Mystical Forest

 

*** This post may contain triggers for others. Please continue with caution. ***

Can you see it? It’s over there, beyond the lake where the sky’s reflection glistens in the sun. It’s so magnificent, don’t you think? Look at those trees. They seem to reach endless heights, as if there is no end in sight of their existence. So many for as far as our eyes can see. I want to see more, do you? Let’s walk over to the dock and get on the rowboat.

Ah, that sound. Swishing of water back and forth, as each stroke of the oars caresses the calmness of the water. I wonder what the fish down below think. “New arrivals, everyone! We’ve got new arrivals to the mystical forest ahead.” That’s it! That’s what they’re saying. They’re happy and welcoming. They are glad to see us magically floating above their heads toward the beauty that lies before us.

Wow! Look at glow! It’s magnificent. Do you see how it shines through the leaves of the trees and bounces off of the ground?

Ohhh!!! Look at that! Did you see it? It was a silhouette of birds swimming through the flowing glow. I bet they are a family. What do you think? A family of birds heading to a place of enjoyment… that’s what I think. It was a momma and papa taking their kids to their favorite eating spot, and a night out at the local forest animal theater. Yeah, that’s what I think.

We’re almost there… you excited? I know I am. I can feel it. I feel the peace coming over me. The stresses from behind us are going away. Oh, what a wonderful feeling. The heaviness in my head is lifting too. It’s going away. That monster is going away. I can’t wait to get there. I wish my arms could move these oars faster.

Listen. Is… is that what I think it is? You hear it too, right? It’s… yes. It’s singing. Wow. It is indeed singing, but unlike any I have ever heard before in my life. How is that possible? The words are flowing through me. I feel them circulating in and out of every pore of my body. It’s as if they are embracing my heart with each lyrical gust.

I’m being hugged. Yes! That is it. I’m being hugged. Who is hugging me, though? I don’t see anyone. Could it really be? Oh my gosh… it is! It’s Him! I’m here. He’s the one hugging me. I’ve made it. This is the place. This is the place for which every bone in my body has ached for so long.

Are you ready? This is it! We’re going to be in that mystical forest of love and hope. It’s that place of natural beauty that only His love can sustain. Watch your step out of the boat. Let’s go.

Wait.

What?

What’s going on?

No.

No, it… it can’t be. I can’t get past the edge of the water. Can you?

NOOOOOOOOO!!!! I want to get in! Please! Take me in! I want to get in!!! I need to get in!!! Please!!!!

It’s not fair. I wanted to get in so badly. I’m ready now. But, He isn’t ready for me. Why? Why not? What on earth does He have for me here that I must stay? I have no choice but to stay and wait? THAT’S NOT FAIR!!!

Maybe, I should sit here and just wait until He realizes He’s making a mistake. Maybe, I can sit here where the air is a blissful breeze and the water’s natural barrier keeps me safe. I don’t want to go back. I can’t get back on that boat and leave behind this place. I can’t go back there, to a world that doesn’t understand. I can’t exist in that world. That world is not for me. Maybe, if I beckon Him.

Please! Please let me in! I don’t belong back there. That world is horrible. It’s hurtful. It’s filled with a pain that exists inside my head and will never leave me. Your forest, it’s my only hope! It’s my only refuge to get away from this disgusting monster that exists inside of my head. Please! Take me now! Don’t make me go back!

I guess the lack of a response is enough to tell me He doesn’t want me. He’s going to make me go back.

Come on. Let’s get back on the boat.

I don’t want to look behind me. Is it fading? It is, isn’t it? The beauty. The singing. It’s all going away. All I can see is the ugliness that lies before me as I head back to that place. That place back across the lake where only pain exists. Where the monster is waiting to jump back into my head where it wins each and every day. That place where loneliness drowns me. It’s not fair. It’s not right. He knew I was suffering, but didn’t let me in. That’s cruel.

I see the dock. No. Maybe we should turn around. Do you think we should turn around? Should we try again? Maybe, He will change His mind and let me in.

Don’t do that! Don’t shake your head at me. You have to tell me He will let me back in. Why are you killing my hope?

No, you’re not. You’re not being truthful. You’re lying! You just want me to stay on the side of the lake where it’s ugly, hopeless and disastrous. It’s not anything, but a sea of trouble and burden that I bring to those around me. Why do you want me to suffer? Why do you want THEM to suffer? Why do you think I should continue to cover them with the torrential rain of my brain’s toxic waste? You’re taking His side, when you should be taking mine.

Don’t touch me. Don’t you dare put your hand on my shoulder.

Stop talking! I don’t want to hear it. What you say means nothing… nothing to me! I’m getting off of this boat now and walking away from you. Do not follow me.

You can keep shouting at me to come back, but…

Ok, what!?!? What do you have to say to me???

Yes.

Yes.

No.

