The older one gets the faster time goes by. We had rain late last night and snow in the early morning hours. This combination has made the roads rather treacherous.
At the end of June I received a letter from my family doctor informing me that he was quiting his medical practice to pursue other interests. This information burdened me with additional stress I did not need.
I made a gross error at the last appointment with my now “gone bye bye” family doctor. When asked if I would be willing to speak to a shrink to help me deal with some of the stressors in my life I stupidly agreed. If only I had stuck to the promise I had made to myself never to trust a doctor with non medical information about myself. No sooner had I agreed to see a shrink, my family doctor made an appointment for me with a “fake”. My family doctor did give me an important piece of information about the “fake”. The “fake” is not a qualified psychiatrist but a GP who is interested in the field of psychiatry and likes to play “the shrink”. To add insult to injury I received a copy of a letter from the “fake” psychiatrist to my then family doctor stating that he would not treat me as long as I was taking medication prescribed for me by my family doctor.
Be warned! If your family doctor seeks non-medical information from you be careful what you share. If your family doctor thinks that a visit to a psychiatrist would benefit you make sure that you are being referred to a “real” psychiatrist.
Nothing memorable happened during the months of July and August. I spent the days in a never ending fight against overwhelming fatigue. I spent the nights in a desperate struggle to try to get some sleep. Several new symptoms cropped up this summer. Peeling potatoes or carrots will bring about severe, painful cramps in my hands. Wish I knew how to get rid of these cramps; they hurt every bit as much as cramps in my feet.
The first week in September I had my first appointment with my new family doctor. Remembering some of the nasty experiences I have had during searches for a new family doctor I was stressed and anxious about this appointment. (Since we were transferred 6 times I had to find a new family doctor in each of the 6 cities we lived in). All my worry and stress were a waste of time. My new family doctor is a lovely woman who takes time to listen
We celebrated Thanksgiving with a dinner at Maximes in Winnipeg. Our daughter, grandson and grandson’s girlfriend joined us. The dinner was lovely; a traditional roast turkey with mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing and veggies. Later we had dessert at our house.
We celebrated our daughter’s birthday on November 11th; the Remembrance Day holiday. Her birthday is actually on November 12th. This time we had lunch at the Olive Garden. Joining us besides our daughter were our grandson and his girlfriend. Hard to believe that my little girl is now a middle aged woman. Were does the time go?
Another article written by my daughter. This one too has become a very popular read. In my opinion this article could apply to other health issues such as chronic pain and chronic fatigue.
My daughter’s blog is located at http://mymentaltrampoline.com
Other Half – Spouses of Bipolar Sufferers
Spouses of bipolar sufferers often are the caretakers and caregivers of the relationship. They are expected to hold everything together when emotional hurricanes hit their families. They hang on in spite of everything that is flying around them just waiting for the calm. Many people close to them expect them to be strong and almost heroically brave, when sadly they too have weaknesses and fears. So many people in their community are focused on the well-being of the bipolar person that they forget about the spouse. It can be very difficult to be the other half of a partnership in which someone is chronically ill. The spouse feels like all he/she ever does is put up and put out and that they never get anything back in return. It can be emotionally and physically draining when your spouse is continually the one that is the focus of your combined attention. The spouse often forgets to acknowledge his/her own needs and wants because their attention is so completely funneled to their partner. They may long for someone they can confide in; someone to listen to their concerns. Sometimes, the spouse can become resentful of the bipolar sufferer, and then, unfortunately the relationship hits the rocks.
Not all relationships involving bipolar sufferers and their spouses are doomed to fail. In fact I can think of at least three at this moment that are flourishing. These relationships survive because the two people involved are fully aware of the illness they share. That is right; share; they see their situation as a team effort. They make every effort to learn about and understand this disease together. They have established limitations and boundaries that must be respected in order for the relationship to exist and prosper. Honesty and a willingness to be open about the issues involved with manic depression is vital. And, most of all, they focus on the fact that they loved each other enough to commit to the relationship in the first place. Why should that change now? Keep that love in the forefront of your mind.
As the spouse of a bipolar sufferer you may be be called on to do things you never thought you would ever have to do. You feel the ups and downs almost as painfully as they do. You are the one expected to be strong, take care of matters at hand, and then desperately try to steer your household back from the brink. You are someone to be admired; you deserve admiration. My husband is my hero. Not just because he does heroic deeds once in awhile, but because he also shows me his tears. We cry together sometimes. He shares his fears with me and tells me his weaknesses. It always amazes me that after all the Hell we may go through, he can still muster a smile and hold me tight in his big manly arms. It feels good. It also feels good to know that we are one in this big old mess of mental illness; not two alone in this freaky universe.
