During most of my monthly visits to my psychiatrist, one of the questions she asks me is how I am getting along with my family. I suppose that someone with bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder traits tends to have interpersonal relationship difficulties, and I’ll admit that I don’t tend to make long-lasting friendships, though not because I don’t get along with people, but more because I don’t trust people. I put up walls; I’ve been hurt; it stems from childhood – classic abandonment issues. Plus, it takes a lot of sustained energy to cultivate friendships which, thanks to my mood swings, I don’t seem to have. But, I digress…back to the psychiatrist’s question.
For the most part I get along with the people I live with including my husband and two children. However, in the last two weeks, I have lost my temper with my pre-teen daughter, who like most pre-teenagers knows how to push a parent to the limits. My “loss of temper” included using the F-word when speaking/yelling at her. For me, this is unacceptable.
This last time, I became so enraged that I actually straight up said, “F you!” to her face. I’ve never done that before. I don’t know what came over me. What she did to spark my anger didn’t even come close to warranting that kind of response. What she did was minor and should have been handle by me sending her to her room or taking her phone for the night. Instead I took her slight remark, made at my expense as a personal attack on my parenting skills, and proved her more than right by becoming the worse possible parent.
During this rage I went into blackout mode. I don’t remember anything I said until the last F you part. That whole “seeing red” saying was literally true in my case. I have since reflected on what lead up to this outburst in an attempt to understand it; to see if I can prevent it from happening again.
The four days prior to this event were out of the ordinary stressful with the holiday, family drama, parental hurts and trust betrayed (triggering past trauma), abandonment triggers by siblings and husband, physical illness with a major migraine that kept me in bed all afternoon the day before – just to name some of the issues. Plus, in that very moment, I was extremely hungry and tired – hadn’t used good self-care skills that day at all.
Overall, my daughter is a difficult child to raise, and several times a year I seem to lose it with her, but never this bad. My husband says he feels the same way and is close so many times to losing it with her, too, and that it takes everything in him not to go off on her. But the difference is he has that one ounce of control that keeps him from doing it and I don’t. Why is that? Is it because of my mental illness?
I started a new medication that has me rapid cycling big time. It is quite distressing and has me wondering if this is why I’ve been unable to control my anger the last two weeks. Or is it just my own temperament? I truly believe it has to do with my mood swings because 95% of the time I handle her same behaviors with the grace of Mother Theresa. Do any of you have a hard time controlling your anger? What do you attribute it to?
I have since made amends to my daughter. I think she has forgiven me. I am not sure if I have forgiven myself. I hurt her very badly, something I swore I would never do in an abusive way, especially after what I experienced as a child. It makes me sick to think that I had some part in traumatizing her.
Some people might say, it was only words, but I think that words can hurt just as badly as fists. I am truly sorry for what I have done and I pray to God to do better in the future.
I hate my mood swings. I hate having mental illness. But, I think this incident has given my family and myself an opportunity to practice forgiveness. That is one good thing. Also, it has given me an opportunity to become humbled by my imperfections, as I have a hard time accepting my mistakes. And it has allowed me to forgive my own parents a little more for their past behaviors. Finally, the whole situation made me fall into the arms of my higher power, in a state of utter helplessness and despair which ironically brought me a sense of peace amidst the pain and agony over what I had done.
I was driving my ten-year-old daughter home from her friend’s house one cool summer night. The car windows were down, and the wind whipped through our hair as the radio blasted one of her favorite songs. We sang along at the top of our lungs, laughing and screaming with delight. Just behind the excitement in her eyes I saw a touch of hesitation, a worry, and rightly so. I was manic, and while she didn’t know specifically about my bipolar disorder, on some level she recognized the signs, and it scared her…
Read the rest of my guest post today over at Dispatches From the Mad Parenthood Front.
I gave up my personal Facebook activities last week. Note: You can still find me on Write into the Light’s Facebook Page, but, I have pushed my personal profile account to the side. Deleted the app from my phone. Haven’t checked status updates in five days which means…
I have no clue whose kid just made the honor roll, who is having a bad day at work, what everyone is having for dinner tonight, or how everyone’s nieces and nephews are doing in sports. I haven’t seen one photo-quote, inspirational or humorous. Not one recipe or emoticon from friends of friends whom I would probably not even recognize if I ran into them at the grocery store.