Alright, so now that I’ve answered your questions… now what? Yes, I love my family and friends. Yes, I miss them. No, I don’t want to hurt them. So, what is your grand advice for me?

But, I don’t want to wait. I want to go now. I want Him to let me into that place now… today! I want Him to welcome me.

Noooo. I don’t care if it will come someday. I want it to come now.

Because.

Just, because.

Because I’m tired!!! I can’t exist among these people. I don’t do well. I don’t fit in. I cause only problems. Our brains are what govern everything we do, and mine’s has a mission to destroy everything and everyone around me. Its goal is to push those around me over the edge. I can’t do anything right. I can’t live in this world… in this life of people. All I do is hurt them.

No.

No.

Fine.

I’ll keep trying. But, don’t blame me when the world around me falls apart and I’m the one to blame for its destruction.

Yes, it will. It will be destroyed and I will be the one to do it.

You can say that all you want, but you’re wrong. I’m telling you I will destroy it.

Alright. Let’s just go home now, but… just one more look.

Those trees. Their endless heights.

He may be making me come back to this awful place, but I’m not staying for long.

Someday… I promise you… someday… I will climb those trees. I will get up to their unseen peaks and look back over the lake and smile. I will shout at the top of my lungs with a joy that echoes throughout that entire forest. I will be filled with magnificent bliss, because this side of the lake is over for me. I no longer have to return here. Instead, I will be in His land of peace and harmony.

I cannot reach that place… not yet. But, I promise you… that Heaven will be my home someday. And, I’ll no longer be filled with pain, because my brain will be dead and only my soul will exist. It will all finally be over… for me and everyone around me.

I look forward to the day that the Lord calls me home to my mystical forest.

 

 

My Life According to Seuss

 

*** This post may contain triggers for others. Please continue with caution. ***

This is my life, my life it is.
It’s not any good in my mind that exists.
I’m not very good. No, I’m not. I’m bad.
I hurt those I love and I know they get mad.

I’m hated at times, of that I am sure.
I’m sure they must want me to leave them for good.
Who would want me? Why would they dare?
Why do they bother to dare to care?

These are the thoughts that fly through my head.
In my head they will stay, until the day I am dead.
They don’t leave me be, leave me be they won’t do.
So, I try to exist with them as bipolar fuel.

But, why? Why must it be the way that it is?
Why must I crap out my life in small bits?
Why must I pathetically try to exist?
Why must I stay when it’s better to ditch?

I’m evil, that’s it! I’m evil I say.
But, evil I’m not. I’m not, I pray.
So, which one is it? The flip, or the flop?
Is it evil, or good, or a mix of the crop?

These are the thoughts that fly through my head.
In my head they will stay, until the day I am dead.
They don’t leave me be, leave me be they won’t do.
So, I try to exist with them as bipolar fuel.

The thoughts make me hurt. They hurt like a bitch.
So, a bitch I become, and treat others like shit.
Why do I do that? Why does it hurt?
Why does the pain make me dish out the dirt?

I try so hard. Hard is how bad I try.
To make my life good and treat all people right.
I try to show love. I love with my heart.
But, it’s never enough. I get pissed and it starts.

I go off on them fast. I can’t stop my own mind.
It happens so fast that my mind has no time.
How do you stop the very thing that’s a mess?
With itself in control, and itself in distress?

Why does that happen? Why must it be?
Why is this brain in ownership of me?
I want it gone. I want it to flee.
I want to be normal. Normal I must be!

But, what is that normal? Does it really exist?
Is it real? Is it fake? Is it all just a trick?
Are we tricked that the world has a radar for life?
A life that is measured from normal to shite?

These are the thoughts that fly through my head.
In my head they will stay, until the day I am dead.
They don’t leave me be, leave me be they won’t do.
So, I try to exist with them as bipolar fuel.

So, what do I do? Do I try or give up?
Do I keep trying hard, or do I free those I love?
Do I let them say goodbye to me, and move on my way?
Move on so far that I free them of my stay?

I would free them of my presence… A presence that is pain.
One that isn’t worth the time in their days.
Why would anyone want this piece of shit around?
I belong in a cave, or in a crack in the ground.

My anger. My pain. My sadness. Myself.
Every bit about me is trouble for all else.
I’m not worth their love. I’m not worth their time.
Their love and their time is worth more than my dime.

These are the thoughts that fly through my head.
In my head they will stay, until the day I am dead.
They don’t leave me be, leave me be they won’t do.
So, I try to exist with them as bipolar fuel.

To all those I love whom I’ve hurt many days.
So much I have hurt you. Why do you stay?
Why do you keep me in your life when I’m this?
This nothingness that wanders and barely exists?

I’m sorry that I’ve hurt so many of you.
I’m sorry I’m a mess and a stain on your shoe.
I’m sorry I exist as I am… an empty shell.
I’m sorry my tries seem to all go to hell.

These are the thoughts that fly through my head.
In my head they will stay, until the day I am dead.
From that day forth, I will live a pain-free life.
But until that day comes, I’m stuck with this mind.

