I Am Not Just Being Selfish

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Recently a friend texted me upset because a family member wasn’t being understanding of the complications due to her autoimmune disease. My friend was very distraught as this had her in tears because she was being expected to do something that she knew she was not capable of handling and I was reminded of my own situation and how many times I have had to learn to say no to someone in order to put my own well being and illness first.

Here’s the thing I live with Bipolar 1 Disorder

Here’s the thing I live with mental illness Bipolar 1 Disorder along with a slew of other co-morbid disorders to go with it. It sometimes takes me all I have, to get through the day. Some days mustering up a shower can be more than I want to do. (I do it but that’s because it’s something that my husband and I have set in my care plan as one of my must do’s each day in order to stay well.) I know that for me, taking on more than I feel I can handle is never going to end in a good situation. I had to teach myself that telling others no I don’t have the time, or simply saying you know I am not feeling myself right now I just wouldn’t feel right saying I would do something I can’t be sure I can do, makes me a lot less filled with anxiety then trying to suffer through a situation that makes me terribly uncomfortable or a situation where I may have to call and cancel out on an obligation all together.

I don’t like to have to cancel on people but many times my disorder takes the drivers wheel so I may say something like “I am going to say yes, but please be aware that I haven’t been feeling very well and may not be able to do what I plan.” Giving myself an out, just in case I don’t feel up to it the day I am supposed to go through with something for someone else.

I am a high functioning person with mental illness

I am a high functioning person with mental illness and many times if you were to just look at me, you would never know that I was having issues with the thoughts inside my brain. However, at any given moment I assure you it is a battle to keep the negative thoughts at bay and keep myself grounded. Sometimes I get lost in my over thinking and I must step away from a situation and get a break and I need the others around me to know that. I should never have to apologize for being sick. Does aunt Sylvie have to apologize because she got cancer and must be on oxygen and no longer can take the stairs. No because we don’t look at cancer the same way we do someone with mental illness. However, I promise you it can be just as draining.

When someone is in a bipolar episode, Julie A. Fast of the blog Bipolar Happens likens the rebuilding of someone’s life afterwards to that of a person rebuilding their life and home after a natural disaster. It takes just as long for someone who experiences a major life-altering episode to find stable ground again. If it takes six months to rebuild a town after a hurricane it will take that long for someone to rebuild their life after an episode. Let’s be honest, when did you last see a town truly rebuild that fast after a hurricane without some lasting effects.

Daily bipolar care plans are key to success

When your family member is able to return to stable days faster than that, you should look at them with pride because that means they are doing the work in their bipolar care plan daily so when an episode happens it won’t hit quite so badly. Daily bipolar care plans are key to success with this disorder because it gives us a way to keep ourselves on track even when doing well. If we slack and we don’t put our illness first that is when bipolar is going to rear its ugly head and knock us for what we are worth.

When you have mental illness or any other illness it is important to remember that it is not selfish to put yourself first. Setting boundaries and setting limits are good for children because we are teaching them right from wrong. Setting personal boundaries is teaching others how they can and can’t treat us. We deserve to not feel badly about how badly we already are feeling. We hate the fact that we can’t be all things to the people we love. I however refuse to believe that I should be made to feel bad because I wish to protect myself from becoming sicker and possibly facing hospitalization. My advice is that you should remember to put yourself and your illness first because you and your family are going to end up benefiting in the long run!

Good Enough

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I spend so much time not confident in who I am. I often think others are judging me by my appearance or because they don’t like the person I am. I have started to try to remember the times that I did feel good about myself fully and I try to remember what I felt like in that instance so that I can start to crave feeling like that so often that I can begin to make a habit of it.

Not good enough for my grade school friend

I have been told before that confidence comes from within, however my inside voice tells me I am inherently bad. Let me explain, when I was in grade school I was taught by my best friend I wasn’t good enough to be her friend at school in front of other kids because I was over-weight and poor not to mention I was annoying and considered a cry baby. She made me believe the thought that I was not good enough for anything. Not even common friendship. Now about 6th grade she finally grew up some and told the other girls that I was her friend and they were wrong for thinking I was not good enough to be friends with because of the way I looked but by then the damage was already done.

Not good enough for the guys to date in school

In junior high and high school boys didn’t date me. I was the “fat, ugly friend”, by age 12 everyone at my school knew I was considered ugly and fat and even if their opinion of me differed they would have never had considered dating me because that would mean going against what their friends had made them believe. I wasn’t good enough to date.

According to a PE teacher in my high school I would never be good enough to parent a child

A lot happened in high school. I had a teacher who told me that she hoped I never had children because I was a poor excuse for a human and any child, I would have wouldn’t have a chance in life. Yes, a teacher said this to me. It felt crappy and that PE teacher did get a phone call down to the dean’s office after my mother called the school to discuss the topic, but the damage was done. I was bad. I wasn’t good enough.

