My Life: Looking Back, Keeping in Mind~Bipolar 1 Disorder, Faith Triumphs
Author: Libby Baker Sweiger
I was a healthy, joyful, member of the Baby Boom Generation. There are a lot of us around. I grew up in a crowd - over 950 in my HS class! I have wanted to write a book ever since I was a kid. Things changed after the birth of my 2nd child, a boy. Post partum, I developed bipolar 1 disorder. My first child a girl was premature and died before I gave birth. My second, my dear boy Davey lived almost a year, and died while I was in the hospital with a psychotic episode from bipolar. He had severe heart defects. I have written a book about some of my experiences: A Mother's Ring! It is published in the blog: thelibbybakersweiger.com. Soon I will get it published digitally and in paperback. I love to blog! For a list of my blogs see: www.bloggers.com/libbytalks. I have a new one www.storiesbylibby.com dedicated solely to my journey with postpartum bipolar 1 disorder with anxiety and the challenges of living with mental illness. I am blessed with a dear husband of 39 years, Mike and a sweet daughter, Abby 35.
“Rabbit’s clever,” said Pooh thoughtfully.
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit’s clever.”
“And he has Brain.”
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit has Brain.”
There was a long silence.
“I suppose,” said Pooh, “that that’s why he never understands anything.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
This quote reminds me of my brain as a person with bipolar 1 disorder! As a late Read More »
Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. Joseph Addison
I was always a voracious reader until psychiatric medications began to stack one on top of one another. I don’t know which one did it, or if it was the illness itself, but suddenly I couldn’t read. Not like I used to. I couldn’t devour books. I couldn’t read one cover to cover. I couldn’t sit still long enough. I couldn’t concentrate. I could read the bible. A passage here and a passage there. I could read an article on my computer or phone. I could write. Blog. Short pieces at a time. I feel anxious just writing this. It brings me too close to the way I used to feel. Icky.
I’m writing this to celebrate. Six years ago or so, I was hospitalized for depression. I saw a very gifted psychiatrist. He said I was hypomanic. Now, I blurted? I’m always like this. The Abilify I was taking to make the SSRI anti depressant I was taking was pushing me hypomanic. He said I shouldn’t be on an SSRI or Abilify, which I had been on for years! He switched me to Latuda and took me off the others. He also said I would get my mind back.
He was right. I did. It all came back, slowly, but surely. Last week, I told an author, Diane Harwood, I would read her book and review it and I did! I realized today what a big deal that was! I’m very thankful my mind is working again and I was able to keep my word. What follows is a re-blog of her magnificent book, “Birth of a New Brain: Healing from Postpartun Bipolar Disorder.”
Psalm 127:2 AMP It is vain for you to rise early, To retire late, To eat the bread of anxious labors— For He gives [blessings] to His beloved even in his sleep.
I haven’t written about the results of my sleep test yet, because I wasn’t having any luck implementing solutions they suggested. I was getting very frustrated.
What I learned from the study, was that when I slept on my side I breathed normally, achieved REM sleep and took in oxygen at 90+%. Unfortunately, when I slept on my back I barely slept. I woke up without registering it, or all the way. My oxygen dropped into the 70s … and I had sleep apnea. They wanted me to stay on my sides, or use a wedge pillow in my bed to elevate my head while on my back.
Having tried a wedge when it was suggested for heartburn and failed because I had problems inching down it as I slept, I opted for sleeping on my sides. It worked sort of, but I began getting really bad headaches. Side sleeping was putting too much pressure on my jaw. My jaw was aggravated and injured from the pressure of my sleep position. Clearly this wasn’t working. I wasn’t having any luck with their solutions and I only had one left: the wedge.
I ordered one from Amazon. It had a textured cover. Maybe I wouldn’t slide down it! 😊 It was my last hope. It arrived on a Saturday. A big day, the day Mike and I were going to Wisconsin to see the trainer with our dog Riley to try to get her to walk on the leash with me without pulling!