 

 

Bipolar and Migraines – A Connection?

Everyone has probably had a headache at some point in his or her life. I’ve suffered from headaches since I was a young child, and I remember quite clearly the pain that they had caused me. They would force me to stop playing, or whatever it was that I was doing, so that I could lay down and try to sleep the pain away. I would cry and just beg for them to go away. I thought my experiences with headaches back then were bad enough… that is until I experienced my first migraine, in my early twenties.

So, what’s the difference between a headache and a migraine? Well, a headache is literally pain in the head. It’s when you have pain, but it’s not really affecting any other part of your body. A migraine, on the other hand is different. Here is how WebMD defines a migraine:

There is a migraine “pain center” or generator in the brain. A migraine begins when hyperactive nerve cells send out impulses to the blood vessels, causing them to clamp down or constrict, followed by dilation (expanding) and the release of prostaglandins, serotonin, and other inflammatory substances that cause the pulsation to be painful.*

Basically, a headache hurts, but a migraine hurts like he… um… heck.

I can’t describe what anyone else’s experience with a migraine is like, but I can describe my own.

The Twinge Begins

It begins with a twinge. It’s a familiar pain that suddenly appears over my left eye. Unlike headaches, migraines tend to often occur on one side of the head only, and often it is the same side for each migraine. Although, there are indeed people who suffer from full-headed migraines too. I am thankful that is not the case for me, as I feel that is a much more severe case of the illness. For me, though, I will first feel a headache coming, and I will start taking the over-the-counter pain medicines that we have in the house. If the headache goes away relatively quickly, then I know it was merely a headache that was starting, but I was able to ward it off. However, when the pain doesn’t disappear, and only begins to get worse, I know that I will be suffering in agony for at least the next one to two days. When I get hit with a migraine, I am down for at least a day. The pain radiates from my left head, down to my left ear and left side of my jaw. I will be spending my time lying in the dark, walking around the house with sunglasses, and whispering ‘cause it hurts too much to hear my voice echo in my head. I’ll feel like crying constantly, but won’t because that will only make my head hurt even more. I’ll usually have a wet towel and bag of ice with me constantly too, but it doesn’t really do any good. If I place my hand over my left side of the head, or anyone else does, my pulse can be felt beating hard and clearly. It’s the only visual ‘wound’ (if you will) of the pain deep inside of my head. The ice can feel numbing for short periods, but the pain is still there, deep inside. And no matter how much ice I have, it doesn’t do anything to calm the dizziness, lightheadedness, and nausea.

The nausea. The nausea is awful, and the thought that I will have to vomit or dry heave, only adding to the pressure in my head, makes me worry it will explode. However, considering how much during these times I wish I could just rip into my head and pull out the source of my pain with all of my might… a head explosion wouldn’t be so bad. Sleep is usually the only thing that I can do during migraines, although I tend to have horrible dreams during these times, often with pain in them. The pain will then wake me up and it’s back to trying to bear with it in an awakened state. I can’t stand the light and too much sound is awfully irritating, both emotionally and physically. I will keep the TV on with a low volume as I need a little sound to stop my thoughts from taking over me, but that’s about it. Food? Forget about it. If I’m lucky, I manage to get some plain scrambled egg and toast in by the end of the day, but other than that, I will sip on juice or something carbonated to help the nausea. I will take way more pain meds than is recommended by the dosage on the bottle (I do not recommend doing that… don’t do it), but when I’m in that pain, I don’t care. All I want is for the pain to stop, yet no matter how many pills I take, it doesn’t. I know, as I lay there waiting for time to just speed up, that I will be sick for the rest of that day. And, if I wake up the next morning and it’s still there, then I know it will be another day of misery. It’s just how my migraines work.

One of my methods of trying to quell the pain is pushing my head up against the wall. I will stand up and lean really hard on the left side of my head and rock back and forth. It actually feels kind of good, but the pain still remains. I usually wind up with a red mark or bruise on that part of my head by the end of the migraine, but it’s something that I couldn’t care less about when I’m in that pain. Besides, as a hermit, what does it matter?

So, that is what it’s like to have a migraine… for me at least. The shortest migraine I’ve had was a day long, while the longest was four days long. That one sent me to the doctor. It’s something that I have not learned to live with, and I never will. I can learn the symptoms of one coming on. I can learn what I need to do to try and make it last as short as possible. However, I will never learn to live with the pain. It’s one of those things that you just have to deal with when it comes. You can learn to handle it as best you can, but when that pain hits, there is no way to learn to live with it. It’s a “going through the motions” experience that can only be relieved when your body decides it’s ready to play nice.

What About Bipolar?

So, considering that the title of this post is “Bipolar and Migraines – A Connection?” – I guess I better get down to the bipolar part. You may be wondering what migraines have to do with bipolar. Well, up until a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t think they had anything to do with one another. However, that’s when I got hit with another migraine. Two days of that pain was enough for me, and thankfully my body agreed.

