Archive for April 2013

Sleepless in Fort Jennings

Sleep fascinates me.

I am an insomniac. I have been this way as long as I can remember. I’ve tried every OTC medication, practically every prescription medication…I’ve done “natural” remedies…everything. I’m starting to think that I’m a person who’s not meant to sleep.

I find it intriguing that everyone seems to have a different sleep style. My husband passes out and begins snoring (sometimes) as soon as his head hits the pillow. Which infuriates me, by the way, because I’m trying desperately to fall asleep, and it kind of sucks to stare at someone who’s already way off in dreamland. But I’ve heard the real test of true love is wanting to strangle your partner in his or her sleep and not actually going through with it. So at least I have that - true love - going for me.

So is anyone else out there one of those people who find it hard to fall asleep at night? What methods have you tried? Has anything worked? E-mail me at and please share if you’ve found something that works! I’m desperate.

It’s just that I lie down at night, and I have a million thoughts racing through my head at lightning speed. I close my eyes and see flashes of color, images darting back and forth…no matter how hard I try to relax, (it sounds weird to say “try hard to relax,” but that’s me) nothing comes of it. (Luckily, the Hallmark channel plays marathons of The Golden Girls all night, so I have them to keep me company. From the bottom of my heart, sincerely, I want to thank Rose, Dorothy, Blanche, and Sophia for being a friend.)
I want to find all the night owls out there and see if maybe we can figure this out together. Unless I was really born nocturnal, like an actual owl…is that even possible? I’m starting to think so.
I am bewitched by what happens when I do actually sleep. I have the most vivid, real dreams. I remember them every time. I also have lucid dreams, which means when I’m dreaming I realize I’m dreaming and I can control what I do in the dream. It’s insane. But I think I love it. I have the most ridiculously real, Stanley Kubrick-directed dreams.

It’s interesting to me too, that some people don’t ever remember their dreams. My husband rarely remembers his. I enjoy interpreting dreams when they do happen. I really think that my dreams have a lot of significance. They always seem to be a subconscious manifestation of whatever I have going on in my life, sometimes presenting a solution to a problem I’ve been wrestling with when I’m awake.

So if you haven’t done it too often, take some time to analyze your own sleep style. You could possibly learn a lot about yourself. I think I’m going to even start a sleep journal to help me better figure out the meaning of my dreams and maybe what helps and doesn’t help me fall asleep. I’d love your feedback on this, so again, feel free to e-mail me! Until then…
Sweet dreams.

When Mental Illness Happens to Friendships

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how being bipolar has affected my friendships.  I know it has. 

It’s hard to make plans with people you fully intended upon following through with at the moment you made them when, the day of the plans, you’re in a depression so deep that getting out of bed seems impossible.  I hate being unreliable, but I know I am.  I hate how my moods dictate pretty much everything in my life, but I know they do.

I’m hoping that if/when I find the right mixture of medications, some of this changes.  I know like the doctors have said, I’ll be dealing with this for the rest of my life…I’ll be bipolar.  The medicine can make it more manageable, and can make the highs and lows less noticeable, but they’ll still be there.  I don’t like that, but I can’t change it.  I don’t want to be this way, but I am.  I think some of my friends understand it maybe a little, but I know not all of them do…and I don’t want to make anyone mad or cause disappointment when I cancel plans…

I also can’t pretend to be happy when I want to cry…when I want to cry, I do cry, as much as I hate it…and I know my moods.  I know when to go out and when to stay in.  It sucks, and I know it’s misunderstood…but beyond trying to explain it my friends, I’m not sure what else I can do.

We’ve talked a little in my support group about this…and I know I’m not alone when it comes to losing friends over having a mental illness.  I wish it weren’t so, but it happens.  We can be draining.  We can be all-consuming.  We can wear people down to the point that they might not want to hang out with us anymore.  I get it.
So I don’t necessarily blame you if you choose not to be friends with someone who, for instance, is bipolar…I might not want to be friends with me at times, either.  But I do give people second chances…and many more chances beyond that, often.  Maybe it’s because I understand mental illness a little.  I have friends who’ve been diagnosed with a myriad of mental disorders, and it can be hard.  Many people walk away.  I just try to be patient and understand that it’s the illness, not the person we’re necessarily dealing with when they can be seemingly impossible.  And I guess I believe the real, true friends are the ones who are still around when the rest of the world walks out, when the disorder is at the point that it’s taken the best of a person, when it seems like it will never get better.

But it will.

It will get better, and when it does, I think the people who stood by when someone was at his or her worst will get to reap the benefits of having that person back at the pinnacle of health.  

So if you’re someone who’s been tempted to walk away from a friendship because it’s become too hard…due to mental illness…I urge you to be there.  Be there for your friend.  I’m not saying hang out every day or compromise your own quality of life just to be there…you can be there quietly, simply by sending a message now and then, letting the person know you’re thinking of him or her…you don’t have to completely abandon the friendship.  It’s understandable to want to take a step back now and then for your own mental health.  But chances are your friend could really use some words of encouragement…think about what you would want or need in the darkest depression of your life.  For me, starting to come out of a deep depression, just knowing I had friends who cared made me feel great.

