Hanging in Here!

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I haven’t blogged about the bipolar life for a while. Not pretending I don’t have it. Haven’t been miraculously delivered from it, which many people have prayed I would be and which while I do believe is possible…I feel my healing is coming through living close to my Lord with the disorder and sharing my small and large victories with others. Sure I have rocky times, I will share those with you once in a while, but usually after the fact.

It’s been a hard year. I’ve been battling depression off and on for quite a long time. Starting last fall…November of 2014. My psychiatrist, a wonderful human being and gifted physician, good friend of my husband and mine feels Abilify quit working for me. In retrospect. You never know exactly what happens. One day you’re fine and the next, things go south. You still have your faith. You still have your inner strength, but your mood slips and you cannot get it back. Depression is scary that’s all I’ll say about it. I don’t like to dwell on the negative. Sadness is a shroud and the sooner it dissipates, the better. In my case, I’ll measure it for you in holiday gatherings: I missed them. I couldn’t make Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter. By Mother’s Day I was there! I will make my Birthday and my three best friends are lined up! I can hardly wait for mid-June. It’s like a Landmark ~ for after these months of struggle I’m nearly at 100% Libby!!!!! I believe I will be in rare form at the Birthday Lunch!

Past Birthdays:

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

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

Lynn and I (Friends since age 13!)

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Is this a personal triumph? Yes! It’s a triumph of perseverance, grit, determination but also Faith, stubbornness, will to Live, Life fully, God’s love, my husband’s love, skilled doctors, medication management done right, experimentation gone lucky, and most of all hanging onto God for dear life. God is in there a couple of time’s I realize, also grit and words to that effect. A bit of luck. Good Fortune is a factor. Good genes. I believe in it all. Perfectly great people kill themselves when they’re depressed. I’m no better than any of them. The Lord carried me through when I hit those times and I know it. Why? That I don’t know but I am grateful. Gratitude is my biggest emotion after all of these months. And I feel joy again. Real joy and happiness.

I show my Art at the top of the page and a cross because the Lord let me have my art as my constant friend. My husband Mike helped carry me through. My family, my daughter, my sister Suzy. My companion dog Riley must be mentioned. My friend Cooley called me regularly. My dad kept tabs on me. I talked to my friend Debi who was fighting Cancer and she cheered ME up! My friend Jenny prayed me through.

We need people. Social media helped. I can always connect on it, even when I cannot make a phone call. We push back in a depression. Isolate ourselves. I was too sick to drive. Still can’t due to side effects. I’m walking more though. Kudos to my drivers: Mike, Suzy, Dad.

Love you all!

Thanks for being there! All my friends here in Minnesota, and those on Social Media who may or may not have known. You prayed. You were there. You made me laugh. For all of that ~ I thank you!

Bipolar and Brain Injury

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On December 4th I fell on the ice and suffered my second concussion in 9 months. If I had known all that would lie ahead of me in recovery I would have despaired. What lie ahead for me were months of severe headache, dizziness, sleep problems (worse) than usual, ill temper, an argument with a best friend that separated us for an entire month and never should have happened, depression, agitation and sometimes despair.

There were also wonderful moments as I applied paint to canvas to discipline my brain and get it working in a coordinated, concentrated, focused effort again. The photo on the left called, “The Spirit and The Bride Say Come” is pretty, but lacks the detail of the painting to the right ~ “Purple Passion Flowers” for same best friend, was completed this weekend ~ one and one half month later in the process.

Right now I am coming off the headache prevention pills that kept me sane. I had to wait 6 weeks to get on them. It took that long to see a concussion specialist. And it took another two weeks for them to work. The two months they worked were wonderful, now I’m weaning off of them, no longer needed and going through the usual depression and agitation that occurs when I go off any medication that has affected my brain.

I didn’t write about this experience much. I wrote one blog about my painting, found on the Amused Now Entertainment Blog. It was very difficult to write when I did that. Now the words are flowing again. I thank God for my recovery. It was really quick. It may not sound like it. But for two concussions in the span of nine months, the first one with a brain bleed. I am a very fortunate gal.

How did it mix with bipolar? As you might imagine, not well. LOL. Brain injuries bring with them mood swings. Crabbiness. Temper. Anxiety. Depression. Sleeping too much. Sleeping too little. Poor sleep. Trouble sleeping. These are the symptoms I remember most. My short-term memory was affected. I was very sensitive to light and sound. My nerves were on edge. Not real compatible with bipolar disorder. I was a crabby manic, depressed person some days and just crabby the others. My husband needs a vacation!

The painting helped so much. I thank God for helping me to paint. There were some nights I felt He was holding the brush! I would smile, dance, cry, feel loved as I painted the early Bride of Christ Bouquet paintings which I call the style of the painting on the left. Now I am painting more floral, flowers in pots. Every painter goes through stages with their art. I love to paint and it brings me great joy. I pray when I paint. I pray for the person who will eventually get the painting, that they will be blessed by in and their whole household. I praise God when I paint.

As it says in the blog for Amused Now, “When I paint I feel His pleasure”:

Both times I got my concussions falling on the ice under the snow. Once on February 22, 2013 and once on December 4, 2014. So be careful out there folks. And if you do hit your head, no matter how inconsequential it may seem, please see a doctor immediately. The second time I didn’t even get a bump, and I had a brain injury. Thank you for listening. Enjoy and take care!

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.

Strength

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“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

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“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!

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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