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Emotional Rollercoaster

This weekend, I was all in my feelings {as my kids would’ve said probably years ago, but I’m always late.} I was emotional for reasons that made sense to me and to me alone and other reasons that made sense to those around me. I was riding my own crazy hot mess express freight train straight into bipolarville where manic episodes meet depressive ones and triggers meet emotional roller coaster rides. Then these rides travel down the roads of my feelings leading to pit stops along the way of irrational thought and anxiety, breakthroughs and breakdowns, scattered thoughts, and sanity that is single handedly fighting for the spotlight back from these conflicting mix of emotions. That’s my best description of triggered anxiety while fighting against the sleep deprivation that too much sleep from days prior brings. This complicated run-on sentence is also sponsored by mixed episodes of bipolar disorder.

People hear more often about the depressive episodes and the manic episodes that are famous for the original manic depression name of bipolar depression’s previous identifier. When a person says ‘mood disorder’ this is the usually what people think of. Most don’t know the different types of mood disorders nor the different types of Bipolar that a person can have. They don’t understand the nuances of the disease and they tend to mix up facts due to the stigma placed on bipolar disorder.

Episodic cycling is what makes Bipolar different from other mood disorders. Episodes often range in severity and length of time depending on treatment and type of bipolar disorder a person is diagnosed with. I experience mixed episodes with my bipolar which is characterized by having a more often cycling of symptoms that can overlap each other, have symptoms of both mania and depression simultaneously and a lack of recovery period before the opposite cycle begins. This type and cyclomathic bipolar are two types that are difficult to spot and diagnose due to the more rapid cycling process that characterizes each disorder. This is due to the length of episode which means that a person experiencing both mania and depression in rapid succession might have severe depressive symptoms that overshadow the manic symptoms that are more likely missed.

Bipolar I (which #2 of my threefold is suspected of having) is the more intense presence of mania symptoms than Bipolar II. Bipolar II (what #1 of my threefold has been diagnosed with), is considered less severe as type 1. Type 2 presents with less intense symptoms of manic involvement, their manic episodes are decreased and termed as hypo manic.

Most people, including myself, are quicker to dismiss mania symptoms because it’s almost like a reprieve from the depression that is all consuming. Mania doesn’t always seem as bad as it is. It seems like that is what people love to see. Mania makes you feel on top of the world, confident, brilliant and you have an energy that makes you so on the go. Manic symptoms seem harmless but that is untrue. It involves risky behavior, recklessness, and makes a person not care about the consequences of those actions. You may suddenly spend all your money on unnecessary items. Maybe it looks like sexual promiscuity or infidelity. It can show up as aggression and stealing. It is a myriad of bad behaviors that are almost like the person has no care on the world and is invincible. Mania is much less recognizable in the hypo manic episodes also. The depression is so much easier to pinpoint and the main reason why people find that depressive diagnosis easier than that of bipolar.

The depressive symptoms of each are similar in severity and the lengths of time vary from person to person. The manic episodes are the determining factor of defining bipolar instead of major depression which is unipolar with or without mania involvement. Depression presents in the classic ways with one major distinction that is more likely to point to bipolar. This major differentiation is in that episodic nature of bipolar. No manic symptoms would lead to a diagnosis of depression. You only need to have had one manic episode to have a diagnosis of bipolar. If it’s missed or mistaken as something else then you leave likelihood of reporting those symptoms is likely to be the key that changes the treatment plan from one that isn’t working to one that will work.

There is so much stigma surrounding bipolar which is why those who suffer tend to hide their illness from the people around them. It’s why people don’t accept the diagnose easily or seek treatment for themselves. It’s also tricky to diagnose and most doctors aren’t quick to do so. It’s genetic with a high probability of family links. This is why it’s not unheard of or unusual to have bipolar diagnoses in multiple generations of a family tree. If an adult has an established diagnosis in a family then it is much easier to begin seeing signs and symptoms at an earlier age and begin treatment earlier than it is to diagnose in an adult who has never expressed the symptoms they displayed in an accurate way or suffered from the more severe complications or consequences that this disorder brings on.

