Category Archives: Bipolar Disorder

The Depths

Eight years ago I was in a fight for my life.  Postpartum depression, anxiety, and psychosis had taken hold of me after Patrice was born.

It is much too easy to remember the desperation of those days…being busy with the girls non-stop because I knew if I stopped or slowed down I would fall apart and I was just as certain that if that happened I would not be able to pick up the pieces.

I remember looking at my newborn sleeping–so jealous that she could sleep and I could not–knowing that in a few short hours my other girls would be awake and there would be no time to rest–and yet, I couldn’t sleep.

There was the day I took a very new baby and her two older sisters across town to a play place.  Our A/C was out, it was hot and I could not stay home.  I could not sit.  Hubby was home that day, what if he saw what a mess I had become, I could not bear to have that happen, so away we went.

Daily, I reached out to my midwife for one reason or another.  She was a friend and I instinctively knew she was safe.  She was so patient.  She talked me through my desire to disappear, she passed on recipes for butternut squash.  She helped me find help when the inevitable came and I did fall apart and I couldn’t pick up all the pieces.

Eight years ago, many doctors, medications, a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, and a few hospitalizations later, and here I am.  Is it easy–nope, each day is a balance.  Is it possible, yes.  Am I thankful–more than you will ever know.

The Lord has brought me through so much.  He has brought a calling into my life–a couple of them really, and He has brought me my tribe–those women who love me, reach out, and help me take care of myself.  I am so thankful to Him and all of them.

Eight years ago.  Eight years ago.

I Feel Like Crap

I feel like crap…and that’s pretty much a good thing.

You see, when I am in the depths of depression or heights of mania, I don’t really notice the side effects from my meds and am resigned to whatever health issues I have; I just don’t have the energy to care about them.  But right now, things have been stable for a while (hallelujah) and those side effects and health things are making me crazy.  I want answers or I want them to go away.

My stomach issues feel like they are out of control.  Eating low FODMAP helps some, but is not sustainable.  It is too restrictive and not intended for for long-term nutrition.  And yet, here I am, unable to comfortably add foods back in for more than a handful of days.  And now, the issues seem to be spreading–sweets are a no-no, eating a normal size meal is a no-no, fats in the food seem to be a no-no.  I swear, instead of getting better, things are getting worse.

In spite of all this, and  exercising, I am gaining weight.  Big fat boo.  And way dizzier than I should be.

Sigh.

I never used to understand why people would go off their meds.  Honestly, I was so happy with the relief from the depression and mania, I was willing to suffer anything.  Now that I have that relief, I get it.  I really get it.

I want both.  To feel good mentally and physically.

Toward this end, I am keeping a food journal to take to my family doctor to see where we head next and I am going to talk to my psych in a couple weeks.

I am going to fight for both.

In the meantime, I am very, very thankful the Bipolar is stable right not.  Very thankful.  It is such a gift after years and years of not being stable.  I couldn’t be happier about that.  It is just now time to work on the physical and see how great things can really be!!

Not a Runner’s Blog

I have a race tomorrow.  My first race since the half marathon in September.  Tomorrow’s race is a 5k–3.1 miles.  The distance is not a worry at all, and yet, I still have nerves.

Will I get up in time?  Will I find where they want me to park?  Will I remember my shoes?  Weird angst.

I’ve had some frustration all day.  I don’t know which came first, the all day nerves, or the running a race tomorrow nerves.

Sigh.

Here I am again, going on about running.  While asserting this is not a runner’s blog.  It’s not…I just so happens that running is the way I deal with most of life.

I have this thing I do in life where I see something, perceive that it is a good idea, take the leap, and then freak out about it.

Over and over and over and over again.

And here I am in freak out zone again.

Not really about the zoo race.  I don’t think.  Though my nerves are pretty wound up about that.  It is more about various projects I have going on.

