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!

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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!

Contentment

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Over the last several months I have seen my mental health recovery take a major blow. I went from being stable in my recovery to have a major episode of mania to a major episode of depression. It is amazing to me how I was so prepared yet I still managed to have such a horrible experience and devastating ramifications from such an episode.

I have been married for almost 22 years and my husband and I have had our ups and downs due to my illness. Over the last five years, we have really learned how to work together. That was until recently. It seems like somehow we have lost all the ways we once knew how to communicate. We lost touch with how we once loved each other and how we cared for each other.

It has been a complete struggle for me since I have been dealing with delusional thought processes and feelings of discontent. I often struggle with feelings of discontent in my life so that isn’t something new for me. However, sometimes the feelings are so strong that I have no control over trying to make something new happen in my life. I struggle to make something exciting and something different to take effect and to take hold. Many times that may be starting a new friendship or a new career or another line of education. I see it as growth. My husband, however, sees it as another failed attempt I have made towards succeeding at something that I tried and didn’t like. I do not think if I am not content in something I should do it forever. Especially since I am not the breadwinner of the family and many times the things I am doing are just another job of some sort that pays minimum wage or just slightly more. Until a job is more than a job but an actual career I don’t see why I should be forced to do something I am not content or happy in.

This last episode has taught me a few things and in a way, I am glad I have had it happen. I have been very complacent. Just letting life pass by, not knowing what to do next. I have been so scared of starting over again. I have been so worried because of my husbands fear of my failure, my own insecurities of failure blossomed and began to form and take over my life. It was like when he doubted I could actually make something happen in my life I no longer believed in myself either and that became a fundamental problem in me. Not believing something as simple as being able to hold down a part-time job made me lose all the value I had in myself as a human being and doubting that I could even hold down a part-time job because I was so broken because of my illness made me feel so dehumanized. Not to mention trapped. Trapped and not able to get out of my house but trapped in a marriage that even though I wanted to stay in it knowing I had no other choice was infuriating. I felt as though my husband had made me stop believing in myself and made me believe I would fail in order to control me and make me stay with him and make me believe I was so broken no one else would ever want me and he was my only option for survival.

Now in saying this, it sounds as if my husband is a bad guy. I need to say, no my husband is great. If he did control me he did so out of love, without knowing he did so. He never meant it to come across how it did. He never meant for me to feel devalued or worthless it was never his intent for me to feel that way. Every morning my husband gets into a safe and gets out my medication and sets it out and he picks up all my medications at the pharmacy weekly, he takes damn good care of me and provides a damn good life for us. So why do I feel controlled?

It’s simple really. He doesn’t believe in me. He is always waiting for the shoe to drop. He is always waiting for the mess up. He is always expecting the fail. When you have already failed in someone’s eyes before you begin, then you are never going to live up to the expectation that they have set for you. He doesn’t believe I can do it. I start school in the fall for digital media, I wonder how many classes I will have to pass before he realizes I am actually in school and that school is my first priority.

I make things happen. It’s what I do. When I am not content I begin something new to fill a void. A new friendship, a new career, a new line of education. I have laid dormant for three years, I am ready to find some contentment again. I am ready to find some peace of mind. I am ready for something to keep my racing thoughts from racing, something to keep me busy. I am ready for school. I am ready.

In Bipolar Fashion Corner Boutique!

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Pictured above is a Tosha Maaks original designed T-Shirt Available only at the In Bipolar Fashion Corner Boutique!

The In Bipolar Fashion Corner Boutique is your one stop shop for all your mental health recovery care needs. Whether it be a witty T-shirt or a favorite flavor of tea while doing your self-care you will be able to find it at the In Bipolar Fashion Corner Boutique. So come on in and have a look around you never know what you may find that you just can’t live with out!

Pictured below is a bracelet featured at the In Bipolar Fashion Corner Boutique!

“Positive Vibes”

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“Smile and the world smiles with you if you frown you frown alone” a simple saying that I was told my whole life. I had no clue what this saying truly meant when I was a freshman writing it on the board for the quote of the day because the teacher had forgotten to write a quote yet I felt the board needed her daily quote and since I wasn’t particularly smart that was the only thing I could come up with. It was a saying my mom would say to me when I would walk around the house saying, “I’m bored” and whine and cry because I wanted something to do. Not so different than I do now, meaning I still have ADHD and bipolar disorder and I still get really bored and whine and cry about it, only I am a grown up now. Today someone told me the same quote as I laughed about the fact that my smile is authentic, and I often keep a smile on my face these days even when facing depression.

