Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Seedlings of the heart

 
Tender and fragile as this new tomato seedling for my garden, I begin my new journey. So easy to bend in the rain and get stuck in the mud, but with a little tender care I will pop back up again. Growing stronger with each day. Simple care. Water, food, sunlight, and rest. And of course love. Wonderful love that will shelter me through any storm and care for me when I can not care for myself. Then I will be able to produce the fruits I desire. Preparing for the bountiful harvest that will come. I have this and so much more in these little seedlings in my heart. Thank you for being with me on this journey.
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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A new beginning


About a year ago I realized that my visual and auditory hallucinations stemmed from my abusive childhood. I was unaware that they were part of my disorder. I have had them for so long they are a part of my life. I never knew any different and treated them as such.

I've come to two major realizations in the last two weeks that go to the core of my abuse and my delusions. Delusions that have plague my thinking and are the main components of my mania and depressions. With the realizations that my hallucinations were linked with my past, I was beginning to see that many parts of my mania were too. They operated the same each time, with the same delusional thinking, just on a grander scale. When this core belief came to light, I had the answer I'd been looking for. Every mania led up to this core belief and followed it.

I had always thought that my childhood and my bipolar disorder were two separate entities and I dealt with them as such. They were of no relation to each other, which meant my delusional thinking was just that, crazy talk. The results of being bipolar. Plain insane actions with no meaning or purpose behind them. Unlike my hallucinations that I could "see" and "hear", these were real to me and were part of my past. Giving me any "mental illness" label made little difference in relation to what I was experiencing in and from past.

This is where I believe the stigma lies. Over the course of getting to know my disorder, I've learned where all my thoughts, actions, and beliefs come from-my past. Bipolar disorder magnifies those thoughts, actions and beliefs because of the chemical imbalance in my brain. My brain doesn't operate in a normal fashion because it creates these highs and lows and takes my delusional thoughts to a different level and processing order.

Thanks to blogging, Emeila-living life blog, and other bipolar bloggers, I've been able to come to this awareness and it has started a new road for me and how I view my disorder. Emeila's tidbits of awareness and information helped in breaking down this loss of connection within me. Such as: Every one's disorder is different and not everyone has the same symptoms or experience. Powerful information as I blog and concentrate solely on my disorder for the first time. Healing information that made a difference. Thank you.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Two days ago it was mania. Free, happy, well paced thoughts of mania. Yesterday, it all took a sharp left to what I call the backside of mania. Feverish, chilled, pulsing blood, frantic thoughts at lightening speed, haunting faces behind my closed eyes, all making it impossible for me to sleep.

I can almost feel the dark circles forming under my eyes, for today my mind and body are stretched thin. My eyes and mind hang heavy, trying to find rest. If I lay down the thoughts and visions attack me and all I can do is be still and calm, knowing this too shall pass. Time with hubby has help ease my tormented body and mind. A quiet night with him and a movie will give my soul a rest.

I depend on manias when I'm in the depths of depression and when that heavy ton of bricks is finally lifted off my back. I depend on it because in that mix is time of balance that I can hold on to. Usually my depressions and manias are well balance with about the same amount of time for each. Even though there are still spikes and drops within each, this spike and drop was more drastic than those. A full day of mania, only to crash to ugly side the next day was more than my mind and body could handle. I feel rather fragile, but I comfort in my faith. So, today and maybe even tomorrow will be days of rest. A quiet time to heal.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Manic swim

My manias brings on racing thoughts fueled by delusions, grandiose thinking, and high energy.

When we were first married, we wanted kids, so I went off my medicine cold turkey, at a time when I still didn't believe the doctors. I can make it about a year and a half before becoming hospital material. It's always the last few months, when mania is blasting through that I began spiraling out of control. I can't for obvious reason explain all my thoughts that were zooming around but the main theme was centered around my husband. I thought he was Jesus, yet I thought he was dying, I was trying to save him, and somehow I ended up jumping a 40F lake in April, lazily floating, looking at the beautiful sky and puffy clouds. I asked my husband, who can't swim, to come and get me as it was part of this crazy game in my head. (Guess, I should have asked to him to just walk on the water! LOL) I couldn't feel the cold at all, it was a bit nippy but I just remember that vibrate sky and those cotton candy clouds.

The paramedics finally reached me in a neighbors rowboat. I didn't want to come in, but the dangers of hypothermia were getting ready to set in. I didn't know that nor did I know why everyone wanted me to come, when I just wanted my husband to come and join me. I didn't understand the fear in every ones eyes. "Why wouldn't he come in the water and get me?" Eventually I complied and got out of the water. As I lay covered in blankets, the danger of my actions were told to me and I realized then what I had done. I had no preclusion of what I was doing. Though this was the first time ever during a manic episode that I was not suicidal. It was also my first time being clean and sober for a year, which meant it didn't happen because of drugs. This meant that my mania was real. I really had manic depression. It was in the course of my hospitalization that I began to accept that I WAS bipolar. This was when the hard acceptance came of my real brain and how it operated.

