Posts tagged ‘bipolar’

Stuck in Molasses Swamp

20170718_Candy Land Spread Out

I’ve been in a stuck in a swamp of major Bipolar depression for nearly three months now.  When I first felt myself falling in, I reached out to my counselor, with whom I had fallen out of contact.  I patiently awaited my psychiatrist appointment, which wasn’t until in mid-July.  My counselor didn’t want me to wait until then, however, suggesting that I “get evaluated” at a mental health institution.  That was NOT going to happen.  I have a “fear of commitment,” especially considering what happened the last time I was there.  Anyway, I saw my Psychiatrist a few days ago and she adjusted my medication quite a bit.  Of course, it’s too early to have taken effect but I am hopeful.

Everyone has ups and downs in their lives.  It is just so much more extreme for people with Bipolar disorder.  But God promises to be there every step of the way, even when our burden gets too heavy for us to bear.  Of all the symptoms a depressed person experiences, “hopelessness” has not been one of them for me.  Hope is the one thing I have been able to hold on to, to get me through this valley.  It’s a “Footprints” in the sand sort of situation:

Footprints in the Sand

If you’re unfamiliar with this poem, it’s worth the read!

 

The twins’ birthday was at the end of June, I now have two threes!

20170701_Birthday Blowout - Brooks

Though they bring me lots of joy, they are about three handfuls nowadays, stretching borders and testing limits.  I have implemented a “Stop Light” behavioral system.  Each morning they start out on green and if they stay on green they get a reward at the end of the day.  But if they misbehave, they get a warning and move to yellow, then red, then it’s Time Out.  If their behavior improves, they can move back down the color chart.  Bella often ends the day on green, but Brooks (my rough-&-tumble, all-boy, mischief maker) is usually up at the top on red.

20170718_Stop light Chart - Right thing to do

But the other night, they both ended their day on green and as a reward, I offered to play a special game with them.  I pulled out “Candy Land” and explained how to play.  They were so excited at first, but Brooks quickly became bored with the board game (pun intended) and wandered off to play something else on his own.  Bella and I continued and she got “Queen Frostine” rather quickly, which put her way ahead of me, which made me happy because I wanted her to win the game her first time playing.  But then I drew “Princess Lolly,” then got double blues which put me ahead of her.  She was cool about it, though.  As we both approached “Gloppy at Molasses Swamp” I warned her, jokingly, “Now don’t draw a red, don’t draw a red card, if you do, you’ll get stuck until you get another red card!”  The tension built as we both got closer and closer to the red game piece with the black dot on it, when low and behold, she got a purple, just past the red.  And low and behold, I drew a red and got stuck in “Molasses Swamp.”

20170718_Molasses swamp

As Bella got closer and closer to the end of the game, and I kept drawing cards that weren’t red, she started to get visibly concerned.  Finally, when she was just two colors away from winning, she took her pawn’s hand and used it to grab my pawn’s hand and pulled mine up with hers.  “I saved you, mommy, Now we both winneded!” she exclaimed as she put both pieces on “Candy Castle.”

Tears welled up in my eyes as I tried my best not to cry.  Little moments like that do save me.  In those moments no one loses.  And even the smallest of victories count.  We can’t always save ourselves but God can use others to pull us out of the swamp.

(Mica 9, Hope 8, Brooks & Bella 3, Asher 2, Audrey 5 mo)

Double Talk Quote: “Oh my gosh, I never seen that in the world!” – Brooks 6/17 (in awe at Mica’s super-long Chinese noodle)

Bible Verse: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Word that has Lost its Meaning:  stuck

Relatable Lyrics:  “Quiet you with my Love” By Rebecca St. James

“Come to Me, all who are weary
And take My yoke upon you
My burden is easy and light

Lay your head down on My shoulders
Be still my child, rest a while

And I’ll quiet you with My love
Rejoice over you with My song”

Claiming Victory

20170524_Pink Lily

I made the drive home from church.  Making it there to serve in itself was a miracle.  I probably shouldn’t have driven home but it was the only place I wanted to be.  So I took some medicine and took deep breaths the whole way home.  See, in the parking lot as I was leaving, I felt a panic attack coming on.  I’ve been struggling with bipolar depression lately.  The deep, daunting, paranoia-filled affliction has encompassed me, debilitated me, and encumbered me from doing the simplest things, such as taking a shower or washing dishes, to my most important job, mommying.

