Pregnancy mood swings remind me of my bipolar mood swings. So does overcoming them.

Pregnancy reminds me of my bipolar disorder. That’s a weird statement to make, but it’s true. Your hormones are all over the place, and not unlike the chemical reactions in your brain that make you cycle from manic to depressive. It finds you in the exact same strange space were you know your emotions aren’t 100% correct or rational but you know you are feeling them fully anyway.

A lot of the mood swings make me ponder the lessons I’ve been trying to teach myself for years. Is this a rational feeling? How can I try to turn it into one without devaluing the fact that it is real?

Just because you know an emotion isn’t right doesn’t make it go away. Knowing your manic doesn’t let you switch off your manic traits like a light switch, but it is a start, and lets be real, you have to start somewhere. It lets you start trying to fight for control.

I’ve found most of my control in this disease through medication, but even those of us who have had a lot of luck with our bipolar medications can tell you that we still swing some, and I still have to take on those swings one on one. Rational brain verses the chemical brain.

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My limit: People with access to bipolar treatment who choose not to treat it.

I’m bipolar, I write about it a lot. I cover a lot of mental health topics on this blog. I’m passionate about it. But even people who are super understanding and have been through a lot have their limits, and I want to talk about that. I want to talk about something that deeply annoys me in bipolar communities, and that’s people who have access to treatment and refuse it because they like the high of mania despite the fact that they are putting their loved ones through daily hell.

Untreated bipolar happens to everyone with the disorder. We all start untreated. Sometimes people can’t afford it. Sometimes we have to go off our medications for health reasons. Sometimes we haven’t found the right treatment and we’re in limbo as we try to get it right. It’s hard and I will support people through those rocky years without any hesitation. It’s when people have no excuse for being untreated. It’s when they give up because it’s difficult to find the right meds and therapy. It’s when they don’t do anything to try and prevent their toxic actions that hurt people. It’s when they roll over in defeat without caring the consequences.

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Striking the balance between overloading people and suffering in silence:

It is very hard to tell people about the hardships you are going through without being an overall mood crusher. It’s why a lot of people suffer in silence- without support. They are afraid of being turned away. They are afraid of the texts coming in less and less, especially those who suffer from chronic depression. At some point people want and expect a different answer when they ask you how you are doing and start pulling back when they don’t because they can’t handle it.

It is easy to blame this all on bad friends, they don’t love us unconditionally! They should, at least we feel so, but we also have to know that talking about our depression all the time can drag other peoples mood down too making it harder for them to support us and also harder for them to cope.

Hoping to find a balance? It’s possible though, like most things with mental health it is also very difficult.

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Peace in the unsettled:

Well, we’re a month in and I don’t think 2021 is going to be less weird than 2020.

It might be a “different brand” of weird, but I still think it’s going to be weird, I still think the news is going to be stressful, I think we’re still going to get current events that make us collectively go “wtf”. I mean, did you see the Gamestop verses Wall street news of last week? Oh, we aren’t done. I don’t think it’s going to be a forever thing, but times of unrest don’t magically go away, government doesn’t magically change, pandemics take a long time to wrap up. We are still in the trenches- and that is surprisingly starting to stress me out less.

Maybe I’m adapting to my environment. Maybe this is the new normal everyone talked about. I don’t know. I don’t love it, I’m not going to pretend I do, but my heart is starting to rejoice in the things I can control. It is slowly but surely finding it’s new true north and helping me work through the rest. I’m finding my peace not reliant on the worlds peace.

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Childhood bipolar diagnosis: The good, bad, and ugly.

I saw a post about whether or not children get diagnosed with bipolar and it sounded like a lot of doctors have changed their diagnosing and are waiting till the children are older. I don’t think this is wrong, a lot of children can have mental health episodes without being bipolar and I do think for a while we were over diagnosing everything from bipolar to ADHD. The fact is that children are hard to read, and I totally understand if doctors are hesitating to pull the trigger on really big diagnostics like bipolar disorder

But being a child (I was six) diagnosed with bipolar disorder I think there are both benefits and draw backs from being both diagnosed at that age and actually being bipolar that young.