My emotional state was brought on more from lack of sleep after having too much sleep this past week, an increase in anxiety and a lot of nostalgia as #1 of my threefold prepares for high school graduation, college, and turning 18. However due to our struggles, my threefold is hyper aware of the slight changes of behavioral patterns and moods than the average teenagers. It also has come from some process work I have been doing on that little {enter sarcasm} goal of moving on from my mom guilt from the past and from the person I was when my bipolar was left untreated for years on end. I have also been working on this small issue I’ve had with holding grudges, resentment, and forgiveness. {Actually I’m the worst about if you hurt me I will remember forever.}

Thankfully I’m not actually in an episode of mania or depression currently and am on a regimen of medication that helps to prevent that cycling of intense episodes. I know my triggers, how to care for myself, my symptoms and my plan of action in the event of severe episodes. It’s very {knock on wood and glass!} calm in the unpredictable waters of bipolar at my house right now. It’s been a breath of fresh air after the year of drowning in crisis after crisis that in the present moment storms aren’t raging through the waters and everyone is safely wading in the shallow end. In less metaphorical terms for the first time in years no one is amidst an episode at the current moment and no one is in crisis. That is a beautiful thing in a life of a mom with bipolar with kids with bipolar that is hard for people to understand. Why would I celebrate us just being okayish?

Being ok for us, all at the same time, means medication changes and adjustments have ceased because we have a regimen that is working for us and consists of tweaks not new meds to find the combination that works. It is a celebration of a taste of stability not normalcy. It is a celebration of growth and progress. It’s being excited to track your mood because you have seen marked improvement. It’s a time where we can accomplish goals and we can be proud of ourselves. It also means we are in self harm recovery {another thing people don’t understand why we celebrate.}

Recovery from self harm is like that of addiction and just like you would celebrate milestones of someone who hasn’t had a drink in six weeks we celebrate the same milestones for self harm. It’s been over a year since #1 self harmed, nearly 6 months for #2, and for me {yep I’ve been there too} it’s been multiple years. These milestones mean that medications {and awareness of the consequences} therapy, and our own ability to safely communicate our feelings have come to a healthy meeting place. That is something worth celebrating at my house.

Thanks for attending my ted talk on bipolar disorder and it’s presentation. It’s a hot topic discussion that no one seems to want to talk about. For those unaffected it seems to have the lack of education almost like why learn about something that you have no use for? Like learning to do wood working when you have no interest in craftsmanship and no plans to ever use the skills. I find it important for even those unaffected because the informative awareness can help assist a friend or a family member distinguish symptoms and marked changes in behavior. If you know someone who needs help or is in crisis please seek help. You could be the difference between someone seeking help or risking their life. Be positive! You’ve got this! ☮️❤️😊 -M Ps. If you have another three minutes for personal research I have created this anonymous survey on mental illness. I would love for you to participate! Thanks in advance!

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An Update on 2, From 2: In Her Own Words & More ⚠️

⚠️****Trigger Warning**** ⚠️ ⚠️ Please proceed cautiously . If in recovery this post could be triggering.⚠️ ⚠️Disturbing Images⚠️

#2 sent me this today. Along with an update she wanted me to share with the people who have been praying for her. This is the longest amount of time that she has been without self-harm in the past year. She is progressing. We are all happy she is home and safe. We know this is a long road, but we are moving in a forward direction. ❤️

⚠️****Trigger Warning**** ⚠️ ⚠️ Please proceed cautiously . If in recovery this post could be triggering.⚠️ ⚠️Disturbing Images⚠️

The following was written by #2 in my threefold. She is 13. The past year has been a rollercoaster for her and for all of my threefold as we have fought mental illness. 2 just got home from being inpatient at a psychiatric resindential facility where she has received crisis intervention and trauma therapy 24/7 for 7 weeks. She is progressing while showing amazing courage and strength to move past the illnesses she has been diagnosed with.

