Born to Smile

I was almost asleep and I had to get up to write for a bit. Most of the time when I write, I smile. That hasn’t been the case with this blog. What I’ve been writing about has been difficult to disclose, painful to express. Tonight I am smiling. I am happy. I realize that the long months of depression and ickiness have broken and I have come into the sunshine.

I don’t know why I got hit so hard by the depths of bipolar mood swing this late spring and early summer. Summer is usually my best time. The sunshine outside fills my soul and I coast through the long summer days. It’s true for many of us isn’t it? And those who suffer from bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, even more so.

So why did I suffer so? Why, in fact does someone who loves this world so much, and every happy thing in it even find themselves afflicted with bipolar? The answer quite frankly is: why not? Why not me? Am I so special that I should escape a mental disorder? Many people across the globe suffer, battle daily with these things, why not me?

I have no answer either way, except to say that I love my life, warts and all. I love every breath I take. When I’m miserable and stop being so, it makes me all the more thankful for the good days. So I say, why not me? So many people expect God, or whomever they feel is in charge of their fate, should give them a break. Cut them some slack. Ease up on the suffering quotient.

I’m sorry if I seem flip about this…but look at it this way — There is a bit of wisdom in Matthew 5:45 that says God causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust. No matter how wonderful you are or think you are, the rain is going to fall on you baby, so let it come. It will stop someday and the sun will come out again. You will smile.

You were born to smile. Not cry. Smile. I am convinced that suffering is for a season. Sometimes that season seems and is too darn long. But it will end and then it is time to smile. Enjoy the blessing, the life you were born to live and go on from there.

Smile, baby!

@Copyright by Libby Baker Sweiger

Smile, baby!

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Doing The Very Best Thing

Quote on depression by Stephen Fry. Source: Goodreads.com:

“If you know someone who’s depressed, please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn’t a straightforward response to a bad situation; depression just is, like the weather.

Try to understand the blackness, lethargy, hopelessness, and loneliness they’re going through. Be there for them when they come through the other side. It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest, and best things you will ever do.”
― Stephen Fry

Wow Mr. Fry said a mouthful there. I know it from my own experience and from that of my friends. I have a dear girlfriend who has been in a depression since her father died a year ago. Well, you might say, that has a cause. But she’s doing more than grieving, her whole world has a tear in it and she feels alone even in her family. We were together over the weekend and I was there for her. It was difficult. Not because I don’t feel for her, because I do tremendously! But because I have been struggling so much myself of late.

Stepping out of your own shoes, if even for an afternoon and helping someone else does take you out of your own pain, takes your mind off of your own issues, large or petty as they may seem and helps you gain perspective. It also helps to know that you are not alone. Not that you are happy in any way to see a friend suffer, but being able to turn from yourself and focus on them is good. It takes you out of yourself and turns your mind and heart to the love you have for them.

I returned home from seeing her concerned for her. And not a lot better than I’d been myself. But I was happy to have been there for her.

What is happening with me right now is going to take a while to resolve. I am having to go off of a medication that started to bother me due to side effects and I’m filled with anxiety and other symptoms of withdrawal: headaches and sleeplessness. There is really nothing for me to do but tough this out and play the waiting game as it totally gets out of my system.

My comfort is in the fact that I’ve been through it before and I know what is happening. My body feels out of control, but my mind is lucid. Anxiety is no fun, but I will survive it and I still think it beats the heck out of depression which I really hate. I’m exercising on my recumbent bike once or twice a day which is helping and taking my fresh carrot juice.

There may not be anything too scientific behind these remedies, but they increase my feeling of well-being, so I say they’re working!  I’m sure exercise is a documented remedy, it is for everything else. I’m going to do some research on it when I have some time. Right now I’m too busy exercising…lol!

As when I am depressed, I do need my friends. Last week was my birthday and I struggled forth to wonderful breakfasts, lunches and dinners with delightful people. Please call if you think of it. I love and need to hear from you. Or email! Thanks again. Hugs! Libby

livingabovethemadness@gmail.com

@copyright by Libby Baker Sweiger    Birthday Pictures:

Mom and I

Best girlfriends since Jr. High and High School — WOW!

#UsGuys Social Media Brothers! BFF’s for Life

Bipolar Funk

I have been in a funk for a while now. I’m not sure what the medical term for this is. My team is calling it mood destabilization. One moment I am crying and the next I am well what can I say, angry. In a bad mood. I don’t like that. I’m used to mania, well acquainted with depression, but not often cranky. It’s an icky feeling. I was reading quotes by Mark Twain tonight to cheer me up. History is saying he was bipolar. I came across this one:

“I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”
― Mark Twain

Samuel Clemens, ‘Ol Mark kinda cracked me up laughing. It’s so true. We suffer so. So many imaginings. So many horrible feelings. So many terrible things going on in our minds. None of which actually happen. I guess it isn’t funny, but I laughed from the sheer ridiculous irony of it. Some of the bad things in my life have happened. Most of them just tormented my poor brain.