After that dreaded experience – which I guess I knew was only a matter of time before it occurred again for me – I started thinking about migraines and bipolar. I’ve been having a difficult time these last months, and thankfully, I am now on my increased dosage of my medication, which I think is finally starting to kick in a bit. It’s been a week since I started it, and my psychiatrist said it takes a week for it to start becoming noticeable (since it’s not a new medication). I’m hoping it really is finally kicking in and not just my mind wishing it to be. The next few weeks will tell I guess. Well, after my migraine, I began thinking about how the timing of it was quite ‘perfect’ really. I mean, what better time for a migraine to hit than when you’re already down to begin with. I wondered if there could actually be a connection. I know stress is one of many triggers for a migraine, so that was an obvious one that I thought about. But, I also started wondering if there was more of a connection.

As I stated, my migraines started around my early twenties. This was about 5 years or so after my first bipolar symptoms (or least those that I can pinpoint, looking back) began. That made me even more curious about what the two have in common, if anything. I wanted to know if it was just a matter of timing for me, or if there was something more at work. Therefore, I started to do some research and realized that there is in fact studies that have been run and completed on the connection between migraines and bipolar. And, guess what they found… there is indeed a connection!

Can you believe that? Migraines and bipolar actually have a connection. Maybe it’s just me, but when I first discovered that a couple of weeks ago, I was quite floored. I had never before put the two together. I had always thought that they were two very different illnesses. But, apparently, they’re more connected than I first thought. Now, to be clear, people can be free from mental illness and still experience migraines. But, what the studies found was that a high percentage of people who suffer from bipolar, also suffer from chronic migraines. It’s a comorbidity that I had never thought about for bipolar, mainly because it’s not an extremely wide known fact. Even my therapist was surprised to learn about my findings when I first told her a couple of weeks ago. And, my psychiatrist knows about my migraines, but has never offered the connection before. I found it interesting to read comments on some of the sites I visited on the subject, and realize that many others were also enlightened by the connection.

In an article that I read on the Psychiatric Times website, the percentage of bipolar-migraine sufferers was broken down. The article is from 2002, but it still doesn’t change the facts and results of the study. In one of the conducted studies, the findings were quite illuminating. It was found that 27% of people who have bipolar I, also suffered from migraines. That number is interesting enough, but get this… a whopping 82% of people with bipolar II suffered from migraines as well. That number is probably the part that floored me even beyond how much I was when I first learned of the connection in the first place. I have bipolar II, which as I’ve stated before in my blog is the same as bipolar I, with the exception that mania reaches the hypomanic level, and depression tends to be the more prominent of the episodes. So, as a bipolar II and migraine sufferer, I definitely fit into that 82%. I always wanted to fit in when I was a kid, but that’s not really where I had my goals aimed.

In addition to the connection between bipolar and migraines, anxiety disorders were also found to be higher among those who suffered from migraines. In another study completed in Zurich, Switzerland, it was found that it was twice as likely for the bipolar-migraine individuals studied to have anxiety disorders, as opposed to those who did not suffer from migraines. And, it was six times as likely for those with panic attacks to suffer from migraines as well. The Zurich study also found the following to be true in regard to bipolar disorders.

In the Zurich study, people with migraine had a threefold-increased one-year prevalence of bipolar spectrum disorders (9% versus 3%), a non-significant increase in manic episodes and a twofold-increased prevalence of major depression (15% versus 7%).**

So, What Now?

What does this mean? Well, we’re screwed. Ok, well that’s just one way to look at it. But, if we must look at it from a much more intellectual and mature point of view, I guess we could deduce that it means that there is some neurological, physiological, or genetic connection between the two – or rather between the three, including anxiety disorders. We already know that bipolar has a genetic attribute. Migraines have also already been considered to have a genetic source behind them.*** Therefore, it makes sense for the two to be connected. Times like these, I wish I were a medical doctor or medical researcher, so that I could find an answer that I could thoroughly understand, and relay to all of you. So, if anyone out there has more information to add to this topic, please sound off in the comments below. I’d love to learn even more or hear about any personal experiences in this matter.

I guess, in the end, the main result for my research query was found… there is indeed a connection between bipolar and migraines, and even more so if you suffer from bipolar II. Unfortunately, now I’m left with more questions about what exactly is causing the connection. I will definitely be keeping an eye open for more information on the subject. If or when I hear of any, I’ll be sure to add it here to my blog.

Well, with that load of information, I shall end this post with something a bit more hopeful. Here’s a song that I’ve been listening to a lot lately. It’s a great song and one of my many favorites. It makes me feel a little better whenever I hear it. I hope it does the same for you.

 

 

Sources:

* Migraines & Headaches Health Center – WebMD.

