Still up.

Still up.

And pacing.

And laying in bed staring into the darkness, and hoping to fall asleep and wondering what every little noise is and wondering when I’ll fall asleep and thinking about my triumph from today and wondering when I’ll fall asleep and imagining how today will change my family’s life and imagining being asleep and feeling myself float above the clouds again and trying too hard to fall asleep.  Damnit.

I am tired.

I am still up.

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WOW.

That’s about all I’ve got, and all I can even think about saying right now.

There’s been such a roller coaster of emotion and change and just wow over the last five days I can hardly stand it.  Just Wow.  It’s not even a bad wow, it’s one of those situations where you really get to sit back and say, “Wow, is this real?  Can this really be happening this way?”

This wow is also why I am feeling super manic today.  I am unbeatable.  I am inflated so much that I could literally float away.  I am on fire, indestructible, unstoppable, unflappable, and the best thing to happen in my world since my world began.  In my heart I feel like I can feel the neurons firing and misfiring and exploding in my head.  So … with that being said – that’s why I’m here today, writing right freaking now, so that I can start to reign in the mania.  My goodness it needs to be chained down because … well, because we know what happens when mania isn’t stopped on it’s upward swing.  I’m not going to let that happen, so here we are.  Am I hypomanic right now?

I saw something a display today, that really affected me.  About a week ago, a police officer in the city where I live was killed in the line of duty and today was his funeral.  I happened to be heading north on the highway when his funeral procession was headed south.  It was such a stark but touching scene to see actual miles and miles of police vehicles moving slowly with precision and respect.  Everywhere I saw there were cars pulled over and (I’d imagine they were likely) veterans, or current active duty members of the military out saluting the procession as it went by.  It was as moment to remind you that America has a lot of joy in it’s core, and that we are surrounded on a daily basis by people who are willing to serve and sacrifice.  I am glad that I got to see such a great display of respect live.

It also reminded me that I am blessed to be able to do what I do professionally, but also personally.  Sometimes I sell myself short and think that I haven’t done anything measurable for society when I compare myself to military members or first responders, but I only felt grateful for them today.

Wow.

Such power is packed in a little three letter word.

I’m glad to know that I’m being guided through some great times in my life right now.

Change 

I guess change is part of living a bipolar life.  The two words are intrinsically connected, aren’t they?  Again, while I don’t like the term bipolar, and prefer the term Manic Depressive, we will use bipolar today.  

There was an article this morning on USA Today that talked about the most misunderstood mental illnesses out there, and it listed mine as one of them.  It says that “Often confused with depression or schizophrenia, bipolar disorder is characterized by stark shifts in mood and energy.”  In other words, change abounds.   

The author continues: “Those with the condition often experience periods of prolonged and profound depression that alternates with periods of excessively elevated or irritable mood.”  In other, other words, more change.  

So with change established as a theme that exists living the bipolar, or manic depressive, life let’s dive into current events here in my life today.   There’s a major major change coming down the pipeline – talking beginning of a new era of life type stuff.   It’s a positive change, but it’s a big change nonetheless.   I think those changes are the ones that can have the biggest influence, for good or ill, on how things are going in life you know?  

Change ties back in to the last post that I wrote.  Change is constant in life – sometimes, like this one, we choose it.   But when it comes to how to deal with it, I feel strongly like the tools are the same, and it’s up to me to use them.  Or not.   

Checks and balances

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Checks and balances are an essential part of daily life in the world.  Our form of government (here in the US) is set around it.  Life checks itself by nature.  In Jurassic Park, the great quote of “Life finds a way,” refers to checks and balances.  I am also part of that equation now, as a sufferer of this disease.  I’ve got to be sure that there are daily checks and balances for me to get through each day.

For each moment that I feel down, there’s a check to bring it up.  For every moment that I’m too “up,” there’s a balance to bring it down.  Those checks and balances are lots of things in my life, from the meds, to the coping skills, to regular visits to the therapist, to regular visits with the psychiatrist, to keeping an element of spirituality in my life, to staying close to my family.  I am glad to have each one of these tools and I’m glad for the difference they make.  Sometimes they are the sword that you see the Lady of Justice above wielding.  Other times they are a shield that protects.  But they’re all always there.