Some Coping Techniques for Spouses of Bipolar Sufferers
- You may dearly miss the person you fell in love with; keep in mind that with proper treatments and your support that person will come back to you.
- Find your own therapist; you may need a professional to help guide you through the hard times.
- Look for a support group for partners of bipolar sufferers. If there isn’t one in your area consider starting one up.
- Go with your spouse to a few of his/her therapy sessions and talk to their therapist. Ask questions, listen to the therapist’s conclusions or views on your spouse’s care; try to be interactive in their care rather than inactive. Don’t be overwhelming though.
- Find time for yourself with such things as hobbies, walks, jogging, sports and writing. Sometimes it helps to vent a bit of frustrated energy; you can go for a vigorous walk and clear your head.
- When your partner is in a healthy mental state talk to them about your needs and hurts. Don’t be confrontational; don’t blame, just gently tell them how you feel about things from your prospective.
- Remind yourself continually throughout the day that there will be better times ahead. Make it a mantra.
- Allow yourself to reminisce about the good old times when you were both happy and give yourself hope that the good times will come again. Look through photographs of better days, read old love letters and watch family videos. Spend time with the kids talking about funny family stories.
- Research and find reading material about mental illness. Get to know what you and your spouse are battling against.
- View your spouse’s illness as something you both have to fight as a team.
- Help monitor your spouse’s medication so that you can be aware they are taking the prescribed medications or not. You don’t have to be a nazi about it; just let them know you are keeping track.
- If you have family spend time with them.
- If your spouse is hospitalized ask family and friends to help out with the children, housework, cooking and even with visitation. (Sometimes, for what ever reason, you just cannot get to the hospital.) Ask for help; this is very important.
- Treat yourself ever so often. Allow yourself to sleep in one day a week or take a long hot bath.
- Have a good cry once in a while; you don’t always have to be the strong one.
- When your spouse is enjoying good mental health spend pleasurable time together. Go on a date, spend time with the children, go for walks, etc.
- Try not to take unpleasantness personally. It is not your fault that your spouse is depressed or suicidal for that matter. They may be emotional powder kegs ready to blow at any moment; irritable beyond belief; even spiteful. You must remember that most of the time it is the illness talking, not them. I know, this is easy to forget.
- Learn to relax when you don’t have to be on guard. If stress is physically manifesting itself as backaches, sore and stiff muscles, or general aches and pains, consider going to a massage therapist.
- Let the people around you know when you are going through an especially trying time. If possible, take some time off work.
- Don’t argue with your spouse when they are in a deep depression or manic. It is of no use. They will not be able to see your point of view and it will just cause more tension for everyone.
- If your spouse is hospitalized, talk to their nurses about their progress. It is a great way for you to get daily updates on your spouse’s condition.
- If it is hard for you to visit a hospital, ask if you can have an off ward pass for a few hours. Take your spouse to a nearby park or restaurant and visit with them there.
- Don’t have high expectations of someone in poor mental health. You are setting yourself up for disappointment.
- Do not turn to drugs or alcohol to take away your pain and frustrations. You need to be strong for you and your spouse’s welfare.
- Laughter is always good medicine. Rent a few comedies one evening and invite a few good friends to come down and watch them with you. Laugh.
- If you have become so resentful and angry at your spouse that you have begun to experience marital problems, consider visiting a marriage counselor when the spouse is mentally stable.
- Don’t blame everything on your spouse; it is not their fault that they are ill.
- Don’t blame everything on yourself; that is not fair.
- Try to focus on what is best for both of you.
- Don’t get muddled up with all that is wrong with your spouse, instead look for the person trapped deep inside; the one you dearly love.
- Sit down and take stock of your life; what is important and what is not.
The following was written by my daughter while she was struggling to come to terms with her illness. My daughter’s blog is located at http://mymentaltrampoline.com .
I found this short piece of writing in one of my old journals. It brought back very emotionally charged memories. When I read it over again I had to take a couple of deep breaths and remind myself I wasn’t that person anymore. Sure, even now the feelings in this piece sometimes rear their ugly head, but it’s different, I now know I am not a freak of nature. These emotional crises are par for the course when it comes to my disorder.
At the time I wrote this I was ignorant of what was incessantly battering at my mind. I was thrust into an emotional battle I couldn’t remember wanting to get into in the first place. I didn’t know why this was happening to me and no one else ever seemed to be bothered by such things. I felt very alone. Back then I used to try to exorcise my demons by scribbling them out on paper. I still do, but now my fingers actually physically ache when I think of expressing my feelings on paper. It’s harder now to put the words together.
