Chopping Onions: The Truth is in Our Core

Chopping Onions: The Truth is in Our Core.

Psychiatric Mess

Anyone been in the psychiatric hospital and had a great, fun-loving, good ol’ time?

I apologize to those who have experienced trauma in the hospital, who have been in there involuntarily and/or due to an attempted suicide or depression or instability or any of the difficulties related to those.  I was probably the person you most hated in there.

My experience in the hospital was a manic one.  But I felt safe and I felt like I could be who I was.  I felt the rush of mania – that extreme, euphoric feeling where you can be and do anything, and why are all these other people in here not having as great a time as I am?  I had forgotten any and all negative experiences I have ever had and was floating near the moon for the first half of my trip.

I felt slightly more and more defused when I realized I didn’t care whether I got out or not.  When I started to realize that my kids were out there without me, and that I didn’t really care all that much cause I was just having too much fun.

Trust me, I came crashing down, so those of you who are rolling their eyes at my insanity, know that I got what was coming to me.

But I just wonder if there’s anyone else who actually enjoyed their stay?  I got food made for me (best part), I had a shower (almost) every day, and that alone was incredible.  I had spent so much of myself taking care of others, that being manic and so exorbitantly happy made me a fool, but a happy hap-happy one.

I FELT so much of everything.  Ah, mania.  You tricky trickster, you.  If only I had realized it was all destined to come crashing down.  I could have selfishly stayed that way forever, not knowing or caring the difficulties my family was having on the outside.

But I did stay manic for quite a long time.  When I got in there, they had taken me off of all of my meds (do they do that for everyone?) and I was med-free for almost a week, and boy did I have fun.  I felt like I was truly ME.

I’m not trying to glorify this experience (although I totally am.)  It’s just that mania is really something special.  I know it’s dangerous.  I know it spins out of control.  I know eventually I want to rip off all my clothes and be naked and the irritability and anger comes eventually.  But music sounded better, dance parties were spontaneous and rock-hard awesome, and food was the greatest thing ever.  I just felt alive and felt like I was finally ME.

Please, oh please, please don’t hate on me for this post.  Cause – just to justify this post – last night I was wishing I could reach back to the back of my skull and rip my hair and skin off of the top of my head, pull forward, and reveal my skull and hopefully let all of the agony seep out.  Cause I hated myself so much that I just wished and wished that I was dead.

Oh man, that was totally unnecessary to add.  I’m a douche sometimes.  I guess it is pretty obvious by now that I feel immense guilt for having such a great time.  I had no responsibilities, and to those who were carrying them all for me, I’m so so very very sorry.  I just can’t deny that I felt free.  Maybe you would have, too.

Google Searching All Readers

Excuse me, could I have your assistance, please?

So, I have a friend* who needs some help finding bloggers who share her predicament.  She has joined an already established family and is feeling the pressures of being a mom to kids that she did not raise (I believe they call it a blended family?).  She feels she’s stepping into their life and not her own, new life.  Do any of you guys know of a blogger (or bloggers, plural) that she could connect with for help?

I could do a search on this, but I feel like my readers and the bloggers in my own pool will know better than a random search.  So I’m calling out to everyone who reads any of my posts or who follows me, to find out if there’s someone out there in the same situation, as I’d like to send you her way.

Thank you.

(*NO – it’s totally not me.  That’s the truth, really.)

Driving While Bipolar

Driving while Bipolar is hazardous to your health.

Traffic lights are points of contention.  You are either trapped in the pain and agony of depression, convinced at a dead stop that driving through the red light just might be the solution you’ve been looking for – or you are so lost in your own thoughts that you mistakenly drive right through it.

Okay, maybe that’s just me.  I don’t want to hurt anyone and I certainly don’t desire to run a red light.  But sometimes, I do want to die.

You see, to all the bipolars out there who understand this, I don’t need to explain myself.  But let me explain to those who don’t:  It’s not always a conscious choice.  Sometimes it really does feel like the only right thing to do.  We are fully aware of the troubles and worries we cause those around us (they have their own SUPPORT groups even!) and sometimes, just sometimes, you think to yourself that they would be better off without you.

