bipolar

I don't need you anymore. On freedom from fear.

I think I could write a thousand blog posts this week.  There are so many things I could talk about.  It has been an eventful week.

My wife and I (finally) announced on Facebook that we are having a baby.  And so I want to tell you this incredible news.  I obviously have a lot of feelings regarding being a parent, especially a parent with mental illness.  I started to write that post and it simply didn’t flow.  So I am going to make this announcement and then move on to another topic altogether.

Last week I took a quick 3 day trip to Chicago.  One of my good friends is a business and life coach and put on a workshop which she invited me to attend, so I took hold of the opportunity and headed north. 

I had a lot of time to think.  I took the train and thought.  I rode CTA and thought.  I took the Metra to my cousins’ house and thought.  I took this workshop which made me think.

It was good for me to think.  To analyze, to find clarity.  And I had a moment.  A moment I don’t fully understand but which I know has already had a profound impact on my life.

I used to, and still do to an extent, have this feeling that I am like a pile of legos.  Disconnected.  I know all the pieces go together, but I’m just not sure how.

I lost a lot of myself during the dark years.  I lost my love of music.  I lost my hobbies.  Everything was about survival.  And now I am coming out of that.  I am leaving survival mode and learning how to thrive and it is hard.  That broken, hurting kid still lives within me.  But I wrote her a letter and found healing.

I know where the pieces go now.  Where they go for now.  And I love this metaphor because it leaves room for growth and change.  Lego's are adaptable.  

And so I'm learning there are parts of me I simply don't need anymore.

I don’t need survival mode anymore.  I don’t need to live in fear.  I have powerful coping skills already in place.  

I will never go back to where I was, because it is hard to go back to that place.  I remember my first therapist telling me that it would take years to heal, because it took years to get to where I was.  And I believe that is true.  Which also means it would take YEARS to go back to where I was.  A switch won't flip and I'm magically back to where I was.  I can't go back to where I was because I have worked for years to get to where I AM.

And where I am is safe.

I am safe.

That phrase is powerful for me.  Like, bring me to the verge of tears powerful.

I am safe.

I am safe, and I haven't felt safe since I was 17 years old.  I lived in fear of what I could do to myself, what I had done to myself.

But I am safe now.

I no longer need survival mode.

I don’t need to fear.

Holy. Shit.

Welcome to freedom.

On Medication.

If I were to list all of the medications I have been on during the 14 years I have taken them, the list would read like a comprehensive glossary of psychotropic medications.

You name it; I’ve likely been on it.

I’ve had good experiences with medications, and I’ve had bad experiences with medications.

Truth be told,

I hate being on meds.

Last week I called my psychiatrist to have my medication upped.

I could feel my mind running away from me, becoming a beast I could no longer tame and I knew I needed help.

I don’t want to need help.

I hate this illness.

I hate that I can be walking around, feeling completely “normal,” whatever the hell that is and get bitch-slapped across the face with an episode.  A reminder that “normal” is something you will never be.

 

Things have been harder the past few weeks, and that got me thinking about spoon theory.  Some of you are familiar with his theory I’m sure, but many of you are not, if you are not, read this.

I have an ebbing and flowing tide of spoons.  Sometimes I have a pretty standard amount of spoons.  Sometimes my spoon supply runs out.  Sometimes I use ALL the spoons at once, and then don’t have anymore spoons. 

I am low on spoons right now.  I can make it through work fine, and if it’s an uneventful day, I still have spoons when I get home and can have a good evening without breaking down.  If we are busy all day and the espresso machine breaks and we can’t get cleaning done because we’re backed up because the espresso machine is broken, and then after work I have to go to the DMV, I don’t have any spoons left.

Medication is like a back up reservoir of spoons.  Sometimes they take forEVER to ship (still waiting on this dosage change to take effect. . .), but they make it easier.  They give you a couple of extra spoons every day.

I hate that I need medication. ( have I mentioned that?)

But I need medication.

