I spent some time alone with my mother-in-law yesterday. I showed her the notebook I made to keep track of all her medical issues. She loved it and was extremely grateful of all the work I did. The visit went well; we get along great. It was just emotional for me. There were a lot of details in the notes that my mother-in-law didn’t understand. However, I knew what they meant because I heard them a lot from my father’s cancer. Her illness is bringing up a lot of emotions and memories of my dad. I just want to be able to support her and my husband without bringing up stuff about my dad. I’m not sure if that’s possible, but I’ll do my best.
The past couple days have been pretty difficult. I’ve been pushing myself to do things that I normally wouldn’t do. I’m doing these things because I know that they would help my husband and mother-in-law. I know I don’t have to do these things. It’s my choice. I’m choosing to do them because I think it’s a way for me to love and support my husband and mother-in-law.
Saturday night, my husband asked me if I wanted to go play darts. I got ready and took a Valium. My husband really just needed to get out of the house. We had a good time. We met his best friend there and got to meet his new girlfriend, who we both like. The hardest part was walking into the bar and through crowds. I was okay once we got to the dart boards. There were a lot of people there. My husband was very helpful. He made sure to always hold my hand when we were moving around and he stood behind me when there were other people standing behind me.
This morning, I decided to go to church. It’s a Christian church. Again, I took a Valium because I knew this would be more than difficult. I knew it would make my mother-in-law very happy, and it did. About half of it was singing. My husband told me a few times that I could sing along (almost everyone did), but I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to sing along with words that I don’t believe in. Honestly, I have no clue what I believe in. I know that there is a power greater than myself; I’m obviously not all-powerful. However, that’s really all I know and believe at this point.
Going to church today really made my mother-in-law happy. It put a huge smile on her face. She even thanked me for coming and acknowledged how difficult it must have been for me to do so. I’ve been trying to figure out why I decided to go to church. I’m not sure if this is a reason or not, but I chose to go because no one ever asked me to going. Everyone knows I have a hard time with church and God. I wasn’t pushed into doing something I didn’t want to do. I was accepted for who I am, and that’s why I went. I’m not sure if I will go again or not. Right now, I’m completely overwhelmed with life. I wish there was a way to simply pause everything.
This morning, my husband got a call from his mother. I could tell from the look on his face that it was bad. She had a colonoscopy a few days ago. The doctor called and said they wanted to see her right away. Just with that information alone, I knew it couldn’t be good. It turns out that she has cancer. I’m not sure what kind, I just know the doctor said it’s all over her abdomen. They gave her a year to live.
When my husband told me, I started to cry. I’m not sure how to help my husband through this, although I feel like I should be able to do so. When I was 12, my dad was diagnosed with cancer. They gave him 3 years to live and he lived for 6 years. I’ve lost a parent. I know how hard it is. I just don’t know how to help someone else go through it.
I suppose the only things I can do to help is to be there for both my husband and mother-in-law. I can offer my assistance to both of them. I can be there to talk, if either of them want that. Basically, I can just be there.
I love my mother-in-law and I enjoy the time I spend with her. We get together (without my husband) and play Pinochle about once a week. I’m going to spend as much time with her as I can. She’s a wonderful loving person.
This is bringing up a lot of feelings from when my dad was diagnosed and when he died. I’m sure that this will continue to bring up a lot of emotions. I’ve dealt with them before; I can do it again.
Today was another day of missing Cash. Every time I walked into my house, I expected to see him at the door, eagerly greeting me. When I’m cooking in the kitchen, I expect to see him anxiously waiting to clean up the mess that I left on the floor. Basically, I keep thinking that he will be there when I look over my shoulder. I know that this won’t really happen. I can’t wait for this instinct to stop.
I have received many nice phone calls, emails, and text messages from friends and family, all of which are giving me their condolences. It’s so nice that all of these people care enough to send me their kind thoughts and words. I’m doing my best to say busy. It will help me process and deal with everything that has happened.
When I’m having an extra rough day or so, like I am right now, I try to find the positive side of things. So I started thinking what (if any) is the upside of bipolar disorder? Productivity, creativity, hypomania (before it gets too far), and personal strength are all positive aspects of bipolar disorder. These are the first things that come to my mind, but I had to think hard to find them. For every one thing that is even slightly positive, there are several things that are difficult and unpleasant.