The key, and the most important part of it all is the simplest:  I’ve got to take the tools off the shelf and use them.  Some days it’s really hard … so damn hard.  Why is that?  I don’t really fully understand why – but some days it kills me to care enough to fight back.

There are also skills and things that I’ve learned that help me understand the when and how of decision making.  I’m looking down the nose of a huge decision right now, and I can tell that there has been growth because six months ago I totally would have just done it.  Now I’ve taken a week to study it out, and now I’m trying to find the final answer.  I’m checking and balancing the mania that comes from being pursued professionally … six months ago, or a year ago … I would have taken the job immediately you know?

Little by little, I almost, most days, feel like I’m getting better.

 

Baseball is life.


There are few sites and sounds as beautiful to my mind as the ones found inside a baseball stadium.   My dad, who we’ve discussed here before, did me the life service of teaching me everything there is to know about baseball during my 19 years before I left home.  I am glad that he did.  Many people will talk about baseball as a past-it’s-prime game, or a sport moving into decline, but they couldn’t be more wrong.   

Baseball is a great game with many applications for, and lessons that can be learned and applied to life.  That’s part of what makes it great.  

Today, and with the visual aid of one of the most beautiful park in America, let’s apply baseball to my bipolar life.  

Everyone of the bases has a purpose and a reason, and is part of the story.  

Home plate:  this is where I spent the longest amount of time.   My psychiatrist told me that bipolar is something that I was born with, and that from birth it was like a time bomb in my brain waiting to blow up.   So for me, although I am sure I had manic episodes and depressive episodes growing up – a suicide attempt, a wonderful whirlwind courtship and proposal with my wife, and much more – I don’t think that I left home plate until January of this year after the suicide attempt and the come down from that.  That launched me to first base, and to diagnosis and meds, with an aggressive path.  Here we go.  

First base:  Diagnosis and it’s tailspin.  How many of you feel or felt like diagnosis was a black hole opening up in your life?  For me it was an absolute catastrophe, and one that nearly drove me to the brink of suicide again (a suicide attempt in January is what had taken me to seek psychiatric care in the first place).  Why me?   Why this?  I was mad at God.  I was mad for all those reasons that one would be – it was a life changer and one that I didn’t realize yet was not going to be a death sentence.  I thought my life was over.   It nearly was when the meds came and did their worst to me.  For six weeks I tried to deal with the meds and their wonderful (read that highly in a highly sarcastic tone) side effects until I couldn’t anymore.   I felt as close to ending my life as I was to feeling like the meds were helping me get my life back.  That’s when I checked into a facility for the first (and hopefully only) time and moved on to second base.   

Second base: Treatment.   Being inside that facility for those five days in April was the starkest yet most helpful thing I’ve done in my entire life.   I was alarmed and scared because I simply couldn’t believe where I was – it was a suicide watch lockdown unit.  I literally couldn’t do anything without asking someone’s permission.   Every door was locked in front of and behind me.  Removing the dystopian aspect from it though – it was a clean safe sterile environment where I was able to struggle through the medicine regulating in my mind and body.   It was a place where I could take the time to focus on me and getting my mind and and soul right again.   Guess what – it worked.  I’ve been out of the facility for nearly three months, and the coping tools and skills that I learned are what keep me afloat now.   It’s a good thing to have them because I believe I would have continued to sink if I hadn’t gone into the treatment facility when and how I did.  Coming out of the facility that day in April was wonderful though.   It was like rounding second base and heading straight for …

Third base:  continued recovery and relapse prevention.   This 90 feet between these two bases, this short stop, this is where I’ll spend the most time because it’ll be the rest of my life.  I’ve been told that there will be other episodes of severe degrees.  I’ve been told that there will be times when the suicidal thoughts come back strong.   That’s where they’ll be though, squarely between second and third.  There will be times when I think I cant do it anymore, and the act of getting up and dusting off – that will be what keeps me going towards third base.   The cooing skills from treatment, the sticking to my meds, and the continued engagement from my support team – that’s what will be utilized here like no other.   I am confident that I’ve got the tools ready to fight any battle though.   