I miss the real fun I had in that mania, bouncing around overly full of optimism and love. We had been working so hard and I just wanted to play. I asked my husband sometime after being released if he was Jesus or not. My thoughts were convinced he was, there was no need to question before. I think he's pretty proud that I thought he was. What a compliment!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Today's vent :)

Today I need to vent about my disorder, so please bare with me. :) OK, here it goes...Sometimes I am just sick of it all together. I'm tired of living such a complex mood disorder and having to manage it along with roller coaster thoughts and emotions. How some days no matter what I do or don't do seems to have little affect on what my condition wants to do with me. Or how I get tired of being in a funk, when the day is so beautiful and there is so much outside of me. I know that I struggle with my definition of "normal" and sometimes I wish to be somewhere within that scope. Some days I want a cure. Some days I want to just get up and go and do the things I need without revving myself up to do. Some days I would like to feel happy without having the feeling I'm shooting to the moon. I'd like to go shopping without the paranoid feeling that everyone is watching me. I would like to have spring-in-my-step energy without feeling like I'm bouncing off the walls. I would like to have a light hearted feeling instead of heavy serious thoughts. I'd like to sit down and take a break without feeling like the life is being sucked out of me. I would like to feel emotions without the extremes of being manic or depressed, yet I can not change all that, just how I choose to see it. This blog has helped me discover even more about myself and my disorder and I maintain all of it. I started this blog for myself and to connect with other like me or who wanted to learn about someone with it. It has done that and more.

Thank you for reading my blog and listening to my rant. It is a great gift to connect with others.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Painting

Painting is therapeutic. My paintings are an expression of myself and where I am, at that moment of space and time. I loved to draw when I was young, and took an art class in 8th grade to get out of gym. :) I love learning about colors and shapes, shading and perspective. I never took it any further than that.

My first hospitalization introduced me to art therapy. I loved it. Even though I was barely functioning after my first psychotic break, I was able to paint and I would gain insight into my feelings and thoughts. I didn't need it interpreted to me, as I could understand my own secrets with the colors, designs, and image. It became one my healing tools.

I started with charcoal pastels, but eventually moved to tempera paints, which I love. Mainly because I can use a lot of it and it is more fun, more liberating. I could never have nice furniture or carpeting because I like to glob it on the brush or squeeze it straight from the bottle all over the canvas or wall. I had a powder tempera that I was able to mix to any consistency to get texture or stiff enough to throw at the wall. I have two wall paintings we had to cut out of house we were going to buy, when a small canvas just wasn't going to do!

Colors represent feelings. Usually they always mean the same thing, but there are some that have double meanings for me. Black is in almost every painting I've done. Almost. My husband almost dreads when he sees me pull out the black first! Black can represent many things. If it isn't anger, than it is black like the night, connecting its beauty or as a ribbon holding everything together like the universe. I tend to use up black, white, and the cool colors quickly and have been left with the warm ones. This has forced me to redirect my feelings and be more accepting and creative with myself. Some of these have been some of most expressive pieces.

For the last couple of years I have been on a "self-portrait" expression. These have become my favorites. They have grown and matured as I have and are a representation of my soul and spirit. They are bold, vivid and layered with color, texture and energy. They touch where words can not. The healing powers that I communicate with myself in this form are invigorating and have been a part of setting me free.

The negative slope

Had a wonderful day, despite the cold weather after it being so warm and mild lately. Went with husband to finish a project today, taking one of the front dogs. The sun was shining and we were having a great time together. It is nice to get a break from all the dogs and spend quality time with just one today. As you can probably imagine I need that from time to time. We arrived home in the early evening, where there was still plenty of daylight and time to spend with the dogs, ecstatic to see us. The joy of returning home to a houseful of grateful dogs never gets old and I needed the rejuvenation. I played with the front dogs in the sun-drenched warmth of the dining room. Peace. When they finally wanted to go outside, my thoughts turned to the back dogs, and they stuck like a broken record. It was cold out. I was freezing and didn't want to go out and play, but I knew I should. I should. I should. They were waiting. The time was right. They wanted to play. I couldn't bring myself to do it. It was cold. The thoughts pierced my brain like a dagger, jabbing a little deeper each time. I should. I should. I should. My feet are cold. Put on your boots. I don't want to. I became paralyzed. Stuck in the downward spiral of my negative thoughts and depression began lurk. Always caught on the fence of left or right. Up or down. Good or bad. Right or wrong. This life of bipolar has led to an automatic pilot of EVERYTHING being polarized. It HAS to be black or white. There is little grey. I have lived so long being manic or depressed that finding ANY grey area is difficult. I don't know what it is. I have glimpses, but not enough concrete evidence to support a decision, no matter what it's importance. And so the battle in my mind begins. And because I had been on a high for most of my day, the only logical thing for it to do was crash into negative thinking. This thinking is so much a part of my life, I am rarely conscious of doing it. Once the negativity has begun it is like a slippery slope that I can not keep my footing.

