How Are You Doing? Bipolar Edition

Some one just asked me how I’m doing.  How I’m doing…in life.  Like, in general.  How is my life going in relation to my bipolar disorder.  A fairly simple question;  “How are you doing?”

But in my head there was a BAZZILLION different angles to respond and ways to answer.

How am I?  What do you mean, HOW AM I?  Do I start at birth or from when I was diagnosed as bipolar?  Oh no, wait, should I start at when I started showing signs of bipolar disorder?

Either way, I’m still trying to answer the question.

“How are you?”

Well.  Um.  I’m good.

I’m genuinely happily married with three adorable kids.  I have a place to live that more than meets my needs.  I have a psychiatrist who is FAH-bulous.  Family and friends who are awesome. My prescriptions are currently working well for me.  God is awesome.  I’m good.

Good

I’m good.

 

But it hasn’t always been that way.  I was diagnosed in 2002.  Started to get a glimpse of stability in 2004ish and by 2005ish things really lined up.  My husband is my constant.  He keeps me grounded, together and reminds me of who I am.  He gets me.  He understands that even when I’m depressed it’s absolutely not an inadequacy on his part, but an inadequacy on the part of the chemicals in my brain, those little shits.

Pregnancies where hard.  Yah.  But that’s to be expected, I think, not taking the same medications I normally did.  That’s hard and a huge adjustment.  Not to mention hormones.  Oh the HORMONES.

But, I’m good.  I mean, I think I’m alright.

I always used to say “I’m stable” but what is stability? I mean REALLY. What is it?  I thought I knew.  I think I know… How long do you have to feel “good” to then be allowed to say you’re stable?  Now, I’m careful how I say that.  I’ve learned.  Sometimes it feels like life’s balance is teetering at the edge…maybe into stability…whoa whoa…and now BAM into a depression so deep you can’t see straight, or a mania so high you can’t stop soaring (in a bad way).

So when someone asks me how I am, referring to my bipolar, I guess the answer is… I’m still here?  I’m good.  I’m still fighting.  I’m good.  Each day is a new day.  I’m good.  I can still count my blessings. I’m good.  On the good days, it’s easy to say… I’m good.  And on rough days I can still remind myself that THIS. WILL. PASS.  I’m good.

Are you…good?

Able to say I’m good,

Mrs Bipolarity

Posted in Mrs Bipolarity | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

World Bipolar Day-March 30

Today is World Bipolar Day!

Y’all, this is what it’s all about!  Spreading the word of truth about bipolar disorder. I started mrsbipolarity.com to share my story and to talk about the reality of mental illness.

I want people to know what bipolar disorder REALLY is, and to fight the stigma that’s so heavily associated with mental illness. We’ve got to fight it!

Please feel free to share your story or tell me what World Bipolar Day means to you!

World Bipolar Day

Your Advocate,

Mrs Bipolarity

Posted in Mrs Bipolarity, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Fear of Being Well

It was my first psychiatrist, who told me I had a “fear of being well” and honestly, I thought that was absurd.  But to some extent, looking back I can see I was clinging to bipolar disorder as my identity. It was all I knew, and who was I with out it?

Unfortunately, I didn’t know who I was with it either.  It sounds kind of gross to me. And kind of ridiculous for me to cling to such mayhem and dysfunction!  However, it’s common (I know that, now) and it was definitely true for me, even though I didn’t know it at the time.

He was right. But, instead of clinging to the “fear of wellness,” how amazing it is to cling to the desire of stability?  To cling to the hard work of obtaining stability and to eventually cling to stability?

Easier said than done?  Yes.  Perhaps so.

Worth the work?  YES!

These are three of the top practical things to cling to:

1. Communicating with your doctor.  I cannot express this enough.  I say it all the time.  I feel very strongly about it.  Be you own advocate!

