I Caught Myself Smiling

“Peace begins with a smile.”  fb_img_15234424259891706325205811884361.jpgMother Teresa

I was getting ready for bed tonight,  not my favorite thing to do, because I have quite a lot of anxiety surrounding sleep due to insomnia and my recent major bout with depression. I noticed I was smiling! A genuine, happy,  Libby kind of smile. The kind I do often, for no reason, when I am my usual self. And I began to beam. I said to myself,  “Depressed people don’t smile!” Not genuine, joyous,  happy for no reason contented smiles like this one! My depression has lifted! I’m no longer climbing the blood stained rocks of that ghastly thing…trying to clamor my way out by sheer force of will. It’s lifted!

Exactly five days after my doctor almost doubled my bipolar antidepressant dose… it’s lifted! Once again proving, what my experience has long borne out… bipolar one disorder is a brain chemistry disorder. Yes, it is all in my head,  quite literally. Get the chemistry right and voila! I’m back!

I don’t mean to say that it’s always this simple. Because it wasn’t. This was my second med change first of all. We tried conquering the sleep component first to no avail. And it’s not always the second medicine you tweak that rights the wrong, as in this case. Certainly sometimes talk therapy is called for. Which I did a bit on my own, by working through my feelings, blogging my depression away!

It also helps that my psychiatrist and I have been together 12 years. The art form that is practiced in the science of psychiatry has been honed quite well. I have a therapist too,  we’re an excellent team…. it’s always ust a matter of time…hopefully not longer than I can bear!! We get better with practice,  but the variables keep changing: my age, the meds, the circumstances.

To think just a few days ago,  I was reluctant to have my kiddo come home for Mother’s Day,  because I didn’t want her to see me such a wreck. She knew enough to ignore that and knew seeing her would do me a world of good. She and her Dad, my Love planned a wonderful weekend here i am two days later depression free!!! On my way back!!!

Brain chemistry,  love and smiles. That’s a formula for success! And thank you dear friends for all of your prayers! They were answered and then some!!!!

God bless! Libby Smiling Baker Sweiger 🙏🙏😁😁😍😍😄😄

 

No Off Switch

20170902_093243“It is very hard to explain to people who have never known serious depression or anxiety the sheer continuous intensity of it. There is no off switch.” Matt Haig

No off switch! That’s it exactly! Every night, at various times…9:00, 8:00…last night it was 7:15. I say quite distinctly,  not realizing immediately that I have said it out loud, “I can’t take it, anymore…” then realizing what I’ve said, I continue,  “I’m going to bed.” I just want the day to end. Of course,  the hazards of going to bed that early is waking up at 12:30 and deciding it’s time to get up. But, I do. I sleep when I can. The very early morning hours are peaceful somehow. I blog. I watch Frasier with one small corner of my brain. I play on social media. Sometimes draw. I have an early breakfast, see my husband off to work and nap the late morning away. Housework follows.

What don’t I do? I don’t feel good. I don’t leave the apartment. I don’t interact with my dear dog. I don’t wash my hair. My clothes are cleaner than I am.

I don’t go anywhere. This photo is of better days when my husband and I drove to Chicago for my niece’s wedding. I leave the apartment now, but only with Mike, my husband, my sister, or my best friend.

I saw my psychiatrist and he addressed my sleep to no avail,  but not my depression. I must not have conveyed how bad it is. I wonder if I could email him this blog link. That would help. Very good idea really. I’ll try it in the morning. When I’m awake in the morning.

I hope he can help me over the phone. I have to get a ride to every appointment and it’s not easy. My husband can’t miss too much work. That’s what sent me to bed early last night… trying to figure out transportation to a bunch of upcoming doctor appointments. I have a Metro Mobility membership (buses for the disabled), but I’m too anxious to use them right now! Sad.

Well, we’ll work it out. Most importantly, I want to get to a sleep clinic consultation! Perhaps they can help! I have hope! I will not lose hope. No matter how down…I won’t lose hope. No off switch on hope!

 

Stronger Than I Feel

I’m climbing to the top of the mountain of this depression. It’s an arduous climb, characterized by lack of solid, restful sleep and peace. Filled with little spurts of joy and happiness that I do not take lightly,  but rather savor and look forward like a deprived child for their return. I don’t remember depression that well. I haven’t been in one for a number of years. I have an amazing capacity to forget bad things once they have passed. It’s a quality my husband envies. My ability to forget distasteful events… my selective memory fuels optimism. Something, hard to come by when you have bipolar disorder I imagine.

I have it. Depression for the most part,  kills it.  It’s one thing I hate about it!.

So, I fight back. By getting out on the weekends with my husband. Running out errands, getting my haircut, any number of things,  so I am not a prisoner of my apartment and my mind.

Helping others. Doing my daily newspaper online on mental health.  Being an encouragement to fellow friends with disabilities in MDMClub online (My Disability Matters Club).  And longtime friends on Facebook and Twitter as well as friends and family offline, of course.  Reaching beyond yourself… reaches past the depression to wellness. If the depression won’t lift,  then I must climb above it. It’s the only way of escape I can think of.