Except today my husband was home, I explained my thoughts, and he counter acted with, "The dogs will be OK, they will be there tomorrow." It still took a while to regain my balance, but I held on to his words. I wasn't so far down the slope that I couldn't grasp his hand, though there have been many times I slip to the bottom and must figure my own way out. Thank God tonight wasn't one of those nights. Eventually I was able to let go and enjoy the rest of the evening together. I still felt bad, but he was right the dogs weren't going anywhere. God willing we would all be here tomorrow. The negative slope almost sucked me in, but with help from my friend I didn't have to fall. For that, I am truly grateful.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Front Dogs


Tears poured down my face after I awoke. Tears of sadness, pain and prayer in a cry for help. When I could cry no more, I fell into a state of oblivion. Bleak, empty thoughts stuck in my mind. Unable to fight anymore, I surrendered to the void. My husband called late afternoon, next thing I know I was vacuuming. A shot of life. After being out with what we call the "back dogs," I felt myself begin to sink and I had to do the next right thing. Play with the "front dogs."

Our dogs are separated. Mom, Dad, and two of their pups we originally kept are the "back dogs" as they occupy the backyard. The other two pups (from same litter) were returned to us because owners couldn't keep them. They both came back severely abused, neglected and starved. Thank God they came home. One came back at 7 months old and the other at almost a year. Despite all our efforts,they are separated because they do not get along. The "pups" are now just over 2 years old. The vibe with them is different than the back dogs. They seem to have a more gracious attitude and a sense of appreciation. They entertain themselves and play rough but well with each other. They are always grateful for the time I give them even when I must divide it between the other dogs.

Sometimes I forget this, today I was reminded of it. We fenced in the front yard which is about a quarter of the size of the backyard, and it doesn't phase them in the least. They completely make the most of it, sometimes more than the back dogs do with the much larger backyard. The back dogs seem to take for granted I am always here for them. The front dogs patiently wait until I am available for them. It is the greatness of these two miracles, the front dogs, watching them today run and romp that I'm humbled. That they have made the best of things because we love them and they know what the difference is. I have watched them grow, mature and heal and have been so ultimately blessed by them.

From the way my day started I didn't think I was going to get off the couch. I didn't do it by myself. It took everything I went through today to be shown this simple gratitude and see that everything was going to be OK. Somehow, someway I am going to pull though. For I am blessed with all of my dogs. They all teach me something and today I needed a different perspective that could only come from the front dogs.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Depressed anger

There are a couple different kinds of depression for me. There's sad depression where sadness seems to wash over me and tears are always at the surface. There's the kind that is a hopeless, empty feeling that seems to suck the life out of you. Then there is depressed anger where all my anger over the years is stuck in my gut creating a dam I can't seem to break free. I forget very easy that depression can be suppressed anger as I am almost desensitized from feeling anger due to my childhood. Years and years crammed down and locked up away from me. This was where my depression was at yesterday. Everything felt empty and unable to access. It has taken me almost all day to find the key. Or shall I say the key found me. Music. Even though I didn't know what I was looking for, I tried over the last couple of days digging to find my buried feeling that wouldn't seem to come forth. Music actually wasn't working at this point. I have gone through periods of time when music will do absolutely nothing for me. CD after CD there was nothing to connect to.

As I was exploring another avenue to reach inside of me, I'd turned on my favorite radio station maybe hoping for a connection. Any connection. After a few minutes I heard the beginning of one of my favorite songs. I stopped everything and cranked it up. My head began to pulse with the music as my brain responded to the rhythm. My feet pounded the floor while my voice sang the lyrics. The dam inside broke loose as my blood began to pump again. I was alive again. I could feel again. I just needed the right beat to connect to. It couldn't have been more perfect. That's what was slowing me down and congesting me up. I danced, I sung, I just rocked out. I found the mountain and I ran up it! I'm back in my body again, singing praises. Just like that, one song, unplanned, (on my end) just when I needed it, busting the barriers and saving me once again. Peace. Inner peace. Like my mind has been put back together again. No instant mania, no soaring to the moon, just stable, balanced peace. A good place to be.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Depression

