When It’s No Longer in the Cards

**** Trigger Warning: This post may contain triggers for some readers. Please proceed with caution.

I guess we all reach that point in our lives when we realize that certain events or special moments will never happen for us. That realization has once again come upon me today, as we have welcomed a new addition to our huge family. One of my cousins had his second child today, a baby boy. An adorable and brand new life, filled with so much hope, dreams and innocence. Ah, innocence… it’s the only time in any human being’s life that is filled with true innocence. He’s free of all the troubles, stresses and pain with which life is filled.

It’s a special moment when the birth of a child occurs, especially when it’s one in our own immediate circle. However, as much as I am filled with happiness and thankfulness that my new little cousin is here safely and healthily, I’m still a bit saddened. It’s a reminder for me that I will never experience that joy of having my own child to hold someday. Selfish? Maybe, it is. After all, it’s a wonderful moment for our family right now, but I can’t help what feelings are going through both my mind and heart.

It Used to Be a Dream

Steve Martin in 1989's movie, "Parenthood"

Steve Martin in the 1989 movie “Parenthood”

When I was a kid, I never wanted children. I wasn’t one of those little girls who dreamed of having a baby of my own someday. Maybe it had to do with the fact that I grew up with most of my nieces and nephews. I was exposed to the real life of being a parent at a young age. It wasn’t all roses as I learned early on, and so it set my mind on a different path. I was a tomboy too, so not sure if that made a difference. I still loved playing with dolls or stuffed animals and pretending they were my kids, but that wasn’t what I wanted in my future. I dreamed of being a career woman. I never thought of it that way until high school, but that’s what I wanted. I wanted to be everything that the world had to offer. One year I was going to be an astronaut, the next a doctor, then for a few years I was going to be a teacher. Then, there was the time I was going to go into astrophysics, but changed my mind. I wanted to be everything. Heck, when I hit thirteen, I was going to be an actress and begged my mom to let me go to auditions. I am grateful she didn’t allow me, ‘cause my personality is not that of someone who can handle such a career. I think I wanted that more back then, because I thought it would make me more popular in school. I wanted so desperately to be accepted.

Thankfully, it was not too long after that, when high school came into the picture. It was then that my love for three quite different careers starting taking center stage. I wanted to be in law enforcement, nursing, and filmmaking. I told you… three very different careers. Filmmaking seemed to always be on the top, though. I saved up for two years to afford my own video camera to make my own movies. And, when I finally did just that, I wrote, directed, edited and produced my own movies that starred my nieces and nephews. As I’ve stated before, my love for art and writing won the battle between the three.

I tried to be a cop, but it didn’t quite work out. I tried to be a nurse, and well, that should have worked, but I chickened out. However, my prospects eventually took me to graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Media Arts and Design and I now write more than ever, especially with my blog.

So, where am I going with this? Well, I guess what I’m trying to say is that dreams and goals change, either voluntarily or involuntarily. When it comes to my dreams of becoming a mother someday, those were somewhat taken from me against my will.

What Happened to Motherhood?

As I stated, I never dreamed of motherhood as a child. Not even through my teenage years. All I wanted was to be successful and work. I wanted to be someone of whom my parents could be proud. However, then when I was in my early twenties I went to a family reunion. I was standing there next to my sister as one of my cousin’s little girls (about four-years-old at the time) was dancing with my uncle, her grandpa. She looked so cute and was laughing and smiling. I watched her and suddenly I blurted out loud, “I want one of those.” My sister – who always wanted nieces and nephews from her sister to add to those whom she already loved dearly from our brothers – became excited to say the least. It was the first time I had ever shown interest in becoming a mom someday. Having kids? Wow! It was actually finally in the cards for me. I actually finally wanted some of my own. It was a revelation for me that same day as it was for my sister, and I thought maybe… just maybe… I’d someday be walking into a family reunion with a baby Summer in my arms.

Unfortunately, that is no longer in the cards for me.