I am actually done Christmas shopping for my girls.  Earliest ever!!  But I have taken on helping another family put together a Christmas for their family.  I sort of have things organized but I don’t trust the organization I have done, so I fret.  A lot.  Like feel like I can’t breathe fret.  Sit in my car trembling fret.  I don’t want to let my friend down and disappoint her kids.  It just has to work out.

Yeah, more than a little stressed.

In all of this I am trying to ignore the fact that my second born is turning 10 Tuesday.  She is such a little peanut.  She’s my little girl that yearns to be so big, so independent, and yet just wants time to be hugged and loved by mommy.

I had decided yesterday there was nothing worth getting up for on Black Friday.  And then a little voice asked from the back of the car, “Mommy, where are you going for Black Friday?  I think it would be so fun.”  She was so eager, I found myself checking ads again and setting my alarm for 5:15 this morning.  I half expected her to ignore me when I came down to wake her up, but no, she pretty much bounced up, wide awake.

So out we headed.  We purchased a few items at our first stop, a few more at our second stop, then a yummy treat, a few more items at our third store, and one more yummy treat.  During that second treat stop I was making an on-line purchase and was pretty intent on what I was doing, next thing I know, she is on my side of the table cuddled up next to me.  And I was reminded how important this one-on-one time is to my middle child…as I listened to her plan our Black Friday trip for next year!

No stores kept in the black from our little purchases, but we made a memory and that’s, as they say, priceless.  Oh my gosh you guys, that line I just wrote sounds so cheesy, but there are tears in my eyes when I think about how much this morning meant to my little peanut and I.  And how I almost missed it.

You guys, I don’t know how to sort it all out.  So I guess I am here writing it out trying to understand  my emotions and why I get so dang wrapped up in certain thoughts, why I can’t just shrug them off.

Sigh.

So there you go, a glimpse into how my brain is working, or not working, as of late.  I’d talk about the really cool fact that I signed up for my 2nd half marathon, but I better not, since this isn’t a runner’s blog.  I’ll just sit here amazed that I will run my SECOND half marathon a week after I turn 43. Nope, I won’t mention that.

Choose?

Thanksgiving is coming up.

Fifteen years ago, on Thanksgiving I met my future husband’s family for the first time.  I had just gotten out of the hospital from another round of steroids to treat the Multiple Sclerosis.  My face was extra round from the mediation.  My body was weak and my sleep was messed up.

I was in no shape to meet anybody,  but thanks to my mom making the trip down and helping in so many ways, I arrived at my future sister-in-laws, dressed, upright, and bearing a homemade apple pie.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a jerk.  It makes life unpredictable and hard.  The illness takes abilities and strengths.  It cuts you off from people.

I am ever so thankful that a few years after that first Thanksgiving, the MS went into remission.  And has stayed there for 12 years.

Unfortunately, that health challenge got replaced with Bipolar Disorder 7 years ago.  And the Bipolar is a jerk.  It is.  But you know what, I think I prefer it over the MS.

I made a mistake with my medication yesterday and it caused a day that felt like the MS (at least I think that is what happened).  And it was the pits.  I dropped something out in public and fell in front of my daughter when I tried to pick it up.  I was so weak I had to lean against things to sit up.  And oh how I needed to sleep.

It was the pits.  And it was scary.  And I hated it.

Today I feel better.  Not perfect, but better.  I may approach the doctor about changing this med and I put my meds in a granny pill sorter so I can’t make that mistake again.

But it reminded me, I prefer dealing with the Bipolar Disorder over the MS.

Seven Years and I’m Still Here

I love the change of seasons here.  It is probably my favorite thing about Michigan.  It is nice to always have a different feel to look forward to…and with it a change in scenery.  And fall does scenery the best!!

And then, 7 years ago, fall got complicated.

Patrice was born.  Good.  Postpartum depression, anxiety, and psychosis showed up.  Bad, very, very bad.`

Suddenly, fall became a hard time, a very hard time.  Seven years ago this week I ended up in the hospital for the first time when the mania (cue bipolar disorder showing up) tried to destroy me.