2. Healthy relationships. Out with the old, in with the healthy. It’s true that other people, negative, and abusive people will bring you down.  Don’t let them do it.  Change your phone number.  Do what it takes.

diagnosisquote

3. Taking your meds, and taking them as prescribed.  ‘Nuff said.  Ok, actually, I have more to say.  Take your meds as they’re intended to be taken.  If you don’t like something, tell your doctor immediately.  (See #1). If you’re not taking them properly they’re basically useless, so take ‘em right! Do it. And do it right.

Don’t let fear of anything, especially a fear of wellness, get a grip on you!

Hang in there friends, it’s worth it,

Mrs Bipolarity

Posted in Mrs Bipolarity, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blog For Mental Health 2014

It’s pretty simple really.  I’ve committed this blog towards mental health and by joining this project I’m publicly declaring it.  If you don’t know me yet, I’m a thirty-one year old wife and mom of three darling boys.  I was diagnosed in 2002 with Bipolar Disorder. It took me a couple of years, several medications, and two doctors to find a level of stability that I’ve managed most of the time since then.  This blog is about me.  It’s about bipolar disorder.  There’s some unsolicited advice thrown in.  I talk about God, and how great He is.  I try to be upbeat and encouraging without being fake.  Life is hard sometimes and sometimes you just gotta be real.  And that’s what you can expect from me.  (Maybe a little sarcasm too).

“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”

Blog for Mental Health 2014

Please click this link to participate in the Blog For Mental Health 2014 project and join a community of basically a gazillion amazing people (don’t quote me on that number) who are blogging to eradicate stigma and to educate people on mental illness.  Do it.

Sincerely,

Mrs Bipolarity

Posted in Advocate, Mrs Bipolarity, Stigma, Writer | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

It’s a Year End Recap

How does one recap an entire year?

To recap a year seems impossible.  This year was so good yet so rough.  For fear of sounding like a total sap I won’t tell you that no matter how crappy some life events may be, and how trying and tumultuous my moods might get, as long as I have my husband to live life with, it’s alright with me.  (It’s good I’m not sappy, much).  I’m thankful for my immediate and extended family and dear friends and never want to lose sight of the blessing that they are.

We had two deaths in the family only a few months apart.  And random series’ of events that were little…but big at the same time.   I believe no matter the scale of the event, stress and worry definitely affect my mood.  I had several triggers this year that threw my mood into a funk at best, and a tailspin at worst.  As always I communicated with my psychiatrist to keep my mental state healthy!  It’s a ongoing “battle.”  Some days it’s a walk in the park and some days it truly is a fight for survival.  But it’s worth it.  Worth the fight.  ALWAYS.

In January, my grandfather passed away.  I was able to see him shortly before he passed.  It was a beautiful last memory, as far as these things go.  I have peace.  Our twins turned two in February and in March our fourth baby niece was born– A MAJOR HIGHLIGHT of the year.  Sweet precious girl, we adore her so!  April was a big deal because Mrs Bipolarity was born! April was also the month my Grandmother passed away. Sad times. Hospice is hard and I struggled with my mood. May… what happened in May…?, and on to June when our oldest son turned four years old.  How did that happen?  I have no idea how time goes this fast!  July… I might have turned thirty-one but I’m not confirming anything.  Autumn rapidly approached and my annual cycle of depression started lurking.  Plenty of “mini-trauma” (as I call things some of the things that trigger my mood).  Finally, Christmas and New Years sneaked up on me and here I am.  Still standing up–neither strong nor week–but at least I’m standing up!

One of the highlights of 2013 was coming out of the bipolar closet.  One of the best things I’ve decided to do.  I know it’s helped a lot of people, and that’s why I do it.  I do this to help people and to fight stimga.  When I get discouraged, and think about stopping–someone comes to me with a story of encouragement and reminds me how worth while this journey is…and onward I march.

Thank you.  Each of you, reading this now.  I thank you.

mrs bipolarity head2013 was full of high-highs and low-lows of life, but I think everyone (bipolar or not) experiences that! I wish you contentment (because that’s better than happiness), stability (whatever that looks like to you), peace (because who doesn’t want peace?), self-awareness (you betta recognize!), the tools to fight this never ending fight, and above all I wish you to find what you’re looking for and that God blesses you richly in 2014.

