NIMH Bipolar Disorder

“Bipolar Disorder, also known as Manic Depressive Illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Symptoms of  Bipolar Disorder are severe. They are different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through from time to time. Bipolar Disorder symptoms can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. But Bipolar Disorder can be treated, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives.

Bipolar Disorder often develops in a person’s late teens or early adult years. At least half of all cases start before age 25. Some people have their first symptoms during childhood, while others may develop symptoms late in life.

Bipolar Disorder is not easy to spot when it starts. The symptoms may seem like separate problems, not recognized as parts of a larger problem. Some people suffer for years before they are properly diagnosed and treated. Like diabetes or heart disease, bipolar disorder is a long-term illness that must be carefully managed throughout a person’s life.” ~ Sited from NIMH

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I would like to start off by saying I do not think the name “Bipolar Disorder” does justice to the illness… and almost seems to belittle the disorder, and make it seem less significant in relation to other mental health disorders. Manic Depressive Illness is a much better description of the disorder, thereby being a more appropriate term/name as a whole. Manic alone is a single word offering a very precise description, as is the word Depressive. Therefor, Manic Depressive is less confusing, more blunt and to the point, with a certain er of importance and respect. Some people think “bipolar” simply means you have two sides to your personality, two “you’s” so-to-speak… and this thought process is incorrect on many fronts.

The chronological order of my documented personal illness began in the year 2000, where I spent five minutes with a Psychiatrist who then prescribed medication for Major Depression. In hindsight, this diagnosis was incorrect as I was already experiencing rapid cycling, and hypo-mania. Five minutes is NOT enough time to assess a patient with any type of Doctor. After many life changing events: divorce, not having custody of my children, and the final blow of an Ex’s suicide, my diagnosis was upgraded to Bipolar 2 Disorder (in 2003), along with the normal “piggybackers” anxiety, and insomnia. However, all of this fell on deaf ears as I refused to believe anything was wrong… and of course, I did not continue with therapy of any kind. Pharmaceutical or otherwise.

I finally had some reprieve for a couple years, and felt somewhat well, and what little medication I would take from time to time, I discontinued completely. Then in 2007 I became manic, depressed, anxious, psychosomatic, suffered brutal panic attacks, and became paranoid I would die in my sleep. Can you imagine how my world flipped upside down?? Sleep was suddenly terrifying… it became a monster out to get me, and no matter what I tried to do, no matter how exhausted I became, sleep totally eluded me. Each time I would lie down to sleep, as my body would drift off, when I would suddenly have a jerking motion, I would wake up completely, thinking I had just jerked awake preventing myself from slipping into death. This paranoia became my downfall. This paranoia caused me to make very poor choices, ending my 2nd marriage, and because of circumstances out of my control, I once again did not have custody of my children. Alas, prompting the next diagnosis of Bipolar 1 with Psychosis.

This nearly destroyed me, I felt like I was going to break at any moment… a break in which I could not come back from. It took accepting I was Manic Depressive, accepting therapy, accepting medication, accepting that even-though I wanted my children with me more than anything in the world, I had to accept that they were healthy, and happy with their Fathers, and I had to accept that I needed to work on myself so I could be the Mom they needed of me.

Education is so important. I am not speaking of the kind from a college, but rather of life and learning about your true self, and educating yourself about the challenges we all have. Learn about mental health issues, and then share that knowledge! This is insanely important to do. Not only are we helping ourselves, but we are helping others in doing this as well.

Lets start discussing mental health… open a dialogue with all those you know. This will help with the stigma associated with it. Personally, I have learned to be a chameleon… I can throw that happy face on faster than anything else I can do… I believe most of us are very good at that. Why?? So nobody can see the storm raging within.

If you love someone with mental health problems… keep looking for that storm. After-all, nobody wants to suffer… and I think we all would welcome the anchor that you have the potential to become… I know I certainly would.

©thebipolarmuse2018

 

Gold Strike Canyon Hot Springs Trail

Gold strike hot springs hike Colorado River

~Oh hiking I love thee… nature comes to life… my heart in chorus with your beat…~ Bmuse

Gold Strike Canyon Hot Springs Trail is near Las Vegas, NV. It is situated East of Boulder City Nevada, near the Hoover Dam. In fact, one picture posted shows the bridge over the Colorado River. Happy Hiking!!!

The weather has been absolutely beautiful, springing forth people who enjoy getting out to enjoy this particular hike that is certainly not for your beginner, especially a lone newb. The hike down is beautiful, you can’t help but be in awe as the mountain seems to grow taller next to you… the rock itself is gorgeous, changing in texture and color the further down you go, sometimes dark and wet in areas, others, different shades of red with some green growth. It seemed to get more mesmerizing the further along we got.

