43

Tomorrow is my birthday.  It seems like it was just here, although, this time last year wasn’t all that great.  For starters, I was getting over side effects of a false start with Lamictal and I was sliding into depression.  Plus, it wasn’t as if my forty-second birthday was all that major of an event.  Forty-three still isn’t that big of an event either, but I feel better and I am in a much better place mentally than I was this time last year.  Speaking of this year, as is the custom at the end of the year, many people reflect on the past events and say what they are thankful for.  Plus, on my birthday, I look back at the year that I have had and talk about that time.  There really is no point in doing it twice.

I am thankful for:

My parents, without whom, I would probably be languishing in an institution somewhere.  They have provided support to me that would be impossible to duplicate.  They are the biggest reason I am doing as well as I am.  Thank you Mom and Dad for making me and still having the ability to love me through all of this.  I know there have been times when I haven’t been the easiest person to live with.  Thank you for putting up with me and showing a mountain of patience.

My family, for giving me unconditional support, accepting my frailties and making me feel loved.

My friends, for everything they have said and done, there’s a reason why we’re all friends.

My therapist, for listening, suggesting and pushing me beyond myself and my comfort zone.

My psychiatrist/chef, for finding the right combination of medications to keep my symptoms at bay.  Better living through chemistry 🙂

The NAMI Peer support group, such a fantastic collection of people.

Everyone who reads my blog and gives me support through likes and comments, who in turn provide me the all important evidence that I am not alone in my struggles.

WordPress, for hosting my blog, for giving me a place to put my demons, likes, loves, fears and so much more.

——————————————————–

“Some of it’s magic, some of it’s tragic, but I had a good life all the way”  — JB

Here’s to 43 more!!!!!!

Advertisements

Suicidal Ideation

I can’t say that I have never thought about committing suicide but it has been a really long time since I have. I mean, really, truly thinking about and planning ways to kill myself.  Even then, I never started to go through with anything.  I wouldn’t be here if I had.  I would have been successful.  I believe that wanting and thinking and planning ways to do away with yourself change a person in a way that I’m not sure I can put my finger on.  Suicidal Ideation runs low with me now.  I say that because every once in a while, especially while I’m driving I think “It would be so easy to end it all right now,  I could pull off into that ditch or I could just take my hands off the wheel and let the car drift into oncoming traffic.”  I have these thoughts whether I’m depressed, manic, or level.  I think that because I have experienced stronger Suicidal Ideation, I am more prone to have these thoughts even when I’m well and not suffering from any of my Bipolar symptoms.

Do people that do not suffer from mental illness of any kind have any Suicidal Ideation?  I’m very interested in hearing from you?

Infection, Antibiotics, Antidepressants and Mental Health

My docs suggested that a urinary tract infection was partly responsible for the psychotic break.  They said that it was possible the infection was interfering with the Effexor I was taking.  Or, the infection had somehow been running roughshod over my mental well being.  Whichever the case may be, I am being very cautious with the sinus infection that has been plaguing me for the past couple of weeks.  Tomorrow, I will start my second round of antibiotics.  Whatever bug is running around inside my head, hopefully this round will be its last.  I can’t help but think the little ups and downs that I’ve been experiencing over the past few weeks have had something to do with this.  Maybe and maybe not but whatever happens, I hope the infection gets knocked out just as soon as possible… and I hope I keep my sanity until this all gets wrapped up.

Blindsided By Bipolar

Things are going well, with the exception of a pretty wicked sinus infection that makes my head feel like it’s ready to give birth to another head.  I’m writing a lot and I’m posting a lot.  I am a little concerned that Bipolar Disorder isn’t playing as big a part in what I’m writing now, as opposed to the way it was a for the past couple of months when it seemed like I couldn’t shut up about it.  I’m concerned that I might be getting too complacent about it.  Knowing me, I am prone to ignoring things if they are going well.  As all of us in the Bipolar/Mental Health community know, getting and staying healthy/level is hard work and requires vigilance to keep going.  And even then, you can get blindsided.  As for me, I believe I am doing the things I need to do on a regular basis, one of which is writing every day.  I guess I just needed to talk about it a little so I don’t find myself blindsided.  I hope everyone out there is having a nice peaceful morning/evening/night.

Balance in Life

The question has been posed:  How do I attain and then maintain balance in my life?  Or maybe how does a person attain and maintain balance in their life?  It was asked of me so I will try to answer from my point of view.

Define what’s important
For me, my health is number one, both physical and mental health.  My mental health is pretty OK but I definitely need to work on it all the time. Remembering to take my medications, keeping appointments with my therapist and psych-doc are keys to keeping my mental health in check.  I also know that writing is a key component to managing my mental health.  So writing this blog is important.  As far as my physical health goes, I need to work on a few areas.  I’m diabetic so I have to keep a constant watch on my blood glucose readings (I check mine every morning before breakfast).  I’m also overweight, some of that comes from medications I take some of that can be attributed to a somewhat sedentary lifestyle.  Needless to say, I would be better if I started to exercise.  Regular visits to my primary care doc are also important.  At this point I would say that my physical health is probably playing a backseat to my mental health.

