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.

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Living In Remission

LibsCrop-002“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”quote by

Shel Silverstein,        Photography by Mary J. Triviski

The bipolar disorder I have lived with since I was 23 is in remission. Look at how clear my eyes are, how relaxed my smile. Perfect peace! As early as last summer, July, when I was in the hospital for Asthma, they wrote in my chart and discharge notes: bipolar: In Remission. I had never heard of anything like it before.

No one had very told me this could happen, but it does. See this article: from eHow Health: How Long Is the Remission Period in Bipolar? What they are talking about is what I am experiencing, an effective management of symptoms through medication and counseling “that options to manage the symptoms, thereby rendering the disease asymptomatic, according to the Psychiatric Times.”

This is so awesome! The proof is found in what I have been experiencing since last summer. None of the usual triggers, prolonged illness, i.e. asthma, treatments that usually bring on mania (prednisone for asthma, lack of sleep due to the medications, which I have had to take off and on since July for asthma and to stop prolonged migraines, have caused mania in me, and an ensuing depression. That which has always been my pattern, is no more!
I am still continuing all of my medicines. I am not taking my anxiety medicine, except right before bed, an aftermath of my other medication for bedtime sleeping which I have since gotten off of.
I know that many people who begin to feel better, will stop or taper back on their medications. This is not recommended. For you will be much better off staying right where you are, and letting your doctor instruct you, if there needs to be any changes.

Take care all! Know you are loved and cared for by me and by our Creator in whatever stage of mental disorder you are presently in. Or perhaps you suffer with something else. We all have challenges in life. Health, financial, relationships ~ they find us and give us struggles and concerns. Keep on, keeping on! Libby

A Cry For Help

Psalm 142 Good News Translation

A Prayer for Help

Lord, I cry to you for help;
you, Lord, are my protector;
you are all I want in this life.
Listen to my cry for help,
for I am sunk in despair.
Save me from my enemies;
they are too strong for me.
Set me free from my distress;
then in the assembly of your people I will praise you
because of your goodness to me.

This has been my summer theme song. My enemies have been the illnesses that plagued me beginning with asthma I could not shake in July. I was hospitalized twice with two bouts of serious asthma with a cough in July, ending in swollen vocal cords in early August followed by 3 weeks of exhaustion after getting out of the hospital and getting off steroids.

I was thanking The Lord for his goodness because through it all I was not overcome by the depths of despair: Depression, nor the strength of my enemies: Mania. I stayed emotionally and mentally strong and healthy. It was a  miracle.

I had that confirmed when I saw my Psychiatrist on Tuesday, head of my care team. I was telling him all I’m been through and all the steroids I’d had to take for my breathing. Steroids which push you into mania quite efficiently. He said, “It’s a miracle!” I said “I know.” We sat in silence together and were thankful.

In and out of the assembly, I am telling His people of His care for me. The miracle I experienced and the blessing of good health. I am so thankful to be well and to have not added a trip to the psychiatric ward to come off a major manic high to the mix, which would easily have happened without the miracle!

@copyright Libby Baker Sweiger

Feeling better

Second Chances / Amended 8/31/12

How does one know if she has forgiven? You tend to feel sorrow over the circumstance instead of rage, you tend to feel sorry for the person rather than angry with him. You tend to have nothing left to say about it all.
Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Today is Friday, August 31st and I am amending this post.  I have forgiven the dear nephew who was the source of so much frustration first time out. I wish I could say we have reconciled or that all is well with him, but both of these events remain in limbo.

I do wish I had never written this, but the post is out and cannot be reeled back in, so I am putting my current and hopefully my usual feelings in front of it: People are more important than things. People I love are more important than my hurt feelings. When I get hurt helping someone, that is part of the experience. I was there to help, not be treated like the Grand PooBah! People in crisis and who are confused by mental illness or drugs to hurtful things, they are not doing them, or meaning to….very often it is the illness or drug talking. That is something I am trying to educate people about and I got caught with my own ignorance showing because I was hurt.

I have hurt others when in the throws of mania or depression. We are all imperfect people. Even if you don’t have an illness like mine…we all hurt each other every day…we need to be reminded to cut each other some slack and do not judge.

Most importantly, do not judge. We are all people, not the Almighty. Frail, imperfect, full of mistakes and missteps. Forgiveness is the most important gift we can give each other. Forgiveness and love.

Bless you all. Thank you for hearing me out this morning and please let what follows be a take back!

“ONE MORE CHANCE. Words that my mother heard, more than once. Words that women debate. Whether you CAN forgive and whether you SHOULD trust. I think of all the judgment from society, friends, and family, the overwhelming consensus seeming to be that you should not grant someone who betrayed (your trust) a second chance. That you should do everything you can to keep the knife out of your back, and to protect your heart and pride. Cowards give second chances. Fools give second chances. And I am no coward, no fool.” ― Emily Giffin

I am up in the middle of the night again for several reasons. One, I had asthma last week and had to be hospitalized. The good news was they put on my discharge papers: bipolar disorder – in remission. Wow! I didn’t know they used that word with a mental disorder. I was asymptomatic in the hospital though in that department. But I am taking a steroid drug, Prednisone to help me breathe, and now I have insomnia. I hope I don’t tip hypo manic. So far so good.

