Broken… Or Perhaps Not…

oceandarkandlight

Do you remember when it was that you broke?? When you became who you are… the person living daily with mental health issues?? Do you remember yourself before then or does it seem to all blend together?

For me, I was always under that little dark rain cloud. I was a loner (and liked it that way), I loved to wear dark clothes, I loved sitting on my dresser at night staring across the valley at all the lights leading to the Las Vegas strip as I wrote heart breaking poetry or songs… or inspiring lyrics to show others that the world would not break me. I knew then, at about age 11, that I was different and that I would always be just a little “off”.

I found myself unique… a deep thinker… fiery…

I found myself depressed.

I found myself making poor choices.

I found myself suicidal.

I found myself.

Yes, I found myself.

I was never broken and never will be. Bent… perhaps.

When I found myself… I managed to crawl out of that darkness. I may linger in both, the light and the dark… but the light is where I always turn my attention to. May I always.

Meds, Meds, Meds!

Falling

 Once again, I went to the Doctor and discussed adding Wellbutrin to my med cocktail.

I have stated before that antidepressants throw me straight into mania, but I am hoping that adding this to my mood stabilizer will increase the effectiveness of my current med cocktail.

As you know, my smallest kiddos are moving to Germany for the next three years, which is making it difficult for me to get a hold of my emotions. I am using mindfulness, positive affirmations, and the support of my loved ones, especially my man, to cope with this change. Bipolar has the wonderful side affect (hear my sarcasm) of throwing an episode into the mix when there is a change, both good and bad.

I was very aware that the kids moving could catapult me into some serious emotions… being Bipolar, and having Borderline Personality Disorder do not help the situation one bit. Fortunately, the mood hasn’t become horrible… but it’s gradually causing me to see the melancholy creeping up. I am finding that it is harder to laugh, harder to enjoy things I use to love… being very tearful.

So, at my last Doc visit, I mentioned it so a solution could be sought right away.

We decided to keep all meds the same but to add Wellburtin XL 150 to my mix. I have not ever had an antidepressant added to a mood stabilizer that is doing fairly well… so I am watching and waiting for now. I have to say that I already have a bit of increase in energy… which is good.

I will keep you posted on how this goes… lets hope it goes well.

An Act Of Kindness

“Remember, there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” ~ Scott Adams

AmberPhantomButterfly

Picture found on Milky way Scientists Facebook

I was, very recently, touched by a wonderful, kind hearted woman. She felt compelled to give me a gift, and it set into motion a ripple of many good things for me and my children. Her gift came at just the perfect moment… and it literally permeated into many areas of my life… areas where, without her kindness, certain things would not have been possible.

Remember, acts of kindness can travel far… and are such a blessing.

Practice kindness in any way that you can… whether it be a smile, or something bigger… it does not go unnoticed.

Create those positive ripples. ♥

Riding The Wave Of Life

WaveCopyright Giovanni Allievi

 

Picture Copyright: Giovanni Allievi

We ALL have to ride the waves of life… the ups and downs of normal events and then the ups and downs that accompany a severe storm. Nobody is immune to this.

Sometimes when I am talking to somebody and I mention being bipolar, they feel the need to brush it aside like it is nothing by saying, “everyone is bipolar… we all have ups and downs”. While I want to poke them in the eye for throwing us all into the same hand basket, there is some truth to it.

Yes, we all have those ups and downs from the curve balls that life throws at us. Yes, we all get hyperactive and then we all get the blues… a little mania and depression in the lightest of forms. So what separates us from the rest of the “normal” population?? (Using the word ‘normal’ very loosely here, lol.)

When depression and mania affects our living standards, we have a problem. When you can’t work because you have been crying everyday on end for a week, and this happens every other week, we have a problem. When you are so manic that you up and decide to quit your job and become a writer… even when you have no position to do so, it just seems to be your “calling” in that moment… we have a problem. When you can’t get out of bed for days… when you are constantly thinking of ways to end it… when you decide you will be the first Bipolar president… We have a problem.

Do you see the difference?

Yes, we all have our ups and downs… normal people included. But when your ups and downs control you and affect the way you live your life in a detrimental way… then help is needed. This is not a normal mood swing.