Something to Believe In

Where is God?

I wonder this often.  Where was God when the bombs exploded in Boston?  Where was he when little kids were being shot at an elementary school?  Where is he when any terrible tragedy is occurring?  I try to believe, but it gets hard.

I don’t understand how, or why, if God is all-knowing and all-powerful, why would he allow these things to happen?  Mostly when I ask this question I get the answer that evil still exists and we have free will…but couldn’t God prevent these horrible things from happening?

Am I the only one who has a hard time keeping the faith in this world?

Every day I feel like it’s more and more of a struggle, harder to believe in something bigger than all of us…hard to keep going and believing.  And I’ve never really experienced my own personal tragedy ever…so I don’t know how people who have been through major challenges can keep trusting in God.  I’m finding it difficult.
Of course, there’s always the argument that there is no God.  Well, for some reason, I believe there is.  I don’t have proof, but no matter what happens, I just keep believing.  Believing that no matter how hard it seems at times, we all have a life plan that’s been set for us.  There is and will someday be a reason for everything, a reason we will understand.  I just believe that.

Still, it’s so hard to watch the news on any given night.  There is so much sadness, so much tragedy in the world…how does anyone wake up every day and not have depression?  I don’t see how.
I pray every day for all the people I know or don’t know who are going through anything difficult.  I pray for my own family, too, and thank God for blessing me.  I just can’t stop thinking about the state of the world and how messed up it is.  I sometimes lie awake at night, unable to sleep because I’m thinking about it.  If everything happens for a reason, then what would possibly be the reason for innocent people dying every day?  I don’t understand life.

I’m always searching for answers, either from a book, a pastor, or a psychologist….sometimes Googling the meaning of life at 3 a.m.  And no one has the answer.  None of us will know the answer until we meet our maker.  It just seems so unfair sometimes, though.
I hope everyone reading is able to hold on to a little bit of faith, no matter how small.  Know that I’m praying for you if you’re going through a rough time.  We just have to keep the faith, I guess.  What’s the solution if that’s not it?

Just know that if you’re confused and struggling to believe, I am right there with you.  Maybe we can all help each other.

Diary of a Major Depressive Episode

Diary of a Major Depressive Episode

Tuesday 4/9/13

I have been in a low lately.
A low, low, low.
I haven’t felt this low since…I can’t remember.

I went to my psychologist Friday who told me he’s never seen me this depressed.  I’d never cried in his office before.  He said the good part of being bipolar is that I can write and be creative and all that, but it’s hard to see it as a blessing when the nature of the beast is to hit the depressive episode.  He said I won’t come out of this on my own.  I need stronger medication.  I’d currently only been on a mood stabilizer.  He suggested I get on an antidepressant. 

 I called my dr., and I picked up a prescription for Cymbalta.  Four days in, I was experiencing severe side effects.  Couldn’t sleep.  Restless legs.  Restless, period.  Up all night long, every night.  Staring at the TV until 6 a.m.  Horrible dry mouth, sweating, nervous evergy, pacing around the house 50 times a minute.  Nauseted.  I couldn’t eat.

Just.  Bad.

So today I started Wellbutrin and Abilify and I pray to God it works.  I need something that works.  I can’t spend my days lying in bed, wanting to die.  Crying.  Feeling awful in every possible way.  Unless you’ve experienced it, it won’t make sense.  But it’s the worst feeling in the world.  The worst feeling I’ve felt.
Wellbutrin seemed to help me in the past…it did seem to exacerbate my anxiety, but I’m hoping we can find something to help with that.  I need to find the right meds for me.  It’s affecting my whole family.

Thank God for Andy, who’s been amazing while I’m going through this.  I’ve been praying constantly that I come out of it sooner than later.  I hate it.

I hate depression.

Hate it.   Hate it.  Hate it.

I can’t stress that enough.  It’s the worst.  I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

Yesterday I didn’t want to go with my mom to pick out new jeans for me.  I didn’t want Chinese food when she offered– my favorite.  I didn’t even want to pick out flooring with Andy to redo my office basement.  

That’s how depression is.  

You exist.  You are hollow.  A shell of a person.  You breathe.  You don’t, you can’t do much else.  There is no motivation.  No drive.  No kind of drive in any area.  
It’s never been this bad.

Things that would normally excite you, don’t.  Nothing does.
The fact that I can bring myself to write this…something I haven’t been able to bring myself to do for days – is a feat.  I walked the dog today.  That’s nothing, right?  For someone battling a deep, dark depression, that’s climbing Mt. Everest.  I didn’t think I had it in me.  But I finally did get out of bed.  I did manage, though it took all day, to drink the smoothie Andy made me.

I want this cloud to lift, and I’m sure it’ll take time.  But I just want my life back.  I want to enjoy life and feel like a good mom and wife.  I hope and pray it happens soon.

Lately I feel like I need Andy around.  I hate when he leaves.  I need him here with me.  I don’t know if this is part of the depression, but I feel so sad when he’s gone.  I’m so needy right now.  

