I Need A Break From Myself

I Need A Break From Myself

I’m exhausted. I’m overwhelmed. I keep feeling like I won’t be able to make it through the day, but I continue to push myself. I’m just trying to get through each day, one hour at a time. Every moment that I make it through is a huge accomplishment.

I suppose that since my husband is struggling with his mother’s cancer diagnosis and he’s worried about his brother, I feel like I need to be stronger. I know that if I were to say this to my husband, he would disagree. I know he only wants what’s best for me, but I can’t help but feel this way.

I pretend to be stronger than I really am, but pretending can only take me so far. However, with every passing day, I feel as if I’m getting worse. Every day for the past month, at least, I’ve thought about going to a psych unit; however, I don’t end up going. I know that I’m not going to do anything, but the thoughts keep running through my mind. I wish I could take a break from my mind. If only that were possible.

Lessons I’ve Learned: Always Be There For Family

Lessons I’ve Learned: Always Be There For Family

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.

 

Lessons I’ve Learned: Honesty Is Vital

Lessons I’ve Learned: Honesty Is Vital

Over time, I have learned the true importance of honesty. Before I got sober, I was almost never honest. When I was using drugs, I was constantly lying about everything. Then, I would try to cover up one lie with another. It made life extremely complicated. Sometimes, I would lie by omission. I would purposely not tell someone something because I didn’t want anyone to know the truth. I’ve learned that being honest makes life a lot easier. I no longer have to spend time trying to figure out which lie I told to which person because I tell every person the same thing, the truth. Being honest has made my life easier. I can sleep better because I feel good about my honesty.

Honesty is a way to show people you respect them. Healthy relationships are based on honesty. It’s especially important to be honest with your significant other. My husband and I are honest with each other, which shows our trust in each other. There are times that being honest will make you emotionally vulnerable, which is good in a healthy relationship. If I want people to be honest with me, then I need to be honest with them. It’s a two-way street.

The part of honesty I struggle with the most is being honest with others about how I’m doing. I don’t like to tell people how I’m really feeling. I guess I don’t want people to feel sorry for me or think I’m pathetic because I spend so much of my life depressed. When I pretend to be okay, I’m technically lying. This is an issue that I definitely need to work on. I’m not perfect; in fact, I’m far from it. However, I think I will be okay as long as I’m always working towards being 100% honest.

Being Open About Mental Health

Being Open About Mental Health

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.

Insomnia…

Insomnia…

I’ve probably mentioned before that I’m an insomniac. However, the Clozapine I take at night helps me fall asleep with 20 minutes, I just don’t stay asleep. I wake up at least twice every night. It would be nice to sleep through the night, but I don’t know if that will ever happen. My mind is always running extremely fast. It goes from one thought, to the next, and so on. I never catch a break; I never get a moment of peace from my own brain. This happens when I’m manic, depressed, and even when I’m not experiencing an episode.

There are many aspects in life that affect my ability to sleep. These aspects include keeping a routine, medications, my anxiety level, and my honesty. Keeping a routine is important, but it’s something that I’m not very good at. I almost never go to bed at the same time every night. I pretty much go to sleep whenever I feel like it, so that isn’t very helpful. Several of my medications, including Lithium and Tegretol XR, can cause insomnia in patients. I’m sure this worsens my ability to sleep. My anxiety level is high quite often. Even when it’s not high, I deal with anxiety on a regular basis, especially when I’m outside of my home. For me, it’s important to remain honesty. I have a hard time living with myself if I’m not honest. I truly believe that honesty is the best policy; it’s important that when we interact with others, you should treat them the way you want to be treated.

There are many reasons why I could struggle with insomnia. I wonder if this is something I’ll have to deal with for the rest of my life. When I was a young child, I would fall asleep anywhere. Now, I have to force myself to fall asleep. And to make matters even worse, I tend to have nightmares when I finally do fall asleep. My husband says that he can tell when I’m having a bad dream because I talk very loudly in my sleep and I’m constantly tossing and turning. When I wake up, I don’t always remember my dream/nightmare, but I do remember feeling terrified. I wonder if there’s anything I can do to help get rid of these nightmares.

IBPF: Honesty Between Patients And Psychiatrists

IBPF: Honesty Between Patients And Psychiatrists

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.

The Liebster Award

The Liebster Award

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:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and include a link to their blog.
  2. Display the award on your blog.
  3. Write a 150-300 word post about your favorite blog that is not your own. Explain why you like the blog and provide links.
  4. Provide 10 random facts about yourself.
  5. Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that have less than 200 followers for the award.
  6. List the rules in your post.
  7. Inform your nominees that they have been nominated for the Liebster Award and provide a link for them.
  8. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. I’m extremely gullible. I pretty much believe anything I’m told. My husband likes to have fun with that.
  5. I played the piano (along with many other instruments). I miss playing and want to spend more time practicing.
  6. Family is the most important thing to me. Nothing comes above family.
  7. 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!
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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
Life-Long Bipolar
Closer to the Middle
Tony Vega dot Net
Wallflower or Butterfly.

The questions I was asked and my answers are:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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:

  1. What have you found to be the most surprising or unexpected benefit of blogging and why?
  2. What positive character trait do you have that you wish you could share with others?
  3. What is the newest activity or most recent learning experience you have had in your life?
  4. What aspect of your life would you most like to bring into balance? Why?
  5. What form(s) of art are you most attracted to or moved by?
  6. If you could travel anywhere in the world without worry, where would you go? Why?
  7. What is your favorite saying or quote?
  8. What individual inspires you the most and why?
  9. Describe a situation where you reached out to someone and it helped you feel good.
  10. What brings you the most joy?
  11. What decision or action has had the most impact on helping you through a bipolar or mental health episode?