Mental Illness Awareness Series (Part 5 of 5)

The conclusion of my Mental Illness Awareness Series is centered around thoughts and lessons I have learned in the time since the previously shared manuscript was written, which was two years ago.  I wanted to touch on some feelings regarding my mental illness, my continued struggle with needing medication, the added benefits I’ve enjoyed from a changed diet and exercise, and the importance of finding the right therapist. Continue reading

Mental Illness Awareness Series (Part 4 of 5)

Welcome back for Part 4 of my Mental Illness Awareness Series.  Today I am sharing the final portion of the manuscript, which you can get background information on at the beginning of my Part 1 post.  As explained in Part 2,  this was originally written for women with Christian beliefs, particularly Latter-day Saint women.  My hope is that you will find this post helpful regardless of your religious background.

I have not made any changes to the original manuscript, which was completed two years ago, making my battle with mental illness close to ten years now.  It’s hard to believe I have struggled with this for so long, but each year I have greater insight.  I look forward to sharing my current feelings next week, as a follow-up to this final portion of the manuscript. Continue reading

Mental Illness Awareness Series (Part 3 of 5)

If you’re just now joining me, as I share this five-part series outlining my journey with mental illness, please check out the more detailed information about this series in the beginning of the Part 1 and Part 2 posts.  Seeing as how I did not edit the original version of the manuscript in any way before posting here, the blog that I reference towards the end of this post is in regards to this blog, First You Must Begin. Continue reading

Mental Illness Awareness Series (Part 2 of 5)

Today I am sharing part two of my Mental Illness Awareness Series, which is the continuation of my journey with mental illness.  Background information can be found in my previous post from this series.  The short story is that the following is taken from my portion of  an unpublished manuscript that was designed to bring increased understanding of mental illness. Continue reading

Mental Illness Awareness Series (Part 1 of 5)

A couple of years ago, I had a friend approach me about contributing to a book she was writing.  The purpose of her book was to bring increased understanding and awareness to the topic of mental illness.  As she began to write it, she felt impressed to include other women she knew who suffered various degrees of mental illness.  Having been open with her about my battle with mental illness, she invited me to contribute to her book.  Unfortunately, that book has not been picked up yet.  However, feeling passionate about the purpose of her book, and the cause as a whole, I have decided to share my portion of the manuscript here.  My part was designed to comprise an entire chapter, which seems a bit much to process in one blog post.  As a result, I am breaking my part of the manuscript into a five-part series.  The first four posts will make up the chapter as it was written nearly two years ago.  The fifth, and final, post will comprise my added insight that I have received since that time.  Being that I have been diagnosed with having Bipolar II disorder, this series will wrap up on March 30th, which has been set aside as World Bipolar Day.  I recently learned that this day was chosen because it is Vincent Van Gogh’s birthday, and it was believed that he probably had a bipolar disorder.  Being that my mental illness was not first diagnosed as Bipolar II disorder, I felt it better to refer to this series as Mental Illness Awareness.  I am all too familiar with a broad spectrum of mental illness symptoms.  So, without further ado, I share with you my Mental Illness Awareness Series (Part 1 of 5)…

Mental Illness Awareness

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My husband will tell you that my battle with depression began the moment that I learned my mom had Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer.  While this news shattered my childish belief that my family was somehow exempt from tragedy, I consider that a time when devastating circumstances merely had a negative impact on my customarily cheerful outlook.  I believe my true battle with depression began the first few days following the birth of my eldest child, Abigail.  That’s when I began to notice the crippling effects of depression in my daily life.

Abigail arrived six weeks and one day early.  We were, of course, completely caught off guard.  Her early arrival came unexpected with no reason or cause.  Every mother has a dynamic birth story; mine was comprised of confusion, excitement, fear, and anticipation.  In less than 24 hours, I had gone from questioning the authenticity of each contraction to delivering my baby girl after four pushes and several failed attempts to slow down her premature birth.  The moment I first heard Abigail cry out, I felt like I could take on the world.  Giving birth was the most natural high I had ever experienced.  It was everything after that point that didn’t live up to my dreams and expectations of childbearing.  In my mind, she was supposed to be cleaned, wrapped, and laid sweetly in my arms.  Instead she was poked, prodded, and then briefly held next to me for one quick picture and a peck on the cheek before being whisked away to the NICU.

