World Bipolar Day

I’ve been fairly private on this front for the past year regarding my ongoing struggle with bipolar disorder.  Behind the scenes, I’ve become a host for Postpartum Support International, leading a group for women in the perinatal period who struggle with bipolar disorder and am partnering back up again with Bipolar Support Club International this time as a wellness coach, which I am very excited about.  I’ve doing Podcasts, writing articles, and it feels deeply satisfying to be working behind closed doors and face to face with others who are truly struggling.  Not to mention I have always deeply admired people who have the ability to reach out and ask for help rather than my own tendency to withdraw inward.  But over a year ago, I slipped over the edge after desperately trying to cling to whatever surface that was left for me to grasp.  The fall seemed to be happening in slow motion.  In my mind, there always seemed to be enough room for me to be hopeful that I could regain control until it became painfully evident that I could not.  I was exhausted but rather than hit the floor, I seemed to just enter this state of free-fall where I lost perspective of any sense of time or space or reality around me.  I landed in a psychiatric hospital and oddly the only thing that kept me from losing my sanity even more was that this was at least a familiar place to me. 

I knew how to present myself (or so I thought), what to do and what not to do, and what to say to the people that mattered.  I was left in a holding room for about 6 hours on my admission and this was honestly one of the hardest parts.  I thought they had forgotten about me several times and I started to feel desperate and panicky. I shook the doors and shouted, asking for someone to come help me and at least tell me what was going on.  I was ignored.  I began looking for ways to escape, although I knew that would lead to nothing good and an even longer stay, so I abandoned that idea after a deep struggle not to act on the impulse.  Finally, a nurse heard me as he walked by and as calmly as I could I told him I had been locked back here for hours and to please find out what was going to happen or when I was going to be allowed to a room.  He kindly apologized and went to find out what the problem was and told me they were preparing a room and it should only be about another 20 minutes.  2 hours later I began shaking the doors again and found him walking by a second time.  “You’re still back here?!?!”  He apologized profusely and asked admissions what the problem was.  A woman came to talk to me and with every ounce of self-control in me I told them the situation as calmly as I could.  She explained shift change was happening but she would alert the nurse to come get me as soon as possible.  I commended myself for not smacking her on the spot and considered this progress made and a sign that I was obviously cured.

Ten minutes later my admitting nurse made her appearance and took me back to the ward.  She was very kind and my anger melted away as she began talking to me.  By now it was 8pm and it had been a long day.  I completed the intake interview with her, complied with a brief body search, curled up in a freezing cold room and went to sleep.

The next morning, I awoke and learned that I had been placed on a detox ward because the other units were full.  I was surrounded by people who were there to get clean but were otherwise functional, social, and motivated to utilize the support.  I on the other hand was isolative, unable to communicate with the other patients due to my mental state, and hanging on by the thinnest thread imaginable to keep any semblance of composure.  I walked along in silence with the group to the cafeteria and tried to eat, but only managed a few bites.  A few people asked me what I was there for and I mumbled something about being having bipolar disorder, which was received with a few understanding nods.  After arriving back on the unit, I sat in a chair and waited to see some sort of practitioner so I could explain this was all a mistake and I could surely be released that afternoon.  However, since I had arrived on a Friday and a holiday weekend at that, I saw the Nurse Practitioner.  When she called me back to the office, I thought to myself that now my chance to shine.  After all, I knew exactly what needed to be said in order to make it look like I was not as sick as I was.  I had, after all, been in much worse shape than this so how hard could it be?  The interview lasted a whole 5-10 minutes and I got hit with statement that there will be no discharges until after the weekend when the doctor can see me.  Still, the interview went well and I came out thinking that I had survived the situation and perhaps even came away looking half way decent.  If I could just make it to Monday, I would be ok.  I then retreated back to my room and got directly back in bed.

This routine played out for days.  Mornings were not as bad as afternoons.  Every day after lunch a panic and deep heartbreak would consume me.  I wanted to see my children.  I wanted to go home.  Anxiety would overtake me and flashbacks of the events that occurred up until my hospitalization played over and over in my mind.  Panicked and explosive texts to David that I was going to die, complete inability to take care of, feed, or bathe my children or myself, screaming and rocking myself back and forth in a corner of the house for hours believing that I was dying of a rare blood cancer that I had brought on myself, and complete reserve and belief in the fact that if I killed myself, the misery would be over for everyone and they could be free again.   I had felt trapped with no way out and the hospital triggered that same feeling.  I was too scared to ask for anything to help with anxiety for fear they would see the simple need of it as a bad sign.  I had no control over anything.  Nothing.  I felt at the complete mercy of people who didn’t even know me.  The Nurse Practitioner upped one of the medications I was on but in hindsight it was a weak decision.  Still, it helped a little and over the days in between begging to be released and the medication having some effect, I was able to participate in groups a little and occasionally talk to my peers. 

