Above the Circling Drain

picturepitcher

“…You are in charge of how you react to the people and events in your life. You can either give negativity power over your life or you can choose happiness instead. Take control and choose to focus on what is important in your life…”
― Anaïs Nin

Above the circling drain in my kitchen is a counter cutout going into the living room and on it I have hung my favorite painting done by the artist wife of my husband’s drum instructor, Agnes Fine. She has a wonderful gift with watercolors. A light and dreamy touch in this painting. She began painting when she was 50. The lovely hand-blown glass pitcher below it is a gift from a treasure in my life, my friend of the heart and faith, Heather. We are sisters of the spirit and love each other deeply. So these are the precious things I look at instead of the goop circling the drain when I clean the kitchen. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

It’s a good metaphor for our lives and thoughts. After my last post. A brilliant commentor said, “I’m at a point where I don’t surround myself with anyone or anything that isn’t positive or that drains me…” She went on to talk about the balance between being exposed to negativity and doing the work on our relationships. There is a balance I agree, but for the most part, when a relationship is toxic, circling the drain so to speak it is time to let it be…let go.

I feel this way about negativity. When you have the challenge of living with bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, and mental illness trying to cripple you, negativity can be your worst enemy. It is the very head of the beast. So don’t let the barnacles cling to you too! The barnacles of others negativity might just drag you into the drain!

Instead keep your eye on the beauty of the positive things in your life. The sunshine, the God you love. Your friends and family who care for you. Your best qualities. Laughter. And pick up positive things to help you through your day. A bible verse. A great quote. A smile returned. A joke from your funny Facebook friend. You may know where to look, if not begin your search on Brainyquotes.com, Goodreads.com, thebible.com and continue your search out your window, down your street, on your computer, phone and other lifelines. Email me! livingabovethemadness@gmail.com, comment here. I will gladly reply.

Letting go of negativity is not easy. They are barnacles. And it can be the head of the beast of mental illness if you let it. But laughter can slay this best. That and your medications can defeat your illness. Don’t circle the drain. Look instead at all the beauty and possibilities that lie above it. We have only stratched the surface here. There are many more ideas in the world of positivity.

“Of course motivation is not permanent. But then, neither is bathing; but it is something you should do on a regular basis.”
― Zig Ziglar, Raising Positive Kids in a Negative World

Strength

field-horses

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

There are many things that come to mind when I think of the word strong. Horses running through a field. I was a horse girl. My cousins had horses so I got to ride. Horses are gentle and strong when they are good ones and I was lucky to know good horses.

People who are gentle and strong I love very much. My grandfather was such a man, my father too and now my husband. I have been very blessed. But there was a weak man in my life who hurt me terribly. One who I had to be strong about and forgive. I was reminded of this whole experience this week when of all things a friendship of mine went south, a dear friendship really. There was little closure, because the person wouldn’t talk it out. I had to ask forgiveness via voice mail. And then release the friendship to God.

That is exactly what I did with my ex-husband. You are probably wondering how a marriage can die and one party not really know why, but it happens. I know he couldn’t cope with the death of our children. He also didn’t want to be married to someone with bipolar disorder. He let that be known to my family. I guess that is plenty of reasons. Not one thing was told to my face, so I don’t really know. It was a mystery of sorts, something I had to deal with in sickness and darkness, with only God to shine the light of day on it. And one day I forgave. Recently with the help of a dear friend I forgave even more deeply than I had in the past. Forgave and released it to my God. Without forgiveness there is bitterness. In bitterness there is brokenness, illness, regret and torment of the mind.

Let me be clear, I don’t mean my recent friendship loss was this traumatic. It was just that we didn’t talk things out face to face or phone to phone. I suffered some bewilderment that they didn’t want to talk it out. But we do not control others. They are their own people. They have their own reasons and emotions and minds and Spirits that give them their course in life. So we need to let go. Let go and let God.

I’ll admit the anxiety and angst played havoc with my bipolar some sleepless nights. I wrote about other things. But, I have now been unfriended it’s official. The world and social media have spoken, so I must face it. When texts and calls and ill placed phone calls or silence reap nothing, it is time to realize that friendship has ended.

I will always love and admire this person. I will not know the answer, but in the strength of forgiveness for myself and the love of God for this friend I can let go. There is peace in letting go. Just as much as there is hurt and anxiety and frustration in hanging onto things that are slipping through your fingers.

For as the love chapter I Cor 13 says, “Love bears all things, hopes all things, believes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” Love never fails. Neither does the Author of this amazing love and the One who forgives us all.