Top 3 Reasons to Give Up Facebook
1. The People in My House are More Important to Me than Those I Hardly Ever See
It is hard enough to filter through the minute details of my own life, let alone those of acquaintances. And that is what the majority of those on my friends list are: acquaintances. Knowing of their daily happenings makes no difference in the quality of my life. On the contrary, it wastes time and energy that would be better spent on the people with whom I actually live and on my own mental health.
2. I am a Highly Sensitive Person
Since I am a highly sensitive person who picks up on and internalizes the emotions of other people, I was finding myself being negatively effected by the sad events being shared on Facebook, from political cries to save the abused animals posts to the depressing events in people’s personal lives.
I am not saying that I don’t want to hear about the death of a dear friend’s father or the house fire of another. What I am saying is that I would rather hear about it through a phone call than on Facebook. As far as the political and social movement stuff – I don’t watch the news so as to avoid those things, so I definitely don’t want to see them in my Facebook feed.
And if you are that old friend from high school whom I haven’t seen in twenty years who has lost your job or been in an accident or gotten a divorce…I feel bad for you, but if it wasn’t for Facebook I wouldn’t even know what you look like now, let alone about the happenings in your life. No offense.
3. My Mental Health is More Important than Knowing Things About People I Haven’t Spoke to in Decades
My decision to cut Facebook out of my life came shortly after a high school classmate committed suicide, which triggered many negative emotions in me due to losing a very close friend to suicide two years ago.
After hearing about my classmate on Facebook, I grieved for a week, barely able to get out of bed some days. Grieved not really for my old classmate since I haven’t seen him in 15 years, but for my close friend all over again. It was very difficult to go through, and it could have spiraled my depression out of control.
(Thankfully, I did some mindfulness practice, talked to several people about my feelings, prayed, and wrote about it here, knowing that as long as I didn’t ignore or cover up my feelings, they would eventually pass and I’d feel better. And they did.)
However, I realized that if it wasn’t for Facebook, I never would have heard about my classmate’s suicide, and therefore, would have avoided a week of suffering because of it. No one called me, no one even directly told me about his suicide. I merely happened upon it by accident…on Facebook.
So, no more Facebook for me. How does Facebook affect your mental health? Have you ever even thought about its effects on you?
I bee lined down the hall into the bathroom, and shut and locked the door behind me before falling to my knees. Covering my face with my hands, I sobbed. Outside, my two and six year old girls banged on the door. “Moooommy! Moooommmyyy!” I thought, “Oh, my God! Why can’t they just leave me alone?”…
Read more of my guest post today at Healing from BPD’s website.
TRIGGER WARNING: Suicide
An open letter to those contemplating suicide:
I have been where you are, and I know how you feel. Do not shake your head, please. I really do know…the gut-wrenching emptiness, the suffocating weight, the terrifying loneliness, the absolute certainty that you will never feel any better than this moment.
I know the maddening thoughts which peck away at your mind like a vulture picking and pulling rotting meat from a carcass. I know the horrifying realization that you have no control over your feelings; that no one can know the depths of your despair and worse, that no one can save you from the black hole swallowing your mind and soul.
I know the physical aches and pains, the dead-weight of every extremity as you try to simply move from one position to another; the grayness of the world, day in and day out; the tears, the endless stream of tears; the absolute void of anything positive; the loss of all things which use to bring you peace and joy. These things I know.
I have also been where they are, and I know how they feel. Please do not doubt me. I really do know… the feel of the hard floor hitting their knees after hearing the news of your death; the anguishing pit in their stomach as bile rises in response to the action you took; the constant and nagging nightmares of what your last thoughts were before you swallowed the pills, pulled the trigger, fell from the chair, jumped, or cut through your vein.
I know their flashes of imagery at how you must have looked while you died and right after; their regrets of things said or things not said, and never having the opportunity to tell you that you don’t have to do this; that you don’t have to choose a path that will cause so much horrific pain and devastation to those you leave behind.
