Any time that I’m home, my TV is turned on. I’m usually not watching what is actually on TV, it’s just background noise. There are so many commercials on TV that promote prescription drugs to help depression. I do believe in prescription medications, but I don’t like that some individuals, with no mental health experience, now tries to relate to what we go through with our diagnoses.
There’s a difference between sympathy and empathy. I don’t want anyone’s pity, but it would be nice to have others trying to understand. In my experience, only those that deal with the same things that I deal with, can understand how I feel. I don’t think it’s possible to truly understand what a person goes through unless you go through it as well. My family members do their best to understand what I deal with, and I greatly appreciate that because they do it without pitying me.
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.
Today, I had my biography and my first blog posted on the International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF). My first blog talks about the importance of honesty between patients and psychiatrists. It explains how I have learned over time what a big role honesty and respect play in the relationships between patient and doctor.
You can find my first post on the IBPF website here.
You can find my biography on the IBPF website here.
I’ve never been a person that likes meditation. Over the years, I’ve been told by many people that meditation will help me in many ways, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I was still against it for a few reasons, but the biggest reason is because it’s too difficult for me. My mind is always running a million miles an hour. How am I supposed to actually slow my brain down and think/focus on one thing? Also, I can never sit still for longer than a couple of minutes. Once I’m told to sit still, I start getting all fidgety. When I was in rehab, in 2004, we had to go to yoga class a couple of times a week. At the end of the class, there was a short meditation time that we were required to participate in. I always had such a hard time with it; plus, I never like to do something I’m told I have to do.
Last week, I received a package from my aunt containing a few CDs. Two of them were guided imagery to enhance healing for women with interstitial cystitis (a painful bladder disorder) and the other CD was called healing trauma, a guided imagery for PTSD. My first thought was that I didn’t want to use these CDs, but then I thought I would do some research. I found out that using guided meditation can actually help with the physical pain for interstitial cystitis. Suddenly, I became excited; there was a possibility to reduce my physical pain from the interstitial cystitis. I couldn’t believe that my aunt found these for me. She sent them to me with no pressure to use them. All she wanted was for me to have them in case I decided to try it.
I ended up trying the guided meditation CDs for interstitial cystitis the same day I received them. I decided to use the CDs every day for at least a month. I told my doctor about it and she agreed that it is very likely to be beneficial for my physical pain and for my emotional health. The guided meditation is getting a little easier every time. Even if I can slow my mind for just a few minutes, it would be better than nothing. At some point, I’ll try the CDs for PTSD, but right now, my bigger issue is my bladder disorder.
I have gone from being completely against meditation, to trying it every day for a month. I will let everyone know how effective it is for me. This has taught me to try to remain open to any possibilities in regards to improving my health. I’m grateful that my aunt is always looking out for me.
Decoding Bipolar nominated me for the Liebster Award. Thank you so much, I’m honored that you thought of me. I love reading your posts; you have so much passion in your writings.
The 2016 Liebster Award is an award that bloggers give to other bloggers; it exists only online. The Liebster Award began in 2011. The award supports the blogging community and brings bloggers together.
The updated rules for the 2016 award are as follows:
- Thank the person who nominated you and include a link to their blog.
- Display the award on your blog.
- Write a 150-300 word post about your favorite blog that is not your own. Explain why you like the blog and provide links.
- Provide 10 random facts about yourself.
- Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that have less than 200 followers for the award.
- List the rules in your post.
- Inform your nominees that they have been nominated for the Liebster Award and provide a link for them.
- Create 11 questions for your nominees to answer.
I found the official updated rules at The Official Rules of the Liebster Award 2016.
10 Random Facts about Me:
- I got sober at 19 years old and have been sober since then. I have 12 years of sobriety and very proud of my sobriety.
- I love learning. School was always fairly easy for me. However, it takes me a while to read because I tend to see a couple of letters and make up the rest of the word, and it’s usually wrong.
- I’m so hard on myself that I can’t even be proud of my 3.94 GPA that I earned for my bachelor’s degree, during a bipolar and PTSD breakdown.
- I’m extremely gullible. I pretty much believe anything I’m told. My husband likes to have fun with that.
- I played the piano (along with many other instruments). I miss playing and want to spend more time practicing.
