Friday, March 26, 2010

You Are Never Alone

In my constant battle to bring awareness and education about bipolar disorder, I thought I would share an email between a friend and I after she read my first blog post.  Whether you have bipolar or depression, or you know someone who does, there is lots of good stuff in here that is important for everyone to know.  Actually, this is important for you to know even if you have no experience with it at all.  Anyway, enough of my babbling.  Time to let the emails talk (identity information has been edited out to protect the guilty :P).  Oh yea, and this could get long.

On Thu, Mar 25, 2010 at 12:34 AM, Vanguard's Duchess wrote:

My dear Alicia,

I know I've told you that I was once diagnosed as being "mild bipolar." I just read that post on your blog "travels in my bipolar world," and I SO GET IT (maybe not to the extremes of yours, but I get a LOT of it - even the crying in the shower... I've done that although not to the extreme that you did). Mine was at its worst when I had post-partum along with it. And for me, a lot of what I had going on personally also didn't help (found out that my son's dad was telling some women he met in the game we played at the time that he was single and lived in navy barracks....). Anyway -- the doctor who diagnosed me gave me this one medication (Neurontin), that basically turned me into a zombie. I went back to him, and asked to be taken off it and put back on Zoloft, which is the only thing that has ever gotten the depression back so I could get things under control... Neurontin made me a zombie so I had no highs and no lows... may as well as given me a lobotomy for the way it made me feel... but Zoloft took care of the lows and took the top edge off the highs, which was just perfect. Then I went off it altogether because I got pregnant, although the baby-doc said zoloft in the small amount I was taking wouldn't hurt the baby, but I felt so good pregnant that I didn't seem to need it (and I didn't).

I've battled with depression for a long time, probably since I was first married (I'm thinking earlier in my life but I didn't notice it as much until I was married the first time). After I married him he changed. All of a sudden he was so serious and, even though he wasn't that way all the time, being a grown up and married was serious business and there wasn't much room for goofyness (according to him).... and you know me and how that doesn't sit well with me (lol). But... I felt very trapped. I was raised you get married - ONCE - and stay married, no matter what. I was also afraid that my extended family (aunts uncles cousins, etc.) would look askance at me or think less of me because my marriage didn't work. I was afraid - of everything really.

But... I do know something about myself where all of this is concerned (I see patterns which is why I think some of the following is true for me). While I know that bi-polar and depression is actually a physical thing (that lack of the chemical that helps us feel good and be happy - i forget what it's called...), mine was always much worse when I felt trapped like there was no way out - it was almost like the hopelessness I felt translated itself into NOT producing the chemical my body needed. I had no trouble with the highs of bipolar. Being mild the highs don't get out of control - except where my mind won't turn off or I talk too fast, and then I just pick up a good book and read until I'm sleepy... but you know that I'm a goofball and when I'm high it can be a lot of fun... over the last several years, I think I've balanced all that out... or mostly anyway. When I'm down, I don't get THAT down - or if I do, eventually I figure out what is what, and push through it (I know not everyone can do this... I think I am lucky because I've been teaching myself how over the last 10 years give or take - although this doesn't always work either)....

In a way, even though I didn't go through as deep a thing as you did, since the middle of last summer's school term, I have felt very lost, and questioned what I am doing in school - which has pushed me towards the downward stuff into being mildly depressed because it's so hard to know how to handle things when I am not sure where the hell I'm going with my life (that is the worst thing in the world for me!) What the hell do I think I am doing trying to get in to that career at my age, etc., etc.

Add to this my self-esteem being in the toilet... I wasn't taking care of myself and I felt like the real me was completely trapped in the overweight body. I was lucky if i got in the shower twice a week - I only got there once a week because every week I would get to a point where it bothered me (I have a sensitive nose LOL).... For a time, the only thing that kept me moving forward was the fact that I have Kenny and I MUST provide for him. Oddly enough that doesn't affect me the same way that feeling trapped with no way out does. Maybe that has something to do with how much I love him and would do anything for him and how blessed I feel to have him as my son! But I digress.... So I struggled and struggled through the last several terms... add to that the financial pressure of no money and then my car was repo'd Dec 31st. Weird as it may sound, that happening was a good thing because I when that happened it loosed a floodgate of changes - some out of necessity, and some purely because I was relieved that I didn't have that financial burden any more and could just plain old start over, financially... and some, surprisingly wonderful things started happening as a result.

So the financial pressure was off after I talked to my bankruptcy attorney (all my income is untouchable by the credit card and car payment companies because it is unemployment and child support)... and my "new" pre-owned car is untouchable by the bankruptcy because its value is under $3000. My aunt and uncle bought me that car (I owe them but they said to pretend like I don't owe them a thing 'till I'm through with school and can pay them).... Then I ran into that friend who had lost all that weight and she got me going on that (to date I have lost 27.6# Yay!) So there have been some new good changes and they have been going well.... but back to January and the lack of a "life partner" .... and me out there in no man's land and lonely, etc.

So I'm on my way to school one morning in January, and I'm sitting in traffic listening to the sappy romantic music on my iPod that I listen to when I'm by myself (I'm an EXTREME romantic at heart...)... and I just started crying my heart out.... In the midst of this I found myself talking out loud in my car to God. Yes I'm a crazy woman! and this next part is paraphrased because I cant remember exactly what I said went something like this:  "I am so tired of being alone and lonely, God... please send me whoever it is I'm supposed to be with for the rest of my life... It's time, damnit...." That last part I yelled.... yes I yelled and swore at God.... (I swear when I talk to God sometimes but it's what my mom calls "classy" swear words like Damn not the more vulgar ones so I think he doesn't mind LOL).

