Friday, April 03, 2015

Long time no see....

Here I am!!  I thought about this little space of web today and said to myself, "I really should write something".  So here I am with a short update on life, bipolar, and finding a balance. 

After last year's hospital stay, I was put on Depakote and hopeful that it would work better for me than Lithium.  Unfortunately, that was a big fat no, but I gave it 6 months just to be sure.  Sometimes, you level out and start to feel a little more like yourself with some time.  Many naps later, and what felt like depression, along with 20 lbs I didn't want, I was switched to Lamictal. 

Since then, I've felt a million times better.  I can sleep at the appropriate times, wake up when it's time, and I'm not a walking zombie just getting by.  Lamictal eases the depression and makes room for a little JOY!!  I have to be super careful in times of happiness, stress, and change since my trigger is so short.  It only takes a couple of days in a manic state to bring on another episode of psychosis.  But this month marks one year of regulated moods with medication. 

Two years ago, I was just a moody person with the propensity to dwell on the hardships at times.  I was what you would call pre-bipolar.  Sort of like pre-diabetic.  Then my life was uprooted, financial stress, and grief was handed to me more than once and BOOM!!  Bipolar I was triggered.  The shifting of moods is much greater and more of a challenge to work through than before, but I'm doing it.  One day at a time, and with much more awareness than I've ever had. 

I still have racing thoughts, I still worry more than one person should, any social uneasiness, structural changes to my day, all send me for a bit of a loop.  The beautiful thing is now I am aware of the symptoms.  I can manage them appropriately.  When it gets to be too much, I take time for decompressing.  All it takes is a 30 minute break for me to adjust my sails and find a better place. 

I can't help but think that I must be one of the lucky ones.  I take one medication, anxiety is minimal, my moods are bearable and I work hard at not allowing my shifts to bleed into my interactions with my friends and family.  I'm not perfect at this.  It is a challenge having kids to tend to.  Three daughters is no cake walk at times.  But I feel like I have a handle on what seemed to be one of the most difficult trials of my life so far. 

There is still the stigma, the fear of people knowing about my disorder, judgment, and lack of understanding that goes along with my diagnosis. 

People are not educated on mental health.  They will label you, they will blame you for every single bump in your relationship.  It's not fair to say that every single disagreement stems from my disorder.  My feelings are just as important as the next persons and blaming bipolar is just an excuse not to take responsibility for bad behavior.  However, I am an apologizing fool.  I own my shit and expect that I will make mistakes, be more sensitive, act without thinking from time to time.  I am aware of the challenges I face to have healthy interaction.  I take the appropriate steps to keep my bipolar in check, but I can't be sure that it won't be met with the understanding and compassion, therefore, I don't share with anyone but my immediate family and close friends who were there when it all fell apart.

On a completely unrelated update:  we finally found a house, closed, and recently moved into our own space.  A home.  A place for us to settle and finally throw down roots that have been waiting to be watered so they can start to grow again.  I couldn't be happier or more content with the end result of our move to Maine.  Go us!!  The husbands job is going well, Zumba is still happening, the kids are finally settled into their own lives with friends and a strong connection to our new location.  I couldn't be more relieved. 

And in true ADD fashion.....the structure of my writing is horrible and I often take you all kinds of places.  But I think you get the idea. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Facing forward...

In my heart, I'm proud of myself for making it this far.  I've done a lot of damage in the past and have lived with the consequences, guilt and shame of those times for many years and thought I was just a bad person. 

I'm not a bad person.  I didn't make those choices because I was thoughtless and out of control selfish.  I have an illness.   An illness that has cemented and laid a pretty thick foundation of insecurities, anxiety, and worry. I thought this was normal and this was just who I was.  I was different from most people only because I was different. 

About 10 years ago I put myself in therapy and worked through and modified some serious behavior issues that were causing havoc in my life.  I took deep breathes when I got angry, I learned to communicate better, I took myself out of situations that would trigger behavior that I was not proud of (mostly).  That's a huge step in the recovery and balance of having this disease.  It's also the reason I was in utter disbelief that I was even "mentally unwell" to begin with.  I had the courage and determination to pull myself out of a pit and have forged ahead a better person.  A person I can be proud of.

My heart is proud, so how come my head doesn't follow suit? 

A symptom of bipolar disorder that has plagued me heavily is racing thought patterns.  I relive my mistakes, I over inflate my obstacles and degrade myself for lack of strict discipline or drive to find something I love to do and stick with it. 

Because of the normal person sets out to find their thing and GOES AND DOES IT with much success. 