Some may be asking why. Why would that suddenly not be in the cards for my life? I’m not physically unable to become pregnant. It’s prime time for me to have a child. I’m the youngest of all of my female cousins, and the youngest of all of my cousins with the exception of one of my male cousins who is one month younger than me. He’s also now expecting to be a father soon. They’re all having kids right now. It’s baby central in my family. So, why would I not be able to become a mother? The answer is simple… because I have bipolar.

Now to make it clear, I am not saying that having bipolar makes becoming a parent impossible. Plenty of bipolar parents are out there in this world and are successfully raising their beautiful children and doing a damn good job at it. Mental illness does not stop one from becoming a parent, most of the time. However, for myself and others whom I know throughout this blogging community, I know mental illness has been a reason for not wanting children. We have our reasons and they are enough to make us choose our own personal paths in regards to this subject in life. Months back I read a great post by Cate from Infinite Sadness… or Hope? It was on this same topic and I thought she was so brave to talk about it. She inspired me to write a topic on my own reasons for not becoming a parent myself, but I didn’t have the courage to do so back then. However, now after the birth of my cousin’s baby, I suddenly feel I can finally write about it.

Am I Afraid?

Is it fear? Yes, a little of it is being afraid of not being able to take care of my child properly. I can’t even properly take care of myself during a bad episode, so how can I think that I can take care of a child. A child is fully dependent upon his or her parent(s). I do not want to leave my child struggling for my attention or just a hug from mommy when I hate myself and can barely get myself into the shower. I’m afraid of scarring my child.

Fear also comes into play in regards to genetics. Bipolar has a genetic connection, and the fact that I could pass it down to my children is not lost on me. I don’t want to have children, only to have them suffer through a mental illness that I know I gave to them. And, to be fully honest, I’m also feeling selfish here too. I don’t think I can handle dealing with my own problems with this illness, while also trying to handle the problems of my child’s illness (if he or she were to have it). As I’ve said, it’s hard enough for me to manage my own issues, and I just don’t think I have it inside of me to also manage my child’s. I know… that’s selfish.

Finally, and probably the strongest reason for my not wanting children anymore, is one that is difficult for me to share. I have family and friends who read this blog (only those whom I have the utmost trust in), and I’m worried that this might worry them. Please do not feel worried (anyone who is reading this), as this is not how I feel right now, it’s just that I’ve been there many times before and it is from those places that I write this.

This life is hard. It’s hard for any human being who lives and breathes on this planet. It doesn’t matter how one’s brain functions, the fact is that life can suck horribly. It can be extremely beautiful, but let’s face it; it has some horrible moments too. Well, throw a mental illness on top of all of that, and it’s a mixture of much more distress, heartache, crushing blows and a world of stigma from people who do not understand what it truly is like to live with it all.

It’s no secret that the pain of mental illness can lead to suicide. It’s a sad statistic that no one really likes to address often, but it’s real and should be addressed. I’ve been in that place many times since my symptoms began to arise in my late teens/early twenties. I’ve hurt beyond words and felt as if this world wouldn’t miss me if I were gone, because I was merely a burden on my family and friends and everyone else. When no one understands, it makes it hard to find hope that all will get better.

As I stated already, I’m not in that place right now. I am thankful for that. But, the fact of the matter is, I have been in that place too many times to ignore it. And, it is for that reason most of all that I no longer want to bring children into this world. I guess it’s a reason that’s based upon both love and selfishness. It’s love for a child not yet born. I would not want him or her to have to grow up without a mom, and leave that child to wonder if it was his or her existence that made mommy go away. I would not want to leave that child with the thoughts that he or she was not loveable enough for his or her mommy to stay. I guess that is where the love foundation starts, but that’s also where it ends.