Thankfully, so many people are praying for me! This can’t be the easy way out.

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Depressed, But Climbing Out

“This life was given to you because you’re strong pexels-photo-1006446.jpegenough to live it.”

It’s Saturday morning. Yesterday morning I spent at the doctor. First blood tests. Had blood drawn. Up to my Internal Medicine office. Injection of something that works like adrenaline. Another blood draw in half an hour. A Third one in another half an hour Yay! Found out at 4:30! Addison’s disease is ruled out. A big relief! My cortisol level is normal and stable. Not low any longer. I thank God!

I’m getting ahead of myself, but when you’re climbing out of a depression, grab all the joy you can! I met with my psychiatrist of 12 years after the blood draws. We didn’t discuss the depression much. He focused on my terrible sleep. Perhaps that is the core problem. He prescribed a new med. I’m going to try it, even though I have not had any luck with sleeping aids over the years.

Saturday morning. The new med proved to be no exception. Not only did it not work right, but I had an adverse reaction to it. My face went numb. Fifteen minutes after taking it, my breathing was depressed, my face, chest and toes became numb. However, two benadryl helped and two more four hours later did the trick. I did sleep in between. This morning I am rested. The bad reactions have dissipated. I still feel emotionally numb, but I have a sense that I am climbing out of the pit of this depression. Today my hope is restored.

The fog is lifting. Somehow, thanks no doubt to the prayers of so many friends, God fashioned a key out of the cage of the pervasive sadness that had characterized my days and made my nights interminable. I am very thankful.

“Sadness may last for a night, but joy comes in morning.” Psalm 30: 5b

Depression Is A Cage With No Key

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“That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end. The fog is like a cage without a key.”

I’m living in a fog. I don’t know exactly when it descended. Or rather crept into my life. I’ve been ill. Starting with migraines with aura and no pain just numbness that I mistook for a stroke and went in for an MRI. Then the pain came and dizziness and nausea. Lasting a month at least. Then some odd blood tests. Low sodium and cortisol. Sodium checked out to be okay. I saw the specialist yesterday. More tests to take regarding the cortisol. Lack of nighttime sleep. Sleeping until 1pm in the day. A human vegetable. Weakness personified. Now my mood has tanked. I’m seeing my psychiatrist on Friday, thank Heaven. Maybe I need a medication adjustment. An easy fix. That would be nice. Maybe there’s really something wrong with me. Blood tests Friday will tell. I can stop worrying about it one way or another. Shrug it off. Work at getting better. Fight my way out of the mental straight jacket this depression finds me in.

The stress of illness and exhaustion can precipitate depression, especially when you have bipolar disorder and are prone to mood swing. I know that. At some point you must get help. The sooner the better. Well the morning, in a few hours, is Thursday. The doctor is Friday. I’m almost there. Thanks for listening friends. Please pray for wisdom for my doctor and good results on my last tests. And that my fight kicks in to battle my way out of this fog and fashion a key for this cage! Set myself free!

🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏

Friendship in Spirit

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Best friend sister Suzy and I at her youngest’s wedding.

In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.  ~ Albert Schweitzer

I have been on Twitter since 2009. I have been blogging for at least four years before that. I know because my Twitter handle is libbytalks and that was my original blogging name. That was before I got cumbersome and entangled in the reality and disclosure when becoming genuine online was the way to go, hence: Libby Baker Sweiger: me!

I have had bipolar disorder far longer. Since I was 23. I will be 65 in June. Yikes! It was many years until one day on Twitter, in a Social Media Group I had joined called #UsGuys, I wrote a blogpost called Libbytalks Has a Secret and disclosed my bipolar one diagnosis. That changed life online for me. Slowing and steadily, from that day in approximately 2012, I began to talk about my real life more and more. Now, for the second time, I have an online paper on #mental health: Mental Health/Living Above the Madness: Mental Health/Living Above The Madness.

Yet, my experience online was getting a bit dry. I didn’t really feel like I was connecting. I had friends on Facebook from high school and years on social media. But, I wasn’t really making new, deep friendships like I was when I first began on social medial.

Until, recently on Twitter, I heard from @dalereardon from @mydisabilitymatters. He invited me to join My Disability Matters Club of which he is the founder. It is a wonderful online meeting place geared to anyone with a disability of any kind. You’re invited to build a profile. From there you begin to share and meet other members, who become friends. They have a blog. You can join groups: New Members is a must! The Written Word and Art were for me right off the bat. The most freeing thing is speaking about living with a disability among those who understand your life first hand ~ they live the life, too. I have found the experience so far to be very helpful and enriching.

The site is very well constructed and user friendly. It has an intimate feel to it. The groups are open. You can control the privacy of your posts to public, members, friends, or you. The level of sharing is deep. The honesty level is high. It’s affirming, supportive and friendly. It’s a place to go and feel accepted, real and free from anxiety. Yes, I am loving it!

I would welcome anyone looking for a safe place to express yourself and learn and live in your own skin with friends also searching for a friendly place to be themselves ~ embrace your disability and check out My Disability Matters Club ~ rekindle your inner spirit!

Skipping Ahead!

