Living in a Fantasy World? You’re Not Alone

Back in April of last year, I published a post on a special and – until I announced it on my blog – private experience. The post was called Living in a Fantasy World, and it was my way of finally revealing this place to where I go when I need to escape from this world of reality. I tried my best to explain what such an experience feels like and how it looks when my mind is lost in this world of imagination. It’s a unique place in which to be, that’s for certain, and it’s something that I wish I could bring you all into for at least a day. Then again, it’s also quite personal and a place of refuge and meditation, so it’s probably best it stays that way. However, I’m so glad that I decided to share it on my blog, because it has been a place for others to feel comfort. I have received many comments on my post since April, but especially in more recent months, which has inspired me to want to write this follow-up.

Refuge and Meditation

Refuge and meditation… those are two words that I hadn’t really associated with my fantasy world until I finally told my therapist about it, and posted here on my blog. When I first revealed my fantasy world to my therapist a couple of years ago, I was so worried that she would think of me as being completely crazy and in dire need of more help than previously realized. I mean think about it. When I enter this world, I become lost inside of it. I’m not just this world in my mind as I lay down on my bed. No, I am ‘lost’ inside of it in every sense of the word. I am mentally, emotionally and physically there. I see it, feel it, touch it, and even more dramatically… live it. It is my world for that time being. It becomes my reality and it is the most magnificent place to be, because I become free of all pain, stress, and feelings of being the hopeless and pitiful loser that I so often feel like in the real world. Therefore, when the time came that I revealed this private world to my therapist, I expected the worst reaction. Although, she had proved herself trustworthy to me, which is why I finally felt I could tell her. So, I guess there was a part of me that hoped that she’d respond in a different way. Well, she didn’t let me down.

The telling of my world to my therapist was a wonderful experience. It started off nerve-wracking as heck, as I recall not even being able to look at her when I talked about it. I also read to her a description about it that I thought would help to better express this world to her. That helps with the no eye contact thing too. And, her response was so supportive that it made me feel like such a better person than I had before that day. Prior to that day, I felt as if there was something seriously wrong with me. Ok, yeah, I have bipolar, so it’s not like I can say that I’m all ok in the head. My family and friends can tell you just how bad I can be at times. But, this isn’t anything about mental illness. My worries weren’t of having a mental illness (as this was prior to my diagnosis anyway), but rather, that I was somehow becoming distanced from reality and heading to a bad place of losing touch with it all together. I worried that I was somehow stuck in some unending childhood. I felt almost as if I was stunted somehow and that I was unable to leave this world of make-believe that I should have left by the time I hit my teenage years. I felt that it was time to grow up, and yet I was struggling to do so.

Well, my therapist – over the course of quite some time of discussing it in the sessions to follow – helped me to realize quite the opposite. She told me that there wasn’t anything wrong with having a fantasy world. She thought it was such a great and beautiful thing to have in my life and I should embrace it. Wow! Embrace it? Really? I never expected that to come out of her mouth, that’s for sure. Yet, it did. She had also began to help me understand just how important this world had become for me. I wasn’t diagnosed with bipolar until late 2009, and up until that point I was lost for years in a downward spiral into what can only be described as my own personal hell on earth. It’s quite an upside-down-topsy-turvy-complete-loss-of-control feeling when the world continues to move along normally around you, while you are slowly disintegrating into nothingness.

So, what does this have to do with my fantasy world? Well, my therapist helped me to finally see that my world of imagination was in actuality a refuge for me. It had become the place that would save my life. I can’t say that I would have ended my life without it. I know I wanted to many times, but I can’t say that I really would have done so, because obviously I didn’t. But, I also wonder now, thanks to my therapist, if maybe my fantasy world saved me too. When I was too depressed, then my mind was too exhausted and numb to be able to imagine my place of happiness. Happiness was gone. Before I even reached those points, though, I would sometimes head into that world and it would help me during those times. I would feel good for that period of time. As I wrote in my initial post back in April, coming out of that world was a different story. If I was interrupted somehow, then it was jarring and I was left angry and not the most pleasant person to be around. That’s still the case. If I naturally come out of it, though, I do not feel like that. Unfortunately, though, the depression will return and often sometimes worse knowing that my world of success is only in my head.

