Tag Archives: Sadness

A Memory in Time

He carries the children
from the car,
holding them close,
so close to their breath
one last time
before he leaves.

She waits at the stair
as she has waited
for some time now,
anxious to kiss
their little faces,
hold them close
and tuck them into bed.

He gets into the car,
starts the engine with a sigh,
and pulls away,
leaving them behind.
And she watches
with eyes of regret
and turns into a home
they do not share.

Each going to separate
destinations,
but with part of their hearts
going to the other . . .
Divorce . . .
an emptiness of memories.

Combatting Bipolar Disease on a daily basis

Do you know that old time hymn “I’ve got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in my Heart . . . I’ve got the Peace of God, Peace of God Down in my Heart”? Well for me, and I suspect, most BiPolar people, that just doesn’t track. The cynic, and the disease, tug me away from those feelings.

For me, a wellspring of sadness and despair coat my linings, much like that Pepto Bismol commercial. Anxiety flavors the mix. My heart is treacly coated with the stuff. I can be laughing, giggling, joyful even, and still can touch that pain and despair, still feel the anxiety. There isn’t any distraction from it. Even with a stable medication regimen, anxiety pervades my consciousness and dreams. I am haunted by Depression.

Amnesty International’s latest annual report speaks to a paradigm shift worldwide into Depression and Despair writes Mark Kerstan on May 27, 2017. I suspect much of that is normal despair, not the kind of thing BiPolars’ experience, but still, it’s a frightening fact.

Moreover, we need to continually monitor our frustration and anger levels as they are two heads on the same coin. Our emotions can escalate and drop at alarming rates and anger is a seductive release from the pent-up pain we carry within.

Coping strategies that work for some, may not work for others. Know them, read up on the latest research and articles, but ultimately you may need to pick and choose among them to find out what works best for you. Millions globally find much relief in Mindfulness Meditation and even though I practiced it for a year, I just can’t slow down the chatter my mind offers up. I have found reading and writing work for me. So does housework. Repetitive activities comfort others – coloring, sewing, cooking. Music therapy is wonderful. Some swear by Affirmations – put a poster of them up on your wall for you to tap into.

I do try to observe negative coping strategies and reduce or eliminate them. Some practices simply serve to agitate me further. I look for something that works better. For instance, when the sorrow and anxiety grow too uncomfortable, I look for someone I trust to unburden myself upon. It sounds crappy, using someone like that, but I try to respect their decision to not listen when they choose or need to. If they accept that role, unburden away, get that pain out of you.

Ask yourself, Do I want to be in control? Is that what is making me squirrely? Antsy unrest, obsessive thinking, and nervous irritability are symptoms of Bipolar depression or mania, with possibly a co-existing anxiety disorder. Everything feels hopeless. The mountain is too hard to climb and I’ve run out of power bars and water. Or my body is too handicapped to even begin the walk, even on a flat surface I am limited. For me, its a sure reason for anxiety and depression. I hate my limitations. Fear builds because I see the never endingness of my life situation.

And don’t even get me started on Money, maintaining friendships, or dreamed of escaping, having sustainable, or any, social life. Seeing and being all those things I dreamed of escaping – sands through the hourglass – fear builds. Just the daily stress of life can prove too anxiety producing.

What it boils down to is relatively simple. Find coping strategies that work for you. Keep seeing a therapist. Talk to others about your feelings, keep on the right medication regimen for yourself. Practice Humility – give up the need to be in control. “Let Go and Let God”. Radical acceptance – forcing yourself to see things as they really are (although I sometimes prefer living in my fantasy world), and not as they should be, is a trending treatment. Pray – turn your burdens to a Higher Power. When I do that I experience a measure of peace for a while – and then have to start all over again.

Even with all the helpfulness available to us, we BiPolars have to realize that we have a Disease that is not going to magically disappear. There will be good times and bad. We just need to find our way through the morass and use the tools that work for us.

We Are Not Our Disease

I was recently in California, visiting a dear friend. She was crushed because she realized the Depression she had lived with for years was, instead, Bipolar I. A lot of her feelings were based on the fact hat her husband of 11 years has severe Depression/Bipolar.   She was the one who always took care of everything. The previous several months had been very hard on her. She spent a lot of time in her bed; her therapist quit; she had her husband were building a house from the studs up. Her Mother of Conflict and her heavily drinking brother were making her life crazy and her Mother subsequently died.  Major factors were making her life miserable. However, I’m not the Doctor and while I think she’s right – she bought a 27 acre, beautiful property against the warnings of her husband – she needs a trained professional to verify she , indeed, has the condition.