It’s like I want to isolate myself, but when I do, I feel so, so alone. And sad.  And guilty.  A burden.  I’m a burden to everyone.  I’m not a good wife, I’m not a good mom…they deserve better…why am I here?  Then the tears start falling.  Once I go down this seemingly inevitable line of thinking, there’s no turning back.  I just want to learn to stop myself before I head down that road.  I used to be able to be alone and be okay.  And be with my family and be okay.

What happened?

Somewhere in the early wife/motherhood/alcoholic blur we learned that I’m bipolar.  That’s what happened. It just seemingly hit like a tornado.  

And I want to learn to calm the storm.

Wednesday 4/10/13

I started to get a really bad headache yesterday…like a migraine.  Nothing would make it go away.  I still had it this morning.  I took a nap and it’s gone for now…I hope it stays that way, because it was really bad.  I did read that that can be an initial side effect of Wellbutrin, though.

Right now I feel pretty sad and lonely.  I’m trying to use this alone time to rest and get better and focus on the positive, but my mind always gravitates the other way…

At least the weather matches my mood today…it’s overcast and rainy.  Most people like sunny days.  For me, that’s just more pressure to “be happy.”  It probably sounds weird to most people.
I’m also feeling some nausea and anxiety…anxiety was the only reason I went off Wellbutrin in the past.  I’m hoping it subsides and I can manage it this time, as this is the medication so far that seems to work the best for me. Just trying to calm myself down on my own right now, until I can get my Ativan refilled.  I’d taken a little extra recently to try and help me sleep, as nothing was working.  

I’m really crossing my fingers that this combination works.  I can’t keep living like this.  I have lost the seven pounds I gained over the winter, from medication or overeating or whatever the reason, so I should be happy about that, right?  I have no appetite.  Depression is great for weight loss. I’ve been eating nothing but soup and smoothies.  It’s all I can manage right now.

This thunderstorm today is good for me, though.  I love them.  I love the sounds, the gray clouds and lightning, the smell…they always help me.  Like the Garbage song, “I’m Only Happy When it Rains”…that’s sorta me.  Only not intentionally.  If that makes sense.

I look like hell.  I have zero desire to try and look presentable in any way.  I’m kinda hoping I get that desire back at some point.

Thursday 4/11/13

I woke up again with a headache.  I took some medicine and went back to sleep and it seems to be gone.  I am just so exhausted.  And I look exhausted.  I’m trying to find the motivation to shower.
  The kids cheer me up.  I did some fun stuff with Adele last night and today I’ve been playing with Eleanor while Adele’s at school.  I still feel overall unmotivated and pretty crabby, but maybe I’m coming out of it.  Whenever I take my prescription in the morning, I start to feel pretty anxious not long afterward.  I’ve been trying to find ways to cope with this until the medicine adapts to my system and/or I can get some more Ativan.  It’s a pretty horrible feeling, though.

It’s still gray and rainy out, which is good when I feel like this.  I still don’t really feel like getting ready or going anywhere…I wonder when that desire returns.  I talked to my mom on the phone yesterday and she thought I sounded better.
I just keep telling myself it will get better…I can get through this…even though at times it doesn’t feel that way at all.  I have to believe that.

I’d been wanting nothing but silence lately, but I started listening to music again yesterday.  I can’t really stand to have the TV on during the day.  There’s nothing on, and it makes me anxious.  I generally don’t turn it on until Friends reruns start at night.  Those seem to calm me down.  It’s more background noise than anything. 
 I’m just crossing my fingers that I’m getting better, day by day.

Today's Thoughts

I’ve been feeling a lot of anxiety lately.  While I’m used to feeling anxiety, overall, in my life, I’m more used to being depressed.  The anxiety outweighing the depression these days has been new.

I know it’s all attributed to my finding a publisher for my book – a good thing – but for someone like me, it just causes my anxiety to spiral out of control.  I care too much about what people think,  I hope people will think I’m a good writer, that they’ll think I have something to say, that they won’t hate me for some of the things I’ve done.

I care too much.

I know logically I can and will never please everyone.  Ever.  I need to realize and accept this.  

I’m mostly petrified about putting this much about my life out there for the world to see…I have to remember why I’m doing it…maybe I can help other people who are going through the same stuff I did…in my mind, it’s all worth it then.

In the meantime, I’ll try not to worry myself to death and try to focus on being healthy.  My depression hasn’t completely gone away, either…it’s just been overshadowed for the time being. 

I know that like everything else, this will all be okay, and it does no good to worry…but it’s easy to tell myself that.  It’s harder to actually convince myself of it.

I’ve been trying to go back through the book and work on it and feel comfortable leaving in what I feel should be in it, even if it’s above the comfort level of what most people would put out there.  At the end of the day, it’s still a memoir, and I’m an open person.  I don’t necessarily want my parents to read it, but I think it has been cathartic for me, and maybe it can help other people.  Maybe this is my purpose.

About Me

I have an MA in literature from Eastern Michigan University and I write a couple of regular columns for The Delphos Herald. I am the mother of two young girls, and the wife of a firefighter. I am also bipolar (with generalized anxiety disorder) which somewhat accounts for my occupied mind. I rely on sarcasm the way others rely on oxygen.
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