Bipolar and Brain Injury

2014-01-18 01.51.14

1912226_10203263918259258_1639410699_o

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!

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

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

Do You Deserve Me?

“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”
― Marilyn Monroe

I’ve always liked this quote by Marilyn Monroe. I don’t know if I relate to it so much, but I guess I do when in the throws of bipolar disorder. I don’t think I need to be handled exactly, but sometimes stomached is the word. Oh no, Libby you might say, who have known me on social media! You are such a sweet thing. Well, I can be. But I can be a real pip too. And the thing I wonder when I look at my husband sleeping peacefully on his Lazyboy, does he really need all this sometimes? Does he deserve me at my worst? No. At my best? Sure!

Mike, Abby and I :)

Mike, Abby and I 🙂

Who wouldn’t want me at my best and even at my not so great? But at my worst, you need patience and a loyal and giving heart. Just like the man I will have been married to 34 years this July. He is what they used to call a real trooper. When I didn’t sleep for two weeks after the birth of our daughter Abby and finally told him so ~ he asked me why. I said because I can’t stop thinking. And he asked me what I was thinking. So I proceeded to tell him the rapidly increasing phobic and manic thought processes that were keeping me up day after day after day. He got paper and a pen and wrote down my thoughts for about 45 minutes. Rantings I thought they were. He calmly wrote down what I was going through. And when I stopped for a minute he said, “I think we should call Dr. Burns.” Linda Burns was my family practice doctor and the one who had delivered Abby. I agreed and we proceeded from there. I had been terrified to talk about it for fear of hospitalization and separation from my newborn baby girl and joy of my life, Abby.

Dr. Burns gathered round the wagons and said that I would see a Psychiatrist, Dr. Feldman, who would help me, and that if I had to be admitted Abby would go with me. This was to ally my fears. The last time this happened, my son David had died while under the care of my ex-husband (not his fault) when I was in the hospital for severe mania. My mother’s heart could not bear the thought of another separation and she knew it. She said this with conviction to keep me well.

Dr. Feldman kept me out of the hospital then and for the 20+ years he treated me until he retired from treating adults, and focused solely on administration and child psychiatry. He was a wonderful doctor and a wonderful man to whom I owe a great debt. So is Dr. Burns who left her practice to serve in a third world country with her husband.

Thanks to doctors like them and a husband like mine and the tenacity of my Norwegian, German, English ancestry in that order 🙂 I have been diligent in caring for myself and seeking and keeping good care for the 36 years I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

That is why just a day or so after writing about being in a depression, I am on my way out. I saw Dr. Meyer, my current Psychiatrist. We discussed our options, increased my antidepressant dose and I am already climbing out of that hole. Granted it’s not always that easy, but we caught things early.

I have a low tolerance for bipolar gunk. I don’t like the crap. Never have and never will. And maybe for that reason alone I won’t suffer with it much. Do you deserve me at my best? I believe you all do! I will do all I can to make sure every day to be that way. With God’s help and the people I count on, including you. Love ya! Lib

Not a Good Idea: Falling on Your Head

IMG_20130317_194048-001

“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 

I didn’t have depression yet in this photograph.

I was tired. We had traveled up north to see our Uncle Rog for his 98th birthday. I had a mild headache which was a common aftermath of my fall the end of February. I had overcome the terrible dizziness for the most part. It plagued me a bit on the car ride but I was happy once my feet hit unmovable earth once more. It was great to see Uncle Rog, the family and my dear daughter Abby for a weekend. It was later, the next week, that the depression started. It was really bad today.

I could hardly work.

I have a calling job through my business. I set appointments for a nice sales rep out of my home. I don’t want to disappoint him. But I could hardly dial today. I hope tomorrow is better, or rather today. I have stayed up until tomorrow!

I was researching brain injuries online. I sustained one the end of February by falling and hitting my head on the ice. They don’t seem to be too compatible with two of the things that can plague me: migraines and bipolar disorder.

Well the migraines I’ve gotten used to.

Pain I can bear to an extent.

Depression I don’t care for one bit. I will resist it fiercely and am going to. I see my psychiatrist tomorrow and we will come up with an answer. I will not live in a depression for long. I will find a way out. For depression is a nasty, gripping, vise that sucks the life and luster out of life and leaves it colorless, hopeless and unbearable.

I will fight this depression with my will, my doctor’s wisdom and medicine, my faith, the Lord’s love and everything in the arsenal of anti, go-away bipolar disorder I won’t let you win, living above the madness, energy I can muster.

I cannot let the defeatist, “You are worthless” depressive thinking occupy my mind another day and will fight with all that I have in me and at my disposal to get it to stop!

And I ask for your thoughts and prayers as this battle wages. For there are only two ways out of depression and I choose Life!

Thanks, love you, Libby xxxxoo!

Born to Smile

I was almost asleep and I had to get up to write for a bit. Most of the time when I write, I smile. That hasn’t been the case with this blog. What I’ve been writing about has been difficult to disclose, painful to express. Tonight I am smiling. I am happy. I realize that the long months of depression and ickiness have broken and I have come into the sunshine.

I don’t know why I got hit so hard by the depths of bipolar mood swing this late spring and early summer. Summer is usually my best time. The sunshine outside fills my soul and I coast through the long summer days. It’s true for many of us isn’t it? And those who suffer from bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, even more so.

So why did I suffer so? Why, in fact does someone who loves this world so much, and every happy thing in it even find themselves afflicted with bipolar? The answer quite frankly is: why not? Why not me? Am I so special that I should escape a mental disorder? Many people across the globe suffer, battle daily with these things, why not me?

I have no answer either way, except to say that I love my life, warts and all. I love every breath I take. When I’m miserable and stop being so, it makes me all the more thankful for the good days. So I say, why not me? So many people expect God, or whomever they feel is in charge of their fate, should give them a break. Cut them some slack. Ease up on the suffering quotient.

I’m sorry if I seem flip about this…but look at it this way — There is a bit of wisdom in Matthew 5:45 that says God causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust. No matter how wonderful you are or think you are, the rain is going to fall on you baby, so let it come. It will stop someday and the sun will come out again. You will smile.

You were born to smile. Not cry. Smile. I am convinced that suffering is for a season. Sometimes that season seems and is too darn long. But it will end and then it is time to smile. Enjoy the blessing, the life you were born to live and go on from there.

Smile, baby!

@Copyright by Libby Baker Sweiger

Smile, baby!