The following are the words she is asked me to post as her update:

“If you’ve been reading this for a while then you should know my moms side and what she knows about my situation, i believe for people to really understand adolescents with mental illnesses they should hear the parents perspective and the child’s. So here is my side and understanding.
If you don’t already know i’m the second daughter. My mom has talked about me a good amount of time so i guess some of y’all should already know somethings about me. I struggle with, complex post traumatic stress disorder, general anxiety, combined adhd, dmdd- dysfunctional mood disregulation disorder, social anxiety, major depressive disorder, odd- oppositional defiant disorder. In the past year i’ve been to two acute mental hospitals, one php (partial hospitalization), and one residential program. I’ve struggled with self harm on and off for about a year, at first in November of 2020 when i first started self-harming i wouldn’t go deep i was barely cutting skin. In late November early December of that year i got sent to my first facility i discharged from there and temporarily stopped self harming. At first i started self harming because i was overwhelmed my parents were getting a divorce, i was struggling with my sexuality, my school was virtual, i had lost control of what seemed like everything in my life. Me self harming was me taking control. I was abused as a child and the last time i was physically hurt but my abuser was January 2021, though not only was i physically abused i was also mentally and verbally abused which occurred a lot more often. just about my whole life all i knew was pain, which is one of the reason i believe that caused SH (self-harm) to be something i depended on. I’ve been ask why i didn’t immediately ask for help in this situation i did try and seek help. One night i decided it would be better for me to tell someone (other than my older sister she knew i told her in august when i first started) i was staying with my father that week and i struggled to hit i told him that i was self harming to be exact i had cut my hair that day so i tried to form some kind of joke to tell him what i had said was “my hair isn’t the only thing i cut today” it took him a minute to understand but eventually he did . what he told me though still bothers me today (at the time i was mildly suicidal) he had said “wanting to kill yourself is a natural human feeling” so i took that and used it to minimize the situation, eventually though my mom told my therapist at the time and then i was admitted.
I relapsed in january this time was the very first time i cut so much you couldn’t see my thigh, i continued to cut through out the span of 2 weeks when my mom found the a blade. She informed my therapist and decided i could stay home. This kept occurring until june it was a cycle i would stop for a while then start again mostly not getting caught but sometimes i would. The week of june 9th i selfharmed before a thearpy session i didn’t have time to clean up the blood on my leg so i threw on some pants and left in the car my mom saw the blood dripping down my leg and drying, she didn’t understand why. I had been out of depression states for months at that point i had a suicide note in my phone i had already made plans and had tried to end my pain, i was tired of trying, i got to the point that i kept everything in inside i was completely numb and was ready to end my battle, self harming was a temporary fix to my numbness and eventually it stopped working i had lost my drug. when i compare SH (self-harm) to drugs it’s because that’s what it was for me my high was being lightheaded SH made me happy i couldn’t go without it, it’s an addiction. once it stopped working i was at the point where i had no reason to live. I got admitted into another hospital and then partial and then residential with no break, though i’m proudly able to say i haven’t selfharmed since june ninth, and i don’t want to or plan on self harming. Though my future is unwritten so i guess we’ll see what happens.”

⚠️****Trigger Warning**** ⚠️ ⚠️ Please proceed cautiously . If in recovery this post could be triggering.⚠️ ⚠️Disturbing Images⚠️

Planter hiding bits and pieces of her hidden secrets.

In January, I remember how angry I was. I was angry with myself, her father, her sisters, and I felt like I didn’t know what to do. When she was admitted after Thanksgiving, she only had surface wounds. I was terrified. I spoke to her therapist and her father and we all agreed 2 needed to increase therapy and go to her psychiatrist for med changes. I was hopeful. I began checking in often, having others check in when I couldn’t and we immediately implemented the safety plan that we had formulated. I didn’t know, though I hold guilt for not knowing as a mom I felt like I should’ve stopped this or prevented it. After her first hospitalization I became more aware. After this major incident and without me being informed of the abuse I became diligent.

⚠️****Trigger Warning**** ⚠️ ⚠️ Please proceed cautiously . If in recovery this post could be triggering.⚠️. ⚠️Disturbing Images⚠️

****Trigger Warning**** Just two days before admission 6/7/2021. I was only waiting because her therapist scheduled an emergency session so she could see her 6/9. Her therapist was aware of this incident and she did everything she could to keep 2 home.

