I’m Angry – And I’ll Tell You Why

bipolarAfter reading Marisa’s post on Mad Girl’s Lament, and relating to it so intensely, I made my own list of things that make me mad/angry when it comes to my mental health. I thought about just making a bulleted list and then having a rant or two about specific things underneath, but then I thought that letting each thing I’m mad/angry about to be its own paragraph would be a better way of going at this.

bipolar 50 shades

Ok, now, I know some of those things probably seem trivial to people, but for me (and everyone dealing with any mental illness) they can be monstrously huge issues. I don’t really have people to talk to (in person) about this stuff, so I’m putting it out here for all my online friends to read – along with whoever else actually reads my blog.

I never asked to have bipolar disorder! I don’t know if it’s genetic or if runs in my family. But I do know of one other person in my family who has it. And for the longest time, this person hid it from everyone. I don’t think they were handling it very well. Eventually they got help and I think they’re doing better now – but I can’t say for sure because I haven’t heard anything lately.

I never asked to have to take meds for (very possibly) the rest of my life. I know they’re necessary for this because of the whole there’s no cure for bipolar disorder thing and that I’m gonna have to deal with this for the rest of my life. Another thing I hate about the meds is that they make me super sleepy and unable to stay up late. I know that’s what they’re supposed to do, because they’re basically tranquilizers and they’re meant to sedate you. But to be completely honest, I usually don’t take my meds on time at night because I’m just not fucking ready to go to sleep yet. But the last time I waited till I was “ready” to sleep, I wound up sleeping for like half the next day. It was terrible. I’m clearly not the best patient…

Going to appointments and talking to the doctors about how I’m feeling with my meds is so fucking annoying. I always feel like they’re internally judging me when I say anything. It’s like the opposite of how I should feel going into the appointments. I mean, I know they’re actually listening to me, but there’s always some piece of me that feels like they’re not doing what they’re supposed to – that they’re being like every other person and judging me while I sit in front of them opening up about what’s going on.

Even on my meds, my moods are all over the place. I never know what I’m gonna feel like throughout the day when I wake up. Seriously, I cold go from laughing at something on Facebook one minute to crying over something that happened in a movie I’m watching on Netflix in a split second. It’s so unpredictable even with being medicated. I fucking hate it.

bipolar eeyore tigger

The smallest things stress me out. I mean, not getting enough sleep at night can leave me stressed out and on edge for the entire day without reason. And my ability to manage my stress levels is so decreased with my mental illness. I don’t understand why, but it is. And it fucking pisses me off because it leaves me unable to do all the things I want to simply because it would be too much all at once.

Oh my lord, stability is never a guarantee. I understand this and I also totally don’t get it. Stability with bipolar disorder is not something predictable. Nothing with bipolar disorder is really predictable. I mean, you can kind of see something coming, but that’s still not a guarantee that it’s actually going to happen. You could be stable for nearly a year, and then the tiniest thing triggers a manic or a depressive episode. You didn’t know it was going to happen. That’s just the way things are with this particular mental illness. And it fucking pisses me off!

Staying with friends who want to be up till 2am just doesn’t work for me anymore. I often have to make my decisions based on my mental illness. Do I want to go out and have fun drinking with my friends? Meaning that I’ll end up taking my meds really late and be a groggy non-human the next day? Or do I want to be sure that I’ll get enough sleep to be functional? It’s so fucking frustrating being 22 years old and not be able to go out with my friends like I want to because I have to worry about the timing of taking my medication. What the fuck kind of life does that leave me with? It’s not fucking fair!!

bipolar tired

Just because we take medication doesn’t mean that everything’s automatically a-ok. There are other things we have to do in order to take care of ourselves as well. Sleep is a big one. It’s also one that I struggle with constantly. I have a tendency to stay up late at night even though I know I should be going to bed and sleeping to take care of myself. I’m supposed to take my meds at 9pm every night. Do I? Sometimes. But recently I’ve been taking it later at night because I want to stay up doing something. I know that if I take my meds at 9, I’ll likely be passed out before 11 and that’s not what I want. So I put off taking my meds for two, two and a half hours. What that ends up meaning is that I then end up sleeping ridiculously late the next morning. I know it’s going to happen, but I just don’t want to sleep yet.

Why does everyone only want to know the good things in our lives? Why don’t they want to sit and listen when we need someone to talk to about how we’re emotionally struggling? Why do we have to put on a fucking happy face for everyone in society? I don’t get it. It’s not easy to fake being happy for everyone when inside we’re barely holding ourselves together as we battle depression with every single breath. It’s not fucking easy to do this for y’all every day.

And that leads me to another thing. Part of the reason I put on that fake happy face is because I honestly don’t want to know that people are worrying about me. But the people who know me well enough can often see through the facade and realize that I’m struggling. And if they know well enough, they won’t tell me that they’re worried. Because if I know people are worried about me, I feel like I have to constantly act like things are fine and I’m always on edge when I’m out because I’m petrified that anything I do could be seen as part of an act and they’ll realize that I’m faking it and start worrying about me. It’s seriously a fucking vicious circle.

