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Posts Tagged ‘bipolar’

Uh-oh, you’ve been swept up in a riptide. Here’s what to do: swim parallel to the shore. If you try to swim against the riptide straight back to shore you’ll tire yourself out and drown before making any progress at all. Think of the riptide like a treadmill stuck on sprint settings. When you decide, instead, not to fight it head-on is when your efforts matter. Riptides don’t go on forever. If you swim parallel to the shore you’ll swim out of the riptide and be able to get to shore a bit further down the beach. 

 

Good to know, huh? I’m learning to swim parallel in life. My instinct is to fight this overwhelming force called bipolar disorder or despair or self-worth head-on. That’s not working. I’m just exhausted and further from the shore than I’d be if I just gave in. I’m not advocating drowning here, just smarter swimming.

There are likely going to be a lot more riptides for me. If I can learn to be smart about it things will be less traumatic.

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Sometimes all I can manage is to keep breathing.

 

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I have great compassion for people who don’t handle stress well. There’s a famous singer now who’s been in and out of rehab as a “cutter”. If you’re hurting inside, sometimes it comes out, too. And, frankly, these are people with very strong emotions who don’t have the coping skills to deal with them. 

 
The good news is: coping skills can be learned. Here are three of mine.
 
I had a very emotional day yesterday. Nothing really happened to make me upset, I’m just down. One of my newly learned coping skills that I have to keep reminding myself to practice is to ask for what I need. When I get circling, and “the idiots” are loud (see previous blog post), the very worst thing for me to do is be alone with my thoughts. So, I reached out to a friend, asking if she needed help with her pattern business. Not today, was the answer. No problem. I called another friend, who said I could come right over. We quilted a bit and ran some errands… but really what I appreciated was the company. 
 
Here’s another coping skill I know works for me. Planning the next fun thing before the first one is over. I had a long-distance relationship as a high school senior. My boyfriend and I found that it was much less painful for me to say goodbye after a weekend together when we knew when the next one was. Those idiots tell me that goodbyes are forever. See you in six weeks is better.
 
The last one I’ll talk about today is asking for what you need. I complained to my husband yesterday that he gets many more foot rubs than I do… and then caught myself. I realized that this isn’t because he won’t love on me. It’s because he asks. I would get more foot rubs if I asked for them, too. Our cat Milo gets the most pets by far out of our four kitties because he’s the one who comes up to us meow-ing. It takes some maturity to end the whining-game and simply ask for what you need. The cutest example I’ve seen recently is shown in this photograph.
 
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As you may know, swim class is scary for most young children. Having sat in on sessions for several families, I can attest that there’s a lot of crying and fear going around. The photo above depicts Katya, swim class veteran, and her brother Alexander who’s new to it this year. His coping skill? Asking his sister for hugs. Lots of hugs. She delights in giving Alexander the support he’s asking for. We could all learn a thing or two from this pair. 

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Okay, okay. I hear you. I finally hear you hubby, Dad, in-laws, and friends. It’s been hard to make out your words over the screaming of my own dark thoughts. But yes, it’s time to go to the doctor. I’ve had this sinus infection for far too long.

I’ve been using lots of excuses, but here’s the truth. My head is messing with me. I feel like I deserve to be sick, and if I didn’t deserve this I would be better by now. It’s not rational… but that’s just where I am. If I were a better person, not such a crap friend, had a job, ate healthier, cleaned my house, mowed the lawn, did more community service…. Yeah. 

So I’m getting my butt out of the house tonight, letting my husband take me on a proper date. And after the holiday, on Thursday, I’ll drag myself to the doctors’ office. Let’s get this sorted out. I hear you. Okay, I’ll take care of myself, even when I really don’t want to. 

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I wonder about dreams. Is anyone at-fault for nightmares? Are dreams angel thoughts, or the brain turning short-term memories into long-term ones, or the unconscious mind processing the day and problem solving, or something else? What about that place in-between dreaming and being awake? Are you responsible for what you’re thinking then? 

I’ve been having infanticide nightmares…. really, really graphic ones where I drop babies over the banister and watch in horror as they fall down multiple flights of stairs. And I wish I could just go, “Phew! I’m so glad that I woke up! That this was a dream, not reality.” But I’m still attaching blame. What kind of person thinks these thoughts? An evil person? A scared person? I don’t know. 

My logical self reasons that I’m still working through my issues about motherhood, my own mother’s death, and my recent miscarriage. I still wonder what I did wrong to cause that death. All of the research says that most early-term losses are through no fault at all. But I still feel like if I’d known I was pregnant, if I ate healthier, if I exercised more, if I worried less, if I’d been emotionally ready to be a mother, if I’d been a better person, if I weren’t on medication for bipolar disorder, maybe my body wouldn’t have rejected this fertilized egg. 

Such a dark, dark, place I’m in right now. 

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It’s interesting that they didn’t put it together. I felt very exposed, watching the musical “Next to Normal.” The play includes the themes of bipolar disorder, an absent mother, losing a child, and addiction. But I was told beforehand that I may cry because I’m proud of my cousin’s acting in it, but not particularly because of anything in the play. Hmmm… really? Do you guys not know what I have been going through? Have I not been acting sufficiently crazy around you?

My actress cousin approached me later and said she didn’t realize beforehand how close to home these subjects would hit. She was very sweet about it. And one of my aunts asked for more information about my experience of being bipolar.  My Dad had a strong emotional reaction to the play, too.

I’m glad that I saw the musical. It at once made me feel both validated (the writer understands!) and alone. One line was, “We don’t really know what it is, it’s just a collection of symptoms.” Just because my collection doesn’t include hallucinations doesn’t mean it’s any easier for me to cope. I’ve got the anxiety bit covered instead.

Yes, I was officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder five or six years ago. I’ve been experimenting with treatments ever since. You know what works best for now? Being kind with myself, especially when I screw up. And continuing to be around people. I spiral into darkness through solitude. And hey, my friends seem to like having me around these days. 🙂 Woot. Meds help sometimes too.

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