Today and yesterday have been extremely difficult. Yesterday, I went with my mother-in-law to her doctor’s to get the biopsy results. She finally got a definitive diagnosis yesterday. It’s stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Now, she has to choose what type of chemo she will be doing. I’m extremely impressed by her acceptance as she goes through this.
Naturally, my husband is having a hard time with this. I wish I could do something to make it better, but I can’t. I know if there is anything I can do to help my husband, that he will tell me. That’s one of the great things about him. I know he will always be honest and upfront with me.
I’ve been through something similar. When I was young, my dad was diagnosed with cancer. He died when I was 18. I know how horrible it is to lose a parent, but I couldn’t imagine losing my mom. I’m trying to be supportive to my mother-in-law and my husband, but it’s harder than I expected. Everything that she goes through brings up memories if my father.
I wish I could leave; just get up and walk away from it all. However, even if I could, I wouldn’t. I want to, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to. I don’t want to deal with all of this, but I will. Instead of walking away, I’m going to be as supportive as possible. When I need to, I can vent by writing for my blog or by calling my mom (she’s very helpful).
I don’t wear short. Even in the horrible heat of the Arizona summer, when it’s 115 degrees out or more, I continue to wear blue jeans. And when I’m in my pajamas hanging out at home, either by myself or with my husband, I still wear pajama pants. I’ve never been comfortable wearing shorts, whether it’s in public or private. I don’t like my legs; they have always been bigger than others my own age. I don’t like to wear bathing suits, go swimming, or do anything else that would show my legs. I’m extremely self-conscious.
However, over the past couple of days, I have worn pajama shorts around the house by myself and when my husband was present. I even wore the pajama shorts out on a walk late at night, which was a huge step for me. I’m hoping that I can continue to move forward with this issue. I’m already wearing Capri pants. Maybe next year I’ll even allow myself to wear shorts during the summer.
Last night, my husband and I took Cash for a walk around our new neighborhood (he was feeling pretty good, he even ate his dinner!). We were moving things when we decided that we should check our mailbox, although that meant finding it first. So we walked around slowly for about 10 or 15 minutes. It was only 9pm, and the entire neighborhood was silent and the sky was clear so we could see the sky. We both love our new neighborhood! No more loud noises, gunshots, and other inappropriate things happening day or night. This is the perfect neighborhood for us.
I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 disorder at a young age. I was 14 the first time I started treatment for mental health issues. It was my first visit to an inpatient behavioral health hospital. I have taken medication every day ever since that time in January of 1999 at the age of 14. I know that I will be on medication for the rest of my life; I don’t time mind as much when the medication is working. Bipolar is a treatable disorder, but it’s easier to treat for some than it is for others. My diagnosis includes treatment-resistant bipolar 1 disorder with psychosis. I give it all I’ve got, to treat my bipolar disorder.
No matter what, I do the best I can to feel okay with my current status, as long as I’m always working towards a healthy state. For me, that means taking my meds as my psychiatrist prescribes, going to support groups, communicating with friends and family, going to talk therapy appointments, and following all suggestions by doctors. I always do what I’m supposed to do, and I am sick and tired of doing it. Especially when what I’m doing isn’t effective or helping me in the way it’s supposed to.
I work hard every day and it feels as if my efforts go unnoticed by my bipolar disorder. I wish I could just stop my meds and I would somehow slip into a healthy state of mind, but I don’t have luck like that. Instead, I’m the kind of person whose mind and body would lose any mental status they had. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try. Of course it’s going to be exhausting from time to time, and of course I’m going to want to give up now and then, but every time, I will remind myself that I am far better off than I am without the treatments. One day, the treatments and everything will work. I will finally get the break that I need.
I’m feeling slightly better today. I’m still upset about being labeled totally and permanently disabled, even though it’s what I needed to have happen. At least I’m not crying today like I was last night. Plus, it’s just a label; it doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll be disabled forever, even though it feels like that sometimes. It just sucks because I’m already doing everything I can do and the result is not very good. Oh well, at least I’m trying. I am proud of myself for doing all that I can do, whether it helps or not. If I wasn’t working at being healthy, then I wouldn’t be able to take pride in that aspect of my life.
