sharing my life experiences, reflections and insights as a mother, a writer, an Occupational Therapist, an unschooler, and and a spiritual being having a human experience

Posts tagged ‘Mental Illness’

Gratitude: Embracing Bipolar Depression

Well, if you want to sing out, sing out

And if you want to be free, be free

‘Cause there’s a million things to be

You know that there are

And if you want to live high, live high

And if you want to live low, live low

‘Cause there’s a million ways to go

You know that there are

Cat Stevens sings as I sit here telling myself to write

Ups and downs, highs and lows

Bipolar depression and mood swings

Life challenges

Leaving me wanting to escape it all, at times

Other times ready to jump in and fight, power on…

Emotions

Feelings

Memories

Regrets…

Life for 48 and a half years and counting…

Opportunities come and gone

New endeavors

Staring new jobs, new people, new places, new computer systems…

Old jobs and people I have known a long time

Letting go

Moving on

Writing

Because I have to

Because it is what feeds my soul

Because when I don’t write,

I feel lost

Something is missing

Until I return to my keyboard

And figure out what to say

My life is awesome

Sometimes my life sucks

Circumstances and situations suck

Infuriated by government systems

Lack of organization and logic

Waiting

Mental health services

Sick care

Thinking of those things is a whole ‘ nother blog

Embracing myself and who I am

Embracing where I am

Right now

Right here

In this home

My 5 year home that I have lived in for 17 years…

With all its cracks and crevices and needed repairs

My house is nearly 49 years old, as am I

Built the year I was born

A good year

1969

I was born on Peace Day during the Vietnam war

October 15

I believe I choose to be born on that day

I was born 3 weeks past my mother’s “due date”

They allowed that back then…

Here I am

Now

Journey sings to me

Don’t’ stop believin’

Dreams

Writing

Aspirations

Hope

New endeavors with Don

Speaking

Speaking!

Writing and speaking my truth

My true self is emerging

i sing this song to my true self…

I know you’re out there somewhere

Somewhere, somewhere

I know I’ll find you somehow

Somehow, somehow

And somehow I’ll return again to you

The mist is lifting slowly

I can see the way ahead

And I’ve left behind the empty streets

That once inspired my life

And the strength of the emotion

Is like thunder in the air

‘Cos the promise that we made each other

Haunts me to the end

I know you’re out there somewhere

Somewhere, somewhere

I know you’re out there somewhere

Somewhere you can hear my voice

I know I’ll find you somehow

Somehow, somehow

I know I’ll find you somehow

And somehow I’ll return again to you

The secret of your beauty

And the mystery of your soul

I’ve been searching for in everyone I meet

And the times I’ve been mistaken

It’s impossible to say

And the grass is growing

Underneath our feet

I know you’re out there somewhere

Somewhere, somewhere

I know you’re out there somewhere

Somewhere you can hear my voice

I know I’ll find you somehow

Somehow, somehow

I know I’ll find you somehow

And somehow I’ll return again to you

[Interlude:]

You see I know you’re out there somewhere

O yes I know you’re out there somewhere

You see I know I’ll find you somehow

O yes I know I’ll find you somehow

the words that I remember

From my childhood still are true

That there’s none so blind

As those who will not see

And to those who lack the courage

And say it’s dangerous to try

Well they just don’t know

That love eternal will not be denied

I know you’re out there somewhere

Somewhere, somewhere

I know you’re out there somewhere

Somewhere you can hear my voice

I know I’ll find you somehow

Somehow, somehow

I know I’ll find you somehow

And somehow I’ll return again to you

Yes I know it’s going to happen

I can feel you getting near

And soon we’ll be returning

To the fountain of our youth

And if you wake up wondering

In the darkness I’ll be there

My arms will close around you

And protect you with the truth

I know you’re out there somewhere

Somewhere, somewhere

I know you’re out there somewhere

Somewhere you can hear my voice

I know I’ll find you somehow

Somehow, somehow

I know I’ll find you somehow

And somehow I’ll return again to you

Thank you Moody Blues and Azlyrics

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Story of my life

Have you ever seen the video for the song, Story of My LIfe, by One direction?

I have always liked the song and having just watched the video, I like it even more.

