Wednesday, March 30, 2016

World Bipolar Day

I've just read a brilliant blog post by one of my favorite bloggers Nicole Lyons. You can read the post here on her site The Lithium Chronicles.

It's inspired me to write a post of my own.

Today's World Bipolar Day and there's a lot of #WorldBipolarDay hashtags all over twitter.

For me, it's great. When I was first diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, I remember feeling scared, freaked out, and most importantly alone. None of my family members knew what it felt like when my head just wouldn't stop racing when I was manic or the dark hole of depression. They tried, but for the most part I felt that it was better to keep how I was feeling to myself. I wanted to be less of a "burden" and besides, having a mental illness just wasn't something you talked about all the time.

It hasn't been until lately, the past year or so, that I've begun to say: "To hell with everybody, I'm going to talk about my illness." All of sudden I realized just how many other people out there are living with bipolar just like me. It made me feel less abnormal and like I had a group I belonged to. Other people who "get it." A lot of the people I follow on twitter are people living with mental illness. The support I get just from reading other people's posts and personal blogs about their daily lives is so helpful and inspirational. Especially websites like The Mighty and Stigma Fighters. I've felt less alone, and I've realized I'm now proud of living with bipolar disorder. Because you know what? I'm LIVING, despite the fact that I have a mental illness that I have to deal with every single day.

So yeah, I'm pretty proud and I'm going to keep talking about it.

Happy #WorldBipolarDay!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Five Fun Facts About Me (Including Gifs!)

Thought I'd do something different and fun on my blog today.

I'm sure you all are just dying to know a few things about me. Here goes:

Fun fact #1: I believe that having bipolar and anxiety has helped shape who I am today. I'm a kinder and more considerate person because of all of the different experiences and emotions I've had.

Fun fact #2: I'm obsessed with chocolate, especially dark chocolate. Dove or Lindt.

Fun fact #3: I figure skated for 8 years and about 5 of those years I skated competitively.

I never looked like this :D

Fun fact #4: I love musicals. I've seen Cats on Broadway. I've seen Phantom of the Opera twice, once on Broadway, once at the Detroit Opera House. I've seen West Side Story at the Detroit Opera House. Also I saw Pippin on Broadway as well. I've also seen a ton of plays and musicals at the Dearborn Player's Guild.

Fun fact #5: I prefer tea over coffee.

And I think I've finally learned how to put gifs on my blog! Hope everyone is having a good weekend!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

My Sixteenth Summer: The Year I was Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder

I've never really written about how I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. So I thought I'd share my story from the beginning:

My Sixteenth Summer: The Year I was Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder

The thoughts had been torturing me for days now, spinning around in my head over and over again. Most of them didn’t make sense, at least, not to anyone else. I knew what they meant and I knew what I had to do. I had to write them down, because they were important. So very--wait what was I thinking about again? Oh well, it doesn’t matter, nothing really matters actually. I don’t really care what people think anymore which is a relief.

My best friend is looking at me like she’s afraid of something, of me. I don’t know why. I’m just trying to tell her something. She says I’m acting differently. It’s hard to concentrate on what she’s saying. My mind is starting to zone out again as the thought start circling back. I try harder to concentrate, and suddenly I’m angry, very angry. I hear myself telling her if she doesn’t want to be friends anymore that’s fine, just fine. My voice is shrill in a pitch I’ve never heard before. It doesn’t even sound like me. I see her eyes go wide as she gets up to leave.

I’m left alone in the hallway. It was the last day of school. The last day of tenth grade. A horrible year. There had been weeks when I would feel as though I needed to leap out of my own skin. An itch I couldn’t get rid of. A hunger that was never satisfied. I became obsessed with certain things. Honey buns, a food I never even liked, suddenly I couldn’t get enough of them. I gained weight, and I gained it quickly. Luckily I was quite thin, so the weight gain didn’t cause too much alarm. But I was hungry, so hungry. I’d wake up at two in the morning starving as though I hadn’t eaten all day. Something was wrong, but no one  wanted to say what it was quite yet.

