Category Archives: Family

Texas Healing potential

Well, it has been way too long, dear reader, since I have checked in. A week after finishing the outpatient program, I flew from Chicago to Dallas to spend a couple months with my family. The purpose is establishing healthy routines I’ve fallen out of. The very routines that could anchor me and my moods in an environment that will help stabilize the swings. Plus I’ll be in a supportive, social environment to help make the process a success.

That stabilization is the theory anyway. 😀 My therapists and psychiatrists are on board. And so I’m giving this a try. 

We are focusing on getting up and going to bed at the same time (something I’m already ok at), showering regularly (which I’m not good at), eating regular meals with more healthy snacks. I’m also focusing on regular exercise by walking after breakfast and water jogging three times a week, with some treadmill thrown in. I’m going to church on Sundays, an important part of my spiritual practices.

I also brought all my art supplies and books and paper, and there are puzzles here, to do some art therapy and some mental exercising. It’s been two weeks and I’ve already finished my first 500-piece puzzle ever!.

Sadly, with all we are doing, I’m still heading into a depressive episode now and I’ve been feeling alone, fearful and suicidal (with plans) too. I can’t win. And I’ve gained weight even with all the focus on losing weight. Gah! Not helping.

I talk to my therapist once a week. Today we talked about my resistance to defusing from my thoughts (ACT skill), and how I can use my support system better, when I’m out of my home and close to them. 

I just don’t want to feel alone and fearful anymore. Here or at home. 

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Trying to Travel

For people with bipolar disorder especially, travel can be very destabilizing. Time changes, schedule and routine changes, new activities and people – all work to change one’s life enough that a mood change might commence. 

I’m visiting my family several states away, but in the same time zone. I haven’t seen them in over five years. We are celebrating Thanksgiving together since we haven’t done that in 25 years. The visit sounds great, right? My schedules and routines and stamina are different. Being with family is being around some kind of strangers since I hardly ever see them. We have different views on politics and religion so we don’t talk about them – my idea. We’ve done some kind of activity every day. So I’ve needed to have stamina for all the driving (they live in the boonies) and the activity itself. 

I discharged from the hospital the Saturday before I traveled on Tuesday. My mood really was stable. Starting yesterday I’m feeling a dip in mood toward depression with suicidal thoughts and plans. I would say I’ve been managing anxiety well – one day, one hour at a time. But anxiety, I think, is triggering this potential mood change, as often happens for me. Some environmental factor triggers anxiety which leads to suicidal thoughts, and I feel depressed that I’m feeling suicidal. 

My therapist thinks I get suicidal when I don’t feel perfect, my too high expectations aren’t met. Maybe in this case, I wanted to feel relaxed around my family. And when that didn’t happen – which should have been obvious from the beginning – I become anxious, then suicidal, then depressed. 

And that’s where I am now. I can probably make it til I get back home. I just don’t want to spiral as I do into needing the safety of a hospital. 

Lability: Posts from Hospital

** Heavily Edited

I am all over the place with my feelings and with my thoughts. Even my behaviors which I’m supposed to have control over seem all over the place.

I’m angry at the situation, including at myself for staying so long when I was hurting so badly and enabling so much. I gave blood, sweat and tears to something on life support.

I’m scared. I stuck it out for so long, even after hunches and actions that pointed to unhealthy behaviors I found myself doing. What’s left? I hitched my wagon to something that didn’t work the way I expected it to. I wanted us to work and to grow together, but it couldn’t happen if I was pouring myself out completely. I was scared to ask for what I needed, and didn’t get much when I did. Just your usual marriage there, I’m sure.

I love him. I have tremendous compassion for a person I spent half my life with. I also can’t live with him in order to be healthy financially, emotionally, behaviorally.

I feel duped and then hard on myself. And lost in the process.

I’m sad for all of this. Regret tinged with sadness. I’m sad that it’s broken. I was so young and full of hope that we would grow up and entwined together. Now I’m jaded. Maybe this can be reworked into something beautiful again. New beginnings.

My head and heart are not in the same place – mind is jumping ahead to what’s next for me and for us, while heart is labile.

I’m sad and I can barely cry. I’m sad that we made it nearly 17 years, even though I know that this was broken long ago. I just woke up 2 months ago. My heart was invested for 17 years, no matter what my mind says. And it’s my heart that is breaking.

I hurt. Friends have each other’s backs. We were friends. We lacked common goals, which hurts. We couldn’t be on the same page. We bumped into each other: the caregiver Dave who probably was angry that he became an adult and caregiver too soon, who bumped into the patient who was angry to be a patient and so took a caregiver role instead. But a caregiver that allowed all emotional and financial support to come from her – enablement. I wanted a different dynamic and wanted to make it work in a new way with all of my being. Wrong time I suppose to be on the same page or to have the same goals?

I feel wounded and bleeding. I wish these were visible so there was more support – someone – to pull the ache out of me. I know in my head that it’s a long process, and in my heart I am weary for all that I have processed and grieved about who I am for the last 3+ years and don’t think I have it in me to go again.

I need patience from myself and from my support system. There’s been a death, even if temporary, and my breath is taken away. I am bleeding, hemorrhaging  and all I seem to be able to do is to be rational. But there is fear of the unknown and of judgment and of death. There is hurt – a dull ache in the heart, sharp pain where I am bleeding, with a wonder whether it can be repaired.

I am sad. A lump in the chest, stomach is empty, limbs heavy. Thoughts are depressed. I’m ok being sad. There are lots of things to be sad about: 20 years disintegrating, family broken apart, lack of support from family, alone for the most part. Anger and hurt are under the surface, but sad is predominant. My movements are slow. I want to be happy. Can I be regal and strong and resilient AND sad and depressed? 