Wordless
Grasping for thoughts that aren't there
Hanging as if in midair
Broken and whole in one breath
Lost and here and over there
Pieces falling
Stumbling over each one
Reach down to find
And more spill from my soul
Collecting like a pool
Beneath me
Only to find the world has tipped
The pool now runs like a stream
And I slip
In an effort to save me
From flowing down the mountain
Sliding, tumbling down
Down,
Down,
Down
Only to find the valley is parched
Dusty
Dry
Gasping for water
Empty
Barren
A void in life
And I find me here
Twisting toward the heavens
For being here
For not understanding why I always end here
And begin here
Always having to claw up the mountain
Only to find I can not go back the way I came
And must parch through this valley
To the next mountain
Never knowing how long
Never knowing how long
It will be
There is no hope of the mountain
There is only the valley of death
To sift through
To fall prey to
To continue on through
There is nowhere else to go
But through

Monday, March 15, 2010

Me, myself, Bipolar

I recently viewed a site called psychcentral under their blog heading that posed the question "What works for you in Bipolar?" It talked about how to look at it from a different perspective and the positive aspects of what works for you.

As I thought about my answer, I've really come to realize that I have begun to embrace my disorder. I've learned to work with it instead of against it, by continually trying to understand myself and how I operate. I believe it is a part of me as much as my arm is. I care for it as such by tending to it's needs. I usually have to be creative in doing this and it is on a trial and error basis. Like tending to a fussy kid, because the same remedies don't always work even for the same situations. I found I have an inner strength that I can rely on and I can rely on my husband and animals to help guide me through those times when it seems nothing works. When I am in depression and in deep pain, I try to find the real source of that pain to relieve, or if nothing else understand it. I also do this with manias, for I believe there is an interconnection within me that ties everything of who I am together and therefore works for the same purpose. This is what I think holds most of the glue of me together, trying to understand myself. To be able to really get to know me and part of me is my disorder and I've really come to accept that. For too many years I was not given the luxury of getting to know who I am and since being married I've had this wonderful opportunity to find out who I am. It goes beyond likes and dislikes, it goes to the core of who I am and accepting myself for that person. All the good, bad and bipolar. I have found I am really comfortable with me and being bipolar. It isn't a separate entity, it is part of my makeup, wired to my brain and I'm good with that. It is part of who I am. I actually appreciate my disorder. No, it isn't fun all the time and I don't love everything about it, but I appreciate the quality it has given me, the creativity, the challenges on managing it and every time I still come out on top. I appreciate the depth it has given me to appreciate it, because it makes me appreciate me.

I really believe that because of my husband, my animals and myself that I have been able to really and truly accept me and my disorder. It gives me a unique perspective and is integrated into me. The more I understand it, the more I understand me and that is a true and wonderful gift.

Finding truth

When I'm balanced or in a slight mania, it is amazing the things I can accomplish. The energy that seems to drive me forward, feeling like a productive, positive, human being. I feel a part of the beat of life and in rhythm with nature. A natural state of being. The feeling of accomplishment brings a sense of wholeness and security. This is what I miss the most when I'm depressed or manic. There is a constant state of brokenness in both. My thoughts are fragmented and split like broken glass and I'm constantly trying to pull them back together.

This is even more so when a memory is beginning to surface. There is a certain feeling that overcomes during my depression when one is close. Like a stirring of the soul. I believe this is my brain way of preparing me for what is about to be revealed. This last depression was one of those until it broke and I thought nothing of it. Then the mania came, and it's vibe was also unnatural. My functioning level was lower and my thoughts were heavier than a normal mania. I tried to grasp at the floating pieces, like trying to grab a wave. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to this oddness. In normal states of my illness, I have times of clarity or a sense of peace, I was not experiencing this and I struggle with the why of that. There seem to be nothing to hold on to, until all of the pieces came into focus one by one and suddenly I had the whole picture right in front of me. A visual so clear it finally made sense to me. The mania passed, the depression past and I was left with the truth. I was finally able to grieve for myself.

I've been through this process more than once with this sense that there was something more than just a mania and depression. Though I may not know what it is at the time, it is worth the weeks it takes to find the truth. My bipolar disorder gives me a unique way to find it. I think it helps me grip deeper in my brain to free myself from all that ugliness. For there is nothing better than being set free from the lies than by the truth.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Mania and memories

I'm beating myself with a hammer about writing previous dog post. "Why did I do that? What was I thinking?" My impulse mania coupled with a childhood revelation about my mother, a horrible, cruel woman, have lead me to this despair. These are her words that beat into me over and over, "Why did I do that?" When I read the post I see it through her eyes. Critical and judgemental. Her thoughts infused with my mania, elevating to a point I'm unable to recover from. Is it the memory that magnifies the mania? Or is it the mania that amplifies the memory?