To all my followers who have mental disorders… keep riding those stormy waves. I promise to you that one day the storm will pass and the waves become more gentle, or perhaps even welcomed.

To my followers who follow and are ‘normal’, ride your waves too… and if it ever becomes too rough, more so than what you are use to… I am here to help you get back on that board.

I am always here to help inspire and remind that things do get better. If I can… I KNOW others can too.

Mental Health Interview

I recently participated in a mental health interview for Michigan Hedgehog. Please visit this blog… you will not be disappointed. I love others who are raising their voice about mental disorders.

Thank you Michigan Hedgehog for allowing me to participate on your blog! I loved answering these questions and I love to help bring awareness while sharing bits of myself.

Welcome to Friday Feature. Each Friday I post an interview with someone new who runs a social media account of any kind (blog, twitter, Facebook, tumblr, etc) related to mental illness, addiction, or psychology. My hope is that by interviewing individuals, I can bring you perspectives on mental illness that are unique from my own, whether they just vary in opinion or whether they are for mental illnesses that I don’t have or am not familiar with. This week I interviewed the owner of the blog BipolarMuse. Want to be included in a future Friday Feature? Email me using the contact form at the top of my site!

1) Can you introduce yourself a little bit? What is your diagnosis?
I go by bipolarmuse… and my blog is www.bipolarmuse.com. I was always a loner as a child and as I grew into my preteen years, I knew that I was different from the norm. I would sit on my dresser with headphones on, staring out into the night, writing poems and songs… almost all of them had a melancholic theme. In my early 20′s, I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and treated with antidepressants (serezone, and wellbutrin) and anti-anxiety medicine (klonopin). Of course I was non-compliant with my meds until I had another breakdown in my middle 20′s, in which I was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 disorder. I didn’t believe the doc and felt she was wrong. I was treated with Wellbutrin and Depakote with anti-anxiety med Klonopin as well. I went on and off my meds like it was no big deal. In my early 30′s, I had the worst breakdown of my life which became worse because of horrible things out of my control (ie, the abuse of my youngest son by someone I thought I trusted). I tried every med under the sun, still in denial of the bipolar diagnosis. I tried Celexa, Lexapro, Zoloft, and more… these meds all added to the mania I was experiencing but attributing it to “anxiety”. Finally, after nearly feeling defeated, and almost giving up… I HAD to face my diagnosis. By this time, I was diagnoses with Bipolar 1 Disorder with episodes of Psychosis, Borderline Personality Disorder, and PTSD… not to mention anxiety. I was in a severe mixed episode of mania, hypo-mania, combined with depression from 2008-2012. How I survived is beyond me. Finally the Docs stopped trying to treat me with antidepressants because all they did was add to the mania. My exploration of a mood stabilizer was just as bad. I tried Depakote which did nothing but make me gain weight, Tegretol which gave me horrible nightmares… this was taken with both Ambien and Klonopin so I would literally be stuck in the nightmare because I could not wake up from it. I tried Lithium and Depakote together which made me sleep 12-15 hours a day, gain 40lbs, and made me severely depressed… they added Resperidol (an anti-psychotic). I cried every single day from the year 2009 until 2012. I finally found relief in my medicine when I asked a cousin of mine what type of mood stabilizer he took, (Bipolar is no stranger to my family), he told me “Lamictal”. So at my next Psych visit, I mentioned this to my doc. She was excited to try it because A. we were running out of options, and B. sometimes treatment success also runs in family’s with the same medicines. So, she put me on Lamictal and took me off everything else except the klonopin for panic attacks and sleep. Slowly, I began to feel the weight on my chest lift up… I notices I was starting to see some light in the tunnel of darkness I was trapped in. I felt like the “monster on my back” was getting lighter. We were ecstatic for the results. To add to my treatment to see if we could take away a little more of that “monster”, she added Haldol, a very old school anti-psychotic. She put me on a very low dose (.5milligram) and upped my Lamictal to 200milligrams a day. This was my “miracle”. It was about this time that I started getting very heavy into my blog… and you can literally see the transformation before your eyes if you go through the archives to the present moment. Finally I can live and feel alive again. For so long, I didn’t know if I could make it…. now I know that no matter what happens, I will never stop trying. Never.
2) What types of things do you struggle with day to day as a result of your illness?