Anytime I start to think big, I feel like Satan rallies his demonic troops and launches a full-blown attack against me.  Some might think I’m paranoid.  But this is backed by the Bible (which is my test to see if I’m being paranoid).  And this is Biblical:  Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy.  I’ve got some big things coming up.  At the beginning of last month, I started actively pursuing a way to get my “Think Big and Be Big” scriptural affirmation cards off the ground.  I also got the idea to start a topical small group for writers at my church.

It’s so hard to claim victory in the midst of despair.  I know God has won the war for my soul but that doesn’t mean I don’t get wounded in battle.  But it’s the little victories that lead back to the path of stability.

The other day I was too weary to get out of bed.  I had to ask my mother to keep the kids.  After sleeping for over 19 hours straight, I woke up, and prayed my simple prayer, once again, “God, please help me.”  Then, I got up and cleaned my daughter’s disaster of a room, which took about three hours of concentrated effort.  The twins came in and climbed on everything and wanted to get into big sissy’s stuff and play (which of course, I took some time to do).  Cleaning and spending time with my little ones… It was a small victory, but a victory none-the-less.

Throughout this depressive episode, I’ve tried to get out and do things even if I didn’t feel like it.  I dragged myself to a few play-dates and tried not to isolate myself, which is what I usually do, claiming that I’m sick.  I am sick but “depressed” is a more accurate description.  I hate claiming that over myself.  I’ve been deeply depressed for nearly a month now, but I’ve got some important milestones coming up that I pray will help pull me out.

I seriously considered canceling that writer’s small group, which is set to begin this Thursday (and I’m supposed to be the “leader”).  Me, in my condition, leading a small group of any kind will be, well, another miracle.  But God wouldn’t let me let go of that idea so I know that with His help and guidance, I can do it.

So I have to claim victory, not defeat!  Regardless of how I feel, I know that God’s got me and He has His purpose and plans to build me up and NOT let me down!  I believe that.  I put all my hope in that.  I have faith that He will pull me through this storm.  I claim victory now, Lord.  I have the victory in Jesus.

Double Talk Quote: “Mommy, I’ll sing a song to you so you’ll feel better.” – Bella 5/17/17

Bible Verse: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  John 10:10

Word that has Lost its Meaning:  defeated

Relatable Lyrics:  Victory In Jesus – the classic hymn

AND THEN I CRIED
“DEAR JESUS,
COME AND HEAL
MY BROKEN SPIRIT”
AND SOMEHOW JESUS
CAME AND BROUGHT
TO ME THE VICTORY!

20170526_funny big red chair - 5 earthquakers, Audrey

Bella (2), Baby “Rain” (4 months), Mica (9), Brooks (2), and “Hope” (8)

 

Bless your heart, little “Rain”, I know how you feel!

*Note:  Sorry if this was a “rambling” post.  At least right now, I’m able to think in full sentences!

“Psst… Are You Pregnant Again?”

I just got back from a BIG family vacation to Disney World a few weeks ago.  It was a crazy, awesome time!  But more on that at a later date.

All at Disney - Majic Kingdom

Me and the Crew at Magic Kingdom, Disney World!

 

Yesterday was Sunday.  I would like to take a moment to focus on a little question that was made to me yesterday.  I was volunteering at my church, like I usually do, teaching in the 3-5-year-olds’ class.  It was near the end of the service when an associate of mine approached me and engaged me in a short conversation.  After exchanging pleasantries, we chatted briefly about our children.  As I was returning to my room to finish up, she whispered down the hall, “Psst…Are you Pregnant Again?

How should I feel?  Should I be shocked, dismayed, angry, annoyed, criticized, self-conscious, disgraced, scored and/or maybe embarrassed?  Doesn’t everyone know not to ask that question unless they are absolutely sure that the answer is “yes”?  Am I so big that I look pregnant?

“No, I’m done with all that,” was my simple reply and off I ran, back to my classroom.

