House Hunting

January 16th, 2017

We got a wonderful surprise the other night. Bill’s mom took us out to dinner and delivered some awesome news about a decision she made that would affect Bill and me.

Since Bill’s brother died at Thanksgiving, that meant that the money she was leaving as an inheritance to the two of them would no longer be divided – all of it would now go to Bill.

So she said that rather than waiting till she died, which could be 20 years from now, she would like to see him use the money now.

So she wants us to buy a house and use the inheritance money for a down payment. But here’s the staggering news – the amount of the inheritance is $100,000!!! So that would mean that we wouldn’t have to borrow very much money from the bank at all and our mortgage payments would definitely be lower than what we’re paying in rent now.

Isn’t that awesome? We are so excited. But here’s the thing. We can’t get TOO excited, or our bipolar disorder will suffer. I’m ok, but I’m afraid my husband’s already is.

I caught him still up at 1 in the morning last night when I got up to go to the bathroom. I’m afraid this new house thing is going to keep him up nights, and he needs to get the right amount of sleep so he doesn’t go into a manic episode.

This is a really good thing, tho. And at a point in our lives, where we’re older, and we couldn’t have gotten a house any other way, because we’re both on disability for our bipolar disorder.

I can’t believe how good the Lord is to me. God really does answer prayers. Most of all, I’m grateful for His love for me, but I’m so grateful for the decision Bill’s mom made and for her generosity, that will enable us to buy a house.

We are so enjoying house hunting now. It’s something for us to do together, and it’s so much fun! And we’re not in a hurry, because we’re not on a lease where we’re renting now. So we can take our time and find the perfect house for us. God is SO good!

Wishing you joy and stability,

Remember God loves you and so do I,
Michele

Getting Ready for the Holidays

December 19th, 2016

Well, I’ve been getting ready for the holidays, and trying to stay stress-free and out of an episode, like I do every year. I’ve also been trying to keep everyone around me from going into an episode as well.

See, my husband’s brother, Mike, died on Black Friday, so everyone around here is still in mourning. His mom has bipolar disorder, and is prone to depressive episodes.

She has been so depressed since Mike died that she hasn’t even gotten out of bed.

But she is going to have the family Christmas dinner at her house this Saturday, so we’re hoping she’ll come round for that, at least.

But in case she doesn’t, my husband and I are going over to her house on Friday to help her cook for Saturday. Even if we have to do all the cooking for Saturday’s meal, she still intends to have everyone over for Christmas Eve. She said even if she doesn’t get out of bed, she still wants everyone to come over.

I don’t know how well this dinner is gonna go over, since everyone is so depressed about Mike and all. I’m trying to keep my husband (who also has bipolar) from being too depressed and, believe me, that isn’t easy.

It’s hard for me to keep my own spirits up when everyone around me is so depressed, but I’m trying.

I just got done wrapping my husband’s Christmas presents and putting them under the tree. That helped me keep in the spirit.

Plus, of course, I’m praying a lot. I mean, a LOT. And that definitely helps. And staying busy helps as well. But not TOO busy. I don’t wanna go the opposite way and go into a manic episode.

Well, here’s to hoping that you have a great holiday this year. I wish you a wonderful Christmas, and a happy New Year.

Wishing you joy and stability,

Remember God loves you and so do I,
Michele

Take the Bad Days with the Good

December 5th, 2016

When you have bipolar disorder, you have to take the bad days with the good (which is true for life in general, but especially true when it comes to this disorder).

You can’t take it to the extreme, however. What am I talking about? Well, first of all, you can’t assume that every time you feel bad or are in a bad mood that it means you are in a bipolar depressive episode. Bad days are going to happen, no matter what. They even happen to people who don’t have bipolar disorder.

What I’m saying is that although you still have to be vigilant and watch for triggers, and signs and symptoms of a bipolar episode, you don’t need to assume that every time you feel bad that it’s an episode in the making, either. Remember, bad days are going to happen – it’s just part of the disorder.

You just have to take the bad days with the good when you have bipolar disorder, but just remember that you can get through them. When they come, just tell yourself that this is NOT a bipolar episode, but only a bad day. Then try to be positive, and do something to take your mind off it (which you can usually accomplish by doing positive things).

When you set your mind on positive thinking, positive actions usually follow. First, accept that that this is only a bad feeling, or a bad mood, or a bad (bipolar) day, and not an episode.

Then turn your mind to the positive, like thinking you can get through this, as you have before. Try thinking positive things, like being grateful that you are not, in fact, in a bipolar episode.

Some people even make a Gratitude List, finding that it helps them to turn their mind toward the positive. To do this, take a pen and paper and list ten things for which you are grateful (if you can list more than ten things, all the better). This will help to put you into a more positive frame of mind.

