To Bipolar or Not to Bipolar

Has anyone every tried to suffocate you with a pillow? What about dangling at the ends of another’s hands by your neck, your feet just inches from the floor, and no air getting in, nothing left but the telltale signs of his fingerprints etched in bruises upon your neck? Or, has anyone ever struck you as you held your infant child in your arms, with five other young children looking on?

My answers to these questions are yes, yes, and yes. These are just a few of the instances of abuse that I endured during my second marriage, and they left me spent, fearful, dare I say paranoid!?

In order to survive in a home like this everything has to be perfect … children shall be seen and not heard, the wife is in control of everything … or at least everything that causes his anger to be triggered.

The night that this beast was arrested he called me over a dozen times, from the county jail, to try to persuade me to drop the charges (the calls were collect of course). Finally, I had to call 911 to contact the jail and make him stop calling.

Within two years of this horrendous relationship I was preparing for another marriage. The stress was high, though a good stress, it triggered negative memories and behaviors within me. I became fearful of “being owned by a man.” Scared that the old one would hunt me down to be sure I never had happiness. Most of all, I was pissed off, yes, I was angry that my past could taint my future, and every little thing that I viewed as out of place was cause for screaming, and in some cases even throwing things.

My fiance sat me down, “Laura,” he said, “this isn’t normal, you need help.” He ran me to the doctor who said that I had bipolar and started me on medication.

That was in 2002, and for the past 14 years I have had endless amounts of counseling and when things weren’t perfect my husband would report it and doctors would throw more medication at me. We never decreased or altered, we only added more medication.

When I was raising five children, working full-time and attending college part-time I slept about two or three hours every night, but when college break was on, this mama bear was curled up in bed trying to catch up on lost sleep. No one said a word about my illness when I was setting the world on its ear, but when I slept for more than five hours, suddenly I was considered depressed and whoop, look out, more medication down the throat!

Through all of this I have tried to tell others that I am in control of this, that it was an enviromental reaction, not a chemical imbalance, but no one listened.

NOW, finally, after 14 years of medication I have someone that is listening to me and is considering the fact that I might have been misdiagnosed and over medicated. Now, think this through, I can’t just stop taking my meds, the withdrawals would be pure hell … bad things could happen. So, first I am weaning off the medication that causes: weight gain, high cholesterol, and diabetes … my three biggest concerns since starting this medication path so long ago.

We don’t know for sure if I’ve been misdiagnosed, the only way to know for certain is for me to be off medication, and I have a lot of weaning to get there. I can tell you, that I believe my earlier bouts of anger and throwing things was pure fear of anything less than perfection. Now I know, I’m not perfect, my children aren’t perfect, and neither is my home, but the world won’t end because of that … no one is going to kill me … because those that I surround myself with know that each of us is in charge of our own happiness.

Finally, I have found a doctor that listens and is in this field to help me rather than possible kickbacks. Woohoo!

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Mental Health Then and Now

Written by me on March 27, 2015

I smash my face into the pillow, grabbing at my husband’s pillow I cover my head and ease the mental pain with the distraction of physical pain. My head sandwiched between two pillows, the bottom one catching my sobs.

No, not today, I don’t have time for this, my sobs go unheard by everyone but me. The thoughts continue to bluster through my mind. Exactly how does one tie an effective noose? Who will find me? Would they care? Medication, where is my medication?

Welcome to the world of bipolar, coupled with severe anxiety. This is my world, the world I love and hate all at once. It was passed down to me by my ancestor’s, whom chose to self-medicate with copious amounts of alcohol and other illegal substances.

In their time of living the choices were simple, be the town drunk, or be in an asylum. I choke and sputter on my tears, imagining life without proper mental health treatment; and I realize this very state that I hate so much is what it would feel like at the end of a noose. My body swinging in the breeze as my mind does daily.

If only my forefathers had understood, could they have gotten the appropriate help? Could their actions have saved me from this Hell that I live? Probably not.