It was about two years ago that I realized the need to cut people out of my social circle when they had a negative influence on my positive vibe due to the fact that the effect my moods because of me having bipolar disorder. Bipolar Disorder is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day to day activities. I had made a good friend within a group of friends my husband and I had begun hanging around. She and I had started to go shopping on weekdays and go to lunch, sometimes her boyfriend would join us and it was fun at first.

I then started to notice she would get lost in thoughts about her relationship with him and that she would often time be lost wondering if he loved her or often times if he even liked her. On one occasion her and her boyfriend and my husband and I went to dinner and somehow I was very upset by the end of the dinner about another person within our social circle because of her boyfriend as we say “stirring the shit pot” purposely to cause trouble. On another couple occasions I started to notice how he complained about the service everywhere we went to eat or where he stayed if it was a hotel in order to get something for free or at a discount, nothing was ever done right or good enough for him and I finally separated myself from their friendship due to the negativity that came out of their mouths and the influence they had on my moods.

Everyone has a bad day. Everyone is entitled to a bad day. I am more than willing to give everyone the benefit of a bad day or a bad week. However, this was obviously his personality and she was a part of him and she was wanting to be with him and I knew I couldn’t handle him and his negative personality without it affecting me and my moods. I had a choice to make. My choice was clear.

I had to choose to not have that negative influence in my life. I can only have him in my life in small doses. I was sad to have to cut out my friend but I knew that it was better for my state of mind not to have the negativity in my life. Even having someone who is mostly depressed all the time as she was is difficult for me. If they have more good days then bad I can handle it but otherwise, I will find myself struggling to be their friend because it begins to bring my mood into a downside as well.

Last year I was given the opportunity to become a Certified Recovery Support Specialist which is something I thought I wanted more than anything. I have always wanted to teach others how to find their way into recovery. I still do. However, what I learned is there is a lot of times I would be given a client who was still not ready to be in recovery. They were still in the depression phase of the illness and they weren’t willing to do the work to get better. I struggled every day as I listened to them tell their stories and poured out their hearts and I would many times cry with them. I would leave my position every day feeling drained and overwhelmed. I quickly decided that wasn’t a job I could do. I could not handle that job. I wanted something that left me feeling good every day not leaving me feeling sad. Crisis intervention was not for me.

Again I learned that I needed to be around positivity in order to keep my self in a good mood. I have to keep my environment happy. Otherwise, I have a mess on my hands. What about you do you make sure to cut toxic people out of your life when you meet them? Do you protect your mind from the negative things that threaten it? How do you make sure to keep your mind safe from negative influences in this world?

Remaining Mindful

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When I am going through a deep depression for some reason, I have a hard time practicing what I preach to others. I constantly talk about how important self-care is, but now that I am myself, going through a deep depression and I am to get myself out of it I am realizing the fact that what I have let go is my self-care. I have spent the last 4 years taking care of myself. It is the reason I didn’t work. So that I can tan, go to the gym, get my nails done, do my hair, clean my house, do my meditation, clear my mind, write, and do the things that I need to do to take care of me. Over the last five months I have lost sight of all those things and here I am thinking I want to go back to work or school when I can’t even get through the day without letting the delusional thoughts taking over my mind.

Delusional thoughts for me right now are my biggest struggle. I hate them. They consume me when my thoughts are bad. If I start off in a good state of mind during the day, it’s not a problem but if I start off in a bad mood or if I get triggered by something the delusional thoughts will begin and they snowball into a huge issue that wasn’t needed. I am working on being mindful again when those are starting.

Being mindful of them means knowing the thought is not real

Being mindful of them means knowing the thought is not real and recognizing that the thought is something that I am making up. No matter how real it may feel. An example is my husband not loving me correctly. My husband loves me very much and he expresses his love for me in his own ways. He always has. Through his support. By our bond, by our cuddling and the time he wishes to spend with me. I have never not felt loved by him. However, one of my love languages is when someone puts thought into something and buys something with me in mind or plans something for me. I am totally touched by those efforts and I love those things. It makes me feel special and totally adored and loved. He however isn’t that sort of person, does it mean he isn’t loving me correctly, well know he just loves me differently. I however feel a need isn’t being met with in me. I wish he could bend a bit with this, but it isn’t something I think he will ever be able to do. He does when things are good buy me a rose from time to time. Its been hardly ever now days. However, he does do it. I miss him doing it more often. It meant a lot more to me when he did it.