And I am very picky about my videos. My favorite song currently is Ed Sheeran’s Castle on the Hill, but oh my! I really dislike the video. It just does not do the song justice. I find the video cheesy. But I will focus back on the video I like…

Story of My Life by One Direction

Today is my half birthday.

Crazy? That a 48 year old woman is celebrating her half birthday?…

Maybe…

There is no cake or anything. I just always think about it when it arrives, 6 months prior to my next birthday.

And today, I am using the date to focus on me and my life for my blog.

What better song to use and after watching the video, I knew it was perfect.

Do three links to the video impress upon how much I want you to watch this video?

I will superimpose my blog within the lyrics of the song today….

“Story Of My Life”

Written in these walls are the stories that I can’t explain

I leave my heart open but it stays right here empty for days

April 15, 2018

I am 48.5 years old today. My 49th birthday is 6 months away. It is also “tax day” but being Sunday, I guess that will really be tomorrow.

I am very happy with my life right now. I would not have said that last year. Two years ago, I might have, but several years prior to that, most likely not. I have had more than my share of challenges over the past 11 years. Somewhere in all of it, I lost myself but have been working to uncover myself again. In doing so, I have discovered that the truest part of me has been lost for far more than 11 years.

The last time I remember being this confident and happy with myself was when I was 10, 11, and 12 years old and living in Bethel Park, Pa. I lived there for 3 years of my life: September 1979 through the summer of 1982. I made some wonderful friends in those 3 years and have some of my best childhood memories from that time period. I was a Girl Scout, a safety guard for the bus stop, part of the writing crew for a child run and produced news show that ran on the local channel and was facilitated by my 5th grade teacher at Washington Elementary School. I learned to play the clarinet and was in the band which continued even after moving across the state and when entering high school. I played softball for a church league and was a catcher and learned to hit the ball and even got a home run! I played softball the year before we moved to Pennsylvania, when we lived in Ohio, but we later found out that I really needed glasses and this explained my not hitting the ball for an entire season of softball. It is much more fun to play softball when you can see.

She told me in the morning she don’t feel the same about us in her bones

Seems to me that when I die these words will be written on my stone

I received my first journal, “dairy” when I was 10 years old. My sister gave it to me for my 10th birthday, October 15, 1979.

I still have that diary and every one after it that I have been writing in for the past 38 1/2 years. I have been a writer for as long as I an remember. My 6th grade language arts teacher was the best. I can remember creating a book of poetry in her class and I vividly remember her sitting down to review it with me. She encouraged me and praised m writing.

We moved a year later and somehow, my vision of myself as a writer changed. Somehow, when I was in high school and thinking about college, I never thought of pursuing a career in writing. Looking back at my life now, I see how everything I did was perfect to bring me to where I am today. I would not change going to E-town College and majoring in Occupational Therapy. Nor would I change all the places I have worked as an Occupational Therapist. Even the job I held for only one month. It all brought me to where I am now.

I used to say “I am a writer that got detoured by a career in Occupational Therapy”.

I don’t know that I would say that anymore.

I am a writer AND…

I am an Occupational Therapist.

Both are a large part of who I am.

And I’ll be gone, gone tonight

The ground beneath my feet is open wide

The way that I been holding on too tight

With nothing in between

The story of my life

I take her home

I drive all night

To keep her warm

And time is frozen (the story of, the story of)

The story of my life

I give her hope

I spend her love

Until she’s broke

Inside

The story of my life (the story of, the story of)

Any love song I listen to now, I often think about loving my inner child.

Nourishing the part of me that got lost, my true self.

I have been actively working to nurture my inner child for over 14 years ever since I began practicing EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique with Jan Luther.

I did personal work and went on to study EFT further and earned a level 1 and level 2 EFT training certificates. I also received level 1 and level 2 Reiki training. I am a student of Conversations with God. That goes back even further, I believe to before my oldest child was born over 20 years ago. I remember hearing Neale Donald Walsh speak at Unity of Charlotte when I was pregnant with my oldest child. I have read many self help books as well and engaged in classes on spiritual health and growth. I went to counseling with my husband when we fist met and before we even had a first fight. I attended further therapy on my own and joined a women’s group and continued to be in touch with those women for several years.

