I may be bi-polar, but I'm medicated

A little window into the bi-polar world

Archive for the tag “Informative”

This taking care of business

 

For a bi-polar person, taking care of another person is akin to a misguided attempt at suicide. This effect is heightened if the person being cared for is emotionally close to the bi-polar. This happens even if the job lasts only a few short days. Trusty Boyfriend/Knight In Shining Armor recently had his appendix taken out. Not a big deal, right? For me it was a huge deal. I wanted so terribly to show my appreciation for him. He has taken a lot of baloney from me in my altered moods. Why then shouldn’t I be able to get him jello and fluff his pillows for a couple of days?

 

I’ll tell you why…it becomes so overwhelming just to see your loved one uncomfortable that you can hardly bear it. You are so depressed from the change in routine, watching someone suffer, and the extra chore burden. Even if it’s routine, the disease makes the Himalayas out of a molehill.

 

Okay, now you’re depressed and noticing the signs in yourself. That person you normally turn to when moods abound is sick or hurt, in fact they are so busy getting better you have no support. What do you do? Try and compensate of course. You try to stay on your meds and try to do something good for you each day. The problem is that the guilt piled on you for taking your attention away from your loved one is unbearable. This guilt is somehow self-imposed and non-negotiable. Even though your loved one would revel in you taking care of your own moods before a crisis, you are already set down that road, with no way to turn back.

 

With the depression and compensation going on, you begin to bounce like a rubber ball. Off the walls, floors and ceilings you careen with your emotions already out of control. Next thing you know, you are unstable, in denial, and unable to seek help. That’s what you get from this taking care of business.

Sleeping

Living with bi-polar sleep patterns is like navigating the ocean’s waves.  The idea is to stay close to shore where there is gentle, safe ebbing and flowing between hypersomnia and insomnia.  At least a hundred different things could drag you farther out to sea, where the undertow of sleep deprivation and extended sleep threaten to pull you helplessly into instability.  Even farther still, the waves become larger and your sanity simply cannot rudder through.  Instead, you are crushed under the weight of the changes in your body and you fight for a single breath of consistency.

Every night is fraught with tension.  The question:  Will I be able to sleep, or will I be up all night?  Every day is a conundrum:  Do I dare nap, or will that be too much sleep?  Medication helps with insomnia, making you drowsy.  This allows for the simple freestyle stroke that keeps you close and parallel to shore.  When hypersomnia hits though, it is all willpower and discipline – this is the butterfly on open waters.  The wading in placid tide pools of balanced sleep is so seldom experienced it often feels nowhere near on the horizon.

There is danger and beauty in this world of balancing sleep.  Normal dreams are a coral reef, providing a glamorous show of life in a mild-tempered sea.  Too many dreams become the predators, lurking in dark water, awaiting their next meal.  Not having enough dreams is riding out a tropical storm in a rowboat on high seas.  To have balanced sleep patterns is like drinking a fine wine, watching the most beautiful sunset off the port bow.

There are things I can do to minimize disruption in sleep patterns, but it remains a complicated task of which I am frequently incapable.  I try to eat right, exercise, take all medications on time, establish set bedtimes and activity periods and enjoy the little things in life.  Nothing brings it home to me though, like a day at the beach.

Pain

Pain, especially chronic pain, effects the bi-polar’s sanity in the way sandpaper effects a block of wood.  The greater the pain, the lower grit of sandpaper.  This is especially true if you are uncertain as to when the pain may subside.

For instance, when I get a even a minor headache, I have an emotional reaction.  I cannot tolerate even the smallest stressor, and minor infractions tend to instigate major reactions.  When I am in pain like this, I can see myself being a perpetrator of road rage or some other ridiculous act of violence.  These are the days my children know not to ask for anything extra – it can only come to a bad end.

I feel guilt about my improper actions (including parenting techniques), but only after the grating has ceased and I can think straight again.  While the pain is going on, all I can think about is how much I would like to get rid of it.  During the torturous event, I cannot decipher the difference between appropriate and inappropriate reactions.  I live on pure and unadulterated emotion during this time.  I don’t stop to censor my thoughts or comments (I am incapable of such higher functions), but simply respond with the first thing that comes out.

For those who truly know me, the response is always the same…they hand me a couple of ibuprofen tablets, and state their intention to return in about an hour.  It is amazing how well this technique works, and those who don’t know me that well are in awe when they come back to a more tame and gentle version of me later on in the day.

This is yet another test of friendship or partnership, which the bi-polar can ill afford.  It is however, unavoidable at some point. (no one gets through life without at least a single headache.)  When it happens to me, I simply beg the people I interacted with for forgiveness, expecting nothing of the sort.  Whether I am forgiven or not, the guilt is a hot, wet blanket over my head, smothering the life out of me.