The selfish reason is one of much less love. I hope this doesn’t make me look like a horrible person. But, I don’t want anything tying me down to this life. I don’t want to have to worry about a child depending on me as a mother, when I’m done with this life and ready to leave on my own accord. I don’t want anything holding me back when the time comes that I’ve finally had enough of the pain and hopelessness. I’m not saying that I will definitely take myself out of this world someday, but as I look forward in my future, I can’t see a real life. I can’t see myself in five years, ten years, or twenty years. I can’t see it in my mind. As a child and a teenager I could. I had dreams and hopes. I had goals of how I’d reach what I wanted. Now, I live each day, one-day-at-a-time. I have dreams of where my writing can maybe someday take me. I’m writing a novel and hope that someday I can reach a point of publication. But, at the same time, I can’t truly see it. My life is bits and snippets of production today, in my present life. But, in my future, those bits and snippets are even smaller. So, if I can’t see a clear future for myself, then how can I bring a child into this world knowing that I may just very well want to leave it someday? I don’t want that hovering over me.

I know this probably not only sounds awfully selfish, but also extremely dark and morbid. However, as I’ve said it’s based around how I’ve been in the past, when the depressions have gotten me so low that I feel that the best option would be to leave forever. I’m not discounting the possibility that someday I may just be an 80-year-old woman sitting on her porch watching the children play along her street. But, what I do know is that those children won’t be my grandchildren. Believe me when I say that is one goal of mine, though, that I can at least hope will happen. I may not be able to see it clearly in my future, but I do truly hope it will happen. I want to survive this illness. I want to make it.

A Closing…

I don’t want to leave this post on a depressing note. I know that’s kind of hard to do after laying all that out there for the world to read, but I want to end this post with a bit of hope.

I may not want to be a mother anymore, but I will say this… I absolutely love the little ones in my family. They are all special to me and I have a special place in my heart for each and every one. Not all women are meant to be mothers, and I think some of us who aren’t are accepting of that. I know I am. I am saddened that I will never have a little one of my own, but I’m not so saddened that it will kill my spirit of love. I love children, and the ones in my circle of family and friends will always be ones that I look forward to seeing. I have been blessed to watch one of my cousin’s three little ones grow up before my eyes. I held them each as newborns and they now sit on my lap with such happy innocence in their eyes. I’m watching these three little ones, as well as three of my great-nephews, grow up and form their own personalities and become these little people who will someday run this world.

As a child, I grew up with most of my nieces and nephews; therefore I didn’t get the chance to appreciate that growth in them, because I was growing myself. But, now I am old enough to watch it and take it all in and it never fails to make me look on in awe at their development.

I’ll never be a mom in this lifetime, but I can still love on the children who are in my life and be the best aunt, cousin, or friend to them. Mental illness may have taken motherhood away from me for my own personal reasons, but it can’t take away my love.

So, take that, bipolar… I’m stronger than you thought.

 

This is a beautiful song about parenthood. Written and performed by Ben Folds for his daughter Gracie.

 

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.

 

Dreams Gone By – Regret #1

Life is one heck of a roller coaster. I’m not referring to the bipolar roller coaster either, but rather the roller coaster of life. That “topsy-turvy, make you want to hurl at times” track that every human being rides from birth to death. Yeah, I know… after that, I doubt God would ever hire me for Heaven’s marketing team for advertisement on life, but I’m sure He understands from where my thoughts are coming. After all, He made us humans, and He gave us the ability to feel and think how we do, even when that deals with regrets.

Regrets. We all have them, men, women, and even children (although, depending on age, they may not always realize that’s what they’re feeling). So, this post is finally the beginning of a project that I wanted to start about two months ago. The project is one regarding regret, and getting rid of those unwanted pains that have stricken me long enough throughout my life. Is that going to be easy? Heck no! Is that going to be possible? I’ll just leave that at a, “Maybe”. My goal in this project isn’t to forget about my regrets. I don’t think that’s even possible without slamming my head into a brick wall enough times. But, at least I can “try” (hey, my favorite word) to do my best coming to terms with them, and in doing so, moving past them.