 

I am hurting because this illness makes me hurt.

I am hurting because I am proud of the work I have put in to get from where I was to where I am.

I am hurting because I was working on going off medication (with the help of my doctor, NOT on my own.  I know that’s foolish) and now my dosage is being upped, and there will likely be more changes on the 12th when I see my doctor again.

 

But I know being on medication, or having to up my medication does NOT mean I have failed.

Or at least I kind of know it.  I know it enough to remind myself that this is not some failure on my account, but rather a part of an illness which will be with me for the rest of my life barring medical miracle.

I am not a failure for needing meds.

You are not a failure for needing meds.

Whether it is a short term, “tide you over until you work through some shit” thing.

Whether it is a long term, “I will be on these or some other medications my whole life” thing.

Medication is not failure.

Medication is not shameful.

Medication is self care.

Medication is self love.

Loving yourself is hard.

Love yourself anyway.

Yup, Still bipolar.

I wrote my post last night, only to delete it this morning.

My brain works better in the morning.

I am struggling a bit right now guys, and it sucks.

I can feel that my mood is off, and it's harder to keep my brain in check.  It jumps to dark places quickly and easily.  I know that is simply a symptom of the illness, but it will never not be scary.

Mixed episodes are a part of bipolar most people aren't aware of.  But they are the worst of both worlds, and that is where I am right now.

I'm calling my psychiatrist once it hits 8 am to see about upping my meds.

This is a fucking HARD phone call to make.

I sometimes forget that this illness is still a part of me.  I have learned how to manage this illness so well I forget that I have it.

And then this shit strikes.

I am ok.  I am safe.  I am calling my doctor and I e-mailed my therapist last night.  At this point I have the coping skills to make it through pretty much anything. 

This is a chemical thing, set off by certain stressors in my life.

This is my life.

I don't know what it's like to not be bipolar.  I don't know what it's like to not randomly think about suicide or self harm when I get stressed out, even when it's good stress.  I don't know what it's like to not have to fight every day to keep a hold of a brain that wants to run away.  A brain that wants to be sick.

I am told that I am incredibly self aware.  I am told I am a badass.  You guys, I HAVE to be to simply survive.  I have to ask for help when I need it.  I HAVE to listen to what I'm feeling and analyze it and decide what it means.

I am hurting right now, and most of it is because I am being reminded that I am STILL sick.  That I will always be sick.  Even though I know how to manage it, even though I have all the skills and tools I need to stay healthy and I utilize them.  I am still sick.

This illness is invisible, and I am good at hiding it.  There are very few people whom I let see the illness.  Just because you don't see it doesn't mean it isn't there.

I am ok.  I am safe.  I am getting the help I need.

I just sucks that I need help.

Do the Best you Can, At the Moment

I want to call it in.

I have a self imposed deadline of posting every Tuesday.  So far I have not failed on that mission (other than one week I posted on a Wednesday).

Tuesdays are blog post days.

Yet, it is after 8 pm (aka after my bedtime) and there is still no post.

Yes, I’ve had a busy day, yes I have a stupid summer cold (which, btw are basically the worst).

I will not call it in.

I will not call it in.

My personal goal is to do the best I can at the time.

This may be my best today.

I am sick, I am tired, I will likely have to work tomorrow while sick.

But I am posting.

I am showing up and doing the work, even when I don’t necessarily want to.

I am doing this even though I’m simply not feeling it.

Sometimes you have to push through.

Sometimes you have to go through the motions to get through.

A few years ago I started going to work even when I felt like I couldn’t.

That taught me that I could go to work even when it was hard.

Life, and recovery, is all about baby steps and pushing yourself just the slightest bit harder.

Today I will post a blog post even though I’m not feeling it and just want to go to sleep.  It may not be the most brilliant thing I ever write, but dammit, it will be written, and it will be posted.

There are hard days.  Give yourself grace and do the best you can do at the moment.  It’s all we can ask of ourselves.