 

Alone

Sometimes I wonder where she went.  That fun-loving, adventurous soul – the one who slept with Trusty Boyfriend/Knight In Shining Armor on the night they met.  In fact, the one who wasn’t supposed to be at that party anyway, but was invited out by a friend at the last minute.  The one who would make new friends without even a thought, simply by being there and being herself.  It doesn’t seem like that long ago, and I don’t remember changing (is it a trick of the means perhaps?).  To say that who I am now is a shell of my former self would be giving it to much credit – the old self is gone, cast aside somewhere along a dusty dryland wheat road leading to nowhere.  The only thing left is the dust on the road and the destination is so isolated and destitute you can see the nothingness for miles around.

I’m not sure how it got to be this way.  I’m not even sure when the changes started.  I only know that I am desperately alone and longing for the comfort of my own company.  I still do things, although it’s more difficult to perform.  I go places (as long as they are on the schedule for today) I do things (as long as they are on the list for today.)  I do chores (okay, those are always on the books).  The things that used to make me feel so alive and passionate now merely assuage the anxiety and paranoia to a tolerable level.  I can’t imagine reaching out to a new person with the kind of bravery required to create an actual interaction, much less a relationship.  The relationships I have are strained at best and more often crumbling or decrepit beyond use.  I know that reaching out is important and “therapeutic” but I just can’t help thinking the solution starts inside me.  If I could just coax myself out long enough to play, I would feel good again.  If I could cajole myself into comforting me I would feel secure.  If I could be my own best friend, I could make new friends and connections – I would be able to try new things, go new places and enjoy what I’ve got or where I’m at.

I keep scrounging around along that deserted road, looking for the irrigation pipeline and pump that used to be me, willing the water within to irrigate so that I may propagate.  I hope I find myself again someday.  They say I will and because I don’t know what else to do, I comply with treatment plans.  I always wonder though whether or not I’m lost for good this time.

Hallucinations

I was recently asked about hallucinations.  They are not uncommon for a bi-polar person to experience, and I’ve certainly had my own.  I guess that makes me an authority?

First off, I want to make it clear that these are not those crazy directive hallucinations that tell you “Freddy is the devil” or “Kill your wife and children” (or in my case, husband).  These are just run of the mill, everyday glitches in brain chemistry that cause you to think you are experiencing something that you’re not.

For instance, I hear music on a regular basis that doesn’t really play.  It can be metal/screamo or Mexican fiesta or anywhere in between.  It doesn’t matter that I never listen to these genres, it’s still there.  Sometimes there are actual words and other times it’s just a faint melody with a beat to it.  Always it doesn’t make sense.

Which is how you know you’re experiencing a hallucination by the way…it just doesn’t make sense.  I once hallucinated a visit from a neighbor.  I could have sworn I heard his truck and saw his headlights.  I heard the truck doors slam and his voice talking in the yard.  The thing that tipped me off is that the dogs didn’t bark.  My dogs are alert barkers extraordinaire, and not a peep from one of them.  I knew not to go to the door and not to expect a knock, because he wasn’t really there (a relief to me in my nightie, I assure you.).

All in all they are mundane (yet exasperating) experiences.  The first time it was a little unreal, but I was able to tell myself “Oh, this is what the hype is all about.”  After that, you just ignore them and tell them (at least mentally tell them) to go away, you’re to busy for this nonsense.  Oh, and you hope you don’t get caught having one, because being caught is infinitesimally worse than the actual experience.  Being caught means that someone normal will know your secret and label you and tell on you.  This will set you apart from the rest of the world in a manner that can never be reversed (or corrected, as I like to think).  You will be lumped in with the globulous population known as the “mentally ill”, never to be trusted or looked at as a real human being again.

We’re really good at covering up what we experience too.  There are a million excuses or explanations.  “I was just talking to my dog.” covers a multitude of things (Why do you think I HAVE a service dog anyway?).  It’s amazing how little attention people pay to what we actually do.

So, if you see me bopping to a really good beat that you can’t hear, and I say I’ve just got a song stuck in my head, I bet I make you wonder from now on.

 

In Search of Happiness

I find myself with a lack of subjects to write on lately.  Those who know my verbose personality are in awe, I assure you.  It’s just that nothing feels as passionate as it did even a few weeks ago.  I could write until the cows come home about housework and children, but even those things seem uneventful since I’ve stabilized.

On one hand, I am utterly grateful for the stability.  It’s never fun to be out of control and it’s really no fun being mentally ill.  On the other hand though, I miss the stimulation each day used to provide.  I don’t feel anything clearly anymore – it’s as if I’m caught behind a four foot wall of fuzzy, pink insulation.  Between me and the world there is a barrier of fluff that stunts any biting sensory input.  This leads me to live in an imprecise haze.  I don’t know if the stable version is any more me than the shell of the mentally ill version.

My relationships (the ones that are left intact) are improving, and that’s something to be happy about.  I didn’t make an entire transformation this time.  There are shreds of who I used to be left in my personality anyway.

I remember when I was sick – all I wanted was to be well.  Now that I am well, I wax nostalgic about being sick.  It makes me wonder…what on Earth would make me happy?