However, through it all back then, that world still provided me with a refuge during times that could have otherwise been spent obsessing on the negative that surrounded me. It did indeed save my life during those times when I had no therapist, no psychiatrist, no meds, and no diagnosis as for what on earth was happening to me. It gave me a place to go where my life was not upside down. That is where what my therapist described makes so much sense. And, I thank her for helping me to view my world as more than just some childish, losing-control-of-my-reality type of experience. And, then there is the blogging community. After my posting, I had several responses from people who read my post and not only appreciated me sharing, but helped me to feel like it was a place of meditation and importance that was creative. They, along with my therapist, helped me to see just how much creativity it takes to go into such a world in my mind, and that it was something that I should embrace and of which I should be proud as well.

I now realize, loud and clear, that being able to escape into my fantasy world is a gift that God has given me. He knew I would need some way to survive through some of the most tormented times of my life. And, having that place allows me to escape from a world that does not understand me. No matter how much my loved ones may try (for which I appreciate and love them dearly, and hope they never leave me), they just can’t understand what I feel inside. What those thoughts are that drill into my skull and cause pain that makes me want to use a sledgehammer to shatter my dysfunctional brain. The pain it feels to be high on top of the world. To feel happy, carefree, and enjoying life like I have the right. But then, suddenly crash to the bottom and wind up curled up on the couch in tears and exhaustion, and many times not even know what triggers it. It’s not fair, but mental illness isn’t fair. It sucks beyond all meaning of the word ‘suck’.

Why I Wrote This Post

As I stated in the beginning of this post, I wanted to write a follow up to my previous post back in April on this subject. The reason for this is due to all of the recent feedback I’ve had on it. I feel that lately, people have been suddenly hitting on the post again and a few have commented recently, and that tells me that people are searching for the topic. These people want answers to what I also so long wanted answers. I couldn’t find many responses or articles on this topic back when I used to search for it, and so it makes me feel good that my post can help others to not feel so alone. I felt alone when I couldn’t find any, and that just made me feel – even more so – that I was losing touch with reality.

One person, in a recent comment, talked about his/her own experience with their fantasy world, and then followed that up with, “Am I crazy?” I assured them that they are not, and thankfully, due to the loving support and advice that I have received from many of you and my therapist, I was able to say that with confidence.

I find it quite telling that such a post has been hit on so much recently. I think more people out there have these worlds, and want an answer to that same question… “Am I crazy?” I know I always wanted that same answer. I want each and every one of those people out there who are searching for answers on this subject to realize that there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a fantasy world. Take it from someone who has one and has been in that boat of worrying about my sanity due to it… there isn’t anything wrong with it. I love that I can finally say that. It’s OK. It’s our normal. It may not be the normal for most people in this world, but it is for many more than who come forward. And, that’s ok. No one has to reveal this place of private pleasure to anyone. It’s your world and no one else’s. If you choose to share about it, then great! If not, then great too! It’s great, because that is your choice, and you need to do what is best for yourself.

It’s important for me to emphasize that just because you may have a fantasy world, that doesn’t mean you have a mental illness. Such worlds can be a place for all people, no matter what is the source of his or her stress, pain, and need for a refuge. My therapist told me that. So, please don’t think that just because you have a special fantasy world that you go to, that it means you are suffering from bipolar like myself, or any other mental illness. It can just mean that you have a wonderful imagination of which you should be proud. And, hey, if you do happen to have a mental illness too… well, that’s OK too. You are not alone. We are all in this together. Mental illness or not, you are not alone.

Tap Into Your Imagination’s Energy

One of my favorite artists, Greg Olsen, and his perfect illustration of imagination.

One of my favorite artists and writers, Greg Olsen, and his perfect illustration of imagination.

