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A Little Christmas Magic

Happy Christmas Eve! Hope everyone is having an amazing Christmas so far and that you didn’t just get fuzzy socks and a coffee mug with a sarcastic saying on it! Even if you did though, it was well meaning I’m sure {even if not well executed} You might be the parent that sent $20 to school so that little Suzy could buy you something from the Christmas Shop Supporting Vegan Lunch Options. Come Christmas morning you unwrapped a plaque covered in gold foil printed with #1 mom or Best Dad Ever! You’re loved, and you really are #1! Even so maybe that $20 plaque money could’ve been better spent on a Target gift card or anything else. Yet this is when that old saying comes to mind ‘it’s the thought that counts!’ With kids, sometimes, it really is the thought that counts!

My defcon four did pretty damn good this year for mom! With a 17, 15, 13, and 10 year old things get a bit more interesting come Christmas. The handmade coupon books that were never redeemed {actually I think they each owe me a good bit of whine free chores!} The homemade Christmas ornaments that are in a box in the closet. The sweet letters about you being their hero. Those precious keepsakes are replaced with material things. Sometimes the material things are coffee cups {even when you don’t drink coffee} or fuzzy socks. Sometimes they are regifted decor from around the house, like what I received for the youngest of the defcon four crew tonight. Still I said thank you and gave her the beaming smile of approval for the thoughtfulness. She tried, and for me that’s what counts! The thought.

I’ve been a wreck for weeks as I scurried through trying to budget for Christmas without a mound of debt I couldn’t pay back and without phoning a family member for a loan. Somehow we managed to manifest some Christmas magic. We didn’t even procrastinate {as much} as we have in the past. The obstacles that were put in front of us were obliterated by our optimism and knowledge that it would work out. I still am sporting my fancy Christmas anxiety that’s reserved only for this time of year. Honestly though, I’ve never been more excited for Christmas as I am this year. I know that everyone got what was on their list, plus a few things.

I kept ‘Anxious Annie’ at bay for the most part {there were a few days where I took the bipolar express straight to mood swing station} and replaced her with inner ‘Resourceful Rhonda’ as I like to call her. Rhonda can scout out a deal like no other! Me and full price, we aren’t friends! If I’m going to buy my daughter half a shirt then so help me I’m paying half price for it! The big things this year which are on trend with every adolescent Christmas list-electronics. My #3 wants a tablet, 2 oldest want new iPads, one fancy laptop and the kitties sleeping in a cat tree! {I had to, sorry not sorry} Being a parent with four kids to appease with over $1000 Christmas wish lists each is a bit of a headache to say the least. I don’t know how we managed to accomplish such a financial hit but somehow it’s happening!

If ‘E’ wasn’t helping me, we wouldn’t have everything we have this year, but between his conjoined financial backing pooled with my own money, my resourcefulness, his good credit, and a bit of Christmas magic we are making this Christmas one for the record books! ‘E’ and I really stepped up this year to give defcon four the Christmas they deserve after this crazy chaotic year!

Now I have to go wrap this shit up! Literally! I have procrastinated this part long enough! I’m truly grateful for the many blessings we have and that we will all be together tomorrow! I hope you all having a very Merry Christmas! Stay Positive! You’ve Got This! ☮️❤️😊🎄~M

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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 https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/66K3QSL on mental illness. I would love for you to participate! Thanks in advance!

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Covid Chronicles: Day 3 & 4 11/29/21-11/30/21

Day 3 was the day of rest apparently. I’ve never slept like I slept yesterday. My body must’ve been needing that, because I was not even stirred until close to 4:00 pm. I was asleep and no one woke me. This in and of itself is unheard of. I can’t typically take a nap around here without someone needing something. I woke up and again felt almost human. No major complaints other than some aches that could be accounted to the obscene amount of sleep I had acquired. I didn’t do anything for the remainder of the evening except untangle the most massive knot of yarn and finish the finger knit garland for our Christmas tree. My main symptom yesterday was fatigue. Still no sense of smell, but that is probably in my favor still as ‘E’ hasn’t been shy about letting those butt demons free. I wanted to write but my motivation was less than on point. I figured it would be ok to skip a day.

