As someone who is high-functioning with severe mental illness, I often feel trapped between two different worlds. My mental illnesses make everyday life hard for me. The stranger symptoms of my mental illnesses, including mania, hallucinations, and…
A story of friendships and divorce:
This is a story about a once fun, outgoing girl who volunteered, gave her heart to a community she was a part of for 20+ years and divorce. Those she loved passed judgement without question when the word divorce reached their ears. Slowly friends felt they had to pick sides and stopped any interaction. Many made assumptions, some went as far as to look away and pretend not to see her. “How could she divorce him?” “He was a great guy, great father, never wavered, and supported her in everyway”. He had been with her since she was a teenager, “How could she leave a good man?” Her reasons were Her own, but being happy and healing wasn’t going to happen in Her marriage. They were and will always be best friend. The problem can quickly as news slowly spread, his life was his community and had become her community, she knew nothing else.
She asked the same thing about the community she loved, why? Why had she become a outsider? It was a harsh reality. She wondered why the community she loved abandoned her.
The couple had chosen not to make a spectacle of a wonderful 20 year marriage. No vaguebooking, no fighting, simply be happy. They simply moved on and agreed to support each other. They had wanted each other happy. They wanted their children happy. Was it her Mental illness causing delusions? Was it her severe depression? Was it the deployment that came months after the legal preparations? Was it new friendships she had made since the separation? Soon people asked, the slow de-friending on social accounts. She simply wasn’t in the community anymore. She was left feeling abandoned, lost, and found herself in the shoes of those she’d helped throughout the years.
Those she had forgotten as well.
So thats becoming my story. Divorce isn’t a easy decision. I find myself lost in my sickness. Struggle to live, work and stay active supporting my community. I struggle to not cry everyday. My life is a struggle. I am thankful to those who continue to reach out, those who love me even in my madness, those who are still my friends.
To everyone else, you don’t know our story. Remember both of us involved. Remember our friendships. I’m Bipolar, it’s not contagious. It’s a debilitating depression with ups and downs. If you loved my ups, please love me when I’m down.
“It is a very inconvenient habit of kittens (Alice had once made the remark) that whatever you say to them, they always purr.” ~ Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, #2)
I’ll spare you all the details of the manic episodes that led to this post because of my young readers, including my own pre-teen. I hope she and others read this post and understands why her mother was gone for nearly two weeks and all the Thanksgiving food went uncooked this year in my unexpected absence. Please respect my blog and direct any questions privately.
Like the quote above, I have an inconvenient habit of purring, always smiling, and always living life to the fullest. The details are unimportant to this particular post except I did the one thing you never do, stopped my medication. I was convinced I was wrongly medicated and each time another pill would be added sending me into a rabbit hole. I reached out entirely too subtle and told one or two people I stopped all my meds then followed with the “I’m fine”. I WAS NOT FINE.
“Manic depression — or bipolar disorder — is like racing up to a clifftop before diving headfirst into a cavity. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the psychic equivalent of an extreme sport. The manic highs — that exhilarating rush to the top of the cliff — make you feel bionic in your hyper-energized capacity for generosity, sexiness and soulfulness. You feel like you have ingested stars and are now glowing from within. It’s unearned confidence-in-extremis — with an emphasis on the con, because you feel cheated once you inevitably crash into that cavity. I sometimes joke that mania is the worst kind of pyramid scheme, one that the bipolar individual doesn’t even know they’re building, only to find out, too late, that they’re also its biggest casualty.” ~ Diriye Osman
So head first I landed in the mental health hospital. It was extremely important to stabilize and get me on proper medication as fast as possible. I was numb, dead to the world and nonexistent. The details are blurry, the EMT talked the entire time on the ride to the hospital to comfort me. Entry was like a jail, but an overwhelming smell of crayons. All my things were taken, watch, phone, shoes, and anything with strings. I didn’t care, I was escorted to my little room I would share. During my time there I watched the ward turn over patients 2 or 3 times, I stayed.
I wasn’t one of the lucky ones who got to eat in the cafeteria, I wasn’t allowed to leave my ward. My breakfast, lunch, dinner came in styrofoam containers at the same time everyday, in the same place. The same area I sat all day to color and look out the window. Thanksgiving day, dinner came in the styrofoam container, it was surreal. I had grown attached to a small group of people and we ate together and then went on with our day like any other. I watched people come and go, I wondered to myself, “how sick am I?” I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t go home and in my tiny room I’d already had three roommates. Looking out my window everyday I just felt trapped, trapped like an animal.
I was eventually released just before the weekend, After nearly two weeks I felt defeated and broken. It was amazing to surround myself with friends who insisted I spend the weekend outside doing a sport I love, but now looking at windows from the outside, not trapped inside. Feeling defeated went away and feeling broken slowly went away so I could heal and forget the memories of the ward. I need that inconvenient habit of purring.