Just writing this blog is triggering to me because I feel myself getting triggered. I feel myself going into the delusional thought that he doesn’t do enough for me. When the man loves me in other ways. The man makes sure my medications are picked up every day and every time for me. He makes sure that they are put out every day and, in the right amounts, every day for me, to keep me safe. If I need anything he is there. He will hold me as I cry during a delusional break down because they just won’t stop. Not truly understanding what is happening but knowing I am hurting and that is all he needs to know to hold me and let me cry on his shoulder. Many men would walk away at a time like that.

I am a lucky girl; I am a blessed girl

I am a lucky girl; I am a blessed girl and sometimes I forget how good I have it. For 21 and a half years I have had a partner who has stood by me and fought with me against this disease and let me stay at home while he goes to work to provide for us at a job with good insurance so that I can have good medical care to fight against this. I have it so good and I am so thankful for my husband.

I need to start treating him like I am thankful for him again. I need to remind him that I am blessed to have him and that he is my world. I would be nothing without him. He is my world. I am so glad to have him in my life and I think I should stop thinking about how he doesn’t love me and remember about all the ways he does love me. It is really about perspective. Our lives are different than many other people’s lives, because of bipolar disorder. Not that it’s all bad because of bipolar disorder but our lives are just never going to be like everyone else’s lives. That’s just going to have to be OKAY!  

Stigma In A Small Town

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When waiting for the school bus, children should know not to play in the street and to stay far enough back from the curb so they can’t accidentally step into the street.

I always wondered how I would tell my story if ever given the chance. Having bipolar 1, ADHD, and general anxiety I have so much to share. It was cold out. That’s all I really remember. I had on a stocking cap and I was wearing a sweatshirt. This was my common attire for my then-position as a bus monitor for the school district I lived in. The depression was back and it was hitting hard core. I had lost faith in my current psychiatrist and getting in to see a new one proved to be a challenge. I had an appointment, but it was a month away. I was going to see a doctor who was newly out of school, young, and hopefully wouldn’t, as I called it, “cookie cut” me when it came to medications. I had just found the webcam feature on my new mac, hit record, and “Ramblings of a Bipolar Mom” started to flow from my mouth. After I was done speaking I thought, I am going to use this for good. Maybe someone else needs to hear it. I posted it on Facebook without a second thought. I did a video about every other day, talking about having bipolar illness and how it made me feel and some of the things that it did to me. I got some positive feedback from friends; supportive feedback. “Good for you Tosh, maybe this can help someone else,” one friend said. I felt good about the video blogs. I was very depressed, but I was getting into the doctor and hoped I would be OK soon. I remember getting one message that didn’t make any sense to me until later. It said, “I don’t care what people are saying, I have depression and I am behind you 100%.” It was from a neighbor. I live in a very small town, small enough that it is actually called a village. I just took that comment as a compliment, and it didn’t dawn on me to pay attention to the part that said “what people are saying”. I would, however, find out very soon.

 I was at the bus barn in between runs when my boss asked me to follow him into the offices of the administration building. My chest tightened and my heart sped up as I walked through the hallway leading to the HR manager’s office. On the screen of his computer was my face, my blog pulled up as if I was doing something deceitful on the job. The whole school district was in an uproar over my videos. Some of my children’s friends were on my Facebook page and some of their parents were as well. News of my illness traveled quickly among administrative staff, principals at the schools, and all the way up to the superintendent of the district. They were flooded with calls demanding my immediate dismissal.

 I sat there blank faced. I explained I was trying to help others who have bipolar, asking why there was a problem. They told me I yelled at the students. I said I have never yelled at the students, I talked loudly. There were 70 students on the bus. If I didn’t speak loudly, how would they hear the instructions? I was dumbfounded. I was advised strongly to take the videos down immediately and not do anymore. I was hurt, and ashamed, and worse than that, I worried about my boys and how would this affect them at school. Would the other kids make fun of them for having a crazy mom?

Without thinking I took the videos down and sank even deeper into depression. The shaming, however, had just begun. Day after day I was told of phone call after phone call to the school and the administrative offices. The parents were relentless. The principal, with whom I preciously had a good relationship since my sons were in preschool (now my oldest was in high school) asked me rudely, “Is it worth it for this stupid job?” when I tried to apologize to him for all the phone calls he was having to deal with. I told him yes it was since the school board paid my insurance. I was crushed that he hadn’t assured the parents I was fine to be around their children, that he knew me personally and knew I would never harm them.