All I can see is the hammer pounding my face. A feeling of course sandpaper grinds my skin as I cower from the weight of what I've done. My mania blood coursing with insanity, making me want to scream. I can not escape. I can not escape.

My husband sees nothing wrong with the post. That is all I see.

Mania driving me mad with my mother behind the wheel. This is how my illness affects me. This is how it chills me to bone with every ounce of my past haunting me as if it were today, but tenfold. Creeping in my head like demons on a feast. Clawing for their way in. All my prayers do nothing. My cries for help are silenced. Trying to destroy me again. I fight to them off, my attempts are futile. They laugh and laugh and laugh, until I can fight no more. I curl into a tight ball and let them pound me until I'm in my safe spot deep within myself. Where I know me. Eventually they leave, for they can do no more damage and I am safe. They vow to return, but until then I am safe.

Now, sadness has enveloped me like that of a death and I welcome the healing wrapped in the blanket of mourning.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

And the kids balance everything out...



With the intensity of Brut and the moodiness of Silver there is a unique middle ground that comes together between the two of them. Their kids. There were 10 in the litter and we have 4 of them. They are the balance of their mother and father. A couple have a little more fight in them like their dad and the others are more mellow like their mom. They are an excellent example of what I strive for, to lessen the extremes. Their minds are more stable, they are more confident, they stand their ground but they listen. They have an exuberant playfulness and innocence, a freedom without bounds. They are not confined by manias and depression, like their mom and dad. They are a prime example of the fusion of this illness and the security within the mind of having that stability. For regardless of having bipolar disorder or not, isn't balance what we are all striving for? In our hearts, bodies,and minds? I have four wonderful witty examples of how that freedom can be and the strife and determination of continuing the search for it. They give me hope everyday while helping me through my trials and tribulations with their profound joy and peace. Flareups? Oh, do they have their flareups! lol You can't have 6 dogs and not, but the extreme manias and depression are considerably diminished and are not as severe as mom and dad. The highs and lows are more in harmony and balanced with each other and for their circumstances. It isn't like when Brut lashes out for reasons only know to him when that electrical current surges; nor is it like Silver's moping that makes like she lost her best friend. Their kids are a beautiful example of the blending and of these extremes, like mixing blue and yellow to get green. It is the healing of these two powerful forces that exist in their parents that Silver and Brut have begun to heal as well. They are an awesome example for me of what life can be and the possibilities that are out there.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sad Silver


As intense as Brut can be, Momma dog Silver can be as moody and depressed. She can be so darn pouty and emotional. Just like a woman. Brut is bullheaded, Silver is stubborn. You wouldn't know it to look at her but she is part Siberian Husky, but obviously looks straight out Black Lab. She has those big sappy eyes that continues to let me know she's so sad and lonely. I tend to relate to her on a female level. In my darkest moments I will curl up with her and cry. She seems to understand. She seems to absorb my pain. The days I am too fatigued mentally and emotionally to play or walk, we cling to each other. Even though she is moody, her temperament and disposition are solid. Gentle, loving, and caring. Except when she is in the van and turns into an instant guard dog to save you from the evil old ladies and children walking the street. She suddenly becomes ferocious, protecting the van with her life! She is the oldest of the bunch at 6 years old and sometimes gets lost in the shuffle for attention from her kids and Brut. But believe me she has been giving me those sullen eyes long before they came along.

So between Brut and Silver I have an example of each side of bipolar. Though the intensity range of Brut far outweighs that of Silver's sadness, the consistency is there. Silver and I have a long standing trust and bond that is quieter and more simple than with Brut, but just as strong. They have both helped me greatly in understanding and managing this disorder and if nothing else they are both there for me when I need them.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Bipolar Brut


Innocent looking, isn't he? This is Daddy dog, Brut. He is part Siberian Husky and Chow. He is a very dominant dog and has an aggressive nature towards other dogs. On doing some studying on aggressive dogs, I read the nature of an aggressive dog is like that of being bipolar and may actually be considered as such. They have a Jekyll and Hyde personality. Brut has been a challenge to say the least, but my bond with him is very strong. When we went to pick him out, he was 4 weeks old, and he was not the one I wanted, but when the breeder picked him up, I was locked him for some strange and mysterious reason that I could not explain.

It did not take long to see there was something different about Brut from the time we brought him home. He had wild, crazed eyes, like that a wolf pup. He was tenaciously high strung and bull headed like no other creature I'd even encountered. He did not have a proper puppy hood before we got him, which I believe extenuated this wild behavior. It was more than a challenge to say the least as I had never dealt with an aggressive dog before.