So, for my first regret, I’m going to start with one that causes me much disappointment. It’s my regret of a dream gone by. A dream that I did not follow through long enough to realize if it was something that I should really do with my life. It’s my regret of not becoming a registered nurse, or at least trying harder to do so.

I guess I should give a little professional background before continuing. Only a handful of people I know are actually aware of this little fact that I’m about to talk about. And, three of those people read this blog. So, here I go spreading the word to everyone else. In the 11th grade, I began to have a serious desire to go for a career in law enforcement (yeah, don’t worry, this leads to the nursing dream). I come from a family with a few law enforcement individuals, and growing up around that knowledge always made me think that it was a possibility for me to enter the same field. However, as a child I wanted to be everything in the world. I was never set on just one profession. As many kids, I wanted to be every profession with which my mind was inundated. By the time I was sixteen years old, though, I was feeling the law enforcement bug a lot more strongly than ever before. So, when I graduated from high school, I knew that if I really wanted to become a police officer, then I’d better lose weight. At the time I was 100 pounds overweight and I knew that if I didn’t lose that weight, then I’d never have a chance to be a cop. So, I went to college and while there, I started losing weight. I was exercising, eating healthy and feeling great physically. And, by the time I was eligible to apply, I had lost 104 pounds, and was fit and thin. Of course, as previous posts of mine have shown, that weight loss did not stick. But, at that point in my life, I was thin.

I made it! I had reached the goal that I had set out for myself, and followed up that drop in weight with an early departure (I hadn’t finished) from college, while I tried to continue toward the goal of wearing a badge, and basically continue to find myself. See, I knew that I wanted to be a police officer, but there was still doubt inside of whether or not I’d make it. And, as I worked up the courage to try, I worked hard at my job, while I tried to weigh all of my options. It was during this time too that I had been dealing with the early stages of what I now know to be my bipolar. However, at the time, there was a part of me that thought, “Hey, if I become a cop, then I’ll be happy, ‘cause it’s what I want to do with my life.” I was looking for happiness in something that I now know would not have given it to me, at least not to the degree that I wanted.

Well, the time came that I felt I was ready, and I sent in that application. A month later, I received my letter of approval for taking the written and physical exams an hour away, over in the next county (where my city held its exams). So, I bought the book to help me prepare for the written exam and I continued to work out like crazy to prepare for the physical fitness test. So, how did it all turn out? Well, considering what you all know about me from my blog, I’m sure you can figure out that answer.

I passed the 3-hour written exam with flying colors, but the physical fitness test… well, let’s just say some pretty dazed-induced colors passed by my whirling head, before they filled up the huge lumps on both my head and knee from a failed jump over the wall. Yep, I missed. I thought I was ready, but alas, my upper body strength was not as built up as my lower body, so I was able to get up on the wall, but just not over it. What did I look like, you may ask? Picture someone with both arms stretched out and hanging onto the top of the wall for dear life, while her feet are firmly planted on the side of the wall. Now, imagine in your head that person saying, “Oh crap! How do I get out of this position?” Imagine all of that and you got me, trying climb that stupid six foot wall. Oh yeah! I forgot to mention that, didn’t I? I couldn’t climb over a SIX FOOT WALL! If there ever were a zombie apocalypse, I’d be the straggler, hanging onto the wall as bait while my fellow survivors jumped over.

Thankfully, the guys I was taking the test with (all but myself and one other girl were guys) were extremely supportive. The first time, when I ran up to the wall, my foot slipped off the side of the wall, forcing both that leg’s knee and my head into it (leading to the colorful lumps). It was then, though, that the guys were yelling, “Come on girl! Shake it off! Shake it off! You can do it!” So, that snapped me out of the stunned pain I was in, and I turned around for my second (and last allowed) try. It was that final try where I just hung there on the wall. I really think I should have gotten some points for some kind of Spiderman skills and stamina. Unfortunately, however, this is real life and in real life, you often don’t get points for effort. So, I walked away from that experience a failure (at least in my eyes). I was immediately disqualified, as part of the rules stated that if you miss any of the individual physical tests, then you’re immediately gone, until another year when you may try again.