I pull myself from my bed, my body weighted with exhaustion. I rifle through the filing cabinet for the newspaper articles I have carefully collected from the Internet. Possession of marijuana, corrupting the morals of a minor, attempted robbery, drunk driving, and assault, just a few of the charges logged against the family members that came before me.

And then there is me a law abiding citizen that suffers daily. What makes me different? What makes me the same?

My father is the answer, he fought a long hard battle of being clean, of being the sailor that defied the “drunken sailor” stereotype. The man that brought me up to understand others, to treat others well. The legend that still, at 88 years old, tells me he loves me, tells me he’s proud, and loves me unconditionally. He is the teacher of all the lessons that keep me around, for him, for my husband, children, and yes, even for me, because I deserve a life worth living.

I fight daily, to live the life that I deserve, knowing that one day I will attain a better understanding of who I am and what I am here for. Never giving in, never tying the noose, just getting by in loving memory of those that have suffered before me, and teaching those that come after me, what mental health is really about, the person and the heart within each of us.

Feeling Broken

Everyone has those days that make it difficult to get out of bed. I was feeling like this today and decided to take a few minutes to do some soul searching. What I found made me angry.

I feel like I am broken. My heart, my soul, my laughter; all of these are broken. I’m trying so hard to accomplish so many things at once that all I’m really doing is digging for gold in a beach full of quick sand.

No word on an apartment yet, still waiting for some paperwork. Dollars are few and far between, and most are in kind donations that go immediately into my gas tank. Which, brings me to another point … yesterday I wasted a half tank of gas because someone received a phone call confirming an appointment and didn’t bother to let me know. Since the appointment wasn’t confirmed the office had to cancel it and can’t get us in again until June 3!!! We’ve already been waiting since December.

I sort of wish that I had some gorilla glue to stick all of my pieces back together so I could replace this broken feeling with a few chips and cracks, but again, no money for the glue.

Maybe a hug would work, a hug that could be tight enough to stick all of my broken pieces back together. Even that is out of reach, because I rarely see people that I know since I’m in the car up to 400 miles a day.

I guess this is the point that I admit that I’m 42 years old and still need my Mommy. Maybe, if I pray hard enough, Heaven will take my call, but even miracles like that don’t happen without enduring severe trauma.

Today, I just want to feel what I’m feeling, broken. I want to simmer in it, not to feel pity, but to understand what has brought me to this point so that I can fix it on my own. No heros, no knights (or knightettes) in shining armour. Just me, myself, and God putting everything in place, bringing the puzzle back together so that I don’t have to feel so broken.

To the End of Time

It’s a strange feeling, to have exchanged vows to love each other to the end of time, and to lose it all in the blink of an eye.

I’m very concerned for my soon to be ex-husband, as he has become difficult to locate. Yet, there is so much anger about the betrayal that I find the concern being suffocated.

In a way, this isn’t really my story to tell, but the consequenses are so far reaching, and no one even knows who hasn’t step forward yet but still suffers the effects of our marriage gone wrong.

The only part of the story that is really totally and completely mine to tell is the fact that he was putting prescription medication in my presorted box so that I would be ingesting medication without knowledge or consent.

This has led me to question everything about my diagnosis of bipolar. I trusted him to help me heal from the symptoms of bipolar, and the entire time he was insuring that I was further medicated. These actions gave him ample time to hurt others in ways that are unspeakable.

Now, I’m a single mom, and I can’t trust anyone to spend time alone with my children. Yet, I’m still medicating a diagnosis that I no longer believe in. Why? Because it has been 12 to 14 years for most of these meds, and I fear far reaching consequences of withdrawal. My family doctor must somewhat agree, as he has referred me to a psychiatrist to see about weaning me off these medications. Interestingly enough, due to our current housing situation, or lack of, my blood sugar numbers are climbing. However, my doctor realizes that I have enough to deal with and has made the decision to wait another three months prior to making changes to lower my sugar numbers.

