Friday, March 20, 2015

On Empty : When Bipolar leaves you with nothing.

There are days when I feel like I have nothing left.

When I feel that way I don’t have any energy, I don’t have any strength, I don’t have a will to be or do or become anything. I can’t shower, I can’t eat and I can’t be a functioning human being.
Recently I have had a few of those days. Grief, sadness and a feeling of worthlessness have plagued me. They have plagued me until I am so fatigued all I can do is stare at the wall.  It is hard to get away from those feelings sometimes. When you are bipolar, those feelings can creep up when you are depressed. 
I have been manic all week. Cleaning everything in sight. It felt good to make the house free of dirt, dust and cat fur. Yet when you are manic for so long…you pay for it. You pay deeply for the highs. I have Bipolar II, so the highs are not as high as when you have Bipolar I, but the lows are just as low if not lower.
It can be so lonely sometimes down here in the way bottom. My husband just lost his grandfather; I am still grieving over multiple losses in my family over a 5 year span. My best friend just had her second child today and I can’t be there to see her.
I feel so lonely. I see how people, when in this condition, fall to the deep end. Some drown and some are able to make it back to the top. They get back above water and learn how to swim. I have learned how to swim but lately I have been sinking and no amount of swimming gets me back to the top.
Depression gets worse when you think about people that are in far worse situations than you are and they you get survivor’s guilt. I have survivors guilt about my mom, who died from heart disease brought on by her excessive smoking. I always thought I should have worked harder to stop her from
smoking.  My uncle who OD’d makes me sad everyday and my cousin who at the young age of 31 died from complications from breast cancer.
 I just turned 31.
How could I feel such self pity when I am still here? I am still alive. Yet some days, I don’t feel alive. I feel like I just exist.
The thing is, I have three children to care about. I have a career to that needs my attention so I have to dig deep and pull out something. I’m on empty but I have so much on my plate that I have to dig, dig, and dig some more.

I can’t have nothing left. I have to find something. I have to get something from somewhere. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Depression and Laziness Are Not The Same Thing. Know The Difference

Before I was diagnosed with anything, I was living a life of misery, self pity, suicide, alienation, despair. I was always emotional and sensitive. I was the crier and the “angry one”.  People would ask me what was wrong with me and could not understand or would not believe me when I tried to tell them I didn’t understand what was going on myself.
Those moments when you bounce from happy to pissed to angry to depressed and back again in one day are exhausting and just as terrifying as an adult as they were when you were a child.
I knew that I made people angry and I would say things in those moments that I could never get back. I tried to talk myself down from those situations and turned to writing stories and poetry instead. That was a dark time in my life.
I am not saying that there were no good moments. I had a relatively happy childhood. Most of the time, the battle I was having was inside of me. I was making myself miserable.
In the last 12 years, I met the man of my dreams, married him, found my best friend for life in college, seen beautiful places, had three beautiful daughters, and accomplished my dream of publishing my first novel and then 4 more after that.
There have been so many good things happening to me, however, when you are depressed nothing else matters to you. Everything seems like it is a life or death situation and those simple task like combing your hair, brushing your teeth, taking a shower, putting on regular clothes and not pajamas seemed like running three marathons in a row.
Do you know what the worst thing you can say to a depressed person in this condition, in this mind frame, in this state?
“You’re just being lazy.”
My goodness. Those words can do so much damage.
Recently I had a discussion with my husband and I was telling him about how certain things made me feel and tried to get him to understand what it’s like to feel depressed and the difficulty all those mundane tasked seem to someone who is depressed.
I told him about my anxiety issues about being outside and how I feel contaminated if I am outside or in “nature” too long. I hate going to parks but I will suffer through it for my kids. If my kids are playing outside no matter how long, they must change immediately. I discussed with him the fact that because he is at work he doesn’t know that I change clothes at least three times a day and that when I wake up I change pajamas to lounge around in and then change into another pair to sleep in because I feel the others are contaminated.
After having this conversation he confesses something to me that I kinda knew anyway. He assumed that for years I was just lazy and lacked motivation to make something of myself. He felt that I was not living up to my potential because I was lazy.
I cannot begin to tell you how angry that makes me or how pissed off I was at that moment. This is ow he felt for 12 years?
 Though, he is not the only one in my life that felt or feels that way.
 My oldest daughter, when I explained to her about my social anxiety and how it keeps me sometimes from going places, asked me,
“Is that true or are you just too lazy to go?”
My entire life I have worked hard despite my depression and anxiety to graduate #5 in my class in high school, graduate college with a 3.5 GPA. I worked two jobs after college. I worked through college. I was married at 22 and planned and executed my own wedding.
While pregnant when I was 23, I moved with my husband, where we bought a house and I packed everything to move. Because we needed more money, I got another job that made more money with benefits. I adopted a child and gave birth to another. I worked the entire time with both of my pregnancies except for two weeks.
When my husband got a new job in California, I moved my husband, three kids and a cat across the country with as smooth of a tradition as I could. I have written and published 3 novels and 2 short story anthologies. I am also editing my 6th book in which I wrote in a month.
With all that being said, I am still a mom that cleans the house, does laundry, goes grocery shopping, keep the people and the cats in this house fed. I remember appointments for doctors, school events and dentists for everyone in the house (including the cats).

No I do not like going to parks. No I do not like being outside period. I’m terrified of everything except for domestic cats. My brain tells me when I go places alone that I will be raped or murdered or held in a dungeon. Yet I took a job as a health inspector where I had to face all that including going into strange people’s homes because my family needed me.
There were nights that I cried because I had to face that stuff the next day but I was there helping to provide for my kids.
I have been working constantly to improve myself and overcome my obstacles. I ran two 5k obstacle races because I wanted to face my anxiety and my fears so that I can be better and show my kids that staying active is a positive way to live.
It pisses me off to be called lazy.
I hate saying that I have a mental illness but the truth is this.
I have a mental illness that debilitates me sometimes but I received help so that I could be an even better and more efficient mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend and writer.
I am not fucking lazy. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Wrong Way: Mental Illnesses Are No Joke

I have been binge watching this show called Obsessed on Netflix. I was interested because it was a show about a powerful and debilitating mental illness called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. You probably know it better as OCD.
There are a lot of people out there saying, “I’m so OCD…” about this or that. If you want to know what OCD really is about you need to watch this show.
I learned so much about it after watching it. It is an extreme anxiety disorder that causes people to engage in rituals just to relieve the anxiety that they are feeling. I know that I was heading that way before I was diagnosed with Anxiety disorder and treated.
I watched an episode where a woman had to flick a light switch the perfect way or she thought her mother who was diagnosed with cancer would die and it would be her fault. Another man thought everything was contaminated and took about 8 showers a day to feel clean.
Their anxiety and OCD was taking control of them and their lives and they could no longer control it. Another woman had to work out all day long or she thought she would be fat. She spent no time with her kids or her husband. She also did not eat properly for the same reason.
OCD is a serious mental illness that should not be used unless you actually have OCD.
I hear the same thing when it comes to bipolar disorder. I hear so many people call someone bipolar because they have a bad temper or have mood swings. Bipolar or Bipolar II is so much more than that. It is also life threatening and a serious mental illness that can control your life if left untreated.
You have no idea what is like to live with these diseases and only a medical professional can diagnose someone with either.

I used to clean all day long or yell at my family about cleaning every inch of the house because I could not deal with a messy home. I could not sleep with a messy house. I would be up to 2 am cleaning grout on the tile floor because if I didn’t my anxiety would be through the roof. If I had not been treated for my anxiety, panic attacks and bipolar II, I would have drifted into the realm of OCD and it is not somewhere you want to go.

So please, don’t just throw those terms around. These are serious mental illnesses that need to be respected as such. Not every girl you see is “Bipolar…” just because she is nice and suddenly gets mad at you. Maybe you were being a jerk and pissed her off.
You are not “OCD” just because you like your bagel a certain way.

Just show some compassion and respect.