Part of the reason I don’t want people worrying about me is because I feel like if they know what’s really going on inside my head then they’ll leave me. And the last thing I need is people leaving me. It’s just a constant fear that if I tell people the truth when they ask if I’m ok or how I’ve been doing then they’ll tell me it’s too much and never talk to me again. And I don’t want that. So I’ve begun to learn what’s appropriate to say to certain people and how much I can say without it crossing the line of too much information.

bipolar coaster

There are some days when I just don’t care about anything at all. I don’t even care enough to bother with making myself food. It’s really quite pathetic. Those are the days that are usually spent laying in bed binge-watching Netflix. And those are the days when I have internal dialogues wherein in berate myself for not caring enough to take care of myself and make food. Which usually lead to me feeling worse about myself and therefore really not wanting to get out of bed because of how miserable I feel about myself.

The one thing that fucking pisses me off the most is how mental health issues aren’t taken as seriously as issues with physical health. I don’t understand why it’s such a different matter. Both are crucially important. I mean, If you’re struggling with your mental health, you may have problems taking care of your physical health. You have to have a handle on both of them to really be able to fully participate in life. (This video from BuzzFeed shows how things would look if we treated physical health the way we treat mental health. It made me smile a little because it really shows how we downplay the severity of mental illness as it’s turned around to dealing with physical issues.)

bipolar mental illness adjectives

Not all of this is normal day-to-day life for people with bipolar disorder. But it’s what I’ve ben dealing with recently.

I’ve got a psychiatrist appointment coming up next week (that I’m honestly dreading for a reason that’s listed above), and maybe, we can make some more adjustments to my meds and figure out what’s gonna work and what’s not working.

I have relationships right now that are struggling because of several things I’ve mentioned, but I’m working on things with the people because I want them to understand what I’m dealing with and how they can help me and be a support. So hopefully things with them will improve as they get a grasp on what’s happening and figure out how to do what I’m asking of them without feeling like they’re being babysitters for me.

Preventing Bipolar Relapse – Necessary Adjustments to Daily Life with Bipolar Disorder

So, I have this book called Preventing Bipolar Relapse.

There are tons of tips and tricks in the book and ideas and suggestions of things to do in your daily routine that can help ‘prevent bipolar relapse’. I don’t know that I would say I’m at the point that I’m trying to prevent relapse right now so much as manage my bipolar disorder. But the book is still helpful nonetheless.

There are different types of medications:

  • mood stabilizers
  • sleep medications
  • anti-depressants
  • anti-convulsants
  • anti-psychotics

I take Seroquel, which is an (atypical) anti-psychotic (according to a google search).

There’s also something called non-adherence. It’s not something that I’ve had to deal with yet, but it can look like:

  • not re-/filling a prescription
  • stopping medication during treatment or against doctor recommendation
  • taking more/less of a medication than is prescribed
  • taking a medication with contraindicated substances
  • taking a dose of medication at the wrong time

There are ways to overcome issues that you have with your medication:

  • simplify your medication regimen
  • use reminder strategies
  • reduce your pill burden
  • involve your support system
  • manage side effects
  • always have medication on hand
  • talk to your mental health care providers

There are also things called triggers which can affect your mood.

  • alcohol
  • sleep deprivation
  • caffeine/tobacco
  • irregular daily schedule
  • illicit substances
  • medications
  • missing doses/misusing
  • lack of exercise

There are also triggers which are environmental and circumstantial:

  • excessive stimulation
  • high stress
  • season changes

Major life events:

  • relationship difficulty
  • marriage
  • going off to college
  • death
  • financial difficulties
  • changes in employment
  • moving
  • divorce/break-up
  • birth/illness of a child
  • school/work problems

Mixed states are also something that people with bipolar disorder sometimes encounter. They often feel like agitation or irritability mixed with feelings of sadness

Your sleep can also be affected. Insomnia is a frequent issue:

  • daytime sleepiness
  • worry/frustration about sleep
  • cognitive impairment
  • extreme mood changes/irritability
  • lack of energy/motivation
  • poor performance at school/work
  • tension headaches/stomachaches

Some frequent causes of insomnia:

  • too much activity before bedtime
  • doing other activities in bed other than sleeping
  • using substances that disturb your sleep
  • taking naps

There are ways of beating insomnia:

  • keeping regular hours
  • creating a restful sleep environment
  • making sure you’re in a comfy bed
  • exercise regularly
  • less caffeine
  • don’t overindulge
  • don’t smoke
  • relax before going to bed
  • write away your worries
  • don’t worry in bed

Nutrition is also a big thing when dealing with bipolar disorder. Some things to keep in mind:

  • balance calories
  • enjoy your food but eat less
  • avoid oversized portions
  • eat more fruits, veggies, and whole grains
  • make half your plate fruits and veggies
  • switch to low-fat dairy products
  • make half your grains whole grains
  • minimize your intake of solid fats, added sugars, and salt
  • compare sodium in foods
  • drink water instead of sugary drinks

