People ask me all the time how I manage being a mother of two and a full-time student.... I always say the same thing:
Jesus Medication Therapy My kids Dancing
That's it. That's how I carry my load....
What helps you carry yours?
People ask me all the time how I manage being a mother of two and a full-time student.... I always say the same thing:
Jesus Medication Therapy My kids Dancing
That's it. That's how I carry my load....
What helps you carry yours?
Today I'm honored and excited to have my friend Kimberly from All Work & No Play here on 'Confessions! Raw, authentic, honest, sweet, and full of saucy humor, she easily became one of my favorite people when we "met" nearly a year ago. Reading about her diagnosis and experience with bipolar disorder led me to seek more aggressive treatment which eventually led to my own diagnosis of BP. Please give her a warm welcome as you read her beautiful words, y'all.
The nurse directed me back to a small room in the ER where Dr. B, my psychiatrist, was waiting.
I flashed a nervous smile, pulled my sleeves over the self-inflicted cuts on my arm and said, “I’m not doing good.”
He motioned to the chair and I sat.
“I think we need to change our plans Kim. I’m going to put you on a mood stabilizer and an anti-psychotic, ones that we use to treat people with bipolar disorder.”
“Kim, you are bipolar.”
The magnitude of the diagnosis forcefully shook the smooth path of life that I was desperately trying to get back on.
I watched as it bent and curved and crumbled.
It grew hills and jagged mountains.
The path, once full of promise, now looked vapid; felt hauntingly uninviting.
It was too loud and too quiet.
It was too bright and too dark.
It felt too euphoric and too depressed and too angry.
It was too peaceful and too whimsical.
All at the same time.
And that light I’d been trying to reach for with all of my being, the end of my battle against postpartum depression and anxiety, was thrown so far at the end of the confusion.
I let my hope drop over the ledge of the path.
Bipolar 2 disorder was devastating diagnosis and at times, I refused to believe it.
I remember walking into Dr. B’s office numerous times and asking him if I was still bipolar.
Each time he nodded his head yes.
Each time I said “damn” under my breath.
For days and weeks I kept the diagnosis a secret.
I felt very ashamed of it. So much so that I dissociated myself from the people I needed most at the time.
Even my friends from a postpartum depression support group.
I felt that I just didn’t belong there.
I felt like a freak.
Through Dr. B, I’ve learned, and now believe, that there is nothing wrong about being bipolar.
There is nothing to be ashamed of.
You have cancer.
You have diabetes.
I have bipolar 2 disorder.
I’m not my illness.
My illness isn’t me.
My name is Kimberly.
I am somebody’s sister, aunt, daughter, and granddaughter.
I am a friend.
I am a Mother.
I am a wife.
I am a nurse.
I am creative.
I am sassy.
I am ridiculously funny.
I am smart.
I am compassionate.
I am in love with Chuck Norris.
I am me.
And that is beautiful.
Just like anyone with any type of medical condition, I still struggle with my illness. I have bumps and bruises and scars from navigating this bipolar road to prove it.
But it gets better.
And I have hopes that I can live a normal life just like the rest of ‘em.
I know I can.
I just have to keep fighting every day to get there.
And I will.
WHEW! It's Monday! I can't believe it, seriously. It's MONDAY, people. I have so much going on it feels like it's the middle of a grueling week, and it's only Monday. So much to tell you where do I start? Hmmmm.....
My head is spinning. I can't tell if it's from everything that's going on or from the medium iced coffee I now regret ingesting. Note to self, no more caffeine. If any of you fine readers have alternative solutions for trying to stay awake amidst medicinal side effects such as fatigue, please let a sufferer know....
Ok. So what is going on? SCHOOL. COLLEGE. MIDTERMS. Seriously, this semester took a sharp turn into WTFville very quickly and I've had more than I think a human can handle due daily for the past week and a half or so. Seriously, I know my profs are Christians, but between you and me I think they're smoking something because who assigns this much work? Clearly my profs do. It hasn't been fun, to say the least.....
But fun IS on the horizon because SPRING BREAK IS NEXT WEEK! I know understand why students go to Mexico and lose all inhibition and get wasted for 5 days in the middle of March. You've gotta release the pressure and tension somehow, right?
