March 14, 2014

Life with bipolar disorder CAN be good

With the help of two little pills, learning it's ok to ask for help, increasing my activities, and Weight Watchers, I've dragged myself out of my depression.

I'm guessing the Trileptal has a lot to do with it, helping me to jump start the other areas of my life that had died from the deep depression I've been in since October. The anniversary of my mother's death is coming up, but I'm certain I can get through that just fine.

I've learned quite a bit about myself over the past couple weeks. Accepting that I'm not a failure if I ask for help was the most important, as well as learning that having bipolar disorder doesn't have to control my life. It's a disease, like diabetes or heart disease, and I can take care of myself by taking the right meds, eating right and increasing my activity in a fun way.

"Exercise" is one of the most unpleasant words in the English language (at least in my opinion). Learning to just increase my activity a little at a time, and in a fun way, is much more pleasant. I skip sideways and walk backwards around the house; and I took my iPod grocery shopping and danced up and down the aisles. I received a lot of stares, grins and giggles; but after all the horrific things I've been through, I've earned the right to be silly in public. Making people smile, whether they're laughing at me or with me, helps me feel good. I'm also increasing my time on the elliptical by just one minute each day. After my surgery, I could barely get through five minutes (way before, I was doing an hour!). I'm up to 10-15 minutes, and I'm certain I'll get up to that hour before long. Listening to podcasts or audiobooks helps the time fly by.

So I've learned if I keep my endorphins up by moving, ask for help when I need it, and take good care of my body (including taking my meds on time), this awful thing called bipolar disorder can be beat into remission (I highlighted that because I'm fully aware that there's no such thing as "recovery" from this disease. I'll probably still have some bad days, but I'll get through them).

February 12, 2014

Lost memories

When did that cute little girl become the I-don't-give-a-fuck girl that dresses like a slut to go to the zoo with her parents? How far back can bipolar disorder start, and how much longer will I have huge memory gaps in my Swiss cheese brain from ECT?

It was three, yessirree folks, three damn years since my brain was zapped six times. I still have huge long-term memory gaps, even though I was told I wouldn't. I know it works for some, but my new psych said it should never be used on a bipolar brain.

I was looking for a particular picture and I realized that I don't remember at least 95% of the situations of each picture. That's not counting the baby pictures or the toddler pictures. I'm talking about birthday party pictures, vacation pictures, pictures in my backyard, high school pictures; all the times one is supposed to remember. Greg can look at a picture and remember exactly where he was, who he was with, how many fish he caught, etc. I look at my pictures and maybe I'll remember a dress, but not the situation. I recognize nothing around me.

I don't even recognize the girl looking back at me. I want to hug her tightly and tell her to just hang on, it's going to be rough, but she should be able to get through it. I wish I could tell her all the things not to do, all the things she should do instead. I wish I could tell her to stay at the university to which she will be accepted with honors at entrance, but then put on academic probation two years later after learning to self-medicate. I wish I could tell her to get help as soon as possible, even though her parents think there's nothing wrong with her "You're just moody." There are so many things I wish I could warn her about, but all I can do is tell her that she really is lovable and worthwhile, even though nobody else will tell her that for a very long time.

January 30, 2014

A loving death

This poor bedraggled cat appeared on my husband's back porch at least ten years ago. He had two different colored eyes and no tail. Greg left some food out for the cat, he's a big softie, and continued that habit for a few days.  One day when Greg was coming in through the sliding door, the cat snuck in behind him, but didn't quite make it. He had some type of wound on his head in front of his ear, and as Greg was closing the door, the cat's head got stuck which made the wound worse. Well, Mr. Softie couldn't just leave it, so he took it to the vet. Next thing he knew he was paying for not only fixing the wound, but all his shots and his neutering. The vet thought the cat was about 4 years old at the time.

Greg's parents were visiting from Florida at the time, and of course his mother just fell in love with the poor thing but was sure her husband wouldn't allow him to come home with them (they were due to drive back early the next morning). She was sure he was a purebred Manx, and figured he needed someone to teach him to get his contacts in right so his eyes wouldn't look different. That night Greg took a cat carrier and decorated it with little signs like "Florida or bust," added some food and toys and went to bed. The next morning the carrier was gone, and Smokey was on his way to Florida.

Smokey was absolutely the most loved and spoiled cat I had ever met. He had a heated bed (in Florida!), and could have anything he wanted to eat at any time of the day or night. He was just as devoted to his new people, and allowed Nancy (my mother-in-law) to cuddle him and hold him.

Almost two years ago, my father-in-law passed away with a horrible death. Nancy was bereft, but Smokey stayed by her side, slept with her, comforted her, and became her constant companion. She moved to Ohio with Smokey to be closer to Greg, and I witnessed first hand actually how spoiled this kitty was. At first, right after Bruce died, she stayed with us. I'm a light sleeper and I could hear her get up during the night. The next morning there would be 3 or 4 bowls of different food for Smokey to choose from, and she would tell me he'd wake her up several times during the night to tell her he's hungry, but didn't always like the first, second, or even third dish of food she offered.

About a year ago, Smokey's thyroid was found to be going bad, and the vet could never quite get the dosage right. Then about a month ago he just started losing weight. It was some kind of blood infection, and he was just too old and too sick to recover. The poor little guy turned into skin and bones, but Nancy just couldn't bear to give him up. I finally got her to see things from his point of view, and yesterday we took him to the vet for our final goodbyes.

When Paris died, I just left him there, I felt bad, but I was afraid that it would be horrific, and couldn't bear to go back and watch him die. But I was wrong. This brave 84-year-old woman refused to let go of her beloved companion, and I watched them give him a shot which caused him to fall asleep and die a painless death in her loving arms. It was very sad, we shed quite a few tears, but it was not as bad as I expected it to be. The vet left us with him for a few minutes, she told him how much she loved him, kissed him on the head, and we went home.

I did a lot of thinking about watching my mother and father-in-law go through such horrible painful deaths, and it just seems so logical to be able to hold your loved one in your arms and allow them to die a peaceful and loving death. I'll never understand why this is not legal, and I will always remember this "most loved, hugged, petted, wants-for-nothing" cat and his person who showed me what a loving death truly is.