Happy, Happy New Year,

All my best,

Mrs Bipolarity

Posted in Mrs Bipolarity, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Stop Finishing My Sentences

Have you ever typed something into Google, only to have the auto-complete feature fill in the blank by finishing your sentence with absurdities?  Check this out.

google 1 google 2 google 3

Ouch.

I feel so attacked, so betrayed.

Each sentence shows a “reflection of the search activity of all web users” says Google’s Help page.  And just so you know, this is not an attack on Google whatsoever.  Google’s just stuck in the middle.

What I’m saying is each sentence reflects a majority of people who hold that belief.  Yikes.

So basically, Google’s auto-complete algorithm bases these sentence completions off of popular searches, so with that in mind…what the hell, people?

I’m pretty hurt (well, except for the “bipolar people are smarter” one).  I’m apparently taking this personally.  Bipolar people are not categorically mean or selfish… and annoying?

To the masses of people who think things like this…

Do those whiny-assed Cancer patients annoy you as well?  My God, people with diabetes shouldn’t be allowed to have children.  Oh! You’re physically sick with something you have absolutely no control over?  A new kidney you say? You’re isolated from the community.  Done.  If I don’t understand your illness, YOU’RE OUT!

supportjarsstigma

Does anyone else see how absurd this all is?  Stupid.

And to be clear, and to NOT be taken out of context…I don’t think that way about Cancer and Diabetes.  OBVIOUSLY.  Bipolar isn’t my fault, no more than Cancer is the fault of a person struggling to survive that.  I’m not comparing the two in the sense of competing for which is worse (because that’s irrelevant).  What I’m saying is this.  It doesn’t make me less of a person. For people to be blamed for something they can’t control is ludicrous.

I feel like this type of thing is a huge step backwards in fighting stigma, and a huge step backwards in the acceptance and understanding of mental illness.  However, being the kind of person that I am…the knowledge of this just makes me want to fight stigma harder!  Join me, won’t you?!

Not Surprised,

Still Offended,

Mrs Bipolarity

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Interview Series: Wendy K. Williamson

I’m thrilled to be sharing this interview with you! Wendy K. Williamson, author of I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar is simply fabulous and has been a joy to work with. Check it out.

Wendy Williamson

Author, Wendy K. Williamson

1. Tell me, in your experience, what is the hardest part of a bipolar diagnosis?

The hardest part is managing, day by day, to stay in the middle. To make each choice, often against what I really want to do, to avoid mania and fight depression. It could mean taking a shower or leaving the apartment when I’m seriously depressed. It could be avoiding caffeine or getting to bed if I’m manic. In general, if I’m too up or down, it usually means doing the opposite of what I want to do.

2. What piece of advice would you offer a person struggling with bipolar disorder?

I would say educate yourselves and get involved in your treatment. Read the information that is out there, go online, buy a few good books; There are a lot of great resources these days that were not there twenty years ago. Get the best team of a doctor and psychologist that you can afford. Also, I would also suggest you join a local DBSA or NAMI group. I really found a compassionate group of people when I was severely depressed and suicidal at our local DBSA. They cared about me when they barely knew me. And it was probably the only place I felt I fit in socially. There is one book where they really bashed the people they met, but they were an integral part of my support system when I was at my lowest. I would also suggest once you do feel better, you find a way to volunteer and give back. Even if you are listening to someone else who is going through a crisis, or driving a friend to the hospital or taking care of a pet of someone who needs your help, bringing them a meal when they are barely eating, we get through this together.

There, how is that for not sticking to the question? You wanted one piece and you got a handful!

3. Share about a time when you’ve been targeted and hurt by the stigma of mental illness.

Honestly, I find it hurts most when it’s someone I love. Case in point: my family. My parents and rest of my family are amazing with one exception: my sister. She has given up on me with each passing episode and we no longer have the relationship we did before I was diagnosed. The way I deal with it is I minimize time spent with her and realize she has no idea what it’s like to walk in my shoes and vice-versa.

