Saturday, January 23, 2016

Support Group Beyond Two Sentences

Living with bipolar disorder, I'm always looking for rocks in my life. Places, routines, people, tools I can depend upon that will help stabilize me and also be there for me when I'm not doing so great (like when I'm a blubbering, vomiting, nervous wreck).

Lately, for me that's been my support group. We meet every Tuesday in a nearby location. It's specifically for folks living with mental illnesses. It's only for folks living with mental illnesses. No mental health workers (unless one of us does that for a living), no family, no friends. It's just us supporting each other.

I was nervous to go, the first time, but quickly got hooked. I really don't feel alone when I'm there. My friends are great, but they don't always _get_ it (nor do they claim to). When I talk about the ups and downs, they can only imagine.

This group is swell. If I mention suicidal ideation, they can relate because they've been there. A lot of them understand mania and know how much you can dread a crash into depression.

We ask each other advice. It feels better asking someone advice if you know they understand. If you know they'e been there or maybe they're there now.

It helps to have someone go, "I know." It helps to have someone understand.

It's funny to have a group of people to laugh about mania with. Or laugh about feeling like a "normie." That one always gets me laughing 'cause we're never going to be normies. It just don't happen that way. We'll find ways to fit in, we find our own ways to cope, but we're not going to be the same.

The group focuses on connections as a theme, too, which I like. Folks quickly jump in to meet a need of another member through time, service, and care. Each meeting, I see someone rise up to help another member. We encourage each other to do something about our problems, find ways to make it work. Take steps forward.

Between this and my counseling sessions, my week has it's rhythm that I need to cling to. I need both. Counseling is good for grounding me and for reassurance that I'm on the right path. Support group? It's to not feel so isolated.

I love that group and I'm grateful.

No Thanks, Bipolar.

I still have a hard time with my diagnosis.

I still hope this will all end. I still hope I will get better. I hope the roller coaster ride will stop and that I can get off.

But none of this will happen, ever. The best that can happen is that the symptoms will be managed by taking lithium every day for the rest of my life.

Good thing I feel good about taking lithium.It's an element - just that. I have no problem with it.

I've got all of my hopes that will never come true. Those really.. really... aren't nice.
But I do have some things I'm grateful for. These are realities.

I'm grateful for my support group that has shown me so much unconditional love in tangible ways.
I'm grateful with a stable home full of loving people (all 10 of them).
I'm grateful for health insurance and smarts doctors helping me.
I'm grateful for medication that works.
I'm grateful for a support group that understands me.

I'm grateful to know that I have the tools needed to make the most of this mental illness.

I'm still learning to accept who I am and figure out who that person is. I'm sure not grateful for bipolar disorder, I hate it so much and everything it has done to me, but I am grateful for the life I have and where I'm headed.

Neo by AlphaSmart

My dad just gave me something I've been wanting since I was in high school. It's a tool we used in third grade in Mrs. Comb's class when we made our class cookbook. To get us to practice our typing skills and creating a multi-step product, she had us each pick recipes. We then had to type them up, print it out, and illustrate it for a book we each got to take home.

I'm currently writing on a NEO by Alphasmart. It's like a giant glorified calculator in the sense that it has a liquid-crystal display. Black on green. No back-lights, no internet, no apps, no images. Just text. The internet dubs it a "simple digital typewriter" which is what I needed. I wanted to write but I didn't want to use my laptop.

It runs on three AA batteries which every source say keep it going for a a significantly long time. One source said that you can get a year out of those three batteries with heavy use (just verified this on the official website).

I likely used the AlphaSmart 2000 which came out in 1997. That was the third generation. The Neo model I write on now came out in 2004. They're no longer made as for 2013.

Generally, these go for $20. Not bad, eh. This one, we found for $4.99 at Value Village. Either way, it's a good deal. I've been wanting one for years. I poked around the internet and a lot of other writers dig 'em. There are other similar tools but they cost ridiculous amounts when this does the job for cheap. We're a satisfied crew. It's got 50 reviews on Amaazon and 5 gold stars.

This started back when I was in a huge swing of blogging, back around 2009 or 2010. I knew I wanted to type, but was fed up with having to be on a computer to do it. I wasn't down with the screens. I like to write before bed but I know that the lit screens can mess with my sleep habits.

So here I have it.
My own little computer to haul around.