I am a bit sad. Heartbroken really. And I am debating second chances. What do you think? Are you a believer in the old adage… Burned once shame on them? Burned twice…shame on you? Emily Giffin (quote above) would call me a coward and a fool for trusting a younger family member — recently out of treatment for pot smoking — with my car twice.

I was trying to help him find a job. His dad had said he would buy him a car if he got one. That was the story I understood anyway. Otherwise another family member was considering taking care of the issue. I’m good at finding jobs and helped him find a good job. He got the interview. He got the job, but he needed a car for demos and appointments. Because I was newly out of the hospital during his training week, I got tired and let him drive me home from the second day of training, after I picked him up. Then I let him borrow my car to take to the next day of training. I don’t remember putting conditions on the loan. I was really tired.

When I got my car back the passenger side door handle inside was snapped off. I drive a KIA, it was a sturdy part but hard plastic nonetheless.  I asked my new  family friend what had happened and he said the door was locked and his friend could not get it open and broke it.

He borrowed his Grandpa’s car for the last day of training and called me to ask if he could use my car for the weekend to do demos to fulfill his training quota before starting the next week. I said, sorry, I can’t do that. This is the only good car we have and I have to take care of it.

Needless to say he called me back. I was rather impressed. I thought he was using natural-born sales skills on me. He said, “Libby, may I use your car if my friend pays you for the damage to the door?” I told him that would help me, but that more importantly, I didn’t want him driving my car for personal use, or allowing any friends in the car. He understood and agreed. He would only use it for demos. And no one but him would be in the car.

Well I guess you can imagine how it turned out. I did loan it to him for demos. He had one on Friday night. He didn’t return home until midnight and went straight to bed. His Dad found pot in the glove compartment in the morning and empty beer bottles in the back. My car still has residual smoke in it. He didn’t detail it for me before returning it. He didn’t apologize. My asthma cough is back from driving the stinky thing and my heart is broken. He wasn’t allowed to accept the job Monday because he can’t drive.

I wish I could tell this young man these things because I love him. And I know he has great potential. And because he has captured my heart. I can only pray that he comes to the realization sometime soon that the friends he thinks he has are not real friends and that the people who really love him are crazily disguised as his family.

@Copyright Libby Baker Sweiger

Happy Or Sad Or Mad

“I have the choice of being constantly active and happy or introspectively passive and sad. Or I can go mad by ricocheting in between.”  ― Sylvia Plath

Poor Sylvia, she sounds bipolar. In fact, she killed herself at the age of thirty. Something was desperately wrong, but no one knew. Everyone knows I have bipolar disorder. As many people as possible anyway. I am shouting it from the rafters hoping others will see it is okay to talk about.

The only thing wrong with this quote as a description of bipolar is the word “choice”. We really don’t have one. We cycle between happiness or sadness like the change of the weather and there is no way to tell where or when the wind may change.  Or when the madness may come in. When we have cycled to such an extreme that we are in fact psychotic and have lost touch with reality. At least that is when I call it madness.

Psychosis is to be avoided at all costs. But is there a choice? Only as far as taking your medications, trying all you can to get your rest. Taking care of yourself and asking for help when you begin to lose control of your thoughts. Because the faster you mention that the easier it is to stop it. With a medication adjustment rather than a hospital stay. That is always my goal. I hate going to the hospital. But I go if I have to, because the question they ask is: are you a danger to yourself or others? Well I have not ever been a danger to others. That leaves me. I’ll be darned if I’m going to fight so hard to stay ahead of this disorder. To live victoriously with it to succumb to what got Sylvia Plath at this late date! Not going to happen.

But I’m not pushing it. Not going to push this illness to the breaking point. I’m not going to pretend everything is fine when I really need help. The hospital is not that bad. Actually it’s the best place to be when you need to be there. I know that. So in I will go, if necessary.  And I will work hard, doing everything I need to: adjust to new medications, work on sleep, group, whatever it takes, until it is time to get out.

I’m never alone. I have faith that the Lord is with me. He goes before me, beside me and has my back. I have nothing to fear. Having nothing to fear makes bipolar disorder a lot easier to have. I don’t fear death or destruction because of it. I don’t fear that I will be abandoned or alone. I don’t fear the hospital or strange people, like myself, only sicker. I do not fear because I am  never alone.

That helps a great deal. I dreamed one time I was in the hospital that I was falling. You know that old superstition that if you dream you are falling and if you land in your dream you will die? No? Well it was a superstition when I was a child. And I still believed it back when I was 23, in the hospital with bipolar for the first time and having this dream. Suddenly to my horror, I landed. I lay there expecting the worst. Instead I was surrounded by the warmest, deepest love I had ever felt. And I knew for once and for all that God was not only at the mountain top, but in the deepest pit we could ever fall into. I knew it then, and I know it now. He is always there for me — and for you.