I'm Not Crazy Just Bipolar

4. I love the title of your book I’m not Crazy Just Bipolar. Tell me a little about how you came to chose that title?

Honestly, it came to me one day at the beach. I was thinking I wanted something funny, something de-stigmatizing and there it was one day. Poof: it came into my head. I don’t even know if I could have come up with that on my own! I can’t take full credit for it. Sometimes I think we get divine inspiration so not to sound trite, but I have to thank the big man for his help.

5. Who inspires you, and why?

My Mom for being strong throughout my illness and life. I have learned everything I know from her. And also my partner Nora for her grace, humor and intelligence. She has bipolar too, but she does what she needs to do and is an example to me of wellness. I look up to them both.

BIG thanks to this amazing author!

Mrs Bipolarity

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

I Love Football and Mental Illness

Okay, actually, I don’t love either of them.  I tolerate football, (at best) for my Dad and my husband, and I am passionate about mental illness–you know, because I have one.

Either way, step aside JJ Watt (it’s been a bad few weeks for the Texans anyways, guys).  I have a new favorite player.  Brandon Marshall of the Chicago Bears wore green cleats in a game on October 10, 2013 in honor and support of Mental Health Awareness Week.

And as if that wasn’t enough…

The NFL fined Marshall $10, 500 for violating uniform and equipment rules.  I’m not upset that he was fined, really.  The NFL’s gotta do what the NFL’s gotta do.  It’s Brandon Marshall’s response to it that I absolutely love so much I can’t handle it.  Not only did he pay the $10,500 fine–he matched it, and made a donation!

Good work, buddy.

And what did he have to say about his stigma bustin’ act?  He Tweeted.  This sums it up completely.  This is what it’s all about.

“This fine is nothing compared to the conversation started & awareness raised.”

Brandon Marshall Twitter

Someone needs to embroider this on a jersey for the man.

“Football is my platform, not my purpose”

Gotta love a person using their platform–FOR their purpose.

Job well done, my friend,

Thankful,

Mrs Bipolarity

Posted in Mrs Bipolarity, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Breaking The Silence of Stigma: Mrs. Bipolarity

Mrs Bipolarity:

If you don’t know me well enough by now (or you’re just getting to know me) here’s your chance to delve into my bipolarity even more. The amazing blogger over at Bipolar for Life interviewed me for her weekly Breaking the Silence of Stigma series. She’s become a blogging friend and an excellent supporter of Mrs Bipolarity. I’d love for you to check it out!

Originally posted on Bipolar For Life:

Laura SQ

After a long hiatus, our weekly Wednesday interviews are back!

Today’s edition of Breaking The Silence of Stigma features Laura SQ, also known as Mrs. Bipolarity.  Laura is a passionate campaigner against the stigma attached to mental illness.  She’s an active Mental Health blogger, a mom, and a driving force in the anti-stigma campaign, Faces of Mental Illness.  For more information and to participate in the campaign, please feel free to contact Laura SQ or myself.

So without further ado, let’s launch into our interview:

BSS: How long have you known that you are living with a mental illness?

LSQ: I’ve been dealing with it for about fifteen years.  However, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2002, when I was nineteen years old, just a few months before my twentieth birthday.  Looking back, I was REALLY struggling, starting about the age of sixteen-ish or seventeen years old though.

I…

View original 1,109 more words

Posted in Mrs Bipolarity, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Diagnosis Isn’t The Cure

It was my therapist, we’ll call her Emmy, who diagnosed me, who also directed me to my first psychiatrist.  We’ll call him Dr. Shoemaker. I continued to see Emmy in conjunction with weekly visits to Dr. Shoemaker who started prescribing me medication.  The year was 2002.

Dr. Shoemaker was an interesting man, to say the least. Very tall, and at the time was at least 68 years old and wore large glasses that he would look at you through, with his big eyes. He always had a pen in his hand, would tilt his big balding head and rub his chin, while thinking of what he was about to say. I remember this like it was yesterday.  He would speak and sometimes it was crazy shit that came out.  Sometimes it was thought provoking. Sometimes it was both, and I would just think, “What the hell?” But all of the time it was truth spoken in love, with respect and compassion.