Unfortunately, yesterday #1 found out her boyfriend tested positive and she was beginning to show some symptoms of our new house mate Corona also. ‘And another one bites the dust!’ If you’re keeping count that’s 4/6 of the people that live in my home and another person that happens to swap spit with my daughter on occasion. That leaves #3 and the ‘BK’ {bonus kid} so far unscathed.

Today, day 4, brought some time outside of the house. That would seem like a wanted change of pace, but today I did not feel close to human when I woke up, nor did I have that ‘this isn’t so bad’ thought. No, today was the day that I felt yuckiest so far. Today was the day that ’E’ and my threefold could test to seal their fate of continued quarantine or a date for going back to school. #3 was the only one who got the all clear and as long as she does not show symptoms she can return to school at the end of the week. The other two and ‘E’ are stuck at home until next week, same as I am. Thankfully everyone is showing mild symptoms and everyone is still able to rest fairly comfortably.

Today the headache was at its most intense and it did not want to let up with the Tylenol I was taking to diminish the pain. It was relentless. I showered, but even that was not helpful. I was groggy and irritable and overall I felt like garbage. My nose feels so dry, but still stopped up which seems like a contradiction. It’s possible though. The cough is still there, but it seems to be triggered less. {unless it’s a laughing fit} Overall though it’s been an uneventful couple days. Trying to take each day as it comes and although I still want to be active and go, I am heeding my limitations and accepting my body’s call for rest.

Hopefully, everyone begins to feel better over the next few days and is able to start getting their normal energy levels back. Until then we will just continue to listen to our needs and remain positive. We are home and we are together! Everyone is trying to take care of each other and surprisingly my threefold hasn’t gone into all out war with each other…yet. ☮️❤️😊~M

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Overloaded, Overwhelmed and OVER IT!

My life is moving way too fast. With treatment, therapy, school, medication management, psychiatry, dentist, doctors, ball practice, work, and all the other errands that life has I am tired! I’ve always respected single mothers as hardworking and patient people. I honestly never gave them the credit they deserved. It took becoming one and losing my support system nearby to see how hard it is to have it all on you. I wish I had people nearby I could turn to and ask for help from, but unfortunately long-distant support isn’t able to pick up the kids from school or watch them so you can go to the store alone. If you aren’t able to put your needs last this single parent life is not for you!

I had to laugh audibly when my psychiatrist asked me Tuesday if I made any time for “self-care”…my response was probably not one that was expected, but it was honest. I don’t have time to take a shower sometimes, when I do I’m so exhausted I don’t even care if I smell like the back end of a Chuck E Cheese in the middle of summer mixed with McDonald’s onions, I want to chill out. Unfortunately Anxiety creeps up and taps my shoulder and says “you forgot this…and this…and this…and this”. Some days I just want to scream and throw things! I can’t though because I’m the “mental health mom”. I can’t react…I have to respond. Constantly being aware of other people’s needs gives you compassion fatigue and eventually you explode. You can’t put others first all the time and lose yourself in that, you’ll resent the people you put ahead of yourself. Then the next stage is burn out.

I’ve been worn thin over the past several months. My time and attention is being split between personal, family, work, and home. I feel like I can’t fully focus on any area without another area interfering or me constantly thinking about it. I’ve been trying to manage it all, but there has been no relief, in fact it’s only gotten harder for me to keep up with the pace.

This week after my ex called to tell my threefold that he was going to check himself into a facility to “get help” I found myself more angry. I was asking myself why I was so mad and I think I was actually jealous. Not really, but I’m a way, yes I was. He has hardly anything to do with my threefold. He rarely helps financially. He doesn’t help with logistics. He has made everything hell for me and it’s been a fight to receive any communication, rarely civil. He still manages to hurt my threefold even from a distance. He hurts them if he is around and his lack of effort hurts them too. I had reached my breaking point when 2, who has just gotten out of the hospital and is still in treatment, said she was glad he was getting help and hopefully if he was able to get help she would be willing to try and work on their relationship. Her sweet and hope filled statement got her a quick “I don’t have time for your ultimatums right now. I can’t do this sh!t with you.” She was devastated and then so angry. So much we had an emergency session at 10pm for therapy for risk management. Then 1 was up, she kept it brief and simple, but she was sad. Then 3, she screamed and cried and screamed some more. My initial reaction of being mad at him for getting to live life without responsibilities, no job, no kids, no cares for anyone but himself morphed into concern and pain for my threefold.