Written on these walls are the colors that I can’t change

Leave my heart open but it stays right here in its cage

I know that in the morning now I see us in the light upon a hill

Although I am broken, my heart is untamed, still

Depression has been a part of my life since my teenage years. I did not struggle significantly until my senior year of college at the age of 22. Although, high school was difficult for me and I lacked self-confidence and could not wait to move out of highschool. I excelled academically but socially was a very different story.

Moving out on my own after graduating college was a shock to my system. Somehow I envisioned that experience to be an extension of college, but it was not. I had challenges but found my way.

I met my husband in March of 1993, just four months after moving 600 miles south to North Carolina.

I can still see the add in my OT magazine for the job, it read,

Shouldn’t you be in Charlotte?

It spoke to me.

I am glad I listened. That is one “should” that benefited me!

Married in May of 1994

First big job change in August of 1995 with significant pay increase and less stress

First child born November of 1997

Changed to part time work (from full time) in January of 2000

Moved to new larger house in April of 2001

Child number two born February of 2002

Home full time in Summer of 2007, something I had desired since February of 1998 when I returned to full time work leaving my 12 week old son home with his dad

Spring of 2008, expecting my third child and when three months pregnant,

…Back to work because my husband was reduced from full time employee with salary to contractor paid commission only

January 8, 2009 my third child is born and I choose to stay home for a full year because that is why we had waited to have a third child…

So that I could be home full time

Our financial struggles began in summer of 2008 when my husband lost. his job, but never collected unemployment because he still had a job, as a contractor, paid commission, and he even had to collect the money from customers.

I sought work but it took a few months to get hired and worked many weekends ad other days as needed until December when I felt I was too pregnant to continue. I had worked up to the day before for my first two children, but this time I was 39 years old and very tired with this pregnancy.

I returned to work at that same job in spring of 2010 when my youngest was just over a year old, working “PRN” on a part time, as needed basis. I continued at that job until recently.

I could continue to list life events from this point on and yet, that would take hours.

I already have many blogs written about the challenges overt the past 10 years.

The important part…

Is that I am on the other side now

I have walked through the mud

Swam the swamp and come up for air

Hurdled the obstacles with bruises and scars

Badges of honor abound

And courage…

I am stronger because of it

I am also who I am because of all of my experiences

I am NOT what has happened to me…

I AM who I now as, as a result of my choices I have made about what has happened.

And I,’ll be gone, gone tonight

The fire beneath my feet is burning bright

The way that I been holding on so tight

With nothing in between

The story of my life

I take her home

I drive all night

To keep her warm

And time is frozen (the story of, the story of)

The story of my life

I give her hope

I spend her love

Until she’s broke

Inside

The story of my life (the story of, the story of)

And I been waiting for this time to come around

But baby running after you is like chasing the clouds

The story of my life

I take her home

I drive all night

To keep her warm

And time is frozen

The story of my life

I give her hope (give her hope)

I spend her love

Until she’s broke (until she’s broke inside)

Inside

The story of my life (the story of, the story of)

The story of my life

The story of my life (the story of, the story of)

The story of my life

Depression: Trudging through the mud with chains on my back while trying to keep my head above water

Here comes the sun

It’s been a long, cold winter

When I look back to when I have been depressed, I see sadnesses but there is so much more to it then that.

Life becomes a chore, all of it. Getting through each and every day is exhausting

And I look forward most to going to bed at night and sleeping and being in the quiet

But when I wake, I don’t feel refreshed, I feel tired and want to keep sleeping

Getting up is challenging

Getting up and starting my day takes a lot of effort

Leaving me with a half empty tank for the rest of my day

And some days, getting up takes nearly all my tank and so I am left running on fumes all day

Until I can go to bed again.