This is File 1 and I've got 7 more files to fill until this thing is topped off (200 pages of text max).

Then, I just plug it into my computer, open a word processing program, click "send," and like magic, the text transfers onto the open word processing page. I can also have it insert the text directly into a blog post, no software needed. Basically all it does is emulate a keyboard. It memorizes my keystrokes and then inputs them into my computer.

I'm stoked.
Hopefully this is what it'll take to crack me again. I miss writing and know it will be a part of the healing process.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Potato Guide to Making Friends When Bipolar

When I learned I was bipolar, I found myself thinking I was unloveable. I was scared to get close to anyone, feeling like my mental illness rendered me dangerous and useless.

These are all lies.
Every single one.

The other day I encountered another human who expressed a similar sentiment.

"How do you make friends when... I'm scared to make friends knowing I'm...."

Here's what I've figured out for new friends. This is for me. It's been working for me. It isn't for everyone.

1. Early on, they need to now I'm bipolar.

This can't be a secret to any of my friends. Why? My friends are my support team, to varying degrees. It doesn't mean they're my therapists. I'm grateful as they all play different parts in my life. Some are great for getting out of the house with, others commiserate, others are good at nurturing me.

2. They need to know what this looks like.

The good. The bad. The ugly.

My friends know how my bipolar manifests itself. It's not their job to keep an eye on me, but a lot of them do. If I'm acting off,

3. Some of them even know how to help me.

They know how they can support me. I am so grateful when they do. It's not their job to help me. All I expect is that they respect me.

4. And I know when to see a therapist, not a friend.

Friends are not therapists, but they can be therapeutic.

5. I have a list of Things you Don't do to Friends

For me, a mood disorder can mean I'm hella irrational at times. I have a list burned in my brain of things to not do to friends. Friends don't always stick around long if you're abusive, no matter how much you can attribute to your mental illness. Some might, but I don't feel like testing it.

  • No long, late night angry angsty texts that never end.
  • If I feel my anger rise to a certain level, I know to run.
    • In turn, my friends have to respect that I need to run (it almost never ever, ever, ever happens). If they don't, I know they're not a safe friend for me to have. Nothing, nothing good comes from rage that goes beyond a certain degree.
  • No sending emails when angry, ever!
    • When frustrated, write thoughts in a word processor and then do nothing. This can vent out some frustration.
  • No attacking character, the core of who they are.
    • Unless if it's in a calm, well thought out way that's in love with very good constructive reasons that were thought about for a while and that the nature of the friendship is to speak like that. If this is happening, though, it's not an attack.
  • Friends are not therapists. Don't use them as such.
6. Figure out ways to love and support them.

This is within my emotional capabilities of the time, of course. Different for everyone.

7. Never take them for granted.

Side Note: There are times when I encounter someone that I tend to act up, more, around. Someone where, being around them, for some reason or another, lines up with my feelings of frustration, anger, or anxiety.

If this happens, I try to figure out why (frequently with my counselor) or on my own. I don't try to make things work and fit if I don't have the energy to make it so. If they're new in my life, not woven into my life, then I won't hesitate to let it be and walk away. I'm not in a place where I can afford to be around humans that bring out my worst. That can do a lot of damage in a few different ways and I don't have as much energy as I'd like to work through things.

Mild Confrontation = Misfiring Amygdala

I used to be great at it, sometimes I still am, but right now I have a struggle with confrontation. If things are a bit off for me, or I need them otherwise, sticking my hand up and putting out a few words can seem like a great struggle.

It's unusual for me. I used to take pride in how I could address situations but these past two weeks, I've just been letting things pummel over me.

Sleep, as someone with bipolar disorder and as a Margaret, is crucial to my well being. Sleeping in can be vital, just as routine, so when I'm woken up before I'm ready, it's a "thing."

I've got a lovely housemate who lives upstairs.
No qualms with her personality, she's loving and kind. Only thing is, she doesn't realize how far sound carries -- or that I hear every, every single step she makes. Now the steps, dude, nothing you can do about that. Step away, I get that. The past few mornings, though, I've been waking up to this,



Jumping at 5:30 AM.

My folks got me a noise machine to mask out when she runs the blender and coffee grinder at 5 AM (it works great! I sleep through it all) but this new development in her routine wasn't one I could keep up with.

