Second example of the bipolar illness

I have a lot to write about and it’s not necessarily about me, it’s ideas that I have about who I am when you peel back the layers. But I did want to give the two examples of how the bipolar illness may have been awake and affecting me. They are just two little slices of the pie and they are only from my point of view although it is my point of view through my eyes and from other people’s input. So I think they are legitimate and I’m not over exaggerating to prove a point.

This example of small, and I wouldn’t have considered it except for the input from others after the fact.

When Noah and Dana were little, before Josh was born,, I became aware of the Napster program…computer business….I’m not sure what to call it. 

The point of Napster was to facilitate the exchange of  music. It was a simple computer program written by some kids in college. It was a ‘peer to peer’ file sharing system which very simply allowed a person to share their music and others to download their music for free. It was a huge copyright infringement. It attracted the notice of many high profile entertainers…well I have to laugh, it was Metallica who was one of the first performers to complain and I only say that laughingly because they actually probably really needed the money. That’s horrible, I shouldn’t say that. Everybody should have been outraged.

One caveat. I always thought the music industry lagged well behind the 8 ball on the control and distribution of their music. I doubt entertainers are paid NEARLY enough for their music.

I’m comparing them to books, for example….the industry had a pretty tight grip on file sharing with regard to books. They seemed to anticipate the changes and have a good hold on them. I can’t even cut and paste a paragraph from a Kindle book.

That is a total sidebar….the point is that it was 1998, Napster was in full force, and the government was going to bring down a hammer on them very shortly and with little ambiguity.

So. The smart, intelligent person I was, bought a cd burner, cd’s and stayed up for days at a time downloading as much music as I could from Nina Simone to Madonna. I started with the 1940s and worked my way through each decade remembering as many performers as I could and downloading every song I could think of whether I liked it or not.

It went on for quite a while. I amassed a huge number of cds. Here I was a mother of 2 small children staying up all night downloading songs I didn’t even like because I might never have the change again.

It was insidious. and I promise you, I was under the influence of no chemical whatsoever.

The disturbing part is that I didn’t really evaluate the right or wrongness of what I was doing. Truth be told, I could have been arrested and imprisoned for downloading that music. I knew it wasn’t legal. I don’t know what I thought. It was depravity of character that allowed me to not just think it was somehow ok, but to think it was some kind of windfall, a lottery winning and something I was somehow obligated to collect on.

The moral of the tale today is that me, a person who has bipolar illness can make bad choices. Choices against what hope I have about my character.

My temptation is to create laws for myself that keep me further away from violating God’s law. That would be what the Pharasees did.

I don’t want to invent a whole bunch of ways for me to supersede my predilection for sin. I want to understand sin for what it is, and reject it on the basis of what God says about it and what Scripture says about it. I want to do the right thing because I love God so much that I can’t even see the sin as being something attractive.

The things I’ve done in mania are not always issues of sin or morality, but I do want to be prepared for the issues that are.

Second example of the bipolar illness

I’m not sure what was going on medically with my brain when I had the kids. I find the whole thing was just very unmanageable for me. Through the whirlwind of the childbearing years, something was messing with my head very seriously and I didn’t know where it came from. I was seeing a psychiatrist, but my mood swings were just off the charts. 

My behaviors became manifested in sort of an obsessive/addicted way. I would latch on to some idea and pursue it vigorously until I didn’t pursue it anymore. I’ll share a couple of pieces of information and not go deeper because some there has to be a boundary.

When Dana was born in February, I was a stay at home mom and Scott was changing jobs for some reason and they assigned him to a route in New York City. At the time, I want to say it was April, Dana was very young and we wanted to stay together and they said they would put us up in a kind of apartment or something more comfortable than a hotel. 

But it wasn’t. We were in New York, me with a 2 year old boy and a 4-5 month old girl and I got around, found a petting zoo and took them there almost every day. I went to the mall and found a store with a train set and Noah would play with the trains.