Fragile

IMG_20130426_221731_154

“There are so many fragile things, after all. People break so easily, and so do dreams and hearts.”
― Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things

There are so many fragile things everywhere. I have many in my house, some that have already broken, like this little glass stem. And our hearts and very beings can be fragile, tenuous, especially when we are in the throws of mania or depression. We may cry at the drop of a hat. Or become anxious out of the blue. Perhaps we have lost control of our thoughts, or they are racing and we cannot sleep. And we haven’t slept for a few nights and are becoming anxious to lie down, afraid that again sleep won’t come.

When we are strong and free from symptoms ~ we feel so good and light as air. Not heavy with dread of the next bout or wave that will hit us. Those are the time for rejoicing, for laughter, for thanking God that we are alive and that we can make it through anything!

Clinging to friends and whoever will listen. That is for the dark times. That is for the fragile times. Friends who are there for us then are friends indeed. My husband, my best friend Cooley who visited me the first time I was hospitalized and brought red licorice and all of her courage. We were only 23. It was not a good place. She is a rock of a friend. She still calls at uncanny times to say, “How are you doing, Baker? I was thinking about you!” Friends since we were 13. Ten years before the word or illness entered my life. Before we even knew what manic depression was. Still my friend. Still in my corner. I would do anything for her too, of course, and have been there for her through the loss of her parents, her own personal sorrows and her days of great rejoicing. Our frequent escapes for coffee and good conversation are and oasis in our lives.

Many great friends. Heather, a treasure. Laura. LeeAnn. Kathleen. Debi. Susan. Lois. Jeannette. Friends of the heart and of the Spirit. Consolation. Courage givers. Stephen and Joseph. Ty and Matt. Dave and Rickie. Mary Lou. Arthur. Of course, my beloved Mike and loving daughter Abby. There for me. Always there.

Strength begins go fill me as I think of them. Gifts from God all of them. Many times prayed for. Praying for me in dark and happy times. Support and love keeps the fragility at bay. Strengthens the heart and mind. Lends support to troubled emotions. Makes one feel strong in the strength of the love of God and the love of friends. How can defeat come? It cannot. Willingness to go on and triumph fills the heart and mind. Fear and anxiety flee. Resolve is strengthened. Feelings of worthlessness are banishes and worthiness replace them. It is a good life if you don’t weaken to the tunes of darkness, but listen to the tunes and music of the life of love and joy and peace in the Lord and the blessings He brings. Thank you my Lord and for the friends you have brought me I am very grateful.

Shout It Out!

cropped-imag0236.jpg

I’ve never been particularly quiet! I like the phrase “Shout it Out!” And I like this quote by C.S. Lewis:

“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
― C.S. Lewis

We are pleasantly quiet at times when all is well, but when we’re in pain we cry out. Injustice cries out. Hurt cries out. Bipolar pain has been quiet too long. We cry out! We’re crying out.

I want to mobilize all the brave people blogging on bipolar pain on Word Press, Blogger, Facebook and Twitter to publish in this new paper. Maybe I should name it simply: Above the Madness, and not the name of my blog.

It’s not my paper. It’s for an illness that has lived under the shroud of shame too long. And for all who have it ~ and other mental disorders. And for all who need to know about it. Which is the world!

God “shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” C.S. Lewis.

Rouse it to Caring. To Action. To Belief. To Sharing. To Love.

Join me will you?

@copyright Libby Baker Sweiger

Manic Spring

IMG_20130420_185957_693

I saw the series of pictures from tonight’s dinner and I thought I looked happy. But, very tired. I haven’t been sleeping. I might as well admit it to the world. The remission has ended. I am manic. Is it the springtime, the bonk on my head, the stress of our world, the loss of a friendship? Who knows? I’m manic. That is all that I know. I cannot sleep and I cannot think the way I usually do. I am frightened of the way my mind is not working and then again, relieved that at times it works well.

I have enjoyed bursts of creativity. Driven to write. But I really need sleep. And soon. I do not want to end up in the hospital. I hate the hospital. I would rather eat glass. Now there is a statement totally without thought or merit. I forgot to take one of my meds three days in a row. I never do that. It is totally irresponsible and not like me at all. Doing so made me much worse. At first I blamed the mania on the error, but which came first. The grievous oversight, or the mania, the lack of judgment, the carelessness which caused it?

