One of the toughest challenges for those with mental illness is maintaining relationships. It takes extra effort and compassion. I am lucky to be married to a strong, amazing woman. This poem is in tribute to that part of my marriage.
Diamond In The Rough
Driving alone, I love the dark.
I take the freeway to your heart.
Breathe my dust into your lungs,
A gentle scratch and we are done.
My blood is bitter; you taste sweet.
You watched me shatter on the street.
Was that in vain?
Am I still stable?
Think it’s time to cut my cable.
A glittered sundown with a barren tomorrow,
I fill your being with elated sorrow.
Did you yell?
Or cry it out?
Polluted words flee my mouth.
You inhale this whirlwind even still,
Through hazy hearts, I feel your will.
Am I the diamond in your rough?
Let me know when it’s enough.
I want to start off by announcing some exciting news. We’re going to have a baby! That’s right, my wife is six weeks pregnant & we couldn’t be happier. Since this is our first baby, we are obsessed with researching everything. We are borderline crazy. And we love it. We also have started the discussion process on one very important aspect of our lives, and that is my Bipolar Disorder.
I am well aware that this last year has been one of my most challenging, disorder-wise. My wife and I were strained in our marriage last summer due to my extreme episodic tendencies. I’ve had less than 9 months on my current med cocktail, and I’ve experienced more than one bout of psychosis in the last 6 months. It’s impossible to not think of these factors as I approach parent-hood.
Because my life is about to change exponentially, I am more determined than ever to get my Bipolar under control. I’m aware that may sound ambitious and a little worldly, but I do know that Bipolar parenting is no easy feat. In order to help get myself into mood-controlling habits, I’ve been researching the topic of parenting with Bipolar Disorder.
My wife and I already made the decision for her to carry due to my disorder. I’m not saying that Bipolar women can’t become pregnant, but there are definitely some things to consider. First, many of the medications that are used to treat Bipolar have been known to be harmful to the developing fetus. Therefore, it is common, and recommended, to come off of meds once pregnant. Second, mood swings can get extreme and stress levels can be high. Neither are healthy for mom or baby. Then there is also the issue of being able to work off of meds, the decision of when to reintroduce meds, and to breastfeed after the baby is born or not breastfeed in order to start taking medication again.
While deep in my heart I’d love to be able to become pregnant, it has pretty much been decided that will not happen for awhile, if at all. (I’m sure I’ll explore this topic more as we go along.) For now, I’m working on being the best support I can be for my nauseous, hormonal, beautiful wife. This is a time of transition and growth, and there is no room for me to bust out an episode that could make things messy. I don’t really know how I’m going to maintain stability, but I know I have more of a reason than ever to try my hardest. And of course I’ll post updates on my journey.
One of the things that I can’t ever seem to wrap my head around is why the hell I miss being manic when I’m feeling well. Bipolar remission, as this article refers to it, is a balanced and mentally healthy place to be. Extremes like depression and mania are sneaky culprits, robbing us of the balanced state of mind. It’s very easy to romanticize these extreme moods, however. (Much like I’ve been doing recently.) From the carefree and seductive mania, to the lazy melancholy of the depressed mood, we tend to appreciate the intensity of these states. Often we don’t appreciate them until they are gone, and we are feeling good. This is also where we tend to forget the ugly side of extreme moods, such as irritability, sadness, destruction, and potential consequences from poor judgement.
Check out this article from bphope.com on one woman’s perspective as she struggles with missing her mania during her Bipolar remission:
Missing bipolar mania during remission | bphope.
Bipolar Disorder is a lifelong illness, and it affects millions of adults in the U.S. Treatments include medication and various forms of therapy for mood management. It is important for those with Bipolar to get involved with activities that provide structure and routine, while helping to keep energy focused.
Exercise is one activity that helps bipolar disorder, not only because of the endorphines and positive brain chemicals, but because it helps both extremes- depression and mania. Physical activity gives manic energy a structured channel, thus facilitating a healthy outlet. As for depression, having an exercise routine can help lift the symptoms, producing the energy that is usually lacking when in a depressed state.
Creative activities are extremely beneficial for bipolar disorder. Most people with bipolar tend to be naturally creative anyway, so finding means for creative expression can actually be therapeutic and aid in maintaining mood swings and episodes. Writing, painting, crafts, and music are ideal activities for creative people.
Social activities with loved ones and friends or with a support group help those with mood disorders because socializing allows one to step outside and into the relationship paradigms they hold with others, whether intimately or casually. Recreational activities decrease stress and boost serotonin and dopamine. Sometimes it helps to talk about stressors involving the disorder as well.