There was a pool in the hotel which was cramped, and I couldn’t help Noah swim and take care of Dana really, so Scott would swim with Noah in the evenings.

He worked long, long hours. I don’t know if he worked too hard, or was a workaholic, if he did more than he had to or he just wasn’t smart enough to do it in less time, but he was always working very hard, and you know, I believed he was excellent at his line of work and I always stood by him. 

The long hours became difficult for me, especially since he was never really off the job even when he was in the hotel room.

In hindsight, I don’t make a judgment about what I chose to do or what I should have done. It was a difficult thing no matter how I played it.

So, in my hormonal, not-yet-diagnosed crazy self, one day I took Noah to play with the trains and when it was time to go and believe me I hated every minute of sitting in a store letting my son play with a display train. Nevertheless, he protested and began to scream and whatever led up to it I don’t remember, but he screamed in his stroller all the way to the car and in the car all the way to the hotel where I threw everything in the back of the car and left.

I had like $10. No credit card, no checks, just $10 cash and I didn’t even know which way to go. I got through the tolls, got on 95 south and kept going…I suppose at some point Noah stopped crying. It was 2 pm, I drove and drove until I had to change the diapers and get something to eat…Dana nursed, I had enough money to get Noah some chicken nuggets and a drink and I plowed my way home.

I do remember after that, Dana started to cry. 30 minutes before we got home and I just tuned it out and kept going. I was a relief. Isn’t it a relief when you walk into a house and  it smells fresh and cool air refreshes you.

That is my example number one of me doing something very crazy with no medication and not on alcohol or cough medicine or anything. That is the behavior of a woman with bipolar illness.

Second example tomorrow and then I have some interesting articles to share. I sure hope you are reading this far or else you will miss out. Hahahah.

Aside

Lack of Reason

I’m not sure what was going on medically with my brain when I had the kids. I find the whole thing was just very unmanageable for me. Through the whirlwind of the childbearing years, something was messing with my head very seriously and I didn’t know where it came from. I was seeing a psychiatrist, but my mood swings were just off the charts. 

My behaviors became manifested in sort of an obsessive/addicted way. I would latch on to some idea and pursue it vigorously until I didn’t pursue it anymore. I’ll share a couple of pieces of information and not go deeper because some there has to be a boundary.

When Dana was born in February, I was a stay at home mom and Scott was changing jobs for some reason and they assigned him to a route in New York City. At the time, I want to say it was April, Dana was very young and we wanted to stay together and they said they would put us up in a kind of apartment or something more comfortable than a hotel. 

But it wasn’t. We were in New York, me with a 2 year old boy and a 4-5 month old girl and I got around, found a petting zoo and took them there almost every day. I went to the mall and found a store with a train set and Noah would play with the trains.

There was a pool in the hotel which was cramped, and I couldn’t help Noah swim and take care of Dana really, so Scott would swim with Noah in the evenings.

He worked long, long hours. I don’t know if he worked too hard, or was a workaholic, if he did more than he had to or he just wasn’t smart enough to do it in less time, but he was always working very hard, and you know, I believed he was excellent at his line of work and I always stood by him. 

The long hours became difficult for me, especially since he was never really off the job even when he was in the hotel room.

In hindsight, I don’t make a judgment about what I chose to do or what I should have done. It was a difficult thing no matter how I played it.

So, in my hormonal, not-yet-diagnosed crazy self, one day I took Noah to play with the trains and when it was time to go and believe me I hated every minute of sitting in a store letting my son play with a display train. Nevertheless, he protested and began to scream and whatever led up to it I don’t remember, but he screamed in his stroller all the way to the car and in the car all the way to the hotel where I threw everything in the back of the car and left.

I had like $10. No credit card, no checks, just $10 cash and I didn’t even know which way to go. I got through the tolls, got on 95 south and kept going…I suppose at some point Noah stopped crying. It was 2 pm, I drove and drove until I had to change the diapers and get something to eat…Dana nursed, I had enough money to get Noah some chicken nuggets and a drink and I plowed my way home.

