monday

Manic Monday: Full Disclosure

"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?"

Yes.

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.

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Manic Mondays: Training My Pet Dragon

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:

  • Find out what triggers her (yes, it's a she....cause I'm a she. Duh)
  • What stirs up the fire in her
  • What she likes/dislikes
  • What helps her stay content in her cave...asleep, dormant
Remember the scenes in the movie where Hiccup and his other Vikings in training are in the ring, trying to battle the baby dragons? Each trainee was expected to know everything about the dragon they were to face-it's strengths, weaknesses and how to defeat it.  Remember how when Hiccup befriended Toothless and learned what made him happy versus what freaked him out? Remember how Hiccup took what he learned and applied to the other dragons?  That's how we've gotta handle living with something like this. Learn everything you can about it, what triggers it, and adjust our lives accordingly. There are times when no matter what preventative maintenance we do, our dragons will rage and breath fire...but if we learn how to train them? They can stay in their cave more often.
I've been reading numerous posts, articles and even had a conversation with someone who gave me hope that  BP is NOT a death sentence. It may be something that we have to live with for the rest of our lives, but it doesn't have to destroy or even control every aspect of them. From what I've been reading and hearing, manageability is attainable-and for a person with BP, that's recovery. Finding what keeps it manageable and in the cave is tough, it's a battle. But once we do, and once we know what even causes it to rage,  we are then properly equipped to fight the battle....and WIN.
Bipolar Disorder doesnt' have to be a big, scary, fire breathing behemoth that rages out of control in our lives....and it's kinda like a "pet" we're stuck with.  Just gotta learn how to train it. 
**Manic Mondays is a new series here on 'Confessions where I hope to share more insight on what it's like living with Bipolar Disorder. The goal? Raise awareness, increase understanding and help erase the shame and stigma surrounding this form of mental illness. If you'd like to guest post or share your story, email me at bconfessions (at) gmail (dot) com