I haven't been able to do that yet.  Notice I say yet.  There is a hope inside of me.  There is also a realistic view of my real time situation.  Stress is a major trigger for your brain to pull a switch on you and throw you into mania or depression.  Is it unrealistic of me to think that a fulltime, meaningful career in the fitness biz, being the best mom I can to three girls, and supporting my husband as he builds his career a lofty goal.  Or am I putting too much pressure on myself? 

Pressure, stress, not being able to juggle on the things I put on my plate is a recipe for disaster.  It could mean more hospitalizations, it could mean more damage to my kids, it could mean a crack in the foundation of my marriage. 

So maybe, just maybe.....I will close myself off from the normal expectations, the fa├žade that women can and should be able to do it all successfully and brilliantly and just do what I can in that day.  Be proud of what that is and know my limits.  Doing more than I should can and will mostly likely trigger mania, which for me, quickly turns into psychosis. 

One of the scariest dangers a person with bipolar faces is the risk of suicide.  The last time I was in psychosis and thought I was on a mission to save the world, I drank something that could have been dangerous, I was lucky.  I was so lucky.  I had thoughts of taking my entire bottle of anti-psychotics during this episode, also.  Not because I was sad or felt like a failure, but because I was having delusions that I had been chosen to ring the bell so to speak, to spark the rapture (don't even get me started on my potential PTSD from fear taught religion OMG).   

So facing is my goal to be kind to myself, even if that means all day reminding myself to stop the bashing.  Not to expect others to be kind or understand my situation.  I don't need to explain, I don't need to justify what I need.  I don't need to go beyond my boundaries because another person needs or wants my support and help.  It is my goal to take care of my kids and love them.  It is my goal to support my husband and keep my marriage strong because I am lucky that his love, while quiet and often times unexpressed, runs very deep.  It is my goal to allow my journey in a new town to unfold slowly and deliberately.  No need to overwhelm, no need to accomplish things all at once, and no need to prove to anyone but me that I can do this.

I love sharing here.  My writing is kinda like barfing.  I don't have a system, I don't proofread or try to make it perfect.  I don't think long and hard about what I want to say, I just start thinking and there it is.  My brain vomit.  I'm as crazy as you think I am, and now it's official. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Summer vacation!

Yesterday was the last day of school for the two little ones and Monday for Sydney.  I'm happy to report that all three were fairly happy with the end of year.  Sydney had some sad moments, so did I.  This was her 8th grade graduation year and she lined up with people she's only known for 6 months.  It was heartbreaking to watch her silently wish she had been with her friends in NY, sharing the same FB worthy moments they were having with each other. 

It totally get it too because I have those same exact moments with my own circle of friends I had there.  We miss them. 

I've been reading a lot of on-line information about bipolar disorder and what I am facing.  Or rather what I've always been facing, but with a few tools and knowledge that might give me some insight as to how best manage my illness. 

Is it possible to actually feel worse?  Un-medicated life just seemed more fun.  There was more anxiety, also.  I'm hoping that with time, and a different mind-set that I can accomplish what will feel right for me.  I've been taking a serious look in the mirror at my self medicating (something I've done for years - I just figured I was a high-functioning/borderline alcoholic.  Turns out that individuals with bipolar often use substances to cope with stress.  That description pretty much sums me up, but it does for an addict also.  Ya know? 

The underlying difference is that I have experience true mania.  There is absolutely no doubt what my episode was since it led to psychosis.  Twice.  I've decided that I don't exhibit the stereotype symptoms of extreme mood swings that others may show..  I do often change moods, I can be extremely irritable, I can become very high and very low.  But I don't consider myself out of the normal scope of how others show their emotions day to day, it's just that mine change more frequently.  It's harder for me to deal with conflicting issues.  I have racing thoughts and my speech can become forced. 

I just don't consider myself to be living a life of torment and chaos that others describe.  I've also read that each and every individual is different.  I can be high functioning with bipolar now but it might not be so if I overdo stress, continue to self medicate (I've been doing great, but not perfect with this recently), do not follow a treatment plan, and make keep my body and mind running as optimally as I possibly can. 

An eye opener for me was reading the experiences people had with discipline and following through on their dreams - how depression, lack of focus, anxiety and running had been obstacles for many. 

It helped me to see that I have always had a challenge in front of me that was beyond my control.  There might be a way to fix it, and maybe with hard work and patience, the right doctors, the right behavior.....I might be able to find the balance between mother, wife and the person I would like to become that is separate from all that. 

We'll see....


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Move complete!

We made it into our new house and Abigail's 6th birthday party with decent results.  I won't say I was a walking cloud of calm the entire time, but I kept moving forward each day.  I've unpacked and sorted (again) about 85% of our household belongings.  Some of our things were still packed from the previous move last November.  Some of it is packed into storage still. 

I had a dream about moving last night.  I know this uncertainty and lack of control has been a huge factor in my ability to handle every day stresses.  This rock has been sitting on our back ever since Dee was diagnosed with cancer a year ago.  It's been heavy since then. 