I know the clutching of their hearts and their screams of “No, no, no!” I know how they’ll have to live the rest of their days wishing they could see you smile one more time; give you one more hug; share one more laugh, cry, argument or anything with you. I know that they will never stop thinking of you, or truly be able to fill the spot you tore from their being.
I know depression is a disease of perception, and it wants nothing more than to kill you. It is a disease of the body, attacking mercilessly. But it is also a disease that can be treated. No matter how many times treatment has failed, if there is breath then there is still hope.
Please do not take away the ever-present possibility of help. Breathe for one more day. Tell someone you are thinking of suicide, and then breathe again for another day. Tell someone else you are thinking of suicide, and breathe yet for one more day. Keep breathing and keep telling someone how you feel.
Be honest with those who can and will help you – family, friends, and professionals. If you don’t have those options, find another professional and another until someone can help you. Call a stranger, a hotline, go to a support group and ask for help; keep reaching out to someone; keep asking for help. Find people who will care. They are out there; keep searching and don’t stop until you find them.
And most importantly, keep breathing. As long as there is breath, there is hope.
Happy Friday, everyone! A new issue of Turtle Way was just published. Read it here, and have a beautiful weekend.
I’ve been reading the book, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, for about ten months. I can only read a few pages at a time before it becomes too intense in its truths and suggestions for my brain to handle. It’s a fascinating book that gives me a lot to think about and meditate on.
Today, I wanted to share a quote from the book that particularly related to my mental illness symptoms, and maybe to yours as well. It has to do with surrender, which Tolle explains is an inside job, meaning that while you can take action to try to change the overall situation if you want to, you still need to accept the tiny segment of Now that is occurring.
If I equate this with my mental health symptoms, I may need to accept, for example, that I am feeling sad and agitated at the present moment. Overall, I have been feeling this way for the past week, which I can work towards changing by reporting these symptoms to my doctor, praying, writing, and focusing on what tasks I have in front of me – in the Now.
It is when I do not accept or surrender to my current feelings that I become even more depressed and agitated to the point of wanted to harm myself in some way. (Some people may cut, abuse drugs or alcohol, overeat, engage in risky behavior, or attempt suicide.)
So, here is the quote:
“Non-surrender hardens your psychological form, the shell of the ego, and so creates a strong sense of separateness. The world around you and people in particular come to be perceived as threatening. The unconscious compulsion to destroy others through judgment arises, as does the need to compete and dominate. Even nature becomes your enemy and your perceptions and interpretations are governed by fear. The mental disease that we call paranoia is only a slightly more acute form of this normal but dysfunctional state of consciousness.
Not only your psychological form but also your physical form – your body – becomes hard and rigid through resistance. Tension arises in different parts of the body, and the body as a whole contracts. The free flow of life energy through the body, which is essential for its healthy functioning, is greatly restricted. Bodywork and certain forms of physical therapy can be helpful in restoring this flow, but unless you practice surrender in your every day life, those things can only give temporary symptom relief since the cause – the resistance pattern – has not been dissolved.”
Aren’t these ideas amazing to ponder? I can relate to all of them. I have a fear of people hurting me; feel like I am in competition with everyone; filled with fear of natural disasters, or some harm coming to one of my children. Fear rules my life, and I don’t want it to.
Physically I am usually in pain – tension headaches, muscle cramps, migraines, neck stiffness, clenched jaw, exhaustion, etc. I exercise, go to the chiropractor, and get massages to try to relieve my physical pain. The results are always temporary, lasting a day or two at the most.
I must work on surrendering to what is in the Now. I must work on dissolving the “resistance pattern.” But, how? I will keep reading and let you know what I find.
What are your thoughts on this? How do you work on surrendering in your daily life?
A recent study reported that those of us with bipolar disorder are significantly more sedentary than those who do not have the disorder. Health professionals recommend 150 minutes of moderate to rigorous physical activity per week. Apparently, we of the bipolar persuasion sit on our duffs for 78% of the day while “nonusers of mental health services” are sedentary for only 59% of the day.
