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Past Tense

August 24, 2015

One of the blessings of being in remission from bipolar disorder is the fading of bad memories from past mood episodes. It’s been almost eight months since the last of the depression left me in early January, and now I’m questioning whether it was really all that bad back then, or if it’s just that good now.

I suppose I shouldn’t play this game. It’s too easy to dismiss what was a very serious episode in the light of day, and I have both the hospital record and the diagnosis to prove it. But the intervening months of stability have mellowed my recollection of events to the point that I’ve found myself doubting that diagnosis…if only a little.

I’ve talked to a few of my friends about this, and of course they think I’m full of shit. And they are probably right. Time may have muted some of the horrors of depressions past, but it still happened and unfortunately is likely to happen again given the cyclical nature of my disease. But then I get to thinking about how much longer it’s been since I had a manic episode, and I can’t help wondering if those were as severe as I’ve been told they were, or if I’ll ever have another. I haven’t had a single manic spell in almost two years; in fact, I’ve only had downswings (along with a couple of mild hypomanic phases) since October of 2013. The meds are great at preventing mania…so how come they don’t keep the depression away too?

Anyway, I’m not wasting too much time ruminating because Will and I have been incredibly busy since we moved in with Ethan and Clark earlier this month. The living arrangements are still being worked out; I don’t get to roost in the bathroom for an hour every morning like I once did, we still have a new routine to get used to (which is more like no routine at all—it’s different every day), and our bedroom has yet to be fully organized. But there’s no question in my mind that the move was the right thing to do, and we are VERY glad to be here. I don’t know about Will, but I never felt comfortable at our last place, never felt “at home”. Here, we are family, and that makes it home.

And I’m still taking showers most days. :-)

 

Of Tears And Terrible Sounds (When Life Is Too Painful For Words)

August 20, 2015

bpnurse:

This is a beautifully written piece by a man I admire greatly. He is a nondenominational Christian pastor who really gets what life is all about and nails it in this post. Enjoy!

Originally posted on john pavlovitz:

Despair

My dear, hurting friend,

I want words right now.

I want words that will fix this; ones that will repair all that is so terribly broken here.

I want words that will turn back the clock and undo the damage and erase the heartache for you.

I want some words that will provide you answers or hope or relief or escape.

Right now I am straining so desperately, reaching so frantically for these words so that I can give them to you, but they aren’t coming and I know they won’t come.

This wound is too invasive, this fracture too severe, this day too dark for mere words.

They all fail.

They all feel worthless.

They don’t say anything remotely worthy of your suffering.

The only language that speaks eloquently into pain like this is made of tears and terrible sounds.

When the heart is so battered and the anguish so full and the senselessness so great, there…

View original 352 more words

Shower Power

August 12, 2015

And now, a few words on a subject bipolar people don’t like to talk about: our reluctance to shower.

I honestly don’t know what it is about performing personal hygiene that’s so hard, but it’s a real phenomenon among many of us, especially when we’re depressed. It just seems like too much of a bother. We’re not afraid of the shower, we simply lack the energy to care for ourselves, and that extends to getting dressed, caring for our hair, even brushing our teeth. And as for actually bathing away the funk, well…let’s just say that it’s the last thing on our minds when we can barely get out of bed.

Look, we know we stink. But it doesn’t matter when we’re wading through the mud of depression. My daughter’s roommate, who suffers badly from it, will literally go months without a shower. And as much as I hate to admit it, I myself have been known to go as long as a week, although one of the reasons was a legitimate one: the bathtub showers in our old house were slippery and dangerous, and having a textured bottom didn’t allow for rubber mats or gripper strips. The sides were also high, which made getting in and out dicey at best, and I lived in fear of falling and having the paramedics see me naked. So that made a great excuse for failing to shower…in my mind at least.

Now I don’t have that excuse, seeing as how my son and son-in-law’s house has a beautiful walk-in shower. It also helps that I’m NOT depressed. Guess what, I’ve showered four times in the week that we’ve been here, and I’m going to take another one tonight. I’ve even come to enjoy it again like I used to years ago, before bipolar disorder took over my life for awhile. I love the feeling of being clean and smelling nice. Showering also makes me feel better about myself—a win/win situation all around. Such a simple thing…but one I no longer take for granted.

When I’m in a bad way, I’m very fortunate in that my husband will leave me gentle hints about my needing to bathe by putting clean underwear in the bathroom for me, rather than going “Ewww, you reek!!” He knows I would never put clean underwear on a filthy body, so while I may neglect myself from time to time I’m not stupid. That’s when I’ll drag my sorry butt into the shower and git-r-done, no matter how lousy I feel or how scared I am of climbing into the tub. Thank God I no longer have to worry about the latter.

Anyway, that’s a little bit about bipolars and showers (or the lack thereof). We don’t like to acknowledge this uncivilized behavior as part of our illness, but for many of us it is. I just hope the next time I get depressed that I’ll remember how much better I feel when I don’t smell like a goat. LOL

 

 

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Moving Again

August 2, 2015

Well, Will and I are on the move for the second time in seven months, this time to our son and son-in-law’s house, where it is presumed by all concerned that this move will be our last. They have made it abundantly clear that they want us to stay for good, and the way finances are looking, that’s exactly what we may have to do.

