Total Pageviews

Friday, February 24, 2012

Keeping Things Simple

Have you ever gotten so overwhelmed that you felt like you were going over the edge and would break at any moment. I cant take one more thing!  I'm on overload!  People with bipolar disorder can experience what we call sensory overload.  I have had this my whole life.  I found crowds very overwhelming.  I couldn't handle having a lot of friends at one time.  I would find a quiet space and place at family gatherings.  I didn't know what it was or why I felt that way.  But as I educated myself I found out that its common for those with bipolar to have delicate brain chemistry that can be set out of order if not handled with care.

Think for a minute about a delicate beautiful flower blossom.  That is a picture of our minds. Beautiful but delicate.  And we are responsible for protecting it.  If that means setting limits to our daily activities or making sure we are feeding our flower with water, sunlight and food then it is only fair and right to do that. Which would mean, feeding our minds with beautiful and helpful reading and resources to meditating with happy thoughts and healthy thoughts.  We must care for our beautiful flower and our beautiful mind.

For me keeping things simple is a major key to my sanity.  I thrive when I have limits and boundaries.  I have analyzed what I can handle and what I can't, and there is no shame with setting limits especially those with a mental illness.  I stay close to home.  I have a fairly regular routine.  I work for a time then rest so I don't get into manic mode.  I stimulate my mind by being creative.  I try to keep my home clean and in order.  Making things simple doesn't mean there is not effort or work involved it just means that there is less ciaos and more peace.  Having a massive amount of pressure could send us into a manic or depressive episode. Keeping things simple can keep things stable.  Only you know what simple is to you.  Some of us can handle things that others cant but I encourage you to take a look at the activities you do each day. Ask yourself if its bearing fruit, if its beneficial, if its important, if it aids your life and goal to be stable.  Can you cut back on it? Is it sucking you of life and energy?  I think there are a lot of things we can stop in order to feel more peace.  There are obviously unpleasant things we must do daily. But there are also alot of things we may be doing that are not important and not beneficial.  So lets take a look and see what can be cut off, what can be pruned in order for our lives to bear more beautiful blossoms of peace.

Bipolar Butterfly

Artwork by Jenni Moore

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Help is How I Feel

It feels like a sad numb low emotion type day.  I miss my family. I want my husband. I just want to sit on the couch in his arms.  Watch my children play, listen to their cute little voices.

This is how I felt today.  Being alone was not fun.  Alone was very alone today.  Its when I want to build a nest and hide away from the world.  I become extra thankful for having my place in this world.  The world feels too big for me today.  I don't want to look at the stars, I don't want to look at the view.  I want to look two inches in front of me.  Simple. Simple. Simple.  I can not handle the vastness of space, the news of the nation. I want peace but not quiet. I need You Jesus to quiet my mind. To speak peace to my soul.

So I look right in front of me and I see a palm tree swaying lovingly above me.  I'm here, I'm small, I'm not lost in the complexities of my emotions, chemicals, wires.  I'm here, safe in my husbands arms, watching my children play.  Even though there is such complexity inside, craziness, sadness, uncontrollable swishing.  I focus on whats right in front of me. Love. And instead of faith I believe in what I see.
Art work by Jenni Moore

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Stay at Home Mom and Bipolar Disorder

I've had bipolar since the age of fourteen. Earlier actually but that's when I was diagnosed.  Life has always been hard for me.  I remember asking my sister who I shared a room with, how she fell asleep at night.  She said I just close my eyes.  I thought to myself, I wish I could do that. I knew I was different at such a young age falling asleep was so hard. That's just one example.  So I've never really known what normal felt like.  School was hard, I never knew if I would be able to go to collage and pass.  Everything was just too much.  One thing I was good at was sports and being active. I rode my bike everywhere and loved challenging my body. 

Everyone had goals and ideas of what they wanted to be when they grew up.  I had no idea.  I liked sports but wasn't a star athlete so I really didn't see myself doing that in any professional sense.  So I would just make up things, knowing that it would never happen.  There was so much pressure to figure your life out so soon in age.