I talked to my husband this morning about how I’m feeling. He kept trying to make me feel better; it was sweet and thoughtful. At least he cares enough to try. I have to give him credit for that.
I did sleep last night, but I didn’t fall asleep until 5am. I slept for 5 hours, which isn’t too bad. It’s better than not sleeping at all. I find it odd to be depressed but not sleeping very much. Usually, when I’m depressed, I sleep all the time. So does that mean I’m in a mixed state? Or can I have symptoms of both depression and mania, and still be in a depression? I’m not sure how it works. Anyway, hopefully things will continue to improve, even if it’s only one tiny bit at a time.
Yesterday ended up being a difficult day. The evening was the hard part. After my husband left for work, this deep heart-rending, wretched feeling set in. I started to feel ashamed of who I am; that is a feeling I haven’t felt in quite a while. I thought it was because of my weight, but that wasn’t it. I spent more time crying tonight than I have in months.
My mom called and we talked for a while. I started to tell her how I was feeling. As I was talking to her I figure out what the issue was. It was that my doctor completed my total and permanent disability paperwork. My therapist was also willing to do the paperwork if I needed it. Because of this paperwork, I realized that I had been on disability for 78 months. Wow, that is a long time. It’s something about being told I’m permanently disabled. I know it’s just a term, but it’s already been so long, and I’m not doing much better. I guess that’s why they diagnosed me as treatment resistant.
No matter what do or how hard I try, there’s always going to be a problem. I’ll go up and down; it will get better and worse, but the possibility of me becoming and staying stable is not likely. When my doctor filled out that paperwork for the total and permanent disability, he did so because he believes that to be true. He doesn’t believe that I will get back to fully functioning. I suppose I don’t believe I will get back to what I had before; a job and a social life. I don’t think everything is a failure; I’m just questioning it all.
The good thing is that I know this will pass. I will have an up-swing again, these feelings will go away, and I’ll deal with the problems of mania. At least my life stays interesting; it’s always something.
This is a saying I remember hearing over and over at my AA meetings. When I was getting sober, I was constantly told to pray for help to change. Change is not an easy thing, so I was told to pray for the courage to change. I am not a person that likes to pray, but when you’re desperate enough, you’ll try anything. I’ve now been sober for 12 years. At this time, I’m still having difficulties, just in a different area of my life. But I still need to work on changing, and I still need the courage to do so. I don’t feel like I have any courage. I feel weak and helpless, but my friends and family tell me that I’m a courageous person. Either I don’t see what they see, or they’re just wrong about me having courage. I suppose I’ll be positive about this and just assume that I’m not seeing what these other people are seeing.
One thing I know I’m good at doing and I keep trying. No matter how many times something fails or problems arise, I don’t give up. I guess others see this as courageous; I see this as desperate. I want to give up all the time; I’m not sure why I don’t. Maybe it’s because of my family. My entire family is so supportive and caring. They put a lot of energy into dealing with me. I feel like it’s the right thing to do to keep trying, if not for myself, then for my family.
I have learned that it’s okay to have fear, but don’t let that fear stop you from doing anything. I am in control of my life. I make the choices. I can choose to look fear in the face and keep moving forward. I have learned to never give up on myself. If I can’t do things for myself, then it’s okay to find another reason. For me, it’s my family. I wonder what other people use as their reason to keep moving forward. Does anyone want to share?
Another one of the life lessons I learned many years ago was that family should always be a priority. No one can replace your family or take their place. There are people in life that we become so close to that they feel like family, which is wonderful, but still, no one can take the place of your parents, siblings, or extended family. I am becoming closer with some of my family members and I’m also struggling to get along with some others. However, I have decided that I am going to be the type of person who reaches out to her family members. Even if they don’t respond to me or respond to my inquiries, I am still going to be a person works to stay connected with her family members.
I have learned more from my family than I have learned anywhere else in life. A few of the things I have learned include how to love and support others, how not to give up on someone, and how to be a person of honor and integrity. I have learned all of these things by watching my family members live their lives. My parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and even my nieces and nephew have set examples for me on how to get through life. Not one family member gave up on me when I was struggling with my drug and alcohol addiction. Everyone supported me when I went through rehab, despite all of the hurtful things I had done over the years. My mom has taught me many things. The most recent thing she taught me is that there is no reason to let other people decide what decisions we will make or what type of person we will be. That is why I have chosen to continue reaching out to family members no matter what. I want my family to be a huge part of my life; that is my decision.