Last night my husband and I were talking about acceptance.  Acceptance of the fact that I am bipolar.

I’m always trying to think of a way to control my depression, to make it go away, to become something different.  And I constantly think that if I just think hard enough or just try hard enough, I can come up with the solution, as if it’s a math equation with only one answer that I just haven’t figured out yet.

He’s right.  I have not accepted this part of myself yet.  This whole of myself.  I have not accepted that I have an illness, an illness that produces the following obstacles:

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. They are different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through from time to time. Bipolar disorder symptoms can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. But bipolar disorder can be treated, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives.

(That last part, I’m not so sure about.)

Sometimes, I can live with the fact that I have bipolar.  I can recognize the symptoms, truly try to cope by doing things that are good for all people, bipolar or not:  exercise, eat right, yada yada yada.  But there are many more times when I just can’t see beyond my own internal struggles.

Having a strong support system is a special blessing I have that some don’t have.  My entire family backs me up and steps in when necessary – when they see the signs I cannot see – and my doctors and therapist appointments and medication help, too.

But most of the time, I fight the disease.  I fight it tooth and nail.  I worry myself almost to the point of death.  And at every stop light, I wonder.

My Islam

Qur'an image in masjidThere is a new masjid being built within driving distance to my new house.  I’ll be moving in March, and I took this as a sign that this is a new start for me and a positive one.

I haven’t been very proud of myself as a Muslim lately.  I prayed recently and begged for forgiveness for all the ways I have strayed from the straight path.  I won’t air all of my sins and faults, I will keep those hidden so as not to draw more attention to them.  But I do believe I will change insha’allah.  My heart is in the right place, I just need to tune myself back up to get in touch with Allah again.  I know Allah has been with me throughout this time, I just haven’t been doing the best at recognizing Him when I see Him.

The other day my sister-in-law was asking me about Islam.  She was telling me the things she does not “agree with” in the Qur’an (she was born a Muslim, but she has not surrendered to the path of Allah) and I began to explain to her some of the parts of the Qur’an that people misinterpret.  I was telling her all kinds of things about the Qur’an, about how if you believe that it is truly from God, you can’t “disagree” with the things Allah has laid out in the Qur’an.

I asked her if she’d ever read the Qur’an.  She said she had not.  I explained to her that alot of people pull parts out of the Qur’an and that they base their judgements on one passage, or one statement.  But they don’t look at the Qur’an as a whole or investigate what it really says.  The majority of the Qur’an is about peace and love and love of God.  It is not about killing people or glorified deaths of people who do evil things.  It comes down the fact that Islam is perfect, Muslims are not.  We all have faults and we all do bad things and some things people do are worse than other things people do.

I just want to get back to a place where I am praying.  I know it is best for me.  And when I pray, I know I am able to put things into perspective.

Recently, my dad, who is and always has been Catholic, was reminding me to “keep the faith.”  To trust in God, to put my faith in Him, to trust God to carry me through this move, as I was stressing about jobs and money and all the hows and whens and details of the move.  He said “you’re worrying about things that are out of your control.”  Alot of times, I need that reminder.  I can’t seem to pull myself out of that Worry Tornado when it hits me.

And I was grateful for that reminder.

I have been given so so so many blessings in this life here on Earth.  So many blessings.  And I feel Allah has given me these blessings as a test.  As a test to see if I will fall back on Allah, trust in Allah, be grateful to Allah for these blessings.  And pray.

I was talking to my sister-in-law’s boyfriend recently.  He served in the military overseas as a sniper.  He was injured badly, and at one point, he was thrown from a military vehicle when they hit one of those bombs on the side of the road.  He said that as he was flying through the air, he had a flash of his entire life that passed through his mind.  It was like time slowed and he saw everything.  EVERYTHING go by in the flash of a second. That is how Allah describes our life in the dunya.  The true life – the afterlife – is for an eternity.  Forever.

