Category Archives: Bipolar Disorder

Thought I Knew Better

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.

Seventeen years ago, wow, has it really been that long?, I made some bad choices, I loved and trusted someone I shouldn’t have, and my found myself in a verbally and emotionally abusive relationship.

I got out.  He dumped me.  I was embarrassed, hurt and angry, but still, it was for the best as I got out.  My pride would have kept me there but he decided he didn’t want me.

And that’s really okay.

Fast forward 17 years, and I have an amazing life.  I have a husband who loves me and endeavors to always take care of me.  I have three amazing daughters.

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I have it all.

And the memories from that relationship.  The hurtful things he said and did and made me believe.  I live with those, and unfortunately, so does my husband.

He lives with them when I am afraid to look at him when I think he is upset with me.

He lives with them when I over apologize for something, or sometimes, nothing.

He lives with them when I work myself into a tizzy trying to make him proud of me.

I live with them all the time.  When I hear him in my head telling me no one likes me, no one wants to be my friend, without him I wouldn’t have any friends.

When I hear him in my head telling me no one likes me, no one wants to be my friend, without him I wouldn’t have any friends.

When I hear him tell me I don’t know how to dress.

When I hear him tell me I talk too much or too loudly.

When I hear him tell me I do the laundry wrong.

It’s been 17 years.  Seventeen years of lies I cannot shake.  Seventeen  years of his anger I cannot shake.  Seventeen years of his voice I cannot unhear.

I walk literally every day with one or more of these things.  Wondering how to shake it, wondering how to be free.

How to be free…

A Hard Reminder

Days come and days go.

Cleaning the house.  No really, I do clean the house.

Chasing kids.

Playing with kids.

Reading books.

Going to church.

Sleeping.

I do my thing.

The meds do their thing.

And I wonder why the Bipolar was ever such a big deal.

Until a day happens.  A day like yesterday.

Due to a snafu between the pharmacy and the doctor office, I ran out of one of my anchor meds, one of the big guns that keep me sorted out and stable.  I can miss a dose here and there, but it is truly not a good idea to do so.

But it happens.

And I think, “ah, I’ll be fine.”

That was me yesterday.

I had a list of things to do.

I had all but one of my meds.

No big deal, right?

So I started in on the to-do list.  And the anxiety came.  The hyperventilating.  The shaking came.  Only to be followed by tears.   Until I reached the realization I could not do it all.  That there is a reason I am on several meds and I no longer work outside the home.  I ended up in bed for the afternoon.  I wanted to be all my husband needed me to be, but I just couldn’t.

I, like everyone, have limits, mine are just pretty close and tight.  There is little wriggle room.

The Bipolar is a big deal.

 

*I got my meds today, I took them as soon as I picked them up from the pharmacy.  Today is a little shaky, but I know I am back on the road to okay.  So thankful for the grace my husband, children, and God extend to me.

 

Annual Reminder

Have I ever mentioned that Bipolar Disorder is a jerk?  A real jerk?  Well it is, and even when you are doing well it is not far away and even when you are doing well, that doesn’t mean  it isn’t pressing in, closer and closer to taking over your mind once again.

It’s been whispering in my ear for a week.  I’m scared, but I am beginning to reach out and use both old and new coping mechanisms.  This week it got a big boost to the forefront of my mind…it handed me my annual reminder of what a terrible mother I am.

I don’t enjoy playing in water.  I don’t enjoy water slides.  I don’t enjoy swimming.  Never really have.  I can doggy paddle but even that is cumbersome and sloppy.  But, my children are more normal than I, and they love the water.  LOVE IT!  Love the slip and slide.  Love the water balloons.  Love the splash pad.  Love the water slide.  Love the wave pool.  They love it all.

And the beginning to our summer has been toasty.  And sunny.  The girls keep mentioning the water park…so, surprise, surprise when that was the first activity they wanted to do on our summer “bucket” list.

I have been taking Caitlyn and Sue for four years.  Our county rec program used to give kids free passes for reading.  They seem to have stopped doing that, but not before they got my girls hooked on going.