Fantasy worlds can be a place for great material for books too. Think about it… our imaginations are taking us to places of happiness and enjoyment. Or, maybe for some, it takes them to places of darkness and scary scenarios, but if that’s what provides them with some sort of response that they desire, then that’s a place which is welcomed. It can be a place where one gathers up all of his or her creative thoughts and turns it into material for art, writing, music, or even interpretive dance. Basically, wherever your heart and mind can take you. So many places can be reached in reality with the content that comes out of our imaginative minds during these periods of fantasy. When you come out of those places, write it down. Have a notebook or journal nearby, and just jot down different parts if you can. And, who knows, someday you may come up with your own way of expressing it all to the world to share with others. Suddenly, the world can go into your world and experience the same joy, fear, or wherever you want to take them.

My therapist told me that another way to view it all, along with my dark thoughts that stem from my obsessive-compulsive disorder, is that Mary Shelly, Stephen King, Edgar Allen Poe, and many others, all had to get their ideas from somewhere. Sure, the culture around them can inspire them, but without their own dark thoughts and imaginations of their own, they wouldn’t have been able to sculpt those inspirations into the works of Frankenstein, The Shining, and The Tell-Tale Heart. Those works have entertained generations, and in some cases for over one hundred years. That says a lot. I can now understand what my therapist meant by, ‘embrace it’.

Those of use who can relate to having a fantasy world have so much in common. We have a shared experience that not all can say they have. So, be proud of your fantasy worlds, no matter what they may be. Take them for what they are and enjoy every minute of your experiences, because it truly is a special place to have the ability to visit. And, even better than that… you own it! It’s your world! Your mind created it, no one else! You took inspirations from around you and created a world of your own. How freakin’ awesomely amazing is that!?!? EMBRACE IT!

In closing, I would just like to add that to those who do not go to these places of wonder and enjoyment, please do not look down upon those of us who do. For we may just be the people that provide the entertainment that you may one day add to your list of all-time favorites.

 

A song about loving imagination, by one of my favorite musicians, Adam Young (Owl City). Please give it a listen… it’s a beautiful song.

 

 

Blog For Mental Health 2013

blogformentalhealth20131-1

Almost one year ago (will be a year in March), I joined the blogging community. In that time, I’ve met a lot of people – both fellow bloggers and readers – who have been generous with their time and interest in what I write. It’s been quite an experience, to say the least. It’s strange because when I first started my blog, I never considered that I’d become a part of any community. I just thought I’d post pieces and if people read them, great… if not, then that’s ok too. I was doing it mostly to help with my own healing and acceptance of my mental illness. However, after almost a year, I’ve discovered that I am in good company in the blogging world. I’m surrounded by great people who all understand the pain, stigma and heartaches of mental illness. And, we all share our ups, downs, good times, bad times and worst times, and are able to be there for one another.

Therefore, when I read about a blog pledge that is taking place among this mental health community, I wanted to learn more. To state right off the bat, this is not an award. This is a pledge to be a part of a growing community of mental health bloggers who want to make a change. People who want to help change the world’s view of mental illness and help people to understand what it’s really like. In addition, it’s to help provide comfort to those who suffer. Last night, I read two posts from two separate bloggers who are pledging to blog for mental health in this new year of 2013. Cate from Infinite Sadness… or Hope? And, Ruby from I Was Just Thinking are the two I read about, and they both are so encouraging in their pledges. So, I went to the original post about this blogging pledge called Blog For Mental Health 2013. Canvas Of The Minds has made an open pledge to those who wish to join this campaign, and I have decided to accept it.

You probably notice the wonderful pledge badge at the top of this page (and on my right sidebar) that was created for this campaign. Lulu from Sunny With A Chance of Armageddon designed the awesome badge. Thank you Lulu for creating a wonderful badge that can give us a visual representation of what we want to accomplish this year.

It’s Time to Make My Pledge

So, now I will follow the required steps as I make my official pledge to Blog For Mental Health in 2013.

I pledge my commitment to the Blog For Mental Health 2013 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.

