Wednesday, December 31, 2008

End of the Year/Doctor's appointment

Today is the last year of 2008. My dd is still at Nana's house after a sleep over with her cousin from Florida. This has given me a leisurely morning to catch up on blogs and whatever else on the web I have wanted to do without interruption.

The common theme today online is review of 2008 and resolutions and/or speculation about 2009. Monday I had my quarterly medication check-up with my doctor. Leading up to that appointment I evaluate the last three months. I didn't write as many notes as a I did last time. My official notes weren't written until an hour before my appointment. That's a first! So here are the highlights:

1. Mood Chart
- I did not chart consistently. Gasp! The OCD medicine must be working...maybe a little too well. My general mood has been consistently slightly depressed. I will take slightly depressed any day over tumultuous mood swings. The doctor did want an explanation of what I meant by slightly depressed. My first thought was "I don't know - its not in my notes". Thankfully she had a prompt "less motivated". Yes, I told her, but what I'm feeling isn't enough to halt me from my basic activities. A tweak of medication could be called for but I'm happy to use my tools (eating, exercising, etc) to make up the difference in my mood.
- The low point was the day after Thanksgiving and thankfully we were able to go home the next day. In the original game plan for that day I was supposed to have access to a car to be able to leave at anytime. But that did not happen for various reason and DH, dd and I got stuck with no way to leave. No one else was enjoying the time either. Bekah actually cried. I took her in a back room and told her that she was very brave to cry. I went outside and cried. I was so thankful to go home.
- Christmas Eve to now: calm and peaceful due to planning. The plans haven't always worked 100% but we have left plenty of room in the schedule for this. Today the only thing I have to do is last minute shopping for the New Year's Eve party.

2. Extended Family
This is the touchy subject. As far as I know my mom is the only family member that reads this blog. If there are any other family members lurking please be kind and let me know.
- I am doing well at not getting wrapped up in other people's issues. The big one is that my dad is still in the hospital. My communication with him has only started just started back because of the holidays. The key word to me is 'communication'. I don't consider that I have a relationship with him. I have looked outside of myself to the well-being of my dd and her right to have her granddad in her life. He was welcomed into our home for Christmas Eve under the agreement that he would act appropriate. He was successful in doing that and now my dd has happy memories of Granddad. There have been a few church events that he has been a part of with us. Now that the holidays are over I'm not sure what this year will bring. He will be invited to dd's events like the preschool choir concert in May. What remains to be seen if he will leave things as they are 'communication' and not a relationship. I know that he doesn't get it right now. He might never get it.
- I am also working at not solving other people's problems. The main face to this is my aunt C. Twice in the last three months has she called me. The first time was to ask for money to pay for a bill. I couldn't believe it. I asked a few question about other avenues of help 1. calling the utility about an extension - nope 2. church - nope. I finally responded with "I don't earn the money - G does." Sorry G for throwing you under the bus like that. Anyone who know G knows that it is not how it really is in our home. Everything we own and he makes is 'ours'. But the excuse worked! The next call was her asking for a ride from her house to my home for Christmas Eve dinner. It is about a 40 minute drive one way. My personal opinion is that it was rude. Outside of that it was not practical for me or my dd to leave our home pick her up and come back - 1.5 hour round trip. The success in this is that we did not offer an alternative. Only a 'we don't know what to tell you'. Long story short she didn't come. Her loss.

3. Schedule
- I am continuing to cut back on my schedule
- with that being said I think it is important to note that I am not 'isolating'.
- I am accepting that I have chose 'stay-at-home' mom as my current vocation with the realization that this involves actually spending time at HOME.

4. Struggling with: continuations from last check-up
- 'starting and completing tasks' This is much harder during the holidays. When deadline approach I have this 'frozen' feeling. I just can't get motivated enough to get going. Again I am thankful for the information and tool from Breaking the Bi-Polar Cycle I read on my retreat.
- 'information-processing' is so much better than 3 months ago.

One thing that I haven't yet mentioned on this blog is about me getting pregnant again. It is now a possibility of getting to the point we are going to try, but we are not there yet. It is a journal that I can see myself blogging as I go, but saving the entries as drafts. If we do decide to get pregnant very few people will know until the first trimester is complete.

So those are the highlights of the quarterly review. Do I have 'New Year's Resolutions'? Not really 'New Year's'. My review just happens to coincide with the New Year. I have things that I want to keep up, things I want to do better at and things that I need to start doing. As with many people diet and exercise are up there. One thing that needs to happen for me to be in the best health possible is to lose 19 lbs. I lost some weight in 2008 and I need to continue that in 2009. I would like to lose it all by May. I have just joined a gym less than a mile from my house. The last gym took 15 minutes to get to and that just didn't work on days that I wasn't motivated. This is easier and has free child care and cable. Did you say TLC? That's what I thought you said. I have even started going to the gym to work out while watching Biggest Loser. This is an improvement from watching while eating ice cream during Seasons 1 and 2!

