Category Archives: Bipolar Disorder

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!”

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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.

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.