Waking up to banging is not idyllic, for me.
Waking up at 5:30 AM is not doable, for me.

So I knew I needed to say something to her. It's not like she's got ill intentions or is even thinking about how it affects me (it just wasn't on her radar).

Right after the pounding, this morning, I rolled out of bed unwillingly and went upstairs to ask her to skip the jump-part of her routine (she likes to exercise in the morning).

Of course, she understood instantly and was apologetic and I suspect jumping won't happen again in the morning.

Problem solved, right?

And then there was the aftermath that I got to deal with. This is why I'm writing. Asking your roommate to not jump above your head at 5:30 AM isn't really a thing.

I was experiencing a new set of feelings I'm not used to. As I took a step down the steps, I felt like my leg was going to give way. My legs felt weak, like gelatin desserts, and I didn't trust 'em wholeheartedly to get me back to my bedroom.

I would attribute that to standing up too fast, but I know what that's like for me and it involves the world turning black.

My head was pounding, my heart was pounding and racing.

It felt like some poorly written drama, but it was all happening in extremes (extremes for me based on my experiences). Generally, my body reacts to uncomfortable situations with brain-prickling and a stomach ache. Here, my body was reacting with sheer terror.

I think just means my amygdala was misfiring. It is pretty awful and knowing when I'm in danger and when I'm not. In this circumstance, it registered strongly in my brain, "DANGER!! DANGER!!" even though there was no danger, not even anger.

It was bizarre.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Don't Want the Anti-psychotics

The thing about mental illness is.. is..

They just put me on anti-psychotics.

When the doc told me that, I was surprised and taken aback, but rolled with it. I asked her, "What did you say that this is?"

"A anti-psychotic, mood stabilizer and..." and something or other.

150 mg of extended release Seroquel.

Then I went home and did my research. I saw what the experience of others was on the internet. Now, I know the internet can sensationalize and only show extremes, but I read over 50 accounts of folks' experience with this med.

First, it's not a lil' med you slip in. It's a full blown anti-psychotic and powerful stuff. It makes you sleep. It makes you gain weight. It can make you feel disconnected and zen. It works! It can work swell! But I've also heard you can become dependent upon it.

Reading and reading, I kept thinking, "I don't need this... why am I on this? Why does she think I need this?" and then "I don't want this! I won't take it."

I know I'm hypo-manic right now, so I know my judgement is skewed. This is one of the worst parts of bipolar disorder, not trusting my own judgement 'cause I know I might be swinging too hard.

Anyways, I know I might not have good insight, but my gut (??) goes, "DON'T DO IT!"

I'd rather double the therapy and up my lithium a bit, not add in this stuff.
I'd rather learn to cope with the symptoms - I think I can do this.

Seroquel does work, sure. I just don't know that I'm so far gone that I need it.

This is where I'm confused.

I want to talk to someone. I want to talk to someone who understands! I want to talk to someone who gets it. I want to talk to someone who has been there. But I don't know who to call. I don't know who gets it.

My decision, as of this morning, was to just go straight back to my psychiatrist's and ask 'em why they put me on it. Why do they think I need this?

Can't I just learn to cope with this as me?

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015!

I've only cried three times today, so I'd say I'm doing alright.

I woke up this morning and realized it was Christmas and felt eager to get out of bed. No dread or anything. In relaying this to Mom 10 minutes later, I started to cry out of relief.

It's been a year since I "became bipolar" and it's been the lousiest year ever. In all of the muck, though, I'm grateful, because I have some amazing people supporting me.

Blogging is something I miss, but I just don't have the energy for it. I'm hoping it will come back as a coping mechanism, as I think it does do good. Besides energy, my attention span is shot. I used to be able to hyper-focus on writing out a piece and now I tend to not get past a paragraph.

The whole family is at home, right now. Ian, Dad, and Mom. We all met up a bit past midnight, last night. We're all wearing matching bird shirts, now!

Monday, December 21, 2015


I wonder who I would be, what would happen if I went off of my meds.
I wonder that sometimes...

then I remember that when I forget just one dose, I cry and restaurants if there are people in them and go back to wanting to kill myself or die or something about not being there.

So I keep taking em.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Support Group

I started going to a new support group.