How am I going to release the pressure and tension during spring mini vacay? First I'm going to have a margarita. Or ten. On the rocks, none of that fru fru frozen nonsense. Next I'm going to board a plane and head to my dream city: Austin, a city I hope to one day live in, even if it's just for a year or two. Yep that's right, Brennan and I are heading cross country to the Lonestar State. It will be my first vacation, my first real break in over TEN (count em, TEN!) years. I think its long overdue don't you think?
I'm very excited because I will be away from the East Coast and seeing some family I haven't seen in years, so I'm sure it's going to be a swell trip. And I'm only kidding about the ten margaritas, I'm on meds, so I will of course be responsible and only allow myself one, two maximum.
Speaking of meds, guess what? I've jumped out of the dating game and into what I'm hoping is a long term relationship with Lamictal. Y'all I've been on it for a solid month and that's how I feel: solid. Still hypo manic, still a little (tiny) bit depressed here and there but it's finally manageable. I feel like my mind and emotions are in a checks and balances system that works. I don't want to jinx myself but I really do think that between Lamictal, Abilify, and my anti anxiety meds I've found the right cocktail. So I think I've found "the one," and I'm so in love, I can't believe it ;)
Speaking of my illness, I was asked by my professor to speak to her abnormal psych class about living with PPD and BP. I did and even though I cried, it went very well. It felt good to be able to be open and transparent with others, especially Christians, and I'm do glad I did it. I hope I eliminated some shame and stigma by speaking out....
And speaking of shame, there will be no shame in my game when it comes to Dance Party Fridays, people, because I've kicked it up a notch. I ordered some dancing scarves...
And can't WAIT to use them in a video! They came in the mail today and made. my. Monday. So pumped, I think my first song with them will be some Florence and the Machine...what do you think?
So in a nutshell that's my life at the moment. On this Monday.
How was your Monday? Any Spring Break plans with your kids or vacations lined up in the future? Feel free to dish in the comments ;)
(is it Friday yet?!)
This morning my Human Development professor asked me after class if I would like to speak to my classmates about Postpartum Depression. Is my name A'Driane?
Did I spend all of 2010 and 2011 living with and battling PPD?
Yes. Yes it is, yes I did, and hell yes I will speak to my classmates about such an important topic.
As soon as she finished the question my ear worm immediately started playing the opening lines & notes to "Lose Yourself" by Eminem....
Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity To seize everything you ever wanted in one moment Would you capture it? Or just let it slip?
A chance. An opportunity. To own a part of my story. To speak openly and honestly about something that leaves most women feeling ashamed and reeling from the effects it has on their lives. A chance to educate and share the facts, not the myths, misconceptions or misleading information that perpetuates the stigma.
I've been given another chance to take what I know, what I've learned and what I've experienced and share it with others, and while I'm humbled and grateful for this opportunity, I don't want to choke. I don't want to back out of it. I don't want my anxiety and fear to get the best of me and push the mute button on my voice. I know it's just a class and not some big speaking event, but I still feel a huge responsibility to do it well and help people be informed. I'm learning that when it comes to owning your story, recovery, and healing from pain, taking advantage of the opportunities to speak about what you went through is really important. I'm learning that doing so helps strip shame, pain, and what you're battling of its power. So even though it's small, I want to make sure I do that here.
So I'm reaching out to you all. I need your help. If you could say anything about PPD or mental illness to a group of 18-22 year olds, male and female, what would it be? What would you want them to know? What should they know that you didn't? What do you wish someone had told you? What has helped you get through it whether you've recovered or are still trying to recover?
If you would prefer to email me your response, feel free to do so: bconfessions (at) gmail (dot) com
Whether you're battling PPD or are a survivor, please help me educate and inform. Your feedback is tremendously appreciated.