Day to day problems include feeling guilty for my past mistakes. Sometimes they play in my mind like a reel to reel and the guilt can be so consuming. On these days, I look for positive affirmations and bring out all my techniques to practice mindfulness… it has been the best solution for me to free myself from my past mistakes, guilt, and pain… and it frees me from the death grip of anxiety of the future.
3) Do you think you were born with your illness? If not, how old were you when you started experiencing symptoms of it? How old were you when you gained your diagnosis?
I do feel I was born with this but I also feel it was both nurture and nature. I knew from a young age that I was different (probably about 10 or 11) but never got any medical help until I was about 23-24 years old. At that time, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. By 26-27 I was diagnosed Bipolar 2, and by 33 I was diagnosed Bipolar 1 with psychosis, Borderline Personality Disorder. I always had anxiety as a diagnosis…
4) How did you come about seeking treatment and/or getting diagnosed?
After my first divorce, I didn’t get custody of my children (the ex played dirty, and well, he made 100,000 a year and I had a job making 8$ an hour)… this was so traumatic for me, I could not stop thinking of suicide. After meeting my next serious boyfriend, he forced me to see a psychiatrist. He himself had Bipolar Disorder. Then after he and I split up, he committed suicide and this threw me into my next breakdown. After my third breakdown, I HAD to step outside of myself and truly examine who I was and what was causing me to live such a chaotic miserable life… what was behind the driver seat… because it certainly didn’t feel like it was “me”.
5)If there was one thing you could let the world understand about your illness or how it affects you, what would it be?
That just because I can throw on some makeup, put on that smiling face, and pretend to be great… this isn’t an indicator of illness or lack of. I have spent most of my life fooling myself and everyone around me. I had a doctor recently tell me (not my doctor mind you, just one I was having conversation with), “you aren’t bipolar. I have patients who are and they don’t look like you… they can’t work… etc”. I was speechless. In fact, I wanted to punch him in the face. He has no clue the efforts I had to make to get to the point I am at today… and it is people like him who keep the stigma and misconceptions going.
6)What is the hardest or worst part about having your illness?
People without it or who have never experienced it in some way have no clue. They think it is just an excuse for poor behavior.
7)Do you think that your mental illness has helped you or benefited you in any way? If so, how?
It has helped me to be more compassionate towards others because we have no clue what a person is up against every single day… it has cultivated a love for poetry and words…
8)What was your reasoning for beginning to blog/facebook about mental illness?
Just to “bleed on paper” so to speak. It was my way of letting some of that darkness out. It helped me to release some of the negativity and helped me to document and journal my life in some way. Second to that, it turned into a way to educate others and to let others know they are not alone in their feelings, diagnosis, or thoughts. Now it is a podium for mental health… with poetry, inspiration, and personal life experiences to show that I am simply human trying to live the best way I can.
9)If you were (or are!) friends with someone with your diagnosis, what would you do to help your friend out? Is there anything that the people around you could do to help you out?
Listen. I wouldn’t judge… I wouldn’t say that suicidal thoughts are selfish… I wouldn’t belittle because I can’t “see” the illness… I wouldn’t make light of the feelings experienced or think it’s just dramatized. I would understand that some days are better than others. I would be happy and celebrate life when things are going well and ask “what can I do to help” when things weren’t so good.

10) What is your blog/fb page? What types of things do you blog about/share?
My facebook is BipolarMuse and it is where my blog posts are linked to. I am also going to try to be more proactive with this page and make it a more personal connection to those who follow. My blog is www.bipolarmuse.com. It is a little poetry, a little about my life specifically, a little education about mental health… bipolar disorder specifically… and a little bit of mindfulness, inspiration, and positive affirmations… with an occasional quote or song thrown into the mix. It is basically a “collection” of who I am. I intend to keep it that way.

11) Anything else you’d like to say or let my readers know?
I appreciate all the support that I get whether it is simply someone reading in silence, or following loudly. Our mental health system needs a serious overhaul and we need to change the way we think about mental health. If my blog opens the door to anything positive in regards to mental health or helping someone realize they are not alone, then I have reached my goal. Just opening the topic for conversation is an accomplishment. Thank you for all of your support… may we all keep learning, teaching, helping, and loving with an open mind and heart.