I do remember after that, Dana started to cry. 30 minutes before we got home and I just tuned it out and kept going. I was a relief. Isn’t it a relief when you walk into a house and  it smells fresh and cool air refreshes you.

That is my example number one of me doing something very crazy with no medication and not on alcohol or cough medicine or anything. That is the behavior of a woman with bipolar illness.

Second example tomorrow and then I have some interesting articles to share. I sure hope you are reading this far or else you will miss out. Hahahah.

Lack of Reason

A Family Disease

I am an alcoholic and I am an addict. I also have bipolar illness. So I’m a lot of trouble.

I do really seriously take responsibility for my problems, my sins, shortcomings, character defects and downright ugliness. I have ruined all kinds of relationships, there is no doubt.

I think one of the ways AA is successful is because you are right there with all the other assholes and nobody will put up with bullshit.

They will also accept you, befriend you, be there for you night and day, 24 hours a day. If you are having trouble staying away from a drink you can easily get 5 AA members to come to your home and help you stay sober another day.

There is very little coddling; however. We know each other.  We know all the games, deceit, lies, and denials.

Because that is true, a person who has a speck of willingness can come in and be loved until they love themselves.

It’s affirming, it’s healing. It’s a way to get through the shame and hurt. Outside of the rooms of AA, there is just a lot of judgment, a lack of understanding, caring, tolerance, assistance, genuine concern…I can go on.

I don’t say these things with anger or bitterness really. I feel passive right now as I write this. I say it because I have a deep, profound gratitude for AA and this gratitude is very very new to me after all of these years.

We alkies cause a lot of destruction in our wake. Funny, I’m reading the book I mentioned previously by Henry Cloud called ‘Integrity: the Courage to Face the Demands of Reality,’  It discusses what we leave in our wake: ‘At the end of the day, we must look back and see if the wake of our work is profitable or not. If it isn’t, it is time to ask ourselves some hard questions. The wake is the results we leave behind. And the wake doesn’t lie and it doesn’t care about excuses. It is what it is. No matter what we try to do to explain why, or to justify what the wake is, it still remains. It is what we leave behind and is our record.’

So, that’s what it is about being an alcoholic. The other thing that AA offers that it absolutely gives you hope. There are people there day after day, week after week, year after year. I’ve met people with 50 years of sobriety and they have led lives of integrity, with depth and purpose. They lead the way.I’ve prefaced this to tack on the way other family members can get skills to put the family back in order. The alcoholic is not responsible for all of the dynamics. The other people in the family behaved in destructive ways and learned poor communication skills. Thank God AA and Alanon.

I have been to Alanon meetings and they are worth going to, even as the designated problem child.

Alanon focuses on how to communicate in healthy ways. How to love truly without being accommodating.

I find my communication usually comes with an agenda. What would be ideal from my point of view is that my agenda is to be understood without being pushy, to understand and affirm,  Basically I want my communication to facilitate positive change.

That’s a tall order, but I wouldn’t want to set the bar lower than that. If I don’t succeed, I will have improved each time I try and I will get that with calm persistence.

My knee jerk reaction when others are being what I perceive to be unkind is to resort to anger. Sometimes that anger is justifiable, but my response isn’t. Controlling my responses is the thing I have to work on.

I would love for my family to embrace Alanon or therapy or SOMETHING. But I can’t depend on that. I can’t demand it. I can only hope and pray for it.

I have to be very careful that my desire for them to learn to communicate isn’t just because I want them to behave ‘my way.’ The goal I have for my kids is that they become able to respond to difficult situations in their lives effectively and effortlessly.

I can’t make that happen, I can only point that way and pray for them. So I do.

A Family Disease

And so it goes

I am surprised at my boldness to admit to such an audience whatever it may be, my predilections. I have had so much fear in my life for so long,, it just doesn’t matter anymore. I don’t have an illusion that my story could help another, although in AA it does.

