Monthly Archives: May 2016

Kryptonite and Inevitable Triggers

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My Kryptonite

“Which of my feelings are real? Which of the me’s is me? The wild, impulsive, chaotic, energetic, and crazy one? Or the shy, withdrawn, desperate, suicidal, doomed, and tired one? Probably a bit of both, hopefully much that is neither.”
Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

Consistently trying to mimic emotions of others everyday in itself is hard, trying to be happy when you are sad and and stop the acceleration of happiness is exhausting.  I cherish the moments when I can completely be myself, drown in the things I love with joy. I wish I could be consistent and a “trigger” is just a word for a simple release mechanism.

I have to pause before the hamster falls off the wheel and rewind a bit. Lately, I can’t figure out if I’m okay, about to be manic, or about to face the black dog (depression). It’s a typical meme you’ll find on the Internet. Basically, if you don’t like my mood now, wait a few minutes. I haven’t written as much on my blog in the last few weeks, mostly just unable to focus. I have emails I desperately need and want to reply too regarding how I handle having bipolar and mental illnesses or blog in general. Many praising how I am shifting such a horrible illnesses into a superpower. It’s hard to tell someone with bipolar, PTSD, depression or anxiety what works for me, because I am constantly trying to pinpoint the answer myself. Ithe is ever changing. I never post trigger warnings on my blog because no single person has the same triggers. Yes, we probably all share many of the same. But mine can be anything from hearing a baby cry in a bathroom echoing off the walls to someone asking me, “Do I know you?” to trigger a response.

So today, I was completely fine, enjoying a day with the family. We had chosen to go see a movie and walk around the mall prior. Today is Memorial day, for our family everyday is memorial day like many of our friends. We never forget those who gave all, so today was like no other except it reminds the rest of the world to pause for the day. It’s a trigger, I am reminded of my husband’s deployments, nearly losing him in the Pentagon on September 11th and those who did not come home on those days or those deployments. So for my family they are remembered everyday. So today a movie and the mall sounded perfect.

While shopping, I get a call from my credit card telling me of possible fraudulent charges. Instantly a trigger, “Did I do something and spend thousands online? Did I charge away to ASPCA  (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) late at night watching those emotional commercials involving animal cruelty? Or to an organization for wounded warriors that pulled at my heartstrings?” These things ran instantly through my head. I knew it was none of those things, but what if? What if it happened and I didn’t remember. The thoughts of other things ran through my head. As I listened, I learned that it was simply we hadn’t used our credit card and when my husband bought the kids a snack with the card just minutes before, it triggered the alert from the card company (Bravo to Chase Bank for diligently). This in turn triggered me.

It was obvious to everyone, the day was over. I was rigid, emotionless, angry, irritated, and every muscle remained tense. It was no one’s fault. I just hated myself, reminded of who I was like Kryptonite to Superman. I was wounded. I saw the disappointment on everyone’s face as we left the mall for the car. Everyone knew the day with Mom was over.

Once home it took hours to stop my muscles from being so tense. Release myself from the fear and tension that had occurred in my head. I sat on the couch and didn’t move. Shortly, I fell asleep from exhaustion. Once I woke, my body ached, I was tired, not sleepy but drained. Dinner was prepared for me, the kids and Dad went to a neighborhood cookout. The day was savaged for them, but I felt like I’d spent the day in the gym. In a fog, reflecting how real it all felt.

I wanted to share that regardless of how awesome and healthy I look or appear I’m not immune to triggers. I am not perfectly super bipolar all the time. What makes me great is also what makes me horrible. A trigger to me is what I imagine and compare to the weaknesses of superheroes.

As I sat down to write tonight I was reminded of, Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness. I flipped to the highlighted quote you see at the beginning of this post. It perfectly described me. It is me yesterday, today and tomorrow. The battle never ends, but like all superheroes I will survive to fight another day.

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Memorial Day

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Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die. ~ Mary Elizabeth Frye

Visit a memorial and pay your respects for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice this holiday. Don’t cry, but be proud and thankful. It’s hard to hold back tears, but remembering where, what we are, what we have because they gave the ultimate sacrifice. Remember the honor and bravery of each soul. Take your kid and teach them, tell them a story. Remember a friend or family member. Cry if you must, it’s not about those serving now but those who gave all.

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“Understanding me”

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“Understand me. I’m not like an ordinary world. I have my madness, I live in another dimension and I do not have time for things that have no soul.” ~ Charles Bukowski

I’ve done a lot of reflection, experienced great things, great people, and been part of some extraordinary projects and events even since my last post. Again, this is such a silent illness. If you know me in person you will rarely see me without a smile on my face. What is hard to admit is how many times I wanted to run or avoid any human interaction. I forced myself, not because it was for the experience, not for the social reward, but to make myself experience life. I do this because my family and my friends mean more than this thing I fight in my mind.