Not good enough for my own father

Then in high school my father left my mother and I for another woman and her children leaving us behind. He then raised another woman’s children and left me, and we hardly spoke because she wanted it that way. In fact, on one instance because of this other child that he ended up raising he hit me numerous times and security was called at a hotel because of it. He explained it away to my mother as I had gotten out of hand. What was out of hand was his and his wife’s expectation that I and my step-sister could handle the other step-sister with-out their interaction that day and they would not help get her to cooperate. He got mad and I got beaten and I don’t mean spanked, I was beaten. I had welts left on my arm for well over a week. Again, I was taught I was a bad person. I don’t mean to speak ill of the dead, but facts are facts. This did happen and it is a part of my teenage years.

Still not good enough for that grade school friend as an adult even after 30 years of friendship

As an adult I handled things fairly well with my confidence level for quite sometime but I was having coffee with the same friend who taught me in grade school that I wasn’t enough and she looked at me and said “I can only handle so much Tosha at one time” I know it seems like such a simple sentence. It doesn’t seem like it should stick with someone for the next 15 years. However, as a young adult trying to make my way in the world it hurt me, and it stuck with me that this same girl felt that I still wasn’t good enough after almost 30 years of friendship. I was her maid of honor, her mine and yet I wasn’t good enough to be her friend most of the time around her other friends. I mean, when she got married the last time, I met her husband only one time. Sadly, he passed away not too long ago.  I am sure it isn’t easy on her and I do care about her very deeply as she is my oldest friend. I also don’t believe she understood the damage she was doing when she did these things to me. I don’t think she understood that what she was saying to me or how she was acting could do so much damage to someone’s self-image that it truly changed the person they became.

Ran away from the job due to other ignorance of bipolar and their belief I was not good enough to be around their children

I then as an adult let it be found out I was bipolar while working in a small town. (https://inbipolarfashion.com/2019/05/02/stigma-in-a-small-town/) As a bus monitor. I ended up having the whole school district of parents calling the superintendent of the school and the school principal. The parents were making so much of a fuss about me being with their children that I finally gave up and quit my job because I was already battling depression so badly I had no fight in me to battle the storm that was happening around me and my public lashing with being bipolar. I again was taught I was inherently bad just by simply being who I was.

Through out my life I have had message after message that has told me from others that I am not enough and bad. Why? I am not. I am smart, I am compassionate, I am empathetic, I am generous and caring. I am kind and a hard-worker, and I give a whole lot of myself to others. It is now though, that I am finally realizing that all of these situations really had nothing to do with me, or the person I was. These situations all had to do with the individual that was at the root of the problem. It was because my friend wasn’t confident enough in who she was to say, she wanted to be my friend as a child. It was the teacher who should be ashamed of the way she spoke to a child in her classroom and obviously did not have the emotional intelligence to be teaching young kids who were being shaped into the individuals they would become as an adult and should be encouraged and nurtured not degraded and taught they are bad and not worthy of the life they are living, my father, well, he was just a jerk, and the people in my former community, well, they just weren’t educated enough to know that bipolar didn’t mean bad, and there is always going to be that ignorance and that stigma in the world. As much as I wish there wouldn’t be as long as we have people blaming mass shootings on the mentally ill, we are going to have stigma. It’s a fact. BIPOLAR PEOPLE ARE NOT VIOLENT! There I said it! I’ll leave that soap box alone.

My confidence level has been shot a long time. I however, for the first time in a long time no longer think I am a bad person or think that people automatically don’t like me. I am actually kinda cool. Maybe we should be friends!

Becoming Whole

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Pain. At one point or another we all have some sort of pain. That pain could be emotional or physical and if I am being honest with you, I would tell you, I have many more scars from the emotionally scars of pain, then I ever will have when it comes to the physical scars of pain. Frankly my life because I live with bipolar 1 disorder and borderline personality disorder is an emotional roller coaster.

Bipolar Disorder is a Mental Illness that is characterized by extreme mood shifts. Ranging from Manic to Suicidal Depression, the symptoms of the disorder have gotten to where there really are too many symptoms to list as they differ from individual to individual so greatly. The main thing I try to remember about my bipolar disorder is that the symptoms that are caused by my bipolar disorder can be modified or controlled by medications. Borderline Personality Disorder is a personality disorder which differs from a mood disorder because it is not genetic for one it was brought on by a traumatic experience for that person. Borderline personality disorder affects how you feel about yourself, how you relate to others and how you behave. There is some research that shows it could have a genetic component or that it could because due to brain abnormalities however, most research reflects that it is caused from stress in childhood that causes the issues later in life.

Borderline Personality Disorder also gives way to other mental illnesses like depression and bipolar disorder but on like depression where you can take an anti-depressant or bipolar where there are numerous options for medication Borderline Personality Disorder is controlled by behavior modification and learning how to control yourself and be mindful of how you treat others and the ways you are reacting to the situations as the unfold throughout the day.

I normally do not have a problem with my borderline personality disorder. Many years ago, I learned mindfulness and was able to use it to guide myself through my daily activities seamlessly without much effort. I have raised four children and been married 21 years. I thought I don’t even need to research this disorder much I have it figured out before I even really know what it is, I have been diagnosed with.