I’m more productive when I’m manic or hypomanic, but not at all when I’m depressed. I love the few days that I become hypomanic, but I know when to stop it so it doesn’t get too far into mania. My house gets a good deep cleaning when I become hypomanic. It’s the one time I don’t mind doing those annoying tasks.
Of course, it’s always said that there’s a huge connection between individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder and individuals who are extremely creative. My bachelors’ degree is in graphic design. I love decorating and organizing things. I’ve also been told that writing is creative. It’s important to remember that creativity comes in many forms.
Personal strength is hard to see, but I know it’s there. I’ve been told that I’m courageous, knowledgeable, compliant, and willing to help others. These characteristics have taken years to grow to what they are, and I still don’t see all of them. I do try to keep growing in any way I can. I also try to do it with as little complaining as possible, but that’s probably not going so well.
Even though it’s hard to see, there are some positives to being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. One other thing I know is that if I wasn’t diagnosed with bipolar, I wouldn’t have some of the friends I have today. I have made several friends that I met in bipolar support groups, and I’m very grateful to them in my life.
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.
I noticed myself getting snippy yesterday with my mother, who did not deserve it at all. Once I realized it, I apologized immediately, and then I realized where it was coming from. For Mother’s Day yesterday, my mom, grandma, and myself went out to lunch; we had a lovely meal. My grandma is 90; she says a lot of things she probably shouldn’t say, but she has always been that way. After lunch, my mom ran into the grocery store while I stayed in the car with my grandma. Up until this point, things were going pretty well; however, it all fell apart fairly quickly, at least that’s how I felt.
My grandma said that if everyone put some of their money together, my husband and I move back to Connecticut. I told her that’s not an option; it’s not something we want to do. She couldn’t grasp the idea. I told her I like visiting Connecticut, but we have many reasons to live across the country. My husband’s parents are there, his kids are there, and most importantly, our granddaughter is there. None of that mattered to her. I told her we were happy living where we were, but still she didn’t understand. I said that we already only see our granddaughter every couple of weeks, and that is hard enough. I couldn’t imagine being across the country from her, I would miss her so much that just thinking about it hurts. Then she asked if we were going to adopt, she is aware that I had a hysterectomy. I explained that it’s not something we want to do; it’s not an option for us. She kept pushing the idea. I explained that I chose not to have kids because of my bipolar disorder and PTSD. I can’t always take care of myself, how could I take care of another person? She tried telling me that we would come up with a system to make it work.
Basically, nothing I said got through to her. Up until this point, my Mother’s Day was going pretty well. However, after this conversation, my heart and stomach started to hurt physically and emotionally. I already know that I can’t have kids, and I hate that, but it felt as if she was throwing it in my face. I know, 100%, that nothing my grandma says is every meant maliciously, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. The last thing I need on Mother’s Day is a reminder that I can’t have kids. I already remember every minute of every single day. I am beyond frustration.
However, I’m upset with myself for being short with her during that conversation. There are many other ways I could have handled it, but I didn’t. The best thing I could have done would have been to simply say, ‘Let’s talk about something else. This conversation makes me uncomfortable.’ I wish I thought about that at the time, but instead I just got frustrated. I was short with her, but as the rest of the day went on it got a little easier again. That’s when I started getting snippy with my mom. She didn’t do anything wrong. I couldn’t figure out why I was so upset, until I finally realized what it was. I was mad at myself for being snippy with my grandma. It was disrespectful. She can’t help it, it’s who she is, and she’s 90 years old. I became mad at myself for being a jerk. It’s as if someone was to get mad at me for being bipolar. It’s a part of who I am and I can’t control it. I had no right to be rude to my grandma.
I need to work on my compassion, especially if I want others to show me some compassion. I was with my grandma today for about 5 hours. Approximately 4 hours and 55 minutes of it went fairly smooth. It was just those 5 minutes while we were waiting in the car together. I have decided that I would rather remember and enjoy the 4 hours and 55 minutes and just ignore the 5 difficult minutes. Almost the entire visit went very well, and that is what I want to remember.