Once I was finally able to see a doctor, I was feeling quite confident in my ability to prove to her I was ready to go home.  She, on the other hand, was not as easily convinced.  I remember her looking at me curiously and telling me that she’d like to keep me for a full 2 weeks.  My heart sank.  I desperately wanted to begin working on repairing the damage I had done to my family.  I worked hard to fight off tears and the sense of crushing disappointment I felt.  She paused for a moment and then said, “The NP spoke highly of you and it is her testimony I have ultimately decided to go off of.  The team wants you here until next Friday but I am willing to let you go tomorrow if you see your personal psychiatrist the day you return home.  I also expect to you to have your therapist set up for this week as well.  Please have them call the hospital and confirm these appointments in order for your discharge to take place.”  My heart leapt and I immediately got on the phone to set everything up.  Release of Information forms had been in place so both the therapist and doctor were able to call to confirm my appointments.  The hospital slapped yet another Bipolar I diagnosis on me this time with a psychotic depression episode after it and prepared for my discharge the next day.

The next morning David arrived to pick me up.  His dad had flown out from Hawaii the day I went into the hospital to help with the kids while David worked.  He took them to swim team each day, brought them home, fed them, bathed them, and put them to bed.  When I arrived, John was still there thankfully and his presence was a huge comfort to me.  I felt like I was still on very shaky ground and not quite able to stand on my own two feet again.  He helped me with the kids, talked with me, and is just the kind of man who makes you feel like everything is going to be alright.  He never preached or gave me advice.  In fact, the day I got back from the hospital he and I drove to the pool for the kids to go swimming the most he asked me was, “So how are you feeling?” which in all honesty was about the most personal thing he had ever asked me before. I still hadn’t quite worked out the answer to this question so all I was able to say was that I was confused.  I had been great at my job when I worked as a psychiatric nurse and yet there I was not able to maintain a drop of stability over my own life.  John laughed quietly to himself before saying, “Elizabeth, that is exactly the problem.  Your patients don’t belong to you.  You can stay detached.  But with your own family you are immersed in that life and perspective gets lost.”  Then he told me a story about the power of breath and breathing through pain or singing of that’s more your thing.  That’s all that he and I said about it and that’s all that needed to be said.  The rest of the time I listed in fascination to his Airforce stories, watched as he played basketball with the kids, and devoted his presence to being there for us.  What greater gift is there anyway?  The gift of presence.

After John returned to Hawaii, my family and I surveyed the damage.  I had dropped out of school, lost credibility at work, and had a very delicate foundation of reality to stand on at best.  Slowly as the months went on, we were able to put the pieces back together but not without several speed bumps.  My recovery didn’t get stronger and stronger and stronger.  It took about 9 months of continued instability to reach my old self again.  I now have a team I work with consisting of a bipolar specialist, my regular psychiatrist, and therapist who would all love to see me back on lithium but I just can’t bring myself to do it again.  They really do love that drug and while it worked well for me, the dose necessary to keep me stable carried with it side effects that were just too difficult to tolerate at the time.  If things ever head south or too far north again, I’ll consider it but as for now I am doing well.  I’ve re-enrolled in school with a firm promise to my family to pull the plug on it if I start to destabilize.  I’m back working at a place I love and seems to keep me in a therapeutic state of mind, which is good for me.  I’ve been functioning well at home and able to take care of my family and find joy again in my life.

I don’t tell this story for sympathy, shock value, or validation.  I need none of those things.  What motivates me to share this is to help people to see that mental health/wellness/illness deserves compassion.  It’s become almost hip to talk about it now.  Everyone relates to anxiety or periodic depression but as soon as you mention that you hear voices or say the word bipolar or schizophrenia or schizoaffective, etc., everybody awkwardly shuts up.  We don’t deserve to be dismissed or looked at as the problem for all the violence in society.    But we do deserve to be listened to without fear.   And for me, World Bipolar Day is a good place to start.