I decided the best thing for me to do right now is figure out meds, focus on family, and workout with something different most days of the week to learn.  Then a dash of Zumba classes to get my name exposed to people.  Patience has never been a virtue of mine and maybe that's why I'm always faced with situations that keep me immobile, or have me take steps backwards because the first round was a training for what's to come.  It's not my job to figure it all out today.  Let's just call this planning mode since I don't feel stable enough in my day to day to take on any more than what's in front of me. 

I've been told that I'm not here for the sprint, it's the marathon that's going to really matter.

On a more uplifting note, I could live here forever.  I chose this place a long time ago. While it's a different home for me now, I'm grateful to be back in the arms of the Maine coast.  Soaking in the energy of all that is attracted to this place.  I didn't see a cardinal all winter long, but the first day we moved into our new (AMAZING) rental, there were a pair sitting right on the bushes by the driveway, unaffected by my showing up to bask in their sun.  I was so happy in that moment. 

I've been happy in many moments though.  I haven't been writing here since we left the other house but this was a great move.  We are paying more for this house but having it located in town is a blessing.  Lots and lots of walking, bike riding, park visiting, library, shops, good restaurants, post office, therapy, yoga, school....the list could be larger but you get the idea.  It's an old meets new Victorian house with lots of space and charm.  Everyone has settled in nicely, even me. 

I managed a really nice family dinner and home made dessert for Abby's birthday.  We had a great gathering last Sunday afternoon.  It was the first time both sisters and their families came to my home for a meal and in THAT moment, I felt normal.  Like I wasn't on the outside looking in. 

Though the beginning has been rocky, I realize that it's the beginning.  Just like a flower that closed in the darkness...I will bloom in my own timing and in my own way.  Hopefully into a more beautiful one with each new coming moment. 

Seriously though, having my bipolar disorder fully express itself was something I didn't see coming until it happened.  Even the name of this blog that's been in circulation on and off for only knows how long, indicated a flash.  I wonder how this will be used in my life?  All is our guru and if I'm lucky, I'll be able to use it as a positive to help others.  This is my intention, to manage this as best I know how and live the best life I absolutely can.  But it won't happen overnight I don't think.

Friday, May 09, 2014

A blessing for today.

It seems like having a really good, but non manic day is the gift I'm hoping for each day when I get up.  We are moving into a new rental this weekend.  I've been running back and forth all day getting things, cleaning, unpacking boxes that have been sealed for months, organizing Jim's mess from bringing stuff over last weekend, and trying not to look at the shambles all around because I know that this too shall pass. 

Yesterday was so sad.  I try to explain how I feel to Jim and he's a no go with emotion.  I need to hear he wants to take this on together.  It feels like he doesn't even realize the seriousness of needing to know exactly how much he needs me.  I worry about this, it's real and can consume me if I let it.  He's said a few things this year that hit hard.  One was the money thing I wrote about yesterday.  The other was when we first moved and I was having a fun party night with my sister. 

"I should leave you."

I have abandonment issues that stem all the way back to when my mom chose to raise my siblings but graciously gave me to her mother so it could be easier on us both.  That had to of not been easy.  I acknowledge the reasons, but the scars remain and whenever faced with a situation that mimics any thing remotely like abandonment before I'm ready for a separation....I fall into depression. 

Those words haven't left me yet.  *sigh*

I'm pretty level today but that's kind of the way I roll.  When duty calls I can ignore all the craziness that sits inside of my brain and focus on life that needs to be lived.  I'm assuming for this weekend I should be okay. 

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Another ride.

Life can certainly change in a moment.  One day you think your path is clear before you, and another minute it's like everything you ever thought you were is completely different.

I had a really hard Friday.  The paranoia and panic attacks were so unbearable that I absolutely had to drink a few and smoke half a pack of cigarettes just to get by.  I lost a total of 5 hours of sleep in just two days and was borderline psychotic.  Again.

I'm happy to say that I reached out for help from Jamie.  Attempting suicide is only a few missteps away.  One moment of resolve is all it will take, one time when my courage is greater than my fear of death.  My delusions are so out of control in my manic phases that I can't function or see anything but signs about the coming of Jesus and my apparent role in this all going down.  The hero, the right hand of the one true King.  It's very heavy to carry this load and it's not even just the delusions that are heavy.  It's put my family in a good bit of financial hard ship that is all my fault.

I sometimes feel like everyone would be safer without me and their lives better.  Jim's reaction to my emergency room visit when I first went in this last episode was "do you know how much this is going to cost?"  I wouldn't talk because I felt in my delusions that talking would spoil the master plan and I didn't think it was safe to talk.  We are still paying off the last stay of $1500.00.  This new one comes with a large deductible and 20% of the costs of hospital stay for 7 days.  Two days in emergency care, a CT scan, and 6 days inpatient at Acadia.