It was three days before I even had the chance to hold my sweet baby girl.  Even then, she was so fully wrapped in cords, intubation tubing, and padding that it hardly felt like we were connected.  Of course, she still melted my heart in a million ways.  She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.  In the moment, everything felt so surreal that it wasn’t until later that I realized how gypped and jaded I felt over the whole affair.  I grew up with this idea of childbirth being a painful process that melted away the moment you held your baby.  But I didn’t get to hold my baby the moment she was born.  Instead, following her delivery, I sat alone in a hospital room waiting for my epidural to wear off so I could be cleared to see my daughter in the NICU.  I thought, “This is not how it was supposed to go.”

First Hold

Around the two-week mark, Abigail finally joined us at home.  That was when I started to notice that I didn’t feel like myself anymore.  Motherhood will certainly change you, but this felt different.  I felt isolated and numb.   The feelings of joy and zest that were once commonplace in my life were few and far between.  Everything began to wear on me.  I started to shut down.  It got to the point that my brain couldn’t even process what it should be doing, let alone trying to complete such a task.  I saved any ounce of energy I had for the needs of Abigail’s survival alone.  To make matters worse, she was both colicky and dealing with acid reflux.  I spent the larger portion of my day feeling defeated.  I became jealous of my husband who got to leave for work.  Then, upon his return home, I would be resentful of the smiles he would instantly receive from our baby girl.  Again, I thought, “This is not how it was supposed to be.”

Before Abigail had even turned one month old, my husband saw the situation for what it was and knew I needed help.  I was losing ground fast.  At the time, he worked close to home and was able to come home for lunch.  He left in the morning and gave me ONE chore to complete before his return for lunch.  Just one.

We had a baby bottle warmer – one of those things that first-time moms think they can’t live without.  The water inside needed to be changed.  My one chore was to dump the water out and fill the cup back up.  I didn’t have to clean it.  I didn’t have to do any special treatment to it.  I had to dump the water out and fill it back up.  Guess what?  I DID IT!  I felt a brief moment of excitement having actually completed a task.  My husband was so proud of me.  He sincerely congratulated me and I enjoyed the satisfaction that came from that moment.  This is what my life had come to.  Prior to Abigail’s birth, I was successfully working full-time as an assistant to the CIO of a mortgage lending company and now dumping out water had become a great accomplishment.

As I sat in my 6-week follow-up appointment, my doctor asked me how I was feeling emotionally.  I was so ignorant to the idea of postpartum depression (PPD) that I hadn’t even considered it at that point.  Upon hearing his words, I began to cry.  This whole time, I had figured it was just “baby blues” – those short-lived feelings of emotional instability that most moms feel after childbirth as their hormones adjust to non-pregnancy.  My understanding was that PPD was designated for those who were so miserable they wanted to harm their babies.  That was not me.  I loved and adored my baby girl, even though our connection felt strained.  Though, admittedly, I almost walked out on her one time just to stop from hearing the endless colicky crying.  It was my emotional state that was the issue.  It was my lack of desire to do anything.  It was my realization that I was not finding joy in any of my usual activities nor was I accomplishing the basic daily tasks.  I used to be so upbeat and cheerful that my brother would joke, “Have a bad day, Sara.  It builds character.”  Based on his belief, I gained more character in the first few months of my daughter’s life than the twenty-five years prior combined.  I had postpartum depression.

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Check back here next Wednesday for Mental Illness Awareness Series (Part 2 of 5)

Lift Another’s Burden

You may have noticed that I recklessly tossed aside my goal for one post per week on this blog?  I had good reason.

