I’m Aware

Today is World Autism Day. As a woman married to a man with Asperger’s, I thought I would use the day as a jumping off point for a peek into our life. When Nate and I first met, I thought he was weird. I mean, really, really, really weird. He didn’t really talk to people, he had the strangest nuances, and just about everything he did took five times longer than it did for other people. I don’t know why I pursued him as relentlessly as I did. I just knew that I loved him; even if was, as I said, really, really, really weird.

Later, we would learn that he has Asperger’s and all of this things I thought were weird, are really just what makes him who he is. We have an interesting relationship. He has a need for routine. I swing violently day to day. If sure you COULD find a more mis-matched pair of mental problems to be married, but, you might be hard pressed. When I’m in a manic state, I have the urge to clean, to be adventurous  to move every stick of furniture in the house. While he stands in the middle of the room; paralyzed by all of the sudden, swift changes going on around him. When I’m in a depressive state, he is forced to do more of my share of the household work. And again, becomes so overwhelmed he chooses to wait out my state so I can do everything the right way. Over the years we’ve managed to hack together a semblance of what others would call normalcy. But it doesn’t take too keen of an eye to realize that something is still a little off about us. I’m too loud and he’s too quiet. I talk too fast and he doesn’t talk at all. But our commonality is how both of us struggle to find understanding and acceptance in a world that is only recently beginning to talk about disorders like ours.

I love my autistic husband and he loves his bipolar wife.

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Upswing

I believe I would be correct in saying that the “leveling out” I thought I was in, is actually the beginning of a manic episode. I say this because I had a hard time falling asleep last night because I couldn’t stop thinking about how all of our electronics needed their screens cleaned. I imagined them all, covered in fingerprints and God know what else, and I had to force myself to stay in bed; heart racing and head buzzing.

This past weekend was also a good example of parenting in a mild manic state. The things that normal parents can deal with: “Mama, mama, mama, mama, mama…. I need some juice.” They make me want to throw a watermelon out the window. Think about it. How satisfying would that be?! Thankfully, my husband was able to step in and suggest that maybe I needed a little alone time. I think he’s getting better at detecting my moods than I am.

Hopefully this mania will stay semi close to normal and I won’t do anything rash. Like throw away all of my stuff, or paint the living room pink. It’s been known to happen.

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Tired but Wired

Tired but Wired is a term I come across often when researching my disorder. What does it mean? I’ve experienced this countless times, but only just recently discovered there is a name for this more than slightly annoying problem. I’ve been in bed, trying so hard to get to sleep, but my brain is saying, “Oh HELL no, you have WORK to do!” So, I get up and begin to attack some random project at a well adjusted time of oh, say, two in the morning. 

Most recently, I decided that I needed to immediately do five loads of laundry before I gave myself permission to sleep. And while the laundry was going, I sewed a skirt for my daughter. I might have also cleaned my craft room, but, to be honest, when I get this way, I don’t remember a whole hell of a lot. 

If you’ve ever had just a bit too much caffeine too early in the morning, then you probably know what it feels like. Or pulled an all nighter and then topped it off with a Red Bull to keep you going. That jittery, intense feeling; when your eyes are so exhausted they burn, but if you close them, your heart races and you sweat, thinking of the time you’re “wasting.” 

When I get tired but wired, I notice that my movements are jerky and almost uncontrollable. It’s a little like an out of body experience. Normal me is hovering nearby, trying to break into my brain to tell me to chill the heck out, and tired but wired me is fighting with an incomprehensible desire to just. stay. awake. 

Ever happened to you? 

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I had gone almost a year and I figured it would be smooth sailing if I stopped taking my medication. I don’t know why so many of us with mental issues believe this lie. It was most definitely not smooth sailing. After two weeks, I hated myself. I hated my husband. I even hated my little daughter. All I wanted was to escape from my life. If anyone broached the subject of my mood swings, I lashed out at them in an awful way. Calling those I love most the nastiest things I could think of. Afterwards, lying in bed, I would berate myself. Most commonly, I would disparage myself as a mother and a wife. I would lie and think about how much happier everyone would be without this animal in their lives. Who wants to be friends with a rabid dog?

For years I went through this cycle. On again, off again. Then, in the summer of 2012, a friend of mine committed suicide. It was seemingly out of the blue. People around her questioned: how could she do that to her family? To her friends?

I understood. I had been there too. So convinced that I could picture my family without me. Finally happy. Relieved to be rid of me.

After her death, I became truly vigilant about my medication. I gave my husband a game plan for my highs and lows. He gave me the gift of space when I needed it, and took care of our daughter when the lows got too low. Now, even medicated, my disposition still swings more rapidly and drastically than some, but I know I’m not alone.

That’s my goal with this blog. To be truly candid about my disorder, so that maybe someone else can see through the fog and see that there’s someone else. There really is a “Me, too.” I won’t ever say to get over it. I won’t ever dismiss moods and flatly say “I’m sorry.” And though this blog will focus on my life as a bipolar parent, my hope is to have content that can benefit most people. Not only those in my boat.

Diagnosis

During my appointment with the psychiatrist, I was nervous and on guard. I knew that I was definitely not crazy. I had lived up to this point and nothing too terrible had happened to me, so I must not be crazy, right? Of course, I was discounting the cutting, the rage episodes, the fists through walls, the sobbing in my car, and, of course, that time I had to pull over to keep myself from driving off a bridge. But hey, SO normal.

After a few visits, I came away with a diagnosis: Bipolar II and Borderline Personality Disorder. She gave me a list of prescriptions and sent me on my way. Part of me was incredibly irritated. I’d taken pills before, and nothing had helped me. The doctor had explained that this was because anti-depressants don’t fully help people who have BPD. They may help relieve some of the symptoms, but they just can’t help with the severe shifts in mood. So, I filled the prescriptions, walked around Target for a while, and went home.

The next few weeks I weaned myself onto the drugs. A few more milligrams every week. I could feel myself calming down. Things like a diaper blowout no longer made me want to lock myself in a closet. I could handle rude people at work without slamming my fist on the counter top. Things were going well. It was the first time in my life that I felt any semblance of normalcy. After a few months, I figured I was fine; had gotten a handle on myself; moved on. Then, like so many others, I quit taking my chemical cocktail.