It's full of people like me and I love it. It's nice to be around others who can relate -- not looking in from the outside.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

sometimes you hate everything about everything
by you
I mean I

'cept I don't hate everybody.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

November 2015 Update

Seems I've gotten down to one blog post a month.

Since my diagnosis with bipolar disorder, I've simplified my life immensely. No Facebook. No dancing. I don't see many of my friends any more 'cept for a small crew of folks I truly trust. My household of 11 gives me all the social stimulation I really need.

Life is structured routine to dance around with.

I spend a great deal of time in the comfort of my very own bedroom which I adore. It's my room and a place where I can sleep each night and owe nobody nothing ('cept for rent). This room comes with no emotional obligation and I don't have to tip-toe around emotions.

I go to university.
I work.

I see the doctors rather regularly and they keep an eye on me.

I'm learning to recognize and manage the symptoms and my medications work wonders.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Interstate Driving

Sometimes I want to call myself horrific names for things I do or can't do that I want to do.
I demean myself for where I'm at and how I am coping with things.
I shame myself for not being like my other friends.

One of the best pieces of advice I was given was to not call myself any names, or say things to myself, that I wouldn't say to a friend going through the same thing.

It really, really helps.

This morning, I had a 90 mile trip planned out to go visit some friends and their new child who was born this past week. What an honour to be invited to be with them!

I got up at 5 AM, was out the door by 5:30 AM as to beat traffic. I was on my way and then...

and then I hit the interstate.

And I lost it.

I would regain composure and then loose it again.

(this is reminiscent of a few weeks ago when I tried to drive the same route on the interstate in the rain and lost it even worse than this time and couldn't get myself home so Dad had to rescue me)

I kept thinking I could "get it together" by the next exit, after enough tears, though, I realized that wasn't going to happen. I realized that putting myself through that for another 80 miles would be really hard on my body, mind and drop me off in Olympia an emotionally-needy wreck.

Not exactly what a family with a new baby wants to deal with - their visitors needing comfort and not functioning well.

So I turned around.
Got off at an unknown exit.
Drove till I recognized a grocery store I went to once a decade ago with my mom and made the right turns.
Accidentally drove on a one way road (thanks hazard lights).
Made my way back home.

And as I drove, I kept telling myself how awful and incapable I was.

Then I remembered Mrs. W. Mrs. W was one of my dearest childhood friend and neighbor's mom. She was proper, always well composed, orderly, caring, and she also didn't drive on the interstates.

When I would call myself names, this morning, I thought, "Would you say that about Mrs. W.? No? Then you can't say it to yourself."

And I would move on with my thoughts.

I've cried 11 times in the past 24 hours and it's ok.
It's totally alright.

I'll get through this.

Saturday, October 17, 2015


It's been hard to write this year. I haven't been in the right place. I haven't been in the right place for any of the things I enjoy.

Things are, though, doing better.

For the most part, I haven't wanted to kill myself for almost an entire month! This is huge.
Suicide hasn't been at the front of my mind this month.

The only times that it has come to mind, mostly, is when I forget a dose of meds. Then, the tears quickly start to stream down my face, again (yesterday it was four times over Audrey Hepburn's life story and another time because the restaurant had a lot of people in it) and I think that death is a quick solution.

For the most part, though, I feel steady.

My anxiety is quite low and my brain has slowed down enough to give me time to think through my actions.
Getting better.
Getting better.

(although I never will be "better")

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Quarter Century

(written in the style of a 90s preteen chapter book)

"This was the best birthday I've had in a decade," I told L as we both finished our dinner and he headed to bed. "It felt nice to actually celebrate, deliberately celebrate, with a close group of friends who know me well." We were wrapping up our day at 6 PM and life was good.

My birthday has been something of a non-occasion for the past while. The last time I had a celebration was in 2009. It was a lovely gathering but, for the most part, it was with folks I barely knew at all (though, since have gotten to know).

Other years, I've been to scared to have anything happen. Generally, I'm afraid of admitting that I just might be worth celebrating, ya know, which is what birthdays are about.

The most frequent occurrence, since high school, is that I'm away someplace where no one knows me or people don't know it's my birthday and I don't feel like telling them or making a deal out of it. Last year, I worked a bit and then went and spent a night alone in a hotel in Juneau so I could catch a flight the next morning to my grandfather's funeral.