Probably the mania. And now it is worse. I am back on the medication and pulling out of the tailspin. But damage has been done. Not just to me. I lost a friend. I wrote something careless in a blog. Ranting about something I disagreed with that happened to be near and dear to a best friend’s way of thinking. She is lost to me now. Carelessness, bravado, cruelty, lack of judgment, loss of a friend. There are such thin lines between these words, between these experiences. Lack of judgment is the curse of mania. It is the pivotal force of destruction that it brings. Overspending, overstating, over-thinking, overtalking, overdoing everything. OVERBOARD!

That is mania. Doing everything too too much. I hate it. Depression turns the destructive force inward, mania turns the destructive force loose on the world. Either way it’s a destructive disorder. That is why I hate having it so much. I don’t want to be involved in anything that hurts me or others and yet I am. I am. Powerfully involved in something that hurts. Powerfully involved in something that can hurt.

Bipolar disorder is not for sissies. It’s a Facebook Page my fellow sufferer, LeeAnn found. I love the name. It’s not for the faint of heart that is for sure. Not if you are wanting to live above the madness. I haven’t been lately. I have been trudging right through the slop. With one hand stretched heavenward, asking for help. Reaching for my creator to pull me out of the quicksand. Not my head though. My head is bowed as if I am walking into a windstorm. I am braced against the slop. Braced against it from enveloping me.

Dear Lord, MY LORD, lift me up, “out of the miry clay. Set my feet upon a rock and establish my goings. Put a new song in my heart, even praise unto my God….many shall see it and fear…and shall trust in the Lord.” There my mind shifted gears into the singing of one of my favorite Psalms. Thanks God. For your word in my heart.

I know I will trudge through this. I know I will be Above the Madness again one day soon. Until then, please think of me and pray for me dear friends. For I love you all. Thanks, Lib

@copyright Libby Baker Sweiger Living Above The Madness

What Am I Saying?

901858_10200927484569876_547088188_o-002

“I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying.”
― Oscar Wilde, The Happy Prince and Other Stories

I can relate to Oscar Wilde in this quote I really can. I wonder if he was manic when he said it. Pause for a moment to Google Oscar Wilde…well he’s identified in articles as a famous person with manic depression. Of course this cannot be verified and none of these people are here to test, or for that matter speak for themselves. But the quote could just as well be tongue in cheek as manic anyway!

It sounds like something I would say, manic or not, if I had a good audience. And, therein likes the rub. Bipolar people are often clever, and outgoing with a bit of the showman in them. They say dramatic, colorful, things whether they are manic or not. People might think they are on a manic high, when they are only high on life.

Things get blurred. They really do.

However, I’m a bit manic, at the moment from lack of sleep. I first became depressed, following a brain injury. Now I cannot sleep. So, I have swung the other way. And, partly because my doctor and I overreacted and kicked up my anti-depressant dose. This is risky if you are prone to mania. I say hypo mania. Because, I’m just a little bit manic. I am not psychotic, not even close. I am able to function. I’m working every day. But, I am quite colorful and full of words.

You should call me on the phone and get an earful. I am quite entertaining at the moment. I am sorry. I do not mean to be glib. I would certainly appreciate the call, however. I turned in my bank cards to my husband tonight. No buying power for me at this juncture. My judgement is impaired. I know this much. You may all see the post of the sneakers I wanted to buy myself on Ebay. I posted them on Facebook, but did not buy them. $70 sneakers? Not right now! Whew, not that far gone! 🙂

I know it’s a bit sad really. This disorder affects one’s mind. It’s treacherous and sneaky and will grab you and do bad things to you. Fortunately, I see it coming and react quickly, more quickly than I used to. I defend myself against its take over of my senses. I take precautions against its potential squandering of my family’s resources. I live above the madness.

Not always. I still get caught. But not today. Today I am living above the craziness. I wonder for a minute what is happening, then I know and then I act. I act to care for myself. Sure maybe I can’t sleep the best, but I can write. I can put my feelings and thoughts down. Describe my action plan. And then I can rest. I can tell my friends I need them. I could use a call. A prayer. A thought my way. An understanding note or tweet. And then I rest.

Thank you for listening. Thank you for being there. If you want to comment on this blog. Please do. I will joyously answer you. If you suffer from this diabolically tricky illness or something like it, talk to me. Email me at libbysweiger@gmail.com. Let’s talk about it. I want to be here for you, like I try to be here for me. Sounds silly? Gotta be your own Mental Health Advocate first baby! Gotta be! Take care all of you. Be well. Be crazy. But, be. Love you all! Libby