However, all of this got me thinking.  I had been in a down mood prior to going to California, but was rejuvenated there.  My moods shift more often than before.  Sometimes I can’t tell what mood I am experiencing. I thought I was only Depressed for years but while looking back over journals 35 years old, I noticed I was definitely Bipolar then.  Next, I started thinking of being Bipolar in general.  There are all sorts of nuances, facets, depths and ambiguity in Bipolar people. It looks different in each person and from day to day. There are things you can do to limit intensity like staying on meds and eating right.

We struggle some days, bounce off the walls some days, and feel great and balanced on yet other days (which might really be you are on a manic high).  But largely, we are like a lot of people on the streets and in the stores.  Most people in this world have issues of one kind or another. We don’t have to minimize ourselves just because of our disease. We are not our disease! We are human beings with scars and wounds, just like so many others,  I, for one, will try like hell not to wear my disease as a cloak around me, because I want to be as healthy as possible.  And I know most of us feel the same way.

  

Caregiving challenges

His face a maze of rivulets and ravines, crutches help bear the weight he carries,
his feet heavy, movements ponderous. Yes, age has wormed its way into his bones
but more, he carries the years upon years of caring for a willful, capricious wife –
most times removed, caught up in her own world, with people and presences
no one else can share or know, leaving him alone with the battle of care.

Caregivers have a heavy burden even with the easiest people those with minds still clear, bodies more or less functional. Whose age or disease make the need for care, daily or occasionally, a burden, willing or not.

But for others, caregiving  carries a much different burden. When they must manage a violent or mentally challenged person, a person with bipolar or schizophrenic
episodes, one whose body has worn out, needing total care, it can make the caregiver
sicker than the person cared for.

That old man has cared for his wife since she had nervous breakdowns forty years prior, sitting by her bed every minute, ignoring all else, including his only son, alone, left to fend for himself, do the shopping, laundry, cleaning.

He has abided her demands, given into whims, defended her right to choose not to medicate. In so doing, she has chosen a tangled trail leaving her family to carry a hard burden of care allowing the right of self-choice to medicate and feel largely better or be “in control” of herself as she berates, hits, babbles, ignores him or
or talks gibberish. BUT always remains the center of attention.

The burden of caregivers is their lives aren’t their own, at the least for sizable chunks of time.  From bill paying and shopping, to bathing, feeding and all facets of self care,
they spend from Sunday visits to constant care for family or hired professionals.

When it comes to Alzheimer’s, all bets are off. You are not often recognized for yourself. Hitting, endless paranoid pacing, constant distraction, inability to  voice thoughts coherently . . .it is exhausting. But it is also a means to give back, to make amends, to relish the moments you have because they may not be long.

That old man now must also contend with a son who believes his mother has every right to choose not to medicate, even though all who are part of her life are negatively affected by that choice. The son refuses to listen to his own children who have enough detachment to see the situation more clearly.

When the Father is overwhelmed, the son brings her, 600 miles away, to his home
where she sits alone, hour after hour, or wanders off with the dog, lost, unaware of where she is or why others are yelling at her to get off the street. It’s not care, not a solution, it’s an ill-chosen stop-gap measure that could hurt or kill her.

We need to be aware of the long-term effects of the decisions we make for our loved ones or those under our care. Sometimes the right solution is personal care by the family, sometimes it’s professional care within the home, but assisted living or skilled nursing homes may be the best options too.  Money is, of course, a vital component in decision-making, as is insurance coverage, and what the impact will mentally have for the person being cared for.

And the words they turn ’round and ’round

Just when I thought they were gone
(dirty, nasty things)
those little voices returned
like five year olds-
taunting their teacher
incessantly nagging in high
whiney voices,
to shatter any semblance
of peace and calm

Crushing new-found confidence
they tread on faltering egos
destroying all feelings
of worth, of respect
for myself.

Leaving the senses reeling,
Swaying on unsteady feet,
teetering at the brink
of an endless abyss
half-wishing to fall.

Those chattering images
of visions long stored
in deep recesses of the mind
negate a return to sanity.

Hopelessly forcing a surrender
through clenched teeth
to my defeat –
destroyed by voices of the past.

(I wrote this in 1981.  What sickens me is that so much is still the same.
But it is real, it is truth. Perhaps it deserves its day in the sun.
I was clearly Bipolar even then. As the days go by, I see the mask of
pain I wore, wear, still dragging at me – but now it makes me
nauseous to read, hopeful to grow, wanting more, so much more
than the banality of depression, starting to evolve – at 60 no less.)

Perspectives

They yelled, shouted, screamed . . .
The old man with tears running
in the wrinkled rivulets of his skin.
The old woman babbling to her voices
giggling like a girl
or reigning supreme . . .
all attention on her.

