Late Night Musings

20130524_222113-001I’m in a new Facebook Group with some wonderful new friends with an illness in common: bipolar disorder. I was up late tonight and posted in the group trying to get to know everyone. I meant to say hi and felt so comfortable I spilled it.

Upon reflection I realized my message was important to share with you so here it is, with a few changes:

“Up late tonight, love to blog at this hour, but thought I would post and get to know you all better. Please talk, friend me, I really would like to know you all. I am up late because I’m trying Trazadone again for sleep and we forgot about how bad the headaches can be for me. I’ve been getting them every a.m. so skipping it every other day, which is not helping the sleep issue. Tonight the headache hit before I fell asleep so voila! here I am.

I hope you all take a crack at reading my online paper ‘cuz it has my bio and then I don’t have to type it again lol! Seriously it’s something I’m doing to get the word out in addition to my blog to break down communication barriers about mental disorders, just as some of you are. I hope you check it out: livingabovethemadness.org on Twitter.

If any of you want a post in it, please let me know. It’s a great feeling to reach a larger audience. How large? Large. I have 20,000 followers on Twitter and it reaches them and their followers if RT’d by anyone. I am in a Social Media Group that get a copy with a potential reach of approximately 1/4 million on Twitter. With RTs hard to say. Facebook, my account alone reaches 1500 people. Shared by friends exponentially multiplies it. G+ 3400 people have me in their circles. I post to public and to all my circles. I am saying all this not to brag but to answer a question on distribution of the posts in the paper and also to show the reach we can get by putting our blogs together into one paper. They you share with all of the people you are connected too and it grows out that way too. Plus this is a new paper. I only have a few subscribers. As people subscribe, they also share. Soon it’s getting a million plus viewership and beyond. A million people hearing how to stop the Epidemic of Suicide in our country. A million people beginning to understand and have compassion, not fear for what people with mental illness face. Understanding breeds awareness and awareness brings change.

Well, I guess I’m writing a blog post. Thanks for listening and I hope you’ll catch the paper someday. Love and blessings, Libby”

An addendum to Late Night Musings: I don’t usually give out the names of medications. I did last night. I called the on call psychiatrist last night because I was panicked I wasn’t sleeping well. My husband told me after the call, I had been sleeping better than I realized. She didn’t think I sounded manic, rather quite tired. I was very anxious. Nonetheless, I was quite certain I was hypo manic and I know myself better than a doctor who has spoken with me once. She admitted my fears were well founded. Trazadone, often prescribed for sleep, is also an antidepressant. And even in the small dose I was taking could push the patient into mania. That’s what I was feeling the beginnings of. It also can cause headaches. Another medicine crossed off my list.

I add this addendum and bring up this medicine, not to turn people off to this medication, but to illustrate the face that it is so important to be in tune with what is happening inside of you when you have a mental disorder. Stay tuned in and ask for help when things start to go out of balance. Don’t wait until they’re really bad. Just a piece of advice and a warning sign shared for those who know and love someone like me, or are someone like me. Blessings and love. Enjoy your day, knowing there are people who can help and will.

Bipolar Found

Polaroid

When bipolar hit me I was estranged from my husband, struggling to take care of a sick child, long without sleep and running from myself. My father was the only one running after me. Trying desperately to help. Seeing my terrible sickness, trying to get me help. If it hadn’t been for my dad, I fear I may have died. I wasn’t suicidal then, but I was dangerous. Manic to the point of psychosis. Starved for sleep. Alone and looking for help. But not sure what type of help I was looking for. Staying up late every night. Not resting. Driving. I was dangerous and didn’t know it.

All of my energy was being used to care for David, none was left for me. He was being fed. He was sleeping. He was getting his medicine. He was making it to his doctor’s appointments. My father called at David’s doctor appointment looking for me. He asked the doctor, the pediatric cardiologist to keep me there so he could talk with me. He was so worried. He wanted to get me care. And to get someone with more functioning emotional balance to care for David. My dear step mom Betty. He accomplished it. It was a miracle. I don’t know how he did it. I was running so hard from treatment. I was so frightened. I didn’t know what was wrong and I didn’t want to be separated from my baby.

As I think of it, despair fills me. I am proud of my father that he took care of David and I. So sorry that my ex came into town and took over. So sad that Davey died under his care. I know it wasn’t his fault. I don’t blame him. I just hurt so badly. Hurt so that Davey died while I was in the hospital.

