Thank You

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Artwork taken from a Facebook page.  If it is your work, tell me so I can give you credit.

I just wanted to let you, my readers, know that I appreciate you.  You do matter to me, you are important to me, and I care very much about you.  Thank you for taking the time to stop by my little corner of the web and reading my ramblings.

Challenge Day

I was asked by a co-worker to be a volunteer for a program my employer had brought in to a local school last week.  The program was called Challenge Day, and was designed to help high school students bond and prevent bullying and other problems schools struggle to deal with.  There are 100 students and 20 adult volunteers for each program, and it lasts for the day.

What I was not prepared for were the emotional heaviness that the program tends to bring out.  I was not prepared for such heavy topics to be disclosed by two students in my group.  I was not prepared to share something so personal with the students (it was about how I wish I was the one who raised my niece and I wished I had custody of her).  I was not prepared about the toll it took on me mentally.  I was not prepared for the heaviness and the cloud to follow me around for several days.  I was not prepared to keep the depression at bay because I had skipped taking my medicine for a couple of days.

While I did preform some self care, I struggled.  I did not share anything with my husband, and did not ask him for comfort.  I thought about scheduling an appointment with a therapist just to get the cloud over my head to turn sunny instead of dark, but finances would not allow me the luxury to spend $75 for one hour that may or may not help.  And if I needed more than one session, I couldn’t afford that either.

Instead, I began watching the Sleepy Hollow TV series on Hulu.  I played Chicken Invaders on my tablet.  I talked a little about it with a couple of co-workers who have gone through the program themselves, and I began expressing my hurt about how many students crossed over the lines during one specific exercise, and how I couldn’t believe such a small town had such huge problems.

It is getting easier for me to function again.  I did not have to resort to alcohol or doing anything stupid in order to cope.  I made it through, for the most part.  But I can assure you that I will not participate in another Challenge Day ever again.  The emotional toll was too high and is not a price I want to pay again.

Still Here

Work has been insane and not allowed me much time to do anything but sleep.  I apologize for not posting last week, and I was not in the best of spaces to post on Tuesday.  I admit to being a little lazy and not posting yesterday, but I promise to make it up to you.  I’ll be back to my regular schedule next week.  I have plenty of topics to write about and many things to get off my chest.

Needs

One of the things I learned in therapy is that I need to take care of my needs myself.  I do not need to depend on anyone to take care of my needs for me.  For years, I had put that burden on my husband and expected him to meet all of my emotional needs, much of the time not even telling him.  While it hurt like hell to learn that lesson the way I did, I began to realize that the therapist was doing me a huge favor.

This weekend, I took care of an emotional need.  I spent a few hours with someone who not only met my emotional needs, but held me close for a long time, giving me a sense of peace.  I know he needed it too.  We went our separate ways afterward, both of us refreshed and happy, looking forward to another weekend where we can meet and again take care of our basic emotional need.

Ever since it was hammered home that my feelings and needs don’t matter, I have begun filling them on my own when I feel the need to do so.  It isn’t often for many of them, and in other cases once a week is just fine.  Either way, it is up to me to have my needs fulfilled and I take care of it myself, depending on no one else but myself.

If you want to call this an affair, fine.  Call it such.  But it is not a simple affair.  It is me meeting a basic need that I don’t trust my husband to fulfill and will likely not ever trust him to fulfill again.  I understand now why some people have emotional affairs.  And I don’t blame them.  I used to be one of those who vilified people who had affairs and cheated on their spouses.  Then I found myself in a position where I realized that it didn’t matter anymore, and that I began taking care of myself all by myself without depending on anyone else to help me or do it for me.

Now, when I hear of someone having an affair, I honestly don’t react by calling the offending party names and making them public enemy number one.  Now, I start to think about how the “injured party” alienated their spouse and why they had to meet their needs elsewhere.  And I feel for them because I realize that they learned the same lesson I did: your feelings and thoughts don’t matter.

Guess what?  You DO matter.  I matter.  We all matter.  And I don’t judge you for decisions you make because I have been forced to make decisions myself that I never dreamed of making.  Do what works for you.  Take care of you.  I know I’m taking great care of me!

Fighting

It seems like I am always fighting.  Fighting the depression monster from taking over.  Fighting mania from happening or getting too out of hand.  Fighting stereotypes and stigmas.  Fighting ignorance.

I wish for one day that I could rest and not be fighting anything.  One day to not have to worry about routines and what other people say and think.  One day to just be myself.

Then I start to wonder who I really am because all I’ve ever known is the fight against depression and bipolar disorder.  And I will always be a warrior.

Tonight, I will crawl into bed, shedding every bit of my armor, hoping to rest so I can awaken and fight the beast that is depression for another day.

The Cost of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder and depression run rampant on my mother’s side of the family.  My grandmother has been treated for depression, but I suspect she may have been Bipolar Type 2.  Out of her five girls, only one was not bipolar, but she did have anxiety disorders and one took her own life.  One of the Bipolar daughters self medicates with alcohol and is a raging alcoholic.  There are 10 grandchildren, and three of them are confirmed as having Bipolar Disorder, although I suspect more have been treated for depression or may even be a Type 2 and it is not discussed.

I was diagnosed when my son was 2; he is now 25.  I have often worried about passing this wretched disorder on to him, but apparently he inherited the vanilla depression and anxiety.  I worry about him often, and worry about him having children.  While he is aware that I have Bipolar Disorder, he says that he sees more of the depression end of it and figures I have depression.  He says I am not as crazy as my younger brother, who is a Type 1 and is not properly medicated.  (He either “fakes it until he can make it” and get what he knows doesn’t work or most of the time he doesn’t take his medicine consistently.  He is definitely addicted to the mania and topping it off with not being able to tell the truth to save his life is just the cherry on the cake.)

