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!

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.

Interview with Tim Blue

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https://www.blubrry.com/to_know_we_are_not_alone/44349756/medication-hyper-sexuality-bi-polar-disorder-and-hope/?fbclid=IwAR2KL4sBatgs918N9UH9dlZEkYKoioPUa66QN9AkKrPpsKC04P7MBddGEiM

In this interview with Tim Blue listen as we discuss everything from over spending when manic my largest total being $37,000, to hypersexuality and how it is possible to lose your license for something as simple as taking a bipolar medications. Having bipolar disorder is no joke. It is a serious illness with serious consequences and if you don’t recognize the illness and stand up and become mindful of the symptoms, it will take you for everything you have.

Many of you have read my life experiences with bipolar disorder, now listen as Tim and I discuss many of the things you have only been able to read about and now can hear it from me, myself as Tim and I talk very candidly about my life.

Feeding the Homeless

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I saw a post on facebook about how the pizza chain Little Ceasers put a sign in the window of their store for a homeless person to stop going through their trash. It starts off where you think you are going to get mad but as you finish reading the sign, you are overcome with joy as you realize the sign is telling them that they are a human being and to please come inside and they will offer them a couple of slices of hot pizza and a glass of water no questions asked. That no person should have to go through the trash for food. As I read the sign I was so moved that I found myself placing my hand over my heart and letting out a large sigh.

I then proceeded to read the comments

I then proceeded to read the comments. I didn’t, however, read them for very long, because I was so upset by the ignorance that I was blindsided by. I cannot believe that in this day in age that so many people are so ignorant to the fact that there is so much more to the issue of just homelessness than just “get a job”.

To look at me you would think I am very capable of holding down a job. It seems like a very reasonable thing. I am high functioning and very smart, coherent most of the time. I am a good worker when I do work. I have many skills and when I go to work I am on time and I do what I am told to do. I am normally placed in management positions shortly after I become an employee. I excel fast and I move at a fast pace and can multi-task and I do wonderful normally for about a year to a year and a half at most jobs. Then the delusions set in.

My workplace delusions will be of other co-workers or my boss being out to get me. They all want me fired. I just know it. That will lead to me keeping a scorecard and to a lot of undue stress. Eventually, I start being careless and missing steps in my position. The write-ups begin and before I know it my work life as well as my personal life starts to unravel.

This isn’t just a scenario that has played out once

This isn’t just a scenario that has played out once, but a scenario that has played out several times over many years over and over and over again and I am a high functioning person with a severe type of mental illness. Take a person who has a severe type of mental illness and may not be high functioning. Maybe they hear voices all day long when my delusions are raging like they have been recently there is no way I could try to work as well. I can not imagine it.

For someone to claim “maybe they should just get a job” is the most heartless thing a person can say. They have obviously never sat with someone while they were experiencing delusional thoughts or experienced delusions themselves. Mental illness is so much more than just feeling sad. Bipolar Disorder is so much more than just mood swings or being moody. There is so much more to it than “just get a job”.  This country needs to wake up and help those of us in need. People are homeless because they don’t have the support system at home that is needed to survive so they only have the streets and if as a fellow human being they can’t turn to you who can they turn too!

It’s a choice

This Little Ceaser’s made a choice to do something good for a fellow human being. A good thing for someone in need. If every fast food chain, the ones that were in the green and making a good profit did the same and tried to give even two meals away because we know you throw at least that many away a day. If they could just give two meals away a day. It could end hunger in this country among the homeless. Instead, we have greed.

The Hold of The Fear of Rejection!

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Self-confidence, where does it come from? My theory is it comes from within. I haven’t been able to find my own inner self-confidence in a long while now. I have had glimpses of it, here and there. Every now and then I will have a fleeting moment where I will not think that every one that is in a room is laughing at me, judging my every move. However, for the most part, I lack the self-confidence I desire in my life.

Part of that does have to do with my mental illness diagnosis and my mental health overall and the fact that paranoia and delusional thoughts about how others perceive me is going to be a part of my life forever. There is never going to be a point that I will be completely free of the nasty thoughts that plague my brain and make me think others are judging me and dislike who I am. It is however up to me to make sure I am mentally as strong and as healthy as I can be in order to find those true glimpses of self-confidence and find the self-worth I know I want and deserve to have.