Now, just before Christmas, with the approval of my doctor, I had slowly decreased a few of my medications and even cut one out altogether.  I did have some difficulties with the transition, including some moderate depression and fluctuating moods.  One pleasant side-effect (for me anyway) was that I lost a few pounds, without even trying (my dear husband likes me on the bigger side, however, so he wasn’t as thrilled with the change)!  The weight-loss wasn’t significant and my weight tends to fluctuate anyway, so it wasn’t a very big deal.  I really didn’t think anyone even noticed except for me and my husband.

A couple of weeks before we left to go on the vacation, I knew I needed to pull myself together so I’d be stable for what turned out to be a very unstable trip.  So, again, with the doc’s permission, I upped my doses of mood-stabilizers.  And with that increase, I regained some of those previously lost pounds.  “No biggie,” I punned to myself.  After all, I’ve been eating healthy foods, drinking tons of water and getting plenty of exercise.  The only change has been with my meds.  Some medications just have weight gain as a side-effect and it’s really, really hard to beat.

This past week, my sister and her two-year-old son were in town visiting and my now 9-year-old daughter had her birthday party at our house.  We had a great time, but some things were left undone.  For example, in the morning, as I was getting ready for church, I realized that I hadn’t done my laundry in over a week!  Really the only clean, decent thing I had to wear was an extra large tank top or a tiny tube top.  I decided that the tube top might be indecent for church, because for pants, of course, I was going to wear leggings. But then again, the large tank top was so loose that my cleavage would show.  So, I wore both; the tube underneath to cover my boobage and the tank over it to cover the tube’s tightness.   I wasn’t worried about how big the shirt was, it was long enough to cover my bum, plus I was going to wear an accentuating sweater to tie the ensemble together anyway.

My thought process while actually getting ready was really not that sophisticated.  I mean, who am I there to impress?  God loves me no matter what.  And three, four, and five-year-olds don’t care what you wear.  So I went to church and did my service.  While singing and dancing with the kiddies, I got hot, so hot, in fact, that I took my sweater off. The only thing I felt slightly self-conscious about was the large scar I have on my back, part of which was partially exposed because my hair was up.  It was shortly after that, that the comment was made…

Psst…Are you Pregnant Again?”

How should I feel?  Insulted.  I should feel insulted; throw that tank top away, go on a strict diet, starve myself, and quit taking my stupid medications that cause the stupid side-effect!

But the more I thought about it, the less insulted I felt.  I began to have a fresh perspective.  I decided not to accept it as an insult.  And here’s why:

  1. Someone thought I was enough of a Super Mommy to actually handle another kid, (especially another baby).
  2. I’m no spring chicken.  I’m not old but at age 35, the ob-gyn docs start considering you as a “high risk” patient.  I could take the comment as a compliment, even.  I look young enough to want to have more children!
  3. I’ve heard this same woman talk before.  I don’t think she tries to be mean or insulting.  I think she’s just insensitive.  And maybe she doesn’t even realize she’s saying something that others may find offensive.
  4. I really just don’t care that much about what other people think about me anymore.  Why should I let one comment bash my self-esteem when I know I’m trying my best?
  5. I don’t think I look pregnant.  Why should I care if one other person on this planet does?

20170308_Pretty Mommy 2

A very recent picture of my (not-pregnant) self!

 

So after this post, I’m going to “Let It Go;” like water off a duck’s back.

water off donald duck's back

 

Double Talk Quote: (And this is a coincidence…) “Mommy, can you give me some insults?” – Mica, after our first day at Disney World.  She was trying to say “insoles” for her shoes because her feet hurt from walking so much.

Bible Verse: “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:9

Word that has Lost its meaning: insulted

Relatable Lyrics:  “Let It Go” – Disney’s Frozen

“Let it go, let it go… I don’t care, what they’re going to say…”

Disney - Epcot - Me Mommy Belle at Epcot with the girls, Bella, Micaela, and Grace; Elsa and Anna

Me and my girls at Epcot

 

 

 

Letters of Support

20160801_093206 (1)

For the past few months, I’ve been vigorously working on my husband’s immigration case. It involved a lot of writing, office type work, obtaining and making copies of records, and gathering information.  None of it was easy.  But the hardest thing for me was asking for what’s known as “Letters of Support,” which basically vouch that Amor is a good, decent person and upstanding member of society.  I have social anxiety (along with Bipolar Disorder) and for so long, Amor and I have kept his immigration status hush-hush.   Now, however, we had to come out of the shadows (so to speak) and admit the truth to friends and family that (gasp & shame, shame!) my husband entered this country illegally.  He was 16 years old when his brothers first brought him here and he has built his entire adult life in the US.