Cheers to 41

Of all the weeks for David to travel back to Hawaii, it had to be the one where sick kids and emergency room visits have filled the days.  To be clear, I am thrilled he gets to go home and have some kid-free time with his family BUT I can’t deny that I was a bit apprehensive about being on my own to lead the pack from Tuesday through Saturday.  However, with my most recent bipolar episode behind me and a somewhat fragile stability holding firm, I decided that I could handle it and that he could go enjoy himself in the sun.


Dave left early Tuesday morning before any of us were awake.  So, for the first time in quite a while, I got all the boys up and ready for school on my own like I used to.  The first day went great and everybody got to school on time.  There were no tears, yelling, screaming, or traumatized individuals leaving the house.  On Monday Nathan was sick with a fever that lasted all day.  By Tuesday, the fever had resolved and he was back to his normal self but still had to stay home another day.  We spent the time by watching a movie and ran errands that needed to get done for the week.  Tuesday evening was more of the same and we all had a relaxing evening before the kids took a bath and went to bed.  I was looking forward to getting them all back in school the next day so I could tie up some things I had to get done before officially withdrawing from grad school for the year.


Then came Wednesday in all her terrible fury.  I dropped all the kids off at school in the morning.  We were a little later than the day before but everyone still made it on time.  Owen clung to me so tightly while I was dropping him off that I almost decided to keep him home because he was so sad.  But in the end, I left him at daycare driven in part by the fact I still had things I needed to get done and wanted to get them out of my hair for good.  I got home and took a leisurely time getting ready since everyone was out of the house.  No sooner did I sit down to work than the phone rang.  It was Owen’s preschool saying he had diarrhea and I needed to pick him up.  Somewhat irritated over my plans being interrupted again, I picked him up and took him home.  He seemed fine to me for a while until I learned the hard way why they had chosen to call me about the diarrhea and send him home rather than keep him.  Defeated, I turned a movie on for him and sat down to do some mindless work on the computer (ex: research what kind of planner stickers I should buy).  I see Owen sitting on the coffee table and the next thing I know he is getting up off the floor crying.  There was something odd about his cry so I immediately got up and ran over to him.  To my complete horror he had blood literally pouring out the back of his head.  I raced to the kitchen and grabbed a huge wad of paper towels and applied firm pressure to it while keeping him pressed against me.  Owen was panicking and in pain, there was blood everywhere, my heart was racing, and my alarm just went off to go pick up the boys from school.  I had no idea what to do, especially if I couldn’t get the bleeding to stop and we were nowhere near that point yet. I reached for my phone and called my neighbor, whose son I also picked up from school.  Through Owen’s screams, I frantically tell her I can’t get the boys from school and could she pick them up?  She graciously said it would be no problem and to just worry about Owen.

About 10 minutes later I was able to get the bleeding to stop but all I saw when I took the towel away was a mass of bloody, matted hair.  I was terrified that if I tried to wipe away any of the blood to get a closer look, it would start bleeding again.  Owen was still crying saying he was scared and that it hurt.  I did my best to comfort him and decided a trip to the ER was in order.  And since the wound had not started bleeding after the towel had been off for 5 minutes, we could get there ourselves.

The car ride calmed Owen and I only began to have one inner meltdown when Waze took me a different way and I missed my turn twice.  There was construction around the parking area of the ER and I didn’t see any free spots right in front so with a complete “screw it” mentality, I made my own spot and went in through the front doors.  It was not an encouraging sight.  The ER was packed.  We waited… and waited… and waited.  A few hours went by.  I imagined my car was likely towed at this point, my phone would die soon thereafter, and I’d have no way of reaching anyone.  Eventually we were called into triage.  The nurse there was very nice and managed to clean the area enough to see that staples were going to be in order and she put lidocaine jelly all over it and sent us back to wait some more.  Our neighbor insisted on keeping the boys and assured me everything was going fine and not to worry about anything other than Owen.  With this reassurance, Owen and I sat together, hungry and exhausted, but okay.

Finally, we were called back to an exam room and everything went quickly from there.  A very friendly Physician’s Assistant came in and assessed his wound.  After cleaning it up he estimated it would take about 5 staples.  Owen was so brave.  I think he’ll tell you the worst part was the cold water running down his neck when it was being cleaned.  The staples were a little uncomfortable but Owen held still all on his own and it was over before he knew it.  Afterwards a cherry popsicle and discharge paperwork completed the process.  As we walked out the door, I was half sure my car would be either towed or at the very least, I’d have a hefty ticket.  To my great shock and relief, I had neither!  Six hours after the event occurred, we arrived safely back at home.