** Are Migraines and Bipolar Disorder Related?, by Ole Bernt Fasmer, M.D., and Ketil Joachim Oedegaard, M.D. August 1, 2002. UBM Medica Psychiatric Times.

*** The Pain in My Brain, by Carlton Davis. May 14, 2012. The Bipolar Coaster: Adventures in a Manic World. Psychology Today.

Headaches From Hell, by Barbara Kantrowitz. September 15, 2008. The Daily Beast.

 

 

Is It Over Yet?

Well, the world didn’t end… go figure.

Courtesy of NASA

Courtesy of NASA

I wish I could say that I haven’t been blogging lately because I really thought the world was going to end today and figured what was the point. However, I cannot say that… at least not honestly.

I apologize for being such an awfully inconsistent blogger these last few months. I guess when I fell out of the groove a few months ago that I couldn’t get myself back into it. I love blogging (and of course writing as a whole), but I just haven’t had the motivation. However, what better motivation is there than realizing the world has indeed begun another day.

First of all, I would like to say thank you to some new followers of my blog. I have recently had notifications that several new people are following My Bipolar Bubble, and I thank you so much for your interest. Welcome! And, to those of you who have continued to follow me over the last several months, I am grateful for your on-going support, interest and friendship. I am so blessed to be a part of such a wonderful group of bloggers, and I do not take for granted the bond we all share (both readers and writers of all of our blogs).

As you can see by this post’s title, I asked a question, “Is it over yet?” I guess that can be interpreted in many ways. It can be a reflection of the Mayan Calendar end of the world reference, or it can be in reference to something more. I actually meant it as both the former and the latter.

I had a discussion with someone yesterday that got me to thinking about one of my recent therapy sessions. As I have said, I did not believe the world was going to end today, although there was a huge part of me that had been hoping it would. Between the way I have been feeling lately, to the negative turn that it seems our society is taking, it just felt as if maybe it would be best. Why continue to live in a world that offers so much pain, hate, anger, frustration, tragedy, and most of all… grief?

It feels like it would be so much better for the world to just destroy itself than to keep dealing with us humans. But, alas, that’s not what ended up happening today. The day is barely beginning as I write this, but I’m pretty sure the sun will set and tomorrow will dawn anew. It’s something, though, how the brain works. It can take any outside source and try to use it against us. At least that is how it feels for me. This time it was the so-called prophesized end of the world. Next time, who knows what it will be.

It’s Baaaaack!

A lot of feeling this way has to do with my mood levels as of late. Since August I have been out of it. September was when it really started to hit me, though. However, it’s not the usual crash to the bottom lows, or shoot to the moon highs. It’s been one really lame roller coaster that was built with only inclines and free-falls. I can’t recall if I’ve ever described this before, but what I have been feeling lately is something that first appeared late last year. Then, it was in December, but this year it started months before. It’s a difficult feeling to describe, but I’ll explain it as best I can.

It is all of the bipolar highs and lows, except on a sped up cycle. I can be feeling great. I can be doing anything, and be either mobile or immobile at the time. I can even be laughing and having a great time, but then it happens. I get hit with an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. To put it simply, it feels like grief, and as if all energy and substance has just been sucked out of me. In literally a matter of a few seconds, I go from feeling good to feeling like I’m lost, alone and surrounded with grief from some unknown loss from my life. If I’m sitting at the computer when it happens, I have to stop what I’m doing immediately and lay down. I can’t sit up ‘cause the energy it takes to just that is much higher content than I have to expel. If I’m talking to my mom, I will have to leave the conversation and go and lay down. No matter what it is I’m doing, it will hit me, and last from minutes, hours or days on end. It always varies. Pattern? No. Same trigger? No. Completely random? Yes. It doesn’t matter what I am doing, where I am, nor whom I’m with… there aren’t any reservations for this cruel and invisible punch to the gut. It is no wonder I have been crying myself to sleep more often than not these last few months.

So, when I saw my psychiatrist this past Monday, I told her. After hearing me out and listening to everything I was saying, she said it was time to up my meds again. She said it’s rapid cycling and it’s happening because my meds aren’t doing enough. It’s like they’re helping, but not enough. I don’t recall rapid cycling anytime in the past (prior to late last year’s first appearance). So, this is new within the last year. It makes me feel that it is indeed due to my meds not being strong enough at the moment. Basically, my current dosage isn’t doing it for me anymore. I got the feeling from the tone in my doctor’s voice that she knew this was coming. I admit I’m not the easiest of patients. I haven’t been from the beginning. I have sensed her frustration with me in the past, but she has an immense amount of patience with me, which I greatly appreciate. The dosage she wanted to start me on back in 2009 was much higher than it has been. I refused it, though. I told her I was afraid of the medicines and did not want it that high. She worked with me, but has always tried to get me to go higher. Well, with this new dosage, I have now reached the dosage that she originally wanted to start me off with back when I was first diagnosed. What concerns me is that it will continue to be moving up, since this is where she wanted to start me in the beginning. Only time will tell, but I’m frustrated with myself that it took me three years to agree to do what she wanted. She didn’t give up on me. That says a lot to me… not just as a patient, but as a person.