At the beginning of the year I made a decision. Unless dire circumstances warrant it, I'm not going to work until I graduate from college. I started school in August of 2008 and became a social media consultant for a celebrity chef the same month. I worked 25-35 hours a week building and maintaining their online presence, traveling, going to school full-time, and being a mother....While I slowed down on the traveling once I became pregnant with Alex, I still maintained everything else; still working, still going to school full-time, still mothering....and also heavily involved in my church with various ministry obligations. I maintained this lifestyle while battling depression and the beginning of my BP. I was trying to do and be all and was slowing killing myself in the process. I wasn't taking the time to take care of me. I couldn't-I was too busy taking care of everyone else, trying to keep everything intact. Well I couldn't. Things started falling apart, especially in mentally & emotionally. In June after graduation, I decided not to consult anymore, eliminate my ministry responsibilities and just focus on finishing school and being a mama. When I was diagnosed with BP in July, my priorities shifted drastically with me placing my mental health first and foremost. Since that time I only have 3 main priorities
With therapy and medication struggles I'm barely managing to make it through handling those three things alone, I can't imagine adding a job to the mix. I seriously don't think I would make it. My psych suggested back in October that I seriously consider applying for disability. Just until I was able to get my illness under control and manageable. At first I balked at the idea because well....you know what, looking back, I don't know why I balked. All of my reasons for not wanting to be "dependent" were pretty irrational now that I think about it. They were all wrapped up in that pesky, unhealthy set of expectations I talked about a couple of weeks ago, you know the ones that needed deconstructing? They were expectations and standards that said because I am a single parent I should be working 1-2 jobs while putting myself through school to provide for my kids. They were expectations that said I'm a mom, I can do and be all-all the time. They were expectations that said if I'm not working to provide for my family, I'm slacking in my duties. But after a few therapy sessions and lots of reflecting I was able to break those expectations down and really look at myself, my limitations, and my goals realistically
When I look at those three items on my plate I see that it's full and adding a job to it right now will only make it worse. I don't want to work right now because I would like to focus on school and because working would take time away from the boys, time that I don't want to give up...not right now. I also can't work because I'm still trying to focus on recovering, on finding the right medication and therapy that will (hopefully) help me manage my symptoms if not be episode free altogether.
I took the time to be honest about and recognize my limitations....doing so made room for my expectations of myself to shift. I want to work-but only after I'm healthy enough, and not until I have my degree in Social Work. So until then I have to do what is necessary to make sure I have enough to provide for us month to month. ...and I have to make sure that there is something in place to take care of the boys should I have an episode that leads to hospitalization or extended treatment.
So at the beginning of the year I took my psych's advice and applied for an increase in my veterans disability rating (I'm currently at 30% for depression, anxiety, and PTSD) as well as disability through the state. of PA. I also applied for other social service benefits which should help me significantly. I also renewed my academic accommodations, ensuring help with my schoolwork and extended absences should I need it.
Admitting that I need this kind of help wasn't easy....but I feel much better knowing that it will help me take care of myself and my children.
Don't be afraid to admit that you need or accept help. It's there for a reason. We just have to humble ourselves enough to use it.
"Mommiiiiiiiiiieeeeeee!" (little arms wrap themselves around my legs giving them tight, loving squeezes)
Hey sweetie are you ready to go?
"YUP. " (grabs jacket & my hand) "Who's in the car with us today, Mom?"
No one sweetie, it's just us, c'mon. (I pull him thru the door and out into the brisk cold where the late afternoon sun greets our faces with lazy kisses of sunlight)
"It's Monday, right Mom?"
Yes it is. Do you remember where we're going?
"To the therapist. You see the therapist on Mondays after school. Every Monday, not Saturdays anymore, right? The therapist is like a doctor who helps you fix your mind and 'motions, right?"
Right. But first we have to go to Target to buy you a coloring book and a toy.
"A toy? Why? What kind of toy?"
Any kind of toy you want as long as it's not too expensive. We have to get you a toy because I forgot to charge the iPad and you need something to do whi-
"While you talk to the therapist?"
I'm not perfect. I haven't been anywhere close to a Stepford Mom and that is why I believe in having full disclosure with my son about the fact that I see a therapist...a "doctor who helps (me) fix (my) mind and 'motions." He's seen my at my worst since Alex was born nearly 22+mos ago and if it's one thing that being in therapy has taught me, it's that full disclosure helps paint a clearer picture for people to see and try to understand. So with Brennan, I don't hide or keep from him the fact that I need help with certain parts of myself. He understands that there are parts of me that can be out of control and need help or "fixing" so I can be a "healthy Mommie," as he puts it. He's only going on 5 but he gets it or at least what he needs to at this stage and that eases the tension on the pressure valve of motherhood to appear like I have it all together. Cause let's face it-I don't, and after the past 2 years we've had I know he can see and understand that I don't, so why try to hide it from him? I can't. I refuse to. I refuse to perpetuate any kind of shame, negative stigma or unhealthy association to this. Even though mental illness runs in my family, it's something my family sucks the big wad at, talking about their problems, their malfunctioning parts, and seeking solid, effective treatment for them. And besides, it wouldn't be fair of me to tell all of you the down and dirty 411 of my life and illness and not tell him would it? Me thinks not.