I manage to do the essentials, feed my children, feed myself

When I am depressed, I eat, too much

Trying to find comfort in food, but the comfort never comes

Leaving me feeling heavy and disappointed further pushing me down

I manage to wash clothes, I like doing laundry, the only cleaning task I truly like

Something about the simplicity of laundry and the reward

Sort the colors, fill the washer, add the soap and turn the dials

I get myself and my kids to the things we must do, are committed to

I get myself to work and get through the day

I don’t enjoy work very much and it feels like WORK

There are moments of pleasure and times where I feel good at work, work gives me a. Feeling of accomplishment

When I am working, I feel competent, because I have been an Occupational Therapist for 25 years

And I know the routine

I complete an eval, setting goals and then reassess them 3-4 weeks later and see the progress, or lack of it

And when they have reached their maximum potential, I complete the discharge paperwork with reassessment again.

It is logical and familiar.

I am a good therapist and I know what I am doing.

Yet, i have many moment so “I don’t want to do this anymore” seeing all the flaws in the system

And the problems that need fixing and it frustrates me beyond belief

Yet while I am at work, I probably am functioning my best

Home

Thinking about it now, recalling how coming home is always challenging when I am depressed,

I think it is because I come home to “disappointment”

Disappointment in myself for all the things I have NOT been doing in my time away from work

You can look at the menu but you just can’t eat

You can feel the cushions but you can’t have a seat

You can dip your foot in the pool, but you can’t have a swim

You’re the fastest runner, but you’re not allowed to win

YOu can see the summit, but you can’t reach it

It’s the last piece of the puzzle but you just cant make it fit

The doctor says you’re cured but you still feel the pain

Aspirations in the clouds but your hopes go down the drain

There are moments of joy, playing with my youngest and engaging with all my kids

Yet there is this dark cloud over my head the whole time

Just when I think I am pulling myself up and out of the muck and mud,

Something happens creating more challenges in my life

Causing me to fall back into the mud

Don is my rock, steady and always by my side

Yet, when I am depressed all I see are his flaws

I expect him to disappoint me and that is what I experience

This is a new reflection, a new realizing that I am just now fully realizing

As I listen to Peter Cetera sing, The Glory of Love

DEPRESSION

Have you ever seen the rain coming down on a sunny day?

I always thought if you were clinically depressed, you wound have any moment of joy

I always told myself, i wasn’t really depressed or i won’t be able to go to work

I wouldn’t be able to function at all, that is real clinical depression

Those people have it bad

I am still functioning.

It wasn’t until I came out of it, that I could look back and see how depressed I was

It didn’t matter that I was still functioning, I was barely functioning

I was barely getting by and it was painful

Often physically painful with aches and pains, throwing my back out to the point of not being able to move

Many trips to the chiropractor and other doctors for a variety of illnesses

And then I would get sick, stay home from work sick and it would take a long time to get better or I would relapse

Looking back this happened in college, often, sinus infections that just wouldn’t go away

Mood swings

All my life I have experienced big mood swings

When I went to college and learned about bipolar disorder

I wondered, Is this me?

Yet, i don’t experience mania

Not full on mania

It was years before I learned about hypomania

I think I learned about it from my brother and his bipolar diagnosis

From that time, i began to wonder about myself

I went to a psychiatrist after I had been on an antidepressant for a long time, 8 months ore so, prescribed by my primary

Because i finally took myself to the doctor and tole them I needed treatment for depression

So by the time I went to the first psychiatrist, i was having nearly all the side effects from the antidepressant and i was in a state of hypomania but beginning to look more like mania

The doctor diagnosed me with depression, removed me from the medicine showing me how I was having all the side effects fro it

And then

She declared me cured

I knew I was not cured but hopefully that I didn’t need the antidepressant anymore

And so worried that I would fall back into the depression again

I was good for a while, for another few months

Until i slowly began sinking again

So slowly, rreeping up on me

Realizing it but naively thinking along the way that

THIS was the low point and surely I would pull back up

Sinking further and further

Finding a doctor again and trying a different antidepressant and going to a new psychiatrist

Because I wanted to make sure the medicine didn’t cause mania because

That can help end with bipolar disorder

I had been reading and researching becoming more and more convinced that this was my proper diagnosis

And going to the psychiatrist, to the expert, to determine if that was the case

Yet, she diagnosed me with depression

And I got tiered of paying twenty dollars cash each visit and not happy with her

Challenged by th noisy fan because the building’s air conditioner was broken and she had a soft voice and an accent

And my hearing is not what it used to be and it was a challenge to hear her words

And a challenge to be there with her asking dumb basic questions

When I had dug so much deeper with all my purists in EFT and alternative modalities and inner work

Luckily, my primary has continued to prescribe my medication and i don’t seam to baving side effects

I wonder about mania vs hypomania

I realize that it would have been good to continue to go to the same psychiatrist so manybe she could have seen the difference in me,

Why?