My next appointment is in May - which is actually 4 months away.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas with BPD

As I get more accustomed to my life with BPD I realize that for me less is more. I enjoy life so much more when I do less. It isn't always easy with a toddler. From Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve it is VERY hard to make that happen. Stressors holiday and non-holiday in nature come from everywhere. On both G and my side of our families there is drama/crisis. It is not important what each family is dealing with - it is there. Both of these situation do not directly affect our families, but each effects our emotions and relationships. I am so thankful that over the last two days neither situation has interfered with celebrating Christmas. Christmas is not a day for dealing with situations. It was my hope that with both families we could enjoy being together and cherishing the day. Life can be dealt with another day and in its own time.

One thing that we do to help keep holidays manageable for me is to only go to one place a day. Many people try to goto multiple homes during the day. This just doesn't work for me and so we keep it to one. In general life works better if I would remember to do that through out the year. Yesterday we did my home with my family and two friend-families. Today we spent our traditional morning at home then headed to G's parents. In the next week we have three family members coming from out of town and the annual Christmas party of our "musical lovers anonymous" group. It has neatly worked out that each person/group gets their own day. Tomorrow I pick up my brother from the airport (after early morning shopping), Saturday is our Christmas party, Sunday we'll go to Papa's church with our niece. Monday is for errands and taking my brother back to the airport. Tuesday we are going to a Children's museum with the niece, Wednesday is our Settlers of Catan New Year's Eve party, Thurs is Papa's birthday and BB is spending the night over there with her cousin and I'll meet them at the airport to see the niece off and pick up Bekah. My other brother comes in and I'll see him Friday.

This Monday coming up I have another med check appointment. I don't have alot to go over with the doctor. Not much has changed and I have been handling my illness well. I have gone off Ambien which I miss at times, but it is one thing that I won't take when I get pregnant so I'm going off it now. Sleep is a big thing and with the holidays my schedule is definitely off. I'll sleep after the new year begins.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Keeping up with Medication during the Holidays

I have a good track record of being on top of my medications. I was not concirned that I missed a dose on Saturday night. These things happen and you take the medication as soon as you remember as long as it isn't too close to the next dose. That situation was handled easly. Last night I again forgot to take my medicine. I remember laying in a comfortably situated in the bed. There was a vague feeling that I had forgotten it so the intern struggle of getting out the comfortable bed began. I woke up this morning and stay in bed side won the argue. So I got out of bed and too my medication. Today's reaction wasn't as kind as Saturdays. I was no with it enough to take care of my daughter so I my mom for help with BB for the afternoon. I cried. I don't like not being able to take care of BB on my own. I think that I made the best decision for m and BB. I'm thankful that my mom was able to bring BB to the errand she need to run for the day. I am thankful that BB who doesn't know the medical terms to my illness does understand that mommy is sick and sometime doesn't feel well. She see me taking my daily medication and we tell her it is to keep mommy health. BB knew she was going to Grandma's because I needed to take care of myself. I'm starting to feel better and we have implemented a back-up alarm for my medications.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Mood Charting

Daily charting is a huge part of my maintenance plan. It helps me to keep an over all picture of how I am doing. It is Nov 9th and I have not printed out my chart for this month. This is a problem. However I'm going to choose to accept that I can't fix the last 9 days. Right now I'm printing it out and will get back on track. Holidays and a family situation are going to make the next months challenging. Charting is what will give me the first indication that something is wrong and that I need to get more help.

Donating Blood

Yesterday my church hosted a blood drive. I had a busy afternoon ahead with an activity for the girls in the T&T AWANA club. I left the house got a cup of coffee and headed over to the church. Does anyone see a problem with this? Didn't eat breakfast. I was willing to give others blood, but didn't stop to take care of myself. As a result I almost passed out. I am glad that I donated blood and will probably do it again. However it really highlighted a personal issue of mine that has been a struggle lately. Taking care of myself (personally and my family) vs. helping other people. The most common opportunity in my circle of friends is making meals for new moms. This is a great ministry that I have benefited from personally. My question to myself is what good is it to help another person while my home is not what it needs to be for my family. There are sometimes that I will be able to take that meal to someone. There are times that I need to only focus on my family. There are other times that it is all I can do to get up in the morning. It is all about balance. This is true for everyone. For me it is a matter of my mental health. If things get unbalanced I can go down hill.
1. Have my house ready by Nov 17th when I'm having people over. This will help me have my house in order before the holiday are in full swing.
2. Be ready to make a meal for the next new mom. I'm going to have to skip the mom that just had a baby last week. I am confident that enough people will sign up.
3. Be in a place where I can donate blood in 8 weeks.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Doctor's appointment

I had a really good Doctor's appointment last Monday for a medication check. This is a short appointment to see if my medicines are still working correctly. I am very fortunately that I haven't had to deal with alot of medicine adjustments. The 2nd medication we tried works for me. A year and 1/2 ago the additional OCD made things even better. During the appointment I show her my mood chart and notes from the last 3 months. Since I am still dealing with the memory issue I had one page back and front of notes plus 2 back up documents. It seemed like over kill to me, but I knew that I would have trouble answering accurately any questions she had if everything wasn't written down. I don't have to go back until Dec.