I have always concentrated on the bipolar part of my illness I always have tried to learn everything I can about all my symptoms and all the ways I can keep myself from having any issues with my episodes. What I am learning though is what triggers those episodes are the symptoms that they list for borderline personality disorder. If I am feeling rejected, I will go into an episode. If I am lonely, here comes an episode. If I feel harshly judged, it sends me into an episode. My husband must work late suddenly I have an episode. I have the impulsive spending and gambling I thought that was bipolar but is it possible that it is part of the borderline personality disorder and that is the reason medication never seemed to help that symptom.

There is also the fact that one minute I have all the confidence in the world, and then the next minute I am scared to be seen, which is common for people with borderline personality disorder. I didn’t know about this symptom, and it is a symptom I will be looking further into because if there was one thing that I could change about myself it would be the confidence I have in myself. I would give myself the confidence to believe I am capable of all things. To believe I am good enough, and to believe I am wanted. Confidence has been a key factor for me lately in my life, and a key component for complete healing, and until I can feel truly confident in myself, I won’t ever feel whole. Maybe that is asking for too much, but it is a hope I have for myself someday to truly feel confident in my own skin, and comfortable. Not with just the way I look, but with the human I am as well. I need to know I have something of value to offer this world.  

All of this can be mixed in with the same symptoms that are included with bipolar disorder, who’s to say which is which. I know I have both because of the actual voice that accompanied my suicidal depression telling me to just end it all. Along with the delusional disorder that comes when I work in a traditional work environment and my psychosis sets in because my co-workers are all conspiring to get me fired because they can’t stand me and then slowly the paranoia creeps into other areas of my life and I can’t control the thoughts that come at me so quickly, judging me, and telling me others dislike me as much as I dislike myself.

Bipolar is no joke, but I am quickly learning that I may not have been giving as much attention to a diagnosis that is just as an important part of me getting well as bipolar disorder. I have Borderline Personality Disorder and the key to me feeling 100% worthy of living a fulfilling life is probably hidden somewhere within that diagnosis and I am looking forward to discovering more about how these two disorders intersect and how to manage them both much more fully. I have hope to becoming Whole!

Establishing Your Child With A Psychiatrist Before Sending Them Off to College

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It is August and this year I am going to have two college boys. One who is going to be attending college for the first time. In our home we speak very openly about mental health and openly about mental illness and the possibility of how it could affect my children at any point in their lives, given the family history of mental illness and the fact that many times mental illness is genetic. They are also aware that the college years are where most mental illness will surface for the first time for an individual.

Before my middle child began his college career two years ago, we established him with a psychiatrist in case anything was to happen while he was at college. We wanted to make sure we were covered if an episode was to occur. He has ADHD and while his primary physician had always been able to prescribe him his medication, we knew that establishing with a psychiatrist would be the proper thing to do for a college student in case he was to have a situation. I am glad that hasn’t been the case and as of today he has had a great college experience and been able to handle the stress of college and mental illness has not surfaced in his life at this point.

This year one of my twins starts college for the first time. This son’s life has been touched by mental illness in the past and so the fear for me is much higher as we prepare for him to go off to college. When he was a freshman in high school, he went through a very deep depression that required a psychiatrist and therapist in order to get through the episode. I was very proud of my child because when he saw that he was not able to get past his depression on his own he reached out to me and he asked for help. Thankfully, our household rules of openly speaking about our mental health paid off for my child. He was able to get the help he needed and by the end of his freshman year he wasn’t as depressed and he was able to stop therapy and go off the medication for depression and return to his normal routines as a teenager and finish out his high school career almost normal.

However, I had noticed over the last three years that my son didn’t have the number of friends that his twin brother had. I noticed that he didn’t go out with his friends like his brother did. He avoided certain social settings, and he was just not doing things that normal teenage boys do. I noticed, but more than that my son started to realize he wasn’t doing those things either. He asked me once again as one of the most mature teenagers I have ever seen, to make him an appointment with the psychiatrist because even though he was taking care of himself physically and doing all the self-care he could he wasn’t able to break the grip that anxiety had on him and that he thought he needed to see the psychiatrist because it was a chemical thing that was wrong and he needed help to get past it before attending college on his own over 4 hours away from home. Once again, I established my son with a psychiatrist so he could find help before college.

College is a scary time for students. It’s scarier if students don’t feel they have the knowledge that their mental health is going to be okay while they are there. By establishing with a psychiatrist before they leave for college you take away a little of the fear. By knowing that you are going to do what you can to help your child feel their best by contacting doctors and getting them established with the doctor really can ease them into the college experience. I know it also puts my mind at ease to know that if a problem was to occur, I also have back up in the form of a great doctor to call. Do your part for your child if they have ever had issues with mental illness. Know where the medical facilities are on campus. Go over their options for while they are at school. Talk to them about what to do if they run into a roadblock, find themselves overwhelmed, or if they get depressed. Find out what your school’s resources are for mental health. If there are organizations on campus for support groups. Just do your part as a parent to prepare your child for the perfect college experience. College is scary but it should be the best time of their life. Make sure they get to enjoy it as that.