What can I do to change my lack of self-confidence?

I often think there must be a way for me to overcome this lack of self-confidence that I carry around with me. Whether it’s in my personal life or my career, I walk around in a state of constant avoidance in life with even the simplest of things, because I am always so fearful of the rejection that seems inevitable. I fear rejection, and I think that ultimately that fear of rejection is what is keeping me from the abundance of self-confidence that I crave. So, what can I do to change that fear of rejection and my lack of self-confidence?

Stop Giving My Power to Others!

 I need to stop giving my power to others. The reason I am always lacking self-confidence is that my mood is dependent on external factors in my life. I live on an emotional roller coaster ride that is determined by my emotions that will be decided by the way others react to me. If I am praised, I will be in a great mood. If I am given bad news, I will be in a terrible mood. My mood is determined completely by outside factors all dependent upon if I am rejected that day or not.

My happiness should not depend on whether my husband had a bad day at work or not. Yet my whole being is wrapped up in how I perceive someone is viewing me at a given moment. If he comes home in a bad mood and not in the mood to cuddle I take that as a personal rejection and I am hurt by it and I will lose my confidence in myself. My own self-worth is then devalued and I feel as if I am unwanted and I and my feelings don’t matter to him. When that isn’t true. He simply had a bad day and needs some space.

If I am volunteering somewhere in my community and I am given criticism in the way I am doing something my mood and whole demeanor will change, and I will instantly go into a state of depression because I will feel the rejection from the criticism that was stated even if it was given to me in a  constructive manner. I will feel I wasn’t good enough to get it right the first time and that I let the organization I am working for down and I should have known better, even if it is something I had no way of knowing about. I have a hard time convincing myself that there was no way I could have known. When by them telling me, they just wanted to help me learn to better my skills not make me feel rejected at all but better my skills.

Stop Blaming Others for My Mistakes and Lack of Growth!

Living with bipolar disorder it is very easy for me to blame others for my mistakes and my lack of growth. I have quit many jobs and even dropped out of college and blamed my husband, my children or my illness for the reason for not returning to those things. The real truth for the reason I have not returned to any of those things though, is I am worried about failing yet again.

I have been told over and over again that history repeats it’s self, I have it in my mind that I will once again fail if I try to return to work or school. However, being in a standstill and never making an effort to improve who I am is killing my self-worth. I need to stop blaming my husband and kids for the reason I have not made changes to my life. I worry that the stress of working or going back to school may cause another episode. I worry if that happens it may cause my family more distress again, but not going is causing damage to my psyche that will be nonrepairable if I don’t act and do something to make myself value who I am once again.

Starting to take ownership of my own failures is a new step for me and not allowing myself to blame my family for holding me back. I chose to be a wife and mother first. I will never regret that choice. I do however wish I had made some better life choices along the way.

Recognize that Making Change Starts with Me!

I have to recognize that making change starts with me and unless I believe I can do something, it doesn’t matter if anyone else believes I can do it or not. I have to own my mistakes and take ownership of my failures and make the improvements now towards the future I want. I need to not fear failure as rejection and realize that I will never know “what all could go right” if I am in a state of constant fear of failure. Avoiding the things that trigger my illness doesn’t mean that I am in a state of recovery it means that I have learned how to avoid the things that cause my anxiety not learned how to cope with the anxieties in a healthy manner.

Overall I know I have some changes to make when it comes to myself acceptance. My journey to self-love is one I have been working on for a long time. I know it isn’t going to happen overnight and that is something I am okay with. I will always be plagued with the paranoia and delusional thoughts of mental illness and those will always be a fight I have to deal with. Staying mentally strong and healthy will be the best asset I have against those thoughts.

I have started to accept that I am who I am, and people love me for the unique person that I am. I don’t have to put on an act, pretend to be someone I am not, or try to be something I can’t be. I am a bit too loud, a little too much for some people, and my style is a little too over the top for most to handle, I’m  a little too glamorous for some and I may get a little too excited sometimes for most people but I am who I am, and if people don’t like those things about me then they just aren’t my people. The people that do like me, they are my people, and I love those people that I can just be me around.

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.