To diagnosis me properly

Whatever

I have done that for myself

I am more qualified to do it

Which is sad, really sad that the mental health system has failed me

I intended to work in mental health when I was in college studying Occupational therapy

We had an entire semester plus dedicated to mental health and level I and level II fieldwork in a mental health setting

Only finding traumatic brain injury and a acute rehab pulled me way from my interest in pursing a career in mental health

Here I am

All these years later

Discovering that the doctors don’t always do the best job at diagnosis in

The psychologists and psychiatrist with their MDs and PhDs, all those years of school

Didn’t help me

My own personal education, experience, research and inner work and trial and erro with a variety of approaches

Has led me to diagnosis myself

I would have been the last person to say this is valid,

I am biased, this is why i went to the professions in the first place

They were supposed to be the experts

They first failed me with my children, especially my youngest son

In getting him help for his anxiety and challenges that affected his every day life

Yet, I find myself needing to say, I mean no disrespect for these professionals and they are essential in the system

And I KNOW they help many, many children and adults get the help they need.

And yet, there are those who are misdiagnosed and those who fall through the cracks of the system

Those who don’t get the help they need because of costs and insurance, bad insurance or no insurance

Or no qualified providers in their insurance plan

WE MUST ALL TAKE CHARGE OF OUR OWN HEALTH AND BE INVOLVED IN THE PROCESS

As an Occupational Therapist, my role is to facilitate my patient’s return to a higher level of independent functioning.

I facilitate, but I can not do the work for them and if they are not motivated and don’t make the effort, there is nothing I can do to make them better.

“Man, through the use of his hands, can influence the state of his own health”

The quote is from one of the founders of occupational therapy and something I learned in freshman year in a Theory of Occupational Therapy class. I learned about many different theorists yet that one quote is what has stuck with me.

That quote is what motivated me to help my daughter learn to knit and crochet when her OCD was so severe that it crippled here in her daily life. And what drove me to engage her in Sudoku puzzles and other tasks to help calm the anxiety that was rampant in her Brian causing havoc in her life and in ours.

I have learned that I must go to the doctor and get their advice AND do my own research, go to the alternative practitioners and gather all the resources and information and advice

AND then I must decide what to take in and what to discard in order to maximize my level of independent functioning.

BUT WHEN I AM DEPRESSED, IT IS REALLY HARD TO DO THIS!

I KNOW What I need to do much of the time, but making the decisions to do it and taking the action is challenging.

It can be paralyzing to know what I need to do and not be able to make the decisions to do it.

To an outsider it looks so simple, just do it,, just call the doctor and make the appointment, just get up 30 minutes early and walk every morning, just go. Outside once each day and do grounding exercises, just write in your journal daily.

Sure I KNOW I need to do these things and at times, I can do them, once or twice,

Trudging through the mud with chains on my back, while trying to keep my head above water

Dealing and Coping with Mental Illness

One of my biggest challenges in helping my children with their mental health issues, has been doing so while dealing with my own mental health issues.  I have diagnosed myself with Bipolar 2 because the mental health professionals have failed me in that area. They diagnosed me with Major Depression despite my repeated information on my bipolar symptoms. One practioner wanted me to see if my insurance would cover generic testing, in part to see if Bipolar disorder was likely. I don’t need to take a test for that. My brother is diagnosed with Bipolar 2 and has been for a long time. My brother and I share much other genetic similarities. 

I have found in helping my children, that I have been more qualified than the so-called professionals with diagnosing myself and my children. Especially my youngest child who I know has OCD and social anxiety despite failed attempts with professionals to get these diagnoses. I am a health care professional after all and hey, who knows my children better than me? No one. I homeschool/ unschool them based on my knowledge of who they are so I guess we unschool mental health too. 