2008 - Seattle, Washington - Mom surprised me when a friend of mine came to take me to a musical - it was lovely
2009 - Arzier, Switzerland - gathering of sweet folks, but not anyone I really knew super well at that point (I did get to know two of them well afterwards, though)
2010 - Olympia, Washington - not a celebration, did get to see a close friend
2011 - Bowen Island, Canada - L'Abri - no celebration
2012 - Haines, Alaska - a friend made me a delicious dinner and dessert and we went on a hike
(this week, I was doing 72 hours of work an this week, in 2015, I'm working 67 hours)
2013 - England - L'Abri - they hummed "Happy Birthday to You" to me and I walked to someone's house to take a shower
2014 - Haines, Alaska - worked a bit then ferry to Juneau, night alone in hotel

So, not that it was totally forgotten, I've had some lovely birthdays - but I haven't had really had a birthday party with a group of folks I know well. I kinda wanted one.

This year I was twenty five.
This year I decided to do a thing and make a thing happen.
This year was different.

One part that made it different was that I finished up a 22 hour shift at 8 AM on the morning of my birthday and started working again, a 16 hour shift, at 4 PM. This gave me 8 hours to celebrate.

I invited a small group of friends to join me to celebrate for tea at the local tea shop I've grown up going to in the adjacent town.

To my delight, everyone could come except for three humans (work, too far away, dance camp).

Two of the humans that could come, I wasn't expecting to get to see at all! Audrey, at the time, was living in California so her being in Seattle was pure magic! Not sure how she worked it out, but I'm grateful.

There was also Kyle, who I hadn't seen sine last year. I tend to see Kyle once a year. This year, of all the days he could make it to Seattle for just one day, he made it to Seattle on my birthday. He even brought his sister (!) who I've been hearing about and wanting to meet for over four years. He normally lives in Africa.

Also attending was my brother Ian, Peter from dance, and Eric from elementary school.

The day started with L. L's the wonderful man I get to spend this weekend with. Generally, his daughter makes sure his needs are met but, when she's away, they have me step in to keep him company and make sure he's doing alright.

6 AM is our go-time. Then we had eggs.
8 AM and I was off.

I stopped by my folks' place and got to spend an hour with my mom. I even got to open presents with her! What a cool family I have. I love those humans. It was rather exciting to see her on my birthday. Last time I saw her on my birthday was 2008 or 2010. 2008, I think.

Then, Kyle and Katie, his sister showed up and we headed over to St. Ed's That park is one of my favourite places in the world. As tiny as my town is, it has this massive park with wonderful hiking trails. It was a good time to catch up and just be with Katie and Kyle. I got to meet Katie! Kyle has told me so, so much about her and I've been hoping to meet her for years. She was even more delightful and insightful than Kyle's descriptions. It was also really interesting to meet someone who really knows Kyle better than probably anyone else besides Kyle himself.

Following our little hike, we picked up Eric at the bookstore and headed over for tea.

Time was spent with chickens and in antique shop and soon, everyone was there.

Crikey. Everyone was there. They were there.
They got to meet each other.

There's something surreal about all of your worlds colliding. One of my greatest anxieties has been worlds colliding. I liked to keep life spaces separate and clean and tidy. I had my dance world, curling world, high school world, exchanger world, church world, etc. This year, I've been experimenting with introducing them to each other, letting them brush shoulders.

Cards were on the table with different questions. It was entertaining.
Ian and Peter at the beginning of their high tea.
By the end. Ian's look says it all.

Tea there was lovely, as it always is there. It's the sort of place where things are nice but you don't have to be 100% top notch nice at all. They let you be casual (which is good - because who can resist lemon curd with a spoon?).

Ian and Peter ended up getting high tea which means some five courses. They didn't pace themselves and ate what was served so, by the end, they barely had room for dessert. It was amusing watching their faces change from course to course as more food was brought.

I ended up having the cozy tea --- raspberry turkey tea sandwiches, lavender earl grey tea, salad, and a small assortment of desserts with a scone. It's definitely a full meal.

After that, we wandered, rode horses, chatted, and I was very, very happy.

There were lots of pirates running around for International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Cop vs Bicyclist

"YOU ON THE BIKE!" went the loud speaker on the cop car as his lights spun around. He'd done his siren behind me, but I didn't think it would be for me... until he mentioned the bike.

Then I knew it was for me.

