A Day At The Hospital

A Day At The Hospital

Everything we well yesterday with my father-in-law’s surgery. We were at the hospital for 10 hours, but the time went by fast. We kept each other company while we waited to hear how the surgery went and then while we waited to go back and see him. At one point, some woman came and sat next to us (we were sitting in a corner of the waiting room by ourselves). It got pretty uncomfortable then, especially since she inserted herself into our conversation. However, I think she was just trying to pass the time while she waited for her husband. There were four of us waiting for my father-in-law, and she was all alone. He gets to go home today if all goes well. We won’t know how successful it was for at least a couple of weeks.

I fell asleep early on the couch since it had been a long day. I woke up at 2am coughing, so I stayed on the couch. I didn’t want to go to bed and wake my husband up with my coughing. I thought I might be able to fall back asleep, but that didn’t work out very well. I’m not sure if we’re going back to the hospital today or not. Maybe I’ll stop by before my doctor’s appointment.

Coffee With Friends

Coffee With Friends

My day had started out rough. I was feeling extremely anxious about restarting ECT. So meeting up with friends really helped me feel a little bit more at ease. I know I should get together with friends more often, but it’s not easy for me. My depression tends to take over, making it difficult, at times, for me to leave the house at all.

I met up with some friends last night that I know from a support group I used to go to. It was hard to get myself to go there, but I was glad I went once I arrived. It’s nice to talk to and spend time with others that understand what I’m going through. We shared thoughts and stories. I was even able to laugh and smile. It felt great to do that.

Amazing And Thoughtful Husband

Amazing And Thoughtful Husband

My husband went to 4 different grocery stores looking for my missing ingredient. I can’t believe how thoughtful he is. He knows that I struggle at the grocery store when it is busy, and it will be incredibly busy today. I can’t think of anyone else that would do that for me. I’m so lucky to have such a caring and thoughtful husband. He wasn’t able to find the ingredient,  but it’s the thought that counts.

I decided to try a different ingredient so I could still make the chocolate mousse. I’m not so sure it worked out alright, but I tried. I won’t know until tomorrow if it worked or not.

My Wonderful Husband

My Wonderful Husband

My husband brought home 3 beautiful roses for me, one for each year of marriage. Our anniversary isn’t until the third, I suppose he’s just getting a head start. As of tomorrow, we will be married 3 years. We were also engaged a little over a year, and we were dating for about a year and a half before that. Before all of that, we were best friends for about 5 years. He always said we would end up together. I insisted that wasn’t so, but now look at us, we’re happily married.

We’ve had a lot of difficult times thrown at us this past year. Between my mental health and my husband’s excruciating back pain, it’s been more than hard, but we made it through together, we support each other. I am hoping for some easier times in the future.

Pretending

Pretending

I’ve realized that I’m very good at pretending to be alright. I’m not trying to be strong. Most of the time, it’s just easier to pretend to be okay than it is to express how I’m really feeling. I think that’s because I don’t know how I’m actually feeling. I’m stuck between several different emotions and no emotions at the same time. I know that pretending I’m okay when I’m not cannot last forever.

At some point, my emotions will come rushing back to me. It seems that I either have every emotion or no emotions, there’s no balance for me. That’s how it goes with bipolar disorder. When that happens, I know that I have a lot of support from my family and friends.

Support, Love, and Meds

Support, Love, and Meds

It’s been tough not blogging lately. Blogging has been a great way for me to work through my issues, but it’s hard to do physically. That means, I’ve been holding in most of my emotions and not dealing with things in the best way. Luckily, my family has been there to help me with any issues going on. I also feel like I have support from this online community I’m a part of. Thank you to all of you.

I’ve talked to most of my family lately. It’s nice to know that my family supports me. In just 3 1/2 weeks, I’ll be in Cape Cod with my mom, my sister, and her family. There’s a chance I might even get to see my niece skate.

My husband came home with a bouquet of flowers two days ago. He said that he thought I could use a smile, something to lift me up. They’re red roses and white lilies. Lilies are my favorite. He’s so sweet. He does stuff like that randomly.