Activity is also a big thing. There are lots of excuses:

  • lack of time
  • lack of energy
  • lack of enjoyment
  • lack of money
  • lack of child care
  • lack of company
  • lack of success
  • bipolar symptoms

However, there are simple ways of increasing your activity level:

  • park further from the door when running errands
  • take the stairs not the elevator
  • longer dog walks
  • walking/marching in place during commercials
  • use out-of-the-way bathroom, copier, or watercooler
  • take 10-15 minute walk breaks every hour or two
  • do errands on foot/bike
  • wash your car yourself
  • learn to do DIY projects at home

When it comes to people, there are different kinds of support:

  • Emotional
  • Group
  • Material
  • Treatment
  • Financial
  • Employer
  • Crisis

When it comes to asking for help, there are seven steps to remember:

  1. Choose whom to ask for help by considering each person’s ability to provide what you need
  2. Do it in a quiet place at a time when you’re not likely to be distracted
  3. Explain your position with statements beginning with “I need” or “I feel”
  4. Be specific about what you need
  5. Give the person the opportunity to ask questions
  6. If the person is willing to help, thank him/her for the offer
    If not, thank him/her for giving it some consideration
  7. Remember to thank the person or people who helped you

The two kind of support that are the most important to me are:

  • Emotional
    • Someone who understand you well, understands bipolar disorder, and will not judge you for needing support. Having someone to call in the middle of the night when you’re feeling anxious or afraid or simply cannot sleep is what having good emotional support looks like.
  • Treatment
    • Encouragement to follow your treatment plan as outlined by your mental health care provider, as well as encouragement to follow the recommendations regarding sleep, nutrition, and activity in the book.

I have a friend who is new to this whole thing and is still trying to get a grasp on it. So I gave them these notes to look over. When they had finished I told them what I wanted/needed from them in terms of support. All I’m asking of them is to be someone to talk to when I need an ear; but if it’s a bad time, or they’re busy, I need them to tell me “not right now” or ask “can we do this later/when I get home?” When it comes to treatment, if they know I had a bad day, just double check with me that I took my meds at night. And also to follow up with me after I have appointments so that they’re aware of any medication changes.

Really, I’m not asking very much of this person. And what I am asking of them can honestly be done completely over text messages when necessary. Obviously seeing them will be needed sometimes, but not on a constant basis.

Do I Duck and Dodge? Or Do I Face Him Again?

Ok, so I’m doing some volunteer work at a community club. I’ve met several of the people who work there. But there is one person who stands out like a sore thumb. He’s just straight up unpleasant to be around.

I was there on Saturday, and at the time there was nothing to do, so I was sitting in the back room doing some stuff for Stigma Fighters on my laptop. The guy came back and asked me if I would “consider doing some stuff”. I said sure, put my laptop away and was ready to work. He kept giving me task after task without break. I didn’t complain, I just did what he was asking.

When I had done everything, he told me I either needed to be working the whole time I was there, or leave. I didn’t think he was completely serious, so I went to the back room and pulled out my laptop to continue on my work for Stigma Fighters. He came back and told me that he doesn’t want to have to play someone’s dad and asked me how long I was planning to stay. I told him when I had intended on leaving. He said he’d give me credit for the hours I’d planned to stay.

Apparently he was serious when he said I needed to do work or leave. So I packed up my stuff, and walked up to the front. Then he signed my sheet, told me not to come back when he’s working, and said when he was working the next day. So I took that as my cue to leave. I mean, I wasn’t about to stand there and argue with him about the situation. It was pointless. Because of this guy, I wound up walking something like 1.7 miles to catch the metro back home. And it was like 80+° at that point in the afternoon, so it wasn’t exactly a pleasant stroll.

I went back on Sunday hoping to talk to the person in charge about what had happened. He wasn’t there, but another woman was. She asked me what was up, so I explained the situation. She commiserated with me that this guy isn’t the best to be around, and gave me the head guy’s number. She said she’d be happy to work with me and told me when she’d be working. So I went back today while she was there. I did work that I needed to be done, talked to her and some people who came by. When her shift ended, the head guy came in.

I had intended to call him to explain what happened, but I never did. So I told him as the woman was packing up to leave. I also said that I was trying to plan my hours around when the other guy wouldn’t be there because the situation was just so irritating when I’d done nothing to provoke it. The head guy said he’d talk to the other guy about it because there’s no reason I should have to duck and dodge my time there around this guy.

I’m planning to maybe come back on Saturday when another woman I’ve met is working a double before the guy I don’t like comes in for the last shift of the day. I’m hoping that I can avoid this guy cause I really don’t like him after the situation this past weekend. But we’ll see what happens because I told the head guy I’m thinking about coming in and this guy’s working at x time and I might still be here. So we’ll see what happens. It’s just gonna be interesting.