****Trigger Warning**** The day she was admitted for inpatient acute hospitalization June 9th, 2021.

We had good weeks and then set backs over the next few months. I continued to implement her safety plan hoping if I just kept making sure the access was gone then we would make it through this. Never in a million years did I think that she was going to the extent of breaking kitchen glasses, picture frames, using wire from notebooks, blades from pencil sharpeners or screws out of shelves. That’s when I realized that phone cases hid the blades, plants housed sharp objects, trash bags had been hidden in the attic with bloody towels amidst whatever other trash she was throwing away. This was “addict behavior” in every way. Lies, bribes, empty promises of change that were all intended to be kept, but she just couldn’t follow through, she was deep in the dark place. She was losing hope, but I kept fighting even when she didn’t know how. Even when all I could do is cry and call her team to guide me through how I should handle each instance, I held onto the promise of a better life for my threefold.

I knew that we were headed in two possible directions. 1. Back to inpatient or 2. Her following through to completion. I could handle not seeing her if I knew she would be coming home, but not never again. A couple weeks was nothing against never seeing her again. Well obviously she was admitted, 12 weeks did feel like forever sometimes but I found comfort in knowing if nothing else she’s safe. I realized that diligence and my awareness weren’t going to be good enough and that I had to make the people around her aware too. Furthermore, I found that I had to lead by example. My therapy is important. My medication regimen is a must. My self care routine has to be completed. I learned that there are no perfect days, but our attitude towards life is everything. Most importantly I learned that this will be a long journey, but I can set the example, do my best, and meet my threefold where they are each day. After all a mother’s love is limitless.

Tomorrow 2 starts a new treatment program and we are going to keep working on being the best we can each day and to lean on the people around us in our dark times. It’s ok to ask for help. It’s ok to be not ok. Learn from it, grow from it, and eventually everything will make sense. We were meant to be in this situation, the dark times will help us lead others to the light. We are strong. Every single one of us! We are enough! ☮️❤️😊~M

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Insecurity Overload and Unrealistic Expectations of Self:

Feeling insecure 😕

I am determined to put all this stuff behind me. Figuring out the how and the way forward is my biggest obstacle. I can admit but I don’t know how to ACT in order to change it. I know I’ve focused too much on the perception of what I’m doing from all angles and it’s caused me too much frustration and worry about how I’m going to look and appear in court, what light my ex is trying to cast on me, how my threefold expect me to be, and trying to get past and heal from my own trauma and damage. It all makes me overwhelmed about the different ways I need and feel I have to be better or seem better or appear this or that. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of being tired and I’m tired of never reaching the impossible standards I’ve forced upon myself and never feeling secure enough, good enough, whole enough, or just enough anytime that perfection standard isn’t met. There is a difference in having a strive to achieve excellence and the losing battle of perfection. Yes it takes a lot of work to undo damage but if I can’t acknowledge what I am doing wrong and how I’m impacting the people around me by doing that then I can’t fix it. I am trying. I want to be better, but I have to learn that expecting more more of myself than is actually attainable is going to keep perpetuating the same reactions and responses. I can’t fix everything all at once. I have to remember that and I have to give myself patience and understanding.

I’m just trying to get to a place where I feel free from my past and can see ahead and all the possibilities it holds. Right now I feel stuck in the in between. I feel I have changed so much in the past year yet I feel like there is far too much control, energy and attention given to the past. Not just me, but by my threefold feeling stuck in their trauma also. I want to move forward but with divorce still looming and everything still so up in the air I can’t seem to release myself from that. I can say all the right words and even start going through the motions but I feel like if I am still linked to this man and if we have no closure on this ugly part of our lives then we can’t begin to heal. I fall back on my own toxic behaviors of setting myself up for failure, catastrophically defining my every shortcoming, placing unreasonable expectations and making out that someone else held me to some unattainable standard that no one has actually expressed an expectation of.