I watched Son like a hawk when he was  younger.  I even took him to counseling and be treated for depression when his father left the state when he was 6.  He was on a low dose of antidepressant for a while to get him over the hump, and I worked with his counselor on how to handle his behavior and his acting out over his father.  Even now, Son is grateful that I have always been an advocate for therapy as he is able to talk about it some with me and he was grateful that I helped him find a therapist he trusts and he can work with.  (Now, if I can just get him to be able to afford to keep going now that he has insurance again…)

It infuriates me that mental health is not taken as seriously as physical health.  In my state, it is the least funded mandate and mental health services are almost non existent.  Even with insurance, mental health services are severely limited and the costs are sky high.  I have a $1,000 deductible, which means that I have to pay for my therapy for an average of $80 per one hour session.  I have to pay for 13 sessions on my own first before my insurance will cover 80%.  This makes no sense as I pay a $25 co pay to see my doctor every three months to get my Latuda, afterward having to pay an additional $50 after my insurance is billed.  I can’t afford that.  I do good to pay for the psych doc and often my physical health is set aside because I can’t afford the additional cost every three months of a primary care physician to handle the diabetes.

I realize I am fortunate.  I shudder to think about those of you who don’t have insurance and who can’t afford meds or doctors or any other sort of help.  I feel your pain.  And I’ve been there.  It sucks.  At least now when the company I work for looks around for lower insurance rates, I am not the reason why the rates are so high.  That’s what you get for having a workforce made up of mostly women over 60.

Too Close To Home

Occasionally, my husband will post some really personal stuff on his Facebook account.  Much of it is something that he will compare with his personal experience, and it is rather brutal in its honesty and sometimes it seems like it is very emotionally raw.  Recently, he posted this regarding the local Pride celebration this year:

…It took me several years to accept and realize that I might actually be gay (after identifying as bi for a few years) and my times here helped out on that journey as well as other life experiences…

Now wait just a minute.  I’ve been aware that he was bi-sexual for several years.  He “came out” to me, and at the time, it didn’t matter to me.  I didn’t care, it was just another label to attach to him.  (This was before his father died and he joined the cult.)  I thought it would be fun because we could do some things together, such as see a Chippendale’s show.  I even went with him one year to a Pride celebration.  I even gave him the freedom to explore his gay side by giving him permission to go to some local gay clubs without me, with the promise that he was looking but not touching.  If he touched, he never told.  And I never asked.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to know.

Now, after the cult, it is painful to read this sort of revelation.  What hurts is not the fact that I read it on Facebook instead of him telling me, but it reinforces that my feelings and thoughts don’t matter because it is all about him (a lesson I learned too well in counseling).  I still don’t trust him with anything emotional of mine, and yet this feels like another knife in the heart to go along with the others he put there.

I haven’t begun to seek out groups for straight spouses of gay persons.  I don’t even have a clue how to begin to process this nugget of information about Hubby being gay.  Sometimes I wonder if it is just a delayed reaction because I was numb when he first came out.  Sometimes I wonder if it hurts so much more now because I still am raw when it comes to bombs like this after the cult.  And sometimes, I think it justifies me meeting my needs how I see fit and without him.  That includes the emotional ones.

This is not something I dare to discuss with him without a neutral party present.  And I damn sure am not going back to that idiot counselor who basically reinforced that my feelings and needs don’t matter, that it is all about him because I have made things all about me for most of our relationship and that it is his turn.  Bullshit.  I need to find someone who is experienced in this dynamic, and those people are few and far between.  Not to mention, I can’t afford it and I know there isn’t someone like that in the health system Hubby has access to.

I haven’t let on that I saw his post.  And I’m not going to.  I’m just thinking that this is another cycle that I need to get ready for, and that it will last for about 2 years.  It is his pattern.  I just dread what will happen after this one ends.

Routine

One of the most important things I can do to manage bipolar disorder is to have a routine.  By establishing a routine, I am better able to keep my moods from swinging so wildly and I am able to function knowing what will happen each day and when.

For example, I wake up every morning at 7 am.  Since I don’t have to be at work until 8:30, it gives me time to take a shower if I wish, get dressed, eat breakfast, fix my hair, and leave the house.  I work from 8:30 to 5:00, getting home around 5:30.  Either Hubby or I fix dinner, eat by 6, and I relax and enjoy a quiet evening until around 10:30.  That’s when I have a little snack, take my Latuda, and get ready for bed, finally falling asleep between 11 and 11:30.  On the weekends, I usually sleep in until 8 or 8:30, then get up and clean the house after I have gotten dressed and had breakfast.

For me, having a routine helps me deal with the chaos that is my day job.  I manage an office of 12 people, and about the only thing set in stone is that I have meetings on Monday with the boss to get my tasks for the week and to go over any other items that need her or my attention.  I get a large amount of steps in going all over the office either making ornery office equipment to work correctly, show a co-worker how to do something, or answer the phone while heading back to my office/heading out to a co-worker’s office.  I literally do not know what will happen from one moment to the next, and while I can sort of manage that chaos, I take comfort in knowing it is just a small part of my daily routine and allows me to remain calm.

Decompressing in the evening is a must for me.  If I’m not writing blog entries for this site, then I am either reading a book or I am coloring using one of those neat coloring apps available for my tablet.  Sometimes I make things for breakfast for the week, sometimes I make things for lunch for the week, and sometimes I just like to sit and listen to music.  I do watch a few shows on television: NCIS, Supernatural, and the Dynasty remake.  Usually the television is on in the background, just loud enough to be background noise while I go and do what I need to get done.

How about you?  Does a routine work best for you?  How do you manage your mood swings?  I’d love to know!

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