Posts tagged ‘Conditions and Diseases’

January 11, 2012

Don’t pull the trigger!

So what are your triggers? This was a very hard question for me to answer. I had no idea! All I knew was my life was like a boat floating in an ocean going up and down with every wave, sinking when a storm was overhead, reaching toward the surface of the water when any sign of hope appeared, but never in control what direction to go to get to true safety – the shore!

So is every wave a trigger? Are just the storms triggers? Or is the glimpse of hope a trigger? Or are all three or none of them triggers?

The best answer I could come up with, and what I found to be true, is the trigger is lack of control. Not lack of control of my environment, because like the ocean it cannot be controlled, but lack of control of my life, the boat. For whatever reason, nature or nurture or perhaps both, I never acquired the knowledge or skill to captain my own ship – my own life!

This all goes back to choices and consequences and not seeing the connection. If I steer the boat to the left, and the storm is to my right, I will miss the storm. But if I do not see the connection between the direction of my life and the storms in my life I will never steer clear of them, sadly – most people with bipolar disorder place themselves in the middle of them!

If I have not stressed the fact that the choice and consequence disconnect has been in my observation, not only in myself, but many people with bipolar disorder the trigger, then I have failed! I truly believe and, as for myself know for certain, that learning the connection between the choices we make and the consequences of those choices is the key to bipolar no more!

Life happens, life is not the trigger, it is the choices we make along the way.

I think now is the time to take a look at doing a choices and consequences journal! Next blog, connecting the dots – the line between choices and consequences.

January 6, 2012

Work damn-it!

When I was in the throws of ups and downs, holding down a job was not the easiest task. When I was depressed I called in often, was on the verge of tears when I was as work, and my work suffered tremendously. When I was manic, I would be finished with all of my work and would be helping others finish their work. I am sure it kind of freaked people out. Fortunately, back then, I was more often manic than depressed. Throw in changing meds and I was a disaster!

If this sounds a lot like you, well, you are not alone. I have spoken to many people that go through the same experience all the time. They often change jobs expecting something different, only to find it is the same or even worse! In addition, people who just suffer from depression have a very difficult time holding down a job.

But work is the deal unless you want to live under a bridge (which some people do choose) or unless you get lucky to marry someone who is willing to support you and put up with you (that person, btw, does not exist!).

So what can you do?

Becoming balanced is the answer to that work question.

But what do you do until…

First, find something you really want to do! Even if it means driving a cheaper car or living in a cheaper apartment or whatever! There is an old saying, “Follow your heart and the money will come.” Well, that is crap! But if you follow your heart and do what you enjoy, then eventually, if you work on all areas of your life, balance will come.

Second, set boundaries even at work. Not with just the people you work with but with yourself. I have worked with so many people who were “over sharers”. Keep your personal business out of the office. It is not anyone’s business at work that you take medications or what meds you take or that you have a psych appointment!

Third, just like the human inventory you did for everyone in your life, do one for the people you work with. Identify the healthy people, those are the people you want to be around, work close to, and/or go to lunch with (remember mirroring)! And the toxic people… avoid them like the plague! Not only will they make you miserable, but you will mirror them as well!

All of these steps will be of great value to you on your journey to bipolar no more!

November 8, 2011

Sleep… it is magical!

Sleep lets the brain rest.  We are inundated with information all day long.  Our brain needs a chance to recover.  This recovery period varies depending on the human.  Personally I need at least eight hours of sleep in order to function properly.

Lack of sleep affects different people in a variety of ways.  Some people just get grouchy, while others are simply sleepy.  Some become disoriented, confused, and can no longer function.  But for those that have a tendency, genetic makeup, or history of mania – lack of sleep does the opposite of what it does to most people: gives them energy, makes them feel euphoric, and as this begins a chain reaction also begins.

Every night of little or no sleep leads to more, eventually leading to mania.  As I have mentioned before, mania is awesome!  However, the other side of mania is death seeking depression.

Somewhere I will, personally, never go again.

I am sleeping again.  Over the weekend I took catnaps to help break the cycle.  I went to bed early, and although I laid in bed for several hours unable to sleep, I spent those hours relaxing, meditating, and embracing sleep.  The busier the mind, the longer it take to quiet it.

It is work, do not get me wrong, but work that is worth the effort!

Understanding the cues the body gives, such as jaw clenching, is imperative.  But there is no better indication that there is work to be done than not sleeping.