Full disclosure. I give it to my son. In return he gives me the space I need to spend an hour untangling myself from the web of chaos that is my mind and digging myself out from underneath the plethora of emotions buried behind doors I have to learn how to unlock.....
I'm pretty sure the toy bribes make it an hour worth spent for the both of us.
this post is a link up! Click the button to read more awesome posts and read the creator's blog....
As most of you know I'm currently a full-time student at Philadelphia Biblical University.
While the curriculum strives to be interdisciplinary and their intent is to educate progressive, forward thinking human beings, the culture is.....conservative. Afterall, it used to be a very conservative institution, so it's fair to say that the majority of students who attend come from conservative, evangelical backgrounds. Not all, but a good majority.
Today I stood in front of that majority and spoke about topics rarely discussed in an evangelical, conservative culture: Postpartum Depression, Bipolar Disorder, mental illness in general and a side of motherhood rarely touched upon. I even said words like "rape" and "sexual abuse." In chapel. In front of at least 150-200 students, faculty & staff members. People who see me on a regular basis, I attend class with, people who at a minimum know me as the black chick with the wildly colorful afro who wears bright clothes....
And the result? I was too nervous to look up from my sheets of paper and out into the crowd often, but afterwards a couple of friends told me people were touched. I spent the rest of the day being hugged by students & professors I had never uttered a word to and being walked up to and told that my story helped them in some way...that they too had a mother who struggled with PPD...a family member who was living with a disorder....that they themselves dealt with crippling anxiety...
It was a moving experience...not so much the part where I shared my story because let's face it-I was an anxious wreck til it was over. But the rest of the day...very moving. Empowering. Freeing. Encouraging.
It gave me enough courage to walk into the department chair of the counseling department's office and ask him what he thought about myself and a few other students starting a NAMI on Campus chapter at PBU. It gave me the drive I needed to finally get in touch with a local area support group through DBSA and make plans to attend their next meeting.
It helped me realize that advocating and speaking out, sharing my experience is not only something that I really want to continue doing, but that doing so helps me just as much as it may help the person hearing they aren't alone in what they're facing.
I felt whole today. For the first time. Really. WHOLE. Complete. ME. I wasn't born to just suffer through life and mental illness and neither were you. We were made and born for more. Take a cue from a person who vomits at the thought of speaking in front of people-SPEAK UP. Somehow, in some fashion. Start anywhere. It's the smallest changes and things that have the most impact.
Share your story. You never know who may need to hear it.
When I first started learning about rapid cycling BP, nearly everything I read mentioned mood charting as an effective tool to understand the fluctuations in your mood. Every article I read listed it as a way to help see any patterns in your mood cycling, frequency, and help in constructing a suitable treatment and management plan. Feeling desperate to try anything to help manage this dragon I was now living with, I was eager to give it a shot...but I wasn't so eager or disciplined to stop and journal every time I felt a shift in mood.
Lucky for me (and you!) I'm a techie by nature-gadgets and gizmos a plenty bring out the tech geek in me. (so do who's it and what's it galore-quick name that movie!) So imagine my delight when my fingers gracefully typed in "bipolar mood charting" in the iTunes App store search box and up popped a few apps.
Yep. APPS. For MOOD CHARTING. (just typing that got me excited)
I perused a few, reading reviews & ratings, looking at screenshots and reading descriptions...and then I settled on this one, which I've been using since November....
You might wince at that and decide paper and pen are cheaper, but we're talking easy convenience here my mood shifting friends. Playing around on FB or Twitter and notice you're feeling edgy? Slide a few apps over, and quickly annotate it. Just got off the phone and had a conversation that triggered ya? Pull up your handy dandy app and make note of it!
It's easy to use, which is why I love it. When I notice I'm overly happy or talking as fast as a roadrunner I simply pull up this screen:
Select how I'm feeling and if I need to leave a comment about it...
