Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Choosing Fun over Healthy

I want to vent and complain, but I can't. Not here. Not yet. Not about this. Partly because I'm hurt and angry, and the people I want to vent about are hurt and angry, and frankly we all need to take some time and calm down!

And now I've totally forgotten what I was going to write about instead. I'm truly a hot mess these days. I can't remember what I did an hour ago. Is it meds? Is it stress? Am I just going crazy? All of the above?

Anyway, I recently posted about my problems with bipolar disorder and addiction. I asked for friends willing to help me be accountable. This is hard for me... I say I want this, but it's not so easy to accept when they actually start doing it. I've said it before: I have a tendency to not only justify things on my own but have others around me who justify for me. They tell me I have every right to do what I'm doing because of this, that, and the other thing going on in my life or done to me.

This pretty much sums me up! Image from Autistm - Day by Day

Well, let me tell you, if you want someone who takes this accountability (and your well-being) seriously, TheBorgBlog is the person to have in your life. I was fortunate enough to meet her through Twitter at #wineparty. (Read her post #crankypants and #wineparty confessions... to find out more, especially if you're on Twitter and find yourself at home bored on a Friday night.) I began reading her blog - which I thoroughly enjoy - and tweeting with her. We've gotten to know each other through email and eventually texting. She's an awesome friend. And now she's helping hold me accountable.

A few things she knows about me:

  • It's important for me to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night to help manage my bipolar disorder.
  • I need to exercise at least a couple of days a week to help relieve stress and stay in shape. 
  • I tend to do things I want before the things I need. 
  • The details of my addiction. What kind it is, how it's affected my life lately, and so on.
  • Alcohol, while not my addiction, makes it more likely I'll give in to my addiction.
  • I need quiet time to myself to stay stable and sane.
Photo from Sugar Doodle. Check out Nicole's Value Posters for more!
So last night I had a plan: go home and check on the 5 teen boys in my house, pick up a few groceries and prep some healthy meals for myself for the week, go to the gym, go to bed by 10.  I went home. I saw the boys needed food, which meant going to my most hated place (Wal-Mart), and off I went. I also needed some cards, which take me forever to pick out, so I wound up being in that dreaded store for over an hour. I also had to stop for gas and go to Safeway for a few things. I don't like to work out after 8:30 or so because then I can't get to sleep. (All justifications/excuses, I realize.) So when a friend texted and invited me over for a glass of wine and daughter's birthday dinner, I said sure. Took the groceries home and headed over. 
TheBorgBlog very kindly, but firmly, pointed out to me that it's much more fun to go to someone's daughter's birthday party and be with people than stick to my plan to do things that are healthy for me. I wouldn't be taking time for myself, working out, or (probably) getting to bed on time. She pointed out the things I say  I want to do versus the things I end up choosing to do.  Which is exactly what got me into trouble last week. 

Another friend asked what I ate yesterday and when I told him, he was so kind as to point out that I probably feel so tired all the time because almost everything I eat comes from a box. 

Today's lunch. Marie Callender's Smoky Bacon & Cheddar Mac.

I continue to go forward - attending meetings, making appointments, setting bottom lines, and making healthier choices. I'm grateful for the people in my life who are stepping forward to help me be accountable for the choices I make - who are helping me really think about the choice and what could come of it. 

I wish I'd taken many of these steps years ago. I can't change that. But I can move forward much more positively.  Thank you all so much for helping me in my journey.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Being Bipolar Sucks Big Hairy Balls

I think the title pretty much sums up how I feel about being affected by this disorder. Bipolar, or manic-depressive, disorder for me is like living life on a constant roller coaster. I love roller coasters, don't get me wrong, but never being able to get off the ride would seriously diminish my enjoyment!

Sometimes I go through phases where I think the diagnosis was wrong. What I really have is severe social anxiety and depression. This is easy to believe for awhile because my depressive episodes have been much more frequent and severe than my manic ones. It gives me an excuse to insist that I can take an anti-depressant alone.

Welcome to the Jungle: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Bipolar but Were Too Freaked Out to Ask is a great book, a fairly easy read, for those suffering and for their loved ones. One of the things the the author talks about is our tendency to believe we aren't bipolar and then go off meds. 
Last week was a low point in my life, although I didn't think so at the time. I was energetic and ready to take on new things and meet new people. I wasn't sleeping.  Classic symptom, right? On my own and out-of-town, I drank too much and quickly spiraled out of control.  If this blog were anonymous, I'd share more details. Because I honestly believe that sharing details can help others who have also suffered.   But this blog isn't anonymous and there are those who would use it against me in a variety of ways, and it could also hurt others. So we'll have to suffice it to say that the week ended with me being embarrassed and ashamed and realizing that along with being bipolar I suffer from an addiction that I can't control on my own right now.  I realized that I have no clue how to set boundaries or have healthy relationships. I also managed to hurt someone very deeply and not for the first time. I also hurt a new friend and I'm sorry she had to see that very unattractive side of me. 