Let me be clear: I miss our privacy. I miss the days when we rattled around in that big old house by ourselves, spending most of the time together, sometimes in companionable silence, and often in lively discussions about all sorts of things. It was during those past two years that we finally got to be just husband and wife again, and I know we’ll both treasure those times forever. At least we got to have them, before everything went to hell in the proverbial bushel basket.

That being said, I’ve accepted the fact that we need to live with someone, and I’m looking forward to it even though I loathe the actual process of moving. We’ll be with family, and that will make it home. I’ve never felt at home here. Nothing in this house is really mine—not the decorations, not the furniture (although to be fair, our landlady offered us space for some of our stuff, and more than once too), and definitely not the feeling of belonging.

But the time here has served its purpose; I’ve had the chance to heal from that horrible depression and become stronger. Even though things are stressful right now what with Will’s cancer progressing and our having trouble obtaining his birth certificate and adoption records so we can get his passport (that’s another whole post right there), I’ve been as steady as I can possibly be. Dr. Awesomesauce did think I was mildly depressed at our last meeting and documented it in my chart, but I’m really not…just stressed and a little anxious. I know depression, and this ain’t it.

Living with Ethan and Clark should also be an interesting experience. They are not into Pride, and even though I occasionally try to get them to at least walk in a parade, they are really just two hard-working men who come home exhausted most nights and simply don’t have time for those things. But they have an amazing assortment of friends, most of whom have colorful personalities, and on the nights when they DON’T come home and flop on the sofa, they go out with these friends or have them over for drinks. Personally, I think they all drink too much, but then I’m a recovering alcoholic whose partying days are loooooong behind her, so I tend to judge other people’s drinking behavior pretty harshly. I have to watch that. After all, Ethan and Clark can have a perfectly good time without booze, and they are rarely, if ever drunk. That certainly wasn’t true of me back in the day!

Anyway, I’m once again going to be off the grid for several days, maybe even a week, so I wanted my readers to know I’m not dropping off the face of the planet. I’ll “see” you again soon. :-)

40 Random Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Me

July 29, 2015

I got the inspiration for this post from my good friend Kitt O’Malley, a fellow bipolar blogger who made a list of 50 things you didn’t know about her. You can check that out as soon as you’re done reading mine. :-)

1. I was born in Escondido, California.

2. I’m bilingual, Spanish/English. I understand and read Spanish a whole lot better than I speak it, but I can speak enough to get by.

3. I probably know 100 Spanish slang words for men’s and women’s private parts. That’s what I get for growing up with kids who spoke street Spanish.

4. I can cuss in French and German, too.

5. I once spent four hours in jail for being “drunk and disorderly”. Which meant I got 86’d from a bar and I refused to leave the premises. Not one of my brighter moments, that’s for sure.

6. I got married when I was 21.

7. I was reading 9th-grade level books in first grade.

8. My sister taught me both to read and tell time when I was 4.

9. My big toe is shaped like a light bulb.

10. I have skinny-dipped…well, it’s more like chunky-dunked, but you know what I mean.

11. I skipped second grade.

12. I never sneeze more than twice in a row. Which is a good thing, because my head would explode otherwise.

13. I can’t carry a tune in a bucket.

14. That said, I love singing in church and reminding God that He gave me this voice to make a joyful noise unto Him.

15. I’m a forum moderator at a football fan forum. I’m also a site guide for the world’s largest nursing website.

16. My biology teacher in high school nicknamed me “Picky” because I was always correcting his spelling and grammar. Well, it needed correction.

17. I’ve written articles and commentaries that have appeared in several large West Coast newspapers and one national magazine.

18. I was orphaned at 30.

19. I was the first person in my family to go to college

20. I graduated from nursing school and passed my boards when I was 38

21. My favorite kind of food is Mexican.

22. My four food groups: fat, salt, sugar, and chipotle pepper.

23. I never turn on lights when I have to use the bathroom at night. It’s in Braille.

24. I love a good action movie.

25. I hate movies about robots and/or zombies.

26. Two of my children (a son and a daughter) are Iraq War Veterans.

27. I once bumped into singer Helen Reddy in a ladies’ room in Las Vegas.

28. I can wiggle my ears.

29. I am afraid of birds.

30. I am even more afraid of spiders. I’d rather deal with a snake any day.

31. I was even afraid of computers before I was forced to take a class in order to graduate from college. I got over it about a week into the course, and after that I taught myself everything I know about PCs.

32. I have ridden an elephant.

33. I’m a recovering alcoholic.

34. My musical taste is very eclectic—I listen to just about everything except “death metal” and gangsta rap.

35. I love dogs, but I love cats even more and I miss having them.

36. I once danced on a bar in Ensenada, Mexico. Well, I was liquored up or I wouldn’t have done it, but looking back I realize that I was manic at the time so who knows, maybe I would have.

37. My index and ring fingers are equal in length.

38. My baby fingers are double-jointed.

39. My middle finger works great.

40. I’ve had three children by Cesarean.

Now it’s your turn to share!