On social media, you only see the good and rarely the bad. I promise for every extraordinary experience, I’ve had a great fall from the over stimulation. It was never someone’s fault and I am thankful for the wonderful things I am blessed to be apart of socially and recreational. I am able to listen to everyone, hear everyone, remember, and listen. I do put together huge pictures in my head. It’s almost a curse, I pin and connect everything and have amazing epiphanies. People want to see other failures, it’s astonishing. I see it everyday, someone who volunteers and moves on to another endeavor is always criticized, success is criticize.

I connect the dots in my head and have an overwhelming sense of shame for knowing something I should not know, only because three or more people placed puzzle pieces via causal conversation. I was able to see it all completed, and it hurts me like a dagger upon completion of the puzzles in my head. I’ve found myself withdrawn from those whom I never wanted to finish the puzzles, but regrettably by forcing the smile and “living” it was inevitable.

As, Bukowski said above, “I do not have time for things that have no soul” and I shall not make my time available to be sucked dry of any hope I have to win the battles in my mind. I fight too hard everyday to erase, remember, and overcome the thoughts in my mind.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle,” It’s questionable to the origins of the quote, was it Plato? Most likely Ian McClaren, but it is something we should all remember.  I am reminded daily by brief encounters, private messages, emails, or comments on wordpress that I am not alone and we are all very different, but….you are not alone.

Remember, you deserve understanding.

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Parenting through the blur

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“Through the blur, I wondered if I was alone or if other parents felt the same way I did – that everything involving our children was painful in some way. The emotions, whether they were joy, sorrow, love or pride, were so deep and sharp that in the end they left you raw, exposed and yes, in pain. The human heart was not designed to beat outside the human body and yet, each child represented just that – a parent’s heart bared, beating forever outside its chest.”Debra Ginsberg

I enjoy every moment, occasionally I will complain about all the mommy chores. So many friends or facebook peeps complain constantly about the juggling act for various reasons. But, I remember this past summer struggling after moving. Changing all my doctors, trying to get my medication refilled. With each doctor, they rarely agreed on treatment plans. Each thinking they knew more than the other. So that left me in a pickle and found myself running out of my old medications. New doctor prescribing medications I’ve loathed and never worked, such as lithium again. So I found myself turned upside down, in a new town and state. I left behind my network I had built and people had just started to understand me and i’m relocated to a place to begin the cycle again. But as a mother, I put my children first and planned summer camps and summer sports for both kids before my appointments.  I delayed my own health to ensure they relocated and made friends. I’d find myself going to soccer practice and crying for no reason. Emotions completely unchecked, mood stabilizers not working. Sitting watching my kids play soccer. I would  remembered the times when I played outside carefree. I remember those moments and again I’d cry. It was just uncontrollable at times and and without rhyme or reason.

Even dealing with my problems and pretty sure some of the parents thought I was antisocial, it took everything to survive summer. Watching my kids play, helping them find friends, and trying my best to hide my mood imbalance, not to mention anxiety of all these new strangers. I wasn’t sleeping at all for various reasons. Watching all the kids reminded me of the ones I have lost and even more thankful for the amazing ones playing on the soccer field, I sat and cried. I wasn’t being antisocial, I was protecting these new parents from meeting that person. Somehow the stigma of people with mental health problems can cause others who do not understand to protect themselves and children from what they don’t understand. It’s a circle of protection. I’m protecting my kids, I’m protecting myself, and I’m protecting potential friends from knowing this person.

Eventually I survived the weekly blood draws, the medication changes, and surprisingly avoided the hospital. I worried what people thought if they noticed the needle bruises, sometime it took 4 or 5 times to give blood. I survived summer and got back on the very cocktail of medications I love to hate, but work.

I try not to talk much about what meds I take because I don’t want others thinking, “I need that because she’s awesome” when behind closed doors I’m not awesome all the time. I have a condition with no cure that makes me awesome, not my medication. It’s like Ironman and batman need their suits to be superheroes. This mom needs her meds to control her superpower and be my children’s superhero. It’s what helps me be awesome. I want people to know and understand mental illness.

 

You can always reach out to me if you’d like a dialogue or have questions. I’m not a professional, nor would I give medical advice. I just share my experiences with my blog andon my Facebook page www.facebook.com/itsnotcrazytoday A valuable tool  is wonderful to have interact on my page or via messenger. Invite friends to like the page too. Keep the dialog open! 