Fires At Mt. Charleston, NV

Here in Vegas, we have been watching the fires consume Mt. Charleston day and night. It is so sad to watch and know that homes are being lost, nature destroyed, and that it will take a long time before the mountain returns to its previous self.

Here are a few images I found on Google images…

MtFire3

MtFire2

Though I did not take this picture, (I found it on Google images) this is my view of the valley from where I live.

Nevada Wildfires

This night view is tragically beautiful.  😦

Misdiagnosis of Bipolar and ADHD In Children

Even with the progress we have made in mental health in regards to diagnosing and treating those with mental illnesses, not much is known about Bipolar Disorder.

An alarming problem is the misdiagnosis of children who are bipolar but misdiagnosed with ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) or the other way around.

Why does this happen??

In children, the symptoms of ADHD often mimic the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder. Some symptoms include: rapid or impulsive speech, physical restlessness, trouble focusing, irritability, and sometimes defiant or oppositional behavior. Children with Bipolar disorder have very similar symptoms and behaviors.

Children with Bipolar often disrupt the life of the family. If misdiagnosed or poorly treated there is an increase in suicidal attempts and completions, multiple hospitalizations, poor academic performance, failed or impaired relationships, and increased rates of substance abuse.

**Some doctors/experts  do not believe that childhood Bipolar disorder is the same disease as adult Bipolar Disorder.**

In adults, mood changes from depression to mania. Adult mania includes: decreased need for sleep, rapid speech, euphoria, irritability, racing thoughts/activities, grandiosity. Yet in children, mania is not so clear. Some experts say that being irritable, cranky, and negative is the only signs of mania, yet we all know that children often have these behaviors, especially teens.

ADHD is different than Bipolar in that Bipolar Disorder is primarily a mood disorder. ADHD causes symptoms of inattention, impulsivity, hyperactivity… ADHD is chronic whereas Bipolar Disorder is usually episodic with periods of normal moods interspersed with depression, mania, and hypo-mania.

Bipolar Disorder is treated with mood stabilizers such as Depakote, Lithium, Tegretol, Lamictal, Trileptol. Children are often treated with the same and with the newer atypical antipsychotics. They are also sometimes treated with a mood stabilizer and an antidepressant.

ADHD is treated with medication and behavioral therapy. Meds used include psychostimulants Adderall, Concerta, Ritalin, Vyvance, and some nonstimulants like Intuniv, Strattera, and antidepressants like Wellbutrin.

 

How to get your child a proper diagnosis?? Ask the doctor how they came to that diagnosis. Make sure they spoke to the childs school teachers. Make sure your childs Doctor sees him/her on a regular basis instead of just once to make a diagnosis. And, of course, seek a second opinion with a child and adolescent psychiatric specialist.

 

 

A little info about Bipolar Disorder

NIMH- Bipolar Disorder

I Will Wait For You

 

 

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I Will Wait For You

Nothing on this earth prepared me for the love, that as a mother, I have for my children. Nothing compares to it… nothing can hold a candle to this love. They may not be with me physically, but they are always with me in in mind, heart, and soul.

I will wait. However long it takes to have them at my side without losing out on more of their lives… I will wait.

For sharing dreams and wishing on stars… I will wait.

For now, I love, watch, listen, stare, care, hurt, and cry… I learn… I give pieces of myself to make them whole.

My day will come… so I will wait.

Hold Me

holdme

Hold my breath,

forcing the smile.

I fear that to breathe,

Will make me crumble,

Choke on bile.

~

My heart feels gone,

You took it with you.

Hold it gently… cradle me.

I gave… you took…

Hold it gently, it’s already bruised.

~

No “goodbyes” allowed here…

for I will never utter those words.

I will always look ahead to you…

Close my eyes to linger in your presence.

Hold me where you are, abolish the hurt.

© bipolarmuse

Blue Jeans

Blue jeans, white shirt,

walked into the room

you know you made my eyes burn.

It was like James Dean,

f or sure.

Your so fresh to death and

sick as ca-cancer.