First, I had surgery.  Seeing as how I’ve already been straight forward with my readers, I’m not going to balk now.  I had a breast reduction done to alleviate back pain as well as other irritants that come from being top-heavy.  I wouldn’t say it was the BEST decision I’ve ever made.  I still count marrying my husband as the answer to that matter of business.  But, it’s pretty far up on the list of good choices I’ve made in life.  While recovering from surgery is reason enough to take a blogging break, it was more that it didn’t seem right to post from an altered state of being due to pain management medicine.  That’s my attempt at diplomatically saying, “Pain killers make me loopy.”  Nah, you didn’t need any of that.

Another reason for letting a few weeks pass by was that I needed to re-evaluate my purpose for this blog.  There are times when I had hoped for some monetary gain from my blogging efforts, but never at the cost of selling myself out.  Please don’t get me wrong.  I think it’s awesome all the things that people are able to do to bring in a real income from blogging.  However, that is not my primary reason for starting this blog.  If it had been, I certainly wouldn’t have picked to focus on matters of inspiration and a healthy emotional well-being.  That topic is not a guaranteed sell.  Home projects, parenting, fashion, and cooking blogs are your money makers.  And there are loads of tips and tricks to ensure you bring in significant revenue monthly, but some of them feel too fake or forced to sit right with me.  So, while you may see some ads pop up on my site, you won’t ever see it bogged down with advertisement videos, sponsors, and the like.

What I hope you’ll find instead, is my genuine desire to share a piece of myself in the hopes of lifting another’s burden.  I hope you’ll find a girl who is willing to talk about the painful topics of losing a loved one, battling mental illness, and other difficult life matters, without succumbing to those same heart breaks.  My inspiration for this site started with a little seed nearly ten years ago, as I battled with Postpartum Depression.  The glimpse of hope that I felt when another woman had expressed not feeling “perfectly awesome” after having a baby, as I was so deep in feelings of hopelessness, will forever stick with me.  Her honesty gave me hope.  If my honesty helps even one person feel like they’re not alone in their struggles, then my purpose for this blog has been fulfilled.  I have helped lift another’s burden.

I’m not certain how often I will visit the writing board from this time forward.  I no longer feel inclined to provide a post just to provide a post.  I want to write when I have a message to share or a piece of me to give.  To publish a post simply to keep traffic flowing does not seem suitable at this time.  So, in the meantime, may you enjoy this holiday season with your loved ones.  May it be filled with opportunities to lift another’s burden; that is my hope for this blog, as it is for my daily life.  And, may your Christmas be merry and your New Year be bright!

Christmas be merry

Never Give Up

I was helping my second grader with her reading homework the other day.  I was assisting more with her understanding the meaning of a verb, rather than intervening.  It’s important for a child to do their own work and come to their own conclusions.    Of course, it’s tough for me not to swoop in and direct her to the right answer, but that doesn’t allow her to learn and grow.  Plus, it gives me no indication of where she is academically, if I’m doing it for her.  And, I’m so glad that I got to listen to her thought process as it pertained to the open-ended questions.  Her assignment was based on Aesop’s Fable The Tortoise and the Hare.  A common one for sure, with a moral that “slow and steady wins the race.”  However, that was not how my daughter saw it.

After she found her verbs and circled her adjectives, she came to the open-ended questions.  The first question was, “What did you learn from this fable?”  She was quick to answer with, “Never give up.”  I thought about trying to have her think more about the story, but then I realized the question wasn’t, “What do you think Aesop meant for the moral of the story to be?”  It was, “What did you learn from this fable?”  And she learned a powerful message.

Never Give Up

It got me thinking how both the tortoise and the hare finished the race.  They had different approaches and there was only one “winner,” but they both finished.  The Hare didn’t wake up and say, “Screw it.  I already lost.”  Neither of them gave up.

Now let me add, before we focus too much on the word never, that I know it’s not right to speak in absolutes, such as always and never.  There are things in life that may seem to be giving up (such as divorce), but may instead be one or both of the people deciding to not give up on themselves.  Not that I am pro-divorce.  I am simply stating that I recognize that there are instances when “giving up” is a healthier solution.  It’s these instances that I am not speaking about today.