I’m still getting used to the new medication. This is the first medication that I have to take with a meal. All my (many) other meds don’t need to be taken with a meal. It’s hard to remember to take the Metformin with food, but I will get used to it eventually.

My Weight Gain Is Out Of Control

My Weight Gain Is Out Of Control

I have been gaining weight over the last six months. It has become especially bad in just the last few months. I’ve gained about a total of 40 pounds. It doesn’t seem to matter what I do, I just keep gaining weight. I’m doing my best to control it, but I seem to be wildly hungry almost all of the time. There are even times that I’m full, but I still want to eat for some reason. I also tend to have difficulties sleeping. I’m hungry every time I wake up, which happens at least two times a night, sometimes as often as four times a night. I have a feeling that it is a medication issue, but I have to be very careful about my medication changes.

I’m working out with my husband at the gym. I’m also buying healthier foods to keep in the house. That way even if I do snack more often than I should, at least I’m eating healthier. Over the years, I have had several periods where I gained a large amount of weight. The weight gain is always difficult to handle, but every time I eventually lose the weight and get back to my normal size. I know that I will be able to lose the weight eventually, but it’s hard to live with the weight gain. Luckily, I’m blessed with a husband that doesn’t care about my size. He supports me no matter what; he is always willing to help me once I’m ready to get back in shape. Working out together is a fun activity for the two of us. It’s something we used to do together five days a week before we even started dating.

I wish I didn’t have to go up and down with my weight to such extremes. I know that it is part of the bipolar disorder and the medications that go along with it, but it’s very difficult to deal with. Depression can increase the weight gain, and the weight gain can worsen the depression. It’s a vicious cycle. I’m looking forward to the end of this brutal period. I know I can lose the weight and feel better about myself again, I just don’t know how long it will be until that happens.

The Beginning Of It All – My Life: Part 2

The Beginning Of It All – My Life: Part 2

Trigger Warning: The following talks about drug and alcohol abuse, cutting, and suicidal gestures.

I believe that I started to change when I was in 7th or 8th grade. The friends I chose were different from before and I became a sad and angry person on the inside. Many kids go through changes around this age, but I took it a bit too far. Then, one day, I was told that my dad was diagnosed with multiple myeloma (bone marrow cancer). I was devastated. My whole life was turned upside down. The day after I found out about my father’s diagnosis, I remember walking into town and feeling very upset. As I was walking, one of my new “friends” saw me and asked what was wrong. I told him about my father and how upset I was. He gave me cocaine and told me it would make me feel better. That was the start of a treacherous journey over the next many years. Cocaine made me forget how horrible I felt, although it caused so many other problems.

My dad’s diagnosis was a trigger for me, but if it hadn’t been that, it would have been something else.  My drug and alcohol use as well as my mental health problems were not my father’s fault; in fact, they were no one’s fault. It’s just a part of my story. I couldn’t believe I was losing my father and I didn’t know how to handle it. My parents had me go to therapy, but it wasn’t helpful because I wasn’t honest with the therapist. Over the next six or seven years, I tried just about every drug except for meth, and that’s only because it wasn’t available where I lived. The beginning of my drug use was the beginning of my downfall, mentally and emotionally. I also started cutting around the same time that I started using drugs and alcohol. Cutting caused physical pain, which replaced the emotional pain. It was another outlet that caused more harm than good.

I remember that I got caught smoking one day. My parents confronted me about it and I lied to them, which is what they were more upset about. Instead of grounding me, I was allowed to do whatever I wanted, but I had to be with one of my parents at all times. My mom said that I lost their trust. The punishment lasted several months, which felt like forever, until I could prove that I was trustworthy again. I didn’t understand then, but I get it now. Trust is something that’s earned; it’s not a right for anyone.

When I was 14, I made a suicidal gesture. I took a lot of a medication, but I took just less than what would kill me. I knew exactly what I was doing; it was a cry for help. This was my first hospitalization. I met my first psychiatrist at this hospital; he treated me while I was admitted and I kept seeing him after. I was diagnosed with bipolar 1 and borderline personality disorder. I think the only reason I was diagnosed as borderline was because of the self-harm. I still think about cutting, but I haven’t done it in well over a decade. My family was very supportive and caring. I even remember at one point, my mom and sister completed the Family to Family course offered by NAMI so they could better understand me.

