Emergency Bipolar Stress Reduction Kit

I am not ashamed of my bipolar disorder. It is comparable to heart disease, in that people who have it must take steps to treat it before it gets out of hand. 

Bipolar disorder isn't a result of not believing in Jesus, or a host of other bullshit people say when they lack understanding. It isn't "just stop being sad" or "just stop being manic". There are a host of things we can employ to help ourselves... little coping skills that make a big difference in our illness, while working with a therapist that understands this mental disorder.

Also meds. Some of us have to take lots and lots of meds. GLANCES AT PILL CASE Yeah, lots of meds.

I've cycled through intensive depression and mania since my mother died last March. I need to claim the house for ourselves, putting our touch on everything so we can move on to a wonderful happily ever after here. We didn't feel welcome before that, and kept to one area of the house. It will take time. But it's a mess in every room except the living room. 

Mentally, it's absolute "static" hissing in my brain. I want to do something but I can't figure out how, and we both plunge into depression impacted by our environment. For me, the depression ends when I tip into manic mode.

My manic mode mainly manifests as being abnormally wired. I have increased activity, energy or agitation. I don't have a false sense of self esteem. I don't engage in improper behaviors like buying crap, seeking out affairs, etc. But when I lose my coping skills, I go into a closet, bite into a pillow and scream. And when I'm beyond all coping, I self harm. 

These are the behaviors I used to cope when I was a kid. They diagnosed me as ADHD and my mother refused to believe it or get me help. They diagnosed me with depression and my mother refused to believe it. If I was in manic mode, there was a wooden spoon or belt because, hey, I was obviously being a spiteful monster for no reason. So I hid away and punished myself further because I was "a bad girl so I deserved pain".

I've observed two types of cutters in my life: those that cut where it can be seen and those that hide where they cut. I am the latter. Well, I was, but then my mom died and Jeff went manic and bought a bunch of shit that we couldn't afford, and since my mom was dead she couldn't see me when I used a purposefully dull scissor to slash my arm up.

Humorous aside: before they diagnosed Jeff as bipolar, he would go into Bastard Mode and start walking to Pittsburgh. Total Anger mania. I'd eventually get him into the car and drive him to the VAMC loony bin. But this one time, I totally lost my shit and so, once I got home, I slashed the hell out of my back before turning my wrath on his stupid, smelly pillow.

Me: We need to buy a new pillow for you.

Him: Why?

We get home

Him: Oh.

A total loss of coping skills also results in uncontrolled, intense, and unpredictable anger. Like many patients, I "bipolar rage" if set off during an already intensive manic episode, though I mostly shout and throw stuff. And, like many patients, sometimes I have no memory of doing so afterward.

Would I hurt a person? Yep. I once beat a girl with a chair in the middle of group therapy because *sobbing* she "tried" to kill herself when her parents revoked her car privileges. Meanwhile, I'm in the same institution because I unintentionally epic failed at suicide during a manic moment, and then tried to beat the fuck out of an EMT on scene. I wasn't forced to attend group anymore. I was just 17. (I also apologized to that EMT, and he forgave me.)

Would I hurt an animal? No. Animals don't deserve to be beaten or kicked or killed. That doesn't mean I won't bark at them when they've finally pushed me too far. But, I do know when my anger is mostly due to my mental state. So what did I do when Hershey seriously pissed Jeff and I off tonight? I yelled at him, showed him the mostly empty water bowl and sent him to his box. I actually took the gate from behind it so Jeff could put in on correctly. Time out time for Hershey so he can't gulp more water for a while. Time out time for me so I don't focus all my attention and ire towards the bathroom where their water bowl is. Whew. 

But then I let him out and he went downstairs because Jeff was making a bacon sandwich, and piping hot bacon hit the floor and he ate it while it was still sizzling. Jeff's screaming bloody murder and I run down the stairs. Poor Hershey's mouth felt hot, but no visible damage. I gave him ice cubes and love.  Seeing that he was back in my good graces, he decided to start gulping water again just a half hour later. (Edit: I checked it again around 2AM Wednesday morning and there isn't any damage from the grease.)

And now we loop back around. How can I train the dogs to properly use the rest of the house if the rest of the house is filled with all the shit we need to donate, throw away, or organize? But we need to train the dogs, and we should be doing that when we're just too overwhelmed by all the stupid and useless shit that needs to be done. This circular bullshit has been going on for almost a year. 

It's time we focus our remaining energy on positive things.