BOOM.I can. And in less time than it takes me to bust out a status update or 140 characters. Easy peasy folks.The only complaint I have about the comment section is that sometimes it would erase my comment before I was finished writing it, and I'd have to start over. This might be a bug the developer can fix with an update or it might be my clumsy touchscreen strokes. Either way I emailed the company, so we'll see.
Other than that small hiccup I love using this thing because it really does help you see what your cycles look like over a period of time:
The best part? YOU CAN EMAIL your chart to your therapist, psychiatrist, Facebook friend list, whoever, comments included:
See? Isn't that awesome? When I saw my psych two weeks ago, I was able to just whip out my phone and show this to her...and it enabled both of us to see exactly how I've been. No need to fumble for words or memories-it was all there for her to see.
So. There you have it. Mood charting. There's an app for that. If you're not bipolar, maybe just dealing with depression or anxiety, check out this app
And this one for anxiety...
If you don't have an iPhone, iTouch, or another Apple device, definitely check the Android store or Blackberry's market to see what they have.
If you ARE an Apple product collector and could use an app like this, leave a comment. I'll select 2 people to gift this to and I'll even throw in a subscription to either bpMagazine (www.bphope.com)
or Esperanza (Anxiety & Depression) Magazine (www.hopetocope.com)
Why? Not because I was paid to review this app or sing these mags praises. They don't even know I'm doing this. I just believing in paying it forward. ;)
(If I were richer I'd offer to gift these to everyone, but until then, only 2 randomly selected commenters)
Have you ever been to a NASCAR race or any kind of speedway? If you haven't, imagine a bunch of cars going at speeds only professionals can safely maneuver...imagine the sounds they generate as they whip around the track....
Loud... Roaring... Rumbling.... Constant... Far then near, near then far.... Obnoxious...
And every now and then, a driver miscalculates, something in the car's engine or gas tank misfires, and there's a crash...an explosion...
Now imagine all of that-the speedway, the cars going at top speed,the sounds, the vibrations, the crashes & explosions-imagine all of that compressed and confined into, oh let's say the Lincoln Tunnel (or any tunnel for that matter), and then imagine that tunnel with everything I just mentioned, compressed and confined in your own mind.
Congratulations you now have an inkling of what it's like to experience racing thoughts.
To even label the mental chaos that coincides with a hypomanic or manic episode as "racing" seems to be a gross understatement at times. Sometimes it's not too bad, focusing on one task, concentrating, and clarity of thought are capable...doable.
Others it's terrifying...the lack of control over their frantic pace unnerving...the incessant spinning and looping nauseating...
It's like being permanently stuck on the spin cycle-only instead of your clothes it's your mind and you have no idea when it will stop.
Do I hear voices? No. But that doesn't mean my thoughts aren't loud, rambunctious chatterboxes who fly from one idea to the next in the time it takes one to blink.
On the outside I look quite fine...quiet, demure, composed...smiling & laughing, even...
But it's during these episodes when I feel the most unraveled, the most undone. Living life during these moments is hard only because it's hard to grasp a thought as it flies past...
But I do...because I know it's temporary. Feels like an eternity, but I know relief is on the way...
I just need my pills to get here.
Has anyone seen the mailman?
I swear Target is going to be the death of me...or rather my checking account. I'm not as bad as I used to be when it comes to overspending, but I still have my moments when the compulsion to buy literally stands next to me in the aisle and screams, "JUST BUY IT! BUY! BUY! BUY!" and pushes me toward the checkout line before buyer's remorse or guilt sets in, clapping gleefully along the way. It wasn't until I was talking to an intake psych last year (we're only 2 days in to '12 and that feels so weird to say) that I understood those compulsions to be a symptom of BP. Finding this out was like a puzzle piece locking into place: a new part of the picture was revealed and I started to understand a part of myself that I didn't before.
Like I said, I've gotten better at silencing the screams of frivolity, thanks to my therapist, Dr. A (she's a psychologist), and all I've had to do is just pay attention...not just to what I'm buying, but why I'm buying it; how am I responding to it emotionally, mentally, even physically? Does the need to purchase a particular item come from a healthy place, a euphoric (manic) state, or am I trying to cope or compensate for something?