The day was exhausting. The wedge had been airing out by the bedroom window all day to rid it of the plastic smell it had when it arrived. Finally, I was time to go bed. I got comfortable and closed my eyes. I woke up the next morning 12 HOURS LATER!!I
Sleep disorder triumphed over! I’ve slept 8 hours a night ever since! From a gal whose previous record was 5 hours over the past year plus. I am very thankful to God for the gift of sleep. And I’m a big believer in sleep studies. Thank you for taking this journey with me.
I’ve been married to my husband for 39 years this Friday! I no longer ever ignore his counsel because he is right such a high percentage of the time. I’m sure many husbands would love to hear that! But, sorry boys… this guy has earned it. He is thoughtful, contemplative, has great common sense and a good heart.
This morning when he saw once again how inconsolable I was at the thought of losing Riley, and we had discussed a thorough training program for the two of us to solve our problems on the leash he said, “Let’s go for it!” I cried with joy and relief!
So we are! Riley and Mike and I are going for it! We’re going to tackle this problem and we’re not going to let it beat us!
Riley is 5 years old this past May. I have loved her ever since I first saw her online through the rescue agency PAWS of Wisconsin. She is a beautiful, friendly, loving lab terrier mix we brought home when she was 6 months old at Thanksgiving time. I love her more than words can say. She has been my friend and companion ever since. She’s a sweet dog who only barks when strangers come to the door. An admirable quality!
Now I have to find her a new home and my heart is breaking. PAWS is helping me in my search, but I wanted to tell my online friends too. I would love to re- home her with someone I know.
The reason for all this is my health. Riley needs a good walk every day and the arthritis in my shoulders, elbows, wrists and hand has gotten so bad I can no longer handle her on the leash consistently. She’s beautiful, but requires a firm loving hand. I’ve been injured on walks just enough times to have become weak and fearful… the exact opposite. In addition, I’m battling sleep disorders and bipolar disorder. It takes all my energy to take care of myself and our modest apartment when I can manage to.
She’s great on walks with her dog walker and Mike, but there’s not enough money to sustain the one, and not enough time for the other.
These sound like tiny problems, but they are converging to make for an impossible situation.
I want Riley to be happy and healthy more than my selfish needs of ownership. She needs to walk! Dog parks. Healthy ownership.
Please let me know if you know anyone willing to ensure the happy, healthy next 10+ years of this beautiful doggy’s life!
Sometimes, when I can’t sleep at all I draw. I’ll create. A painting. In ink. Close to flawless. I don’t know how it happens. I go on auto-pilot. My right brain takes over. Perhaps the rest of my brain mostly is asleep.
Yesterday morning, after sleeping not at all, I painted this:
(c) Libby Baker Sweiger Potpourri of Flowers in a Lavender Vase
The chief enemy of creativity is good sense ~ Pablo Picasso
Not the model I’d like to use for mental health, but an amazing artist! It’s just one week until my sleep study and hopefully I will be learning to sleep and painting with my entire brain!
“Insomnia is a kind of torture while the world is fast asleep, you’re up all alone full of random thoughts in the universe and sometimes the thoughts will reach a standstill and your mind will become more aware of the silence and it is at that moment that you realize that you are all alone.” Pinterest
Two more weeks until my sleep testing for sleep apnea, and whatever other symptoms might indicate any additional disorders of the mind and body that have made sleep elusive and something to fight for not enjoy… not fall into like most normal humans. Tonight demonstrates my least favorite pattern. I fell asleep for one blissful hour. Then I woke up with a start, never to darken sleep’s door again.
I feel frazzled. Exhausted with all my nerves on end. My brain is devoid of ideas as I try fervently and futility to calm back down.
I’m practicing the deep breathing exercises my psychologist taught me. It’s working. It’s calming me down. If I can’t sleep, I will rest. Pass the time and control my thoughts. I remember a childlike thought my daughter used, “not the boss of me.” The night is not the boss of me. Fear and panic need not dominate my thoughts. I can have peace with sleeplessness. It’s not going to kill me. Inconvenience me ~ not sicken me. I’m seeking treatment. I will get well. I will be whole again. I will right myself.