A mother’s heart broke that day. On Mother’s Day week it seems impossible not to think about. Yet, I’m so thankful to my father that he was there for me. Yes, it is a tragedy that my son died when I was in the hospital. But, so much better that it happened while we were both getting care. What if it had happened while I was driving under a terrible manic high? What if it had been before my dad found me and got me help. Or if I had refused help and gotten even worse?

What an unspeakable tragedy that would have been! Yes, my dad found me. He found me when I was showing signs the frightening signs of mania. Before any of us knew what that was. When I was very sick. Sicker than I have ever been since. And he saved my boy from dying because of me. He saved me from that. And he saved me from death in a reckless moment of mania. And he got me help.

My dad is my hero. Always was. He always took care of me. You can see a bit of our bond in this picture. He also introduced me to my dear husband when I was well and recovered. My new hero. My caring lover and stalwart friend. We bipolar types need friends. We can use heroes. Caring loves in our lives. We may need rescuing sometimes.

This is a dramatic story. Sometimes our moms and friends rescue us. Sometimes we help rescue ourselves. Sometimes our caregivers do. Please have a rescue plan in place so things don’t get this dramatic, for you. I have one now. So I won’t need to be rescued like that again. I am found. I intend to stay that way.

Restored Friendship, Heart and Soul

You wouldn’t think the act of restoration would be an easy one would you? Normally I would agree. Mending minds that have been frazzled by lack of sleep, especially bipolar ones. It takes nights and nights of beautiful deep, healing sleep for healing to come. Mending hearts hurt by heartache can take many years of counseling and prayer and talk therapy. Misunderstandings, that is something else again. They can go on for generations. Tearing apart families and even countries.

Or God can heal in an instant.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. “Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” Albert Einstein

I was praying with a dear friend on Facebook. Praying for my estranged friend and I. Suddenly, they began to pray in earnest for healing of the pain that person was in. In all my writings I have focused on my pain and in my thoughts as well. Not thinking of the pain that person was in. I began to think about it. And, I began to cry as I prayed. We both did. We prayed and cried as the Heavens opened and brought healing. Healing to my soul. Not long after we prayed, I saw a text from my friend they had sent that morning. The text was delayed and suddenly appeared. It was a prayer for me. I texted a reply. A reply of reconciliation as it turns out. I won’t go into the details as they are private, except to say that a miracle happened in both of our hearts and God restored our friendship. Something we both had prayed for.

Forgiveness. Forgetting. Love. It is all a miracle. And so wonderful when it happens. I love this quote I found tonight on people and restoration:

“People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.”
― Audrey Hepburn

We had come too close to losing a wonderful friendship. As it turns out, she never intended to end our friendship. I had misunderstood that part. I was ready to end it due to my pain. God had better plans for us. And I believe has better plans for all of us. If we two friends can come back from the brink of such a huge misunderstanding isn’t there hope for everyone?

Hope to understand each other a little better. Hope to listen to our own hearts? Hope to find peace and the solace we need in our God and in each other. I think there is. Audrey Hepburn was wise. People do need to be restored, renewed, redeemed, most especially. We have a God who will handle these things for us. All we need to do is pray.

Matters Of The Heart

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“The emotion that can break your heart is sometimes the very one that heals it…” ― Nicholas Sparks

It’s true what our man Nicholas says. He’s talking romantically here, I imagine, as the author of “The Notebook” often is. This quote is from a different story of his I haven’t read, but then I’m taking an educated guess. My heart was not broken romantically, but rather in friendship. Nonetheless it broke. And the pain was so bad one night it mimicked a heart attack. I had to call 911 and be taken right in. My blood pressure was soaring, my heart hurt bad, my neck and shoulder and left arm all screamed in pain. I was not anxious, I was terrified. I kept telling myself I could NOT be having a heart attack, I was too young. I only felt like one. Must be my acid reflux. But, the doctor said, that’s usually in the middle of your chest and not on the left and you responded to the nitro in the ambulance and so I am admitting you to cardiac ICU without waiting for the blood tests, and getting you a stress test as soon as possible. ADMITTING. Not a word I’d heard since my bad asthma of the summer, not a word I like to hear EVER. Not a word anyone likes to hear about hospitals!

I waited for the test and tried to sleep. I hadn’t slept all night, first because of anguish, then because of the pain. I don’t really want to relive the breakup of the friendship again. You can read earlier blogs to find out that it happened. I’ve suffered and wondered and prayed and wailed for a couple of weeks now. My friends are very important to me and this was a very dear friend. One I had prayed with, laughed with, cried with and talked with regularly before going to bed at night. Maybe that was why I was having so much trouble sleeping. Hard to say.