We can’t afford to waste our time on the dunya (the life of this world).  Our time here is so short and this life is temporary.  When we die, our life on this earth will feel like it was in the time span of the blink of an eye, the snap of your fingers.  That’s what this young soldier had described to me.  And I know it will happen when we die.  I know we will see it all and it will seem like it had barely even happened, as if it barely had any meaning at all. Only it does have meaning.  Great meaning.  The result of our actions and thoughts and words here on earth will determine how we spend our eternity.

They say some pray out of fear of Hell.  Some pray out of a desire for Heaven.  And others pray for a love of Allah.  I want to be of the ones who pray for a love of Allah. Insha’allah, with the new masjid only minutes from my house, I will finally be able to practice my faith in the way that I desire.  To find other Muslims who practice their faith in a positive, earnest, sincere way.  To have an ummah and attend the Friday prayers.  And insha’allah, pray out of my love of Allah.

Wabi Sabi

Read the story of Wabi Sabi to my kids the other day.  I found myself in tears.  Not sure why or how it happened.  I don’t really shed too many tears these days.  I’ve heard that certain medications can do that to you.  In some ways, I miss it.  I miss the emotional release I feel afterwards.  I imagine all the feelings like vines twisted up, gripping my insides with their thorns digging into the meaty parts.

I forgot how to relax.  In therapy, they talk about mindfulness.  I never practiced it before.  My therapist led me through it, and I instantly felt a rush of intense emotions.  Tears flooded my eyes and rolled down my cheeks.

I used to use a visual image that I’d made up in my mind.  Water crashing on the beach.   I was never there, so it was mostly only visual.  But when I sat in her office that day, she walked  me through an image that is so vivid in my mind it’s like I can reach out and wrap my fingers around it and balance it in my open palms:

I’m camping with my sister.  Everyone has gone to sleep and I lay awake in my tent.  I quietly unzip my tent and open it to the dark forest.  Everything is alive with sound.  I tiptoe past her tent and walk over to the rushing river, furiously pushing jagged rocks for years until they are nothing but smooth stones.  I put my feet in the water, and let the water run over it.  I sit down on the edge and just sit.  For a moment, I feel human.

Parenting While Bipolar

When I was a fifth grader, I wrote poetry.  I didn’t want to submit a collection of poems for a school writing fair, because I felt it wasn’t good enough.  My teacher approached me and asked me if I’d written the poems myself.  He found it hard to believe I had experienced the deep and powerful emotions I conveyed in my words.  I was shocked he asked me that question (of course, I had written them myself, I would never submit something dishonestly represented as my own) and although he implored me to submit the collection so that it could be on display, I refused.

This was my early memory of the feelings and scattered emotions tied to my bipolar disorder.  To have a little girl bring out such powerful words and creativity made the teachers look again at who I was as a person.

I wasn’t abused or neglected or any such thing.  I had a decent childhood, the last born in a quad of four girls with varying emotional disorders, but strong confidence and intelligence.  I was blessed, but still tormented inside my own mind and soul.

This torment continues to this day.  When I was 26 and planning the birth of my first child, I read an article and a book both of which advised that if you were bipolar, it was best to reconsider having children.  I was offended and felt demonized, like my mental illness was such a horrible and awful part of my identity, that passing it onto a child would be an act of great injustice.

That sentiment has stuck with me to this day, because the stigma against mental illness still bears a strong hold on my psyche.  To see it so blatantly and outrightly written out in a published book or published article, made me lose confidence that I seem to never have gained back.

When I am impatient with my kids, which often I am, I try to remind myself that it is not a result of my mental illness, and that many parents have difficulties similar to my own when parenting.  We yell and then wish we had softened our voices.  We don’t have time to play, even though this time with them is so short.  We do the dishes, but neglect their yearning for our time and attention. The house may be clean, but what about the time we are missing playing, teaching, talking, laughing.

I want to change these things about myself.  I cannot take away my illness, but I can show them they are loved and I will pray that they grow healthy and happy.  Mental illness or not.