That being said, we do use professionals for assistance. We have a OCD specialist therapist who has been vital in helping both my daughter and my son.  But we have been unable as of this writing to find a well qualified Psychiatrist who specializes in OCD.  We had one that was competent and who we liked (we liked her even more after we went to other Psychiatrists) but she was self pay only and we already have enough debt from medical expenses. 

Back to my intent of this post….

Helping my children when I myself am suffering my own mental illness. 

When I look back over the years, there are large periods of time that feel like a fog and in those times, just getting through each day was a big challenge for me.  One area that has been a big issues is getting my children help or following through with referrals and other things when they are doing better. 

When your child suffers with mental illness, it is exhausting, emotionally and often physically. When, they are doing better, there is a feeling of relief and wanting life to “just be normal for a while” or more normal.  As an example of this, last spring, my youngest had a severe flare up of OCD, anxiety and behavioral issues.  We went to a hospital ER to get immediate psychiatric help but because he was less than 7, we could only seek a referral to a developmental and behavioral pediatrician or go to the local mental health behavioral unit which would have been at least a 3-5 hour wait without knowing if they could even help us. We opted for the getting referred to the pediatrician specialist which involved going back to our primary for the referral and then I called to follow up but did not receive any information from them for 6 months.  I repeat, it took the Develpomental and behavioral Pediatrician practice, 6 months to send us information in the mail to complete to be seen.  Well, 6 months later, he was doing so much better. We had started OT services as well as going to the therapist we already had for our daughter. I intended to fil out the paperwork.  I must add that about 4 months prior to this visit to the ER, we had taken him to a psychologist for evaluation, but she was unable to complete her evaluation due to his inability to answer all her questions and complete her tests. It took her a couple months to send her results to us which said nothing really that I did not already know. 

Back to the referral to the pediatrician specialist.  I truly intended to fill out this lengthy paperwork to get my son seen.  I even contacted a friend who had taught him in a class situation to help with filling out some of the information. Since we homeschool, we don’t have a teacher to answer things.  He also acts differently with me than with other people, so I thought her input would be helpful. She is also the person who first pointed out the idea that he has “social anxiety”.  Yet, I have yet to begin to complete this paperwork. Now, I want to get my daughter referred to this practice in my hopes that they will have experience with OCD, particularly child-onset OCD. Because, she needs a prescribing doctor to follow her on her medication. Our previous Psychiatrist, who we did not like at all, does not take our current insurance. 

So why did I not fill out the paperwork for my son when they finally send it to me, 6 months after I requested the referral?

The only answer I really have is: my own depression and anxiety. 

My own depression made doing daily activities difficulty and anything extra was really a stretch for me to complete. I just did not have the time nor the energy to do it. I wanted to do it. It bothered me that I did not complete it. I also think that I did not have much faith anymore that these so called “professionals” could help my son.  Having the experience of taking my time to go to the psychologist assessment and gaining nothing from the experience other than frustration with the incompetence of the psychologist with knowing how to handle a kid with severe anxiety and getting help for us, I had little motivation to pursue this next avenue of help.  

So was it my depression and Axiety that prevented me from getting the help for my son?  

Or was it because I no longer believed that the professionals could help my son?

Most likely a little of both. 

I took some steps today to get my children the help they need.  Despite the utterly inadequate NC government health care system, I soldiered on with 2 different phone calls and even talking to the person who is my “case manager” who I find particularly incompetent and unprofessional.    I know know that I need to do research to find a psychiatrist that takes our current insurance, NC assisted: NC Healthchoscie for Children (when your income is too high for Medicaid). They had Medicaid until the beginning of this year. My husband is self employed and my prn work status does not qualify me for health insurance through my employers. I work 2 jobs. 

I also plan to find that paperwork and fill it out for my son too. Hopefully, I can find it, buried in the piles of paper at my desk. And I do plan to ask my friend to help me fill out the information. She now has seen my son at least weekly in class and might have some valuable insights and opinions to share. 

So this is my affirmation to myself to make these items a priority. 

If you also deal with mental health issues and have other family members with mental health issues, I would love to hear your challenges, thoughts and insights.   Let us help each other.