Taking the time to be "in the moment" while I'm at a store has enabled me to cut back significantly on my spending and even make better choices. I don't always succeed, but change is a process, not an overnight sensation as they say-right? And it's this concept of change that led me to purchase the dry erase board you see above. Yes, you read that right. It's a dry erase board. This is why Target is going to leave me a poor woman, because they sell the coolest ish in return for your
Anyway, Dr. A had said I should only buy things that are only going to benefit me, enhance my quality of life in some way, and most importantly, not leave me broke. "Buy what speaks to who you are. Be intentional, " she said. So I have been, and despite the butterflies on it calling my name (hello, I'm obsessed!), I was talking myself out of buying this...until I read the bottom
"Without change there would be no butterflies."
And BOOM. Just like that, I was buying a new dry erase board AND a life lesson, a 2 for 1 deal, people.
Here's the thing about that statement that gripped my soul...it's a new year and every single year everyone gets their underoos in a bunch when it comes to resolutions that are hardly ever kept. I'm not trashing the concept because in theory it works, it seems feasible, improving our lives is something we all strive to do. It's in the application that this whole 'New Year's Resolutions' theory goes to pot. I'll be honest. I love change. I grew up as a military brat moving from place to place, my dad went through wives like Kim Kardashian goes through marriages (he's on #6), and I change my hair like I change my underwear. Change is something I'm used to because I've had to be. I'll even say that when it comes to the small stuff, change is what I'm good at. Adaptation has been my survival mechanism since childhood. What I'm not good at, is initiating and executing change on a larger scale. I'm horrible at it. Why? I think it's for the same reason all of us struggle with it: We're impatient. (C'mon, admit it, you're mad this post isn't over yet.) We live in a culture where everything is on demand and in an instant. We seem to think that change is something that's always instantaneous but that's not always the case. So every year, we make this long list of resolutions, vow to make these major overhauls in our lives and then by February or even March, we've given up and are wallowing in shame over it.
Or maybe that's just me. I even talked to Dr. A about it. "I'm good at planning...but I suck at consistent execution," I told her back in November, frustrated because it seemed like I just couldn't work ALL parts of my treatment plan, AND motherhood, AND being a student ALL at the same time for an extended period of time. "Change," she said, "takes time. It doesn't happen all at once. If you try to it all at once you'll only overwhelm and frustrate yourself. You've gotta have some patience, it doesn't happen with the snap of your fingers. It's a process full of different components...and getting used to each one takes time. Instead of making a long list of changes or goals to accomplish, try just picking one or two things to start changing. Once you've got those down and have made them habits, pick one or two more, and so on & so forth. You gotta build, little by little."
And that, people, is why I love her. I'm sure you've probably already figured out what she said years ago, but for this BP mind, it's the first time I've understood the concept. Time...patience...slow & steady wins the race, right?
Right. And that's why I bought the board; I needed that reminder going into the new year and to keep myself from getting caught up in the resolution frenzy. The fact that it uses butterflies to convey this concept is tailor-made for me. Caterpillars spend months in a cocoon, undergoing massive amounts of changes over a particular period of time before they become butterflies. Why would we be any different?
I've realized that part of accepting my illness is accepting the fact that recovery and stability aren't going to happen just like that. It takes time to find the right meds, proper doses, right doctors, most suitable exercise, right form of therapy...it. all. takes. time. In order to do what it takes to live a healthy, stable lifestyle that makes my BP manageable, I have to do some overhauling in some areas: eat better, sleep more, identify my triggers....but I'm learning how to take it all in stride and focus on each part separately, only moving on to the next "renovation" when I've mastered the previous one.
So this year, I didn't make any resolutions. Similar to last year I decided to focus on making necessary changes by meditating on one word for the year...I'll tell you what my one word for 2012 is tomorrow. Until then, remember:
Baby steps+ Patience = Progress.
A little change here or there goes a long way....transformation is a process with growing pains we must learn to love ourselves through.
Confession: I'm typing this from my phone while I lay on my bathroom floor....and this isn't the topic I was going to write on today. Why, you ask? Well because it's the coldest floor in my apartment and my queasy stomach is more tolerable when my face is pressed into it....and getting my laptop to type out my original content is just impossible because that would require me to lift my head up and that only makes the room spin faster...so, the floor and from the phone it is.