So for several months I’ve written here and there and neglected my blog and my apologies. It has been heartwarming that many followers reached out to checkup on me and I can assure you I am doing very well. I hope to write a bit more about that soon and get back to my blog. For those new to my blog….well this was my first intro, I really don’t hold back and I’m always open about mental health so if you know me in real life feel free to ask me anything or even here or my Facebook book page for blog. I’m an advocate and hate the stigma associated with all mental disorders…..even those I loathe and write about such as my narcissistic cat.
Speaking of the cat, she just pour water on my Ipad…. just walked right up and hit my cup. Perfect timing for this reblog and reintroduction. 🙂
“A man’s face is his autobiography. A woman’s face is her work of fiction.” Oscar Wilde
I’m sure some curiosity is stirring about the person behind the blog. I use to be completely normal. That statement seems funny now, because I am a new normal. So how is it normal isn’t the same now? Now I’ve learned to embrace my genetic flaws. Society would probably never labeled me as normal, society puts labels on mental disorders such as crazy, depressed, or sickness. The doctors over the years have added labels such as Bipolardisorder, General anxiety disorder (GAD), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and Depression. Overtime I’ll share the stories behind the labels. Life happened and my brain just stopped making certain chemicals and wasn’t able to deal with trauma or stress. The big label is Bipolar disorder. In combination, I am a physiological mess and…
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I went back to my very first post. It was a day much like today, all I wanted to do was escape and do something for myself instead of facing the realities of adulthood. This is a very good reminder we all need to remember it’s okay to just say no, I need a break. Life is too short to get so caught up in a routine that you follow the masses when you clearly aren’t ready.
At age 3 the world is an amazing place. Full of the unexpected, every minute is filled with hundreds of new sights, sounds, and smells. Imagine if you could turn it off for a few minutes. Peter did just that on this day. I learned probably one of the applicable statement for living from a disobedient child who genuinely just wanted to finish a task.
It’s a short story, at the height of one of my manic episodes so he spent the day in daycare so I could get that amazing tattoo I needed (story for later). My husband arrived to pick up our 3 year old and was pulled aside by his teacher. She questioned him a bit about whom he spends time around because of his vocabulary. She preceded to explain he had used the “F” word. Of course, embarrassed my husband…
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“Everyone is indeed crazy, but the craziest are the ones who don’t know they’re crazy; they just keep repeating what others tell them to.”— Paulo Coelho Veronika Decides To Die
“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!
“Part of having bipolar can be what is called “anosognosia,” a weird word for a simple idea: a mentally ill person who’s unable to perceive that he or she is ill. This means a huge part of bipolar is that, when your loved one most needs help, your partner will be least likely to look for it or accept it.”
Excerpt from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2016/04/27/know-what-to-expect-when-you-love-someone-with-bipolar-disorder/
Denial, fear of medications, multiple combinations of medication, side effects, the list goes on forever. I had been told many, many years ago. I really believed it was a made up or only the over dramatic people. I tried to hide my lows and tried be extraordinary with my highs. I used my gifts and talents, which now I understand as gift. I could focus, accomplish any task you give me. Then, lose myself for weeks sometimes. Sadly, unlike the writer of the article, I’m Bipolar I, There is a huge spectrum in diagnosing bipolar, the author of the article which is wonderful article to share, is Bipolar II.
Anosognosia, struck a cord or rang a bell tonight. So I read a bit more and ran across a very easy to read explanation on National Alliance of Mental health.
I gave it much thought from the above post but this statistic struck me “Anosognosia affects 50% of people with schizophrenia, and 40% of people with bipolar disorder. It can also accompany illnesses such as major depression with psychotic features. Treating these mental health conditions is much more complicated if lack of insight is one of the symptoms. People with anosognosia are placed at increased risk of homelessness or arrest. Learning to understand anosognosia and its risks can improve the odds of helping people with this difficult symptoms”
We have to be open about mental illness. May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Please share your stories on my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/itsnotcrazytoday , Share my page or story that touched you with friends. I hate social media, but it reaches so many people who need and may suffer from the stigma or Anosognosia.
That blog post is coming very soon so forgive me . Got your attention with the pictures but are you following and sharing my Facebook page https://m.facebook.com/Itsnotcrazytoday
It’s a great way for me to connect and message my blog followers and connect with others. Plus, it’s the only reason I went back to Fakebook. Stop over like and say hello. I love feedback and want to spread my blog and share the awareness of mental illness and how normal and amazing we can be, it’s not crazy. Write me and connect on Facebook, plus it’ll keep you up to date with new post on the page. Thanks you all and much love. The comments and blogs have brought tears to my eyes. I truly have amazing followers.