Well, finally I had the stress test and like the other tests, it seemed to look okay. I awaited word from the Cardiologist. Finally he came to talk with me. He had read all of my reports. He was a very sweet man. He said you have a clean cardio bill of health! I said I am very glad! We smiled.

He said, well we know what it was not now we will discover together what it was. How about your acid reflux? Have you been eating rich foods, not taking your pills? I shook my head. How about stress? My eyes got wide…Your job? No, I laughed. What then? Well, I have a good friend. Very good really. She decided a couple of weeks ago…well, it went south. Ahh, he said. That would do it. Really? I said. Yes, he nodded. This sort of thing can be deadly he said. My eyes got very big, how so? I said. Well, you haven’t been sleeping have you? No, I said. Car accidents from lack of sleep, things like that can happen. The pain you had in your heart can trigger other problems. This is more common than you realize. You must distance yourself from this person, from the pain and let your soul heal.

Can you move away? he asked. Oh I don’t think I’ll have to I said, she doesn’t live that close. Ahhh, he said. Well, move yourself away from whatever upset you last night. Give your soul time to heal. Okay I said. We smiled and parted.

I was discharged and went home. Home to change my life a bit. Distance myself from a few inroads on social media that left me exposed to memories I couldn’t handle yet. Home to let myself heal. To ask for help from friends. From my Lord. The same emotion ~ love ~ that causes our hearts to break will heal us. The love of friends and my Loving Lord is healing my soul and heart today. I am so very thankful.

The Awakening

TULIPS (2)

“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” ― C.G. Jung

I was never one for introspection. I lived my life looking outside of myself. For fun, happiness, the approval of others. I didn’t reflect on the things that happened to me ~ I just kept travelling through my life acting out, an extrovert extraordinaire.

Then one morning I awoke in the locked ward of a psychiatric wing of a hospital in downtown Minneapolis. I was wearing a halter dress and my underwear. I was barefoot. I had freaked out the night before in the emergency room of my neighborhood hospital after my ex-husband crashed a little family party I was having and tried to take my baby with him. He wasn’t my ex then, we were separated and I hadn’t been sleeping, he sensed something was wrong. I didn’t realize that. I thought he just wanted to take our baby from me.

I was diagnosed with manic depression. That’s what they called it in the 70’s ~ now bipolar disorder. The same frightening illness. I have had it for 36 years. I’m doing better than I was when first diagnosed. Night and day really. I’m a success story. I am no longer afraid of introspection. I am good at gauging my moods and sensing when it’s time to call the doctor about a medication change. I became reflective and found my inner self because it was the only way to survive this illness.

For that one reason, I am thankful for the bipolar disorder that has dogged me. It has taught me to listen to the still small voice within. I had often ignored the inner voice that was my answer to a prayer. I ignored my own inner voice as well and didn’t heed the warnings of conscience and instinct and intuition.

That gets you into a lot of trouble in life. What Jung wrote is true: …”who looks inside, awakes.” If you listen to your inner self and to your God…you learn what is really important to you. Rather than being just a people-pleaser, you become more genuine, more yourself, more in sync with who you were created to be. Then there is flow. Rhythm. Peace in your life. You are more effective, happier, a better mother, wife, person, friend.

My awakening began that morning. I awoke in confusion. I awoke naked on this earth. Stripped of my life and much of my mind. Only my inner voice and God to guide me. So I began to listen. The extrovert extraordinaire learned some new skills from that day forward, and I believe became better for it. Now I can give more to this world because of it. So, I thank my bipolar enemy who is really my friend. I have decided to embrace this disorder and not just fight it. I accept it and live with it. Yes, my daily quest is to live above the madness, but by that I mean the darkness that will try to envelope the bipolar person.

I will embrace the disorder, because it is a part of me. I do not fear it. It is just there. I have medications and Hope to control the darkness. I have my reasoned experience with it to help me listen to my body and then cue my team to help me quickly before things get out of hand. Because of these things I can live in balance as much as possible. That is living successfully with bipolar disorder defined.

This month of May is National Mental Health month. Whether you suffer with a mental disorder or not, I challenge you to increase your awareness on this important topic. With the help of other bloggers and groups on Twitter, I have started a daily paper on living successfully with bipolar disorder. I urge you all to take a look at it sometime and contribute to it too! We can use your help and your awareness and support. The link for the paper is here: bipolar daily: Living Above The Madness. Thank you!