Probably, what mostly made me a bad patient was that I hate my meds and I hate going to my psychiatrist. I don’t call her like I should, and when my therapist tells me to, I refuse. I don’t want to take my meds and often feel tempted to dump them in some way or another. Yet, although it goes against what I want, I still take those pills and keep my appointments with my psychiatrist because it’s what I need. Being fortunate enough to be able to see my therapist weekly, and sometimes multiple times a week, helps me to be able to stick with my treatment. Also, knowing that my mom (whom I love dearly and beyond the description of any words) needs me, keeps me going too. But, without those two driving forces… well, I’d rather not get into that discussion.

That Bubble Won’t Pop

Here’s the frustrating thing. I find myself still hiding. I’m still hiding in that Bipolar Bubble about which I’ve discussed before. I hide behind the façade that I so desperately continue to try and destroy. I try to say what I’m feeling, but I know people don’t want to really hear it. Everyone, I repeat… “Everyone”, has his or her own problems. Maybe it’s not mental illness, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t extremely difficult, depressing, and painful. Mental illness is only one source of pain and despair in this life. Due to that fact, I try so hard not to burden others with my problems. Especially since I have a therapist, I try to be courteous of the fact that I have someone who listens every single week. I have someone whom I can talk with when so many others do not have that option. I do not wish, nor desire, to be selfish and believe that I am the only one in need of emotional support in this life. Therefore, the façade remains. I keep the smile on, keep the laughter going when I can, and I hold it all in until I’m alone.

I’ve broken down in recent months around my mom, and that only makes her join in on the tears and worry about me. I don’t want to worry her. I don’t want her to know I’m hurting. I often lie and tell her I’m fine when she asks in that concerned tone, “Are you feeling ok?” When I was a kid, I was never good about showing my emotions to others. I would hide them from everyone whom I knew, because I knew they wouldn’t give me the comfort that I needed. I would wait until I was around my mom. I knew she’d hug me, hold me, and give me that love I needed. She was really the only one whom I could turn to in such a way. Yet, now, I find myself not even wanting to do that. I see the look on her face when I cry. She hurts and I don’t want her to hurt. I guess that’s just what happens when we grow up. We stop thinking about just ourselves and begin to realize that our actions, words, and emotions do indeed affect others who care about us. Even when we think we’re the only ones in pain, those who truly love us feel that pain too, whether it is a parent, spouse, child, friend, or any other significant person in your life.

I don’t like to see and/or hear that my loved ones are hurting inside. It hurts me so much to know that someone, whom I love and care about (whether it is family or a friend), is hurting in this life. However, it’s getting harder and harder for me to say it’s going to be ok. I guess because I don’t fully believe that about my own future. To be clear, though, right now, I feel ok. Contrary to how it may sound, I’m not sad; I’m not feeling empty inside. I truly feel ok right now as I write this. But, I know at some point it will hit me again. That punch in the gut will come out of nowhere and send me into an abyss of loneliness and wanting it all to end.

I have to fill the prescription that my psychiatrist gave me, but unfortunately my stupid pharmacy will not be able to fill it until another few weeks. They have an auto-refill system, which I’ve tried opt out of on multiple occasions, but somehow it never registers on their end… gee, I wonder why. It just automatically refilled all of my bipolar meds last week. Therefore, right now my insurance will not pay for another bottle of the one my psychiatrist has upped, and I’m unable to break the pills I have in half to up the dosage that way either. So, I’m essentially screwed for another 2-3 weeks. And, it’s going to be a timing game with them to get the script into them before they auto-refill again (they don’t take them until time to refill), because even when I talk to someone in person the request goes in one ear, and out the pocket book. It’s all greed. Auto-refill and get more money. My psychiatrist said many pharmacies are doing that now and she doesn’t like it. It’s all to get more money. Welcome to health care in the United States.

I will continue to deal with this as best I can. I will enjoy the times when I feel ok (and I definitely do have those times), and then sleep or lay away the times my invisible torturer comes to visit me. When my doctor upped my meds earlier this year for these same mood shifts, the medicine helped. It took it away and I was feeling good again. Sure I continued with ups and downs, but that’s just the illness, as well as life in general. It was nothing like what is currently happening. I’m hoping the new dosage will do the same again. I do not want to go through starting a new drug.

A Brand New Year

So, the world continues to live on. This weekend, I will be wrapping gifts, online-gaming with my friends, and eating things that I really shouldn’t eat (it’s the holidays so it’s ok… um, yeah, that’s it). Next week, I will be celebrating Christmas and wishing my Lord, Jesus, a happy birthday. And, then the following week, I will be saying goodbye to the year 2012, and saying hello to 2013.