My brother owns his own business and he takes after my father a lot. By watching him, I have seen how to be a person of honor and integrity. In fact, all of my family members have taught me that. No matter what is going on in life, my family will always be the most important thing. I have not always been like this, but it is the person I’ve decided I want to be. After living so much of my life having my family support me, I decided that I want to always be there for my family. Even though I cannot help anyone financially, I will always be there for them emotionally and mentally. Once you lose a family member, they can never be replaced. It’s extremely important to appreciate what you have while they are still around.
At this point in my life, I have decided to be open about my bipolar disorder. This doesn’t mean that I walk around telling everyone I meet that I’m bipolar, and I don’t wear a sign saying ‘Bipolar 1’, but I don’t hide my diagnosis. However, I have no problem telling people my diagnosis and explaining to them what it’s like for me. I feel like sometimes I’m educating people who know nothing about mental health. Other times, I end up meeting some people who also deal with mental health themselves or through a loved one.
There will always be people in the world who don’t understand mental health. There are still some people who do not believe in mental health. It’s really hard to talk to someone who believes that. Instead of arguing with them, I’ve found that I’m not going to change their minds, so I just let them believe what they want to believe.
I used to try to hide my diagnosis; I was always afraid what others would think of me. Hiding it took so much work, it was exhausting. At some point, and I’m not sure when, I finally accepted my bipolar disorder diagnosis. Once I accepted it, I no longer felt as if I needed to hide it. Plus, once I became open about my diagnosis, I realized that there are a lot more people out there that deal with mental health issues as well.
So many people are afraid to talk about mental health, but there’s no need to avoid the subject. The only way people can learn about it is by discussing it. Talking about mental health will help get rid of or reduce the stigmas that we deal with on a regular basis. If someone has a problem with my mental health, then that is their problem, not mine.
I flew across the country at the end of April in 2004. On April 29th, 2004 I was admitted to a year-long in-patient rehab. I was excited to go until I got there. Once I arrived, my fears kicked in and I told my mom that I changed my mind about going to rehab. She ensured me that I could do it. I trusted her; I always trust my mom because she has never given me a reason not to.
Rehab was very tough. I couldn’t talk to my family for the first 6 weeks. Then I could only talk to them once a week on Sundays for 15 minutes. There was a strict schedule that had to be followed. On Sundays we had to clean our living areas and everything had to pass inspection. I think that may be why I am so obsessive about cleaning my house. We had to make dinner every night for our houses. This required making a menu, grocery list, and assigning specific tasks. I had a therapist and a psychiatrist that I saw weekly. They managed my medication so I never missed a dose.
We were required to go to AA meetings that were put on by the staff members. A couple times a week we were allowed to go to outside meetings that were supervised by staff members. We were also required to have a sponsor and do step work. In the beginning, it was tough. However, as time went on, it became normal. The step work brought up a lot of issues that I was able to work on. The hardest part for me was believing in a Higher Power. I’m Jewish by blood, but I was raised Catholic. I never believed in what I was taught in Sunday school and I never related to anything I heard in church. I don’t like the word God for many reasons. Overall, I just don’t believe in God. Some people may not like to hear that, but I’m just being honest. The great part about belief according to AA is that you just have to believe in a power greater than yourself. I can admit that. I know that I’m not the most powerful thing out there. I’m not sure what it is, but I know it’s not me. I do believe in science and Mother Nature, which then became my Higher Power.
Family was invited to visit every 3 months for workshops, which helped to work through some family problems. My mom came every time. My brother, sister, and aunt each came for one of the workshops as well as my graduation. I was so amazed at how much my family supported me; especially after all of the crap I put them through over the years. Once I completed the year-long program (which felt like forever), I worked at the rehab for 9 months helping others get sober.
I made some friends from the rehab, but most of those relationships faded off. I did date one of the guys that I met there, and we ended up living together for a while. The school teacher from the rehab became a close friend of mine and we spent time together after I left. His wife ended up being my sponsor when I lived on my own. I even became close with their family.