Back to home:  and this is the final stop.   Once I cross home plate and get back to where I started – in that moment is when I’ve reached Heavenly glory and am in Gods presence.  In that moment is when my mind will finally be let free of this affliction, and I’ll be able to thank Him for the trial and the extra depth and field of vision that it gave to my life. 

I’m happy when I think about that day.  I know I’m not there yet because I can’t see myself thanking anyone let alone God, for all of this.   But there’s the end game.   It’s all about progress.  Baseball games are won and lost on the base paths and so too, I will win with my bipolar one section at a time.   

My mind is racing tonight.

mcqueen                                                  download

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Like Steve McQueen in Bullitt, or the Great Escape.

Like Lightning McQueen in Cars 1, 2, or 3.

Or like Seabiscuit running circles around the competition in Seabiscuit.  

I am on fire and flying fast tonight … and I don’t hate it.  It’s been a damn good day for me personally and for me in all aspects of my life and it just has my mind racing.  I haven’t felt this way in a while – being so charged up like this, and feeling like my mind is moving so fast that things around me are almost slowing down.  I am staying indoors and close to my wife though – that’s how I know I’ll be ok no matter how fast I may feel that I’m going tonight.

Here’s the difference tonight in how I feel, versus how I felt back in March and April:  I feel happy.  While I recognize that it’s mania – I feel happy, and carefree, it’s happy.  There’s no sign of self harm, no sign of darkness, or any of the other old clouds from back then.  I am still on meds – haven’t come off of them yet – and still seeing my therapist twice a month.   I’m here blogging, filling up all those Blank screens.  I have been logging more time on my knees recently than in a long time and He is meeting me more than halfway.  I can’t imagine trying to get through this in any way other than the one that involves the power of God working for me.  There are few things in life more important to me than having a solid relationship with my Heavenly Father.

Tonight I feel like Usain Bolt is running laps in my brain, but at least he’s smiling 🙂

 

Blank screens.

Sometimes I feel like I need to fill this screen with words.  My illness makes me watch the word counter in the bottom right and make sure that it goes up and up and up.  That can lead to oversharing sometimes?

This blog isn’t a negotiable thing though … writing, or the written word, has the ability to change the world, and it certainly changes my life on a daily basis.  The (digital) pen is truly mightier than the sword.  This pen has conquered numerous panic attacks, has been directed by the Spirit, with regards to what I’m saying, and is a large part of how I hope to feel like I’m healing.

I’m putting my soul out here though because I have to.  There have been too many blank screens in my life staring back at me through the years, and I cannot ever let that happen anymore.  If this is where I’m putting my emotions – if this is the valve that I’m opening to get the emotions out, so they don’t build up and boil into a manic episode then that’s what I’ve got to do.  Through the course of the last four months since diagnosis and I have realized that I didn’t talk enough during the course of my life – and especially during the last few years as this got severe.  Again, the blank screens.  That’s why this can’t happen anymore.

So … to be concise – I’m sorry if it feels like I write just to write sometimes, or if the words don’t necessarily flow the best.  Know that I’m putting my whole heart and soul into every word I type, and that every word helps me.

Y’all are the best.  Thanks for being here.

Time Away …

So it’s been a week more or less since I wrote last.

I needed some time away, and frankly things have been super busy in my life – both across the mental illness maintenance spectrum, and all things personal, and all things professional.  Most of what’s gone on has been positive – I can’t complain about any of it.

Time away does one good though – it’s good for retrospection, and for time to not just think but really really digest how things are going and what can be done.  It’s a blessing for me to be able to have a time professionally where I can really enjoy some mental downtime.

