This Bipolar Life: Violence of the Mind

Before I dive deep on this please know I am in a stable place. I would have to be to even write this. Please keep any comments kind and supportive as this is easily one of the most vulnerable posts for me since I’ve started years ago.

Ever see those “8 things a bipolar person doesn’t want to talk about”? Well today I’m doing a bit of a post about that from my perspective. I’m totally owning mine. One of the things “most people with bipolar never want to admit” is that we are more prone to having more physical, emotional and physical agitation than the general population. Trust me, mania (hypo- or otherwise) doesn’t always involve euphoria, major spending, and grandiose thoughts. Emotionally, mentally, verbally and yes, in some rare cases, even physical violence can happen. In fact the behaviors I list below are also considered manic.

Here are my eight:

  1. I have yelled to the point of rage
  2. I have demanded things be done on my schedule
  3. I have expected others to do exactly as I did
  4. I have enforced what later appear to be fairly draconian house rules
  5. I have slammed the door behind me countless times
  6. I have slammed things on the sofa more than once
  7. I’m sure I’ve thrown more than one tantrum in my time, yes, even as an adult.
  8. So much more here that I either a) don’t feel like owning yet or b) the list is too long

In fact, my bipolar runs a pretty wide gamut. Sometimes I want to buy everything and give it away to make people happy, at times I’ve been paranoid because I was making mountains out of molehills. However, my agitation-related emotions are far less known symptoms and often I don’t understand what’s going on myself (much less those around me) well before I’m dealing with the the damage left behind.

Sometimes the injuries to other people can be repaired and others, well other times relationships are lost. Big and little ones. Not always but frankly it’s not uncommon. Sadly, sometimes friends are just not able to withstand the vagaries of being friends with someone who lives with bipolar disorder.

So I decided to do something about it. I’ve been actively working on my own anger management for the past year and although I’m nowhere near perfect my internal reactions have reduced some. This gives me room to respond in a way much more respectful, both to the other person and to myself.

Remember folks: Respond rather than React. Harder than it seems but critical.

More (very helpful) info can be found at this 2017 MedLine article.

This Bipolar Life: Remind me. Please.

I’ve never thought of myself as someone who would need a small sapling worth of post-its just to keep me organized. I have a paper organizer. I have a fancy-dancy digital organizer. I have my phone calendar and notes. Hell, I even have a “sticky notes” app on my laptop.

Why so many? Because I need that many reminders. Yes, I really do. And so do many people with bipolar disorder. I wonder why it’s such a challenge for us. I know I literally copy things into every one of those formats just so I’ll remember them.

I know everyone forgets things but for people with bipolar disorder it can be quite different. For many of us it’s a brain fog issue. What’s that? Well it’s kind of like how when some stomps on your toe and then asks you to recite the alphabet. Can’t do it, right? Because the brain can only really focus on one thing at a time and people with bipolar disorder are often trying to think *through* the bipolar curtain. As so many memes say, the struggle is real.

I *often* forget appointments. It totally slips my mind that “xyz” likes “abc” on their <insert food here> or that so-and-so doesn’t like to do something. I show up late. I call and cancel. I freeze and don’t call at all. Really. It can get pretty bad.

I live completely unaware of my social calendar, especially when I make plans while manic that my depressed self no longer feels up to doing. I usually don’t realize I’ve done it until afterward and then I have a mess to clean up and an apology to give. Again.

And that’s not even going into the safety aspect.

And yes, brain fog and forgetfulness can be a safety issue. For me at least. I have left burners on, ovens still going, doors unlocked, and more. I now have a piece of paper taped on my stairwell reminding me to check the stove, oven, door, pets and candles. I have the same note by the front door. I need that kind of help. I’m not the only one.

Reminders are important. If you’re worried about using them please remember how beneficial they can be in keeping your world running smoothly and with fewer disappointments. Stop being prideful. Start being humble and recognizing this new limitation that *sometimes* might affect you.

If there is someone in your life you are concerned about please have this conversation with them. Do they need help remembering? Who knows? They might really appreciate it and feel relieved they don’t have to do it all alone anymore. Love comes in many forms and helping someone you care about who needs reminders is just one.

This Bipolar Life: Be Your Own Boss?

So it’s been said (a lot) the people with severe mental illnesses, like bipolar or schizophrenia, don’t know how or can’t keep a job and they become a drain on society. My story, and those of many others, takes a different turn. I do keep myself employed most of the time. I have switched companies a few times and there have been some fairly large gaps in time but I have always come back to working, at least part-time.