It’s selfish and self centered to focus only on how I feel about me. I can’t take praise, compliments, or criticism without having a negative contradicting thought. It’s anxiety and C-PTSD I know I’m highly aware as to the why and I even can rationalize my behavior as a result and response to those feelings of needing to be validated as good enough but even when I am it’s never enough for me to make it change if anything it raises my expectation of myself. Oh ok I got applauded for being on the top 10 at work so now obsessively check where I am in that ranking everyday and then I do whatever I have to do maintain the value I feel I have to prove I have. In turn I burn myself out and still have been in the top 10 for 6 consecutive weeks and hit #1 twice. It fueled my feelings of achievement, success, and it validated how amazing I am at my job while being insecure about missing work to care for and tend to my threefold during their difficult transition and 2’s hospitalization. I can lose 60lbs and had an original goal of 150 I’m at 159, I will get there by whatever means necessary because I am stubborn and willful and need the challenge to be motivated but once I’m there I’ll change the goal to 140 because I’ll still find why a size 8 doesn’t look good on me then it will be 130 I want but when I don’t reach it in my timeline I set then I will gain 20lbs most likely because im pissed off at myself for not doing more to get there. It’s churning with every aspect of everything. My insecurities drive me in everything yet no matter how far I get in anything I can’t make myself be happy with where I’m at today. My own self-sabotage will continue to cause me to fail but when I let go of the expectation my motivations fade to nothing and I feel like I’m never going to be any further than I am in this moment. In that moment I’m self loathing. Criticizing my every action and inaction and over analyzing everything I’ve said and everything I left unaddressed.

I need to reach the next goal or fix the next problem or find another solution. My life and energy feeds off my need to do more, be more, accomplish more, and my need to be the best in others’ eyes. I don’t feel seen, appreciated, celebrated, or validated. The compliments build my own feelings of them expecting that level at all times. Im pretty, oh ok im not but they like me because they think I’m pretty so I have to be whatever it takes to be pretty. You think im this strong bad ass woman then I must live that life and display behaviors and actions to support those theories. You want me to support myself financially then that means I can’t show I’m struggling or reach out for help. Add those ideas to being told by my past and my own brain reinforcing those words that I’ve been told a million times that I am not good enough, smart enough, thin enough, strong enough, worthy enough and everything just perpetuates that intense desire to be everything I perceive others want and need me to be at all times. Even if my perception isn’t based in truth and reality.

It’s insecurities, it’s psychological trauma, it’s a deep rooted desire to be validated in everything I do, and to be the best at everything all the time. I have to be the picture of the perfect mom, the perfect partner, the perfect daughter, employee, friend and all around person. I will never be pretty enough or thin enough. It’s picking apart every detail and feeling like every move I make is going to be wrong choice or it will somehow cause damage to someone else somewhere. It’s fear that failure is my only defining characteristic in my own eyes and that regardless of how hard I try it will never be good enough. I can’t handle setbacks without thinking the setback will define me to the people around me. Whoever I let down, disappointed, or felt I hurt I feel I’ve failed them on a level that never will be told to me but perceived by me. “So just leave then!” I want to scream when I don’t feel I’m measuring up. “I can’t be everything to everybody all the time!” I cry as I feel I am being criticized and become defensive. “You think I want to be this messed up?” I ask desperately needing someone to meet me where I am as I feel I have attempted to do that time and again with others. “Quit telling me I’m stronger than this and to keep trying!” I say in a frustrated manner as I feel that all of my own insecurities and my expectation of myself are failing to be met and my efforts have begun to meet the end of my motivation to keep trying because I can’t understand why my efforts to do better are never good enough for anyone or seen in a way of wanting more. I’m not sure how to make my inability to receive compliments or praise at face value match up with a need to be validated, valued, appreciated and supported. I need the approval and acceptance because I don’t approve of or accept myself.

I can acknowledge its existence and the toxicity of that pattern but I don’t know how to change that thought pattern and that way of life. It’s been psychologically embedded and rooted that positive affirmations don’t reverse it, support seems to amplify it, and my anxiety seems to manipulate it. I just want be able to give myself the allowances I give everyone else and stop feeling like there is no amount of effort that will improve my life or my relationships. Feeling destined for a life of constantly falling short and blaming others for that is toxic to me and everyone else around me. How do I learn to cut myself some slack, relax, and stop perpetuating this cycle of try and fail and repeat? I’m lost in that today. Maybe writing it down and getting it out will be cathartic and help me find a better way forward than the road I’ve continued to take regardless if that’s the only way I know. It’s time to learn a new way forward because this way is not getting me anywhere.