Our neighbor walked the boys over to our house and after looking after them for the entire afternoon and evening, even brought dinner for Owen and myself – to say I was touched is an understatement. 


I spent the entire day hovering over Owen to ensure there were no further accidents or ER visits.  If I could have wrapped him in bubble wrap, I would have.


This day I was sick with a bug while I simultaneously trying to keep an eagle eye on Owen from the couch.  I was exhausted, my stomach was in knots, and had a splitting headache.  The only thing I could think about was how I was going to make it through the rest of the evening and get the boys up and ready at 7am for their 3 soccer games in the morning.  It was another dreadful day.


My alarm went off at 6:30am and I was completely unaware that it was my birthday.  I tried my best to get out of taking the boys to soccer but Colin looked so completely crushed when I asked him if he would be upset if we just skipped it this week.  I begrudgingly got everyone ready and out the door for the first game at 8am.  I believe I made it until almost 10am before I got my first Happy Birthday text.  I was partly shocked that I had completely forgotten, touched to receive a nice message and saddened by it all at the same time.  David was due to be home around lunch time but only for a few hours before he had to go to work that night, which meant he would be sleeping most of the next day.  I had basically another day and a half to go and I wanted to throw in the towel.  This is not how I wanted to spend my birthday.  The rest of the day passed as expected.  Soccer games finished, David came home and we all grabbed lunch and then he left to go to work soon thereafter.


I had such high hopes for this week.  I wanted to do fun things with the boys like go get ice cream late on a school night, watch funny movies together, and just generally enjoy the time together.  This is clearly not what happened.  I do not want to come across as ungrateful, angry, or resentful and perhaps if it were not my birthday, I wouldn’t be so sad about it all.  But here’s to my 41st year and I’m hoping 41 and 1 day will look a little bit brighter.

Hello Again!

I find myself in the position of having to apologize, yet again, for the long absence in my writing.  Truth be told, I’ve actually written a number of posts over the months but deleted them all within a day.  It has been a challenging 8 months but I think that things have finally turned a corner for me. 

Back in December, I found out one of my best friends was murdered by someone who had been stalking her.  She was such a bright light and her loss was crushing.  I was heartbroken and it took me a long time to regain my footing and stability afterwards.  On top of that I was working full-time at a very demanding job and I found that I was unable to be there for my 4 kids and work at that pace at the same time.  My family suffered and my mental health went down the toilet at record speed.  After talking with my husband and crunching the numbers, I finally gathered the courage to quit my full-time position and ask if I could scale back to 2 days a week.  Thankfully, they said yes and it has been a tremendous weight off my shoulders.

So now here I am!  Stable(ish) on my meds and ready to get back to blogging, writing for different publications and speaking here and there.  In the past month we took a vacation to visit family in both California and Hawaii, got a puppy (Frosty), and the boys started school.  The vacation was a nightmare to put it bluntly.  We went to Disneyland (aka utter hell), and then flew to Hawaii where we had to pay a small fortune for a rental car and split time between staying with family and two different hotels, which meant unpacking and packing our stuff up constantly.  I know this must seem like whining but when traveling with 4 young children, EVERYTHING is a massive effort.  Yes, seeing family was wonderful and Hawaii was beautiful, and seeing my dad in California was great but overall, the trip was too much for me.  To make things harder, we got back home from Hawaii at 12:30am and then had to drive 2.5 hours so that we could pick up our puppy early the next morning.  I didn’t sleep more than one hour for 3 or 4 nights in a row and I was NOT in a good state.  When we finally did get home with Frosty, it took me almost two weeks to recover. 

But allow me to show you these lovely pictures with smiling faces so as to create the illusion that everything was enjoyable and effortless! 

I’d like to say ‘I’m back and here to stay!” but anyone of us struggling with a mental health disorder knows better than to say that.  I guess all I can hope for is that I can remain in a better place so that I have more room in my life to devote to the things I love such as writing, educating, and being an advocate.

And with that, I bid you good evening!