Getting your domestic activities in order is a must for both necessity and hobby. It’s good to commit to a routine with housework and cleaning, otherwise potential mood episodes can alter the likelihood of completing chores. Other domestic activities can be fun, like cooking, and would be a great hobby. These activities enhance memory and attention span, as well as a sense of accomplishment.
Sometimes it may seem difficult to get started on incorporating activities into one’s life, but once the routine is set, it becomes easier, and quite enjoyable. The benefits for bipolar disorder and self-discovery are definitely worth the while.
I’m just a proxy in my own life,
And all that blocks me from my own light.
Faced with caffeinated conviction beating from my hollow chest,
Taste of metal travels through my mouth of perfect flesh.
I speak the words that once were fused.
Dancing satellites behold my muse.
Bleeding, breathing, scream alive!
Crying, loving, feelings thrive!
Rampantly flowing, the levee’s only chance;
That time has come to learn my dance.
The door is open, so shove me hard.
Gaining, remaining, I play my part.
I’ve outgrown my private cell,
Shameless esteem unlocked from hell.
So take a chance to embrace self love,
Create the path my dreams are made of.
It’s Wednesday morning and I wake up around 8:30. I break into a simple yoga stretch and admire the sunlight peering through the curtain. I wash down my morning meds with a gulp of room temperature water from my nightstand, and I slide into my slippers. And yet something is missing. It has been like this for days now, slow and steady. What is it that’s missing? I’m content and seemingly stable. What’s missing is the roller coaster I’ve been hanging onto these last couple of months. I feel good. The moods aren’t acting like a cracked out pendulum, the delusions have hushed themselves, and I haven’t had a crying spell in over a week. I’ve been practicing positive affirmations and washing away the typically negative thoughts that creep into my mind. Nothing short of a mental marvel, I can’t help but wonder how long it will last. I can’t help but secretly prepare myself for when I unravel.
Maybe I’m contradicting myself a little bit, but this isn’t intended to sound negative. I think many of us keep our illness in the back of our minds when we are feeling well. This poses the question- Do we become attached to our disorder? I mean, I don’t think I miss feeling like a crazy person, but at the same time, I was unstable for so long that it was all I knew for a period of time. It was familiar. In humans, familiarity is comforting. So is the ability to predict what is going to happen. Right now, I have no clue what is up next for me. Such a refreshing feeling to know I am receptive to positive things and opportunities, it is also a little scary. This is new to me. I cannot predict my path, nor is it familiar.
Taking advantage of new opportunities, I enrolled in a college certification program which will enhance my current Bachelor’s degree. Clearly this makes me feel empowered and excited to get back into the educational groove. My wife and I are also getting closer to preparing for a baby and beginning the process with the doctor. This, I am beyond excited for. I guess when taking a good hard look at the dynamics of my life with Bipolar Disorder- the highs and the lows, and the crazy in-between- it is forever evolving. While I am so glad that I have found a stable zone right now, I am smart about my mental wellness, taking responsibility for myself and all areas of my disorder. I am going to continue with whatever I’m doing now and enjoy each day as it comes.
I found this article on everydayhealth.com about the most common triggers of Bipolar Disorder. The article touches on things such as lack of sleep, dealing with triggers from a breakup, seasonal changes and how they affect mood changes, pregnancy, job loss, and more. One of the more interesting triggers that I can identify with is grief, or mourning the death of a loved one, and the theory of “funeral mania”. I’ve lost several friends and family members over the last couple of years, and I hadn’t realized that it was indeed triggering manic symptoms in me. I knew I behaved differently because I felt like I should be more depressed, not the “busy-body” I become when someone passes. Anyway, check out the article and perhaps gain some new insight on your own triggers.
I wrote this in reflection of starting fresh and erasing negativity, and then how life intercepts our purity, thus shaping how we think and live. I’ve been working on personal empowerment.
She said I’m emo.
I said I’m thirty.
He said I’m brilliant.
I said I’m fed up.
They said I’m slipping.
I said I’ve resurfaced.
I look in the mirror and laugh at the irony.
Unclothed and pure, I bathe in all that keeps me afloat.
Every sense is heightened and I’m so much more aware.
You insist I’m slipping.
I declare I’ve resurfaced.
She said I’m out of hand.
I said show me.
They said I’m crazy.
I said thank you.
This time I listen hard and a fresh melody appears.
I’m vulnerable and young, with a delicate perspective.
I’m given a new set of nerves, and life so strongly caresses each one,
while stripping me of my new found naivety, leaving me to desire more.
