For years, the info out there about “nutrition” would frustrate me because I never knew what to believe about health. I have come to the conclusion that a healthy plate is balanced with protein, carbs (whole grains if I can), … Continue reading
This week has been full of ups and downs. Mostly ups, but some bad days and good days; some good moments, and bad moments. I had a lot of time to reflect on what that means in regards to my illness.
I have had some GREAT moments in my life (hindsight, these times were most likely hypomania that I didn’t know I was having). During these times I felt on top of the world… I felt like I would never have a bad day again. I could bake 10 homemade goodies, make all of my personal care products and cleaning products homemade, keep a spotless house, keep up with laundry, play with the kids, exercise, eat perfectly, plan and prep meals for the week, etc… all in one day. I thought I was doing what I was supposed to be doing as a “good mom and wife.” I thought I was amazing. Little did I know, I was living out my illness. This is what hypomania looks like in my life.
This was usually followed by a low period (depression). Those low periods were terrible. Unfortunately I didn’t know what was going on so I thought I was a horrible wife, mom, friend, etc. Sadly I had people on Facebook tell me I was being negative and even had a good friend de-friend me on Facebook because of it (because that helps)… I digress… I couldn’t get out of bed, off the couch, sat staring at my computer for hours and hours, etc. My house was trashed all the time. Laundry would pile up into loads and loads of laundry that needed to be done. My kids were sitting in front of the tv so that I could stay on the couch, on my bed, whatever. I often felt like I wanted to run away and had suicidal ideations (never thought I would go through with anything… just thought that maybe the world would be better off without me).
At this point in my life…
I am considered to be in “remission” from my illness. I’m not having the high moments (hypomania), and I’m not feeling depressed. I still have some anxiety (mainly in the evenings), but it has gotten much better. I was scared to drive for a little while for fear I would get in a wreck, I was scared to let my kids out of my sight, and I would wake up in a panic thinking someone was going to die. All of this recently until the doctor put me back on a medication for anxiety (he had taken me off of it thinking it wasn’t working, but obviously it was).
So the other day I had what most would call a “bad day.” I immediately started thinking, what if I’m going back into depression? What if this isn’t the right dose and medication. I was worried about a bunch of stuff. Then, this amazing thing happened. I dealt with an issue that was bugging me. And all of a sudden I started feeling better. The rest of my day was better. Not amazing, but not depressing. I realized something in that moment. Moments of stress, anxiety, anger, frustration, and fear are normal. It’s just when they last and last that they become a problem. I’m learning that simple problem solving can rid me of these emotions, and I can move on with my day. On the flip side, moments of joy, peace, happiness, being carefree are normal. Ups and downs are normal. It’s the extremes for long periods of time that aren’t.
I have lived in a state of extremes my whole life so I didn’t know what was normal. I’m having to re-learn a lot as I’m in “remission” thanks to the right dose of the right medication. I’m also trying to learn what is anxiety caused by my illness, and what is just normal, regular old anxiety (my doctor reminds me that some anxiety, sometimes is normal).
So here I am, living this life that God has given me. Sometimes feeling joyful, at peace, happy; and sometimes feeling angry, frustrated, or irritable. Ultimately, I’m loving life and this new found peace that I am feeling. I’m still praying that it will continue. My fear sometimes is that the medication will stop working, or that something will happen to cause me to go back into my cycle. So, I’m taking it one day at a time. That’s all anyone can do, right?
Like I wrote in my last post, my doctor told me he wouldn’t give up until I no longer have symptoms of Bipolar II. I am so thankful for a doctor that has faith that this is attainable. Until he said that last Monday, I thought I would always live with the symptoms to some degree.
As the new dose and new med are getting into my system, I’m beginning to feel more stable and balanced than ever before. This new stability is helping me see something that I’ve never seen/understood before.
I have struggled with balance in every area of my life for as long as I can remember. Food, exercise, alcohol, weight obsession, and even cleaning and laundry. I’ve had an all or nothing attitude about everything.
I ate perfect (obsessing), or I ate terrible. I exercised 2-3 hours a day (doing exercise that I hated) or not at all. I have been obsessed with my weight since I was a kid. I focused on it completely or gave up. I had too much alcohol too often, or I didn’t have any. I had a spotless house, or I had a house that was trashed.
As I’m becoming more stable I’m realizing that it is possible to have balance in these areas, and I’m finally coming to that balance that I’ve always desired.
Recently, I’ve started exercising 4-5 days a week. Karis and I hike for an hour each afternoon. I love hiking most of all, and even though it’s not strength training, I’m okay with that. I eat healthy much of the time, but I don’t fret over a piece of cake or sugar in my coffee. I eat when I’m hungry. I try not to eat out of emotion. I eat more intuitively than ever before. I eat and exercise for health rather than weight loss. I learned that some of my issue with weight is out of my control because of medication, and I’m learning to accept that. It’s really cool that my Fitbit shows my resting heart rate over time, and it has slowly been decreasing, which is huge! I have beer (or wine) a few times a week, and when I do, it’s just a few. I don’t drink to cope anymore, which was a huge issue when I was in the thick of things. My doctor told me it’s really common for people with high anxiety to drink to cope because it takes it away for a time. But the downfall of that is that it can lead to addiction, and it’s really bad for you. It also doesn’t help with weight issues :-). There are so many more healthy ways to cope and take care of yourself, and I’m learning to practice those things. So, I don’t feel like I need it anymore like I used to. Instead of drinking alcohol, I drink my favorite hot tea or coffee (decaf at night). I play a game with my kids or Robert. I journal. I sit on the porch and enjoy the evening. I chat with friends. I go for a hike. I clean. I spend time planning for homeschooling or researching homeschooling curriculum (the nerd in me enjoys these things). I cook or bake. I write. There are so many more things that I can do for self care and to cope with feeling bad. If none of these things work, I take medication designed to help with anxiety instead of drinking. It’s made a world of difference for me!
My prayer now is that this balance in my moods and every area of my life stays this way. I have heard of many people finding the right combination of medications and things stay great. I’ve also heard of people finding the right combination and it ends up not working as well down the road. So, I’m just taking it one day at a time. If nothing else, I’m learning more about myself every day. I am able to control things better with the wisdom and knowledge that I have gained, and I have also learned a lot about practicing self care… the most important part of my day as far as I’m concerned.
The most important part of all of this is that God has led me to the right doctor, a great counselor, and great friends and family to support me and help me through all of this. I feel that God has a purpose and a plan for all that I have gone through and continue to go through. I have seen Him work in my life and the lives of my friends because of my illness.
Being this open and vulnerable is really hard sometimes. I have the fear of what people will think of me. But I have found over time that vulnerability is courage, and that courage is what helps others. It’s worth it if I help one person to feel encouraged through my vulnerability.