself past the 3.1.  I came darn close to writing off the money I paid for the half and just realized I am not that strong, that I am the weak person I was always told I was.  The ladies in my fitness group rallied around me and gave me a lot to think about–running every step, walking and running, being a little easier on myself.

Got a smile after a run no matter how good or bad it is.

This morning I talked to my hubby and talked about how much I really want to run it.  We decided we need to get me off the treadmill and outside running more (as much as winter will cooperate), so today, right after church, I layered up and set out.  I did 4 miles running with an average pace of 13 minutes, 47 seconds per mile.  That’s slow compared to some, but a pretty awesome run for me.  My legs are short, I have just started pushing my pace in the last two weeks.

Running today felt a lot better than yesterday.

The Bipolar has been a jerk the last few weeks…and then this week there seemed to be hope.  I was talking to people, I was going places without feeling panicky.  I thought church today would be easy.  Last week I couldn’t bear to go into our Sunday School.  Today, I waltzed right in, I talked too much, it seemed to go well.

So on to church.

The panic hit as we got into the main part of the church.  We were having to go so far forward.  The row we ended up in had people at both ends.  I wouldn’t be able to get out.  I grabbed my hubby’s hand as we sang, but all the sudden it was too much.  I grabbed my purse and ran out of there.  My wonderful hubby followed me.  We sat out in the foyer area and listened from there (the church projects the sermon out there).  But the panic kept building and building, so I took a Xanax for the anxiety.  We were sitting in an open area so I thought I would be safe to not fall asleep.  To my great embarrassment, I was wrong.  I fell asleep.  I tried so hard and it was just a loss.

Bipolar is such a jerk.  I hate it so much.  Why won’t it just leave me alone?  I just want to breathe, I just want to go about my life.  And I am stuck, being a big loser.

Pull Up A Chair

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.

 

Pull up a chair, we’ll have tea, and I’ll tell you how things are going.

I still feel light as air, most of the time.  My mind stays quite quiet, most of the time.

I’d like to end the story there, but I’ve been living a lie and I think it is time to tell the truth.

I am not living on easy street.  My mind is still playing games and causing me to struggle.  A couple weeks ago it started with waves of anxiety.  One after another slamming against me, taking my breath away, and knocking me off balance.

Wave after wave.

My mind has gotten frantic.  Harder and harder control.  I am working hard to channel it.  I am working out daily, all through the day.  I am taking all of my meds as prescribed.  I have an appointment with my doctor, the earliest he could get me in.

Just a few weeks ago, I sat calmly in my doctors’ office, all going well.  He said I could wait 3 months to come back…the longest since my mental health issues started over 6 years ago.  I was so excited.

Then the mania came.  Wave after wave.  I found myself in tears while folding the clean towels because I could not fold them even faster.  Then I was at my computer shaking because my fingers could not keep up with my thoughts.  I spent the next week bouncing from mania to depression, all over the map.

This is not the first time I have been through this.  Bipolar has sent me struggling many times, but somehow I always forget how to cope.  I always forget what I need to do to get through the struggle.  One of these times, I have got to take notes on how survival works.

If you ask me how to get through, I can’t tell you, but I must know, because here I am and this morning is better than yesterday morning.  So, I’ll just keep breathing and praying and moving til I get through this Bipolar round.

Thank you for sitting with me.  Thank you for listening to me and how I am doing.  You are part of my team that helps me survive.  Thank you.

The Battle

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.

This blog post has been churning inside for a couple weeks.  I realized an anniversary was coming…a year ago today I entered the hospital for treatment of depression, bipolar, and suicidal ideations (meaning I had a plan).

I had spent months working with my doctor to try and get my medication right to get my mind stable.  I took my meds daily, put one foot in front of the other and did my best to be a good mom, wife, homeschooler, and Christian.  It just wasn’t working.

Finally, I reached the point where I needed more intensive help and I needed to be kept safe from myself.  I ended up inpatient again.

This day has been messing with me.  Part of me is thrilled to be able to say I am doing great.  I am.  I have days that are rough, I have days I have to scale back on what I planned to accomplish as I can’t take that much human interaction, I have days that I end up sleeping several hours in the afternoon, I have days that make my head spin.  But for the most part, I am doing quite well.  I am working with a good doctor who knows how to use medications very effectively to manage bipolar disorder and anxiety issues.  I am using exercise and my network of friends to help me with the challenges that arise.

It all works together.

It’s been a journey.

I fought a hell of a battle with postpartum depression, anxiety, and psychosis 6 years ago after the birth of my youngest daughter. Coming through it wasn’t the straight, easy course I thought it would be. On the other side of Postpartum Mood Disorders, I found Bipolar Disorder, but I kept fighting and I am here. I am here to exercise, I am here to love my family, I am here to homeschool my girls, I am here to fight every day to be here.

The Day Mama Marched

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.

 

My husband and I met over 14 years ago at our church.  We were both part of the singles ministry there.  I just visited at first, but as time went on I came to more and more of the activities.  At the time, the singles group took up two rows of seats (actually pews) in the service time.  For some reason, the group chose to sit way up front.  Like 3 rows from the pulpit.  It seemed a little close to me, but so be it…I sat up there too.  No biggie.

Hubby and I got married, moved to a different Sunday School class, started having kids, and along came Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, along with debilitating Social Anxiety.  Attending church became very, very difficult for me.  Sitting up front was out of the question.  I sat as far back as possible most of the time–if not in the foyer.

And hubby noticed.

He realized he could gauge how well I was doing in my head by where I sat in church.  When things were rough I either sat in the foyer or way in the back of the sanctuary.  On the rare good days, I would head much further up in the seating area.  I didn’t notice, but he sure did…and when he mentioned it to me, I started paying attention and he was right.

