Category Archives: Family

Turning a Corner

With my ever-wise therapist, I have decided to buy a plane ticket home. Two or three weeks out. It’s time to transition into my own space and my own rhythms and routines. 

This scares me to death. How much of my mood will destabilize? (Probably labile between 3 and 5 for 3-4 weeks. 5 seems to be my baseline.) How will I deal with all the anxiety? (I’ll probably get up to 8 and 9 which is dangerous/suicidal for me. Time to pull out the Ativan.) How will I deal with the fear that I can’t do this? (Repeating true things about myself that I believe: I am competent to take care of myself; I know when to ask for help.)

You can see all the work we did today. Homework is to buy the ticket. Set up time with friends now that there is a date to work with. Other things are bonus.

I’m still scared to death. And crying. Definitely crying.
Pic from time in Texas: 


My brother

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Progress and Regress

I’ve been tooling along with the stabilization plan here in Texas with family. I’m still getting up at the same time and going to bed at the same time (already good at that); eating regularly (new skill); exercising 2x/day (new that it’s twice and it’s everyday); making lunch and cooking dinner (new skill, still learning); using time to exercise my brain with reading, puzzles and art (re-starting an old skill).

I’m still going to church while I’m here – a Unitarian Universalist one actually since a friend from seminary is the pastor there. Shhh. Don’t tell my family. They already think it’s weird I go to church and Presbyterian is enough for them. They’d probably flip if I went Episcopal! But we have different worldviews.

One funny thing is that we have together found a floorplan we all like that would allow us all to live together. Unfortunately it’s in Texas since my brother is the only one gainfully employed and we’d have to stay close enough to his job. That takes me away from values of long-term relationships, which I’m in back in Illinois and living independently, which may be overrated since I’m doing so well mentally and physically living in community with my family. I’d have a suite with two bedrooms and my own bathroom so I could have a couch, tv, office in one and feel I could live independently within the community.

I’m going on and on about this (unrealistic?) plan because I have been doing well and getting better in the head and body while with my family. Yay! And I don’t have the same live-in community at home. I don’t have someone doing my laundry or cleaning my house (which are things I’m good at taking care of at home, making it easier to let that happen here. But I’m cooking and exercising my body and brain, and those are all things I needed to get better at. The social environment has helped. And I just can’t get the same level of social environment at home. Hence, the flirting with living altogether as a family (boyfriend welcome to live there too – but not with someone long enough for that to be an option, IF he wanted to move to Texas in the first place. IF I wanted to move to Texas in the first place.)
 

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. 

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!).