I remember when I was diagnosed in 2009, that when the end of the year came, I began to say what I had always said over the years… “May next year be a better year than this one.” However, that year it hit me that I could no longer say that. It hit me right then and there that I could not say, “Bipolar was last year, this year it’s gone.” I had already known that bipolar was for life, of course, but it was a moment that the fact got drilled into me. I had bipolar in 2009, and I was going to continue having it in 2010, 2011, 2012 and every year for the rest of my life. Every New Years since, I stopped saying, “May the next year be better than this one.” The thought still went through my mind, but I could not say it and truly believe it. I felt like it was an impossible wish. But, I realized something last night. I was sitting in my parents’ bedroom with my mom and we were talking. We were discussing all of the stresses and negative experiences that have taken place this year, especially more recent ones. And, before I could even think about what I was saying, the words came out. “Hopefully, next year will be better than this one.”

It’s not a big deal, I guess. But, it tells me that I had a bit of hope last night. A part of me believed that maybe, just maybe, next year could be better. After dealing with my bipolar diagnosis for these last few years, I have learned that there is no going forward without it. Bipolar does not make up everything about me, but it is indeed a part of me. It’s not who I am as a whole, but it is part of what makes up my brain… my mind. And, therefore, I need to continue to learn to deal with it and realize that my life can be better from year to year. I may not be able to cure this bipolar, but I can find better ways to live with it.

The world didn’t end today. I will still have to deal with mental illness on a personal basis. However, maybe on this New Year’s Eve I can once again say, “May 2013 be better than 2012,” and truly believe it’s possible. I’ll do my best to try.

To those who celebrate Christmas around the world, Merry Christmas! To those who do not, I wish you a Happy Holidays. And, to each and every one of you…

God Bless you all!

 

My favorite Christmas Song. It never fails to make me smile and move.

 

The Place I’ve Reached

****Trigger Warning: This post may contain triggers for those who read. Please proceed with caution.

My therapist has been on vacation for a few days now (she left on Wednesday), and will continue to be until the middle of September. It’s starting to really hit me now that I’m alone until then. I know technically I’m not alone, but I feel alone. Whenever my therapist goes on vacation, I know that the one person with whom I can talk without reservation is gone.

So, I’m just counting down the days until I get to see her again. It didn’t hit me when I saw her last week. We had been preparing for her departure for the last few weeks, and she’s been helping me to get ready for not having that connection. But, it wasn’t until last night when it started to truly hit me. Usually, every Friday I think about how it’s only a short time before I get to see her again the following week. I look forward to it, especially when things aren’t going well. However, last night, when the thought began to enter my mind, I was reminded that I would not be seeing her. I would not be seeing her for another two weeks.

I know to the average person that probably sounds like not such a big deal. I mean two weeks… that’s not long. That’s true. It’s not a long time when what you’re waiting for is just an average event or experience to come your way. But, two weeks is a long time being without the one person whom you feel most comfortable telling your most inner darkest feelings, without being afraid of pushing that listener away.

Blogging often brings about that fear for me. I worry that I may push those I know away with what I write. Everyone has his or her own problems. I fully understand that, and I worry that sometimes people I know may get sick of reading what I have to say. I’ve only told a handful of loved ones about my blog, and I love and trust each and every one of them. But, that doesn’t take away that fear that maybe they will one day just say, “I’ve had enough of this whiner… this annoyance.”

Maybe, I’m just in more of a self-pity place right now. I’ve been trying to keep myself up for the last month. I’ve been trying to be active in Facebook as it’s the only connection that I have with the outside world, of course in addition to this awesome blogosphere. As frustrating as Facebook can be at times, it’s also the one place where I can feel that I’m connected with loved ones. But, as I’ve mentioned before, Facebook can bring about some of the most anxiety-inducing and disheartening situations. I realize that I’m oversensitive, and I’ve discussed this in previous posts. I’m trying hard to work through that in the Facebook world, though. I know I will not change how I am, but my hope is to just learn how to better adapt in such environments. But, boy is it hard.

I noticed the other day, after my last post, that I only made three posts in the entire month of August. I wasn’t feeling much in the writing mood last month, but didn’t realize just how much of a stump I was in. I apologize for not being as present in my blog as of late. I have been trying to keep up with my reading of blogs too, but it’s been hard. I feel so far behind. I don’t even know why this is happening. In the beginning of the summer, I was in a low and was working hard to come out of it. But, as August approached, I seemed to have gone back down again. Yet, I’m not depressed right now. The strange thing is that I’m finding myself feeling fatigued and emotional at times, but then I come right back up and feel ok again. Again, it’s not depression that I’m feeling, though. It’s something else. I can’t help but think it has to do with my therapist. August has never been my favorite month, as I discussed in my post I Never Liked August. However, I think my therapist going on vacation is what has made me go down. It’s been on my mind all month, as I’ve dreaded this time away from her.