Mind is ready to more forward, but the heart is still bleeding. I’ve had an achy heart for a long time. What I thought were normal trials of marriage – turned out, not so much. It was our weird dance. My heart didn’t know it didn’t have to hurt all the time. When I knew and felt healthier, I called the unhealthy one for what it was – despite the anger, sadness, fear, hurt, bleeding that would come.

 

Unbloggable

separationI hope you think I’ve been having a good month based on my last post about perhaps having a glimpse of what a new normal might be for me.

Instead, the month has been full of unbloggable items as I separated from my husband of almost 17 years. I packed, ran a garage sale, moved with help from dear friends. I am now in a first-floor one-bedroom apartment closer to work and friends and church. I’ve been in the new place for 10 days. I’m unpacked and just need to get some items up on the walls to feel more settled.

While there were a host of reasons for my actions, I moved mostly for continued stability. I was not feeling the stability that I needed in the place and relationship I was in. I need to be alone and manage my own life to take the next step in my recovery. I hit a plateau that needed to be cut off in order to move forward in a healthy way.

The month has been full of every feeling possible and then some. I am surprised that I did this. I am surprised that I am doing so well living on my own. I am less anxious and feel more in control of myself already. My heart hurts for breaking another’s heart, or at least putting another’s life into extreme upheaval. I needed this upheaval, and it wasn’t happening otherwise. I hope with everything I’ve got that this gets both of us healthier mentally and physically and perhaps we can come back together as healthy selves.

Ode to My Husband

You know who bears the brunt of mental illness?

The person who lives with and loves the person who has it.

I have bipolar. I hate living with bipolar. It’s terrible to live with it. I will never be rid of this horrid thing.

And I think it’s worse to watch someone with it and know you’re helpless against it. I think it’s worse to love someone who has it and be confused when the illness makes your loved one do something stupid. I think it’s worse to live with someone who has it and Not get sucked into the mania or depression cycle when those erupt.

I think it’s worse because you don’t understand what it’s like living inside the mind and body and brain of the person with the illness. You can’t know, which is frustrating for both parties, and no amount of describing or analogies will allow a spouse or other loved one inside the life of someone with bipolar to understand that there were good intentions behind that action that totally blew up. I know it’s more than tough to give the person the benefit of the doubt or of good intentions when a relationship turns inside out. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to be in a relationship with someone with bipolar and have the whole relationship be about the person with bipolar.

All that said, I think my husband should win any and all possible gold medals for sticking with me for YEARS of untreated (because undiagnosed!) bipolar, and for the years of trying to find stability now that I am treated. I’m sure that I’m impossible to live with, now that I look back with more clarity and see who I was for all those years. I missed out on those years too, but he bore the brunt of my actions and moods when we just thought it was me. And he still sticks by me. I don’t know why, but I’m Very Glad!

I found some resources that could help him and any others who are living with someone with bipolar. Once again Natasha Tracy was my source (Yay Natasha!).

 

Wishing for the Hospital

floodedIn case you hadn’t heard, the family room on the lowest level of our split level house flooded in the Chicago rains this week. Faulty sump pump. Backyard up to the knees at the lowest point. This level of flooding happened 3 years ago but only had a couple inches of water. Landlords got us new carpet, we finally really moved into the room and began utilizing it as a room of no-clutter and coziness for me, and a corner for a home office.

dryerBut… we had 5 inches or so 2 days ago. Lost the furniture, book cases, desk, etc. Many books, photo albums. Junk. Landlords are getting us a new sump pump and carpet. But our losses are still significant. And no, rental insurance doesn’t cover flooding. We checked last time.

So, my life is disrupted. The cats are Not Happy about the chaos and naturally respond to my mood and Dave’s. I’ve been stable so far and anxiety has been low enough that I an handle. The depression I live with all the time, plunging a bit. Enough that I’m thinking about the safety of the hospital. The reality is that I’m not wanting to hurt myself or suicidal. I am, however, depressed and getting more depressed. Depressed people usually don’t have energy to do anything about it…

view of floodI’ve been pushing feelings away and staying  focused on tasks at hand. You’d think that was a good thing “staying in the moment.” It’s not. It’s avoidance. When feelings break through or I become aware of the disruption and then the feelings of sadness at leaving things and the frustration of all the work that will hurt my back, then I hurt and I start thinking of the hospital. Now I’m trying to push that away. This is just stress right?

 

Ways You Can Help Me

One of my goals for remaining stable is communicating even better with those who are around me and care about me. I now authorize All of You to call me out if you see any of these behaviors! It may mean I’m tipping toward a pole and need extra treatment: therapy, meds, schedule changes, diet.

I’m not kidding! Totally tell me if you see these in me!

cautiondance Mania

  • Speaking too quickly
  • Pressured speech
  • Flight of ideas (many ideas at the same time)
  • Not describing ideas thoroughly
  • Trying to force a decision before it has been thought through
  • More than racing thoughts, but getting caught up in the race and obsessing about an idea or situation
  • Changes in schedule – up too late or sleeping in, or changing a pre-planned schedule

 

cautiontrippingDepression

  • Speaking about suicide, dangerous or bad thoughts or self-harm
  • Isolating from local face-to-face friends
  • Not sharing what is really going on with me (i.e., just saying I’m doing ok or fine)
  • Skipping appointments with my therapist or psychiatrist
  • Changes in schedule – up too late or sleeping in, or changing a pre-planned schedule
  • Anxiety or feelings of being overwhelmed