I did want to find love but I never told anyone my desire to marry and have a family some day.  But it was in my heart and wasn't considered a career choice.  I saw my brother marry right out of high school and my parents had done the same so that was what I wanted too. I wanted to marry young and be the best wife ever. 

It didn't happen when I thought it would and I had to go through alot before I did marry right after my twenty-fourth birthday.  I thought it was a bit old but I now look back and see that it was still young.  Before I became a wife I joined the ministry. I wanted to be a missionary to Africa but instead joined a ministry team that traveled around the U.S.  That's actually how I met my husband. We met in church. I had odd jobs while I was in the ministry. You don't get paid doing ministry work. I was a waitress, sales clerk, doctors assistance and some other odd jobs.  I managed but it was harder for me because of the frequent bipolar symptoms.  At the time I was unmedicated and basically managed on my own.  Work took everything out of me to the point that when I wasn't working I was recovering from work.  I had anxiety attacks all the time, running to the bathroom to get it together. I would mess up more than I like to admit.  For the most part my peers and bosses were very gracious with me and tried to help.  I did a good job when the symptoms were at bay but when they did show up it took everything in me to not mess up at my job.  Unfortunately I got to points when I could not control the panic attacks and would mess up instead of asking for help. I was breaking down.  So I have been fired two times and I've quit at times before they could fire me.  One boss told me that I was bipolar and should get some help and offered his wife to help.  Another one said, I really don't want to fire you, we love you but its not my choice.  They saw my unrelenting effort.  My world felt hopeless, if I couldn't manage these jobs what can I do with my life?  Just struggle from job to job?

After I got married I immediately got pregnant.  Again I was looking for a job. I found one as a doctors assistance in an eyeglass store. I would take care of all the paper work for the doctor and help fitting people for their contacts.  It was a great job and a lot less stressful than being a server.  Unfortunately my boss there could also tell that I was bipolar despite my major efforts to hide it.  I quit that job too not being able to hold on.  To this day they said if I ever want to come back I could.  They were willing to work with me.  I was in so much distress.  I was at the point where I needed outside assistance. I could not live my life like this. I needed help.

So one day as I was driving home from a job interview again. I was praying so hard asking God for His help. And I heard so loud in my spirit that He was going to provide and not to worry.  It was from that moment on that my husband and I thought it would be best for me to stay home, have the baby and then be a stay at home mom and care for our son.  I finally felt some peace.  Being pregnant really brought out some major symptoms of bipolar.  I now know that that is not uncommon.  So life was still very hard even though I was safe at home.  But I was also relieved that I had found my niche in this big world. I was a wife, home-maker and soon to be stay at home mom. 

I gave myself over to this job wanting to do my best.  I read books, tons of books on how to love your husband and children and how to keep home. How to be a mommy and so on.  I have a book shelf filled with these books.  I also had to get over the feelings of inferiority that the world puts on stay at home moms.  The feeling of being at home while everyone else was at work was hard to over come.  But I found in the Bible just how much God values this roll and its held in high esteem.  Its a very important job that makes a major difference in our families life.  I learned that its very good for a marriage. Its wonderful for the children to have a full time mommy.  I flourished in this role. I embraced it and put all my heart and soul into it. 

When my children were younger I had us all on a strict schedule that allowed times for play, learning, nap and feeding times.  I taught my children from when they were babies.  I tried all kinds of schedules to keep the house tidy and clean.  I learned how to be a good wife from older woman who have been there and have written books.  I do believe that we have reaped the benefits of the work I've put into our family. 

I was raised in a house where the mother worked. So our house was cold and empty.  It was a part of my motivation to make our house warm and full of life.  Now I'm not going to lie and say that it has been easy.  Some days are very hard but compared to working out there in the world this is easier on my emotions and stress levels are down.  I have time to rest if I need to. I can be creative. I don't have tons of costumers to please. The only time deadlines are dinner and making sure kids are at school on time and picking them up.  I have time to write blogs.  I can read and learn and grow as a person and I live with no regrets as I have been there for all my children's firsts.  My marriage is flourishing, we have time for each other and I'm not so stressed out from work that I cant hang with my husband. 