I’ve been on a fairly good streak lately.  I’m taking my medication every day without missing doses.  As a result, there’s been a noticeable absence of mood swings.  I feel like I should be marching forward and just handling things in my life as they come, but I’m not.  At least not entirely.  For the sake of my health, I’m finding that my decision to switch from part-time to full-time was a big mistake.  Working full-time with a severe mental illness is proving to be increasingly difficult.  I’m finding it harder and harder to cope with day to day living due to exhaustion and just a general feeling of being overwhelmed.  And then there’s my birthday coming up.  It’s a big one.  I turn 40 this week and that has brought with it its own share of anxiety.  I can’t even quite figure out where it’s coming from.  I’m just sad and anxious for some reason that I can’t put my finger on.  I’m hoping that when the day comes, I wake up feeling like celebrating.  My husband and I are going out to dinner that night and then I’m going out with my work friends the next night so there’s plenty of chances for my mood to turn.  I want to be fun or at least appear to be fun no matter what I’m actually feeling that day.

In the meantime, I am shocked by how many pills it takes to manage my life and keep my head above water – add 4 kids, no family nearby, and the day-to-day pressure gets to be too much.  I don’t know where I’m going where this post, but sometimes I just want to yell, “HELP!” from the water and hope somebody throws me a lifeline.  So, HELP!  Is anyone out there?  Words of wisdom?  Commiseration?  Something.


When we think of discrimination, images such as being turned down for a job or even cruel remarks from an unknowing stranger may come into our minds, but oftentimes discrimination can land much closer to home.  Sometimes it is the people closest to us, such as friends or family members, who are the guilty parties.  This type of discrimination can be subtle and even be construed as well-meaning, so it’s hard to stand up against it but equally frustrating and painful for those of us who are living with a mental illness. 

When I was in my early 30’s, I made the decision to go back to school.  It was a very stressful time in my life.  My husband was in graduate school, our first child had special needs, we had toddler and I was pregnant with my 3rd.  However, I felt that I could successfully complete my degree and applied to school.  When I told my family members of my decision, they were less than thrilled.  I received numerous comments along the lines of, “Are you sure you can handle this?” or “You have more on your plate than you can handle, why are you doing this to yourself?”  or my personal favorite was “I’ll just wait 20 minutes and this will blow over and you’ll be obsessing about something new.”  I wondered how my friends and family would have responded had they not known I was living with bipolar disorder.  Would they still be concerned?  Quite possibly yes, we did have a lot going on in our lives, after all.  However, I firmly believe their responses would have been different.  Rather than framing me in the light of some delicate artifact that could break apart at any moment, their responses would have been more encouraging or matter of fact with less concerned questioning.

This is the type of discrimination that people don’t see.  It’s within the family unit and behind closed doors.  These types of responses erode confidence and imply that not only are we not capable of making decisions, we aren’t capable of fulfilling our own life goals.  This communication style stops us in our tracks and creates doubt where support should be.

So, the question remains, what is one to do?  How do we fight familial discrimination?  We can’t ask our family members to be less concerned about our well-being, if we are lucky enough to be surrounded by people who care.  The answer is to educate them.  Let them know how their behavior and responses affect you.  Give them an example of another response that is actually empowering such as, “I’m proud of you for wanting to pursue your goals.  What can I do to help you?  Let’s think of some supports to have in place for when you start.”  The fact is that change begins with us.  It’s our job to teach them.  We don’t have to be passive victims in acts of discrimination.  Give your mental health a voice.  You never know how much it could impact you have or how far reaching the message.


Picture curtesy of

So tonight has me pondering a topic that has remained elusive and nearly impossible for me master.  That topic is ANGER and how do I/we manage it.  I am filled to the brim with Buddhist sayings, mindfulness techniques, and all sorts of metaphorical reasons and methodologies on how to manage it.  When I am calm, all these beautiful explanations come freely to my mind and are easily explained to my children.  But when I am angry, dear God run for your life.  Nothing will pacify the wrath.  I transform into Medusa and the only goal I have is to destroy everything in my path.  Yes, it’s better when I am on my medication blah blah blah but truthfully, I always struggle with self-control in this area.  I either take one of two routes.  I am either so stunned that I say nothing at all and pretend that I am not upset or I completely unload like a tempest storm.  Let me give you an example:

This evening I was supposed to get my COVID vaccine.  I spent all day with 4 kids managing fights, meals, and everything in between.  By the time it was 5:30pm, I loaded all of them into the car to make the 40-minute drive to the hospital where I was supposed to meet my husband so he could watch the kids while I went in.  The problem was that he got stuck late at work and by the time he left, I received the text that all the vaccines were out and we would have to wait until more were ordered.  Now if my husband had been there on time, which was 40 minutes earlier, I would have made it in time to get my shot.  However, by the time I got the news my nerves were frayed, I had come to realize how badly I wanted to get the vaccine in the first place, and I was beyond pissed at my husband for miscalculating how long he would have to remain at work.  At times, this would not trigger my anger to the extent that it did this evening.  But tonight, oh gosh.  It was dreadful.  I was fuming mad.  Completely livid… and no amount of Buddhist sayings or lemon balm calming tea could pacify me.  Which leads me to the next bit.  Here I am.  At a local BAR.  Drinking with my computer while typing this blog.  Now I suppose I could give myself credit for acknowledging that I needed to step out of the house before I became irrational and blew up at anyone…but surely there must be a better way.  Please, please if you have a tried-and-true solution, enlighten me.  I am at a loss on this end.

Believe it or not, I do have a point here. The point is this… Does bipolar disorder come into play here or is this strictly a temperament thing? I am no stranger to anger but is it inherited or is it the result of mental illness? Further, do you have a solution/comfort/mantra that helps you? If so, I’d be very interested in hearing what it is. Please help me. As for the moment, the alcohol and time out of the house has helped me but please tell me there’s a better way. I promise I’m listening.

Gratitude the Distant Star

I’ve mentioned recently that I wanted to practice gratitude on a daily basis.  I resolved to find one thing every day to be thankful for in order to strengthen my gratitude finding muscles and improve my mental health.  For 30 days I planned to pair a lovely picture with a little snippet about what was so great that day.  Well, true to form, I lasted 3 entire days before getting irritated and abandoning the whole project.  Then I was ashamed of myself for being unable to stick with the program and labeled myself as an ungrateful failure – but this troubled me too.  I wouldn’t normally describe myself as an ungrateful person.  However, in the face of forced gratitude, I end up feeling worse about myself when the goal is quite the opposite.  But I’m willing to bet that I’m not alone in this and that those of us who struggle with mental illness know all too well the negative effects of “toxic positivity” and I’ve got a bone to pick with these folks.

I’ve been seeing a lot of articles fly around the internet over the past year about the power of positivity.  Think positive, be grateful, practice yoga and all your mental health troubles will fade away and you’ll be a glowing example of the power of the human mind to overcome any obstacle.  Change your diet and you’ll change your brain!  Practice deep breathing and you’ll never have anxiety again!  Envision your future success and you’ll create your reality!  Start a gratitude journal and you’ll transform your unworthy self to worthy!  I don’t mean to completely discount the well-intentioned but severely near-sightedness of these claims.  But truth be told, these statements make me feel about 2 inches tall.  As if I have done nothing to help myself over the past 20 years I’ve been dealing with this illness.  I did everything under the sun to help myself before approaching the topic of pharmaceuticals.  Medication is what ended up changing my life and I’m truly grateful for it.  But that doesn’t mean I take a passive role in my mental health now.  I still eat healthy, exercise, meditate, etc. but none of those interventions does a damn thing to slow or stop a manic episode or lift me from a deep depression.  Then I read articles with headlines like the ones I mentioned above and they seem to insinuate that if I were doing things correctly, I wouldn’t be sick.  It’s not helpful and not what those of us who suffer from mental health disorders really need.  Further, it creates more stigma because it insinuates the patient is choosing to suffer from their illness.

So, what is one to do?  It’s simple.  Disengage.  STOP reading all the flowery positivity articles.  If it helps you, then by all means please go for it.  But if it doesn’t, then don’t go there.  Don’t keep reading until the article is finished and all you are left with is a bad taste in your mouth from someone who doesn’t know what it first handedly feels like to have Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Borderline Personality Disorder, you name it!  Don’t fill your cup with anything that doesn’t have an authentic ring for you.  If it leaves you feeling worse about yourself, then let it go. You are in charge of what you allow into your psyche. Gratitude may be great and I sure wish I could fill a journal up every month without wanting to pull my hair out.  But for now, at this point in my life, I’m okay with it being a distant star. 


