Here it Comes

Here comes Mania, here comes Mania,
Right down Bipolar lane
Static and Chaos and all their brethren
Pullin’ on my brain
First I’m laughin’, suddenly cryin’
All is way too bright
Hang your head and say your prayers
‘Cause Mania comes tonight!

 

I wrote this just now as I was steam cleaning the carpet steps. I don’t know of a better way to spend a late Thursday evening. Now I think I’ll clean some closets. God what I wouldn’t give to be normal.

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90 Degrees

The other day, a friend asked me what they could do to help whenever I am depressed. And it’s a funny question because, WHEN I am actually depressed, I don’t think I am worthy of helping. It’s also a timely question because I’m nose diving into a low after weeks of blissful stability.

My lows are not only sleeping for days, though that is definitely involved. They mostly consist of such a dearth of love for myself that if I saw it in my own family I would be terrified. The things I say to myself go behind playground bullying and hinge more on horror movie. They paralyze me.

So, to answer the question, when I am depressed, when I am in a low; I need to know that I am loved. I need to know that I am worth fighting for. I desperately need to know that people care about me. I also admit that this is a tall order and not for everyone. But if you’re able, even if I push you away while I’m down here, reach down to me until I start to reach up.

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Slang

Usually, I don’t read the articles on Yahoo because, quite frankly, I’m a snob and I find them to be poorly written or alarmist. But this one was excellent, probably because it is less of an article and really just quotes from my brothers and sisters on the mental health battlefield.

27 Ways to Be an Ally for Someone Who Has a Mental Illness

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This one in particular was striking. It amazes me how many people do this.

No, the weather is no bipolar. I AM. The weather is weather. It is controlled by gulf streams, and pressure, and magic and pixie dust. I am controlled by the chemicals in my brain that will not allow me to enjoy my daughter’s birthday party and the demons in my head who are constantly -just- on the verge of breaking free. So the weather, or your non bipolar friend who decided to NOT go to the movies with you today because she’s having a bad day, or your cat who was in your lap and then flipped out and bit you? Again. Not bipolar. But me, in bed for the fourth day in a row, wondering how it is that people can even stand the SIGHT of me, even though six weeks ago, I was the life of the party and handing out my phone number like candy? Yeah. Bipolar. My diagnosis is not slang. Don’t use it as such.

Back to School

Back to school can be such an infuriating time for someone who struggles with mental health issues. For me in particular, it fills me with such a mix of strong emotions; I often end up conveying the “wrong” ones. When I was a kid, the return to school was panic inducing. The night before would usually find me in a fear stricken ball in bed. Suffice it to say, I was not a popular kid. Overweight, too eccentric and smart is not a good combination when you’re trying to fit in. However, there is also the start of something new. A fresh beginning that is so utterly irresistible that I can’t help  but get swept up in it. Of course, my daughter has no idea what’s going on and is simultaneously dreading waking up early again, and thrilled to see her school friends.

Even as an adult, I dread back to school because it means once again feeling inadequate at my lack of “room mom ability” and the awkwardness of the bus stop pick up. When you’re bi-polar, it’s difficult to commit to things such as volunteering in the classroom. Usually, I laugh off my unwillingness as just being lazy or afraid of kids. The truth of the matter is I am terrified of disappointing people when the depression hits. The day that I’m supposed to be at the school sharpening pencils and cutting out cardboard circles will instead be the day that my blanket is a lead weight on my chest and I can’t handle putting on shoes, let alone handling scissors. My daughter wants me to help out so desperately and I have no idea how to explain to her that sometimes Mommy’s illness gets the best of her.

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Yesterday.

I want to pretend that yesterday did not happen. I wish I could erase it like chalk from mine and everyone else’s lives.

The day started out normally. Daughter had a sleepover the night before which equated to no one getting any sleep. The kids played in the morning, and in the afternoon, we all went to my parent’s home for a cook out. Direction: downhill. My daughter does not like to greet people. She doesn’t like to introduce herself, shake hands, touch strangers, or be the first to speak. She even goes to a social skills group that is trying (in vain, it seems) to teach her how to respond appropriately in these sorts of situations. Cook outs, or any family gathering, can be stressful. Will she greet her family today? Will she look her uncle in the eye? Will everyone just think she’s a rude brat? No two situations are ever the same and there is no formula for a good time with her. Sometimes, things fall in pieces around us and we are stupefied and can do nothing but watch it happen.