As I walked away with both swelling in my knee and head starting to form, I was strong and thanked the police officers and trainers for their time and opportunity. I then walked off alone and cried once I was out of sight. After working so hard to lose weight and get into shape and study for the written exam, I failed because I literally hit a wall. Believe me, the cruel humor of that is not lost on me.

I was crushed, and I felt even more lost than I was prior to making the decision of going for the academy exams. Now, with the bipolar, I know that I most likely wouldn’t have made it past the psychological exam anyway. But, back then, I didn’t know anything about what was going on in my head and failing that test hurt… badly. So, I headed back to work the next day without the opportunity to tell my boss and co-workers that I had succeeded. Instead, I headed in there as if the previous day was just as ordinary as the last. A couple of months later, I received a call from the Lieutenant for my city’s Police Department, offering me a rare second chance to take the physical exam again. He said my written exam scores were high and that he felt I had it in me to pass the physical exam, if I just built up my upper body strength a bit more. He remembered my fantastic ability to plant my head so firmly into a wooden wall, and said that he could see that I was strong, just not strong enough at that point. I flipped out (once I was off the phone with him), and was so happy that I was being given this wonderful opportunity. I was excited. However, that excitement was short-lived. A couple of months later, as I was still prepping my body for the test, one of my police officer family members was seriously injured in an accident while on patrol one night. It was an extremely serious set of injuries, and it was a frightening time in our family’s past.

After a long recovery, he made it through, and is now ok. Thank God! That experience, however, made me start to re-evaluate my goals in life. At that time, I obviously knew that dangers come with being a police officer, but there was something about a car accident while on patrol that never occurred to me before. I had thought getting shot or stabbed would be a rare encounter if ever while being a police officer. But, a car accident… that was something so much closer to home. It was something that would be much more likely considering my role as an officer. I did a whole lot of soul searching after all of this, and decided that the best thing would be to leave that dream behind. I no longer wanted it. I was hit in the face by a fact about that career that I had never considered before. I realized right then and there, that it was a dream that I may have once ached for, but no longer did. It was something in my past.

Therefore, to this day, I do not regret it. I followed through with that dream as far as I could, before realizing it wasn’t for me. I realized that it wasn’t the place in the professional world where I was meant to be. And, I’m now content with that. I do not regret being just an ordinary citizen without a badge. I don’t regret it because I followed through with it. Unfortunately, though, I cannot say the same thing for nursing.

Nursing was something that was on my mind off and on throughout these same years. It was always in the back of my mind, and then would often move to the forefront before moving backward again. Throughout the beginning of my college career, I took prerequisites for the program, and was working toward that goal, while also working on getting my body to a point of law enforcement eligibility. And, after deciding that being a cop was no longer for me, I quit my job months later, and went back to school full-time for nursing. I took almost all of my prerequisites, before the doubt began to set in. Once I reached the point of the anatomy and physiology courses, I started doubting my ability to be a nurse. I used the excuse that I didn’t think I could handle the blood and guts, but that wasn’t true. I was merely using that as an excuse for those I knew, so that they wouldn’t see me as the lame loser that I knew I was. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. Why was I suddenly losing the motivation? Why was I feeling so low, again? It was that depression creeping up on me again, and I could feel it. So, I lied and said I couldn’t handle the blood and guts. What was the real reason for my not following through with my dream, aside from the creeping depression? Fear. I was afraid. I was so scared of failing as both a nursing student, and even worse… as a nurse. I also worried that in doing so, that I’d hit a whole knew realm of defeat in my already confused life. So, I stopped. Just like that, I stopped going to classes one day, and that was it. I was stuck in limbo for the next months. During this time, I spiraled into a deeper depression, due to feeling so lost and out of place in life. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I was without a job, without school, and even worse… without a plan. I had no goal left for my life. All that I could focus on was what I was going to do with this pitiful life.