- Family is the most important thing to me. Nothing comes above family.
- I married my best friend, who is 11 years older than me. I have 2 step-kids that are all grown and now I even have a granddaughter!
- I have a 10-year-old dog that is very well-trained. He is an 88 pound pit bull, dalmatian, english pointer mutt. His name is Cash, after Johnny Cash.
- I’m very organized, sometimes obsessively. Everything in my house is organized by color, shape, size, as well as alphabetically. The hangers in my closet are all 1 finger space apart.
- I grew up in a small country town in Connecticut with only 3,284 people. I often miss the small country town.
My favorite blog:
My favorite blog is called Story of My Life, it is written by a military man who deals with PTSD, depression, and attempted suicide. Dave, the author of the blog, displays honesty in his writings in a way that makes me feel as if I’m having a private conversation with him. I can relate so much to his struggles with PTSD. Even though the reason for our PTSD diagnoses are very different, I still feel as though I can relate to what he writes about his experiences and ideas. I think that is the best part about his blog, it makes me feel. He writes in a way that connects to my mind and my heart. It makes me feel more comfortable knowing that there is someone else out there that understands how I’m feeling and what I’m going through. A writer that can convey emotions to his or her readers is an extremely talented individual. If feels as if he writes the way he would speak, which also provides a level of comfort to the readers. Dave is also very open about his life experiences. I respect his blog and him as an individual. His honesty and openness have helped me to feel more comfortable in my own writing. He has made a huge difference in my own blog because of these characteristics.
I nominate the following bloggers for the 2016 Liebster Award:
Story of My Life
Bipolar is NOT who I am
My Bipolar Life
Sisterhood of Silence
Closer to the Middle
Tony Vega dot Net
Wallflower or Butterfly.
The questions I was asked and my answers are:
- Is there a negative experience in your life actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise? If so, what and why?
I was an active drug addict and alcoholic, using any drug I could find. Around the time of my father’s death, I started smoking crack. This took me downhill very quickly. I wasn’t even at the hospital with my dad when he died because I was out getting high with my fiancé Chris. A couple of months later, Chris was killed. Everything in my life was falling apart. I couldn’t handle anything anymore. One day, I came home to my mom and said, ‘I hate my life, I want to go back into the hospital’. My mom told me that the hospital won’t change my life, but she had been looking at other places that could help. That’s when I agreed to go into a year-long residential drug rehab program. I honestly believe that I’m sober and alive today because I went to that rehab. My experiences while using and getting sober have made me who I am today.
- What is the one thing about yourself you want the world to know?
I work hard at everything I do including every job I do and every relationship I have. I also follow through on all medical advice and requirements including appointments, medications, research, and tasks. I do my best to stay open to new ideas, even when they scare me.
- Underneath what you do, your diagnoses, and all of the clutter of life, who are you as a person? How do you see yourself?
Underneath everything, I am a family member. I belong to two families, the family I grew up with and the family I inherited from my husband. I see myself as someone who is always there for their family and would go above and beyond to be there for them. I am a loving, caring, and considerate family member.
- Has your diagnosis (diagnoses) affected your life in a positive or negative way (or both)? Why? If you are the loved one of a person suffering from mental illness, how has their diagnosis affected your life in a positive or negative way (or both)?
My diagnoses have affected my life negatively because I have withdrawn from all of my friends during depressive episodes. I have been unable to work for the past 7 years. I’m also terrified to do new things, which makes life very difficult. My diagnoses have affected my life positively because I made some strong connections with people through mental health support groups who have supported me through good and difficult times. My diagnoses have allowed me to relate to others, become more considerate of the needs of others, and help other people even when I don’t realize it.
- If you could live a life free of mental illness, would you? Why? If you are the loved one of a person suffering from mental illness, how would it affect your life if your loved one answered yes or no?
Yes, if I could, I would live a life free of mental illness. I still would have gotten sober and met my husband. Without mental illness, I would not be on disability and I would be able to work, which I truly miss.
- What is your favorite non-physical thing about yourself? Why?
My favorite non-physical thing about myself is that I love others fiercely. I take great pride in all my loved ones and I do my best to make sure they know how much I care about them. I’m also an excellent gift giver, and I love giving gifts to other people.
- What is your deepest fear? Why?