I tried just about every medication and med combo available, but nothing really worked. They probably didn’t work because I was also self-medicating with all sorts of drugs and alcohol. I actually told my psychiatrist about the drugs I was using. I often went to our appointments high. He did nothing about it except ask me not to do that again. Of course I didn’t listen to him. There were also some medications that caused me to gain weight. One med caused an 80 pound weight gain, yet he never mentioned that it was an issue at any of our appointments. Now, as an adult, I’m surprised and disappointed that he never informed my parents about my drug use or the side effects such as weight gain. It never seemed as if that psychiatrist at that time cared about my well-being.

I left high school after my sophomore year and went to college at the age of 16. The college was meant for “younger scholars”. I did meet some great friends there who I’m still friends with now, but I also started using more drugs. The actual school part was not a problem. I still did well in my classes, but I stopped caring about school in general. I only lasted one year at that school before dropping out. School was interfering with my drug use, and my mental health was a huge endeavor. I couldn’t do it all, so I left college and eventually got my GED, since I left high school before graduating.

I think that the biggest reason that every attempt to stabilize my mental health didn’t work when I was younger was because of my drug and alcohol abuse. I don’t know how to use anything in moderation. I could never have a drink, I would have a bottle. I couldn’t take just one hit; I had to smoke the whole thing. Even if I was doing well, the drug use would screw me up completely. I also didn’t work very hard on my mental health, I didn’t care very much. Now that I know how much of a difference I can make on my own mental health, I take responsibility for my teenage years being mostly a disaster.

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?

 

Bipolar Disorder Affects Our Friends and Family

Bipolar Disorder Affects Our Friends and Family

Personally, I mostly think of how much my bipolar disorder affects my life. Bipolar disorder causes my personality and capabilities to change over time. I can be happy one moment, and then suddenly I’m crying. It’s not always this extreme, but my moods do shift without having the power to control them or even know when they’re coming. I’m lucky to have family and a couple friends that are extremely supportive of me. However, no one is perfect. Sometimes one of them may say or do something that upsets me and my mind automatically thinks, ‘Don’t they know what I have to deal with? And they’re complaining because of how my disorder affects them?’ It takes me a little while, but then I realize that my disorder has a huge influence on those around me, especially those I’m close with.

I have to work very hard at remembering that I’m not the only person my bipolar disorder has an impact on. Even when my loved ones are educated, they’re still human, and some of my symptoms can be extremely difficult to live with. This is true especially when I’m in a manic or depressive episode. Recently, I was experiencing a mixed episode, some of my manic symptoms included constant fidgeting, increased talking, and was barely sleeping. It took me a while to realize that my symptoms were also affecting my family, especially those I live with. One family member recently said something that hurt my feelings. All I could think was how I didn’t have control over what I was doing, and I felt as if this person was blaming me for that. It took me a while, but now I realize that my family has to live with bipolar disorder as well.

Many individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder at some point struggle to work. Personally, I went through a huge manic episode with psychosis that caused me to be unable to work at all. I have been on Social Security Disability since 2009. I still bring in some money thanks to SSDI, but I don’t make the money that I used to make. For many people, this type of situation often causes problems in families and couples. Our support systems often feel helpless because they can’t fix us, and they often can’t even understand us when we’re manic. But they’re not helpless. They can help to make sure we are taking our medication, help us come up with strategies to reduce stress, encourage us to contact our doctors, and if necessary they can contact our doctors if given permission when we have failed to do so. These are things that my family helps me with.

It’s a lot of work to be the support system for someone with bipolar disorder, or any mental health illness. Our loved ones can experience emotional and financial distress, they often have interruptions to their routines, they have to learn to handle our unusual and sometimes reckless behavior, and the stress they experience can often cause health problems. There are support groups and meetings for our loved ones, just as there are support groups that we can go to. It’s vital for our support system to receive support; otherwise, they won’t be able to be there for us. If we want someone to be patient with us, then we need to be patient with them. It’s much easier said than done.