One really hard thing about mental illness is getting a correct diagnosis added to that finding the right medication. There are no cost efficient brain scans for bi-polar. Behavior is the easier way to diagnose. However if a person isn'tin the hospital under observation it is up to the person who is having mental issues to explain accurately what is going on inside their head. Right. There are very skilled Dr. who do the miraculous and figure out what is going on with mentally ill patients like me. However when I started this process I used my coping mechanisms and hid my problem. That was not helpful and it took a long time to get to the bottom of 'what was wrong'. Now I am much more eagar to cooperate with the system. It is an on-going challenge to accurately express to the doctor in 15 minutes what is going on with me. That is the main reason DH and I both see last year's hospitalization as a blessing. They recognized the OCD very quickly and kept me long enough to get medicine in my system. Now I spend quite a bit of time prepping for my med. check appointment. I look through my mood chart and symptom notes. I also check in with DH and other people on my support team.

The holidays are coming up and there are a few stressor out of my control. My goal and hope is to keep on track through the next 3 months.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Episode Aborted

For a definition and understanding of what a bipolar episode is click on this website.

In the past two weeks I have had quite a few stressful situations all happening in a short amount of time. Some of these are triggers (I'll post on that later). I know this because they are in my wellness notebook (post later). The first big trigger was my dad (who also is bipolar) being admitted to the hospital on an involutary 72-hour suicide watch on Aug 29th. Another trigger is the change of seasons. Not necessarily weather, but from summer schedule to fall schedule. The third trigger is that my memory-processing issue is getting worse. I can't remember anything and I feel LOST. Simple task require so much from me right now.

Last Saturday my DH and I realized that I had temporarily packed my schedule way to full. It is easy to do at the beginning of the school year. We didn't even notice until we were right in the middle of it. On Saturday we decided that after Sunday's activities which were back to back I would cut back my schedule. Well that was good in theory, but I was already so tired and close to the edge I didn't make it through my Sunday activities. I really belived that I HAD to go to a baby shower because I was on the planning team. Looking back this is not the case. I didn't have to go. Most of my friends including the honoree know my situation. It would have been completely fine to call a few people and say I needed to stay home. Especially since I had a leaders meeting of the one ministry I'm involved in at church that night. That should have been the only thing on my schedule that day. So due to my own lack of planning (or over planning) I had a meltdown Sunday afternoon. When I came home a mess my DH was able to help me calm down so that I could go to my meeting. Now I could have skipped the meeting, but this ministry outside of taking care of my family is the ONE thing that I'm really good at right now. It is the only outside committment that I consider mandatory. Since Sunday DH and I have worked an at home 72-hour plan that keeps me from having a full blown episode. Included in this plan:
1. Review activities and decrease schedule by one-third for at least 7-10 days.
2. Reduce stimulation (loud noise, light, talking). Keep days low-key.
3. Regulate sleep - no naps - in bed around 10pm wake up no earlier that 6am.
4. Monitor medicine intake.
5. Be positive and have sense of humor.

If my plan didn't work the next step would have been to call the doctor and get in for an appointment or go into out-patient or in-patient treatment.

My mood stablized on Tuesday. Last night I was able to effectively minister at church.

My dad is still in the hospital. He was on suicide watch for about 10 days. Today he is being transfered to another unit where he will be there for atleast a week. I will have to be very attentive to my feelings regarding this situation.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Last night I went to the grocery store to pick up a few items. In the check out one of the magazines made a statement about Angelia Jolie having:
WebMD's definition of "postpartum" is "After childbirth. Cf.: antepartum, intrapartum". I would like to offer my congratulations to Angelina on the birth of her twins Vivienne and Knox.
I'm guessing the magazine is referring to postpartum blues or depression. I don't keep up with celebrities. But if it is what is the big deal to them? It is something that she, her family and medical team can take care of together. I've been there. Giving birth is hard. Having two at once is exponentially harder. It take time for a mom to adjust physically and emotionally. I have faith that the people around her will love her though this time and she will come out better on the other end.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Successful 1st night of AWANA