No helmet.
(I left it at the library on accident and am retrieving it tonight)
They didn't like my driving style.

I was doing something cyclists something do where, in a long line-up of cars, you pull to the front. Why? Not to be a jerk. Not 'cause it makes me go faster. I do it 'cause it is good for visibility and such. There's reasons not to and reasons to do it. He discussed what I should've done and I acknowledge that I considered both of those ways of getting through the intersection and had chosen the wrong choice.

"The unsafe choice," he clarified.

A bicyclists got killed by a cement truck in our town the other week so the cops are really cracking own on us cyclists.

To the cop's credit - he was polite and doing his job. He listened to me. He wasn't a jerk face.
My privilege is that I'm white and, while I wasn't thrilled, I wasn't ever scared for my life.

No ticket.
Just a warning.

To be honest, I don't think he was doing anyone a favour by stopping me. He wasn't saving my life. If he wants to make the streets safer, he could start by watching those cars that keep trying to take their free right turns onto my head... 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


I'm a wreck - an absolute wreck. Don't even know what I'm doing here or why I'm here or if I should be here.

I don't know where this comes from. I don't know if it's all in my head.
I don't know when it will end or if it will go away.

Lately, I enjoy reading the stories of other folks who are bipolar. Kurt Cobain is my favourite. I read them and then I find me in parts of them and I go, "me too," and feel like someone understands 'cause I know I'm not the only one who feels this way.

Think it's in my head. Think I'm making it up.

And then I cry, I keep crying, for the stupidest of reasons.

Crying because I'm driving and just imagine if the motorcycle in front of me were to crash.
I cried three times because I'm supposed to go to university orientation and I feel anxious about it. I don't want to walk around school in a group or go to school or be there or have people talk to me or ask me to wear a name tag and all those things make my stomach turn to knots.

I was taking lithium for a while and then I stopped. My doctors and friend who knows about this stuff  say this is really really bad. I don't know if I want to take it or not. Everyone says I need it. That it's dangerous for me not to have it.

But I've been without it and been fine.. well... not really.

My therapist (who I haven't seen for months and am supposed to) said to keep writing. It's a good thing.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

just wanna go dancing

I'm supposed to go dancing now.
I really want to go dancing now.

But I can't. I can't leave my room.

I've wanted to go dancing for months but haven't been able to and I get to anxious to go. It's one of my favourite things to do in the world but I really, really can't.
My head starts to tingle and my stomach goes all loopy and my heart becomes noticeable.

I want to go dancing so bad.
Instead, I'm making myself breathe deeply and calming myself down by telling myself I don't want to go.

Head hurts.


I've been doing so great! Why can't I dance?
When did this even become a thing? I guess it because a thing a while ago. I love dancing but I get overwhelmed by it. I know the people and they know me and I love them and they show love to me.

Alas, here I am in my room and I'll probably just make envelopes all night.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Megan Fed Us

Megan fed Sean and I food.

She fed us delicious bread with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, mozerella, fresh tomatoes from her friend's garden, basil just snapped off the plant, olives, and cucumber.

It was delicious and...

I am very grateful.

She loves. and listens.
Sean, he loves and listens too.
And they share.
And they're rad humans.

Two perks of being in Seattle.

Diagnosis: Bipolar Disorder

Hi. I'm Margaret and I'm...
they think I'm bipolar.

They think I have bipolar disorder.

They refers to the doctors --- all five of them. Psychiatrist. Counselor. General Practitioner. Naturopath.

They also refers to friends who know me well, know bipolar disorder well, and can put the two together.

This is news to me. Utter, complete news. It wasn't news to some of my friends, but it was news to me. When the diagnosis came up, I was like, "Nooo... that's not a thing that is me..."

Basically, what they think happened, was that the trauma of the car crash really triggered and more extreme version of what was already happening. Looking back in my blog, I can see the patterns. They're pretty loud, blatant patterns, actually.

Bipolar, in a simple form (and there's a lot of forms of it) involves high high highs and then low low lows.

There's a mania stage. For me, this year, I was making a lot of bad choices that were so out of character for who I am, it was enough to make me run for help. These weren't just bad choices like staying up late - they were dangerous choices that made me want to curl up and ask what was wrong but, then, at the same point I felt like I was being rational and logical in my choices. They are the sort of choices that I don't think I could ever write on my blog.