Here’s another one I like:

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.”
― Mark Twain

If he wasn’t bipolar he sure new a lot about fear and how to fight it. We all need that. And to realize that we will not be without it, but must learn to resist and overcome it. Not always by ourselves perhaps, but with God’s help, with prayer, ours and that of friends and family. Sometimes when I don’t know how to pray I just look heavenward and yell help! Seems to work for me.

Bipolar disorder is something to be fought with every fiber of your being. I don’t believe in being passive about it. Sure, you have to rest and recuperate when you’re tired. But your spirit must be vigilant and fighting the negativity and fog that threatens to overtake your mind. Fight it with calls to your doctor. Fight it with listening and medication adjustments faithfully carried out. Fight it by taking care of yourself. Lunch with friends when you think holing up in your place alone might be more appealing. Fight!

This is my favorite quote I found because it’s so life affirming from Twain again, who certainly battled a lot of depression later in life and probably had bipolar:

“Life is short, Break the Rules.
Forgive quickly, Kiss SLOWLY.
Love truly. Laugh uncontrollably
And never regret ANYTHING
That makes you smile.”
― Mark Twain

So keep fighting folks no matter what your struggle. And keep reaching out. This too shall pass, as they say.

@copyright by Libby Baker Sweiger

At Lunch with BFF Steve Caggiano

Forever Faithful Friends

My last post drew quite a bit of attention from many friends who I had not tried to contact from the depths of the depression I was in. As a matter of fact, the day after I wrote the post I was on the phone with loving friends from early in the morning until 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon.  This talk therapy alone helped the depression shadow that had plagued me for weeks to start to dispel. My doctor had also tweeked my anti-depressant dose, raising it slightly. That finally kicked in. The love of friends and the art of psychiatry triumphed over a bleak month in my life and helped restore peace. If you read the comments from the last post, you will experience the love that healed me.

So many people with bipolar disorder, or other mental disorders live in loneliness. Their illness isolates them from others, Their silence and shame keeps them from connecting, making friends, developing intimacy, building family. I know my life is a miracle, my family a miracle and my friends a blessing. They told me my first bipolar episode, which was very severe, first mania, then depression was brought on by post-partum — even though my son was nine months old. I didn’t believe them. My denial helped when I was able to go off medicines and have my third child who is now 29 years old. My miracle baby, my Abby.

Again so many people with serious  mental illness can never go off their medications long enough to have a child. It never happened again. When I went manic immediately following Abby’s birth and kept it to myself for two weeks, though I slept not one wink because I was afraid of being separated from her and sent to the hospital…I believed my original doctors. Ah yes, it could have been triggered post-partum! I was never separated from Abby thanks to a new and fantastic psychiatrist I had for 20 years — and my husband who loved, reassured and cared for me.

My dear husband took all the night feedings from that day on as Abby went on the bottle and her momma slept through the night long before the rest of the new family! Support systems mean everything to all of us I’m sure, but especially to those of us with mental illness.

So I thank all of my wonderful friends who called, wrote comments, and otherwise responded to my last post. It reminded me again of the richness in my life and the many blessings that I have. I want to say thank you to a few of them by putting some pictures below:

“A (wo)man’s growth is seen in the successive choirs of his friends.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Hubby Mike and I, Best Friend

Heather and I

Mary and I

Marla

Joe

@copyright Libby Baker Sweiger

Living Above The Madness

Also published with permission in Regional blog: The Howie Blog

The Silence Of Our Friends

“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

This quote really hit me when I read it this evening. I’m depressed. So it reminded me of a phenomenon I notice when my bipolar disorder flares. Friends seem to vanish. I’m probably being harsh, remember I am depressed. It just seems that way to me.

I noticed way back when I was very first diagnosed and had to be hospitalized. Only a very few of my friends came to see me. Well, from their point of view they did have to brave the locked ward. But my very, very best friends came. Friends who are here to  this day. Here is one, my dear best friend Lynn:

I think it’s very hard for people to know what to say when you tell them you’re depressed, or manic. They want to help. They want it to go away for your sake. They want to know why. None of this really helps. All you really want is someone to be there for you. To sit with you or call you on the phone and talk about nonsense, or listen to the fears or thoughts you are having. Or nothing at all, but just to be there.

The other problem is me of course. If I’m manic I’m flying a hundred miles an hour and it’s hard to pin me down. If I’m depressed like now, I might not be reaching out. But if I am. Or if you notice anything odd. Or like my friend Lynn, get a feeling and call me. Please do. For sharing depression lets in the light. It lets the sunshine into the darkness — helps dispel it. Talking, laughter, they are both the enemies of this shroud of darkness.

If you have a friend or family member who is sad. Or has withdrawn. Do reach out to them. It doesn’t matter one bit if you know what to say. Just be there. Listen. They might talk to you. You might make them laugh. If they haven’t gotten help, you may be able to help them get some. If they have you can help them weather the storm.

Depression is a storm. It hits you with darkness, bleakness in your soul. It will pass. But it will be a lot more bearable if you have friends around you. So call a friend. Love to all.

@copyright Libby Baker Sweiger