I hate days like this, the ones where side effects from medications take the wheel and dictate where your body goes. In my case, for the past hour it's been to the floor. I started off in my living room....crawled to the kitchen to get the boys a snack....stuck Brennan on the XBox, stumbled to their room where I placed Alex in his crib with the iPad, and did the deadman's crawl across the hallway to the bathroom. Sounds dramatic, but I wish it were an exaggerated description of how I ended up here...
...on the floor ....sipping on ginger ale like it has healing power .....shaking ....begging Jesus to kill the medicated squirrel going ape in my tummy
Ahhh medication. Compliance. Side effects. It's not an easy tightrope to balance on. It's the nausea, headaches, tremors, fatigue and other side effects that make you question why you even decided to walk it in the first place.
Then you look back behind you and see your life without the meds, and you see THOSE side effects: the hypomania, the OCD, the anxiety, the irritability and edginess, the fatigue that comes from just forming a thought, the lack of focus and disoriented mental state....and you look at the line in front of you and keep walking, keep trying to balance...
At least I do. I have to. For me, life without medication isn't possible, at least not right now. And I'm okay with that, even of it means I have to spend some time here on the floor while my body adjusts to everything.
I may not like them, but I'll take the side effects of the meds that help me be ME over the ones that let the worst parts of me rage out of control.
So could you be a dear and pass me another bottle of ginger ale? I've got like a lifetime supply ;)
Confession: This is the probably the hardest series of posts I've ever written here on 'Confessions, because it deals with a personal and often 'taboo' subject in Christian culture. But I believe in the power of transparency, and I realize that this is part of owning my story and having honest dialogue with others, so that's why I'm writing about this particular subject. Not sure how many parts there will be this series, but I hope that this proves to be a healthy exploration for myself and whoever finds themselves in reading these posts. Bipolar Disorder: When Sexuality Is in Overdrive - Bipolar Disorder Center - Everyday Health.
I read this article today while taking a break from doing my project on the book of Philemon. I'm in the middle of finals week and the end of the semester, (hence my absence from the blogging world) but I knew after reading this, I had to stop and write about it...
...or rather about my experience with hypersexuality as a woman trying to manage BP. About being a Christian who struggles severely with this symptom of BP and what how I believe it impacts my walk with God...
About a year ago, I started noticing that I was having very sexual dreams, which was out of the norm for me. While sex isn't something I dream about normally, that's not what bothered me about the dreams. What bothered me was that I was constantly dreaming about having sex with women, which was definitely something I had NEVER done before. I also started noticing that I would have days (possibly a couple of weeks...or a month even) where all I would think about is having sex.
Now, let me say this. (Again, I'm being transparent here, so understand my disclosure serves a purpose) I lost my virginity at 16 and didn't have sex again until I was 20-when I met my next boyfriend. While I enjoy sex, I'm not the type to have "friends with benefits," one night stands, or even casual sex with strangers or people I don't know very well. I tried having a casual sex relationship once and I hated it. (and it didn't last very long). The only other person I "casually" had sex with was my ex...but I had known him for over a year. We were friends....and then we were dating...and the sex? It just happened. In other words, if I'm sharing my cookie jar with you, it's because I know you, I trust you, and we're in a monogamous relationship.... and even then, depending on how my spiritual health is, sex might not even happen under those circumstances.Sex and being intimate with someone I care about is awesome, but I've never been the type who felt like I had to have it regularly if I was single. I had more of a "take it or leave it" attitude concerning sex...if I was taking it, I thoroughly enjoyed it with my significant other...if I was single and leaving it, I was perfectly okay with that.
So while I enjoy it and I don't mind exploring my sexuality, I've never been a slave to it...or felt like I was at the mercy of my desires....until I started having dreams about trysts with women (and liking it) and found myself getting into these moods where it's all I seemed to think and fantasize about.
These moods would always catch me off guard because after having Alex and starting Zoloft, I had noticed that my sex drive or desire for it had dropped significantly, which is pretty normal after pushing a bowling ball-sized object out of your vagina and starting an anti-depressant. I would have days or even a couple of months where I wouldn't even think about it, or it didn't feel like a need that just had to be satisfied...and then I would find myself waking up with my hands down my pajamas....dreaming about random sexual encounters with total strangers....and wanting to jump on top of my ex every time I thought of or saw him.