You were sort of punk rock

I grew up on hip hop,

you fit me better than my favorite sweater.

And I know… that love is mean,

love hurts.

But I still remember that day

we met in December.

Oh Baby,

I will love you

till the end of time,

I would wait a million years…

Promise you will remember you are mine.

LOVE THIS SONG…

 

 

Getting This Mood In Control… Finding Peace

peace

Those of you familiar with Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder know that we have a huge problem with emotional regulation and have to take painstaking steps to help try to keep our emotions within normal limits.

Emotional Dysregulation:  an emotional response poorly modulated and does not fall within the conventionally accepted range of emotive response. Common in those with Psychiatric Disorders such as Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and is found among those with Austism Spectrum  Disorders.

Technically  I have a double whammy since I have both Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder.

When I handed the little ones over to their Dad after our flight back to Texas, I was amazingly strong. Granted I did get many tears out of the way days leading up to their departure… and I gave the three of us pep talks their entire visit to try to remain in the “now” and to let them know that I will most definitely be seeing them as often as possible. I played up the perks and did not stress any of the disadvantages… in fact, I presented it to them as though there were no disadvantages at all. So as I buckled them into the car, we were all smiles, smooches, and talked about skyping so we could always ‘see’ each other.

Where does the topic of Emotional Dysregulation come into play?? Well, though I was able to pull off  ‘no tears’ at that important moment to ensure we parted with nothing but wonderful thoughts and the lovely adventure lying before us, these last couple days have been emotionally brutal and difficult to regulate. Yes, this is normal for all of us… but the lows have been excruciatingly low. For the last two days, once the afternoon has hit, it is as though  I am “mourning” and completely unable to prevent the tears from coming.

My eyes literally feel bruised… my head is throbbing… on my nightstand sits a roll of tissue, and tear soaked used tissues. I also found tissue under my pillow where I must have been holding onto it for when I would awake crying.

Keeping my sadness into a normal healthy range has been difficult… though I am absolutely trying.

The day before yesterday, I went to bed shortly after four in the afternoon and slept until the next morning. Tears never let me be. Then by the afternoon yesterday, my tearfulness emerged and it was nearly impossible to get it into control. In fact, I didn’t. I went to bed after eight pm and laid in bed crying, sobbing, and just leaking tears. Keeping my emotions in a healthy realm has proven difficult. Happily, my wonderful man has been reminding me of all the positives and trying to keep me in the present.

So… my strategies to help regulate my moods??

Mindfulness, mindfulness, mindfulness. Exercise. Writing. Journaling. Taking a few minutes to become completely ‘aware’ in my here and now. Positive Affirmations. Redirection of thoughts. Acceptance of my feelings and knowing that sadness is appropriate for this situation. Drawing close to loved ones instead of pulling back. Taking care of myself by drinking plenty of water and eating. Perhaps jump into my favorite hobbies. Forgive, forgive, forgive.

Each day will be better than the last. And setbacks are only that, they do not warrant anymore than my acknowledgment and learning from them.

I would love to hear your opinions on how to help regulate these moods… ♥ Your thoughts are always appreciated and welcome. ♥

So Here I Sit

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Yesterday was July first… significant to me because it was the day that I had to fly my two little ones home to Texas for final preparations before their move to Germany with their Dad. Two hours ago, I traded them off to their Dad, and now I sit at the airport (an overnight stay on an uncomfortable bench) waiting to board my flight right back home. We reached our destination at midnight, and I board my next flight shortly after 5am.

Does this blow a big one?? Hell yes it does. Happily, the kiddo’s were so excited to see their Dad that I was able to help keep their happiness levels on nice even ground. I assured them that we will ‘skype’ and do ‘facetime’ VERY soon so we can see each other as we talk. They seemed to really like that idea which makes me ecstatic! I will NEED to see them and talk to them while they are away. It seems like they grow like weeds and I am unable to keep track and record all of their babyhood and childhood growing adventures.

Having them here with me for the month was beautiful and absolutely amazing. I literally enjoyed every moment from doing things with a couple friends to just relaxing at home with them. We watched Netflix, drank chocolate milk, ate cereal, and drank Gatorade…. ate chips, noodles, snacks… you get my drift.