 

Shh. Don’t talk about it.

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Life beyond bipolar disorder, great article to read.

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One of my favorite parts of this article. I just had to share.

“It is important to keep in mind that you have more than a diagnosis. You have a destiny, and you can still realize all the dreams you ever had. Sure, it takes courage to move on with your life, but courage is like a muscle: the more you use it, the stronger it gets.

Bipolar disorder is only as limiting as you allow it to be, so do not let it hold you back. Bipolar disorder does not define your life: You do.” ~ Stephen Propst

Read the entire article link at bottom. It’s a great one to share and read.

http://www.bphope.com/ten-things-you-dont-want-to-know/

My Top 6 Books about Mental Illness

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Absolutely great list and post to read and books to check out

Hello May, Birthday month, musing on aging gracefully

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“She is free in her wildness, she is a wanderess, a drop of free water. She knows nothing of borders and cares nothing for rules or customs. ‘Time’ for her isn’t something to fight against. Her life flows clean, with passion, like fresh water.” – Roman Payne

I love growing older. As I age, each year I notice subtle changes in my body and appearance. I’ve grown to love myself even at my darkest. I complain about my weight, wrinkles, and body like any other woman. Unlike most women I feel more complete each year. My crows feet draw attention to my eyes and adds character. The weathered experienced look, as if I’ve lived too much; In reality, I lived too much, laughed too much, lost too much, and cried too much. I wish they were caused solely by laughter. People tell me I’m beautiful now and it very flattering. But, let me tell you about about my beauty.

I grew up being the ugly duckling. It’s hard growing up with boys, I had two brothers and my neighbor, all boys that I also considered my brothers. As you might imagine at critical times in the developmental years they weren’t as free with compliments. It’s possibly another reason I love Roman Payne’s, The Wanderess, “She is free in her wildness, she is a wanderess, a drop of free water. She knows nothing of borders and cares nothing for rules or customs.” That was me, but I was always alone. My brothers did the usual, you’re ugly, you’re fat, or my favorite was “Bertha butt” since I have always had a nice round butt and thighs. Looking back at pictures, I had a beautiful body. I’ve always had the pinup body, but as a kid in my head I  was ugly and fat. I don’t hold it against them now, but in my youth it hurt me deeply and it changed the way I dressed and covered body.
I would quickly get very dark skin from my mother’s American Indian heritage and straight black hair. It would reflect blue like a raven in the light. I found myself lightening, getting perms to curl, and doing various things to make it look like the other kids. I never told anyone, I just begged for a perm, curls, or some sort of chemical treatment to change it so I wouldn’t be teased. I wanted to look trendy, like other girls. Those things lightened my hair to a dark brown all because the straight black was just unnatural and I was teased. I was teased about my skin, my hair, my curves. I worked hard to change my appearance.  I wanted to be pretty, but made myself uglier in the process of fitting in with the girls.
So I always stayed active, involved, but withdrawn. So it  may be surprising to some to learn how incredibly ugly I felt thought my childhood years, even in my various uniforms which made me like the others. I never appreciated myself.

It wasn’t until I turned 20, I lived in Japan for several years. It was the different culture, that changed my view on aging. Aging is beautiful, I regret not being myself as a kid, it was learning I was beautiful not only on the outside, but the inside in a foreign country. It was at the end of my time in Japan bipolar slammed into me like a freight train. It possibly aged me ten more year in a single moment. But I did not fight it, I embraced it. I because free, happier, I was pretty and back in the United States. I had found myself, but I also found my superpower and did not know one thing about controlling my mind.
Aging for me, has been like being reborn each year. I feel unrecompensed with each passing year. Closer to something, closer to completely understanding myself and I welcome my birthday’s. With age, I’ve learned I’m attractive, intelligent, funny, intellectual, sexual, compassionate, complex, and introspective. Because of the experiences of my past, I honestly appreciate each and every compliment and even the negative compliments. It’s made me able to be modest and a more compassionate person. Modesty is rare in today’s society. It’s also recently made me brutally honest. That is what this birthday is going to celebrate. Being honest, telling my stories, and sharing my experiences.

It may appear, it’s been a beautiful ride, but my history and mileage learning to control the speed of my superpower, called Bipolar, with a bit of all the other crap included many training wreaks. Mental illness isn’t something you shouldn’t be ashamed of and I hope if you’re reading this, no matter your age don’t be ashamed for a second.

“’Time’ for her isn’t something to fight against. Her life flows clean, with passion, like fresh water.” – Roman Payne

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“Mental labels don’t define who I am, time and aging only gets me closer to those I love, will love, and have loved” ~ S.L. Cato