As I’ve stated, I have accepted this pledge from A Canvas Of The Minds, in their announcement post. I thank them for welcoming those of us who wish to join in this crusade; a crusade of ending stigma, providing real facts and not misguided information, and most of all, giving support and a hand to those who are struggling with mental illness in this world. Thank you for offering me the chance to provide something positive through my illness.

The third step in accepting my pledge is to provide a short biography of myself in regards to my mental health and how it affects me. So, here it goes.

I have suffered from bipolar disorder since I was in at least my late teens. After a few years of therapy now, I’ve been able to realize that my mental illness began around that time and it only continued to get worse as I got older. I knew that something was wrong by my early twenties, and that is when it became noticeable to others. For this reason, I usually say my illness began to show its face in my late teens/early twenties. I’m never sure which is accurate. The symptoms (at least those that I can for sure pinpoint) began in my late teens, but they didn’t start to become problematic until my early twenties.

Either way, though, by the time I was in my mid twenties, I was starting to lose complete control over whom I was and I was losing myself to who I was becoming. I was frightened, angry, frustrated and hopeless that I’d ever find out what was wrong with me. My loneliness was mounting during this time, and it would only get worse leading up to my diagnosis in 2009. It was then, and only then, that I finally found doctors who truly listened. They didn’t offer me their quirky theories about what was going on with me. They didn’t hear me explain how I felt, only to respond with a simple, “Mhm.” These new doctors listened. In a year that had become the darkest and lowest of my life, I had finally found people who wanted to help me… truly help me.

It took a while to receive an official diagnosis from these doctors, but that was ok. I knew they weren’t just taking their time for no reason or because they didn’t care. It was quite the opposite. They did care, and wanted to make sure they got it right. So what’s my diagnosis? I have bipolar II, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and severe social anxiety with panic attacks. I take medication and go to therapy weekly. I see my psychiatrist every 1-3 months, depending on how I’m doing.

So, what does this mean to me? It means that I will have an unexpected struggle for the rest of my life. When I was a kid, I never thought I’d be diagnosed with a mental illness. I felt sorry for people who were diagnosed with such problems. Now, I’m one of those people. The difference is now I don’t feel sorry for ‘them’ anymore, because I realize that there is no ‘them’. We are all the same as any other normal person out there in this world. Yes, we struggle. Yes, our brains don’t work the way they should. Yes, we need to take medication to help keep us going from day-to-day. Yes, we have pain and often are not understood by even the most supportive of loved ones. But, even after all of that, we are still human beings. We are still worthy of dignity, respect and most of all, compassionate support. We all deserve to be loved and accepted. 

So, with this pledge, I vow to try my best to blog for mental health awareness, and help bring about the fact that mental illness does not equate to an alien race that doesn’t belong on this planet. We have every right to be here as anyone else, and we need to let it be heard that we are not going to back down. We will not give into the stigma.

Hopefully, someday, a generation of youth in this country will be able to hear someone make an ignorant comment about mental illness and respond with a, “Wow! You’re lame. Stigma was sooooo 2013.”

As I come to the end of my pledge, I am left with one final task, and that is to pledge five bloggers whom I feel would be great for this campaign. However, I am going to take a page from the wonderfully awesome Cate at Infinite Sadness… or Hope?, and extend the open pledge that The Canvas of the Minds originally offered. I hope anyone who reads this and wants to join in will indeed do so. The community of mental health bloggers needs great minds like yours. If you speak or want to speak out on mental health, then please join us. You have a voice and it’s worth a lot.

One more thing… 

Lulu has also asked that we help to build this sense of community by joining the Blog For Mental Health 2013 Official Blogroll! So, if you decide to join in this campaign, no matter what time of the year it may be when you read this, then just link back to the Blogroll’s original post. Once you do that, just click here and leave a comment with the link to your pledge so that you can be added to the official blogroll page.

Show the world our strength, show them our solidarity, show them what we are made of. Take the Blog for Mental Health pledge and proudly display the badge on your blog!