Today I am speaking about never giving up on yourself.  Having experienced multiple times when giving up on life sounded like the optimal solution (a post for another day), and seeing what blessings have transpired after those dark and dreadful moments, I feel confident on this matter.  I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter if I’m the Tortoise or the Hare, as long as I finish the race by crossing the proper finish line versus creating my finish line.

On a much less depressing note, I am learning to never give up on other matters in my life that could use a little extra focus, love, and appreciation.  This blog is one example of that.  I have wanted to throw in the towel in regards to this blog more times than I can count.  While there may come a time when that is what is best for myself and our family, today is not that day.  So, stay tuned, and never give up!

It’s Time for Work!

I strive to be as open and honest about my bouts with depression and anxiety, in hopes that my candidness may help someone else who feels they are suffering alone.  Even though the rational side of me is well aware that others suffer similarly, there are times when I feel isolated in my struggle with mental illness.  Fortunately, I am not enduring a drastic low right now.  However, my anxiety has been a constant battle as of late.  The most common anxiety indicator for me is chest pain.  It’s hard to describe the physical feeling, as the chest pain manifests differently depending on what type of stress I’m trying to cope with.  For instance, the chest pain that comes from a large grocery bill when I know money is tight, is different from the pain that comes from feeling overwhelmed emotionally with personal matters.  With an upcoming move, it seems I’m having to endure both types.  Moves are expensive and emotionally draining, am I right?  This is why I need to rely on this quote I found by the late Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gordon B. Hinckley, which reads, “The best antidote for worry is work. The best medicine for despair is service. The best cure for weariness is to help someone even more tired.”  Reading this made me think, “it’s time for work!”

Best Antidote for Worry

I realize that I’ve discussed anxiety and not worry, but many feel they go hand in hand.  I look at worry as anxiety’s intern.  Worry is more controlled than anxiety.  Worry feels like something I can reason with and overcome.  Anxiety feels like this beast that takes over me.  While worry seems more manageable than anxiety, my guess is that they can both be eradicated with work.  So, that’s what I’m going to do: work.  Thankfully, I have plenty of opportunities to work, as boxes don’t pack themselves.

While, I don’t feel like I’m struggling with despair, I have still witnessed the great blessings that come from forgetting myself and serving others.  I’ve also noticed, being the wife of an ER Nurse, that my burdens seem to pale in comparison when I hear what others are enduring at the hospital.  There is always someone who is in greater need of comfort and service.  My desire is to increase my efforts to work and serve, and realize that those efforts will only bring about good.

And in those moments, when the days work is done but my mind does not seem to agree, I will try a little trick I discovered the last time I struggled greatly with anxiety.  Instead of thinking of all the “what ifs,” I will focus my mind on positive memories.  At these times, I like to recall memories of my mom.  I look at the memories as real and solid.  The future is made up of unknowns and the memories are fact.  Sometimes, the best way to stop fretting, is to remind yourself of all the goodness that has been your reality thus far in life.

With that being said, it’s time for work!

Worthy of Love and Belonging

Last Thursday, I had one of those moments with my eldest that reminded me that I had Enrolled in Parenting 505.  A simple task that I had given my daughter to do turned into a yelling match for some reason I still don’t understand.  I ended up embarrassed by my own role in the argument and hurt by the words that my daughter yelled at me.  It wasn’t pretty.  We didn’t end on a bad note, but the sting of my hurt stuck with me and I went to my room and cried, once she had gone to bed.  It’s moments like these that I wish I could will my mom to be alive so that I could call her and be comforted.  Thankfully, I had the forethought to reach out to another mom who is always good about reminding me of my worth and how we’re all imperfect people trying to do our best.  However, I still somehow managed to forget her words of encouragement as the evening passed and I went to bed with a series of self-loathing thoughts and tear-stained cheeks.  A few days later, I was reminded of something I read in one of my favorite books, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown, “If we want to fully experience love and belonging, we must believe we are worthy of love and belonging.”