I have a lot of fears, but my biggest fear is losing a family member, especially my mom. My mom is my best friend and I rely on her for so much. I don’t know what I would do without her. Even thinking about it now is terrifying.
- What is one thing you cannot live without?
I don’t think I could live without pictures. I spend a lot of time looking at all of my photographs. I’m very nostalgic, plus, pictures also help me remember things that I have forgotten due to medication and treatments.
- What’s your favorite place and why?
There is a single tree in a field a couple of towns over from my mom’s house in Connecticut. This tree is absolutely beautiful and helps me relax. It also brings back some wonderful family memories.
- You are given a time machine. You can go back and change one thing from your past. Would you do it? Why or why not? If yes, what would you do differently? Be sure to think of the potential effects it could have on any future events.
I would like to think that I would go back and somehow save my dad from dying, but I don’t know if that would even be possible. However, if I did, then that would change so many things. Even though my life has been pretty tough, I still believe that I’m very lucky. I have a husband that loves me, a mom who is my best friend, and I’m 12 years sober. Despite the fact that I struggle daily with bipolar and PTSD, I’m lucky to have these things in my life. I miss my dad every moment of every day, but it would worry me to change the past because of the effects it could have on the future.
- If you could have any career and there were no obstacles to this, what would it be?
If there were no obstacles and I could have any career, I would be a pharmacist. My grandfather and father were both pharmacists, and my aunt is still a pharmacist. When I was a child, I grew up always dreaming that I would follow in my family’s footsteps. I saw my grandfather, father, and aunt make a huge difference in many people’s lives, and I always dreamed of being like them and doing the same thing when I grew up.
The questions for my nominees are:
- What have you found to be the most surprising or unexpected benefit of blogging and why?
- What positive character trait do you have that you wish you could share with others?
- What is the newest activity or most recent learning experience you have had in your life?
- What aspect of your life would you most like to bring into balance? Why?
- What form(s) of art are you most attracted to or moved by?
- If you could travel anywhere in the world without worry, where would you go? Why?
- What is your favorite saying or quote?
- What individual inspires you the most and why?
- Describe a situation where you reached out to someone and it helped you feel good.
- What brings you the most joy?
- What decision or action has had the most impact on helping you through a bipolar or mental health episode?
I did well today; better than I thought I would do. I got some things done around the house to help out. In the afternoon, I went to see my grandma and I had a great visit. Her health is declining and I tend to worry. We had several conversations; I love the fact that I can be open with her about my bipolar disorder and PTSD. There were several things she didn’t understand at first, but she listened to me explain various aspects of the disorders. She even repeated things back to me in her own words showing that she did grasp the concepts. I was able to explain to her how my moods can change suddenly; sometimes I am unable to laugh, sometimes all I can do is cry, and sometimes I feel nothing at all. She even tried to understand how my thoughts can take over my mind; how for the past many months, I have had suicidal ideations in the back of my mind. She asked how my ECT treatments are going and how I’m managing my medications. Even though she may not remember all of these things, she still cared enough to listen to my explanations and try to understand the disorders. Bipolar disorder and PTSD were not things that were considered ‘real’ when she was growing up. The fact that she can see them as real and care about my mental health means so much to me.
Then I was able to spend the evening with my mom. We went to dinner and a movie; we saw a chick flick, Mother’s Day. It was a good movie; not great, but not horrible. The best part of it all is that I got to spend time with my mom. I can talk to her about anything, and I’m not exaggerating. The two of us are happy doing anything, as long as we are together. Tomorrow, we are going to the Science Center to see a Leonardo da Vinci exhibit. I can’t wait to see it; the exhibit brings to life 40 of his inventions. I’m excited to have the opportunity to spend time with my mom; it’s a blessing that I’m extremely grateful for.
The best part of the day is that I didn’t take any Valium. There were probably a couple of times that it would have been beneficial, but I pushed through and did okay. I only want to take that medication when I absolutely need it. If I take it too often, then I build up a tolerance to it, and it doesn’t work as well. Today, I was able to get through my day without any Valium at all. That is a big deal for me. I’ve had other days that I didn’t take any, but I usually didn’t leave the house on those days. Today, I was out and about quite a bit, and I was able to manage it on my own.