It was stressful and nerve-wracking for me to announce this and ask for help. But it had to be done, as part of the petition process.  So, I wrote down a list of 25 names of friends, family, and acquaintances.  It was scary to me to think of contacting these people without knowing their political stance or possible prejudices regarding this touchy issue.  But I took several deep breaths, and said a few prayers and started contacting.

The response I received was shocking.  Our community of friends and family were more than willing to help us file by writing for us.  In all, I collected 20 notarized letters!  I saw how kind and generous these people were to take time out of their own hectic lives to invest in ours.  They had to actually sit down and think about me, Amor and our kids, construct the letter, then go get it notarized.  A few of these people, I know had physical health issues.  One had a newborn baby.  Another person is a dear friend whom we haven’t physically seen in over a decade, but we’ve kept in touch via social media.  Yet another had problems getting the statement notarized because her identification was expired but she made it happen!  Each person went out of their way to help us.

I read each letter as they trickled in.  Each one with optimistic affirmations about us and our family.  After gathering them all, I sat down and re-read them.  It wasn’t just the quantity that astounded me, but the quality as well.  These people wrote from their hearts. I know we are in their prayers. Tears of gratitude trickled down my face.

Our case has since been put on hold, for now, anyway.  But we have our paperwork ready at a moment’s notice.  Now, whenever our attorney says to submit, we will be ready and able to move forward.  Thank you, so much for those of you who helped us.  We love and appreciate you all.

(July 2016, Twins 2, Mica 8, Hope 7)

Double Talk Quote:  Amor – “I’m too smart for that show” (Ruff Ruff, Tweet and Dave).  Me – “That’s why I watch Curious George.”
Bible Verse:  “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4
Term that has Earned its meaning:  true friendship
Relatable Lyrics:  Lean On Me by Bill Withers

“If there is a load you have to bear, that you can’t carry, I’m right up the road, I’ll share your load if you just call me, if you need a friend…We all need somebody to lean on.”

Midnight Medication Mixup

Morning Mommy 3

Sleep is the key to my sanity.  If I can regulate sleep, it’s easier to regulate my moods as well.

I have medication that I take at night and I have medication I take in the morning; and never the tween shall meet.  Except they did last night.  Instead of my usual regimen of Ambien, Abilify, and Lamictal, I skipped the first two, opting to take 1/2 of  a Seroquel instead (my doctor is okay with me doing this on occasion).  I had felt a bit of hypomania coming on so I wanted a good night’s rest and Seroquel usually does the trick.  I also knew I didn’t have a busy day coming up so I could rest if it made me a bit drowsy.

But…A cat pressed his way through the door, which was pulled-to but apparently not closed and the hallway light was on.   I woke up in a haze, barely able to see.  The piercing light was coming from the same direction of the clock and I could have sworn that hallway light was the break of dawn.  I could have sworn the time said 6 am, not 2 am.  So I swallowed my pills thinking I’d snooze for a few minutes before I had to wake up Mica to get ready for school.  I was at the apex of a very intricately narrated “movie” dream, when suddenly I was jolted awake.  The meds had kicked in and it was time to get on with the day.

Except…it was 2:30 am.

I’ve been working a lot on immigration case work for my husband lately, so I had plenty to do to occupy my time.  But I worried I’d run out of energy mid-day and be out-of-sorts when the twins (and older girls) needed me the most.  Fortunately, I was able to direct my hypomania into my work during those early morning hours, and even throughout the day, going to the grocery store before anyone in the household was even away, preparing breakfast, cleaning house, and playing hopscotch, painting with the twins and cooking and having a picknick supper outside.  The most trouble I had was lying still when the babes were ready to cuddle.

It’s 8:55pm now.  I’m starting to get tired.  Not sleepy, though.  Just tired.  I’ll take my night meds and rest again and maybe tomorrow will be…just as good.