The thing about AA is that you learn that you are not special. You are like everybody else. You are no better, no worse. You are not unique. You are not the first person with problems like yours and you will never be that unique.

That’s not to say I’m not special. I have a theme in my head about being special. The Queen of England is ruling in spite of her age and despite the fact that her son has waited for decades to assume the role of king. Recently she has ‘partially retired’ by giving Charles more duties. She hasn’t stepped down, And why not?

She wants to be the monarch who served the longest on the throne. She wants to be special.

Isn’t it amazing that a person who is special just for being who she is might not feel she stands out in a particular way? Everybody wants to feel special.

I see it over and over. People who try to get into the Guinness Book of World Records.  People who have unique weddings with  themes like ‘Star Wars’ or saying their vows while parachuting. People climbing Mount Everest.

Imagine that about Mount Everest. I used to be impressed. Now what i see are people willing to pay $60,000 to climb up a mountain with snow and weather below freezing, needing oxygen tanks that are discarded on the way, passing by dead bodies and reaching the summit only to be so sick in their oxygen deprived brain, they aren’t able to appreciate what significance there is up there. They spend minutes on the summit. You cannot  convince me the journey is enjoyable. I cannot see how it could be at all.

But they want to feel special. The first woman to summit, summiting without oxygen, summiting with a missing limb.

It’s all fine and well,, and I could post another gazillion examples, but I think you know what i mean.

So, back to my point. in AA, you aren’t special, you are not unique, you will never be and unless you accept that, you really can’t move forward.

That’s not to say you aren’t special in different ways. My parents think I’m special. I have friends who think I’m special. God thinks I’m special.

I need to be comfortable enough to identify with the other addicts and realize that the thinking and the actions are not unique to me. At the same time, I need to understand who I am as far as God’s creation. Those are two things and they aren’t mutually exclusive.

I will continue my ‘story’ tomorrow but it’s really not the story per se, it’s what i have done with it.

Adios.

And so it goes

This and that

I think my writing tends to be indicative of the way my brain works. Mainly, with no sequential order whatsoever. I do obsess and become addicted to things, and that’s what drive people crazy.

Some of these things are: Minute Rice, taking a bath (3 or 4 a day in college), coffee (gallons), collections….scrapbooking materials (filled a whole room), working out (7 miles a day, up to 18 at one point, cardio and weights 2 hours a day for a year) certain kinds of food and drink. A brand of tea. A cappuccino maker. making soap, selling Longaberger baskets,  Hallmark ornaments, American Girl dolls and outfits.

I’m sure my soon to be former husband would have a list of his own. But that’s me.

I understand that all of that isn’t healthy. I agree. At the same time, I like finding something to be passionate about. I am not sure there is something wrong with spending energy on something self satisfying.

I have scrapbooks that stand 2 feet high. The lawyer helping me with my disability papers asked why I stopped and I said ‘I just realized one day that nobody would ever care about it.’ She said, ‘well the point is that it isn’t about them, it’s about you.’

I do have a connection with my ancestry the present and my legacy. I don’t have a lot to give, but the evidence is there, that I was a good mom, did things, participated, cared. I hope they can understand that someday;

My dad finished restoring a photograph of a baseball league….a minor league with his grandfather who played. I covet that photo. I don’t know why, but it is so special to see part of your heritage in a concrete (albeit 2 dimensional) manner.

So far Josh has been the one interested in his heritage. I suspect the others will be interested too someday.

I’m not going to be able to shed my addictions all at once, if ever. I cling to what is healthy and good. I heard Beth Moore say one time that she when she was recovering from an addictive sin of some kind, sleep with the bible under her pillow. She knew the answer was in there and she just clung to it until it started to take hold.

My desperate prayer is that today it takes hold.

 

This and that

depression

Depression is the  part of bipolar illness nobody likes. The mania can sometimes be fun because of the great ideas, the great energy, loss of fear and anxiety, its’ just all around more fun. Until you have maxed out the credit card, took a car on a test drive and wound up in California or held 20 jobs in 2 years…one of which was as a park ranger.