Great post to read
We are constantly exposed to the topic of mental illness daily, on the news, in magazines, and on TV. Films today glamorize the struggles and problems of those who are mentally ill by displaying a false outlook on mental health and the necessities to achieve overall wellness. We obsess over entertainers, like Robin Williams, who shocked fans and the world when he lost his life to depression. Amy Winehouse, who died at the age of 27 due to her manic depression, bipolarity, and alcoholism, was talked about for months in the news, displaying helicopters swarming her estate looking for more information on her death. We see movies such as Silver Linings Playbook and Mr. Jones that add a more comedic essence to the lives of those who suffer from depression and bipolar disorder by glamorizing the true struggles of those who are not mentally stable. We make these characters in…
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She ended up being a horrible drinking partner. Whiskey just isn’t for everyone. She has this horrible black cat stigma of being bad luck. She tends to hold back and never opens up. Sobbing the narcissistic cat broke down. She removed her mask. We bonded and she ran upstairs to bed with the kids. I think it’s because we watched Cat’s eye the movie based on the Steven King’s novel. Now the cats thinks she is our gaurdian. The black cat stigma is one reason she was adopted. It’s horrible how poorly black cats are treated. They are killed, abandoned, mistreated, and judged because they are simply born black cats.
So a bit of musing, Tonight I realized, I’m a little like the black cat. It’s possibly the reason my cat and I don’t get along but love each other. We compete for attention, but wear very different mask.
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In the most inopportune times my illness takes the wheel and steers me into the ditch. In the ditch, I’m not reliable, I’m not consistent, and I’m constantly having to reschedule or delay planned activities, because of the grip of anxiety and an overwhelming fear that is unexplainable and inexcusable. I forget birthdays of even my closest friends and family. I’m the definition of a flake, but only because I hide behind a mask everyday. What most people don’t know is that I don’t intentionally flake. If I had a choice, I’d be the outgoing, helpful, and reliable girl they love to be around everyday. The life of the party, dance on the table fun girl, the girl who volunteers as much time as she can to help others. It hits me like a sledgehammer, usually a slight trigger but many times no warning. I know I’m not getting depressed, I am intimate with depression. I’m suffering the suffocation of anxiety and PTSD. I have a sudden lost of all control of my emotions. On top of everything, I realize I have won the jackpot of mental illnesses. This one much harder to treat, memories have become the enemy.
Unlike my superpower bipolar, Post traumatic stress disorder is normally in my community associated with military members who have given their mind to our country and suffer the wounds of war internally. Their wounds aren’t always visible. It’s definitely not a superpower and has no benefits. It’s become a mainstream topic and given credibility because of the media coverage and the fact that more doctors are recognizing it as a serious condition. So being around the military, I rarely talk about my own PTSD as not to take away from the service members. I hate being asked if it was caused by my service. Earning the title Marine was and is still one of my greatest achievements. My PTSD has absolutely nothing to do with my service to my country. Many of my symptoms are the same as my Bipolar disorder, except I’m haunted at times with nightmares and sudden anxiety. Triggered by the memories of near death, trauma, and lost a precious baby boy. I’m not sure I can write anymore about the cause, the trauma is something my mind can’t fully accept. I never talk about the nightmares and sudden overwhelming fears. It hard to balance being bipolar, being stable, and uncontrollable anxiety. I hide it well and it is exhausting, sometimes I am amazed I survive day to day.
So you might ask how do you lose friends and piss people off? You don’t tell them you can’t leave the house, you just cancel plans without reason. You are embarrassed to let anyone see you cry and trust me, it isn’t something that can be controled. You just don’t show up and withdraw from society. The fear of sitting or being in a group and starting to cry terrifies me, the circling of strangers asking if I’m okay and rubbing my back trying to help me and I know I can’t explain myself or my actions. It’s the fear of unwanted attention. It’s like choking and not being able to talk. You voice is muffled, when you do talk is that of a gasping hiccup. It passes like a storm, but when the dust has settled and the rain has stopped. You find yourself alone, because you decided to protect them from yourself. You cancelled, you didn’t show up, you flaked. You couldn’t bear the embarrassment of being perceived in any other way than person you chose to show the world. Turn out this pisses people off, who knew?
In my pursuit of normalcy, I realized I segregated myself from an incredible support system. It was only once I was honest about my mental health did people understand. Many times once I opened up they opened up about their own struggles with mental health. Some of the strongest people I know had their own demons. Like myself, they hid that they relied on similar drugs. The stigma, It’s the whispers, the people who try to help, and the embarrassment of being a very professional outgoing extrovert who crashes into a barely functional introvert.
So my laundry is piled, sink is full of dishes, and I just want to be alone, the battle has begun. I will not be a flake and a prisoner to my mind. I’ll start today by going to the grocery store and I’ll cry in aisle three. I’ll let a stranger comfort me and accept the embarrassment that is only in my head. We all need to be more open about mental health.
It’s the clean up in isle three that can be just as scary.