Gold Stike Hot Springs Hike

In some of the more precarious areas, ropes have been successfully mounted, enabling you to scale, or rather rappel, your way down these particular areas that could possibly put a halt to your hike unless you are the awe inspiring Alex Honnold. Ok, it isn’t that bad, but it can be a little scary, and we witnessed some who got stuck from the mental anguish that comes from trying to shimmy down steep rocks. It didn’t trigger my personal fear of heights, but when the rock is wet, sandy, and steep, it is a recipe for a slip and fall… and that would certainly be bad. Horrific for the fallen, and absolutely physically demanding on others trying to climb back out with the injured.

All in all… I loved it! Getting outdoors, taking in the fresh air, and basking in the suns rays is so important for our mental health… movement produces endorphins, lubricates our joints, and keeps our heart healthy, all so very important!

This type of hike is where I feel in my element… I was like a mountain goat on its favorite little ledge… thoroughly enjoying the climbing, balancing, feeling the rock under my feet and my toes trying to grip each surface, and searching out different routes I could utilize to feel even more challenged. I know that I will soon be on the lookout for more hikes of this nature to continue growing my skills… and I will no doubt be back for more of this one. My only disappointment was the lack of hot-springs. There use to be several pools of warm and hot water along this trail, ending with the always super cold Colorado River, but now, I only observed one small hot-spring capable of holding a few people for a taste of natures hot-tub. However, because of the technicality involved, the beautiful weather, ropes secured in those difficult areas for all to use, I felt challenged and (dare I say it) feel this may be my new favorite hike.

colorado river hoover dam bridge

***I must note that this hike is closed for several months out of the year, our summer months, due to the extreme heat that is natural for our location. Several people have sadly passed away while trying to accomplish this hike during the hot months, often they are not your “hiker” types…unprepared without the proper amount of water, nourishment, or proper gear. This isn’t a hike you decide to do in flip flops with half a bottle of water. You must be prepared! I am going to share links to purchase the gear I used personally… my two favorite items: 1. My water-pack  and 2. Trekking Poles. The water-pack wears like a vest, and comes with two collapsible water bottles. It has a nice large area to hold any necessities you may want to bring with you, but I use this area to hold a bladder to ensure I have plenty of water on hand. Now, for this hike, the trekking poles are not absolutely needed. I honestly could have done without them, but they were very handy, even in the areas where I needed to use my hands for climbing. If they got in the way, I tossed them down… no biggie… but wow, they came in handy! Not only did I use them to assist hiking through the softer sand and rock, but they were awesome for using them to catapult myself over small streams of water. Not once did I regret taking them.

Enjoy the pictures… check out the gear… and when you are in the area, make plans to conquer Gold Strike Hot Springs Trail. I promise you that you will not be disappointed!


Click on the pics to check out this gear. The poles are for all seasons, but if you want something more simple, not a problem. After you click on the pic, simply use the search bar to search for other poles. Same goes for the water-pack vest. Happy browsing!

 

©thebipolarmuse2018

When The Sh*t Hits The Fan

alone

When two people with mental health issues live together, certain challenges present themselves and add to the difficulties already present. I myself have a diagnosis of Bipolar 1 (along with several co-morbid “buddies” that often go hand in hand with said disorder), and the man I am dedicated to in life is diagnosed with bipolar (along with other co-morbid “buddies” as well), but the kicker is the diagnosis of “Intermittent Explosive Disorder”. I will do another post soon about that specific disorder, but lets just say that it  is a brutal issue to combat. It turns the man I love with all my soul into someone I don’t recognize. Not only that, but I am treated as though I am nobody special, even less than strangers. In fact, during an episode… I am spoken to with what sounds like loathing and fervent rage, but if a neighbor, or someone else comes along, they are spoken to with kindness and respect… something foreign to the way I am treated during these IED (Intermittent Explosive Disorder) moments.

It is a very lonely place to be when the anger is directed at you simply because you are the person closest. Even if he is trying with all his strength NOT to lash out at me (which I know is exactly what he is concentrating on), it is very lonely to be on my end of it. While he is trying to battle his anxiety, and his automatic “this is a disaster” thought process, he is completely incapable of offering help or suggestions, nor demonstrate any type of loving, supportive gestures to help encourage me as I do all I can to rectify the situation.

Yet…  I still help my man to my fullest capacity, and attempt to support him. I do all I can to fix the problem without turning it into some horrible difficult issue… I remain calm, cool, and collected, trying to keep him informed of what I am doing to fix the situation.  Even if his tone of voice is derogatory, or he emanates anger… I do all I can to help, reminding myself that this isn’t the “true” him, and he is fighting to come back to who he truly is.