Then about a week later (give or take, I don't remember the date),a few of us are all joking and talking, and someone starts talking about a friend of his who is talking about spending $20k to get a "bride from asia" and he says, "i'm tired of looking, that's starting to sound good..." and this other friend says, "what the hell would you want to do something like that when I know a perfectly good lady who lives in our country, who could use the money...." Alarm bells go off and I think, "uh oh....." and he starts going over all the things he thinks about me, "... You've got someone right here in the US. She's beautiful, smart, funny, intelligent, a great mom, and wicked sexy to boot and I've met her in person so I can say all of that truthfully - and she's going to college and can use that money rather than you giving it to someone's family over in asia... although I suppose they could use the money too but let your friend get the mail order bride...." and he went on and on like that and I was saying, when I could get a word in edgewise, "stop it... knock it off...." (I'm sure my face was red).... And towards the end of that stuff from my friend I get a text from the guy who started the convo saying, "I gotta get me some o dat...."

I ask him, "I thought you had a girlfriend."

He says, "What girlfriend?"

I ask, "well the other day we were talking about something with so and so, and you said something about your girlfriend...."

He says, "no that's when you came back  and you caught the tail end of what we were talking about - but I was talking about my ex-girlfriend..."

I said, "oh well you said girlfriend so I thought that meant you had one... I don't flirt with guys who are married or have girlfriends.... otherwise I would have flirted with you more..."

He laughs and says, "well... flirt away - there's nobody else but lil ole me here..."

So we all start talking... and next thing you know he's planning on coming out to see me (first weekend in August!!!! tentative date)... texting me every morning, every noon, when he gets home from work its "honey I'm home *walks up behind you and wraps arms around you tightly and gives you big hugs and kisses you*...." and before he goes to bed, "nite honey *hugs and kisses* gonna nap on the couch - wake me when it's time for bed" or "nite hon - *snugglz with you* that sort of thing....

I had to pull a quote from the end of the IOP stuff... I can identify so totally with this quote, especially in light of what I wrote above about sort of understanding what you went through and go through:

"I look at my dog and smile, knowing that she loves me no matter what. I check my text messages every morning and smile that I have a wonderful man who says good morning to me every day. For the first time in a very, very long time, I feel alive and I feel content."

Replace the dog with my son and that is totally me at this moment - only thing marring it is that my boyfriend is in Ohio and not here - but you know all about distance too since you and your husband started as a long distance relationship...

*hugs* I can so totally identify with you... totally. I love you sis!

Love, Vanguard's Duchess


On Thu, Mar 25, 2010 at 3:12 PM, Alicia wrote:

I have taken a while to respond to this mainly because I really don't know what else to say.  You know much of my story, just as I know much of yours.  There are times I believe I don't have bipolar, just depression, and others where it is very clear it is bipolar.  There is something my therapist and psychiatrist had both told me though:  Figuring out cause and effect of bipolar episodes or depression is like trying to figure out which came first, the chicken or the egg?  In fact, it really doesn't matter which came first.  The fact remains that the events and circumstances in our lives can feed the depression or mania we already have, and that same depression or mania can push us to keep choosing the events or situations that are hurting us.  It is a viscous cycle that is not easily broken. 

Depression and bipolar are liars.  They try to make us believe untrue things so that we stay in the unhappiness we currently have.  It makes us question everything in our lives, even the things that we had previously thought we were sure about.  Just 6 months ago, you were telling me how you loved what you were going to school for.  Now, you are questioning it.  Could it be that you are seeing more of the industry than you had seen before and that is making you question your resolve, or is it the depression lying to you, telling you you aren't good enough, strong enough, committed enough, smart enough?  Maybe it isn't telling you those things, but maybe it is limiting what you see as possibilities for your degree.  If you get this degree, you will only be able to do X.  It blocks out the view of C, F, M, Y, and G possibilities which could be so much more appealing (recall our convo about using your degree to get a job with Sony as a game artist). 

I know you are aware of many of these things already and my intent is not to just tell you what you already know.  My intent is to remind you of these things because we seem to forget them when we are in the throws of sorrow or ecstasy.  Sometimes, just hearing someone else say them (or type them) helps us to clear out the fog in our minds, if only for a moment.  And we both know sometimes, that one moment is all it takes. 

As you go on, first, actively look for the good things in life.  It sounds like you already are which is a good sign.  Second, do not make any major decisions until you are back at an even keel, or as much of one as possible.  I know you are questioning your path of study, but to change now would be a major decision.  You don't have to tell me all the excuses why now would be the time to change if you were going to change because I have heard them all before from my own lips.  You will just have to trust me on this.  ;)  And third and finally, always remember you are not alone.  There are others out there, me included, who know exactly what you are going through.  We have been there, done that, and got the T-shirt, held on to it just long enough to burn it, then start all over again.  It is not a shame to ask for help, but a shame not to, for you asking for help can actually help another find their way.

So much for not knowing what to say, huh?

Always here for you,


P.S.  Would you mind if I blogged this?  I just think this is good stuff for people to know.