Now I know that being a stay at home mom is not always easy, especially for those who suffer bipolar disorder.  You've got to structure your day or you'll be a mess ready to happen.  We have no boss and have to structure our own day and know what we want from each day.  I know that we have the choice to be lazy and unproductive.  But that is not healthy and that is not being a stay at home mom.  Its is still work, just a different kind of work.  One of my biggest challenges is to have routine, to know what to do and when to do it.  I sometimes picture in my mind what kind of home experience I would want if I was on the receiving end and then I try to be that. 

When I am experiencing mania I am able to get lots done.  The house gets cleaned up, closets get organized, new projects are started, the kitchen gets filled with groceries and I've got an amazing meal cooking along with desert.  They are the perfect days, the days I wish I could have everyday.  Then there are the depressive days when getting out of bed is a major challenge.  Its good that I have to to get my kids to school.  But then there is the temptation to go back to bed, but then I have to get up to pick them up.  When they were smaller on the depressive days we would have a chill day, relaxing.  Watch t.v. and laz around.  It was refreshing for all of us cause our days are usually very structured.  So it worked.  But now that they are in school its harder.  They are not there to keep me up.  I struggle with not wanting to just stay in bed.  I try to make good decisions but the depression is so strong.  I do make it however. I push myself to get the housework done. Plan for dinner and manage to get all the homework done etc. 

I know that having bipolar is a very difficult illness to manage.  I'm sure any job with bipolar is a challenge and I know that the temptation to do nothing as a stay at home mom is hard to resist.  Again I ask myself what I would want if I was on the receiving end and try to be that.  When the kids were young and stayed home full time it was alot easier. I was never alone.  Being alone while they are at school can be dreadfully boring and lonely and I have to have motivation.  I still read the books and stay motivated by blogs and facebook moms. 

What I'm trying to say is. Being a stay at home is an important job and is not a cope out for giving into the illness. Our families deserve our effort.  Yes there will be bad days, yes you will mess up, yes we will not have a perfectly clean home but we can try.  I know that this is the career I was born to do, the one chosen by God.  It didn't take bipolar away but it has given me an opportunity to flourish in my gifts with out outside pressure.  Like today, I slept in.  The house is messy and I'm sitting writing a blog while my sons are playing the wii.  I am certainly blessed and continue to do my best.  This job I wont get fired from.  Also if your a stay at home mom its hard to find the support and motivation you need. I encourage you to find an online community and read some books.  Its an awesome job and when you see and know the benefits it will put a new pep in your step.
Also it helps to have your families support.  It took awhile for my husband to understand bipolar and being a stay at home mom.  He sees my effort and is easy on me when I'm having a hard day.  He says dispite your mental illness your a wonderful wife and mom.  We are blessed to have you. Now I may not get a paycheck but words like this feed my soul more than a paycheck could. We can do this thing and do it well.

God has a place for us all, bipolar of not. I hope you find yours soon and bloom where you are planted.
Bipolar Butterfly

Monday, February 6, 2012

Depression and Weight Gain

I lose weight, I gain it back...usually while I'm experiencing depression. I'm doing so good getting exercise and eating healthy then a depression comes and knocks me down and I'm back in a rut.  Have you been through this?  I know what your supposed to do when your depressed. Exercise and eat healthy. How hard this has been for me. I tend to turn to food for pleasure. I actually feel something when I eat.  Then the pounds start piling back on. So frustrating.

How do I break this cycle? I wish I had the answer. I do know that I will not give up and quit trying. I don't like being overweight but at the same time I'm not going to hate myself for it either.  I'm going to try and find other things that help me feel better. Like right now, I'm writing about it instead of eating.  And I know that once this depression passes I will be able to easier take care of myself. 

What do you do when your depressed to help take the edge off besides eating. I'm very open to your wisdom, and I'm sure other readers will be too. Depression wants to keep us down, eating and gaining weight could bring us down even further. But when its all said and done we must not be the voice beating ourselves up. We fall down and get back up again.  Win a little here and win a little there. I hope the fight becomes easier as time goes by.

Bipolar Butterfly