Other people use positive affirmations. These are sayings that you can write down and put in prominent places like mirrors or the refrigerator and look at to remind you to be positive, such as: “I can do this,” or “I can handle anything,” or “I have been here before and made it through, and I will make it through again.” You get the idea.

Positive affirmations can be anything you want them to be. Even “You are loved” is a positive affirmation, and many people use this one effectively.

Then turn your positive attitude into positive action. Do volunteer work and help someone else. Work on your hobby. Do something creative and/or constructive. Try reading something uplifting. Listen to some quiet or inspirational music. Talk to a friend, family member, counselor, or clergy person.

The main thing is to remember that you don’t have to let the bad days get you down. They are only temporary. Remember that the bad feelings will always pass, as will the bad bipolar days. Good days will always return.

Wishing you joy and stability,

Remember God loves you and so do I,
Michele

A Simple Trick

November 14th, 2016

I don’t know about you, but one of my bigger problems with dealing with my bipolar disorder – to this day – is organization. Quite frankly, I am one of the most disorganized people you will ever meet.

Maybe you are in the same boat. There’s a trick that I use to help keep my life sane; maybe it will work for you as well.

This trick is as simple as a to-do list. Many people use them as part of their day to day lives, regardless of if they have a mental disorder or not. They can help keep anybody’s life just a little bit saner, and a lot more organized.

To-do lists are meant to be a task list. The problem comes when it’s time to organize the tasks. There are always new tasks being added and what was a priority 5 minutes ago might not be anymore.

I would suggest looking at your to-do list like a nurse looks at triage in an emergency room. You know how they have, say three patients, and the infant with the fever has priority over the person with the cough and the one with the broken bone? But then person number 4 comes in with heart failure and passes them all up.

Sometimes our priorities have to be that way, too. You might start off your day saying that getting diapers is most important, then comes dinner, then if you still have time walking the dog would be nice, too. But then if your child becomes sick, taking them to the doctor outranks the rest. The diapers are still important, but now they will have to wait.

You might keep track of your current priorities on your to-do list by placing numbers beside each item in pencil. If it needs to change, it can be as simple as erasing the old number and putting on a new one.

When you are scheduling, make sure you don’t overwhelm yourself. On one to-do list only put tasks for today, and on another put future tasks. Schedule in breaks when you are able. Remember that your list isn’t absolute. If something needs to change, that’s okay too.

To-do lists have helped me out immensely in dealing with my disorder. Without my list I would forget to refill my medications, to go to the grocery store, or even sometimes to go to work! Hopefully they’ll help you as much as they’ve helped me.

Wishing you joy and stability,

Remember God loves you and so do I,
Michele

Life is Good

October 31st, 2016

Recently I saw a bumper sticker on the back of a car that read, “Life is Good.” I thought about that today and, you know, life can still be good even if you have bipolar disorder, because life is what you make it.

If you have a bad attitude, chances are your life isn’t going to be all diamonds and roses. However, if you have a positive attitude, IN SPITE OF the fact that you have bipolar disorder, you will most likely have a good life.

I’ve had my ups and downs because of my bipolar disorder. Does that mean that life isn’t good for me? NO. It just means that I have temporary problems that need to be solved. I call my psychiatrist’s office for help, because I know it isn’t something I can handle by myself. There was a time when I self-medicated my bipolar symptoms with drugs and alcohol, but I’m not that person any more. Today I ask for help when I need it.

Life is still good, even though I have bipolar disorder.

I have a wonderfully supportive, giving, and loving husband (we just celebrated our ten-year wedding anniversary) who really helps me stay stable. He also has bipolar disorder, so he can relate to the down days I get sometimes, and can also give me a reality check when I get a little on the manic side.

I have a beautiful home in which I live, with lots of pictures of family on my bookshelves. I am surrounded by the things I love, and feel so comfy and cozy when I’m home.

My parents are active and healthy, and I talk to my mom every day, even though they live in Florida and I live in Tennessee.

I have a great (older) car that runs and has nothing wrong with it (yes!) and gets me where I need to go.

I have such a great dog, too. Sunshine is great for petting and stroking when I’m feeling down (and even when I’m not!). It’s also nice to be needed. I love that expression, “Someday I hope to be the person that my dog already thinks I am.”

I have friends, and even friends from high school that I keep in touch with on Facebook.

I have three great sons, and they bring such joy to my life. I am so proud of them. I also have three wonderful granddaughters who I love with all my heart.

I have a blessed, blessed relationship with the Lord that carries me though even the hardest times in my life, with the ups and downs of living with bipolar disorder.

And I have a job that I love (I can’t believe I get paid for this) writing for www.bipolarcentral.com. I get to work from home, so there is no real stress.

I may not have everything that I want, but I do have everything that I need, and I am truly grateful for that.