So from here I'm moving forward and making some changes. Establishing bottom lines in relation to addiction. Attending meetings, seeing my counselor, going back to my psychiatrist. Simplifying my life a bit and saying "goodbye" to some and "I hope you'll be around when I'm healthy but I don't expect you to wait for that" to others. Many of the relationships I have in my life right now are unhealthy and lack boundaries. There are those in my life I love but I know I can't be with - maybe just temporarily or maybe more permanently. I need to distinguish between love, dependency and addiction to people.

There's so little about me that I like right now. I need to fix that so I can truly love and like others. Some of my readers know I've said similar things in the past but didn't actually make the changes. I've started the changes already, and it's so very hard to stay strong and do what I know in my heart and in my head are the right steps even though they may cause some even more pain in the short term. I hope that my friends will help hold me accountable. Because one of my major problems is that I surround myself with people who help justify my poor decisions and actions.  Wanna help be my accountability partners? Give me your contact information and I'll let you know how you can help.  Let me know why you want to help.

Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder: Understanding & Helping Your Partner, another book I found very helpful. This is one I think needs to be revisited every few years. It helps identify triggers.

Be sure to check out Band Back Together for more resources and to read the stories of others (or share your own story).

Thank you to the many of you who have offered me positive comments and support!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bullied Teen; Bullied Adult defines bullying: to hurt, intimidate, or persecute (a weaker or smaller person).  I was -and maybe still am - a weaker smaller person. I was bullied in school. I realized this weekend that I'm still being bullied. 

I moved to Apache Junction during 5th grade. I was a petite, very nerdy little girl who loved school. I was that kid that drew sad faces on the calendar on school holidays.  I didn’t have cool clothes. I was shy. I was one of the poorer students. Of course I got picked on. But it didn’t turn into full on bullying until eighth grade.

What the hell was I thinking?! Yes, let's chop off all my hair, wear dorky glasses and take a picture
wearing a t-shirt, where something looks very wrong with my legs. 

Eighth grade had been a good year. I was a cheerleader. I had a great best friend.  And then it all fell to pieces. My memory has huge gaps (side effect of all the meds I’ve tried for my bipolar disorder over the years?), but unfortunately I remember the fear.  My best friend was hanging out with someone new a lot. Boys were in the picture. She asked me if I thought she was a slut. I told her no, but she was starting to act like one of the more slutty girls we knew. That somehow turned into I’d said she was a slut like the triplets – the most popular (and mean) girls in school.  I was so afraid to go to school I made a very juvenile attempt to slit my wrists. I went to the principal. Nothing changed. The next two years of my life were hell.

OMFG. Really?! How did I have any friends - or a boyfriend, ever?
My freshmen year was a nightmare, and the beginning of my sophomore year wasn’t much better. I was bullied everywhere I went.  If I walked home from school, people threw things out bus windows at me. If I rode the bus, they’d walk by my seat and slam my head against the window. I was picked on in the locker room during PE. They made me cry between classes. Lunch was the worst as I tried to find a place to hide and be left alone.  I was deemed a slut before I’d ever even had sex. If by chance I found a guy interested despite their best intentions to ruin my life, he was quickly persuaded away by one of their group.  A boyfriend even got me to a dance so the girls could corner me while he dumped me and left with one of them.  At the movies I was chased into a nearby store where the employees were nice enough to let me call my parents to pick me up.  Going to school officials was useless.  Most “friends” I trusted were persuaded to join the band wagon and betray and hurt me.  All I had ever wanted was to be like them. Smart, pretty, funny, popular – and not afraid all the time.

Nerdy high school me. I'm pretty sure I had a perm in this picture.
The majority of the bullying ended my sophomore year when enough was enough.  The bus drove by, one of the main bullies yelling out the window, and I yelled back! Doesn’t sound like much, but I hadn’t done it before. I’d always just quietly taken the abuse, usually in tears. I went home, told my dad I was likely getting in a fight the next day, and went to bed. The next day, sure enough, she came up and got in my face. But this time I didn’t cry. I didn’t back down. I didn’t run away. I talked back. She swung at me. That’s the last thing I remember of the “fight”.  I blacked out. The next thing I knew, we were each being held back by teachers and our parents were on their way. My dad took me to the doctor since she’d slammed my head against the metal door guard. The school tried to expel me and my dad went off on them for letting me go through years of hell and for trying to punish a straight A student with no incidents before this who had finally stood up for herself.  

The bullying didn’t stop completely, but I was no longer afraid to leave my house. I was done crying between classes, rushing and trying to find the shortest distance away from my bullies.  My junior year I was confronted at the mall. I blacked out again. I’m not really sure what happened, although I apparently responded with some not very nice things that resulted in her punching me.  That was the final straw for me and I packed up and moved to California to live with my mom.

I'm 38 years old now. Up to about a year ago I still had nightmares at least twice a month. I'd wake up filled with fear and have to remind myself it's been over for a long time. This weekend the nightmares came back. And that, I'm afraid, is a blog for another day...

And here is me today. Still kinda nerdy. Hair kinda messy.