I know I have anxiety due to it, and my Tourette’s has flared up too. It always flares up during times of immense stress and anxiety. In the past, it flares up each time she has gone away for long periods of times. Now, as and adult, my Tourette’s is mild and not as bad as it was when I was a kid, but it’s still there. I hope it eases soon, because the facial tics are hard to deal with. The facials are worse than the vocal tics, as they cause me to be unable to breathe sometimes, until I can get the tic finished. The sensations are in my nose and throat, so those aren’t the best places.

So, as the summer comes to a close, and the fall is just around the corner, I am trying to bring myself to a place of stability that makes me feel good. I’m worried, as Christmas gets closer, as I have tended to fall into a seasonal depression the last five years now. But, I’m hoping this year will be different.

I have come a long way since my diagnosis in 2009. I have been thinking about that a lot lately. Sometimes, I wonder if maybe I don’t need my meds anymore. Maybe I just think I do, and if I stop them, then I will be able to handle everything. I will wonder if maybe the doctors have it all wrong. I’ve read that it’s common to feel that way… often questioning your diagnosis. But, I still can’t help but wonder if maybe I could stop all of the meds and I’ll be fine. However, then I remember those days.

I remember the days when I’d be in a state of utter despair and feeling as if I didn’t have anything for which to live anymore. I remember those days of standing in the kitchen and screaming at my mom in pain. I was hurting inside, and couldn’t put it into words. All that I could say to her was that it hurt and that something was wrong in my head. I screamed at her, “There’s something wrong!” I’d proceed to bang my head on the wall and punch it with my fists. It was as if I had hoped that whatever it was would come out. The pain felt good too, ‘cause I knew that I was causing it. I had a source for it, whereas the other pain didn’t have a source. It was this mysterious torturer that was attacking my soul.

I remember the day I walked around the house looking for a place that would support my weight to hang myself. I just wanted it all to be over, and my prayers to God to take me weren’t doing anything. I couldn’t bring myself to do it, though. I didn’t want to do that to my parents. I knew they’d be the ones to find me. I couldn’t put them through that. In addition, my faith teaches me that it’s a sin to commit suicide. I’ve done a lot of research about that, actually. I’ve wanted to know if it really is a sin. I still have yet to find a definitive answer. I’ve found opinions, but nothing more. So, I would just go back to praying and hoping that God would finally take me home.

To be clear, I’m not in that place right now. I haven’t been that low in a long time. But, I remember it clearly, when I allow myself to reflect back to that time. In doing so, I also allow myself to realize that I truly have come a long way. To not be in that place anymore feels wonderful. I’ve reached pretty low places in regard to depression episodes since, but never that low. The meds are helping, and I am grateful for that.

It is, then, that I remember… when I know that I must not stop my meds. I must not stop doing what I’m doing; otherwise I will slip back down into that place, and may not come out of it next time. Then, there is the opposite end of the spectrum. I’m often tempted to stop my meds to feel that hypomanic euphoria. I want to feel that. It’s such a great emotional high, and I get so much done during that time. Sleep becomes completely unnecessary and I love that ‘cause I don’t like to force myself to sleep every night. But, I know it’s not a good place to be either. It may not always be as bad as the depression in terms of mood (although, it can be in its own way), but it is in terms of safety and health. I try hard to remind myself that I need these meds to remain balanced. I hope that I never lose that focus.

I always say that my denial is gone. I’m starting to think, though, that maybe our denial never goes away. Maybe, it’s just always about trying to fight that temptation to ignore what our treatment has done for us. Some people are better at that battle than others, but I think I’m someone who still needs to work on my fighting skills. The temptation comes at me way too often, and it comes on strong. It’s a fight between the parts of my brain saying, “Stay on those meds… don’t forget where you used to be.” And, “Screw it all! You don’t need any of that.”

I look at this point that I’ve reached in my life, and I think I need to be proud of myself. It’s so easy for me to say that I haven’t accomplished anything these past years. My life isn’t where I want it to be – or where it should be, for that matter – and it’s so easy for me to put myself down, and say that I’m a loser. In the Facebook world of comparing oneself to others, those thoughts come a lot more easily. But, I think I need to realize where I’ve come. I may not have accomplished the average achievements that society deems ‘normal’. But, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t accomplished other goals. I have come a long way since 2009, and well before that, and I need to appreciate that. So much easier said than done, but I can at least try.

I know that I have many more struggles ahead of me with this illness, and that I will always have to be on guard not to fall back into that hellish abyss from years ago. But, I also know that I also have some struggles in my past through which I have made it. I just need to keep reminding myself of one fact. Through hard work, the place I’m in now is better than where I used to be.

I think that’s one heck of an accomplishment.

The following is one of my favorite songs. I think it should be the unofficial song of those of us who suffer from mental illness. We’re not freaks. We’re not crazy. We have something unique to offer the world. Everyone, we are strong, and we have wonderful voices.