Archives for February, 2011
It's Vacation Time!!! We came up to the mountains for a week of fun with the kids, and arrived yesterday. This morning I woke up and I was not exactly in the best mood from two days of packing, traveling, nonsense, and fighting from the kids, but I was stunned at how quickly my cranky "don't talk to me" irritable mood changed. In an attempt to soften the blow of such a terrible mood, I drew the curtain to our balcony open to take in the view. For a moment, I stood there in awe. It was truly magnificently breathtaking; when I looked over at the mountain tops gently being kissed by the most beautiful rays of sunshine peeking through the gray clouds. I felt an incredible peace come over me as I stepped out onto the balcony taking in the fresh air, watching the deer walk by, and listening to the nothingness around me. It was serenity, it was peaceful, it was nature's beauty.
When I was diagnosed with Bipolar I will admit, I was a little scared but also felt an incredible sense of relief. I had answers but I didn't know what to do. I looked online for support for mothers and women specifically struggling with Bipolar and found very little support. There are books and support systems out there for the general public that talk about bipolar, but what about my marriage? What about my kids? Who can help me with those battles? The more I searched, the more I read horror stories of people who are not medicated and not in treatment, doing terrible things to their families, and I knew that wasn't any good for me when I was struggling to make myself a better woman. Out of my frustrations I started writing.
Is the antidepressant that has always helped me so much the reason I am struggling now? I have been thinking a lot about the medications I am on, and I am wondering how much my antidepressants are impacting my mood. Prior to my diagnoses, I spent 15 years going on and off antidepressants. It was very difficult for me and it seemed as though I was just "depressed" all the time. Every time I would start the antidepressants, some would send me into a rage and fill me with hostility and anger, and others would put me in a beautiful euphoria. I didn't understand how critical it was to see a psychiatrist regularly to determine what would help me best. Maybe I would have found stability sooner if I had found a good psychiatrist to monitor my medicine. Hindsight is beautiful.
I have repeatedly asked myself "who is really to blame when we choose to do stupid things as a result of a manic episode?" I don't have any legitimate answers to that question, which is probably why I keep asking myself over and over again the same question. I do have some theories though, so here I go ranting again! A few years ago (prior to my diagnoses) I cheated on my husband. Yes *gasp* I cheated. I am a horrible woman, and a horrible wife. Well, at least I beat myself up over it for a long time. It wasn't a long standing affair, it wasn't a "love triangle," it was one stupid night. One very stupid night.
I was talking to a woman whom I admire a great deal, and we were discussing shame. That's when it hit me, I think many people out there are genuinely ashamed of being mentally ill. But why? If you spend years struggling to understand what is so "different" about your life (as I did) and you finally realize what's going on, why be ashamed of it? I think everyone should embrace it, learn about it, and search for the best course of treatment. I am not ashamed, and I'm proud to say it! I would shout it from the rooftops if I could, and I will tell every person that is willing to listen. I am proud of who I am, even if some people think I'm crazy, that's okay with me! It's all about the stigma. It is really irritating that people walk around under the shadow of shame for having something that they need help in coping with. Let me explain.
I must admit the tantrums I often have remind me somewhat of the tantrums my four year old daughter throws. She doesn’t kick and throw herself to the ground, it doesn't end up like the normal toddler tantrum. She simply screams (at the top of her lungs) her point, argues her point, and whines until she gets her way. Surprise! That’s me. Well…not exactly, but close. I don't like not being heard! I think that is a statement she and I can both relate to. It is a strong statement. It is a bold statement. She screams louder and louder, until someone at least hears her point. I have figured out that it is not so much about the fight, the argument, winning, or losing. It is strictly about being heard and understood. I feel if I listen a little closer to what she has to say she will tantrum a little less. Just as I feel if I am listened to a little more maybe I would tantrum less.
Is there a "good" side of bipolar? Absolutely. It's called mania. Those who suffer from bipolar and swing between severe depression and hypomania learn to love and welcome the mania. It is why a lot of people who have bipolar end up going off their medications. Mania feels good. It is the most amazing natural high one can feel for no reason. The euphoria is addictive, and dangerous. I am very limited on the medications I can take, but I do the best I can with the ones I can take. With mania comes insomnia, incredible energy, increased sex drive, a love for life, feeling incredible about yourself, etc. Milder mania can be very rewarding and not as dangerous. With me, I find that I just have a beautiful amount of energy, my house is spotless, the kids are taken care of every day, I cook amazing elaborate dinners, and it seems as if I am just the most amazing woman in the world. I feel like I can conquer anything and everything that comes my way. I wish everyone could know how great it feels, so that there could be a much better understanding. Even though I am pretty well medicated, I still experience mild mania, clinically known as "hypomania," pretty frequently.
I married my husband after a very short 4 months of dating. The first 6 years were very tough. I left him half a dozen times and hated him as much as I loved him. It was a challenge from the first week! Marriage in itself is tough, but when you throw in undiagnosed bipolar, whoa, it becomes impossible! Any mental illness out there can really wreak havoc on a relationship. Most of the time it seems as though the partner just doesn't have a good understanding of "why" their better half is the way they are. To a normal mind, self control is all that is needed. At least that's how it was with us. Our marriage suffered incredibly at the hands of my moods along with the fact that neither of were armed with the proper knowledge to tackle the problems as a team. We spent a lot of time at odds, fighting, and losing the battle.
So my oldest son is 14 now. Being 30 myself, that age feels as though it was just a few short years ago and I remember it vividly. Okay, so maybe it really was only a few short years ago. Anyway, I find it very easy to relate to any teenage girl in the world but a teenage boy? Oye! Someone save me! A teenage boy = a furry ball of emotions and hormones that revolve around a girl. That's basically it in a nutshell. Mom, who’s Mom? Yeah, it sucks. He was such an amazing little boy, he was a real pain but he was a great kid. Full of energy and love, spunky like his mother but very loving and caring as well. Watching him grow from a boy to a man is so heartbreaking. My youngest boy is 17 months old and I wish I could just bottle this age up so that when I am looking at my little boy towering over me with a deep voice and lip hair, I can curl into a corner and remember my baby.
So yesterday my husband was off work and we decided to run a couple of errands. My van (we just bought, already broken!) is in the shop for repairs so we are stuck with the hubby's Honda Accord. Anyway, as I'm sure it's pretty obvious cramming 3 kids in the back seat isn't exactly easy, it's even harder when one of them is 14 and all long-legged. My almost 4 year old daughter decided she wanted to sit by the window which in turn spawned a horrible domino effect that hit every one of us straight to the bone!