(written 6/1/2016, Twins 23 months, Mica 8, Hope 7)

Double Talk Quote: “It was a surprise!” – Tia (Hope’s mom) announcing her new pregnancy.  Why am I not surprised?  Congrats to me! (jk – kinda)

Bible Verse: “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”  Matthew 6:34

Term that has lost its meaning: creep-o-cat

Relatable Lyrics:   “I Did My Best” by Soul Asylum

“I was waiting for a chain reaction
With a missing link…
…I was tired of being tired
I could not get no rest
So I kept sleepwalking and talking in my sleep
Yes I did my best”

 

Perseverance

perserverance - Brooks

I’ve wanted to bury my head in the sand and hope all my “challenges” just fade away on their own.  Unfortunately, I don’t live in an episode of “Sanford and Son” where mail can just be put back in the mailbox without consequence.  I have to be an adult and deal with my problems.

Sanford and Son

We attend Daystar church, which has an excellent Kid’s ministry.  Each month the elementary age students take home “God Time” cards, which are children’s devotionals that correspond with what they’re teaching at church.  Their theme this month is “Perseverance: refusing to give up when life gets hard.”  Each morning this past week, while doing the devotions with Mica, the cards seemed to be ministering as much, if not more, to me than to her.

When I feel this overwhelmed, I’m reminded of Joshua crossing the Jordan river.  He asked God to make a way and God told him to send the ark of the covenant (where the Lord dwelled) first and to just start walking.  With each small step Joshua’s tribes took, the river slowly dried up until he and all the Israelites were safely on the other side.

jordan-crossing

Google Images – eyeofprophecy

Small steps.  I have to put God first and just take small steps and walk out into the water and trust that He will make a way for me.

(April 5-12, 2016 – Twins 21 months, Mica 8, Hope 6)

Double Talk Story: I made my to-do list and after having marked off a couple of items with my highlighter, I felt better, invigorated, like I’d accomplished something.  I walked out the room for just a few minutes and returned to see that nearly the entire list had been accomplished by a babe (if only)!

To-Do List

Brooks helps Mommy with her To-Do List!

Bible Verse:  Joshua 3: 14-17

Term which meaning I dread:  Tax Season

Relatable Lyrics:  Shackles” by Mary Mary

“Everything that could go wrong, All went wrong at one time
So much pressure fell on me, I thought I was gon lose my mind
But I know you wanna see, If I will hold on through these trials…

…You broke the chains now I can lift my hands, And I’m gonna praise you”

Faking It

 

Shell

Can he tell?  Can he tell that I’m faking it?

Happiness, I mean.  The laughter is real.  The feeling behind it is not.  Can he tell?  Can others?

I feel so empty, a shell of who I’m supposed to be, of who I once was, my soul so bland, dull, dry, and tasteless.  I am, again, uncomfortably numb.

Lamenting about being stable seems hypocritical.  Isn’t that what I want?  Isn’t that what I need?  Is it?  If it makes me not me, makes me unable to feel?

I miss the genuine laugh I’d have when my daughter tells a silly joke.  I miss the genuine tear that I’d cry from the heartache of loss.  I miss the genuine pain I’d feel from stumping my toe.  I miss the genuine feeling of happiness I’d get on a beautiful day like today.  I miss the genuine anger I’d experience from my husband losing his job, again. I miss the genuine joy I’d have of seeing my babies love on each other.  Instead, I’m immersed in apathy.

What have I done to myself?  This wretched illness has robbed me of so much that is precious in life.  Now the medication that’s supposed to help heal me is stealing from me instead.   Stealing my hopes and dreams.  Consuming my spirit.  Making me a robot.

I laugh on cue.

Can you tell?  Can you tell that I’m faking it?

(March 1, 2016 –  twins 20 months, Mica 7, Hope 6)

Epiphany Quote: “See, this is why I stop taking my medication.  I’m not Belle.  I’m a shell.” Thinking:  “I’m Michelle” – Me to my therapist

Bible Verse:  Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:8-10

Word that has Lost its meaning: feelings

Relatable Lyrics:  Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd

“…I can’t explain, you would not understand, this is not how I am.”

 

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