I get it…the numbers don’t lie. But, I’d like to let those researchers in on a little secret: we aren’t sitting around in a completely dulled state. More often than not, our minds are going 250,000 miles per minute thinking of project after project; worrying about the past; projecting into the future, and wishing more than anything that the pesky hamster taking speed, who continuously runs on the wheel inside our heads, would take a friggin’ nap already!
Wouldn’t it be great if mental activity burned as many calories as physical activity? Although, then we’d all have to be treated for anorexia, now, wouldn’t we?
Or maybe we are in a dulled state. Why? Oh gee, could it be the multitude of medications we are on, or are we really just lazy? Don’t get me wrong – the researchers did NOT say we were lazy. That is my inference alone; I take 100% responsibility for it. They did however conclude that:
“From public health and clinical perspectives, these findings justify physical activity interventions targeting adults with [bipolar disorder],” ~ Janney et al.
I just have one question for Janney et al: Do you et al want me to vigorously workout before or after I take my daily dose of Seroquel? In other words, give me a medication regime that doesn’t include fatigue as a major side effect, and I’ll race you to the gym!
Can anyone relate?
Check out more posts on Bipolar Disorder:
Bipolar Disorder and Memory Problems
Impulsive Behavior and Substance Abuse in Bipolar Disorder
Jealousy and Poor Sense of Identity in Bipolar Borderline
Boredom – Is It Depression or Mania?
According to medwireNews, a recent study in Bipolar Disorder found that those with the disorder had prospective memory impairments compared to those without the disorder. Prospective memory is the ability to plan to do something and later remember to carry it out.
Just today my prospective memory failed me as I had plan to make a crock pot meal for supper which involved combining the ingredients and turning the crock pot on low five hours ahead of when we planned on eating. I became engaged in other tasks, namely watching TV and stressing about getting my house cleaned for company this weekend, before I realized it was four hours before dinnertime and I hadn’t even started preparing the crock pot meal!
Now this isn’t as tragic as forgetting to take an infant out of the car before going into the store, or leaving a scalpel inside a patient after surgery, which are both examples of failing prospective memory, but it was annoying nonetheless. Next time I will set the timer on my microwave to remind me when I should have started the meal prep.
Here are some other ways to improve your prospective memory:
- use checklists
- write out when and where you intend to complete a future task
- use calendar alerts on your cell phone to remind you to do a task
- do not put off important tasks for later; do them now
- write the reminder on your hand
- tie a string around your finger
- leave a note on the door you exit everyday
How do you remember to do something later?
A recent study published in Bipolar Disorder found that
“trait impulsivity is elevated and neurocognitive functioning is impaired in patients with bipolar disorder irrespective of whether they have a substance abuse history.” ~medwireNews
Does this mean we need not worry about how much we drink? Of course not! Alcohol is a depressant – not good for those of us on mood stabilizers. How can our medications, which have such a hard time managing our symptoms to begin with, stand a chance when we are mixing other mood altering substances with them? They don’t.
This was the type of logic my therapist used to get me to take a look at my own drinking habits. I found that when I tried to stop drinking or limit the amount I drank, I became irritable and restless. When I found that I couldn’t stay stopped even when I honestly wanted to, I finally realized I was an alcoholic.
Those with alcoholism feel the wrath of insanity at some point near the end of their drinking careers. Those of us with a double whammy of having alcoholism and a mental illness feel it like no other, which is why it is so important to get the help you need to become substance-free if you want to give your mental health regimen a chance to actually work.
I have been sober for over nine years in a row, now. Has this saved me from the throes of hypomania and serious depression? No. Has it saved my life? Yes. Because if I would have been drinking, I strongly believe I would not have been able to control my impulses to engage in risky behavior while manic, and to commit suicide while depressed.
Have you ever thought about the way drinking or drug use has negatively affected your mental health? It may be worth looking into if you are symptomatic, and desperate enough to get well.
If you think you have a problem with alcohol or drugs check online or in your local phone book for the nearest treatment center or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) group. AA World Services can be found at http://www.aa.org