I’ve been abusing my inner child and now that inner child is acting out. It’s one thing to deal with low self esteem, but I have put myself through the stress of constant negative self-talks for so long that I’m turning into a person I don’t recognize. I don’t feel smart enough or pretty enough. My anxiety is through the roof, causing my mood swings to fluctuate in ways unusual for me. I’m self-conscious of my Bipolar and I keep thinking it will ruin my marriage, even though my wife has tried convincing me otherwise. This negative anxiety has wrapped it’s poisonous claws around the center of my mind, pushing me into a mental rock bottom. And it’s turning me mean. For instance last weekend I was at an event with my wife, and she ran into a former co-worker, whom she introduced me to. And you know what? I was fucking rude. I behaved badly. I allowed my anxiety and insecurity to lie to me so I treated this individual (who is probably a nice, decent person) like they were not worth meeting. The sad part is this isn’t the only time it has happened. I have beat my self down to the point where strangers unknowingly play a role in my distorted thinking. Surely, I don’t have to say how this affects my relationship.
Okay now that that’s out, I should update from my last post. My premonitions and distorted thoughts continued, as well as a belief that I accepted a mission between my friends that only lead to conspiracy, and a belief that something terrible will happen if I drive on the expressway home each day. The thing is, I recognize this as irrational, and that’s what I told my psychiatrist when I saw him yesterday. Of course as I was talking to him I thought he wasn’t taking me seriously and he was simply amused by me. Honestly I have no idea if that is rational or irrational. I have no witness. He made some adjustments to my medications and wants me to call him in 5 days.
So what am I doing about all of this? Well, once I realized that my inner child is suffering, it broke my heart. My wife and I had a very long discussion and I expressed all of these things to her, which is difficult for me since I don’t want to scare her or push her away, or make her worry. I made a decision that I will no longer accept the negative thoughts. Easier said than done, I know, but I will make a point to catch myself when it happens. I’m also working on finding more positive in my daily life. And mostly, I want to make a point to think of others and not myself in situations. My thoughts need to shut up when I meet new people or when I’m in high stress situations. And of course, I am keeping up with my meds and whatever changes are made in that department. Oh yeah and I’m going to try and take my own advice also, and practice the tips on self esteem that I shared on this blog.
My mind is a liar and it’s playing tricks on me. My moods have been hanging on the roller coaster again, while incorporating fleeting distortions of reality. What is this mess? My depression seems to still be present, but my agitation is very up and down, my crying spells randomly appear, I’m ultra sensitive, and have been very anxious. Also, the fact that I’m aware of the mild delusions I’ve experienced these last two days is, as far as I’m concerned, a good thing. During really bad manic episodes, I have experienced delusions and hallucinations that I sometimes could not recognize. That is not the case right now. Instead, I’m having what appear to be premonitions. Two things stand out in my premonition- the color yellow, and a dirty watch. I’ve yet to decipher the meaning of this, but hopefully either the vividness of these symbols will fade, or I will actually solve the puzzle.
For some of you this might sound crazy, for others, maybe comforting. My reality was further distorted yesterday when I pulled up to my house, it’s as if it wasn’t my house. Who’s house is this? I went inside and it’s as if I didn’t know my wife – but at the same time, I did know her. It was all very surreal. In lieu of my pressured speech, I tried to explain this to my wife, and because she had already been concerned with my rapidly changing moods during the weekend, she asked if I needed to go to the hospital. That dreaded word we all know. Hospital. I declined. I know I have been difficult to get along with lately due to my mood changes, so I understand and respect her suggestion. However, I have an appointment with my psychiatrist this week, so I can hold off until then. In the mean time, I am trying to keep busy so my mind doesn’t wander into who knows where, and so I can keep these moods at bay. Guess I’ll just have to see what’s in store for me next.
Hope everyone is having a mentally hilarious weekend!
Swings devour you, so must I.
Delightful destruction, all riddles and lies.
Ride the coaster, fury fit.
Vanilla scented bull-shit.
Wrecking ball admiration,
Trapped by a heavy sensation.
Craving energy draws me near.
Evolve in contrast, feeling unclear.
Pin-prick bleeding sweet seduction,
Inflated ego, burned to reduction.
Swinging on this perfect high,
Do I dare feel so alive?
Moving fast, she spirals round.
Cruel enthusiasm meets cold ground.
All you can really do is take life by the reins, one day at a time.
I do not have the locket of information,
Just swallow it down then spit out the tomorrows.
What did it mean?
I know where you originated from, but do you know where I reside?
There never was a clairvoyant channel between our lies.
Between friends the channel didn’t exist.
Friend or foe, what does it matter?
You are simply composed of my thoughts.