Archive for August, 2008

Responsible? Yes and proud of it!

There’s an old joke that goes, “Yes, I’ve always been the most responsible person in my family. If anything went wrong, I was responsible.” It’s a joke founded on the widespread practice of scapegoating. Every dysfunctional family will have at least one individual (sometimes two) who gets the blame for almost everything. It doesn’t matter what it is, or if it’s clearly illogical to think the person was related to the situation. That person still gets blamed and punished.

Many of us avoid the concept of “responsible” because we associate it with “fault” and “blame.” We try many different ways to avoid taking responsibility for our own actions, words, thoughts and feelings:
“It’s the way I was raised.” “I didn’t do anything wrong — they did!” “I was just following orders.” “He won’t give me a chance.” “She’s prejudiced against me.” “He pushes my buttons.” and so on, and so on….

What we fail to realize is that by avoiding responsibility we also strip ourselves of our personal power. Am I truly at the mercy of the way I was raised? That’s a very helpless (and hopeless!) feeling. Likewise, if someone pushes my buttons and I believe I must react a certain way, that person has incredible power over me. I’m not doing myself any favors this way!

“Fault” and “blame” are words associated with shame. The very word “fault” means a defect — and when we apply it to ourselves, we usually feel defective. “Blame” is full of anger, possibly rage, and guilt. The good thing is that we can dissociate those 2 words from the concept of “responsible.” It is possible, thought not easy, to be completely aware of one’s own responsibility in life without feeling shame.

Here’s the key, and it’s very simple. Doing something “bad” does not equal being something bad.

Again, doing something bad does NOT equal being something bad. We all make mistakes, whether accidentally or on purpose. We make our choices and sometimes we hurt other people or ourselves. We decide what to do with the things we hear and see and feel; we decide how to interpret them. Sometimes we decide wrong. BUT — this does not make us


or in any way worse or less valuable as people than others.

I am indeed responsible for all that I think, feel, say, and do. And I’m proud of it!


August 29, 2008 at 4:20 pm Leave a comment

Being active — but not too much

I’ve discovered something new about my bipolar and what can trigger episodes. In the past I was able to function at a higher level — I could withstand the last-minute frenzy of deadlines, intense classes and studying, caring for small children all day by myself, jet lag and other hazards of travel, and similar stressors. In a word, I could be more active. I did have episodes back then, but they were much less severe and didn’t seriously impair my daily life. And it took a more intense, sustained period of stress to trigger them.

I did not know I had bipolar disorder until I was 33. Like many others, I have stopped and started my medications along the way. I also did not take seriously the suggestions from my psychiatrist on how to adapt my lifestyle. As a result, my condition has worsened.

In the last 6 years, since the serious episode of ’01-’02, my activity level declined (partly due to medication) to such a degree that sometimes I slept several hours a day. I didn’t have a job or any social contacts where I live, I only had my family and some friends I visited in Dallas. I tried working several times but was not able to maintain it. Each time, I became very stressed and compulsive in my work, developed physical complaints such as pain over my entire body, then rapidly deteriorated emotionally, sometimes requiring hospitalization.

Even my home-based job as a freelance writer led me down that path. Earlier this year I began writing web content, and for awhile everything seemed peachy-keen. What I didn’t realize was that I was already entering a manic phase, which leads inevitably to mixed mania/depression and then deep depression. Once triggered, the cycle usually plays itself out, although some effects can be mitigated with medication and lifestyle. I am just now, in August, finishing the cycle which began in the latter part of January.

Now I know I must walk a very fine line. Too little activity, with its concomitant isolation, is bad for me and will cause depression. Too much activity, with its concomitant stress, is bad for me and will induce mania.

This is when I am very, very glad that God cares about me and will help me along this path. I firmly believe that the spiritual nature of human beings must not be neglected in emotional disorders (or any disorders). I encourage anyone with bipolar disorder to turn to the God of their understanding for assistance. Also, examine your life closely, not to condemn yourself, but to see cause and effect. In this way you will determine your own triggers and, hopefully, ways to avoid them.

August 23, 2008 at 6:08 am Leave a comment

Pdoc update

Last Wednesday I saw Dr. Hall for the second time since Timberlawn (it’s hard to believe it’s been six weeks!). He asked how many episodes I usually have per year, and I said 1-2. I didn’t say this at the time, but usually it is one major and one minor. He suggested that we work to decrease that to 0-1 (or even better, just 0), and asked what I was doing to help myself stay stable. I admitted that I had not been doing all the things I know to do. We discussed schedules in particular, and exercise. We agreed that I would do my best to make the lifestyle changes, then we’d reevaluate the situation to determine whether I need a change of medication.

In the past six weeks I have done very well with medication compliance — I don’t think I’ve missed a psych med even once in that time! (I have been less successful with the iron pills) This is a major improvement to the way it was pre-hospitalization. I was missing doses right and left and what’s worse, I didn’t care. Now I do! The next step is to apply the same dedication to the other changes I need to make. It won’t work to fix them all at the same time. One a week or even every two weeks is quite enough.

This week and next week (last two weeks of August) I will focus on Morning and Evening Routines plus Weekly Home Blessing Hour (on Monday if possible).

This is my Morning Routine:
* awakening prayer *
* make bed *
* make/drink coffee — journal *
* dress *
* get Mrs. Allie’s paper — M & Th take out trash *
* exercise *
* eat breakfast — take meds *
* clean dishes *
* brush teeth — affirmations *
* Morning Prayer *

Evening Routine:
* brush teeth/wash face — affirmations *
* Evening Prayer *
* journal *
* take meds *
* meditation or music *

August 17, 2008 at 7:41 pm 1 comment

Letting go

At the beginning of this week, I let go of a relationship that has been very important to me for 14 years.

There are many reasons I chose to let go. One, the relationship began as a one up — one down scenario. I was dependent on her for many things, most obviously financial support, but also emotionally and mentally. When I met her I was an emotional wreck and she was very stable and calm. I couldn’t support myself financially, which was why I moved in with her in the first place.

When a relationship begins that way (so says my therapist), it is unlikely that the balance of power will ever change enough to approach equality.

Two, I have spent the better part of the last 14 years in therapy. I have learned so much about myself and other people, I sometimes think I should teach classes! Most of what I learned I shared with her, but often she couldn’t see things from the perspective I had. She just didn’t get it. I have changed enormously, like 80%, while she has changed little, perhaps 10% at best. In spite of my mental illness, I have outgrown her.

Three, we are very different, like the sun and the moon. She is concrete; I am abstract. She focuses on logic; I am more emotional. I have empathy — the ability to put myself in another’s shoes, even if I don’t agree with the person — whereas she does not. She is fastidious about housekeeping; I am more relaxed. She thinks in black and white; I see gray areas. I could go on, but you get my drift.

I have determined, after a lot of agonizing and thinking and praying, that these issues are not going to change, and that I don’t want to live with her — I cannot live with her and stay mentally healthy — in the current circumstances.

I feel sad. Yo tengo triste.

August 2, 2008 at 7:33 am Leave a comment

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