So we go…

The first year I was still working, well sort of.  I was on medical leave because the bipolar was giving me heck and I had just started lithium after being hospitalized once again for suicidal thoughts/plans.  Caitlyn, Sue, and I left Patrice with the sitter and off to the water park we headed.  We put sunscreen on the girls, but not on mama.  And then we played for a few hours.

The sunscreen didn’t do the big girls any good and my lack of sunscreen did me even less favors.  We all came home painfully burned.  Hubby wanted take us all to the ER for help and I just stood there blubbering about what a failure of a mom I was.

I will never forget how burned Caitlyn was.

And every year that damn water park reminds me what a failure I am.  Oh, the girls are well coated in sunscreen, but see that fair skin?  It manages to burn anyway…and I fight back my tears.

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They aren’t crying–not at the park or once we get home.  Oh no, they are planning their next trip (they hid the water park back in our “bucket” list).  They are hoping, asking, planning while mommy is screaming with terror at herself (internally) for being such a horrible, lousy mother that does not deserve to guide these beautiful girls through life.

My mind walks two lives, plastering on the smiles, waving, and taking pictures while the girls play while internally I am preparing myself for someone to say,  you really can’t do this, we can’t let you do this.  And Bipolar gets the last laugh as it reminds me of what I really am…

Sometimes It Is About Control

I wrote this post in my head while taking a walk.  It was awesome…then.  We’ll see how it goes now.

I, like many teens/young people, danced with anorexia in my teens and then again in my 20s.  I was chunky from fourth grade on.  My cousin was slim, all the popular girls were slim, and then there was me.

High school sucked.  Most of the people around me were mean or indifferent (NOT the aforementioned cousin–she was and is one of the best people in my life).  I didn’t know how to fit in at either of the schools I attended during Junior High and High School.  Nothing I did helped.  I felt like I didn’t have any control.

And then I learned to control my food.  I could skip as many meals as I wanted.  That, I could control.  So, I ate less and less.  And I lost weight.

Bonus.

I got down to 84 pounds.

But hunger came back and so did the pounds.

Right after high school I discovered exercise and a healthy diet.  I took the weight off right this time.

And it stayed off.

Then I got involved in a relationship.  A really unhealthy relationship.  Let’s call it for what it was…an abusive relationship.  And they only thing I ever did that made him happy was losing more weight.  He loved to show people how much he could overlap his fingers when he put his hands around my waist.  So, I kept losing weight.

Praise the Lord, he and I split up, but again life was spiraling for a while there and food was one thing I could control.

Until I met my now husband.  I was  happy with him.  I had someone to eat with again.  I gained weight.  Then I lost weight…in time to get pregnant with our third baby…and then I lost all control of my weight with the various psych meds I was on and the depression I was in.

Control was again missing from my life.

I have slowly regained control my mind.  I am slowly regaining control of my weight.

I have lost 17 pounds since January.

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As I have written about before, I  have had to radically change my diet.  I have had to eliminate or severely limit many foods.  It is not always fun, but it is worth it.  The FODMAP diet has eliminated much of my stomach pain.  It has made losing weight much easier, and, an added benefit, it has given me control–healthy control–over my eating again.  I know what I can and cannot eat.  I know how much I can eat.  There is no guesswork in my food.

It is good.  Very good.

We Went We Saw

Four years ago, we headed a few states over for a family wedding.  We did some camping along the way.

Turns out, I remember very little of it.

Patrice was one years old.  I don’t remember her being there at all.  Hubby tells me she was very good about camping and the wedding, but if you ask me, she wasn’t even there.

And sorry to my niece who was getting married, I don’t remember the wedding at all.  I am sure it was just lovely.  Really lovely, but you see, I was very sick with the postpartum depression and bipolar at the time.  Life at that time was really hard and so very foggy.

But time has passed and my meds are better…and my mind is allowing me to think and remember.

So this trip to a wedding was very different.  It was very nice.  We went to our nephews’ wedding and then headed to Lake Michigan to relax and even visit Chicago for a day.