I don’t know how one grows to feel unworthy of love and belonging.  I don’t think there is some statistic that ties such a thing to something like “being breast fed versus bottle fed” and, if there was, I wouldn’t believe it anyway.  You can’t isolate feelings of unworthiness down to one source, so I see no point in trying to figure it out.  But, sadly, I am a victim of believing myself unworthy of love and belonging.  I can say with certainty that these feelings were felt long before any diagnosis of depression or Bipolar II Disorder.  Before you go worrying about me, I know in theory I am worthy of being loved and accepted.  Most of us know that in theory, right?  Also, I don’t want people worrying that I grew up without “I love you” and support from my family, because I did have all of that.  Again, I don’t know the source of these feelings, but the fact is that I somehow have deemed myself unworthy of love and belonging.

Worthy of Love and Belonging

The scariest part of coming to terms with how I feel about myself is realizing that, based on our last argument, my daughter appears to be having a similar view of herself.  My daughter was able to articulate herself in such a way that I knew the source of her words had to do with her feeling unworthy of love and belonging.  While I don’t go blaming my parents for my feelings of unworthiness, I certainly blame myself for my daughter feeling this way.  I don’t know if that’s unfair or justified for me to do so, but if my eight-year-old feels like less than enough, then I cannot separate myself from that.  Now the question is, what do I do with the knowledge that my daughter and I are facing a similar struggle of believing we are unworthy of love and belonging?

There are several points that Brown makes in her book The Gifts of Imperfection, but I think a big one for my eldest daughter and myself is that we confuse guilt and shame.  If I boldly reprimand my daughter, her instant response is to cry out, “I’m a bad person!” or “I’m the worst kid ever!”  Mind you, I have said nothing about her character in my disciplining nor any such thing about her being a bad person or child.  I merely pointed out that she didn’t listen or that she made a bad choice.  She is the one that turns it into, “I’m a bad person.”  I am quick to correct her about the difference between shame (I am bad) versus guilt (I did something bad).  The interesting part is that I find it so absurd that she takes my disciplining and turns it into a five-alarm situation of self-loathing.  But, guess what?  I do that too.  I don’t cry out with wailing and gnashing of teeth, but I sure as heck go to my room and tell myself what a horrible person I am for yelling at my daughter.  Then to make sure I really give myself the proper punishment, I begin to tell myself all the other aspects of life that I am horrible at.  I am a horrible wife, because I don’t prepare dinner.  I am a horrible at-home Mom, because my children watch too much TV.  I am a horrible friend, because I don’t serve others enough.  I am horrible with finances, because I like to eat out.  You get the idea.  I’m really good at this self-loathing thing.  Well, well, well, looky there!  I just gave myself a compliment.  At least we know I’m good at something – shaming myself.

Here’s the best part – I just had this epiphany of the similarities between my daughter and I while I was typing this post.  That’s how blind I’ve been to hers and my struggle.  I recall my therapist trying to teach me the difference between shame and guilt years ago, because she saw that my confusion between the two was having a damaging affect.  I didn’t understand how I was mixing the two up in my daily life nor did I grasp the negative affect it was having on my emotional wellbeing, until now.  I understood the difference in theory, but I did not understand their difference in practice.  Does that even make sense?  It’s the same thing with feeling worthy.  I logically understand that, as a person, I am worthy, but I don’t feel worthy.  Just like I get the difference in the definitions between guilt and shame, but I don’t recognize when I am mixing the two up in my daily life.  I honestly did not get it until this very moment.  ::mind blown::  I am behaving in the same absurd manner as my daughter is when she takes my discipline and turns it into believing that she’s a bad person.  I throw the same fit.  I just do it in a more controlled manner and somehow I’ve convinced myself that that is okay.  Oh my gosh!  I now get why my husband gets so frustrated with me when I share my self-loathing with him.  He sees how absurd it is for me to believe myself a bad person for having made a mistake in a particular moment.  He knows better.