Yet, I could relate to him. I began to understand over the course of the next few years my manias and the way they felt by observing him. Brut is like ball of electricity when he is on his manias. You can literally feel the charge of his aura around him, like static. The energy bristling through his fur. The wild craze look that comes over his Carmel colored eyes, ready for a fight. Which is exactly how I would feel.

When Brut was a year a half old, he began to calm. This was also about the time I began to calm. It took plenty of patience, love, understanding and strong discipline to be able to get him to a place where I could trust him. Our biggest connection has been our walks. There we find for the most part each of us in tune with each other. Our biggest level being respect for each other. I understand the lack of control of brain chemistry. I understand the fight to survive, having everyone against you and wanting to throw you away because you don't fit in the right category. I understand being different and not being able to stop actions and behaviors because your brain short circuits for reason unknown to you. I also understand what it means when someone believes in you and loves you despite all of that. We seem to be able to listen to each other and know what the other is thinking.

There is also another side to Brut that is more apparent each day. He sweet and lovable. He is cajole, sly and playful. He is highly intelligent, focused and loyal. He is unlike any other dog I have been around or owned, cut from a different cloth. The energy is always different when he is in the room. All my dogs get along with each other pretty good. Yes, there have been confrontations between Brut and the other dogs, but then all the dogs have had them at some point with each other. That is just a given having a pack of dogs living in the same house.

Maybe bipolar is more common in the animal world than is known. Or maybe we are more like the animal kingdom then we are aware or give credit to. All I know is that Brut and I are more alike than sometimes I care to admit and I believe there is a reason he came into my life. I think we are here to help each other with our bipolar condition and to learn and grow from it.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Life without Prozac

THIS IS MY PERSONAL STORY AND WHAT WORKED FOR ME. THIS IS IN NO WAY TO SUGGEST THAT ANYONE SHOULD STOP ANY MEDICATIONS WITHOUT CONSULTING A DOCTOR.

I believe anti-depressants work for some people and not for others. I fit into the "others" category. I've been through several in the last 20 years and all have ended with the same results. They may work for the first few months and then they wears off and I'm still depressed, usually more than before. I was on Prozac for about 8 years. I was still depressed. About 5 years ago, aware it wasn't working, I made a decision to survive without the help of anti-depressants. Since none of them seem to work, what did I have to lose? My doctor supported the idea, which I did under his supervision and cut the dose of Prozac in half. I did this for about a year and a half, with the goal of actually getting off of it. I found my mind wasn't strong enough or ready for this. Though I made tremendous leaps and bounds. I went back on Prozac. Two years ago I realized the cause of my uncontrollable rages and high states of agitation were because of Prozac. I began thinking about whether I was ready to try again. I had been convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that Prozac wasn't working and my history showed that none of the anti-depressants had ever worked long term. I wrestle for a year for the guts, willingness and readiness to go without any anti-depressants. I believed I was ready. I DID THIS UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF MY DOCTOR. THIS IS NOT A SUGGESTION FOR ANYONE TO STOP TAKING ANY MEDICATION WITHOUT TALKING TO YOUR DOCTOR FIRST. She helped wean me off slowly until I was free.

I have been anti-depressant free for over a year. I believe most of it is due to me being in the right place in my mind and in my life in order to attempt this. As I stated I tried once before and was not ready. Although it did teach me some the same tools I use now in order to cope with depression.

For the first few months there was little effect, it wasn't until about three months in, that it hit. My brain felt numb. I seemed unable to function for periods throughout the day. No, I wasn't comatose or anything. I would have to sit down and just stop my entire day for about 2 or 3 hours. Then slowly I would come back to life and could feel. The strangest part when I felt the numbed parts of my brain "waking up." I would feel like a baby. Simple tasks took lots of thoughts. I was overwhelmed easily. I would grapple back and forth between my "new" brain and my old. There were some very extreme times when I was so down, I didn't know how I was going to get through and wanted the meds. I saw no other way out. But I didn't want to go back either. And so I held on, and held on some more, until it would eventually pass. About 6 months in I realized I was addicted mentally to the medication. Having an addictive personality, I have depended on the meds, whether they worked or not, to feel better. That would pass. About 9 months in I realized this was a continuing process and that I needed to make a daily conscious decision that I could do this. I can not begin to describe the feeling and the growth I made in a year. This was also about the time I made the decision to take my other meds as prescribe and stop playing with them. The effects have been dramatic. I try to nip my depression in the bud as much as possible, and when I don't seem to have the power to do that, I retreat inside myself and draw on other strengths. My pets help keep me grounded and their love and support can be enough. Talking to my husband can help. Other times I write, paint, listen to music, nurture my plants or just clean. And sometimes I just sit and go within myself and listen to me. There are so many other places I could be today, all not good, and yet here I am surrounded by love.