Last night was the first night of AWANA club at our church. If you are not familiar with AWANA is a gospel based children's club for children 3-years-old to 6th grade. I am the co-director for the girls 3-6 grades. The director is under the commander of the whole AWANA program and over the leaders in the 3-6 grade. I have been working together with the other directors during the summer to get ready for last night (and the entire club year). Our leaders are amazing and most have been in AWANA longer than me....some 10, 15 and 20 years! My co-director is one of my biggest supporters with my bipolar. It is exciting to be able to successful work in a children's ministry at church within the limits of what I can handle. I don't do nursery - EVER! The people who know this are the coordinators that head the program so it isn't a big deal to them. They would rather I not get stressed out an freak out in nursery. In AWANA I'm responsible for the adults leaders. I'm responsible for the background work that isn't seen most of the time, but has to be done for club to run smoothly. I am going to continue to learn so much from the leaders who have been doing AWANA for many years and also are raising godly children. My job is to make their only responsibility on Wednesday nights investing in their clubbers lives. That is why they are in AWANA in the first place.

To summarize last night and my feeling the next day. I feel like last night was a success both as a club and personally. I feel energized and ready to work on my next AWANA project. That is one important key in life - do what energizes you and stop doing things that suck the life out of you.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Reflections from the retreat

One thing I journaled about was what is going on in my head. I would call it unrest but that is not entirely accurate. Park of what I struggle with is the void feeling. Not feeling on top of things, not remembers, not knowing intrinsically what to do not with out it written out in detail. Some of this has always been with me (learning disability); some of it is newer. Part of it is the effects of the medicine and part of it is part of the bipolar disorder. I feel very relaxed in my body except in my head which feels like I am missing something. So that begs the question "So what if I miss something?" And the answer goes to the core of me who has told myself "I'm not supposed to miss stuff. I'm known for being on top of things." I think that keeping on top of things is a valuable asset in life, but that coupled with my OCD is what landed me in a psych ward for 72 hours in 2007. It's not pretty but it is the truth.

I have worked out a lot of stuff in the last 16 months. But the one missing piece to the puzzle is the void in my brain. I can almost feel the fuzziness. The harder I try mentally to combat the feeling of not being with it - I get a headache in the front of my forehead. And thanks to the newly published book "Breaking the Bipolar Cycle" (see book list) I have a new piece to the puzzle. Chapter 10 is called "I thought I was smart, but I just can't perform". It outlines what I am experiencing as a information-processing problem and difficulties in working a declarative memory. I don't want to go into any more details of the book out of respect for the author's rights to their material. I highly recommend this book for people with bipolar spectrum disorder or friends and family of a person with the disorder.

What this book gives me is an affirmation of what I experience and terms in black and white that it is a part of the disorder. Even when my mood is stable I still have bipolar and side effects of it. When I am stable most people around me easily forget when I wasn't stable. But I have come to realize that I too think that stable means I'm in a sort of 'remission' until the next episode. That isn't how it is. I have a wellness plan that is necessary for me to keep my moods in check. I try to daily follow this wellness plan. In general it has become part of my lifestyle. I do get a little OCD when I can't follow it perfectly. I'm learning to give myself grace and not have a
"well I messed up I'll quit trying" attitude.

Because the mental challenges I face are not external it can be difficult for me to acknowledge them to myself and even harder to admit to others even if they are on my support team.

Personal Retreat

I took a personal retreat last weekend. I got a hotel in town. Only my DH knew my exact accommodations and he agreed to only call if it was an emergency. I used and got a studio hotel room...I'm hooked. I liked the room because it felt like I was back in my apartment before I got married and I was only responsible for one person - me. After I got married I moved into my DH's house which he had for a couple of years. I recreated the space of my apartment in the spare bedroom. It was my room. All my stuff - set up pretty much like my apartment bedroom. It was bigger so I was able to add a full sized table for scrapbooking. When we got pregnant that room was was going to become the nursery. I had pictures in my mind what it would look like - however when it came to the big day of disassembling my stuff I fell apart and cried - I mean really CRIED. DH was confused at my emotions. I tried to explain that I was giving up my space to the baby. I know it didn't make sense to him to be excited about a baby and decorating her room and at the same time resenting that the baby was taking my space. I struggle today to find a quiet space in my home with a toddler and a hard of hearing husband.

It is hard to take time to quiet my spirit but to coordinate that with the household seem impossible at times. Part of the "noise" in the house is all the things that need to get done. When I walk in the kitchen and see the sink overflowing with dishes there is an internal nudging or a scolding even that I need to do this task. If my OCD kicks in it adds NOW!

In the past I have taken to 'running away' once a week to a coffee shoppe - which if funny because they aren't very quiet. I intend to keep up the practice of getting "me" time once a week, but I want to get away from the notion that I'm "running away". I want it to be a time for me to enjoy a cup of coffee and the opportunity to read a book, journal or work on a crossword puzzle - hopefully uninterrupted.