Pinball

Being a transforming bi-polar is a unique experience.  During this phase, I often feel like a pinball, bouncing off of boundaries and running into sparse and far-reaching limits.  It must be apparent to all that I am unstable, although true to the theory of relativity, I myself feel somehow grounded, as if it were really the world careening around me.  The ball is nothing other than a ball, no matter where it is in the game.

Throughout the time of conversion I believe I am so confused with the sheer volume of sensory input that I really simply fail to see my wandering personality for what it really is.  I guess the saying “No matter where you are, that’s exactly where you’re at.” best describes it.  I am usually quite ill, and dealing with more emotion than was ever intended for a human being to experience.  The one thing that is freeing in this time is the fact that I just don’t see the limitations one normally perceives when making judgments.

The lack of inhibition sets one free to rediscover and question again even the most fundamental portions of their personality.  This is how a person may appear to be a political conservative on one day and yet justify liberalism on the next. This is not only true for political venues, but also in every aspect of a personality and the traits therein.

Obviously, the person experiencing this type of change is what we call a “hot mess”.  People generally don’t know how to react to the increasingly altered persona.  This is where relationships are lost and found.  This is where one personality crumbles to reveal an entirely different person.  This is also where the bi-polar needs someone the most, to ground them and remind them that they are loved.

Time Out

Anxiety is like being a little child, sitting in time out.  I watch my friends and family play about, carefree, having a good time while I am banished to watch from a corner seat.

As I sit in seclusion, I wonder who imposed this time out?  Was it me, someone else, some disease?  Why was it imposed?  Was it truly because I had the audacity to run out of insurance and couldn’t afford meds for three months?  I wonder if the penalty matches the crime here, and I wonder if payment will ever be made in full so that I can go back to enjoying life and being myself uninhibited.  The doctors and technicians don’t seem to have any more answers than I do.

All histrionic indicators show that this time out (as do all time outs) will indeed subside (and be small in the scope of all things), but I am constantly waiting for that erroneous data, forcing me to take a new sample space all over again.  One that does in fact, include permanent anxiety.   I’m pondering on when to call it erroneous data.  When does it actually cross that line (I picture a blinking red light and alarm going off – in the absence of a solid formula), and you say “well, I guess I’m going to have anxiety from now on.”?  Part of me thinks doing this would be a relief and part of me dreads the thought of giving up.  All of me wants to normalize.  The question is (and this stops the process):  normalize to what?

I guess that’s the biggest question in the life of a bi-polar person.  What should I normalize to?  The anxiety feels as regular as the highs and lows and in betweens at this point.  I never know whether I’m going to have the energy to feel bored today and wish that I could go out, feeling trapped. Or am I going to be so tired I can’t keep my eyes open and body alert enough to be out of bed for more than a half hour in the next 24?  Like the toddler, I feel eschewed for an eternity.  I have no more clue about whether this will end than the child has about whether or not he will ever be allowed to play again and the questions seem to be bigger than the answers.

 

Being Stable

I find myself with a lack of subjects to write on lately. Those who know my verbose personality are in awe, I assure you. It’s just that nothing feels as passionate as it did even a few weeks ago. I could write until the cows come home about housework and children, but even those things seem uneventful since I’ve stabilized.

On one hand, I am utterly grateful for the stability. It’s never fun to be out of control and it’s really no fun being mentally ill. On the other hand though, I miss the stimulation each day used to provide. I don’t feel anything clearly anymore – it’s as if I’m caught behind a two foot wall of insulation. Between me and the world there is a barrier of fluff that stunts any biting sensory input. This leads me to live in a fuzzy, imprecise haze. I don’t know if the stable me is any more me than the shell of the mentally ill version.

My relationships (the ones that are left intact) are improving, and that’s something to be happy about. I didn’t make an entire transformation this time…I still love dogs and would prefer to work with them than with people. There are shreds of who I used to be left in my personality anyway.

I remember when I was sick – all I wanted was to be well. Now that I am well, I wax nostalgic about being sick. It makes me wonder…what on Earth would make me happy?

 

Snakeskin

I know that I am lucky to have finally found a partner. For a bi-polar, finding a partner in marriage, business or otherwise becomes impossible. This seems to be because you’re always planning for contingencies. “What happens when I get sick?” becomes the question.

You see, like a snake who sheds its outer skin, every couple of years, the average bi-polar becomes very ill and becomes so morphed that they no longer fit in the outer shell that once held them so comfortably. (At this at least, I’m average.) Everything you were, everything you invested yourself in becomes a paper thin piece of trash to be carried away in the next dust devil to pass by. At the end of this process, you find yourself wholly renewed. You have new friends, new job, new goals, new values, new points of view. Everything is changed seemingly overnight, sometimes even for the better. To keep a partner through such a transformation would surely be a phenomenon, and most never see it happen.

I have found one such partner in Trusty Boyfriend/Knight In Shining Armor. His valor is not lost upon me, knowing that I have been one person and come out of an episode a totally different being. He is somehow able to cope with the fact that part of me knows my current identity is a false persona, to be proven faux only upon the next shedding. Just as easily, he hopes with me that this will be the final and permanent change; that I have finally “grown up” into my adult self.

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