The old man may too soon
buckle under the strain of her care,
under the lack of care to himself –
a good man, a kind man,
who wants the best
for a woman who would rather
listen to her voices
than be with him.

Their son firmly believes
in her right not to take medications
which would normalize her life
at least in fractions
of the beautiful woman
so terribly traumatized
by the Communist government
that over rid her land, her people,
making her beg for an egg for her child.

The triangle continues
but not as fierce as this
those watching hearing her secrets –
her hitting of a mate of 60 years
over and over again.
He sitting by her bed
for months at a time
when she was in crisis
and unable to rise and rejoin the world.

How her son snatched
roles of husband, father, son –
emasculating the man who deserves
so much more
by not respecting his father’s
needs, wants, care and pain.

While the old man’s tears course down,
and the babble of voices
inside her head
swirl madly around.

In the Dungeon

Deep in the hole I lie
Far down and deeper still
The light is but glimmer
A pinhole from in the distance

The hard, sharp rocks beneath me
Tear at raw flesh
As I peer over the ledge
Clinging in terror
Fearful of the abyss

These days I piece together
One rough, sharp edge at a time
Discomfort has its own reward
while I await rescue

I call to people who comfort me
Those who help lift me from the hole
For now is a time
I am a burden to myself

The frailness of body, mind, and spirit
Want to define me.
But with help, I am more than that.

She Drank

SHE DRANK

She started to drink
as a way to cope
that makes her less able to cope

the more she drinks
the more frightened
she is of becoming a drunkard

the more drunk
the less frightened of being drunk

the more frightened of being drunk
when not drunk
the more frightened of being
destroyed by him

the more frightened of destroying him
the more she destroys herself

The Right To Choose Suicide

THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE SUICIDE

Suicide evokes such a rash of feelings and jumble of thoughts in me. Nothing is easy in this arena. I have always been a firm believer in a person’s right to choose the time of their death, and in the past couple of years, I have been examining those values as my personal health issues have made me increasingly aware of my mortality.

When I was in college, my parents owned a residential home for the elderly. One of the women in the home, Marjorie, was a quiet woman, someone who held her own counsel. She shared the bedroom with another woman and we rarely heard her speak. It wasn’t that she was shy necessarily; just that she had an economy of language. She had been in the home for several years when she found out she had inherited a disease from her mother. The disease caused a slow and very painful death. Marjorie refused to accept those terms. She waited until she had a full prescription of her sleeping medication. During the two days before, she quietly went to each person in the home and let them know how much they meant to her. Then, she swallowed the entire bottle. When we woke the next morning she was gone, but she looked peaceful and had the trace of a smile on her face. We all respected her decision.

I fear I may develop dementia as my father had. I have no qualms about choosing to end my life before it gets too bad or I become a burden to my family. My children have a right to their own lives and having worked in Memory Care units and private duty care of people in the early, mid, and late stages of dementia, I know I don’t want a life like that. It’s a very hard, often long, way to go. I want my family to know me in better ways even though, as my daughter said, God will not except me in Heaven. To which I replied – then I will fertilize flowers right down here.

Setting the Record Straight

Setting the record straight

My daughter recently asked for more information about the years when addiction to prescription drugs had me in its jaws. My paranoia ratcheted up – was she going to build more walls between us? Accuse me yet again? Would she use the material to push me further away? I feel the loss of her love, the loss of a child before it was destroyed by memories of dark times. What do I remember? ( Please understand I don’t remember everything because of the drugs and the TBI) Crushing depression, manipulation, arguments with my mother and theft from her accounts. At times a total incomprehension of responsibility, of providing enough support for my children and myself.

Days upon days in pain, when I could not get off the couch. Driving my daughter and her friends while pills sloshed around in my stomach, seemingly weekly Doctor visits. Going to bed one Day and waking two days later to the incessant calls from my daughter to pick her up from work. I couldn’t walk much less drive. Driving my son and daughter to activities in no shape to operate a vehicle.

Of seizures followed by hope and a teenager’s anger of betrayal. Of other people parenting her when I could not. And of other people not trusting their children at my home. And her embarrassment.

Of negating the parenting of my son because he was so hard for me to control. And letting him live 3,000 miles away, raised by members of his church because his dad spent his time at his girlfriend’s and not checking to make sure he had a safe and nurturing life. I didn’t know this at the time. Not until I was a few years sober.

Of a letter jacket showing up on our doorstep – one I should have gotten myself. My daughter was one of 3 people in the history of Gilbert School, and likely the only girl, to ever earn 12 Varsity letters with no jacket to put them on. In an over 100 year old school. I just couldn’t think of it.