I still go through depression and they still bring me to the point of questioning taking meds. Those times are few and far between. The depression is more manageable, and doesn't last as long nor is it as severe. In turn this has balanced my manias also, for they are shorter and less debilitating. It is starting to balance out. That's all I've ever been looking for.

THIS IS WHAT HAS WORKED FOR ME. THIS IS NOT A SUGGESTION. PLEASE TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT ANYTHING CONCERNING YOUR MEDICATIONS. I DID TALK TO MY DOCTOR AND WENT THROUGH THE ENTIRE PROCESS WITH HER AND STILL AM.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Anxiety

Today was a simple day. Husband was home and we ran errands, taking Daddy dog with us, as he was in need of some extra attention. I hate to shop. My husband loves it. I go and grab and get out. He suddenly remembers this and that and an hour can pass by when we only needed two things. I fly through the store at lighting speed, he drags his feet. We confirmed two stores for sure, suddenly there were 2 more to go to. I can go the stretch, until my anxiety kicks in. A pulsing panic begins to build. Then it is time to go. I can do no more. Too many people in one small box. The walls slowly cave in, I can't seem to catch my breath, I don't feel safe anymore. I can maintain my composure until we check out, even though my blood is fluttering. I can't get outside fast enough, (which walking at my husband pace can be a feat in itself) and I can breathe fresh air. See the sky. See the trees. See the million cars in the parking lot, OMG, lets get out of here. I am one for solitude, rolling hills,endless skies, and lots and lots of land. Running through the fields, climbing in the woods, swimming in the lakes. Nature brings me back. Through the quiet ride home, I enjoy the open scenery. Though it is not until we've been home for a while, still catching my breath, that I'm in the backyard watching the dogs romp and run free, in the coolness of the sunset, that I begin to breathe again. Quiet, peace washes through me, the laughter and smiles spread through my face as I witness one of my greatest joys. The dogs are happy, I am happy, my husband is happy. Our little safe haven, although far from my bigger dreams of owning land, is home and the cliche of home is where the heart is, is just that. The wonderful gifts I have in my life, from my husband and every animal we have ever had, has played a wonderful part in my life. There are so many reasons I shouldn't be here today, and to be so truly blessed and have everything...what can I say...I really have it all. I never thought life could be such a great journey and so very worth it, but it can. It really can.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Managing Mania

Depression I know. Mania I'm learning about. When I was happy, the relief was so great that I would fly, never giving thought to the whens or whys. Since my last hospitalization 9 years ago, I have learned the ugly side of them. Playing with my meds to "fix" my depressed feelings have lead the highly irritable, raging side of mania. The crazed insane feeling of needing a straight jacket. I understand my depression, which has lead me to take care of it as I need. When the thought occurred to me that I must also manage my mania, it was revolutionary.

First, I had to grapple with my addictive nature to stop playing with my meds. I had to make a conscience decision to stop. This was a tough call. A recovering addict, with a way to get out of being stuck in this deep dark pit, you've got to be kidding. Suffer a day more, when there's a way out. I fought with this new addiction that I couldn't give up for about five years. It was tough, to say the least. Nothing seemed to help my depression and my manias were short-lived as they turned insane. I finally came to the realization, manias were no fun anymore, they were frightening. Petrified, I had to surrender. I made a conscience effort to take all my meds as prescribed. Even with this stark reality it has taken me a couple of years to actually get 6 months straight of medication. (though you'll noticed during an early post, I was beginning to slip again) It did make a immense difference though. After about 3 months I noticed a leveling of my moods. The actually physical nature of the highs and lows were began to diminish. The last two months the highs and lows were more like a strong undercurrent. There are still rapid spikes and drops through the day, like as described in post below. They are strong enough to get my attention, but not strong that I'm able to get a hold of them eventually. This has been my greatest blessing in studying my own illness and trying to steady that electrical current. A rewiring of sorts. Something I will explain in another post. Everything is still a struggle. I don't want to be this, having to take meds and feel like a rocket ship taking off and crashing, but I here I am. Other days, I appreciate and accept my illness and believe it is part of me and has developed who I am, the gifts I have and the unique person I am. And sometimes it just is what is it is. Nothing I can do about it. Whether I fight it or accept it, I am here. It is here. We are here together.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Frayed