Others things that are important are my relationships with my family and friends and keeping up my blog.  My family and friends are my support group.  They are very important when it comes to keeping up with my mental health.  I rely on them to provide me with all the tools necessary to combat anything that might be trying to disrupt my mental health.  It can be a conversation, phone call, text message, hug, whatever.  Keeping these relationships is very important.

Although there a thing that need work or need constant work I feel as though the things that are in balance.

Set Boundaries
Learn to say no, and learn to keep saying it.  I would be nowhere today, or in a hospital somewhere, if I hadn’t learned how to say no to things people asked me to do.  For me this again has to do with doing, or not doing, what is best for my mental health.  This involves learning what my triggers are as well as what my comfort zones are.  My triggers include high stress situations and deeply depressing situations.  Either one of those could push me across the manic or depressive thresholds.  I’m not that fragile but it’s hard to know from one setting to the next.  The key is in really knowing yourself.

Don’t spread yourself too thin
Too much of something can indeed be a bad thing.  Learn what your boundaries are and learn how to pull yourself back before you’ve gone too far.  I know that when I don’t pay attention to what I’m doing I can quickly get into trouble.  For instance, I mentioned earlier that keeping up with my blog was important to me.  It has been a balance issue for me as well.  Sometimes I get so involved with writing my blog, replying to other blogs and reading other blogs that I lose track of time and I stay up too late.  When I do that I don’t get enough sleep and not getting enough sleep is a trigger for psychosis.  Again, it is important to know yourself really well.

Looking at these three items, I am happy to say that I am somewhat balanced in my life.  I didn’t think I would be as close as I am.

How do you find and keep balance in your own life?

Cleaned Out and Scared

The writing I have done over the past two to three days has given me the feeling of being cleaned out.  I am not empty or lighter for it.  Just more in tune with what is inside of me.  The shards of ideas and slivers of thought have been swept out of the creative space.  Bipolar symptoms be damned.  I feel free of all the ups or downs, things that hold me down and tear at my life.  So here I am, waiting to see if the feeling will hold.  I sense that I have experienced this before and there is a fear in me that everything will come crashing down… or erupt into something altogether uncontrollable.  The thing that I am most afraid of is not that anyone will be disappointed in me (“you’ve come so far”) or scared of me, it’s that I will have to go back into the hospital and have ECT again.  I don’t want that to happen because that will be going back to the beginning.  So when I’m having a good spell I question it.  I hope beyond hope that the good spell will stay and turn into something else.  A good life, a settled life, an even life. Where I can be at peace, be with my loved ones, and write, and drive, and sing.

Self-Aware

At what point in our lives do we become self-aware?  Some people would argue that it occurs as early as 18-24 months.  Today I observed some kids between the ages of 7 and 12 that didn’t seem to be very self-aware at all.  Maybe it was me; maybe it was my subjectivity that obscured what I was observing.  This interests me because I do not think I was particularly self-aware while I was going through psychoses and my psychotic break.  There were weeks (if not longer) at a time where I carried on as though nothing out of the normal were occurring.  When in reality, my apartment was unkempt, the only clothes that got washed were the ones I was wearing to work (I’m sure there were a plethora of items like that).  It all looked fine to me but in reality it was extremely dirty.  At work I was not treating my customers with as much respect as they were due.  The co-workers, whose output I was overseeing received the short end of my temper.   I was taking the management portion of my job way too literally.  I spent a lot of time proof reading and rewriting document after document.  I did all of this without realizing it was happening.  I wasn’t told about any of this until after I was hospitalized.  Where was my self-awareness?

On the other hand, I was aware of a couple of things that were “happening” during that same period of psychoses.  For starters, I told work that I had a perforated ulcer.  I’m not sure what my motive was but I knew somewhere inside that it wasn’t true. In addition to that, I told my family, who were living on the other side of the States, that I had gotten a friend’s sister pregnant.  Again, I had no idea what my motive was but I knew that my story was untrue.

In the face of all these events, these actions, these stories, I have come to a conclusion about self-awareness.  While it may be true that we first become self-aware between 18-24 months of age.  I believe that we move in and out of self-awareness throughout our lives.  It is probably even situational.  How many of us have had that (those) drunken night(s) where we don’t remember anything the next day (or maybe you would prefer some substance other than alcohol).  I’m not arguing that situational self-awareness can’t be used as a legal argument, at least where substance abuse is concerned.  What I am interested in finding out is this:  How does one prove that they had a lapse of awareness and what the lapse can be attributed to?

Mental illness is the cause of numerous actions both cognizant and unaware.  How does one determine the level of self-awareness at any given time?  I recognize this is a tough question that brings up many clinical as well legal issues.   I believe answers to these questions serve to help us all be we mentally ill or not.