Finding Clarity

1119915_10201571713722044_512835748_o

“She had always wanted words, she loved them; grew up on them. Words gave her clarity, brought reason, shape.”
― Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

Clarity is a beautiful word to someone with a mental health disorder. It is something I have worked for since afflicted with bipolar disorder in my early twenties. Medically, it has been under rather good control for most of the 40 years since. With ups and downs. I have been on a medication for the mania, a charming med called an anti-psychotic, an anti-depressant, a mood-stabilizer, an anti-anxiety, sometimes two for one of these symptoms. I have done amazingly well. I worked high-stress, high-responsibility jobs for most of my adult life. I have been happy. I have been successful.

In recent years I have only worked part-time and now I run an art business and social media business out of my home, part-time. I work online for mental health advocacy and until this month ran an online newspaper for mental health. I quit doing that to get rid of the monthly cost and am writing in this blog instead. It’s more direct, more personal. I also have more clarity. I attribute it to a new med I have been taking for the past three years. It’s worth sharing.

Many people with bipolar disorder have trouble taking anti-depressants, because they can push them into mania. This is not good. I especially don’t like it because I have a nasty form of mania. Often I would be pushed into Hypo Mania, not as scary, but dangerous. It would affect my judgement. Cloudy judgement causes one to spend money one doesn’t have…awful things like that for someone with a strict budget that requires careful choices! This was a nuisance and hard on our family.

Then I was introduced to a med called Latuda. Touted as a medication for bipolar depression. It is far more than that. It is anti-psychotic with anti-depressive properties. It has been wonderful for me! I no longer flip hypo-manic because I’m not on a standard anti-depressant. I feel good. I have more clarity. I am taking less medicine. Latuda, and an anti-anxiety to help me sleep. A mood stabilizer I don’t really need too much, but it doubles as an anti-migraine med! Latuda, good doctors, God and good self care are the cause of my recent remission.

I promised to tell you in my last blog about the drug making my remission possible and that is it! It’s my hope that someone with bipolar will read this and tells their doctor about it. Or someone will tell a bipolar friend about it and they will give it a try! It’s very low in side effects and it does not cause weight gain as so many of these drugs do!

One must always cling to hope. Nurture it and help it grow. Share the good news in your life and cultivate a positive attitude when fighting a chronic illness. That is Mental Health Advocacy to me. Simply talking about things dispels shame, mystery and misinformation. Have a good day all and keep striving for clarity in your life, regardless of your circumstances!

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.

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