And ever since, fall has been hard. I find myself battling a major depressive episode each fall. It is a time of just working to survive.  So my time I have always loved, becomes instead a season of hunkering down and praying for my life.

But this year.  This year.  It has been hard.  I have been working my self care and medication tools hard and using the insane level of busyness of family life to my advantage–distractions galore!!

And it has worked!!  I was able to enjoy my wedding anniversary this week.  I am laughing real laughs.  I am still nervous as October 28th comes around, but I am hopeful for the first time in 7 years that I just might be okay.

Hope is a beautiful thing!

Running With My Thoughts

I run with my feet and I run with my thoughts.  I enjoy the running with my feet.  The running with my thoughts, not so much.  It gets me into trouble.  Thinking ahead too much feeds my depression, anxiety, and mania all in turn.  It brings up things that I’d rather not remember, it robs me of sleep I’d much rather have.

And it has me puzzling over problems I just don’t  know how to solve.

This week it brought up one of those issues.

I began training for a half marathon on December 29th of last year.  Said race is now just 9 days away!!!  Single digits.  Wow.  Preparation for this race has consumed me.  And

Preparation for this race has consumed me.  And gotten me through some rough stretches with the bipolar.  It has given me the coping mechanisms I needed to tolerate depression that sought to overcome me.  It has focused my brain when anxiety and hypomania tried to tear me asunder.  Running is hands down, or is that feet down, the most effective coping tool I have when it comes to the bipolar disorder.

My practice run to make sure I can run 13.1 miles.  Guess I can.

Thing is…what happens when I am finished?  What happens when the post race high crashes?  What happens?

Yes, yes, I know I can keep running.  And I will.  I know I can sign up for other races.  Believe me, I will.  But there is this thing.  This very real thing.  The post race high.  And it crashes.  And crashes are hard on anybody, but especially on me.  I have a horrible time dealing with them.  Horrible.  The mass of emotions colliding is so hard to sort out and I immediately assume it is just going to get worse and worse.  And that I won’t survive the collision of thoughts and emotions.

This time I am a little extra concerned.  I have been thinking, planning, dreaming of this race for so long.  Years, really.  I originally trained for a half marathon when Patrice was a baby but had to quit due to issues with my medications…so really, this is a 5-year dream.  And here it is, 9 days away.  And my body will probably need a break from running for a few days afterward.  I also don’t see my body withstanding a full marathon (26.2 miles), so what is the next goal?  Where do I go from here?

I just don’t know.

I have no answers.

So, tomorrow I will lace up my shoes for my last long run before my half-marathon.  I’ll schedule a couple short, easy runs during the week and the rest of my running will be running kids around to cross country practice, dance, gymnastics, church, and then lace up for my big day, my half-marathon on September 17.

Another Glimpse

I don’t think this is the first time, but I thought a glimpse into the hypomania side of bipolar disorder might be an okay idea today.

But first, check out this cute.

My girls are so beautiful and I am so proud of them.  They keep me moving literally, mentally, and emotionally.

And lately, I have been moving…non-stop.  It started with just busyness.  Sue was finishing up practices and launching into performances for Seussical.  It was phenomenal.

But it’s done–thing is, I can’t stop keep moving.  Yes, life is busy, but I should be capable of slowing down, of stopping.  I’m not.  Having open time fills me with overwhelming panic and dread, like everything is going to fall apart if I stop for one single minute.

On the upside, there is always a lot to be done.  Even hypomania can’t get me on top of all of it, but I am using it as much as possible.

Today included planning and organizing for the upcoming school year, laundry, and a million other little things.

This has been going on for weeks, which is not normal for me, and my thinking is starting to get much harder to control, my anger at things is out of proportion, I am over thinking EVERYTHING, so on and so forth.

Monday, it was time to call the doctor, so I did.  He upped a med and I am headed to his office tomorrow.

I know it will get sorted out.  Hypomania has always been a strange bedfellow for me, but one that can be helped.  I know help is coming.

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!