At thirteen I was diagnosed with anxiety and later depression. I had been having panic attacks every month for a week when I was twelve. This lasted for a year, until I was finally put on an anti anxiety medication. Things were good for a little while, although I had bouts of depression as well.

It wasn’t until I was sixteen that things began to go a little haywire.

Then, that summer, during a particularly bad period of depression, I cut myself. I remember going into the bathroom and getting out a razor, thinking if I could just feel something, anything, maybe it would “release the pain” I was feeling inside. I was numb and been for at least a week. I cut across my right wrist, twice, and then the crook of my elbow, twice. I remember being angry when the cuts barely bled.

I hadn’t wanted to kill myself, but I did want to feel something, even if that feeling was pain.

My mother noticed later that evening and I made up the excuse that the cat had scratched me. Later they took me to my therapist and then my psychiatrist, who after hearing about my erratic behavior finally diagnosed me with bipolar disorder type 2. He put me on a mood stabilizer and continued my anti anxiety medicine.

Eight years later, and several severe manic episodes later, I switched doctors because I was no longer stable. My first visit with my current psychiatrist was when I was in a manic and almost psychotic state of mind. She immediately recognized that I had not been properly diagnosed and re-diagnosed me with bipolar type I. She slowly weaned me off of my anti anxiety medicine which was doing more harm than good, and added another mood stabilizer as well as raising the dose of my current mood stabilizer. Later I was also given a very low dose of an antidepressant when my depression was still not lifting.

I have been doing very well over the past two years. I’m happily taking care of myself and doing what it takes to remain stable. Writing about my illness has been something that I find to be very helpful in more ways than one. I hope that sharing my story will help not only people living with bipolar, like me, but also help people understand what it’s like. I hope to show that people with bipolar disorder are just everyday people trying to live their lives. Living with bipolar disorder is hard sometimes, but really it is about taking care of yourself, and everyone should be taking care of themselves whether they are living with an illness or leading a healthy life. We all have our struggles in life, and this is just one of mine.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Working (Literally) Through My Anxiety

I thought I'd update you all on how I've been doing.

I managed to make it through my usual half day of work today!

I was nervous this morning, but I went through my usual morning routine and just focused on doing one thing at a time. Work was work, and my boss asked if I could come in tomorrow because there's still a lot to be done. For the most part I was able to concentrate on work, but there was a few times when I was still anxious. It helped to count down the hours until I could leave, and that I had a therapy session right after work.

All in all it was a good day.

I hope everyone has been having a good week!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Life Changes: If At First You Don't Succed

Work didn't happen today. I've made a major change in my life and it caused a lot of anxiety for me yesterday. I almost didn't make it to work yesterday. I ended up having to stop by my parent's house to have my mom calm me down and then later drive me (we work at the same place.)

I hate having to do this. I hate feeling weak and needing to ask for help.  Before I go on a whole: I hate having anxiety and panic attacks, let me at least congratulate myself for making it to work yesterday, even though I only stayed for four hours. Yesterday, I barely made it to my parents' house because I could barely breathe. I was trying to keep myself from having panic attacks while I was driving. Trust me, panic attacks and driving don't mix very well. When I did finally make it to work, of course it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. However, I was exhausted from all the anxiety I'd been feeling, and my boss was understanding enough to let me go home early.

Today? Yeah today didn't go half as well as yesterday. But you know what? I needed today. I needed to take care of myself. I kept putting off taking my emergency anti-anxiety medicine because it makes me really sleepy. So, today I woke up, decided I wasn't going to work, and texted my boss the truth: that my anxiety was really bad today and I needed to stay home. Again, thank goodness I have an understanding boss. I took my medicine, and took a nice long nap.

Now, I'm continuing to work on not beating myself up about not going to work. That's the other thing about anxiety, the minute I decide to not do what is making me feel anxious, the guilt kicks in. Not this time though, I won't let it. I know I needed to give myself a day off. Tomorrow will be much better.

How do you deal with anxiety and guilt?