Eventually, she wound up inside the house, ignoring her friend and the rest of the family, under a blanket and being alone. She was given dessert on the couch, and after a while, I tried to get her to come back outside. “We will be leaving soon, you are running out of time to play.” Blank stares and whining followed this speech. I went outside. Time passes and suddenly, she is before me, wanting to play with everyone and engage with the family. “I’m sorry, but now it’s time to leave.” I could never have predicted the amount of fury and emotion that would come out of her at that point. And then; from me.

Back inside, I am trying to employ damage control. My own anxiety levels are spiking and I immediately feel as though I am pinned under a microscope. Walking into the living room, I discover that she has left ice cream to melt into my parents couch, and cake and frosting like mouse droppings on the floor and in the cushions. I can’t say for sure, but this might have been the moment when I lost. My. Shit. At this point, I don’t know who was screaming louder: her or me. Suffice it to say, it did not end well.

At home, as a family, we sat down and discussed what had happened. How lately, there seems to be a trend of disrespect, slacking off and a general disregard and even disdain at the house rules and codes of conduct. We’ve been letting things slip and not following through on consequences for anyone. This is fairly typical in a depressive state. I don’t feel as though I have the right, the authority or the energy to enforce rules in the house. I consider myself to be a joke of a mother and, as such, am treated as one. It is interesting to me to see how my affliction trickles down and creates chaos. And of course, along with that realization is the: “boy, they would be so much better off without me.” Not that this is a serious thought, more like a passing banner in my mind. I know something has got to give, but at this point, I don’t know what that something is. And I’m terrified that before I get it figured out, I’ll lose my daughter entirely and all of her thoughts and memories of me will be miserable.

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Pete and Repeat

Anyone who is a parent or has even been around small children for any length of time knows they can sometimes be annoying. I love my daughter, but, it’s true. She can really annoy the hell out of me. One of the things kids do that irritates most of the population is ask the same thing over and over again. “Mom mom mom mom mom mom mom…” until the response they want to hear is given. Or: “Can I have a piece of candy?” No. “Can I have a piece if I clean my room?” No. “Can I have some candy if I tell you I love you?” No. On and on it goes. A lot of people can absorb these annoyances, have a glass of wine and be all right. For me, however, it’s a trigger. 

The endless stream of the same and similar questions; the random noise she just discovered she can make and, therefore, keeps making; the same tv show, over and over again. I can’t handle it. And it doesn’t just have to come from kids. There’s a bird in my yard who won’t shut up. My brother in law has a penchant for drumming on everything with anything. 

I don’t have it in me to walk away or ask someone to stop. I need the noise to stop, or I will put a fist through a wall. I’m not being sensitive or high maintenance, I just know that if I hear that noise one more time, a switch will be flipped that will take hours or days to be fixed. I’ve seen shirts for kids to wear that say things such as “I’m allergic to peanuts!” And “Please be nice, I’m autistic!” I need one that says: “Please be quiet or I’ll break something!”

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Mini BPD

Sometimes I can’t help but wonder if my darling daughter has the same issue as I do. It’s difficult for me to tell the difference between what’s normal for an almost six year old, and what constitutes a problem. These past few days should go down in the “problem” category. 

There have been countless meltdowns and tears shed over ridiculous, fixable, things. I wonder though, is it only because I am seeing myself in her? Or is she feeding off of me? One of our biggest concerns as parents is how to keep our children safe. How can I keep her safe from herself if she, too, is bipolar? How do I keep her from this diagnosis? 

I know there is a slight possibility that she will have issues as she ages; after all, mental illness runs in families. Hell, you should meet my family. We’d take up an entire ward in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. There are more and more options for children who may have problems, but where does one start? I almost feel as though even looking into it condemns her to a life with a broken brain; just like me. 

I’d love for her to love words, art, science; for her to be talented in music and with sewing; for her to be funny and loving… but never in my life did I think she might take after my in this way.