A Special Thank You

I would like to end this post with a special thank you to a very good friend of mine. She’s still standing by my side, even after some not so great times, especially recently. She has helped me to also see that blogging is beneficial to me in more ways than one. I appreciate her encouragement, love, and especially her patience. I know I’m not easy to be patient with when I’m in a bad place. I thank you, Lisa, for not giving up on me, and being such an awesome, caring and understanding friend. I love you!

Take care, all… and I hope this year can be a fruitful one for all of us in this mental health community and beyond. God Bless!

 

 

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.

 

 

Feeling Left Out

So, here I am, about a week (little less) before I can finally get my new prescription for the upped dosage of meds that I need. I really need them now, and the weird thing is that I actually want them. I hate taking my meds, but right now I can feel it inside. I feel the anger, hurt, and loneliness. I had some caffeine today in hopes that it would help me feel a little better. It did, which is why I’m probably actually writing right now and not collapsed on the couch. But, obviously that’s only a temporary fix. I was sitting here and feeling so alone and angry, about things that I don’t even understand.

Lately, every little slight, or perceived slight, has sent me hurdling downward. I begin to shutdown and suddenly want to tell everyone, “Go screw yourselves! Goodbye!” I want to turn my phone and computer off, and just curl up in a ball and just wither away. I hate who I am… from feeling left out, to feeling like I’m worthless, to feeling like I’m nothing more than an irritating flea in the lives of those I know.

I’ve been playing an online game I’ve played for years. But, something’s been happening to me in that environment lately… it’s making me feel even more left out at times. And, I don’t even understand why sometimes. It’s been the source of many therapy sessions for a few months now and I still can’t get past what I feel. However, there are times when I know exactly what is causing me to feel as I do. For example, I was on a talk chat channel the other night. It was myself and two other people. Well, one of those people has a little girl and put her up to the microphone. Well, it was obvious she told her daughter to say hello to one of the people in the channel… guess who that was… not me. I suddenly felt as if I was non-existent. The three of us adults were all talking and then, it was like I was suddenly not there and worth one of those adult’s time. It was obvious to me that she didn’t want her daughter to talk with me, and only wanted her to talk to the other person. That doesn’t surprise me due to the relationship of those two, but it still hurt. How do you tell your kid to say hi to one person, but completely ignore the other? Would you do that face-to-face? I’m curious how that person would have felt if the roles had been reversed. I’m getting tired of feeling like I’m not even there… like I’m the third wheel on a bicycle built only for two.

That’s a really horrible feeling and only takes me back to my childhood when I was completely ignored by kids. Literally pushed away for being unwelcome. Heck, it takes me back to even more recent years when my own family has ignored me. I’m annoying. I’m a burden. I’m nothing but this person people happen to know. These are the thoughts that have been going through my mind ‘cause I know that would make me want to ignore someone too if they had such qualities. I can be fine. I can be laughing with family and friends, and having a great time. However, all of a sudden, something triggers me. The switch is flipped for my shutdown. I become angry with these people and feel like I’m nothing to them. I cry and lose control over what I feel. And, sometimes, I can come back out of it right away, and others I need to leave the setting. This last week, I’ve cried more while lying down at night, than anything else. I haven’t slept properly at all, but it doesn’t matter. Between family problems, which are wearing me down, to the disappointment I have for my life, to the realization that another year has passed where my life is a total failure, I’m feeling like this is never going to end.

Since the night of that chat channel incident, I have gotten past it, as I’ve found myself having to do a lot lately. No hard feelings, but it still hurts when I think about it. But I have to just get past it ‘cause that’s life, and life is just crap. Life sucks. Anything I, you, or anyone can do about it? Nope. That’s just how it is until the day we die. That’s why I have my façade. The lying, make-others-feel-better façade that hides the pain I feel inside.

I think Linkin Park say it best in one of my favorite songs of theirs.

I know what it takes to move on. I know how it feels to lie. All I want to do is trade this life for something new, holding on to what I haven’t got.

I know I’m not the only one who can relate to this.

 

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.