This weekend was pretty good for me.  Busy, but I handled most of it.  Saturday had some rough spots, where I have to admit I was afraid I was going to lose it, but I didn’t and by Sunday I was okay.

Sunday morning I walked into that church and marched up to the front.  Hubby said, “look at you going right to the front!”

“Of course I am, my babies are singing and I need pictures!”

2016-12-18 09.03.38 2016-12-18 09.03.50 2016-12-18 11.37.34 2016-12-18 11.44.05

It’s Christmas time–time for Christmas programs and yesterday was ours.  The girls sang in both services and had a Christmas party in between.  And this year I was strong enough to be right up front–so close during the first service that Caitlyn could see us and tried to smile for the pictures.

All along, my fight to be well has been for my family–specifically my girls.  The last six years hasn’t been easy on any of us but yesterday was a victory for all of us…the day mama marched into the church to take pictures.

Exercise Antidepressants

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.

I take a handful of medications, including antidepressants, a couple times a day to keep the Bipolar Disorder at bay.  It works, but not alone.  Taking medication is not all I do to stay healthy.

Staying healthy is truly a full-time job for me.  It requires prayer, doctor appointments, talking to others to keep me grounded, using a vast array of skills to control anxiety, essential oils, staying away from triggering situations, and exercise.

Exercise is a huge part of it.  There is no denying that, but just like the medication can’t fix me without other tools, neither can exercise.

That brings me to a radio commercial that drives.me.crazy.  In this commercial the person announces  how working out 3 times a week is the equivalent of an antidepressant, so to sign up for that yoga class and get sweaty.

Yeah, no.  Exercise will never equal an antidepressant for people who need to be on an antidepressant.  It just won’t.  And insinuating, or flat out saying, that it will is just irresponsible.

There is a stigma around mental illness.  There is a stigma around taking medications for  mental illness.  It helps no one to say they just need to do some yoga and get nice and sweaty.

This time of year can be hard for a lot of people.  There are natural triggers, like the lack of sunlight due to shorter days, there are social triggers, such as family stressors.  It can be a rough time.  And what people need right now is honesty.

Honesty sometimes means saying the hard things, like, “have you considered talking to your doctor about some options to help you?”  That’s not easy to say.  It’s not exactly easy to hear, but, that…that is love.

 

Over the Sink

Tonight I stood over the sink crying.

Yesterday, I sat in a car praying I would not be sick all over myself.

I’ve lost a pound this week, not the way you are supposed to.

Sick. Sick. Sick.

I’m 98% sure it is due to a recent dose increase on one of my meds.  I vaguely remember being sick like this when I first started lithium 5 years ago.  I refuse to remember how long being this sick last.

Lithium is one of my mainstays.  It has kept me solid and steady like no other, but I kid you not, I am *this* close to calling the doctor tomorrow and throwing in the towel.

I am a grumpy, wimpy mess when I am this sick.  I do not soldier on well.

Well, that’s not entirely true…Caitlyn was looking forward to our run today so I gathered up all my courage and we pounded out 3.1 miles.  When we started running together, just a month ago, I could do a decent job of pulling away from her in mile 2 and 3.  Not today.  I could get a few paces ahead, but she took over the stride right away.  I no longer sound like a dying cow while running the first mile and she no longer gets lost behind me.  We’ve both gotten stronger.  I can’t believe our first 5k together is just 6 days away.  We are both pretty excited.

I made it to the last cross country meet of the season yesterday.

Both girls did very well.  It was amazing to see their progress since we started this in August.

Caitlyn was looking forward to our run today so I gathered up all my courage and we pounded out 3.1 miles.  When we started running together, just a month ago, I could do a decent job of pulling away from her in mile 2 and 3.  Not today.  I could get a few paces ahead, but she took over the stride right away.  I no longer sound like a dying cow while running the first mile and she no longer gets lost behind me.  We’ve both gotten stronger.  I can’t believe our first 5k together is just 6 days away.  We are both pretty excited.

I did my best to get through today, and I think did a decent job, went running, went pumpkin picking as a family, I pressed on.  But the reserves are pretty depleted.  And I am kind of freaking out.  What if a night’s sleep doesn’t get me ready for tomorrow?  How will I wrangle three little girls?  How will I get us to piano lessons?

Every day is so full.

Good, but full.

 

Anxiety is

The girls, particularly Caitlyn, have loved doing cross country this year.  And I have enjoyed getting to know the coach’s wife.  She is so sweet and she is one tough cookie…she has been to just about every practice and meet while wrangling three small children and being overdue with baby number 9.

Well baby #9, their second girl, finally came!!!  And it is time to sign up to bring meals.  I have taken meals to tons of people over the years.  It has always brought me so much joy.  Until Patrice came.  And then, like everything else, the joy got twisted into anxiety and stress.

But I shoved down as much of my anxiety and signed up for a meal as quickly as I could before the anxiety freaked me out again…and then laid awake worrying last night.

What if I don’t cook enough for a family of 11 (yes, I understand the baby won’t actually be eating what I bring), what if I accidently include a food allergen, then they will have to cook for some of the family anyway and it won’t really help, and is butter a dairy allergen, and what if they don’t eat pork?

All of this has put my anxiety at high alert.  And it is still at high alert.  I’m not even signed up to take the meal until October 22.  Thinking about it makes me want to vomit.  Repeatedly.

I have shoved down this fear and anxiety more times than I can count and I still have weeks to go.

Anxiety is a jerk.  A big jerk.