I got super high (not stoned-high) and then I crashed oh, oh so low.

A few months of near-constant nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite, exhaustion and headaches.Crying every day without exception. Suicidal thoughts. Couldn't do a lot of things I liked to or wanted to do.

They thought it might be something to do with a concussion or, who knows -- then they put the pieces together and were like, "Yo! This is... this is looking mood-swingy to us."

My depression can be a constant stream of anxiety where anything can set it off, the littlest of things, and it can carry on and add up.

The diagnosis was around May or June. They still have to check out if it lines up with meds but, well, it looks like a textbook case of bipolar.

I don't know what to make of it. It scares me, it does. I've been scared, lately, of the next high-to-low and then it hit. Right now, it's hit. I've been crying again, I've been dreaming of ending my life (don't worry - I won't, I promise I won't). I'm back to napping during the day. I'm back to the nausea. Hopefully it will be gone tomorrow, I tell myself it will, but what if it's not?

I'm overwhelmed with life and I can't keep up with it.

So that's about it.
More thoughts later.

But, well, now we know what was up this year.


So, friends, you want to help, you say? You guys say that, and I appreciate it.

1. Please don't take it personally when I don't respond to your letters, messages, texts, and calls.

2. But please, please do write - postcards are really nice. Write without wanting or expecting me to write back. On Facebook, once again, write -- but maybe even include something about understanding me not writing. I feel so anxious about not getting back to people but frequently don't have the energy to respond.

3. Please understand when I don't have the energy to hang out.

I can barely make it through some days. Hanging out beyond my routine can be over-exhausting. It's not you, it's just me and how it is.

4. If I do have the energy to hang out and am in a phase of depression, or in general, I really appreciate it if you check with me before emotionally unloading on me. Check with me before you share heavy things. I tend to take them in and I might feel it for the next day or two after our conversation and I can't afford that. I had one friend I tried to be there for, when I couldn't, and I ended up vomiting once we split. Trust me, I want to be there for you and talk to you about heavy things but, even more, I want to not bring myself down with stomach aches and nausea so I can't even function with day to day life.

5. Feel free to ease my anxiety by reassuring me it's ok and that you understand.

6. Gifts are surprisingly encouraging, just sayin'....

7. Ask me before you give me advice. Ask if I want advice. It might be hard for me to take advice from you if you don't live with bipolar disorder or aren't really, really familiar with it. This is more than just "changing my outlook" - it's chemistry.

8. If you've got tangible ways you want to be there for me, let me know. I'll tuck it away in my brain and someday, I might very gladly take you up on it. I really am grateful.

9. If you live with bipolar disorder - I would love to hear from you. Once again, I might not write back, but it's encouraging to hear from folks who understand.

10. If you think bipolar disorder isn't real, or other mental illnesses, and it's all in my head and I'm making something of nothing --- just stay away, please, and keep your mouth shut.

That's all, I think.

Photo of me is by Michael or Eric...

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Friends Are Good At Grounding

Living with Bipolar Personality Disorder and General Anxiety Disorder, for me, means one thing - my brain likes to race around in a swirl when things are mucky. It latches on to the right ideas and settles on them, even though there are more vibrant worthy thoughts to be thought.

And, when, I'm in the right season, even when things are just fine, I'll be quick to turn something mucky. I work hard on not doing it, but it can happen. I've been doing pretty good on it, lately.

What I really appreciate is friends who give me no reason to feel anxious.
Who give me every reason to feel secure.

The other day I was hanging out with E and M. I was feeling especially disorganized, this day, and not-together. Not once did they feed my insecurities. Instead, they were solid there for me and kept pulling me towards the Margaret I am, but can loose track of when chemistry goes totally whack. When I was hopping about trying to make the parts of the day click, they just let me do my thing.

My inner dialogue was that their thoughts must be like this, "There goes Margaret again. Can she ever get it together? Now I'm just waiting for her, again, because she's such a f'ing spazz."

It's easy for me to start believe lies and walk toward them.
Or dwell on the insufficiencies and let them take over.

Grateful for friends that know me and love me and let me know that. Friends that support me in who I am no matter the season. The ones where, when I start to fear they might dash this next season of a depressed downswing. They let me know they're here for the long run, ups and downs.

This is what helps keep me going.
This keeps me grounded.

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