Of my daughter developing anorexia due to the stress of holding herself together, working so very hard for her education, and coming home to care for me. Her stress of living with a pill head mother. Her grandmother and aunt moved to take action before I did. I was too scared of what was happening. . . maybe too oblivious. I don’t think that was it. I just didn’t know what to do. I talked to her doctor but didn’t know how to take
action. And I was scared to death for her.

Of tears, an ocean’s worth, of self-pity, abysmal self-esteem and pain. Of confusion. I just didn’t know what was happening to me, to her, to my son, and my family life. Life was too painful to live. I wanted nothing more than to die. And almost did.

Sending Tasha, my dog, back to my ex’s because he wouldn’t agree to euthanize her when she was in so much pain, when I had to carry her outside to go to the bathroom. Then so upset when she spent her last two years in the garage because she couldn’t control her bowels in the house.

Not having a proper bed or room for my son when he came to visit. I could have gotten him a futon. I should have given him a home.

Understanding after the fact the guilt Alex felt for leaving my daughter with me when my son was no better off with him.

Of stripping my daughter of her summer vacation plans when my summer was spent in recovery. Being told I was an addict and my agreeing “Yep, that’s me” . And through it all, trying to get help but not being able to because the medical conditions that got me on pills where too severe for rehabs and hospitals to want to risk their reputations on.

I was in intense physical pain all the time and all over my body – inside and out. I wanted to commit suicide many times but was tethered to my kids. I wouldn’t do that to them. My ancestors were rife with all manner of abuse – I didn’t want it to continue.

I wanted so much to be there for my children but I was exhausted and there were days working as a library cataloger, teacher’s aide or caregiver. I wanted so much to be well. I even went to a meeting but felt judged by my friends. It was I judging myself. I felt like a worm and when I was outside I would pick up worms on the pavement and put them on the grass – I must have saved the same worm 100 times.

You have to understand – I was on oxygen, grossly overweight. I hated myself and knew you were embarrassed by me.

I went to my daughter’s soccer games. It had been her life since pre-school. It was her soul. But I always felt shunned by the women although Lynn took pity on me and let me sit by her. I went to my son’s as well, but
his coach belittled him and he gave up soccer for good.

Basketball had never appealed to me, so I didn’t go to the games. I knew no one there. The women sat there clipping coupons – I didn’t feel welcome.
Track I did enjoy but it hurt to stand on my feet for so long.

But I wanted her to never forget how much I loved her and was proud of her. I loved watching at games.

I loved watching her dive. Often it felt like poetry, dancing. I left after diving even though I knew she would be in races strictly because it was hard for me to breathe in so much humidity.

I knew she was ashamed of me. I tried to get help but this was one that had me in its snares. I remember stumbling in the doctor’s office, partly to show how sick I was, partly for real.

One time I was staying at mom’s while sick. She opened the door while I was taking my pills. She saw all the pills and freaked out. It was then when I got away from my doctor and went to another’s practice, which started the road to recovery.

When I was at Doctors’ offices I’d look in the cabinets for drugs. I found pills in my first doctor, ones he shouldn’t have had. I found anesthetics at one or two doctors’ and injected them in my shoulders or thighs. Stupid, insane, but I was insane and didn’t care.

But NOT ONCE did I have a drink! I knew I could – I’d already blown my sobriety, but not that. It was the only way I could save myself.
Mom tried in her way but mostly she was enabling me. I wanted to be on par with my sisters but that wasn’t going to happen.

One time I had to go to the hospital by ambulance. The EMTs needed to know what medicines I was taking. I just showed them the half-filled laundry basket full of them. They couldn’t believe it. People still are when they find how many I still have to take. I can’t. The pills hold me together and treat the symptoms of other drugs. It scares me. I wanted help, I just couldn’t get the help I need to do it. Believe that.

I was addicted so fast and tolerance level rose so rapidly. I was angry at my first doctor, at Mom, at the facilities that wouldn’t take me, at the futility of my existence, at the poor excuse I was as a mother. There was no connection with God except anger.

I am so very sorry for all my son and daughter went through. They deserved so much more. Being in CT was a bad choice in me ways but in others I needed it. I sometimes worked, had a roof over our heads, gave my daughter the school she needed. Tried very hard to get the academic support my son needed while he was with me. I don’t know how I would have made it in CA. I got on SSDI and other sources. I had people to guide me through the process.

It took a lot to get me straight again. After my daughter found me in the midst of a grand mal seizure, and sat with me at the hospital through 4 more, my doctor admitted me for a ten day withdrawal. I then went to a rehab for three weeks followed by 5 weeks of out-patient classes. Then it was back to AA.

I have been sober now for 11 years and though my life is often a hard one, I have not used. But pills are different than alcohol. For me, the draw to it comes back at times even though I choose not to follow it. It feels good to have a life again.