It's not easy for me to find myself worthy of a pedicure, much less thousands of dollars because I'm nuts.

Where did the good feelings go?

I'm not sure Jim loves me enough to take this on.  I know he loves me, he wants the best for his kids.  But I'm not sure he can do this long term.  I've always been the rock and he's been able to go to work and feel safe that our home was run somewhat smoothly.  Just getting kids to school and supper on the table is a major event.  My classes are doing awful, I'm not making any money at all and I feel like a waste of space.  I'm a fine instructor with good things to offer but that has to take limited space since managing this illness has to take priority. 

Sometimes it's not so hard to find value, but when I think of all the trouble this new illness is causing I find it very tiresome.  Who is going to want to put up with this?  Even on medication I'm all over the place.  My kids need their mom.  If I didn't have my kids I probably would already have succeeded in just 6 short months of having this disease. 

I'm lost today. 

I don't want to give up at all, but I'm having a moment where I wonder if I'm worth it. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Today has been such a good day.  I can't describe what it feels like to discover something about yourself, about your life, that allows focus and drive.  I've had amazing ideas throughout my career as a fitness professional and saw some of them to fruition but really lacked a personal fortitude to get anywhere.  Maybe it is because I was living the dream that was not mine, and maybe my town was just not big enough to go BIG and support a business. 

That dream sharing plays into the empathic qualities I have.  I was literally living the life and setting the goals someone else had and forgot all about my own.  I wasn't happy, I was resentful, I was exhausted, and I was steering down a road of resistance.  It wasn't mine, I didn't want it. 

What do I want? 

I want it all. 

I don't want to be *just* a Zumba instructor anymore.  I want that to be what makes me shine, I want to use that as part of a business that excels because it's what I'm good at.  But ultimately, I can't do it all.  I'd like to gather, create, inspire a team of really great fitness professionals.  Each of us having our unique offering that really brings out the best in them and RUN WITH THAT as a team. 

I have recently taken up CrossFit.  I haven't been so excited about something since Zumba.  It's really tapped into a side of me that has been lacking and will be what I believe, what makes me stronger than ever.  I love this style of training, I love this class and I want to be a fucking beast.  You mark my words man.  I'm going to rip myself into a sculpted machine and I'm not even sorry about that. 

In January, I began taking yoga classes with a unique and amazing person.  I love her style, I love her intuitive nature and her ability to take care of her class by being completely open and channeling her love for yoga to the students in the room.  The energy that resides within her space after a class has been inspiring and I'm taking care of something I've needed for a long time.  Stretching.  I need to lengthen to strengthen.  She leads from the heart, much like me and "knows" how to take her energy and place it into the hearts of those around her. 

I'm not the best dancer, but my energy during a class is difficult to describe when I'm tapping into that.  It can't be copied unless you're willing to really open up into your love source and let it flow freely.  I can't do this all week long, I need to do things for me, and share myself with limits.  If I do not do this, I become unhappy and unbalanced.  My new mantra is all about finding what makes ME happy and doing just that.  Part of that is being the best mother and wife I can possibly be, as well as friend to few, as well as personal trainer, business partner, Zumba instructors. 

My circle is going to become a lot smaller.  My real friends will get the best and my students will get Zumba.  I can't be a best friend to every student even though my heart is drawn into that place.  The healer, the fixer, the one that wants everyone to feel happy because it's too much to see another feeling down.

The consequences of such is a person who absolutely can't function.  I'm pulled into so many directions that I lose all happiness of my own and fall into depression.  If I'm happy, just being in a room with me makes you feel better.  You may not even know it, but somehow....if it's in my power, I will make you feel special and important.  I am damn good at Customer Service.  I aim to please people. 

So how does that sound?  Are my goals mine?  Do I sound happy?  I will admit that my emotions are a little bouncy here and there but the new medication creates a more balanced approach.  I can talk about my ideas with clarity and focus.  In my head, I'm not a cocky bitch one minute, worst individual ever the next.  Am I cocky?  Oh hell to the yes.  After years and years of self loathing I think I deserve just a little bit of YOU AREN'T JUST BARELY GOOD ENOUGH - YOU KICK ASS!!!  I have goals in place and I'm working towards becoming a unique leader who works well with others and shares her ideas to the betterment of all those who share my love for fitness.  It's not all one thing or nothing, it's a mix of three unique workouts, each designed to compliment and enhance the performance of each one.  Ellsworth didn't see me coming.....and that's fine by me.  Once they know I'm here they will surely know my name.  I'm going for gold this time.  Finally a town big enough for a girl like me.