 Then the unimaginable happened on the first warm day of spring during an afternoon bus route. Seating on our bus is by grades with kindergartners sitting in the front progressing towards the back with first and second graders next, through fifth graders at the back of the bus. I always sat with the fifth graders because they tended to be the noisiest and needed the most supervision. We stopped in town where the majority of the children and I got off the bus. Seventeen kids got off starting with the youngest. I was the last one off the bus after the fifth graders exited. The snow had melted, the air was fresh and my children decided to walk the two blocks home instead of riding in the car home with me. I remembered that my oldest son had lost his key to our van in the snow a few weeks earlier so I started looking for it along the side of my car. I noticed another van parked across from mine but didn’t see who was in it, just figuring it was another parent picking up their child at the bus stop. My twins called to me, asking what I was looking for. I called back, “The van key that Colton lost a few weeks ago”. After a few more moments I gave up the search got in my car and drove home. The next day my boss asked me to come to his office. He had received a call from a man who said I had pushed his son, a kindergartner, off the bus and then went up to his son and wife sitting inside their van and started growling at them, trying to get into their van, all of which was a complete fabrication. I asked my boss, “Why do they want me gone so badly? I have done this job for four years without a problem. I don’t understand.” I had never dealt with the stigma of bipolar before that moment. Why would someone go out of their way to fabricate a complete lie to try and get me fired from a job that I had done for years for with no complaints from anyone. I couldn’t understand how people, knowing I was already depressed, would try to take something from me that could send me further into depression. I still don’t talk to many people in the town we live in. Fewer than 700 people live there, and most know of my diagnosis. They choose to think I am different because of that. I know that I’ve read somewhere that 1 in 5 people have mental illness. Is it possible the lady who made up that story about me growling at her is dealing with some undiagnosed illness of her own? Then again, maybe she is just that mean-spirited. Either way, I wouldn’t change what happened. It set the course for other things that happened in my life, and the changes that came next were bigger than anything I could have imagined. Although not all of them were good, they all did prove that I have Amazing Strength.

My Delusions and My Husband

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Even when you think you are well recovery can take a turn and bite you in the ass and remind you that bipolar disorder must be thought about first and foremost. Sometimes I forget that I must put my disorder before everything else in my life. I must make sure that I put my bipolar care plan before I do anything else, which means that sometimes I may miss out on other things in my life that I may enjoy doing. It bothers me a lot. I, just like everyone else wants to go about my life as normal as I can be. However, if I don’t pay attention to what time I take my medication, pay attention to what time I go to bed, or how much sleep I get, if I don’t make sure I get some exercise and some sun, I could end up going manic or end up in a deep depression. My care plan is in place to keep me from having an episode and it is there to keep me safe.

I have a fear of being alone. This last two months my husband and I have been fighting an awful lot. We hadn’t done much fighting in the last five years. The problem is me. I have let my delusional thoughts take back over my mind because I have been fighting them so hard in another area of my life. I either need to learn how to control these delusional thoughts all together or I need to rid myself of the situation because my marriage needs to come first.

Delusional Thoughts are Overthinking

Delusional thoughts are basically overthinking. It is where your mind makes up so many thoughts that are so far from the truth about a situation that you start believing the own lies you have made up in your mind. For me, that means that I create problems where they don’t exist in the relationships in my life.

Some of the people in my life know how to shut those thoughts down for me very well and learned how to in a short time period, to do so with ease and I am now frustrated with my husband because he doesn’t have the skill set to be able to do the same for me. Sometimes all I need is to be reminded I am over thinking and that I am thinking too much. Sometimes I need a distraction or a good thought to move me away from the bad thoughts I am currently experiencing. Regardless, I am currently struggling because the thoughts have become so overwhelming.

Delusional thoughts have taken over. Mindfulness is going to take some practice again and I am going to have to remember to not say anything for now, because everything I try to talk to my husband about seems accusatory to him. I know I can’t try to actually discuss anything with him for now about my emotions or feelings on any matter. I am just going to have to let things be for now, and let my thoughts be my thoughts. I will have to take too here and my personal blog to write about what my thoughts are.

Suicidal Thoughts Resurfaced

Sometimes, just getting my thoughts on the screen can make all the difference in the world. It can ease my mind and make it easier to digest. When I am feeling delusional I get suicidal. Which is very difficult for me to handle because I don’t feel suicidal any other time. Only when I am truly manic and going through a true psychosis. Yesterday was the first time in almost 12 years that I begged for death. It was something I haven’t experienced in a long time and a thought that hasn’t crossed my mind for many years but as the delusions got harder to fight the only way I could think to end them was to take my own life. It was the only way out. That is the scariest feeling in the world.

Today looks brighter and I feel stronger and I have more hope today. My delusions have stopped for now. I have mindfulness at the forefront and I am keeping my self-care in mind. Bipolar care recovery is what I do best and rebuilding is what I know. Here is to a fresh start once again.