Though I know this isn’t him per say, it still hurts… I still feel as though I am wilting away. I try to be a step ahead so I can predict what is needed… and I do it for him without hesitation… all the while, tears flood my eyes, and I keep my head low to hide them. They are a sign of weakness to him when he is this person… so I keep silent, don’t argue, stay busy, put on that loving smile I am great at wearing, and I keep my head down…

All the while, somehow, in someway…

I am breaking.

Knowing full well that when things come full circle,

He will return full of love and grace, and his loving embrace will encompass me…

And what once felt broken…

He will make whole… and then I am home.

©thebipolarmuse 2018

An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison

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An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison is one of my favorite books about manic depressive illness, and finding this author became a ray of light at an important time of my life… my own personal breakdown. You can find a copy of this excellent read in print on Amazon, and they also have it for the Kindle. Not only is Kay Redfield Jamison the Author, she also works in the mental health industry, and lives with Manic Depressive Illness (aka Bipolar Disorder) herself. She gives a very detailed, educated, yet very personal account of the disorder and how it has shaped her life.

Reading the book sparked the following post originally posted in April 2010…

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She touches so well on the circus in my head… literally a psychosis I experienced that was one of the most intense experiences I have ever had. Knowing I was not alone in this chaos was certainly of importance for there is no way to describe to someone what it is like to feel so cold that it feels like fire, or be surrounded by lights that seem so bright everything around you appears surreal. There’s no way to describe how loud a chirping bird sounds, or how strong and fragrant fresh cut grass can create nausea. There’s no way to explain the sound and feel of the earth beneath my feet as I walk…

Nor is there a way to explain what it’s like when all of those experiences are absent… as in a state of depression.

Depression is the monster on my back. It steals everything from me and leaves me with absolutely nothing… nothing other than misery. It leaves me with pain, sickness, indifference, and my most hated phrase: “All I know is I don’t know”.

When depressed, a walk in the park is absent of everything pleasant. I can’t hear children laughing and playing, I can’t smell the BBQ cooking, I can’t hear birds chirping or dogs barking, I can’t feel the breeze or the warmth of the sun, I can’t see people smiling and enjoying themselves, and worst of all… I feel devoid of life in general.

Depression is painful and torturous. It robs me of any happiness and is absolutely brutal. I have fought these feelings since I was 11yrs old… and 31 years later I am still trying to figure it out… trying to tame this beast.

It can be done… I will do it… WATCH ME.

©thebipoolarmuse2010

Tingles of Mania

manicInside

Tingles up my spine, in my hands, feet, neck, and head. Sounds magnified by a billion… clanks, swooshes, drips, music from a house over, barking dogs, cars, the energy in my head. I swear I hear clown cars, elephants, people murmuring, popcorn bags crinkling, horns, tinkering bells, shoes shuffling, children laughing, a circus in my head.

Every sensation intensified 100 fold. Every ache a pain, every touch leaves a scorching path, every chill becomes a pleasantly painful shiver. Running my fingers through my hair is brutal yet somehow intoxicating.

I flee from tears to happiness… often irritable with boundless energy.

BOUNDLESS ENERGY.

Days become nights, and then nights back to days. Images fly through my head one after another. Dirt, trees, a smiling lady, retro car, beach, sand, beer, the sky, moon, stars, babies, holding hands, fire, weeds, butterflies, black and white photos, Gidget, music notes, piano, stadium lights, cars, people chattering, relay for life, school, books, money, flying, dreams, galaxies, GOD, energy.

Far above the earth, above the stars, flying in a luminous light… tingling head to toe.

This, my friend, is my mania.

Welcome to my world.

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If you have ever experienced mania… you know this well. If you have never experienced mania… this is just the tip of  the iceberg.

Without fail… after mania is the crash into the deepest pit of depression… because of this… mania has a beauty, and is often sought and a place I never want to leave.

 

©bipolarmuse2018

What Doesn’t Kill You

The very beginning… written in April of 2010… coming to terms with poor mental health, a diagnosis of Bipolar 1 disorder with psychosis and comorbid disorders such as anxiety, Borderline Personality Disorder, and many Psychosomatic symptoms.

~~~~So is it true that whatever doesn’t kill you will make you stronger? I am leaning more towards the “whatever doesn’t kill you will only wear you down until you break into a billion little pieces” idea of the matter. Everyone has a story right? Well, so do I. And in this world of anonymity I will take advantage of telling my story within my 10 seconds of “bloggy” fame.
I have no clue how to blog, or what the hell I am getting into but I do believe it will be therapeutic….especially important to me because I can no longer afford the therapist I have been seeing…
And ohhhhhh the venting I shall accomplish. It’s brilliant….
Welcome to my wild, ridiculous, adventurous life… my wild ride. The beautiful disaster I have come to be.~~~~