However, what seems to work best for a lot of people with mental illness is to be your own boss. To that end I have started and ended at least four businesses. They all failed. I failed. But then something happened, I got back up again and kept trying. After working for myself once before as a real estate agent (a good one too) I returned to that experience as the basis for my ultimate goal: the ability to earn income no matter where I was in the world. I want to travel and I needed a business that would allow it. I’ve loved grant writing for years and now I’m turning it into my full-time business – finally!

I believe firmly that really making a solid effort to reach a goal can make all the difference and although it can be difficult for me to stay on top of all the moving parts, it is worth it. I prefer to answer to myself (and my clients of course) for my hours, my effort, my outcomes. All of it. I like to be my own boss. I still need accountability. That’s where the challenge comes in and not just for me or people with bipolar but for many solo business owners. Fortunately technology is amazing these days and I can virtual sticky notes for nearly everything and an calendar item for every commitment. I’m getting better and better each time. This much I know.

Clearly I have struggled with this for years but finally have the “oomph” to move forward and combine my passion to create positive change with my writing and research expertise. I have finally launched my grant writing business and I feel relieved. It’s coming into fruition. Now I just need a few clients…lol!

So (shameless plug ahead) with that in mind, if you need funding for a project you’re working on…check out my company: www.mobilegrants.com. You’ll be surprised by what I can find if I just put my (occasionally addled) mind to it!

This Bipolar Life: News Update

I love writing this blog and one of the things I enjoy most about it is being able to get some of the latest information out to everyone who follows it. I hope you find these articles informative:

Gender-Based Disparities Identified in Bipolar Disorder Hospitalization Stays

Out of 16,271 people studied women spent 3.7% more time in the hospital than men…Variables captured at index hospitalization included gender, bipolar disorder subtype, comorbid substance/alcohol use disorders, and comorbid personality disorders. Credit: Emily Pond

What Bipolar II Feels Like

This bipolar II. This many-sided creature. This life of mine. This brain constantly in conference with the racing heart, reminding me to slow down, stay calm. – Credit: Bassey Ikpi

Praying for Involuntary Commitment: PA Family Struggles to Help Bipolar Relative

Because Kim doesn’t believe she has a mental illness, she refuses any treatment, Martha said. That’s led to a decade of struggling to get her daughter help in a system that is set up to protect people from being committed against their will. Credit: Brett Sholtis

Ketamine May Be Equally Effective in Axious vs Nonanxious Depression

Overall, investigators conclude that while these results could indicate that intravenous ketamine may be equally effective for the treatment of anxious and non-anxious TRD, the “results are still exploratory and future larger and adequately powered studies designed to specifically test this aim are warranted.” – Credit: Psychiatry Contributing Advisor

Bringing Humanity to the Study of Bipolar

American psychiatrist and writer Kay Redfield Jamison has been open about sharing her experiences of mania and depression and wants others to do the same – Credit: Slyvia Thompson

Next up: Another awesome blog post!

This Bipolar Life: Numb

I’m not really sure what to write sometimes. I wish I had profound things to pass along but the reality that I’m just one person and I’m not even particularly witty hits me pretty hard on occasion.

See, before the onset of my bipolar I was a wreck but had my good moments. Once we finally had a name for it there was a mixture of relief and fear. I was so grateful to have an answer and then fear because there is/was no cure. Nothing. I just became wrapped up in anxiety knowing I would have to live with this very difficult condition forever. No breaks.

I know some prefer to not have to talk about bipolar every day. Guess what? Me too. But this is my lived reality and I’m not going to sugar coat it for your comfort. That would be lying. That being said, do you really want me to write down every negative thing? Me either. 

So, rather than going through every emotion just know the most common emotional response is just “blank” and my logic response “numb”. I just don’t talk about it as often as possible. Instead I focus on politics and social justice (that is why my degree is in after all!) as well as trying my best to read real books and not just do them on my handheld or audio book, both of which I kind of suck at doing.

Now, what do I do when I get to these places? Well there are a few DBT tricks I pull out of my toolkit. First is opposite action, which means exactly what is sounds like. Feeling like you don’t want to shower, just get the hell up and do it. Next if that isn’t enough do something that interferes with thought, very hot shower, holding an ice cube, putting your face and/or hair under a freezing stream of water. 

Seriously, changing your physical state can have a huge impact. Finally, if neither of those work then I turn to radical acceptance and try to just allow what is happening to be. Harder than hell but supposedly it’s a skill I’m supposed to learn to use.

Weird, for someone who didn’t know what to write I’ve managed to do quite a bit of typing.