At my first appointment with Dr. Shoemaker the absolute first thing to come out of his mouth, was literally, “Laura, how many times do you want to be married?” and I thought, “what the frick?” but I was so caught off guard I could hardly be pissed off at this guy’s audacity. The answer was “once” and the answer is still, “once.”

therapy rocks

In the beginning he talked a lot about God, which I was not open to at all and I bluntly told him as much. I wasn’t much for tact (I’m barely better at it now–but at least now I try.  Mostly). I told him “you can talk about God if you want to, but I’m not going to.” Years later, I found in some notes I have, something he said and in hindsight it really cracked me up. “…But Christ forgot to tell us He was a psychiatrist.”  And if you believe Jesus came to heal the broken, it really makes sense.  Good word.

Dr. Shoemaker saw me through my first stay in a psychiatric hospital. A psychiatric hospital is nothing like you think. So stop it. No padded walls or straight jackets. More like a scaled back and luxury-free camp for adults. That doesn’t really make it sound appealing, but it’s not like it’s supposed to be a vacation. It’s a place to go, to be protected from the outside world and most importantly to be monitored closely on your medication.

I was smoking two packs a day in the hospital. Marlboro Menthol Lights.  It was like a life-line. A gross, disgusting and expensive life-line, but it was something minor in my day that I could make a schedule around; smoke breaks. I look at young women smoking now and find myself saying “she’s too good for that” and my mother always says “that’s what we said about you.”  Touche, mom.  I smoked for ten years and quit about five years ago.  One of the best decisions I ever made was to quit smoking.

Anyhow, actually the facility makes a schedule for you. It consist of group therapy sessions, private sessions with your doctor and/or therapist, family sessions can be arranged, as well as productive activities like crafts, games and sometimes physical activities like throwing a ball around (loose translation=sports).

“A Psychiatric hospital is more like a scaled back and luxury-free camp for adults”

When my parents dropped me off, the facility put me on suicide watch for the first twenty-four hours.  I wasn’t permitted to keep my portable CD player (oh yes, it was a Discman) because the headphone wires and the CD itself could potentially be made into something I could use to harm myself.  I was more upset about that than the whole situation.

The whole thing was traumatizing for my mother, I found this out several years down the road and I finally had to tell her to let go of that.  No more crying about it, because it was one of the best things for me and eventually it would become part of my story and part of who I am–and definitely part of my recovery.

And when I say they “dropped me off” it wasn’t like the left me at the curb. They came in with me and got me somewhat settled in. It was at night so most of the other patients were in their rooms. I was pretty scared to see what was in store the next morning.

Oh the people you’ll meet in a psychiatric hospital. I met men and women of all ages, with a huge range of issues. From pill-users, to attempted suicides with bandaged-up wrist with blood stains on them. It was sad. I met a trans-sexual called Kiki, who was there for severe identity issues. But there were some, like me, young women with bipolar disorder. All of us seeking the same thing; stability.  Or maybe, we were seeking just a little less crazy in our lives.  I’m not sure we all knew what we were seeking, at the time.

The best advice Emmy gave me was; to absolutely—without exception—have no contact with other patients after a hospital stay. I didn’t understand it at the time, but begrudgingly, I made it a point not to give out my phone number or even email address to others, as different discharge times would approach and we would say good bye to someone.  What self-control, I mean, where did that come from?  In subsequent visits to the hospital, I hadn’t followed Emmy’s advice and it never turned out to be a healthy friendship, to say the least.

Nothing good comes from a friendship started in the psych ward. I’m just sayin’.

Diagnosis isn’t the cure…and this was only the beginning.  It was at least two hospital stays later and a couple of years down that road, until I would really find some stability…

More to come,

Hang in there,

Mrs Bipolarity

Posted in Mrs Bipolarity, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments