Too young to be this mature…

There are people who circumstances in their lives have caused them to grow up faster then they should. Health issues like mental illness can be one of those circumstances. I know it was for me. Not that being mature at a young age is all bad. I’m glad I got to make decisions about my own life. I was talking to a coworker last night about a 9 year old girl diagnosed with Schizophrenia, and how horrible it was that this girl won’t get to have a childhood. Her life went from dolls & sleepovers to doctors & pills.

I was young when I started suffering from depression. I was diagnosed at 11, but I had been suffering for longer then that. There are a lot of things I feel like I missed out on. I also had to make decisions about my life and future that kids shouldn’t have to make.

I had friends that I spent time with for the most part. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I started pushing them away. There were normal kid things I couldn’t do. One example was sleepovers. My anxiety would never let me do sleepovers at someone else house. At first I would just be really anxious and not enjoy myself. Then I started calling my parents to come pick me up because I was feeling sick (from anxiety). Then I just stopped going. I feel like anxiety caused by depression kept me from enjoying a lot of things until the point were I just stopped doing them.

My sister has never really understood what I go through and most of the time doesn’t seem to care. One time she was giving me a ride home after a family event and the subject of having kids came up. This was one of the few times my sister would say she was proud of me in relation to anything I’ve done about my mental illness. You see when I was young I saw an episode of the show ‘ER’. On the show a one of the nurses had a Mother who was Bipolar. The Mother was played wonderfully by Sally Field. The nurse was talking about how hard her childhood was growing up with a Mother who was Bipolar. Sally’s character stopped taking her medication to have her two children and never went back on them. Which we all know happens a lot.

That really made me think. I asked my psychiatrist about it. He said doctors do not recommend women who are Bipolar to have children for that reason. After a lot of thinking I made the decision that I was not going to have children. I was only 15 years old at this time.

Now here is my reasoning behind this. First off I would have to go off my medication. I don’t want to go off my medication. It makes me better. Then if I’m off my medication I’m going to be depressed and manic plus pregnancy hormones. Pregnancy hormones make women crazy enough I’m pretty sure you would have to lock up one who was already crazy before the hormones. If you don’t get back on your meds then what kind of parent can you really be.

Even if you are able to think clearly enough to say hey I want back on my medication now there was still one thing I know that would kill me. Passing this shit down to my kids and grandkids. My parents had to watch me suffer and I had to watch them suffer too. Think about it, the reason I have gone through the Hell I have gone through is because of them. My Father has Bipolar disorder on his side of the family and my Mother has depression on hers. I get my crazy from them. They had to watch me be tortured by my own mind since I was 7 years old and not be able to do anything to stop it. They couldn’t stop it and it came from them. When you love someone as much as a parent loves their child it is excruciating to know that you had something to do with their pain.

I know it’s not there fault. But how can you not blame yourself. I know that I would blame myself. Just thinking about the possibility of passing it down to my child breaks my heart. I don’t want another child to go through this especially my own. There is a GOOD chance my child would have some mental illness. I worry everyday about my nieces and nephew.

As far as I know on my Father’s side of the family his grandmother and aunt were Bipolar. My Dad has been diagnosed by one doctor with Bipolar disorder, but told it’s just depression by another. My mother has depression. I think her mother had something most likely depression. Her brother had depression, learning disabilities, & substance abuse problems. He died of an overdose on his youngest sons 1st birthday. Her other brother joined a cult and is weird. I’m not sure if he has a mental illness, but I wouldn’t be surprised. His cult doesn’t believe in that stuff so we will never know. My oldest sister has anxiety. (She claims that’s why she is a bitch.)

So, the percentage is pretty high that the next generation will be crazy. I think I made the right call. Back to the story I was telling about my sister. She said she was proud of me for making such a tough decision when I was so young.

When I was 23 years old and was told I couldn’t have kids because of my PCOS I was okay with that because I already made that decision. At 36 years old I cry every time someone I know has a baby. I mean on the bathroom floor ugly cry. Even though I made the right decision it was my choice. My choice got taken away from me and that is what hurts. At least when it was my decision I felt strong, but now I just feel broken. God apparently agreed with me about the whole kid thing. I still want to be a Mom. I hope someday I will have enough money to adopt a child or two. They will be loved. I will also be on my medication, so my crazy will be toned down a lot. I’m not perfect I will be still a little crazy, but in that embarrassing Mom way. Like mine.

I didn’t want to grow up that fast, but I did. It took a lot of strength to be that mature at such a young age. It takes a lot of strength to still be that mature.

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A great support system..

Everyone needs a great support system. I am very lucky that my parents have always been supportive. Mental illness runs in my family unfortunately for all of us. My Mother suffers from depression. I’m not sure when she started having symptoms, but from things we have talked about it seems like we were around the same age. My Dad thinks she suffered postpartum depression. She disagrees, but that is not important. Because of his concerns he started reading up on depression. In trying to help my Mom he also helped me. When he was reading about depression he started to realize that I was suffering from it as well.

Both of my parents are very supportive, but I have to say I don’t think I would be where I am in life if it wasn’t for my Dad. He never gave up. As hard and time consuming as it was he never stopped trying to help me. The most important thing was he always listened to me. If I didn’t feel comfortable or didn’t like one of the doctors we would find another. I went to a lot of different doctors until I found one that worked best for me. We both loved her.

My Dad made sure I took my medication. We even tried different natural treatments he read about. By the way St. John’s Wart smells like a dirty fish tank and doesn’t help with depression. When one medication didn’t work we were ready to try the next.

There was this one doctor I saw I don’t remember his name, but my Dad I and both thought he looked like Nikita Khrushchev with a beard. (I was homeschooled and we were studying Russia.) I didn’t feel like he listened to me when I was talking. Also he picked his nose during a session (Gross!). I stopped seeing him, but had not found another doctor yet. I was taking Effexor at the time and it ran out. My Dad asked for a refill and he said no. It is a big mistake to tell a parent that you are going to let their child run out of medication which will put their health in jeopardy. Especially my Dad who is super protective and has a brother who is a malpractice attorney. He gave me a refill.

Since I was having a lot of trouble finding a psychologist I liked, when we decided to try the one my psychiatrist recommended my Dad went to the first appointment alone. He wanted to meet her first and get a feel of what she is like. I remember her telling me once she remembers that appointment very well. LOL! My Dad is hard to forget. He was the perfect combination of support. He gave me space to do it my self, but would step in when I needed him. He still does.

In some ways my Dad is my super hero. It is hard to fight alone, but I’m lucky because I know he will always fight with me. Our relationship isn’t perfect, but no parent/child relationship is. One thing I do know is that my Dad loves me. I know that he will always support me and is proud of me. My parents are my biggest support system. I am thankful for them everyday. Even at 35 years old when I feel like having a melt down I know I can call one of them and they will help me get through it.

One of the things I want to accomplish with this blog is to help people that don’t have support system. I want to help people find one. With me or with each other. I don’t want anyone to go through this alone.

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Knowledge is power…

One thing about me is I love to learn. Not really in school even though there were a couple of subjects I liked. I guess you can say I have learned a lot about myself mostly.

When I was 11 and was diagnosed with depression I didn’t know what to do with that information. Back then we lived in a small town in North Carolina. The library was a small building which it shared with the Mayor’s office I think. It was a room really, but my Dad would take me there because I loved to read. I would go the kids section and get a giant stack of books to take home. Even though he didn’t like carrying all those books my Dad encouraged it because even though I loved it I always had trouble reading. It took a long time for me to learn to read. But once I started I never stopped.

It was in that library I started a very important journey. When I was 11 we were in there for our usual trip to the library. At that point I was old enough to venture out of the kids section. I found a section on psychology. I looked at some of the titles and found some on depression. It wasn’t a large section, but I found a couple as a kid I could understand.

Research and knowledge became my new best friends. When I found out at 14 I was really Bipolar I hit the books again. Even though I have not had any new diagnoses in this area since I was 14 I have not stopped researching. I have found some great books. You will see some of these books are dog ear’d and highlighted. A former co-worker was taking a psych class and knowing I am Bipolar she asked if I could recommend one for a paper she had to write. I brought her my favorite. It was highlighted, and had notes in the margins. (The Bipolar Disorder Survival guide by David Miklowitz, Phd.) She said the book was helpful, but my notes helped the most. I didn’t even hesitate to hand over something so personal because this is a person who wants to learn the truth. She wanted to know what people with bipolar disorder really go through. I also trusted her.

These books didn’t just teach about bipolar disorder or depression they also had tools to help me learn to get through it. My favorite of all the doctors I saw Dr. Curry she gave me a book I treasure. When I was a teenager I wanted to become a psychologist, ( I didn’t become one.) but thought I couldn’t because I was Bipolar. She disagreed with me. She said I would make a great psychologist and she being Bipolar had nothing to do with it. She gave me a book written by Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison. She was a professor of Psychiatry at John Hopkins School of Medicine and one of the foremost authorities on Bipolar Disorder (back when it was still called Manic-depression). She is also Bipolar. In the book she writes about her life and struggle with the illness. The first time I ever heard about Lithium was in her book. She talks about not being able to have morning classes when in medical school because Lithium made her throw up so badly. This book (An unquiet mind) taught me my illness is not a weakness unless I let it make me weak. This book and Dr. Curry’s belief in me lit the fire that has kept me going for years. I was able to stay strong and fight after reading about how she did it.

When I was younger the internet was not as good as it is now. Now you can find all this stuff online. I find new articles all the time. Sometimes my Dad will see stuff and email it to me. Strength is what keeps me going, but knowledge makes me strong. If there are any books or articles that have helped you please share them.

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High Functioning Anxiety pt 2…

This is the second part about an article I read about 18 consequences of High Functioning Anxiety.

7. It is your fault – We have all felt this. No matter whose fault it was in our heads it is all our fault. ‘I messed up again’ “If I had not done that this wouldn’t have happened’. We blame ourselves for everything even if other people don’t. Honest mistakes happen, but not when you have anxiety.

8. You constantly compare yourself to others – OMG, I do this so much. It feels like I do this all day long. I want to tell my inner voice to shut the hell up. My self-esteem being so low can be blamed on my anxiety. When you constantly compare yourself to others you will always fall short in your own mind.

9. You over think the small things – In my mind there are no small things. I just the other night laid awake worrying about what sleep pants to bring for my sleep lab. I picked the perfect ones if you were wondering. I sat in my car last night thinking my appointment is at 7:30 is it alright if I ring the buzzer at 7:25. The paper said I could bring my own pillow, but are they going to think I weird that I brought a pillow. Now I will say the strange shit running through my mind the past few days did distract me from thinking about someone watching me sleep for a short period.

10. You obsess over every mistake – I don’t know if you do this or not, but I will randomly think of something I did in the past and just pick up where I left off punishing myself. Stuff will just pop up. Even stuff from when I was a kid and will feel as guilty as the day it happened. Sometimes to the point where I feel sick to my stomach.

11. Conversations don’t end when people stop speaking – Perfect example last Tuesday. My coworker and I met with our bosses to talk about working be as a team. That conversation has been going on in my head for 7 days. Every time I look at her or my boss. What I should have said or shouldn’t have said. Did I sound like a bitch? Did I make myself clear on what I was trying to say?

12. You find it hard to interact in person – I will say I am that awkward person in group settings that is standing by herself. That being said I would rather talk to a person to their face then on the phone. For me the phone is way worse and I don’t know why.

13. You find it hard to concentrate – When I was a kid I was told I had learning disabilities. I think they were right, but after reading this article I think some of it was anxiety related. They gave me longer test times and I knew the answers, but I still failed. My Dad never understood why when he asked me the same questions at home I got them all right. I always tried to explain to them that it was the pressure of taking the test. Now I think what I was trying to say was that it was my anxiety about taking the test. Studying didn’t do any good if I was too anxious to absorb the information.

14. Your digestion suffers – I never put 2 and 2 together before reading this. When I go out to eat my stomach gets upset. I end up in the bathroom. But if I eat that same food at home I am just find. I always say restaurant food makes my stomach upset. No eating out and having anxiety makes my stomach upset. I also get really bad heartburn and reflux from foods that shouldn’t cause it.

15. You aches, repetitive habits, and tics – I play with my hair and jewelry. I wear rings just so I can distract my inner worries. I will twist them around my fingers. My hair is up most of the time because I will constantly touch it if I don’t. If I wear my glasses instead of contacts I spend a whole conversation with someone adjusting them.

16.  It may affect your heart health – See the article down below. You will find this interesting.

17. You see the world differently – This has a lot more to do with people who have anxiety from a traumatic experience. Like my fear of driving after I got T-boned in to a light pole. I now overreact to small things while driving. Even causing panic attacks that cause other accidents.

18. You just can’t stop it – No matter how many times people tell to stop worrying about it. Or it’s not that big a deal, I CAN’T STOP IT! That is not how my brain works. I’m so glad your brain doesn’t drive you crazy over stupid shit, but mine does. Telling me not to do it isn’t going to make it stop. I would love to be able to do things with losing sleep over them. Or making myself throw up. In a past blog I talked about the just do it people.

https://self-made.io/18-consequences-of-high-functioning-anxiety/5819/

 

High Functioning Anxiety… Pt 1

I am sorry it has been days since I posted. I live in North Carolina so all this hurricane stuff has gotten in way. Then I had a in lab sleep study Monday night.

I want to talk about an article posted on Facebook that I read about High-Functioning Anxiety. I have been diagnosed as having HFA (to many words to type). The article is called 18 consequences of High-Functioning Anxiety. I will post the link, but I want to talk about these 18 things.

  1. You exhaust your mental power needlessly-  I was working a office job were I was going a lot of interacting with people. I answered phones and had to make a lot of calls as well. One day I saw my psychiatrist and was telling how exhausted I was at the end of the day. I couldn’t figure out why I was so tired. What he said is by far the smartest thing he had ever said to me. Your brain is like a computer. When it is overloaded it will start to shut itself down. My mind was trying to function at 100% and deal with my social anxiety.
  2. Constructive criticism slays you- Now nobody likes criticism, but when you already have anxiety it is way worse. No matter how nicely someone says it I will take it as a knife to the heart. If someone points out I did something wrong my full focus from that point on when doing that task will be to do that one thing right. I will lay awake at night thinking about it for days. Every time I see that person I will like I have let them down when most of the time they don’t even remember the conversation.
  3. The future terrifies you – If I let myself think about the future I will send myself down a labyrinth of fear and self doubt that will give me sleepless nights. People say don’t worry about the future or the past. How? If you know the secret to making these thoughts stop please let me know. Those are the two things that I worry about the most.
  4. You experience debilitating mental exhaustion- They already touched on this one a little. No I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of my off hours “resting”. I told one of the ladies at work when she asked what my plans for the weekend were that since I spend 40 hrs a week dealing with people on the weekends I just don’t want to be around people. I spend so much mental energy at work talking to my coworkers and the patients that come. I am the face of the office sitting at the front desk. That is not easy.
  5. You can’t have a social life – Nope. I hear all the time about how I need to start dating. You are pretty and have a great personality it will be easy to find a husband. I have enough of my own stuff to deal with. Putting all my metal energy into work for 8 hrs I don’t want to come home and have to put more into another person.
  6.   You suffer from sleep disruptions – As I mentioned at the top I just did a sleep lab to find out why I don’t sleep. Well this might be at least one of the reasons. I have trouble falling asleep. I wake up in the middle of the night several times and have trouble falling back to sleep. Sometimes I don’t fall back to sleep. When you lay awake at night it gives you a lot of time to think of all the stuff you are worried about.                                                       To be continued..   https://self-made.io/18-consequences-of-high-functioning-anxiety/5819/

 

Things I don’t want to remember…

In my late twenties maybe early thirties memories would just pop into my mind from my teenage years. Something would come up and all of a sudden I would remember. “Where did that come from?” Also friends and family would tell me things I didn’t remember ever happening. I talked to my therapist about it and she said she thinks my mind hid things from me I couldn’t handle. I guess I kind of suppressed memories from the hardest time of my life.

A little bit of background info will help you understand. My parents first started noticing weird behaviors when I was a kid. Especially after we moved to North Carolina when I was turning eight. One thing my Mom said they thought was weird was I would go sit in my closet in the dark and cry.  I would stay in there for hours. Sometimes I would bring a pillow and my teddy bear. Not normal at all. My mother has depression and my Dad was trying to help her through it. He read up a lot about depression and he started to notice these things sounded a lot like what I was going through. When I was eleven he took me to our family doctor. She agreed with him that it was depression and my journey began.

I struggled for a few years to find the right doctors and the right medication. When I was fourteen I started seeing a new psychiatrist. I felt comfortable enough with her to really open up. I told her things I never told the other doctors. After a session one day she had me sit in the waiting room and talked to my Dad alone. They brought me in to tell me I am Bipolar. Everything changed. I was on the worst medication for that. We were looking at everything in a whole new way. I also had to confess to my parents I wasn’t sleeping at night.

The hormones of puberty and Bipolar disorder don’t mix well. Those times are the ones my mind is trying to hide from me. At that time I had started high school. I also had learning disabilities and social anxiety. Freshman year was so hard that I had a breakdown. I just couldn’t function. It was the start of a downward spiral from there. The next year or so I couldn’t leave the house with out my Dad. If I did I would have a panic attack. Sometimes even with him there. Once my parents were buying new cars and we were there too long. I had a panic attack. It’s fuzzy but I think my Dad drove me home and then went back to the dealership.

These memories that I seem to be missing or just getting back all come from that time in my life. The one that upset me the most is one I still don’t remember at all. My sister tends to make up her own stories. One day she told me the reason my parents home schooled me those last 3 years was because Mom was afraid I might turn out like my uncle. He had a really hard time at school as well. That and some other emotional issues he turned to drugs and overdosed on his youngest sons 1st birthday. I thought my sister was making shit up again, so I asked my Mom. My Mom said my sister is nuts. When she told me the real reason it freaked me out. She said I came home one day from school and told my parents a senior had put me in a trash can. (I’m only 4’9). I was so upset and they were too. So, with everything that I was already struggling with they thought it best to home school me. I DO NOT remember any of this. I have searched and searched my brain. Nothing! How could I forget something like that?!

The brain is a funny thing. I’ve heard of people suppressing traumatic memories, but high school because it sucked. Never. Why that stuff? I tried to kill myself at 15 or 16, but I remember that clearly. It sometimes worries me not knowing what my brain is trying to protect me from. Maybe it’s best I don’t remember. So far the things that have come back or I have been told I have dealt with just fine.  I’m stronger then I was back then. Maybe that’s why they are starting to come back now. I don’t know, but whatever comes back I’m ready to handle it.

Has this happened to anyone else?

Let’s not talk about it…

I was talking to a co-worker today and the subject of not being able to tell people about being mentally ill came up. Which is funny because that was what I was going to post about today anyway. In this world being mentally ill is viewed as something to ashamed of. Something you shouldn’t talk about. It makes people uncomfortable. Well, guess what being Bipolar makes me uncomfortable.

When I was a preteen/teenager I did my best to hide what I was going through. It wasn’t because I thought it was none of anyones business. It was because the first thing someone thinks of when you say Bipolar is a crazy person. They think of the way it is portrayed in the media. I know I did when I was diagnosed. I hid what I was going through so I wouldn’t be judged. My life was falling apart and no one knew what I was going through. Even my friends and family didn’t know how to handle it. I put on my mask and went to school everyday. After failing 9th grade my parents home schooled me for the rest of high school. To this day I believe that if I could have put the energy into getting better instead of putting on a good face I don’t think I would have had that breakdown.

Once I confided in my manager about being Bipolar. Sometime later I found out from two friends/co-workers that when they were hired she told them to not get on my bad side because I have Bipolar mood swings. They told me this because we were talking about first impressions. They said they were scared of me at first because she told them this. My co-workers thought it was funny because I’m such a nice person. I was so mad I couldn’t think straight. Not only was that offensive and a lie, but it is also illegal to tell other employees my medical history. I have stated in my other blogs I am non confrontational, but I felt I had to stand up for myself. I reported her to the district manager. Nothing happened. She cried and they promoted her.

I am NOT ashamed of who I am or that I have Bipolar disorder. I am a survivor and I have no problem telling people who want know my story. I have fought a long hard war with my sanity. It is a war you can’t win, but you can win some of the battles. I have won so many battles. There are so many times I wanted and wished to die. I even tried once, but I am still here. I am not ashamed of that. I want people to know how strong I am. If someone wants to hear my story I will gladly tell it.

Mental illness is horrible and people suffer everyday with things some people can’t even imagine. Do not make it worse for them by making them feel they have to hide behind a mask. If we meet and you tell me you have an illness of any kind I will sit and get to know you for who you are. No judgement unless you are an asshole.

Do you ever feel like you can’t tell people you are Bipolar?