So, is confusion between shame and guilt the only cause of feeling unworthy?  No.  But it certainly doesn’t help my situation if I’m turning my mistakes into a blanket statement of me being an awful person.  It’s no wonder I feel unworthy of such love and belonging.  Woah.  This is a lot to process.  I guess the first step would be to catch myself in the action and teach myself to separate shame and guilt.  My husband is always good about stopping me in my tracks when my self-loathing begins, but he’s not always with me.  He simply says one line, “Put the phone down,” to get me to stop speaking negatively about myself.  His line is in reference to the fact that he once told me that my self-loathing is like having Satan on speed dial, calling him up, listening intently as he whispers all these terrible things about me, and then foolishly believing him.  So when I get going on my laundry list of reasons why I am “less than,” my husband quickly tells me to, “Put the phone down.”  It works every time.  I can be redirected, because in theory I know I am worth being loved.  The breakdown occurs when I’m alone with my thoughts, I pull up my speed dial, and suddenly Satan and I are catching up on old times.

I know that I am loved and accepted.  I’d like to believe that my daughter knows she is as well, as I try to show her often and tell her regularly.  However, she and I both seem to have some miscommunication between what we know and what we feel.  As a mother to this special little girl, I’ve struggled greatly with knowing how to raise her when I feel like I haven’t even figured myself out.  How do you teach a child about self-esteem when you seem to have so little regard for your own?  How do you teach a child about healthy living, when you struggle with proper diet and exercise?  I don’t know the answers to these questions.  My only hope is that open communication with her about my weaknesses and imperfections will help her to realize we are all imperfect individuals, but we are also beautiful and incredible people trying to do our best.  Perfection and worth are exclusive of one another.  I do not have to be perfect to be worthy of love and belonging.  The sooner I can learn to separate the two, the sooner I can help my daughter on her path.  We are all worthy of love and belonging, when we believe that in practice, and not just theory, we will free ourselves up to fully experience those same beautiful emotions.

Through the Eyes of Bipolar II Disorder

Bipolar II disorder is a strange beast.  It’s a mental illness that is comprised mostly of lows, regardless of optimal circumstances, and the highs are not so intense that they would be considered manias.  It becomes even more confusing when you suffer from the disorder, but also take medication to treat it.  Perhaps people who have suffered from severe nausea can relate to the bewilderment of treating something in your body that is doing everything in its power to hinder the events of your day.  I know as a pregnant woman, I dealt with terrible nausea.  I would be so nauseas that it would be near impossible to complete the most simplest of tasks.  I had to focus all my energy on not throwing up.  Making quick movements, or really any movement, was out of the question.  Not to mention knowing that food could potentially ease the nausea, but there seemed to be no feasible way to actually eat the item that might help. You get the idea.  However, if I took Zofran, a medicine designed to prevent nausea and vomiting, I could function.  It did not eliminate the issue completely.  It was almost as though my body was still on board to throw up at any given moment, but my brain had been given strict orders otherwise.  Or maybe it’s the other way around?  Maybe my brain was screaming to my body, “Get it out!  Get it all out!  You’ll feel better!”  But the body just shut down.  All I know is that Bipolar II disorder responds in a similar manner to medication.  The body and the brain are given different memos and it’s confusing as heck, so the whole system just wants to call it a sick day and go to sleep.

That’s where I’ve been the last few weeks.  It’s been a long series of sick days.  Many may not notice, as I am still functional, but things aren’t feeling right on the inside.  Huzzah!  I figured it out.  The brain is not in control when it comes to treated Bipolar II disorder, it’s definitely the body.  I realize this now, as I think of the feelings I’ve had over the past month or so.  The brain sticks to the task it has set out to do during a down cycle – remind Sara how worthless she is, point out the fat roll on her that is getting bigger, convince her that she’ll be happier if she just sleeps, explain to her that her children don’t listen to her because she’s a bad mom, and assure her that any feelings of happiness are a lost cause. The body, thanks to medication, says, “Nonsense!”  The body challenges the brain with its plans – I’ll have Sara wash some dishes and do something kind for her husband, I’ll get her on the elliptical machine, I’ll get her out of bed in the morning, I’ll hug her kids and tell them that she loves them, and I’ll jog her memory to recall moments of genuine laughter.  The body follows it’s plan of attack and the brain continues on its path and things start to get really befuddled inside.