Over the last several days I have resolved issues that I was having with different people.  I held no punches, I just said here is where I am at… now tell me where you are at and lets see if we can find common ground.  Addressing an issue is the first step and probably the hardest.  Using an opening line of caring is important because people are more receptive.  In other words, “I love our friendship, which is why this is bothering me.”  I have not always had this skill, and it does not always work and sometimes you have to walk away from a relationship.  It is painful, but sometimes it is healthy!

I also came up with a study schedule so I do not feel overwhelmed.

I have basically reorganized my life, something humans might choose to do from time to time when things change to keep a balance of work, school, home, and self.

Most importantly I have slept!

Sleep… it is magical!

 

 

August 4, 2011

His final words

He told me he would die soon. He said he was ready to die. He said the cancer had won, he hurt all the time. He was tired. He would shoot himself soon.

We made small talk for a moment.

Then…

He told me how much he still loved my Mother. He told me about when they met, what he first thought when he saw her (an injured bird), and how he fell in love with her the moment he sat eyes on her. He went on and on for what seemed like an eternity about Mom. When he finally stopped talking I said,”It is so sad that she died so young.” He replied, “Yes, but that was the way it had to be.” I responded, “She just could not stop drinking, she was so drunk when she died.” And he said…

“Actually Veronica (he inhaled and sighed), when I saw her, she wasn’t that drunk.”

I never followed up. I never asked, “What does that mean.” I never said a word. I just sat there, dumbfounded.

He then changed the subject and asked me if I really thought I had a chance at finishing school. I did not answer right away (still in shock I guess). He then said, “You know Eva (my step sister)… blah blah blah” that is all I heard. Then he said, “Well, I guess so far at least you have a good GPA, maybe you will finish, who knows.”

He took a breath…

I said, in a whimper, “Yes, I think I can finish school.”

He said again, “Well, maybe you can.”

He changed the subject again. He talked about how proud he was of Jake.

And just about that moment, my son, Jake walked in.

He and Jake started talking.

I just sat there, feeling numb, disconnected. It was as if I was watching the two of them from somewhere else.

In that moment, all of the pieces that I had worked so hard to put back together felt as if they were fracturing. Chipping away.

My adrenaline was pumping. My heart began to race. My brain started banging around inside my head. My thoughts were flying fast. I was trying desperately to keep up with their conversation.

At some point, I interrupted their conversation, and began to argue with my father, over..? It had something to do with politics… really? Nothing, it was over nothing. Yet, it was an argument over everything!

He became irritated and ask me to leave.

I did.

About a week later, he shot himself.

July 24, 2011

After the reunion, what I always wanted to be

As I posted in this blog: https://nomorevictim.wordpress.com/2011/06/08/the-family-reunion/ I found that I had become very strong.  I could stand up for myself, I could face challenges, and I could walk away from a situation without feeling defeated.

This was a defining moment in my life. My life became clearer – sharper, and so did I!

Within a year, I decided to go to college. And soon I will be graduating with my AA and transferring to Sam Houston State to get my BA in Education! I currently have a 4.0! I am the student I always wanted to be.

I may have never asked my Dad those 8 questions, but what I did do was become the daughter I always wanted to be even though my Dad would never be the Dad I had always wanted.

I am the wife I always wanted to be. After that fateful day, I no longer leaned on my husband for emotional support. I discovered I could take care of myself. This new sense of self helped me to be the wife I always wanted to be. No jealousy, no anger, and no fear of abandonment.

Today, I am what I always wanted to be, but never imagined that I could be.

Happy!

But I will admit, it takes work and dedication to be happy. Is it worth it? Hell yes it is!

July 11, 2011

8 Questions I wanted to ask. . .

but never had the courage!

  1. Do you love me?
  2. Do you know that you hurt me?
  3. Does it matter to you that your hurt me?
  4. Do you understand that for many years I was actually beyond hurt, I was broken?
  5. Do you know what that means?
  6. Do you know that I hurt so bad that I wanted to die?
  7. Does that affect you, knowing that you are responsible for that kind of hurt?
  8. Who hurt you, why are you so broken?

Instead, I learned to play bridge and he and I would meet to play often, I met him for lunch, I helped him come up with a diet program, I listened to him when he needed, someone other than Elly, to talk about his cancer, I listened when he told me he had bought another miracle cure on the internet and I never – once judge him for it, I took him food that I had cooked or baked, I took him supplies after the hurricane, I cried for him when he told Nanny, his mother, that he was dying of cancer, and I listened when he told me he was going to kill himself: I never criticized him, I never told him not to do it, and I told him I could understood why he would commit suicide.  

What was my payoff?  Today I can tell myself that, despite him, I was a good daughter.  And why that matters to me, I really have know idea.  