Those illustrations are all true. Not necessarily of me. People aren’t comfortable with the fact that a person can do that. Nobody relates to what is going on in the head of a person experiencing mania. It seems like irresponsible sin.

It is irresponsible sin. I wouldn’t like to hide behind my illness to explain my actions, but there are things in my life I consider to be great moral failings that are due to my illness. I can’t untangle the strands and organize it into a way that makes sense.

How I would like to view it, what makes sense to me is that yes, I sin. I have sinned. I will sin. That I have a predilection to do some outrageous things when I am manic, I do not get a free pass. I have to do what everybody else does, namely to go to God to admit what I have done. To accept that it is sin. Acknowledge that there are mitigating circumstances, but, nonetheless, humbly ask for forgiveness and repent.

Repent is a funny word, I think most people don’t understand. I think I don’t understand. Essentially, what I have always been told is that repentance is a turning away from your sin…turning away and turning toward God.

So the problem is that addiction is a very difficult condition to treat. It is subject to relapse. It’s silly to quote Dr. Phil, but what he says seems true to me: Addiction is a disease that is resistant to treatment and subject to relapse

So I repent and I fail. I sin over all kinds of things. What is my hope?

My hope first is in God.
5 Why am I so depressed?
Why this turmoil within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him,
my Savior and my God.

The Holy Bible: Holman Christian standard version. (2009). (Ps 42:5). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.

Second, I try to learn something about prayer every day.  A book I have a cherished book  by Brother Lawrence called ‘Practicing the Presence of God.’ Essentially it’s a kind of journal that he walked through each day thinking of and praying to the Lord. To me that is  It’s my number two book, the first one being ‘Mere Christianity‘ by CS Lewis. Both books I consider to be the very best books I have read that are easy enough to understand and meaty enough to read twice.

I digress. M

My point, regarding the book by Brother Lawrence is that for me, I need to get up every day and be deliberate in praying and seeking God to keep me separated from the thought that I can give in to the urges that plague me.

Vigilance. I have to remain vigilant. I have to pay attention. I have to be aware of what I’m thinking and feeling in order to not succumb to my urges.

I saw a therapist once who said the average urge or craving lasts about 10 seconds. That might be for normal people, but for me it’s relentless. My only hope is in the Lord.

So I feverishly seek him in my thoughts and prayers. My bible reading, my Christian author’s books.

None of this works unless there is an actual time when my will coincides with God’s. It usually involves telling myself the truth and telling him the truth.

I go to AA meetings, I take my medication. I pray and read. I get exercise and try to eat better every day.

Ultimately, I try to see what God is doing and join Him in that.

I go to AA meetings to find out from the experts how to not drink today. I read the bible to hear what God says  about me, His people today.

I find current authors of bible commentary and topics to be a little too fluffy. I grin when I see a 30 year old author with children under the age of 10 write a book on parenting. It’s not that I don’t wish them well, because I do, but I found that I was an expert on those things when my kids were little and now I’m a moron.

I don’t like when a book says ‘stop stressing! Give your cares to God!’ I’m not trying to be cynical, but to me, it doesn’t answer the question of suffering. Maybe they have suffered, but it was never effective to me for a friend to say ‘just get out of bed! go for a walk!’

There is nothing I would have liked better.

Today I’m doing well. I just did a medication change. I’m up, I’m around, I’m engaged, I’m getting things accomplished. I know people hate medicine but it’s a necessary evil for me. I’m grateful, truly grateful for a means of helping me to engage in life.

It can be very dangerous business to comment on a person’s medication who is mentally ill. Dangerous and life threatening. I know it’s hard to understand, I know it seems as if medications mess people up, but the truth is that when a person is mentally ill and you tell them they shouldn’t be on their meds, and if they go off of them, the results might be something you do not want to live with.

Getting off my soapbox. If you have read so far, know you are loved.

depression