The Positives:

  • I was able to learn the big lessons early: Being diagnosed early meant that I got to learn the hard mental health lessons young and didn’t have to struggle with them as an adult. I learned that going off your medications was a terrible idea and that my episodes of mania and depression weren’t cured they were medicated. A lot of young adults who are freshly diagnosed try to go off their medication because they feel better and they think that maybe everyone got it wrong. These unmedicated periods make the suicide rates so much higher for bipolar patients and can cause other major problems. It was easier as a nine year old to go off of them while being super supervised by my parents to make sure nothing bad happened.
  • I was able to learn coping skills while learning other daily skills: It’s easier to make pathways while your brain is growing! I was able to learn a lot of skills while I was still picking up life habits, that means they are seriously ingrained in me. This is great!
  • I’ve learned which meds worked young: I’ve had my trial and error phase with most medications. And while it’s possible for me to need a new medication at some point in my life, we still have a solid foundation to work with based on which classes of medication have worked for me in my (long) past! The trial and error phase is terrible, I think anyone can tell you that, so having most of mine behind me as a young adult is wonderful.
  • I spent a lot more time analyzing my emotions: I do better than a lot of freshly diagnosed adults at identifying my swings. It’s because I’ve had parents point out my habits over the years so I have a base understanding of them. This makes it easier as an adult because I don’t spiral as much because I have learned how to catch them before they get to bad (normally- I’m still human).

The Negatives:

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The biggest lesson of this hard year:

Out of everyone I know only two people have had a good 2020, and honestly good for them, someone should have enjoyed it. The pandemic is the heart of the bad year, but lets be honest, everyone has a different list of hardships from this year. Whether it be isolation, job loss, sickness, or other terrible things, its been a year- and not one that you’re going to commemorate with a 2020 Christmas tree ornament.

And while I spent the spring and summer struggling with our series of unfortunate events, I’ve spent this fall and winter on something else, all the blessings I have despite all the bad.

It’s easy to get carried away with the mess when one thing goes wrong after another. It’s easy to let the darkness consume you, and many bad years, I’ve let it. I’ve let the darkness win. I’ve let myself sink into depression- whether warrantied or not. And honestly no one would blame you if 2020 has left you that way. We’re in a pandemic with COVID but also with depression. We have sky high suicide rates right now. It’s been a very easy year to get lost in the darkness. If you have, you aren’t alone.

But, the message that I have is that there are still things going on to be happy about. There are still things to find joy in. The reason you can see all the shadows is because their is some form of light that is casting them.

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Book Review: Madness: A Bipolar Life

“An astonishing dispatch from inside the belly of bipolar disorder, reflecting major new insights

When Marya Hornbacher published her first book, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia, she did not yet have the piece of shattering knowledge that would finally make sense of the chaos of her life. At age twenty-four, Hornbacher was diagnosed with Type I rapid-cycle bipolar, the most severe form of bipolar disorder.

In Madness, in her trademark wry and utterly self-revealing voice, Hornbacher tells her new story. Through scenes of astonishing visceral and emotional power, she takes us inside her own desperate attempts to counteract violently careening mood swings by self-starvation, substance abuse, numbing sex, and self-mutilation. How Hornbacher fights her way up from a madness that all but destroys her, and what it is like to live in a difficult and sometimes beautiful life and marriage — where bipolar always beckons — is at the center of this brave and heart-stopping memoir.

Madness delivers the revelation that Hornbacher is not alone: millions of people in America today are struggling with a variety of disorders that may disguise their bipolar disease. And Hornbacher’s fiercely self-aware portrait of her own bipolar as early as age four will powerfully change, too, the current debate on whether bipolar in children actually exists.

Ten years after Kay Redfield Jamison’s An Unquiet Mind, this storm of a memoir will revolutionize our understanding of bipolar disorder.”

-Goodreads

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The plus side of being open about your mental illness:

You probably have gathered that I really don’t care who knows I’m bipolar, seeing that I run a blog that is mostly on mental health. I’m not just open online though, I talk about it in person too. While I’m a firm believer that your mental illness isn’t the most interesting thing about you and you should never frame your identity around it, I also believe that it’s important to be able to talk about your illness.

Here’s why:

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