Allow me to just face it – there are times I miss my manic self.  Colors glow brighter, I’m invincible, and there seems to be no consequence to any decision I make.  Perhaps that was what conveniently contributed to my consistent forgetfulness when it came time to take my morning dose of medication.  I blamed it on simply being too tired in the morning to remember it before work.  But then, miraculously enough, I started feeling more energized in the morning.  In fact, I began feeling quite fantastic.  I sailed through work each day feeling more and more competent in my new job.  My relationship with my husband began to improve.  I just couldn’t get over how happy and blessed I was to be married to him.  My sex-drive soared through the roof and was convinced this “new me” was here to stay.  I started calling old friends to make plans to get together and while I was at it, why not apply to grad school… again?  My appetite plummeted and I quickly lost 5lbs, which just made me even happier. 

This is what a typical hypomanic episode looks like for me.  I can still work, there are no signs of psychosis or other more serious manic symptoms such as delusions or wildly impulsive, dangerous behavior.  I suppose I should be grateful that things did not escalate too far this time.  There was no crash into deep depression afterwards, which is what usually happens if I am fully manic.  And yet, I am left with a feeling as though I have been let down.  The colors are not as bright, I’m no longer special, and the reality I must go back to feels rather dim.  Such is life I suppose.

What was the trigger?  My doctor loves this question and it was easy to identify this time.  In addition to skipping out on my morning doses, I had to abruptly stop working and assist my son, who had to quarantine due to a close COVID contact, with virtual school.  The resulting change in schedule and routine was all it took.  I’d like to think of myself as stronger or more resilient but apparently a change in the daily grind is all it takes.  I’m still not back to baseline but getting closer.  I’m on day 4 of taking my full dose of medicine and next week I’ll have to go back for labs.  I’m hoping the restlessness fades away soon.  I’m sure it will.  But the clincher in all this is, and I’ll be brutally honest here, part of me just wanted to hear angels talk to me again.  It didn’t happen.  I wonder if they are still there or if I will ever hear them again.  But staying out of full-blown mania is a good thing.  Or at least that’s what I tell myself. 

Rain and Gratitude

Thanksgiving had me thinking this year. The fact is that I’m crap at taking note of what I’m thankful for in life. Further, every time I see a happy picture with the cliché #blessed next to it, I want to vomit. I find it highly irritating for some odd reason! To add insult to injury, all the additional posts from therapists about the power of positive thinking and gratitude I also find bothersome and clearly written for people who are already annoyingly optimistic. BUT I am willing to put my prejudices aside and give it a go just to see what all the fuss is about. For the next 30 days, I am going to write one thing I am thankful for each day. I’ll be posting this mainly on my twitter account @_bipolarmomlife but I’ll check in with you all on how my project is going over here. I’m not expecting anything earthshattering but what I do wish is this – to be able to take pause during my day and notice the small, good moments so that I don’t constantly drown in all the bad ones.

Day 1: I’m grateful I got to play with my children in the rain.

This Can Happen!

Recently (as in yesterday!) I participated in my first panel discussion with This Can Happen Events about mental health in the workplace.  The whole experience from start to finish was so exciting and I learned so much from the people I met along the way!  However, I am quite a nervous speaker and at the very start of the discussion, I literally felt my entire body shaking from anxiety – even my facial muscles seemed like they were twitching!  But as things went on, I settled down and was able to talk and answer questions. Phew!  Overall, I’d do it again in a heartbeat and I was so impressed by the quality of the other speakers in the conference, the topics covered, and the overall organization.  It was truly an honor to participate!

In addition to being fairly consumed with preparing for the conference, I started a new job and have been working a typical full-time schedule the past month, which is a massive switch for me!  However, the job is far less stressful, no 12-hour days, and I get to work with great people.  It’s been a great fit!

Seeing as there have been so many changes, I’ve been doing my best to stay on top of taking my medication so that I can be/do my best as things come up.  I must say last week was not a good one for me.  I missed my morning dose several times and could feel the restlessness and agitation coming creeping in.  I’ve been back on track for the past few days now but it was a painful reminder of how important it is for me not to get lazy and miss a dose here and there.  It’s a hard pill to swallow sometimes (no pun intended!).

Tomorrow I’ll be doing some prep for Thanksgiving – meaning I’ll be driving to the market to pick up the food!  But I’ve at least resolved to make a homemade pumpkin pie!  I hope you all have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving!  Hopefully I won’t post any stories about the turkey catching on fire, destroying any pots, or ruining any side dishes as I have in the past!