Manias are dangerous. Even controlled ones. For me, it isn't the high energy, feeling full of amazing hope, or symphony in head I conduct, it is the underlying electrical current that flows from my brain to my toes. This current keeps my brain wired like a badly connected circuit box. Every breaker is over charged with more wires than it can handle. Hazard awaits as live wires hang loosely out of the box next to a pool of water. It is only a matter of time before I am zapped. With this current there are explosive power surges that blast through my brain and every nerve ending in me. A constant static that builds and shocks my every thought and feeling. My neurons chaotic and in a frantic shift of polarization. My eyes bug out of my sockets. The nerves on the edge of my eyeballs. Fried as if I had been forced to stare at the sun all day. My body agitates due the sensitivity of the high voltage raging through me. I try to hold on to my thoughts zipping like firecrackers through my head. Everything becomes a stimuli. The sun glaring off the snow, TV and computers screens, dogs pacing to go in and out, the sun's heat cooking our kitchen, all making want to jump out of my skin. Burning. I feels as if I'm being torched by any sensation of heat. My skin feels scorched as if I'd been left for dead in the desert. Make it stop. Make it stop. Things that were once soft to the touch are now hard and scratchy. I can't get comfortable. My skin feels chaffed and raw. I just want to lay down. Exhausted. Daddy dog visits. Touch. His fur so soft, his eyes so warm and I just want to melt into him. Real love touching me. Nothing more pure or real. His love registers to my brain like ice cream. Cool and soothing. I begin to take back control by moving to a cooler room, eating my late lunch, and reading my book. The static begins to dissipate, though the current still runs, I feel some relief.

I encounter this extreme state twice today. Now at the end of my day fatigue sets in, even with the current still running. It teases me with sleep and then takes it back. For when I lay, my thoughts begin to surge, keeping me awake. And so I pray. Any pray until my mind can't listen to me anymore and I will rest. Only to find, I must do it all again.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Today's freedom

Like a warm summer rain rinsing the muck from my skin, I feel I have broken free from the quicksand I've been treading in through my depression. Finally being able to shake off all the gunk weighing me down, like a dog after a bath. Freedom. Wonderful, glorious freedom shining like the sun. The dark cobwebbed thoughts are swept away. My mind opens to the possibilities. My thoughts flow through my mind with excitement. I feel refreshed as if waking from a deep coma, knowing somewhere within me there was life buried in the rubble. Real life. Horizons. Happiness. Serenity. Living. Hope. Dreams. Hanging on to the last tiny beam of light. No questions. No dreads. No doubts. Peace. Savoring every living moment of love.

Today was doomed to be an extremely nerve-racking day taking 3 dogs to vets for heartworm test. They all get nervous and high-strung, which gets me nervous and high-strung. I handle today like a pro. Though I was a bit nervous as we had to hold them down to draw blood, I just did what I had to. Before I couldn't even go in the room, I had to have my husband handle it. lol We sailed through with only a few minor blips. Under "normal" (bipolar) conditions I would have freaked out all day. The major under cord being that I'm a horrible "mother" and should have better behaving dogs and what a worthless piece I am and if I deserve to even exist, etc., etc., etc. Today though I was the real me. In my real, true skin and mind. Feeling emotions in proper proportions. It was fantastic. Proper judgement, balanced emotions, being rational so it didn't plague me down for the rest of my life in that moment.

I don't know how long I will be able to hold on to this balance. The shifting of powers is inevitable. So today, I will enjoy and do my best to manage the swings so they aren't so high or low. It is the best I can do for today and that's good enough for me.

Almost there.....Yeah!!!

I'm at my favorite place in my manic depressive world, right in the middle and heading to the top! I felt the depressed side of me moping in the background as I climb over the fence to the other side. It's dark mantras falling further and further in the distance as I begin the joyful climb up. The heavy dark blanket of chains that has weighed me down has slowly begun to drop off, link by link, until it has finally set me free. The freedom! The breath of life again. Skipping up the mountain, ready for the top. Ready for the ride. Ready for the energy. Ready for life! After living in such a deep fog for the last 3-4 weeks, I suddenly woke up to find a tornado went through my house. lol Everything the dogs could have touched were scattered in bits and chunks throughout the house. Broken sticks, plastic toy pieces, stuffing from animals strewn in ever crevice. OMG! Where have I been??!! That's when I knew it was all coming together as I went on a cleaning binge. Papers stacked to the ceiling, clean dishes piled all over the counters and stove, and don't even bother asking me where the kitchen table went. I feel like I can finally breathe again. Every ounce of life pumping through my veins and my brain. Like I've been deprived of oxygen all this time, on my last breath, then I'm finally an oxygen mask until I can breathe on my own again. Ready to conquer and take on the world. Life is good again. Life is balanced again. I'm ALIVE again. This is where I want to always stay. This is a really good place, before I'm on the backside of the mania. This definitely explains the lack of sleep and waking up so early. I knew it would come. I knew it was almost here, it was only a matter of time. So many things to do in such a short amount of time and I'm going to enjoy every minute of it! Life is short, so are manias. lol