I Have Bipolar Disorder AND Gratitude!

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. ”

~ Melody Beattie

Melody Beattie is 5 years older than I, from the Twin City to mine: St. Paul, Minnesota the author of many books including “Codependent No More” the book that introduces the concept of codependency. It’s the idea that people surrounding an addict become just as sick asthe addict by adapting to their crazy behavior.

I knew it must be a wise woman to write such an insightful quote on gratitude. I have found in my life that gratitude is key to living with and overcoming any difficulty. The harrier the problem, the more gratitude required.

Not everyone knows my story, but I was reminded of it today at lunch with some dear High School girlfriends. Some I had known since grade school. I was talking about typing my Dad’s memoirs and got sidetracked talking about my own.

I told them that in my unfinished book I hadn’t leaned too hard on how very sick I was when first hit with postpartum bipolar 1 disorder. My son was actually nine months old. I had postponed the onset by caring for my son who was born with complicated, multiple heart defects. One year earlier I’d had a still born baby girl at seven months gestation. Because I had depleted myself, when the mania hit, it was very, very severe. It took a lot to contain in the hospital setting. While I was in the hospital, my son died. Sometime after that ~ the depression hit with the same ferocity ~ and lasted for much longer. That’s the part that almost got me. I came very close to killing myself and it took electro shock therapy to pull me out of it.

To this day, I am grateful to the doctor and staff, family and friends who saved me. They literally walked me through the pit, with the Lord’s help.

My psychiatrist believed in exercise. I ran whenever I could. My knees are arthritic now, but I am thankful for the pounding they took on behalf of my brain.

My Dad stood by me in everything. He got me a good lawyer when the time came to acquiesce to my ex’s demands for a divorce.

He also introduced me to my beloved Mike! Mike’s Dad was a long-time friend of my dad. Dad had watched Mike grow up at the Minneapolis Athletic Club. Our dads were locker buddies and played handball together. Unfortunately, Mike’s Dad died young, age 56, Yet, Mike inherited his locker and our connection was born. Dad kept literally bumping into Mike. He finally asked each of us how we’d feel about meeting and had us over to his place for spaghetti dinner! It was March. We were married before summer’s end!

Gratitude. It’s a way of looking at life and seeing it through the eyes of all the infinite possibilities.

Bipolar disorder has been a rough thing in my life. Because of it I’ve grown in ways I would have never thought possible. I’ve become a writer, when I might otherwise only have been a talker. I’ve learned to reflect, listen, slow down, when otherwise I might have raced blindly through life.

I have become more empathetic and made friends with people who are suffering. Am I grateful to have bipolar disorder? It is hard to say. I am grateful to have my life! My marriage of 39 years to the sweetest, funniest guy ever, my 35 year old daughter who is my dearest prayer.

Having gratitude helps me keep my balance, keeps me from negativity and despair, and gives me hope for the future.

I have had many more health challenges than bipolar disorder. Most of them I regard as inconveniences rather than full blown problems. Sometimes they are annoying enough to take over my life for a while. Sometimes they make me cry. But, I try not to let them get me. Our lives are filled with infinite possibilities. I try not to miss too many of them.

Reach Out to Love

Many people living with the challenge of a mental disorder suffer from anxiety. I know I do. My diagnosis just rolls off my tongue as if I were talking about someone else: bipolar 1 disorder with anxiety and insomnia.

I wish dealing with it came so easily. Crowds bother me. Sometimes I get paralyzed with fear. Sometimes I panic. Our church grew into a mega church. I now attend in the Chapel, not the big sanctuary that seats thousands. I’m most comfortable streaming it into our living room at home!

Today, Mike and I went to the Minnesota State Fair. I took this picture:

This was early in the morning before the crowd was very large! We were walking to the animal barns. How did I push through? I didn’t. My dear husband did and I held fast to his hand. Thirty nine years of marriage, love and trust led me through. I didn’t have to push through my panic, I was gently led.

I think that’s how all healing happens, love gently leads us through the terror.

That’s what happened the first time I was struck with bipolar psychosis. I was very, very ill because we hadn’t known I had bipolar. I was very sick, and my baby nine months old before my post partum mania revealed the emerging disorder.

I didn’t know Mike then. The baby’s father had left me. My family was there, yet I felt so alone. I felt myself falling into a deep, deep pit. Terrified, plunging into nothingness, dark, empty fear.

I landed and was surrounded by love. All encompassing, healing, warm, accepting love embraced me and led me out of the darkness.

God lifted me. Rescued me. Helped me. Guided me through the terror. When I felt that Love at the bottom of the darkness, I began to get well.

It was a turning point for me. Like today in the crowd. Facing my fears, hand in hand with love renewed my hope for living free from panic. With the right supports we can be led through.

Anxiety is a tough task master — reach out to love to defeat it.

Brainy Book Review (re-blog)

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“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. MilneWinnie-the-Pooh

This quote reminds me of my brain as a person with bipolar 1 disorder!  As a late Read More »

I’ve Got My Mind Back!

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.”

Sleep is a Gift

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Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

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.

 

 

No Giving Up!

Two Peas in a Pod

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!

My Dog Riley Needs You

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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!

Thank you! Libby