June 8, 2011

The Family Reunion

As that day in September of 2008 approached, I was filled with anxiety.  Not only would my Dad be there, but so would my Nanny and my sister (who I had not seen nor spoken to since 2005).

In addition, I was completely off of all psychotropic medication.  I was managing my life well, but still lived in fear of having a setback.

I had a plan on how to handle almost every situation that came at me while I was there. If my Nanny made mention of my relationship with m Dad, I would just tell her that we would talk about it later and that it was her birthday and I was there to celebrate her. If my sister would not speak to me, I was OK with that too. I know at some point I had hurt her enough to where she no longer felt comfortable with me in her life. I was OK with that, I had felt that way about others in my life and, although I was not sure why, I could understand not wanting chaos in my own life. My Dad, well he had a way of getting under my skin… my weight. All of my life I had been to fat in his opinion. And when I lost all of that weight, every time he saw me, he would say how great it was that I had finally lost some weight. It is sad really, because as thin as I was, I was very unhealthy. However, by 2008, I had started gaining weight back. The ultimate plan was to leave. Mike and I, even today, have a deal… if ever one or the other wants to leave a situation – we will leave together. No matter what.

As we arrived my Nanny was driving up as well. (That’s right, on her 95th birthday she was driving up!) As I greeted her the first thing she asked me was if I had seen and talked to my Dad. I replied I had not but I was sure he was inside. I am sure my discomfort gleamed on my face. She just gave me a hug and then walked inside. She never mentioned a word to me again that day about my Dad.

As I finally made it inside I saw my Dad, my brother and my sister. I felt this incredible sense of dread come over me. But as I got closer my brother hugged me and whispered in my ear “Everything will be alright.” My sister then gave me a hug and said, with tears in her eyes, that she had missed me. I told her I had missed her too. Then I made my way round to the rest of the family, giving hugs and asking how everyone was doing. And then I saw my Dad.

Dad, “Hey there Pooh (my childhood nickname) you look like you are gaining weight.” I replied, “Dad, I love you, but my weight is none of your business.” I remember Mike reaching for my hand. My Dad turned red then said, “well you look good.”

Then I noticed his leg! It was awful looking and for whatever reason I immediately ask if his cancer had returned. He hushed me and said he just thinks it is a cream he used. But you could see it in his face, he knew what I had said was probably the case. Then he said he was going to the doctor next week.

My Dad’s own words “At Labor Day the start of September my right leg began to swell and look very muscular. I guessed because that was where I was rubbing testosterone gel on it and it was just becoming muscular and strong. I was so wrong. By the middle of September the leg had changed to a blue-green-yellow color and my wife had me go see my favorite GP-MD. When he saw the leg he said CANCER. Another PSA was done and came back at 51.6.

In October my right leg began to bleed and produce a whitish liquid. Pus I guess. This lasted a few weeks and then cleared up.”

That day will live in my mind forever, it was the beginning of the only relationship I ever really had with my Dad and it was the beginning of a renewed relationship with my sister. It was also the last celebration I would have with my Nanny.

The relationship with my sister is still alive today. Sadly, I do not believe it will ever be what it once was. My heart was broken when she left in 2005 and cut me off, and although I am sure she had her reasons, I can never suffer that hurt again. So I will guard my heart forever. It will always be somewhat fragile. Broken pieces put back together, no matter how strong the glue might be, are never as strong as they were when the heart was whole.

The relationship with my Dad was a ruse. I had no idea until his death that I was a pawn in his life to get the attention he needed and/ or wanted from his wife. In addition, I believe he knew that without some type of a relationship with me he would never get to know my son. And being a grandfather to Jake was something he really wanted. Despite that, I am glad I had it. I learned so much during the time with my Dad. Although, in the beginning, I was just a tool to gain attention from Elly, as time went by I think maybe for the first time ever he began to see me as his daughter. And for the first time possibly ever, I think he felt remorse. Not only for what he had done to me and my sister, but for what he had done to my Mom. A week before he died, he disclosed his part in her death. Something many had suspected over the years.

He was there!

May 10, 2011

Fine tuned?

Well OK, not quite.  But my marriage and my relationship with my son just started working.  It seemed like the more I recognized what I needed to do to be OK and actually did it, the more both just seemed to work. Around the beginning of 2005 Mike asked me to start working with him.  No pressure, I could leave when I wanted to and I never had to deal with customers.

It was a win-win.  I got out of the house and he got a free part – time employee.