So there it is, folks! All the makings of a good life, tied up with a bow of happiness. IN SPITE OF having bipolar disorder, I am happy. So for those of you who are struggling, please don’t give up hope. This life could be yours, too. Because life really is good, even if you have bipolar disorder.

Wishing you joy and stability,

Remember God loves you and so do I,
Michele

It’s Not the Answer That Really Matters

October 10th, 2016

Today I’m having trouble coming up with some moving, intellectual, quotable words of wisdom for you to take away with you that would change your lives for the better!  So, instead, I’m going to use someone else’s words:  “It’s not the answer that really matters, but the search itself that makes us who we are.”  Roberta Croteau said those wonderful, inspiring words.

Why do I say wonderful and inspiring?  Because, as you know, I am not only a person with bipolar disorder myself, but I also support a husband with the disorder.  And this saying has helped me quite a bit.

I’ll tell you why.  I tend to be a perfectionist and, therefore, sometimes I try to wear a big “S” on my chest and play Super-Supporter for my husband.  In fact, sometimes I put his needs before my own.  Then, when I feel so tired, I wonder where all my time and energy went!

So what does this saying mean to me?

“It’s not the answer that really matters…”

Well, to me the answer is the cure for bipolar disorder.  It doesn’t matter to me any more that there is no cure for the disorder.

I’ve accepted the fact that there is no magic pill for my husband that will keep him from occasionally becoming depressed (or even manic, although that rarely happens with him).

So, answer aside, let’s be realistic and work with what we’ve got – the search itself.

To me, the search is the day-to-day living with bipolar disorder.  The bipolar disorder in someone you care about very much.

To live with someone so close to you, as I do my husband, and watch them struggle every day with something they can’t control, is so very difficult.

I know he tries so hard to control his bipolar disorder, but it is still a chemical imbalance, and that part he has no control over.  Those chemicals can fire off any time they want to, and then he experiences those mood swings and, even my “S” can’t help him then.

“…but the search itself that makes us who we are.”

This Friday we will be celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary. I can’t believe it’s been 10 years! But they have been wonderful years. He is not only a wonderful husband, but also a wonderful supporter to me and my bipolar disorder, and I love him even more today than I did 10 years ago.

May you be as happy as we are.

Wishing you joy and stability,

Remember God loves you and so do I,
Michele

One Thing You Can’t Afford

September 19th, 2016

If you have bipolar disorder, there’s one thing you can’t afford – complacency. Complacency is just too darned close to giving up. And giving up, for us, can really do us in. It can mean that the bipolar wins and we lose, and we just can’t let that happen.

Complacency can go from simply ignoring something or not caring all the way to the darkest depression imaginable, and everything in between. And if you don’t think you have control over this, you’re wrong, because you do.

If you feel yourself becoming complacent, notice that you have become complacent, you can do something. Anything. But don’t let it go on. Do something about it. Take control (whether it’s of yourself or of the situation).

You can become complacent just by putting up with something for too long, when you should’ve done something about it. Well, it’s never too late! Do something about it now! Take charge of the situation now! Be empowered – take back your control, and no longer be complacent.

Complacency implies not caring – not caring about what is happening around you and/or to you. Be proactive! Do something about it! CARE about it! Even though you’re starting in the middle, at least you are starting somewhere, and that matters. It will change things.

You can make things better for yourself by coming out of your complacent fog and making a decision to get involved in your own life. Don’t stand for what you have been letting go on any longer – stop it!

You cannot afford to allow complacency to have any hold over your life. YOU need to be in control. YOU need to be proactive. YOU need to be involved. YOU need to make decisions. YOU need to be front and center in your own life.

You can fight this. You CAN do it! Complacency no longer has to have any reign over your life. You no longer have to suffer from that bipolar episode you fell into because of complacency – you can bring yourself out of it. Just try! Just push! Just make the effort! Just take control!

You can change things. You can make a difference. You can take the reins back. You can get back in control of your own life! Just do it!

Ok, I’ll get off my soap box now. :)

Wishing you joy and stability,

Remember God loves you and so do I,
Michele

No Crisis is OK!

August 23rd, 2016

You know, sometimes it’s ok that there’s no crisis going on at the moment to deal with!

I like it better when things are just going along quietly. I really do.

My life is basically stress-free. I worked very hard to get it that way. But it needs to be that way to keep me out of bipolar episodes.

Before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, my life was very chaotic. I went from episode to episode, from crisis to crisis. I really don’t know how I survived it!

That’s no way to live. It was SO stressful! So it was imperative that I get the stress out of my life when I was diagnosed.

The first, and biggest thing, I had to deal with was work. Unfortunately, there was just no way I could keep on working and stay out of episodes. Work was just way too stressful for me.

At that point, when I even got anywhere near to my job, I would start to have an anxiety attack in my car, so that by the time I arrived at work, I was a nervous wreck.