But, then, the conversation happened. One day, I was at one of my aunt and uncle’s houses. My uncle (a law enforcement officer) was the only one home and we were just hanging out and having a great conversation about all sorts of subjects and issues. Eventually, the conversation worked its way into my future plans. I told him I didn’t know what to do at that point. I was at a loss. He had recently seen a video I had created, though, and he told me that he felt I should go back to school for arts and design. He told me I had a talent that needed to be explored and developed, and it was important for me to do so. I have great respect for this man, and so hearing those words from him did something to me. I guess you could say that they lit a fire under me and made me really start wondering if he was right. So, over the next couple of months I kept thinking about what he said and how he said it. So, as I fought against my depression, I also juggled the words and advice that my uncle had given to me… words that meant much more than I think he realized that day. See, that’s the important part. What he said was so nice to hear. However, it wasn’t just what he said, but rather how he said it that made the difference. He wasn’t lying to me. He wasn’t patronizing me. He wasn’t just giving me some pep talk filled with bulls**t. He was speaking from his heart, and I could see that. He’s one of those reputable people in my life whom I respect and admire. It was the tone he used that day… the words he used, and the fact that he looked directly at me, staring me down with the encouragement he was setting forth. He really meant what he said.

So, by the next semester, I was back in school and on my way to my bachelor’s degree in Media Arts and Design, which I earned in 2007. I made it a point at my graduation party to pull my uncle aside and give him a private, yet strongly appreciative thanks for what he did. He gave me the encouragement that I needed, during a time when the still-unknown bipolar was starting to push me further into emotional unsteadiness, leading me into deeper doubt about my own capabilities.

Am I happy that I graduated with my bachelor’s in that field? Yes! I am extremely happy and grateful for all who helped, supported, taught, and endured me throughout those years of both academic exhaustion, and emotional turbulence. I’m not sure how I managed to make it through school and actually graduate, but I did. Through all of the turmoil that bipolar was starting to throw at me, I still managed to bypass it for that time being and pull forward. And, I’m satisfied with that achievement in my life. I’m not sad about it. I’m not regretful about it. I accomplished something that had always been a goal of mine… to receive my college degree. So, if I am happy with reaching that educational goal, why on earth would I be regretful about not attending nursing school?

Well, the disappointment in my not following through with nursing school didn’t begin to show its face until after I was diagnosed with bipolar in 2009. It was then that I began to feel that I may have missed my calling. I feel that with everything I have dealt with – and continue to deal with – in my life, that I could have been a better nurse than I had ever realized. I was so afraid of failing at such an important role in the medical field, that I let that keep me from moving closer to that goal. I never stopped to think what qualities I had that could have been useful in that very field. Then, again, maybe I just couldn’t see those qualities back then. After all, I hadn’t been diagnosed as having a mental illness yet.

Let me explain what I mean by that. Bipolar is a curse, but, strangely, it can also be an odd blessing. I’m not sure how many sufferers from the illness would concur with me on that, but here’s my reasoning. I’m in touch with emotions on a different level than people who are not bipolar. I’m not saying that people without the illness aren’t in touch with their emotions. I’m absolutely not saying that. Rather, what I’m saying is that through my highs and lows, I have not only experienced a range of emotions, but I’ve also had to face them head on… often on my own, but also through therapy. I’ve been from points of suicidal ideation, to points of feeling like sleep was a mere hindrance to a better and more productive life of creativity and fantasy. Due to this extreme range of emotional experience, I often wonder if maybe I could have been a good nurse. Of course, I would have had to be stable to do so, but in that stabilized state, what if I could have been there for patients in a way that not all people can understand? What if I could have been that person who understands them in a way that most people don’t? To be a good nurse, you definitely don’t need to be bipolar, but you do need to be in touch with what others are feeling. I have such deep respect for nurses, and know a few in my family whom I admire.

