It’s been well over two months since hospitalization, but I had such a difficult time around Christmas that I feel like stability started with the first of the year. I feel mostly stable – mood pretty solid and thoughts of suicide everyday (my baseline) with varying intensity. I’ve had a cold which kept me down a few weeks, still recovering from that. At its height I had fewer suicidal thoughts, which my doctor expected. “Your brain isn’t thinking well and shuts down.” Hallelujah for sick brain! Got a few days off from thinking I need to die.
I haven’t been volunteering (or exercising – sick), so my schedule revolves around television and being social. I’m starting to get an itch again to volunteer – the first I’ve felt in several months. I want it to be in mental health though, which has been my dream for a few years. Sharing my story or teaching a class. Office work. I have to be out of the hospital for at least 6 months for one main place that is the obvious place to volunteer as a speaker. I’ve found a few places in the local area worth a phone call. Maybe there is something I haven’t thought of in the depths of google.
Friday marked six months since being in a hospital or residential/restricted unit. Six months! I can’t say I’ve learned a lot, but I can say I survived. And sometimes that’s the best we get. I still suffer with suicidal thoughts and desires, some days worse than others. My mood still fluctuates with the moon and season changes, and usually just because. I can’t say I’m better. I have bipolar. And good days are all we get. Sometimes they stretch to weeks and months. And that is what I am celebrating. The last six months full of holidays, death, divorce and daily suicidal thinking didn’t send me to the hospital. It’s the longest stretch I’ve gone since diagnosis 5 years ago.
So, while everyone around me celebrates, I’m going to sit here in a corner with a wry smile, glad that I made it, and try not to be overcome by suicidal thoughts and anxiety. After all, I still have two cats who won’t get along and a divorce to settle (hopefully tomorrow). Stress is bad for bipolar. It can trigger an episode or mood shift and I really don’t know if I could stay out of the hospital if that happened right now. As I said, people around me are celebrating, but I still have a looming hospitalization hanging over my head, bigger than that shoe that everyone waits to drop. I’m not at all convinced that I can make it another six months. But the next section begins with one step at a time. And right now, I need to reach out to my network because the anxiety and thoughts are strong and I want to make it through my court date tomorrow before I collapse. Which could happen. Just saying. Just because I made it six months – and I give myself credit for that – doesn’t mean that I won’t fall down again when things are too much.
I loved my cat Cinnamon, as you can tell from my previous post. I had no intention of adopting another cat for some time. But Samantha-cat’s need for a companion and my running into a cat with the right personality on the right weekend when adoptions were half off, resulted in the addition of Ellie, a 2-year-old (below). So far they get along ok with some hissing and growling but less each day. Food and being surprised are the main culprits. They can be close to each other, but prefer several feet distance. I hope it is the beginning of a beautiful friendship for Samantha’s senior years (she is 15 but acts much younger).
I wasn’t sure I was ready to adopt again so soon. I reminded myself that people who do adopt again, especially soon, do it in honor of their beloved pet. I loved her so much, I’d do it again. Fall in love, spend a life, have to say goodbye. I still cry about Cinnamon. And my heart is big enough to begin to love a new little one.
Update: Emily appeared on Good Morning America on May 21. Yay Emily!
You’ll never guess what I found! The perfect cards that all our family and friends can send us when they find out we have a mental illness, or are having a flare-up of a mental illness. Empathy Cards by Emily McDowell.
No more icky promises that it will all work out. No more friends and family disappearing because they don’t know what to do or say. Just send us a funny card that says you know this sucks and you’re here and not leaving. And you won’t tell us about some new internet potion that will make it magically go away.
Let’s make Emily’s cards go viral! All sorts of long-term, invisible, serious and/or horrible diseases are out there that need EMPATHY not saccharine.
March 30, 2015
I’m a functioning bipolar person. I have had horrendous mood swings, rapid cycling of my moods, deep suicidal depressions and psychotic manias. I’ve had my meds changed multiple times, med washes (going completely off meds to start a new regimen), and ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy). I’ve gone through several full day and partial day outpatient programs. I’ve been in the psychiatric hospital 25 times in 4 1/2 years. I’ve been to residential therapy for a month.
But today I function well, with routines and schedules, meds and therapy, and a strong support system of people who love me. I volunteer 4 places. I go out with friends, and I spend time at home with my cats. I’m on disability for the bipolar disorder because I still have significant problems with memory and concentration, which I see in hobbies such as reading and knitting, as well as in volunteer tasks.
Bipolar Disorder is an illness. It affects how a person lives his or her life, but not the essence of a person. We still have hobbies and senses of humor. Sometimes we are creative. Always we love and need to be loved, just like everyone else. Go give someone with bipolar a hug!
A great article for this World Bipolar Day is Natasha Tracy’s Debunking of Bipolar Myths
If you see your way clear to help me pay for the miraculous experience of ending suicidal obsessions I had at La Paloma, check out my “Saved My Life” Go Fund Me page at www.gofund.me/nlckak
It’s been a month since leaving La Paloma Treatment Center, and I’m still doing well. I haven’t written much because – happy to say – there has been little to process in this little journal of mine.
- I had a couple of weeks of high energy while resetting routines and finding more volunteer locations.
- I had a week of low energy as reality sank in and I got tax news.
- I made a trip downtown to see a friend I hadn’t seen in 20 years.
- I started to write my book Suddenly Bipolar in earnest, based on these blog posts for the last 4 years.
- I had a week down low – depressed though NOT suicidal – and then back to balanced.
This month has been so different from what my last few years have been like! No need for the hospital to keep me safe. In fact, so few thoughts of suicide that I could very easily remind myself of my commitment “Not an option. Never gonna happen.” I’m surprised at how easy this month has been to monitor and live with my mental health.
And at the same time, each day has been difficult, for instance, re-establishing routines such as exercise and not being able to do as much as I used to (still dealing with the knee injury from La Paloma). Getting up at 6am is harder at home than it was at La Paloma, and I’m still looking for ways to keep from falling asleep on the couch for a few minutes every morning. I’m afraid I’m going to miss an exercise class or an appointment from dozing off.
When reality set in and when the depression from the equinox kicked in, I found all the volunteering I set up to be difficult, hard to bear and not fun. Compare that to today, feeling much better after the equinox and the depression lifting, and enjoying volunteering.
So, the month hasn’t been perfect. Whose life is? But I managed it, reached out to accept help when needed, and made it through. I’m confident I can handle the next month. One day at a time, of course.
If you see your way clear to help me pay for the miraculous experience I had at La Paloma, check out my my “Saved My Life” Go Fund Me page at www.gofund.me/nlckak
You know how hard I’ve struggled with bipolar disorder and suicidal visions for the last 4 and 1/2 years. You’ve been by my side with prayers and thoughts and cards for hospitalization after hospitalization. You’ve been my rock on Facebook and my blog and Face-to-Face. And still you saw how I struggled mightily.
Thanks to a month at La Paloma Treatment Center in Memphis, TN, I can say proudly that I am stable and can say a strong “NO” to suicidal visions. You know I haven’t been able to do that!
While there I also worked through grief that was keeping me in a spiral of depression, and now I am eager to take on life again. I can return to the church that has stood by me, and I can move forward in a life with endless possibilities.
I have gotten my life back. Hooray!
I even have a Mission Statement for my life: To live compassionately in the world in ways that bring equality and justice through kindness, intelligence and humor.
And there is a price. I owe over $8,000 to La Paloma, what my insurance would not cover. Would you help me start my life anew by helping me with these medical expenses? Every little bit counts!