There was just no way around it – I had to quit work and go on Disability. I was VERY lucky – I got Disability on my first try. Of course, that was before everyone and their uncle was trying to get on Disability (back in 2005).

But things got relatively calm very quickly after that.

I also had to stay out of the toxic relationships I had pretty much been known for in my manic episodes for so many years. That really helped, too.

It took a while, but eventually I met the most wonderful man in the world, who also has bipolar disorder and understands me so well because of it. Next month we’ll have been happily married for TEN years!

But it took being stable with my bipolar disorder and de-stressed in my life in order to handle that relationship.

The rest of my life has remained very happy as well, without the stress in it.

I work part-time online for BipolarCentral.com, and I love it! I have been doing it for 11 years now, and it’s great working from home.

And when I’m not working or doing things around the house, I love to read. I read 2-3 books a week, so one of my favorite places to go is the library (I couldn’t afford my addiction otherwise!).

So I live a very peaceful life. And because of it, I haven’t had an episode in NINE years! So I’m here to tell you how crucial keeping stress out of your life is.

Wishing you joy and stability,

Remember God loves you and so do I,
Michele

You Never Know

August 8th, 2016

Recently, someone very dear to me ended up in the hospital in a severe bipolar episode. This was the first time she had ever been actually diagnosed with the disorder and, believe it or not, she is in her 60′s.

It reminded me of how devious this bipolar disorder can be. It can sneak up on us at any time.

Statistics say that bipolar disorder is normally diagnosed between 17-22 years of age. Those who are diagnosed at an early age are the lucky ones.

I wasn’t diagnosed until I was in my forties. I wish I had been diagnosed that early, for all the anguish I had to go through.

Now I think of this loved one of mine, and the years she has had to suffer, being misdiagnosed all those years with a “simple depression” instead of bipolar disorder.

If she had been on the right medication, imagine how much better her quality of life would have been?

It made me think of those who have the disorder and have been diagnosed already.

I know we struggle with whether to tell others that we have bipolar disorder or not. Well, although I respect that it’s a personal decision, I do have this to say about it, in light of what has just happened.

I spoke to this person on Monday. I shared with her some of my story that she had not known before – some of the deeper, darker parts of it, such as my hospitalizations and suicide attempts, all due to the bipolar disorder.

Because I had shared so openly and honestly, she also shared what had been going on with her, things that she had not shared with anyone.

The more we talked, the more she trusted me. I was able to tell her about the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder. Oh, not diagnosing her, of course, since I’m not a doctor or anything, but just asking her if she had them. She admitted that she had every one, and was surprised, as if I could read her mind! I just told her that I have gone through the same thing.

We hung up the phone after awhile, and what I did not know was that she had gone onto work right after we spoke and at work had broken down into a full-blown episode and had to go to the hospital by ambulance, where she was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

She has now been discharged, is on the right medication, has a good psychiatrist, therapist, support system, and is well on the road to recovery.

So why did I tell you this story?

Because you never know when what you share of your own story will help the next person.

Wishing you joy and stability,

Remember God loves you and so do I,
Michele

Intermittent Explosive Disorder

July 18th, 2016

My husband has been diagnosed with something called Intermittent Explosive Disorder.

He has bipolar disorder, so I thought his bad anger outbursts were part of his mania, and didn’t think any more of it.

But he had seen an article about this Intermittent Explosive Disorder on the Internet, and it described what he was going through to a T, so he got it checked out.

This type of angry outburst is different than the angry outbursts of bipolar disorder.

With bipolar, you only have outbursts this bad maybe a couple times a year, if that.

With IED, it can be a couple times a week! And with my husband, it had gotten that bad, unfortunately.

I mean, I was walking around on eggshells all the time, afraid of saying or doing anything to make him mad.

If I did (and it was usually over something small or inconsequential), he would just explode at me! I mean, not just get mad, but irrationally explode!

Sometimes he wouldn’t even make sense! And there was absolutely no reasoning with him when he got like that.

And it completely took him over. When it happened, he was just NOT like himself at all! I didn’t even recognize him as my husband.

But just as quickly as it started, it would be over. And he would be SO apologetic!

But I would be wiped. Emotionally drained. And mistrustful. I would be so hurt. And wondering when the next explosion would happen.

I even wondered whether we should go for marriage counseling, that’s how bad it was. And I talked to him about it.

But that’s when he read that article on the Internet. And he talked to his doctor about it instead. Because this article said there was a drug that was helping people that had IED.

That drug was Prozac. So he asked his doctor to put him on it.

That was over a month ago. And there hasn’t been one single outburst since then!

Praise the Lord!

Hopefully, this post will help you if you’ve been going through the same thing.

Wishing you joy and stability,

Remember God loves you and so do I,
Michele