The next 48 hours were trying and difficult. I got very little sleep as I was worried feeling I needed to be the night nurse and check on my threefold through the night hours. We had four therapy sessions in 24 hours the emergency 10pm, one for 3, one for myself and a family session for all of us. I was scared for my threefold. I knew it was going to be hard on them and 3 she was experiencing her first huge disappointment from her father. She had defended his every action and suddenly the anger from his abandonment rose to the surface. In an instant all of it came out and it oozed out for days. All of my threefold were angry and they were displaying that anger in all different ways. It was time for me to stop being the chaos coordinator and go into risk management mode. I knew that we had to avoid crisis management at all costs.

I decided that I needed to take a short leave of absence from my work. I had to put my focus into my threefold full force. I couldn’t just hope for the best, I needed to make sure everyone was safe and that I had to be with them after treatment and school each day to do that at least until it evened out a bit. I also needed to get into a routine and schedule so that my time was better managed. I feel if I focus on this now and can find my way through it that moving forward will be easier for everyone. That’s where I am day 3 of my 12 day leave.

Now I am hopeful, less stressed, and thankful. I’m not thankful for the overwhelming overloaded and over scheduled life we live, but I am thankful that I’m present and an active participant in my threefold’s life. My threefold is amazing, strong, kind, brave, and we are all so beautifully broken. The future we are creating as a family with the broken pieces of our past is a masterpiece in the making. ☮️❤️😊~M

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Rest. Relax. Recharge.

This weekend has to be one for the record books. No we didn’t break the time on cleaning house or master new skills. I simply gave in and submitted to the sleep I have been desperately needing for months now. I’m not sure I have ever slept as much as I have over the past 48 hours and I’m not sure how I can still feel exhausted after sleeping as much as I have. I am not sure how I have managed to be able to sleep and not be awoken because of this or that or phone calls or hunger or anything. It’s miraculous. I love sleep. However, I have allowed it to be an unattainable and elusive goal these past few months.

Friday I managed to get 7-8 hours which although I used to be able to sleep like that regularly has not been a reality for me in months, maybe even close to a year. Saturday I worked but felt exhausted all day despite my decent night sleep. I came home and took a 3 hour nap. I got up fixed dinner and was back to sleep by 11:30pm. I slept another 10 hours, YES! 10! Obscene. Then slept again and again and again. I’ve had maybe 4 hours total awake hours all day. Those were spent in bed, or lounging, snacking, or snuggled up against the man who stayed in bed with me, and writing of course.

I’m preparing myself for the stress and anxiety of the weeks to come. School is about to start back bringing with it lists and shopping and bills. Meetings with lawyers and new routines. I’m hoping for a discharge date for 2 soon, though that may not be happening just yet. I’m anticipating doctors and nurses and therapists calling with updates, medication authorization, and treatment plans. I’m looking at coordinating 1’s senior year. I’m preparing for facilitating communication between school and hospital so that 2 is on track for her 8th grade year when she is released. I am bracing myself for 3 not wanting to get back in the school flow and go to bed on time and the early morning struggles to make it to the bus stop on time. With everything getting ready to come at us full speed I think my body decided it was time to relax and recharge because this weekend is the second to the last of summer break. Next weekend no doubt will be spent prepping for the first day.

Today I am going to be grateful for the rest. I am grateful of the reprieve sleep brings from the everyday hustle and bustle of life with my threefold. I am not going to feel guilty for letting myself fall into bed and sleeping this weekend away. Sometimes I forget that it’s ok to stop and relax and give myself the time I need to recharge. Sometimes it’s ok to say “No” and focus just on what my body is telling me that I need. Sometimes pushing through the tired and the stress is not the answer. I am grateful I have allowed myself to take a break this weekend and not forced myself to push through.