Now, I’m nursing a tension headache, as I plead with myself to get through this. Someone told me, “You have a strong mind, you can get through this.” Those words, so precious, yet an awakening that I am alone, and it is going to take every ounce of strength that God and I have to see my family to the other side of these horrific days.

Even so, I’m not much for backing down from a challenge, especially when the wellness of my children is at stake.

I guess, through all of this, I should feel rather jaded about humans. After all, the man to profess to love me forever has destroyed me and many that I love, but that’s just a small example of humanity.

Shortly after arriving at the shelter I counted change so that my daughter and I could get coffee and soda at McDonald’s. It was all that I had left, but we were thristy. As I pulled into drivethru, the person in front of me was taking forever, I even saw them gesture toward my vehicle and I began to feel a bit paranoid. Finally, they moved forward and I pulled up to pay, only to learn that the Sheriff’s Deputy in front of us paid for our order. I cried, how could he or she know our story? How could they know it was my last $4? How could they know that their simple act of kindness would restore faith to my daughter and I?

Friends, strangers, loved ones. So many of you are helping us out, maybe a few dollars, or more, toiletries, clothing, gas money. The list of individuals that are helping us grows daily, and we couldn’t be more appreciative for your help, love, kindness, and restoration of our faith in the world.

There really are some amazing people in this world, and most of them are on my family and friends list. I am truly humbled by the assistance that we are receiving, and sometimes it isn’t about the things that we can’t afford, but about the hugs and love, free to give, free to own, and very special.

Happy Stuff Those Emotions Day

Who’s expecting a gift for Valentines Day??? Not me, just, no.

I said this just the other night and my husband’s eyes quickly dropped to his feet. After all, we celebrate this day of love with those we love, and I’m not on his list any more.

As I recognize this and come to terms with it I am learning that after all of these years I am finding the energy to grieve so much. Past relationships gone wrong, present relationship gone wrong, I’m grieving life in general.

I’m learning so much lately, like who I am and what I need. So many people in my past have come into my life thinking that they could fix me. When the efforts failed things got bad, usually with me walking away still searching for the authentic me.

Many years ago I was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and I was medicated and therapized (haha, a new word for the day). I wasn’t on the medication for long, but the therapy did seem to help me some. I say “some” because my insurance ran out about the time I began healing. At this time, a bad day of emotions consisted of me feeling the pain so bad that I would begin to puke, exorcist style, and was laid up for a day or two with severe headaches.

Moving forward, when I met my current husband I was in the midst of leaving a horrifically violent marriage, and I had a lot of emotions going on. His thought process was that anger or “acting out” was not normal, so he took me to the doctor. Here I was diagnosed with PMDD or Pre-Menstral Dysphoric Disorder. You can google that, or I can give you my husband’s definition: PMS times 1,000! Medication was tossed my way, but no therapy to help me deal with the emotions of recognizing or grieving a life gone way wrong.

As life moved on I was going to college part-time, trying to raise five children and work. The plans didn’t go so well, so when I felt angry I was thrown in a hospital and diagnosed with Bipolar, more meds and a touch of therapy. By this time it had been several years since I had violently puked or had any sort of stress pain.

Over time it has been a continuous sea of medications, therapy, work to stay in the present. Don’t feel this, don’t feel that … if you’re not happy then your not normal. Neither I or anyone else has given me permission to feel my feelings, the response for the past 15 years has been give her more pills.

That’s until now, I’m not stuffing any more, I’m done hiding my anger and frustration. I have every right to feel and express my emotions without adding more medication to block those feelings.

I am pissed that I am in another failed relationship. I’m scared to walk away, but I know that I deserve this peace, and as angry as I am at him, so does he. I’m done stuffing these emotions. If I want to be angry I hereby give myself permission to feel and act on those feelings.

So, when people around me are celebrating their romance and love, I’m going to celebrate, “No more stuffing the lies and emotions day!”