Nothing To Write About

July 24, 2015

It’s true: I have nothing to write about. I don’t have writer’s block, there just isn’t anything of interest to say. So why am I posting? Because it’s been five days since my last post and I don’t want to lose my readership. (I may bore them to death, however.)

This being a blog about bipolar disorder and how it affects yours truly, it seems hard to talk about all things BP when nothing is happening. And I do mean nothing is happening…I’m as stable as a rock, I have zero symptoms and my meds are the same as they’ve been ever since I got out of the hospital. Oh wait, I did have that slight decrease in Geodon a couple of months ago, but other than a little wonky sleep, I haven’t noticed any changes.

It’s really quiet around here.

And quiet is good in my case. No drama, no wild mood swings, no crisis situations…just day after day of getting up, having breakfast/lunch, hanging out on the computer, chatting with Will, maybe going to the library or the store or to a doctor’s appointment, taking a nap, having dinner, hanging out on the computer some more, watching a movie, going to bed.

Yeah, I know. DULLSVILLE.

Thankfully, we’re moving in a couple of weeks so getting ready for that will take a little preparation, but this one will be a walk in the park compared with what we went through last winter. All we have is one bedroom and a bathroom’s worth of stuff, which we should be able to move in one trip since we have help. It’ll be pizza and beer for everyone who shows up to assist. I just want this to be the LAST move we make for a good long time.

And then I’ve got to find myself something to do, a hobby or something. (NO, it’s not going to be knitting!) I can’t just sit around the house all day watching daytime television {{{shudder}}}. Of course, there will be plenty of blog material drawn from living with two gay men and being around a colorful assortment of other characters; you can’t discount the potential entertainment value there. But as far as writing about bipolar goes, well folks, that well has run dry.

Thank God. :-)

Even More Things I Wish People Knew About Bipolar Disorder

July 18, 2015

1. The vast majority of us are non-violent. The media seem to love targeting the mentally ill by insinuating that almost everyone who commits a heinous crime has some sort of psychiatric problem. I’ve ranted on this topic elsewhere in this blog (check out “Bipolar and Off His Meds” if you want to read my thoughts on the subject) and it just galls me that sensationalism continues to trump common sense. After all, there are well-known studies that show we are far more likely to be the VICTIMS of violent crime than the perpetrators. And besides that…we’re just like everybody else in that all we want is to live our lives in as normal and happy a fashion as possible. We’re not out to steal your stuff and murder you in your sleep.

2.  Many of us hold down jobs and function as well as the next person. At least as long as we’re being treated and following our prescribed routines. Some people do fine even without medications, and you’d never know they had a problem if they choose to keep their condition private. I have learned to my sorrow that disclosure in the workplace is usually a bad idea, even though it was the only thing I could do at the time because I could no longer hide my illness. Employers tend not to be very understanding of mental health problems. I have also learned that the Americans with Disabilities Act is largely a feel-good piece of legislation that has little clout in the real world. The ADA did not save me from being fired—twice—nor did it force my employers to make reasonable accommodations for me due to my disability. Businesses have offices full of lawyers who know a thousand ways around the ADA, and you can bet those lawyers aren’t shopping at Walmart.

That being said, there are many, many people out there who are working steadily and succeeding in life despite having a mental illness. I wish I were one of them. I have to remind myself that I was reasonably high-functioning for many years before I was diagnosed, kept at it after I was diagnosed, and continued to work even after it became obvious that I was getting worse, not better.

3. We can’t just “snap out of it”. Don’t people know that if we COULD just put our depression on a shelf and move on, we would? Nobody enjoys drowning in a sea of despair, let alone feeling as though the world would be a better place without us in it. Please, if you love a person who struggles with a mental illness, never say that to them. It only adds guilt, and we already carry around enough of that as it is.

4. We put up with a lot of indignities in order to try to fit in. As I type this, I can’t help noticing (for the thousandth time) the tremors in my hands. It’s a side effect of taking two anti-psychotic medications as mood stabilizers. I hate it that I have trouble eating vegetables with a fork—I shake so much that most of them fall off before I can get them to my mouth—so I don’t eat a lot of things in public that require fine motor skills.

I also hate it when I have to go to a new medical provider who can see my record, which has Bipolar 1 disorder splashed all over it in bold print, before I ever take a seat in the waiting room. I’ve been a provider myself, and I know what I thought whenever I was about to receive a new patient with a psychiatric diagnosis. Overcoming whatever pre-conceived notions they may have about me is Job One; fortunately, I have become very good at it and when they find out I’m really not crazy, we get along great. It’s just the necessity of doing it in the first place that grates on me.  (For the record, the same can be said for obese people, who are the next-to-last population that can be judged, made fun of, and generally discriminated against. Lucky me, I get to fight that battle too.)

So there you have it. I’m sure I’ve got a few more of these things up my sleeve, but I think you all get the point. Being bipolar—being mentally ill, period—is a clusterf##k and I think the people who handle it well are amazing. It’s like being in a race where we have to start a lap behind everyone else, and nobody notices what a miracle it is when we manage to keep up…it’s only when we stumble and fall that we draw attention to ourselves.

Thanks for reading. :-)

 

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