When it comes to my mental illness management … I’m mostly in a good place.  I saw the new psychiatrist last week, and I really like him.  He’s a straight shooter who told me that of his whole patient load he’s got 2 patients who aren’t doing well, and that I would not be the 3rd.  We talked for more than 30 minutes instead of the normal 10-12 minutes that I was used to getting from the prior psychiatrist.  I felt good after coming out of his office – I felt hope.  That’s been an all too infrequent feeling since February when this whole thing began.

This weekend was rough though, under the surface.  In a page from my past – I’ll use lyrics to explain how I feel when I’m in the middle of a manic or depressive moment.  They’re from Part from Me by the Avett Brothers.  I’ll put the lyrics, and then link the whole video.

I was scared but I couldn’t admit it
Hatred planted out of fear
Fight or flight no choice but to hit it
The road, it calls on me my dear

I was lost as lost can be
Being praised for being found
But all that praise got lost on me
As a mood swing was headed down

Part from me
I would not dare take someone in love with me
Where I’m going
Apart you’ll see
How true it is and how back then
It possibly was impossible for you or me to know it

When I’m in the bad places, whether they be up or down – I need help.  I’ll admit that.  But there’s an internal conflict because I feel like I am dragging down family when I reach out to them for help … so sometimes I don’t.  I’m not saying that’s a smart or wise plan, but it’s my reality.

Most days though, I don’t have to search too far.  My dear wife is less than arms length away, and I can always go to her for the help and strength needed to get through every day.  Most days, I don’t give a second thought to asking for help.  Most days, the medicine and the therapy, and the tools I’ve learned and put in my corner are enough.

The time away is good for that – making sure that I’m ok for myself.

It’s good to be back.

D-day Anniversary 2017 – Celebrated in the Hedgerows of my mind.

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73 years ago this morning, the world changed.  Up to that day, the balance of power in the world was very much still in question.  Up to that day, the outcome of World War II was very much still in question.  Up to that day, the western allies were struggling to get any real traction in Italy and as such, weren’t doing much real damage to the Nazi war efforts.

Beginning with airborne combat troop drops overnight, the allied troops started landing on the beaches at 6:30 AM.  There had been a massive naval and aerial bombardment, and it was time to begin.

The history books will tell you what happens next.  Valor, and not just American valor, was the word of the day as men fought against the Germans and won.  It took 11 months to finish the job.  It took sweat and effort and lives and blood, but the job was finished and freedom was restored to the world.

Two months ago, at about 6:30 AM, I finalized my check in at a mental health institution for care of my bipolar diagnosis.  For me, that was my D-Day.   The car ride to the facility was hell.  The walk to the front of the building was the trip up the beach.  Watching a door lock behind me and seeing that I could not get out again, without someone opening the door for me was a scary, stark vision of where I really was and what I was going through.

I’m honest enough to say that I didn’t fight in combat.  I didn’t see anyone around me lose their lives.  But that was my D-Day.  That was my turning point, nonetheless.  I’m glad the move succeeded and paid off.  I hit that beach and took off, attacking my illness and finding ways to work through all that comes with it.  Just like the men on the beaches of Normandy, I had to go 100% at it, or my actions would fail.

So here I am two months later.  If you know history, you know that the Allied forces slowed down after their initial landings.  That’s where I feel like I’m at right now in a sense, stuck in the hedgerows of my mind.  I’ll take it literally though, and say that I feel like I’m due for another breakout.

The morning of June 6 at home in the United States, President Roosevelt gave his now famous D-Day speech and offered his D-Day prayer, which holds a lot of application in how I feel about my situation today:

” … because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips …”

“O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.”

I trust in God, my friends.  I have faith, that though He has given me this trial, and this difficulty in my life, He will give me the strength to overcome and to be a source of strength for others.  I love that last line … let not the impacts of temporal events of but fleeting moment deter us in our unconquerable purpose.  When I focus on conquering my demons – I will win.  I have unconquerable purpose and resolve to be successful here.

With that driving me, I will win.

 

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