If you're reading this and you're a woman, I'm sure you know how um...aroused you can get as you draw closer to your period, right? (yep, I went there and said the p-word-go ahead, you can squirm a little more, it's ok) Well imagine those feelings multiplied by, oh I don't know, maybe a thousand or so and you'll get a picture of how I would feel in these moods. They would totally consume me, I felt like some kind of pervert or sex addict. It was so bad sometimes that even my ex would look at me and be like, "uh...yea...NO!" and would ask if I was okay. You know it's bad when you're so overwhelmed with needing to have sex that it decreases your partner's desire for it. Yea....ouch.
One of the frustrating things about feeling so sexual was that no matter how much I had, it never satisfied the need, it only intensified it. I even took to pleasing myself which while I've known other women who do it and it's not a big deal, it was for me because it was something I had never done. These feelings weren't just about trying to explore my sexuality or what I "liked." It was literally like a wildfire just burning out of control. I tried everything to uh...satisfy it, squash it, ignore it. It literally became a highly agitating state to be in, and I didn't really understand what was going on....
The even more frustrating part about my hypersexual feelings was the fact that because I'm an unmarried Christian, I felt endless amounts of guilt about what I was experiencing. And the shame. Oh the shame that would consume me and still does at times was all encompassing. I felt...dirty. Full of lust. A lustful, sinful woman who just couldn't control herself. I didn't know how to talk to anyone about it, let alone God. I felt guilty for wanting sex as much as I did, guilty for having it as much as I was, guilty for pleasuring myself (masturbation is a no no in Christian culture, apparently), guilty for just any and everything about sex. It was awful and the guilt and shame I felt only fueled my depressive moods, tying me down in the gravity wells these moods placed me in.
During these states my mind would swirl with racing thoughts: Was I just consumed with lust? What was wrong with me? Was God disgusted with me? Angry with me? Did He understand? I would stand at the altar at the end of service, begging God to help me stop compromising, asking for forgiveness and desiring to be and do better. Then a few days would pass or maybe a week or two and I'd find myself right back in the same state: hot, bothered, and full of this urge I lacked the ability to control...
Since my diagnosis in July, I've learned so much about BP and its symptoms I feel less guilt and shame because I know (for the most part) what's causing it. Learning that it's a symptom of my disorder and not necessarily a reflection of my character has brought me to a place of acceptance about it. I still wrestle with what to do about these feelings when they arrive and become overwhelmingly intense, but I don't beat myself up over having them anymore...
My questions to God these days are more about management and how to maintain celibacy until marriage. I'm rather frank with Him about it and I believe He's far more understanding about it than I originally gave Him credit for.
Hear me: I'm not trying to justify my behavior, so Christians don't crucify me. I'm also not trying to use this symptom of my disorder as an excuse to just be all "A'Driane Gone Wild." But I am trying to manage, understand and walk this issue out in a way that is spiritually healthy and doesn't "taint" my relationship with God.
I'm also trying to be more open and honest about this issue, which is something I don't think enough of us Christians do...
I'll talk about this and more about my faith, hypersexuality and how they impact me next week. Until then....any thoughts? Feel free to share...
You know those wild fires that burn out of control every year here in the U.S. ? They rage for days, possibly weeks, while firefighters and rangers work overtime to try and control the blaze, possibly contain it so it doesn't spread. They cost millions of dollars worth of damage and alter the lives of those affected forever.
That's what Bipolar Disorder is like.
Especially rapid cycling Bipolar Disorder type II.
It's a fire, full of unconstrained emotions and hormones that rage like a wildfire, consuming your entire being physically, mentally, and emotionally. Sometimes it's triggered by an external source, others it's something internal that ignites the spark. Much like the wildfires that burn across the West, it's a fire that can burn out of control...it's takes finding the right combination of medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes to put the fire out or at a minimum help it die down to a manageable state. If it rages too long, it can cause damage to the person suffering from it and to those around them. It burns. It's painful. It's a hard battle to fight.
I've been referring to BP lately as a dragon. Ironically, I happen to LOVE the movie "How to Train Your Pet Dragon" and when I think about living with this disorder, that's what I envision: A roaring, raging, fire breathing, dragon that can thrash around and cause chaos and destruction in my life if I don't learn how to do the following: