Sunday, November 29, 2015

Happy Holidays…Or Not

The holidays can bring out the best in people. More people are willing to give back to the needy, help their fellow man and become closer with their families.

For you it doesn’t feel the same. You see everyone smiling and happy. They are baking cookies and singing Christmas carols. While they are enjoying the holiday season you are struggling to just get out of bed and join the world in their holiday obsession.  You feel out of step and not in tune with others around you and that can be a lonely feeling.

I am here to tell you that you are not out of step with the world. You are 1 of millions of people all over the world that are suffering from Depression, Anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and Bipolar disorder.  There are things that you can do that can make your holidays happier.
These tips will take an effort to pull off and may be easier said than done but can help when you are feeling lonely, guilty and depressed.

      Do not try to please others.

·         When you are feeling sad and low do not try and force yourself to be happy just because you want to please those around you or to make them feel more comfortable. Be honest with those around you and let them know you are having a hard time.

2.      Stay away from large crowds…if you need to.

·         If get invited to a party and you know deep down you will not have a good time or it has the capacity to make you feel worse, don’t go. Plan something at your place or somewhere you feel comfortable. You will feel less alone and may have a good time.

3.      Do not do more than you can do.

·         Set reasonable expectations with dinners, gifts and events you plan. When you set your expectations too high and you are unable to fulfill them…you set yourself up for guilt and could deepen your depression. When the holidays come less is more.

4.      Do find time for yourself.

·         Make sure you find some time to be alone. Everyone needs a moment to breathe and when you suffer from a mental illness you probably need more time than most. I know that I do and I find time by sneaking off to the bathroom or hiding in a closet if I need too. Sometimes I make an excuse that I need to get something from the store and sit in the parking lot a few extra minutes. Do what you have to do to find that 10 minutes of alone time.
5.      Do cry when you need too.

·         Sometimes things can become so overwhelming that you feel the need to cry. Cry! Crying can be a way to refresh yourself. Don’t feel guilty and don’t feel like you have to hold it in.
6.      Give Back.

·         Giving back to others has a way to make you feel good even when you think that nothing else can. It relieves some of the guilt you may have for not being happy during the happiest time of the year. Volunteer at a shelter. Coordinate a collection of items you can donate.  Giving back to your community or others in need can help and those people who aren’t able to help themselves. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

MWB (Mothering while Bipolar): Episode 1

The Kids Are Alright

I miss the days when my mental breakdowns only affected one other person…my husband. When I get scary or freak out over something he can leave for while, go for a drive and come back with chocolate cake or a whopper from Burger King. Anything to keep me calm and my anxiety levels low.  
Now that I am a mother, I can no longer be selfish when depression and/or mania kicks in. There are tiny humans running around my house that need attention. They need to be fed and clothed and washed and fed and taken to the park and fed. It’s a wonder how any mother could put up with it let alone a mother with a serious mental illness.
That’s right. I have a mental illness and it makes me cringe just to say it. The words give me anxiety, which is ironic because my mental illness…no you get the point. I try very hard not to say “mental illness” around my kids. I tell myself they don’t truly understand what that means and it’s a burden that they are too young to handle. I come up with all kinds of excuses just to get to the real reason I won’t say that to them.
I’m ashamed. I feel guilty and ashamed. It’s my problem not theirs. I know they are good kids and despite having a wacko mom like me they are very good decent human beings. They love me even when I am clad only in pajamas depressed and unable to make it off the couch and shower that day. You know what they do? They make me sandwiches and watch TV all day with me. My youngest who is only 4 years old just sits on top of me and eats snacks while watching her favorite Disney channel show. Every commercial she checks to make sure I’m ok and continues with her snacks.
They especially love it when I am manic because I make up for all the time on the couch by taking them shopping and sewing them nice new pajamas. I sit and binge watch TV shows with my oldest daughter or watch D-rated scary movies on Netflix and laugh at the typical white blonde chick that always manages to trip and fall.

Yes, sometimes I miss the days when I just had my husband around and I didn’t have to burden my children with my overwhelming depression or my out of control hypomanic episodes. Then again, having them around makes the depression much more bearable and when hypomania kicks in well a 4 year old and a 7 year old can be the best company.