As most of you know I had lost a ton of weight between 2001 and 2004. And even though I had started to learn how to balance my life, I still lost more weight. It would not be until 2005 that I would really start to balance not only my life, but my weight as well. 

2005 Total weight loss – about 80 lbs.

Mike and I became not only working partners, but friends.  We started working together instead of against each other.  We learned to support each other on the rough days.  We learned to celebrate each others good days.  Our marriage just became this awesome love story.  One I had always dreamed of but never – ever thought could ever be.  Mike is my love, my hero, my friend, and my lover.  Never, did I ever believe he could be those things, not because he could not be, but because I believed for so long I could never be worth having someone so wonderful in my life.

My relationship with my son just seemed to get better as well.  No more yelling or fighting.  I was learning how to be happy, maybe for the first time and those closest to me were learning as well! I learned to be patient with my son, to understand he was a teenager, and that I was really his Mom and my job was to not be his friend or his drill Sargent but his guide.  And as a guide I could not make him follow, I could only set a path before him.  He is my pride, my joy, and my love.  He is now my guide as well as I am still his.  Being a parent is the best thing I have ever done.  And I am so glad that I figured it out before my son was grown and it was too late.

From 2005 until 2008 life seemed to just be OK.  It moved at a slower pace.  We went on vacations, to New Mexico and Canada, and life was good.  No stress! I rarely heard from my Dad.  And my Nanny was getting older and had her own health to contend with. I think she finally made peace with the lack of relationship I would ever have with my Dad.  My Dad’s cancer seemed to be in complete remission.

All was quiet!

Then in 2008 we were invited to a family reunion!

And to be honest, I was anxious – almost afraid!  I had not been on medication for several years and there had not been a true test as to how I would do without it.

What I could have never expected happened, I learned I really was going to be OK without medication.  That I really was able to control mania and depression.  And with this discovery, I made a life changing decision.

Next…. The Family Reunion!

May 6, 2011

Sleep

Sleep is by far the most important part of staying balanced.

A person who is bipolar and on their way “up” can literally break the cycle just by sleeping.

So why don’t all people who have a tendency to have highs just sleep?

1) When the brain is stressed or over tired sleep does not come easy.

2) Mania is fun, exciting, and chaotic.

3) When mania begins the brain becomes hyperactive and it is sometimes impossible to shut off the chatter in your own brain.

4) The natural response to stress is to produce adrenaline which obviously does not allow for sleep.

Once I understood how important sleep was it became my secondary goal. The first goal, however, is to reduce stress. By reducing stress, I can sleep! And by sleeping I stay balanced!

Next up….. Moving on to 2005.

Making my marriage and my relationship with my son work like a fine tuned instrument.

and

Reconnecting with my Dad.

May 3, 2011

NO!

Once a person has the ability to observe the warning signs that a manic episode is approaching they can then take action.

I am so incredibly aware of my body and my brain that, the minute I feel my jaw tighten or that I wake in the middle of the night and cannot fall back to sleep, I start relaxation techniques, I identify the source of my stress and make a note to address it after a good nights sleep, and if I cannot identify in a few minutes I make a note to attempt to identify it the next day. I literally write it down! And I follow through!

My mental health is so important to me that I will do whatever it takes to be OK. I have walked away from friendships that have become toxic, I have dropped a class that I felt uncomfortable in (as in REALLY creepy uncomfortable, I trust my gut!), I have a straight forward approach to other humans, I say what I mean, I no longer play the nice girl game (if your outfit is ugly and you ask me, I will tell you it is not flattering! If I don’t I will feel horribly guilty and be stressed!).

But the number one key to my success is learning one word. . . NO!

You can ask, but the answer is probably going to be NO!

Nothing is more important to me than me. Because if I am crazy I am good to no one, especially not to me!

Now you might be thinking, “how selfish!” Your damned right! But not near as selfish as a person who never says NO and is always overwhelmed and having a nervous breakdown on a regular basis. They give – give – give until there is nothing left. For a day, a week, a month, a year – they hold it together. Then they break. And all hell breaks loose with them!

Why do people do that? I will tell you why I did it… because I always thought something was wrong with me and I wanted people to like me! I wanted to be accepted. And I honestly believed that no one would like me for just me! I was broken and I was afraid everyone knew it. The truth was, everyone did! Not because of my past but because of my present.

Oh don’t get me wrong, people loved the fact that I was the go to person! But when I would break a little bit more they would whisper “Poor Veronica, she had a tough childhood, she can’t help it.”

Oh, yes she could and she does!

Discovering the tool – NO, has been a literal life saver!

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