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A waterfall in Wisconsin we visited with family before heading to Lake Michigan2016-06-08 07.36.48 2016-06-08 07.38.41 2016-06-08 09.24.22 2016-06-08 11.54.49 2016-06-09 10.28.58 2016-06-09 11.20.57 2016-06-09 12.29.25 2016-06-09 12.32.43 2016-06-09 15.09.42 2016-06-09 15.19.48 2016-06-09 15.50.44 2016-06-09 19.28.26 2016-06-10 13.37.00 2016-06-10 20.41.52 2016-06-10 20.53.07

Meeting another warrior mom was a huge highlight of the trip!!!2016-06-10 21.42.05 2016-06-11 08.21.03 2016-06-11 09.31.27 2016-06-11 12.10.21 2016-06-11 19.01.13 2016-06-11 20.51.33 2016-06-12 08.35.53This trip was fantastic and I am hoping to remember it for a very long time!!!

Recovery Hangover

I don’t know what it is like to struggle with addiction, but I do, I think, know what it is to recover.

I’ve been doing just that since March.  And it has been great.  I have been reconnecting with people as not just Charity in Bipolar Disorder crisis, but as Charity–the person, friend, wife, and daughter.  It has been lovely.

I’ve also been able to reconnect with other parts of my life and take care of things that were pushed aside by the overwhelming darkness the Bipolar had been.  I’ve been exercising, not to survive depression or mania, but to strengthen my body.  I’ve been figuring out my digestive-health issues, and in the process losing weight.  I’ve been getting the correct treatment for a running injury I sustained some time ago.

It has all been great.  It has all been lovely.

And I have been seeing a lot of success.  I’ve lost 14 lbs.  I’ve lost 2.5 inches in my waist and hips alone.  I have been feeling good about it.  Great, really.

Then tonight.

I got irrationally angry about something.  My foot hurt so bad we had to cut therapy short.  I went to try on dresses and was sickened at how fat and slobby my body is.

All I want to do is cry.

I know the success I have seen.  I know the process is going to take awhile, but I still wanted to throw in the towel–and I would have if it weren’t for my stomach.

I still just want to cry.

For no good reason.

I think I have a recovery hangover.

Can’t You Just Be

I am currently very excited to be overhauling my diet, super upping my exercise, and trying to reclaim my body pre-stupid-psych-meds.

After 15 years of medications, surgery, and the like, I have finally found a diet that controls my stomach pain and is taking off the weight.  I didn’t want to change my diet, but the pain was making it inevitable–relief came when someone introduced me to the Low FodMap diet.  It is a fair amount limiting concerning on what I can eat, but the fact that it no longer hurts my stomach to have the girls hug me is huge–stupendous.

Bonus–the weight I put on while taking some of the psych meds is falling off–currently at the rate of a pound a day.

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I have the success of the FodMap diet and some big dreams that continued me on my path of exercising consistently.  I am partnering with a friend to do the Beachbody workout PiYo six days a week, with an overall goal of being certified to teach PiYo live a year from now.  I continue to love my FitBit and work toward my minimum daily target of 10,000 steps.  I got a new model, the Alta, for Mother’s Day and it is taking me a bit to get used to what it credits as a step.  The zip counted just about any movement.  The Alta is a little more particular.

I love PiYo, but soon I am going to start another workout. T25.  It was my birthday present to me.  I am very focused on my physical health right now.

And it feels great!

Someone dear to me said the other day, “You’re either totally down and out, no moving, no nothing, or you’re all the exercise, all the activity.  Can’t you just be somewhere in the middle?”

That question, to me, was very telling on what it is like to live life with me.  There are constant fluctuations–often big fluctuations.  I try to tame them, really I do, and I thought I had done a better job than I apparently have.  The ups and downs can be intense–rapid, and hard to follow, but I hope for those who are around me, that it is worth the ride!!!

There is an Other Side

Postpartum Depression and Anxiety came with her birth:

Leah at park 2010

And then, the bumpiest ride of our entire familys’ lives–bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder.  It’s been oh so hard.  Four hospital stays, countless psychiatrist appointments, and innumerable medications.  There were blips of improvement, but then the darkness would descend again.

Hard is an understatement.

It all landed me in a partial hospitalization program 3 weeks.  There, I learned coping skills and worked with a doctor who knew his medications, and fought to get me one that we found actually worked!!!

I’ve been smiling ever since.  That was two months ago.  And I am still smiling.  that is huge.  Really, really huge.

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Keep fighting whatever battle you’ve been handed.  There is hope on the other side.

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 .

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.