I don’t know if I would have made a good nurse. I don’t even know if I would have been able to handle the stress of it. I would hope that I could have been the kind of person that could calm the fears of a patient and comfort them in times of pain and trauma. I would hope that I could have been there with the family of a loved one for whom they are worried and distraught. I would hope that I could have been a hand to place on their shoulder, or the arms to place around them in a hug of support. But, that is something I will just have to dream about. This is one regret that I have which I am currently trying to just move beyond. I went to school, got my bachelor’s, and spent a lot of money doing so. Going to school for nursing now… well, that’s something that for a time I thought could still happen, but that dream has been fading.

I guess I just need to continue to wait for what God really has in store for me. I’m trying to figure it out. I want to know what He wants for me. I want to know what I’m supposed to do with all of this craziness that is my life. I want to know why I can’t live my life without putting my family and friends through my crap. I often ask myself the question, “Of all the people I could have been in this life, why did I have to be me?” However, then I ask another question. Who would I want to be if I wasn’t me?

As Leona Lewis says in one of my favorite songs (and puts it best), “I just want to be happy.” But, I don’t know what would truly make me happy anymore. All I know is that I want it. I want to be happy… really, truly, happy, for more than just a day or two before something sets me off and I become an unpleasant annoyance for those around me.

Yeah, I guess that’s it. I just want to be happy.

 

 

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.

 

30 Regrets… 30 Goodbyes

 

So, I’ve been thinking about this post for a long time now, and I’ve decided it’s time to finally write it, because I am tired. I’m tired of the bipolar. I’m tired of the anxiety. I’m tired of the OCD. I’m tired of the PCOS. I’m tired of medications and their side effects. I’m tired of sitting in my psychiatrist’s office once every one to three months, so that I can recap my life for her, and watch her write, who knows what, in my chart. And, I’m tired that my stability depends on outside forces, and not from within my own self.

I’m tired of it all, but there is only so much that I can do. I can do only what is possible, but I cannot do what I want, and that’s rid it all from my body and mind for good.

Contrary to what it may seem like, this post is not a rant or a vent in anyway. It’s actually the beginning of a release, of a different sort. After the last several days – on top of the crap-infested recent month – I’m exhausted, mentally, emotionally and physically. I want to just lie down all day, and since this weekend, that’s pretty much the bulk of what I’ve been doing. But, I don’t want this. I want to feel good, and I currently feel like horrible. So, I’ve decided to finally start this undertaking, and stop putting it off. I’m hoping it might help in some way.

I’m saying goodbye to some old friends that have burdened me for too long. I’m saying goodbye to thirty regrets. These are parts of me that I can actually rid from myself. I may not be able to remove them from my memory, but I can remove them from my conscience. These have been regrets and guilt that I have held with me for far too long. Some are regrets from adulthood, and some are from childhood. But, all have held a power over me that I’m so tired of bearing. I’m ready to say goodbye to them. I’m ready to rid them from my brain’s way too cluttered attic.

So, very soon, I will begin distributing eviction notices to thirty regrets that I’ve carried with me for too many years. I’m not sure if I can write one each day, and I don’t want to place that stress on top of me. Instead of pressuring myself into an actual 30-day deadline, I am going to just say, that I will aim to complete my mission. Ok, not the most ambitious goal, but it’s still a goal. Therefore, in addition to my usual blogging, I will also work through this challenge.

My presentation of regrets will not be in any particular order. I will write about whichever ones I feel compelled to write about on any given day. I hope to begin soon. I’m not in any mood for writing a lot right now, so I’ll begin the ‘cleaning house’ as soon as I feel up to it. I just wanted to at least make it a point to begin the challenge, by announcing my plans.

My regrets have mooched off of my soul for far too long, and it’s time that they go out and find another line of work.

*If anyone would like to join me in this journey, in your own challenge, then great! If you’d like to also use the above image that I’ve created on your blog, then please feel free to do so, as long as you do not remove the copyright/credit information at the bottom of the illustration. I would greatly appreciate that, and thank you.