I slept in their room every night, (and I certainly enjoyed that very much), and took turns cuddling them. I listened to their breathing become more rhythmic, and took delight in staring at their beautiful features under the moon light.

I loved every moment given to me.

And I look forward to more.

Right now, I focus on staying healthy… and will work ever so diligently on that.

I will always strive to be the best Mom I can be… and I will practice being more and more of what they need.

Because when it comes down to it… isn’t it all about making them happy?? Creating moments for them to remember forever?? Watching them grow in happiness, health, and always have that beam of sunlight shine upon me from the happiness in the hearts??

That is where my love is. It is not selfish… it is not spiteful… it is not hurtful.

It is holding hands, little kisses, unspoken moments, and sadness turned into happiness.

And so now, I sit in this airport… so silent. I hold onto the smiles and hugs and kisses… I hold onto the “I love you’s”… I hold onto the fact that they will experience a life I could not have given them. I hold onto the hope that they will one day understand my selflessness was born of love for them… My selfish mind and heart wants to fight tooth and nail to have them in my custody at all times, but that is not what is best for the kids…

And so I hold on.

The Damage of Mania

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One of the biggest mistakes made…  no doubt in the throes of this disorder… is to end (and at times, begin) relationships while in the grips of mania.

The devastation brought on by this is insane. You lose people you love… hurt those around you… lose friends and family that you thought you could always count on… your reputation is dragged through the mud, over and over… and the worst, you just hurt yourself and the one you love most to a degree that may never be mended.

I am no stranger to this. And have, more times than I would like to admit, ruined relationships this ugly way. The last being the straw that broke the camels back. I no longer stayed in denial about my disorders and aggressively sought to treat them… but the damage was done, the relationship could not be revived, and we parted ways promising to be good co-parents to our two youngest children.

The damage was severe. The pain I caused astronomical. The domino affect of my actions led to my son being abused physically by someone I thought I could trust… this list goes on and on.

When I was in therapy, I was all eyes and ears… I recognized the feelings, emotions, actions, controlling factors, and etc… I had experienced them all before, 11 years previous when I left my first husband and lost custody of my children. Not for being a bad mom, but, well it is a long story… Can be read here- Time to get real- 1,  about the first go around and  Time to get real- 2 about the second. The point is, it was not foreign to me. I recognized having done this before and I was seriously ready to get to the bottom of this problem… ready to fix it, and to never fall victim to it again.

It has been a very long road since. I have been out of therapy for nearly two years and look forward to starting again in September when my medicare kicks in. My bouts of mania have ceased… and depression creeps up and ducks out. I feel like I am trapped in my body, just watching and waiting for the next attack on my life. I want to be well equipped, able to fight off any actions that I have not thoroughly thought out and planned for while in a normal frame of mind. I don’t want my world to buckle again… I don’t want to have to rebuild from rubble and tears… I don’t want to have to spend years saying “I am sorry” to myself and to others… I don’t want to want to die.

I want to live… and as I am learning, I want to live well. My goal is to serve as an open book for my children, so they can learn from me and see the devastation that can come from impulsive decisions. I want them to learn what it is to rebuild and be successful when all odds are against you. I want them to learn that we can all love again… especially to learn to love ourselves. And most of all… if any of them inherit my mental health issues, I want them to learn how to live and thrive even though our minds may try to get us to do otherwise. I will always fight for them… they have always been my beacon, now it is my turn to be theirs.

This disorder no doubt tore me down while making me believe I was all powerful and fully in charge. When I get thoughts like that swirling around my head now, I take a step back and start picking things apart… and I no doubt find that I am manic, rapid cycling, or in a mixed state… all damaging in their own right.

Being Bipolar 1 certainly takes over ones life… but I can honestly say that I have been taking it back.

I will flourish. I will continually work on forgiveness… not for others necessarily, but for myself. I will not stay silent, but speak openly about my disorders. I will help anyone struggling with mental disorders, teaching them my experiences and how I kept my head above water… and I will help to educate anyone and everyone who will listen.

I will learn to be proud of myself. I will always move forward… even if I have to take a couple steps back at times. I will keep this fire inside of me.

And most important…

I WILL NEVER GIVE UP.

NEVER.