I always wanted a family!

Me, Abby, Mike & Riley/Christmas ’17

I wanted a family of my very own from the time I could remember. Probably, since our young family split apart. I hate to make a big deal of it, because I don’t want to hurt my Dad’s feelings as my last living parent. But, it really has nothing to do with him. It’s all me. I have a strong drive to belong to an intimate core of people belonging to me, a family! Mom, Dad a kid and a dog in our case. I’m well aware families come in all shapes and sizes!

One of my favorite families is my girlfriend since Jr. High: Debi and her daughter Jillayne and the favorite nurse they have on duty for Jillayne that shift, if she or he is a fave. Otherwise, it’s Debi and Jillayne. Jillayne has a myriad of health problems that require 24/7 nursing care and Debi takes at least one of the shifts. Sometimes more. Sometimes all. Debi is indomitable and funny. She has an incredible sense of humor, is full of caffeine and faith, and sometimes relies on sheer force of will to carry her through. Jillayne is positive, upbeat and tirelessly optimistic, who has been through way too much for her young lifetime… late twenties, I think. Their attitude and humor, their love sustains them. Basically, they ROCK!

I went through a lot getting my family pictured above ~ 1 divorce, deaths of 2 children from my 1st marriage. One stillborn baby girl. One sweet boy, Davey who lived almost one year with serious heart defects and we discovered after death ~ no spleen. Miss him every day. And the hope of my baby girl, Shirley.

When I had Davey, at 9 months old, I was diagnosed with bipolar one disorder brought in by post-partum. It hit me hard. I was hospitalized. My ex came back into town to watch after Davey. Tragically, Davey died while I was still in the hospital. That settled it for my ex. No more separation, he was filing for divorce. I was too ill to process it completely, in all its ramifications. But, I knew he was gone, and my attempt at fulfilling my dream for a family had died with my son.

The good news? I did get better. My father. My best friend Cooley, my maternal grandmother Meme were stalwart visitors, as were darling friends Dona and Molly. My sister Suzy had just had a baby, my brothers were in school out of state, and my Mom was working and came when she could. She also had Suzy to help with firstborn, Andy.

My doctor had me on a strict regimen of exercise and medication, once he brought me back from the abyss using every tool in a psychiatrist’s arsenal, to pull me out of the deep depression once the manic phase loosed its hold.

The ultimate good news: I survived! I lived to tell the tale. I emerged stronger, skinnier and wiser… much wiser! Within a year or so I was celebrating my first anniversary of my divorce with my new boyfriend who became my new fiancee and now husband of 39 years this summer and my very best friend, love of my life: Mike ~

Thank you dear Lord for never leaving us, and that in our darkest hour, you are there!

The Story Begins

It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.

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My story begins in a small apartment on the top floor of a tree lined street in Minneapolis Minnesota in the middle of June in the very early days of a marriage between two people… very much in love, not destined to be together longer than ten years, but whose love lives on sixty years later in the hearts of there children and will continue many more lifetimes in the lives of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Love multiplies faster than anger can destroy. This story will demonstrate how.

I’m the oldest of their four and a product of all they did right in this world! I plan to tell their story and my own, and space permitting… and it will… not constrained by paper and pen, but only my heart and mind and imagination! ~ I will tell it!

I am a happy, healthy member of the Baby Boomer generation. A survivor of the crowd that was my growing up. My friends and I were raised in a noisy, busy time with firm rules, lots of freedom and lots and lots of us! Over 900 kids in our graduating class in High School. We didn’t have time for political correctness. We were to busy trying to make it across campus to our next class through the crowd. Forget it if we decided to try to grab a drag on a cigarette in the bathroom on the way!

Rumor had it, one poor kid got push through the glass door at the front of the school between classes! Let’s hope that was folk lore!

Still we enjoyed great pep rallies, winning sports teams, an awesome danceline, great teachers, a super college prep education and plenty of fun. I went to school in a suburb of Minneapolis called Edina.

Even though divorced…my dad made sure we had a great education. My mom made sure our home was a fun place to live.

Sound too good to be true? Okay that’s fair. I was sad my parents weren’t together… no matter how well they did for us. It was the 60s and 70s turbulent times for our country. But our lives were fairly insular. Protected and happy. We had a lot of friends. A great dog. Parents who fought when they were married, but were very good friends and calm divorced. I loved and liked them both.

I think, looking back that I SUFFERED from depression in my High School years. I was sick a lot… but with rather non descript ailments. I used to stay at my grandparents in there Edina apartment and have my Grandma wait on me. Seeking some pampering no doubt. When home, I took on a lot of responsibility as the oldest… for keeping my brothers in line and encouraging the making of dinner, etc. My mom cooked…but I remember getting hungry waiting for her to get started. She loved to read and write down her thoughts, strewing her stuff on the kitchen table. Why didn’t I just make dinner? I remember finally learning. My sister was a terrific baker too! But, Mom loved to cook too and did most meals, just without the urgency a husband provides!

So, I was possibly a bit depressed… compelling me to refuge in my grandparents home. Probably just hormones! I really don’t know. Maybe more will surface as I tell my story…