I’ll provide the perfect example of how something like this unfolds in a real life situation.  It was my turn to host book club this past week.  I’m not a regular book club attendee.  I’m not sure if that’s relevant, but it somehow played a role in my feelings toward the arrival of several women entering my home.  The day had arrived.  I sent an e-mail reminding everybody about the book club being held that evening.  While it was not my intention to send out a reminder late, I got a bit excited about the chance of less people showing up due to my tardiness with the reminder.  It’s not that I don’t like these women in the group, it’s all the things the brain had been telling me that I didn’t want to face, “You know they’re going to judge you, right?  You know your home isn’t clean enough.  You’re not going to have anything healthy that they like, you fatty mcfat fat!  I hope you’re ready for everybody to note this month’s book club as the worst yet.”  I wish I could say I was exaggerating, but that’s how it goes in my brain in a down cycle.  It’s really quite self-centered for me to even believe that people care enough about me to even take the time to make judgments about me, but then again, isn’t that thought just as self-deprecating?  That people don’t even think enough of me to judge me?  Why would they waste their time?  Then the medicated body checks in and yells, “STOP IT!” The body usually chimes in the same time that my husband comes to my rescue.  My body is not allowing me to come up with a logical reason to cancel book club, while my husband is baking a cake to serve at the night’s event.  Between the body and my husband, the house gets cleaned enough that the brain believes judgments will be minimized, fruit joins the fare with the cake and mozarella sticks that the fatty mcfat fat (AKA – me) craves, book club questions have been planned out, and the living room is set with what is hopefully deemed a suitable comfort level.

The ladies begin to arrive, and my panic lessens, as I realize that few people are actually going to show up.  Again, it’s not that I don’t enjoy all the ladies in the group, it’s the perceived lies that my brain has been telling me about the whole of them coming into my home.  I have a nice time, or so I have deduced by the laughter I hear coming out of me.  I’m not really sure, honestly, how I feel.  Things are funny, I know this because the body chose to laugh.  I can’t feel the humor though.  This is the confusion I speak of.  The medicine doesn’t turn on and off according to the emotions that I want to feel and don’t want to feel.  It attacks them all.  So the highs get muted, especially when I’m in a low cycle.  I don’t know why this is, but everything just feels dull.  The evening ended and the women left, thanking me for the fun night.  I asked myself, “Oh, was it fun?”  It wasn’t that I didn’t have fun.  I did.  Or at least I think I did.  Once everyone has gone home, my husband asks me, “So, how did it go?”  I answer him with raw honesty since he knows my battle, “It went well, I think.  Not as bad as I feared, but I felt pretty numb to it all.  I laughed though.  That’s gotta be good.”  So, that’s how it goes in a low cycle when medicated.  It’s a weird feeling to have your body go through the motions, while your brain remains apathetic.  The toughest part to swallow is that this is better than unmedicated Bipolar II disorder.  I’ve been there before too and it’s equal to the fear I experienced while trapped inside my body during my stroke.

So, that’s it right there.  That’s the cycle I’ve been in.  That’s the cycle that wants to write an uplifting post, but can’t come up with an uplifting thought to share.  That’s one snapshot from a medicated down cycle.  I’m certain that the dreary weather we had in January did not help me fight off this down cycle.  My hope is that the warmer temps will get me outside long enough to shake this cycle and move back to status quo.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the face-lift that I gave First You Must Begin.  It may not be anything extravagant, but if you knew the trouble I went through to even make it look this good, you would be giving me a, “Strong work, Sara.”  As my BFF tells me, “Where there’s a will, there’s Sara.”  That’s how accomplished I feel to have made it this far with my blog.
 Where theres a will