The Struggle within Me
Sometimes I wake up with this sharp taloned creature in my chest. It’s sitting hunched around my heart, perched on a rib. Everything that goes on that day seems to irk it in a strange way. It show its displeasure by squeezing tighter with one twisted hand, its claws inching deeper through the soft outside layers of my heart’s flesh. The weight of Golem seems to bear down on a lung and make it harder for me to breathe. It can even read my thoughts and lets me know which ones are disapproved of. It doesn’t seem to let me forget uncomfortable thoughts or memories. Rather he dotes upon them; sometimes he even places them within my mind’s eye. As each intrusion on my thoughts adds to the others, it seems that I find it hard to keep track of them. I am seized with an anguish which only stirs deeper my anxiety.
Soon I am a garbled mess of confused imaginings and unfounded conclusions. Clearing my mind at that point is impossible. The only thing left to do at that moment is to lapse into a semiconscious state. My heart feels as if it will burst and my whole being, flesh and soul, will spatter across the wall. All this because of the pressure exerted by that little fellow within my chest. I can hear him snicker, it is then I start to scream silently in my soul, I cry out for release. My pain rises from the depths of my being with ever increasing pitch. It is then my stomach clenches, and my throat burns with the scourge of vomit. My head is always the one that pays most dearly, after the dizziness has past. It throbs incessantly as I slump to the floor weak, empty, numb.
This short piece describes how I felt on a daily basis as an undiagnosed manic depressive. It may seem over dramatic, but I did not write it for public consumption. I wrote it to describe the personal hell I was experiencing at the time. I am sharing this work with you in hopes that those suffering similar experiences will find they are not alone and seek help. Some of you may recognize the emotional storm described in the piece as a panic attack. All I know is that the Golem lived in me for many years. There were times when I yearned for physical pain as a tangible release, instead of those sharp talons scraping at my soul. If you identify with anything in this excerpt please seek help. There is a release from the pain. There are viable treatments. You can be free of your own personal Golem without physically harming yourself.
It has been years since I have contributed to my blog. Life has a way of interfering with the best of intentions. Since my thyroid problem began I slowly realized that my family unit was slipping away. Since my parents passed away any fool could see what was going on. I had two choices; be played for a fool or walk away. I walked away.
We arrived home from Seattle at 2:30 AM today after a lovely week long visit with our son and daughter in law. The weather in Seattle during our visit was mostly cloudy with periods of rain. One does not need sunshine to insure an afternoon of successful shopping.
Our son entertained us with pictures and anecdotes from his December 2012 trip to Hong Kong and India.
Thank goodness for complimentary wheel chair service at the Vancouver and Seattle airports. Each time we travel to Seattle the list of the airline’s free services has been reduced. If you travel within Canada you are allowed to check in one piece of luggage at no cost. Of course the luggage cannot exceed the specified dimensions and weight. If you are travelling to the US you have to pay a minimum of $25.00 for each checked piece of luggage. If you think you might have hunger issues during a 5 hour flight make sure you pack a lunch unless you do not mind paying an arm and a leg for meal service. Remember the “olden days” when a helpful flight attendant would offer a weary traveler a pillow and blanket. They still offer pillows and blankets but at a cost.
After spending all of yesterday at airports or on flights I need to catch up on sleep.
I had forgotten how long it takes to get over pneumonia. So tired of coughing and feeling crappy. Hopefully the meds that I am taking will help me gert over this by Christmas.
Looks like we may have near tropical temperatures for the next few days. By near tropical I mean in contrast to what we usually have at this time of year. It can be so cold that when one rides in a vehicle, the tires feel and sound like they are square. The tenperature today is -4.9 C. The forecast for Saturday is 3 C, the forecast for Sunday is 2 C. I have a few more things to pick up and then my shopping is done. Did most of my shopping online. It is great to have purchases delivered to your door.
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas.
Lots of snow overnight. Had planned to put the outside tree lights up today but too much snow on the branches. Have been wanting to get this done for the last three weekends but there is always an excuse; if not a human making the excuse than nature making it. Oh how I miss those days when I could manage to do all the outside decorations by myself with the assistance of a kind helper. Those times are gone forever I guess. These days my body is not my friend!!
My son and daughter-in-law’s cat loves this ipad game for cats. He loves the game so much that he will actually look for the ipad and cry if he cannot find it.
Just got home from the lake at 1:30 PM. Will go back right after supper. Life in the trailer is really quite nice. Lots of room. It is so nice to have a separate bedroom especially when grandson and his friends stay over. Grandson and two of his friends will be joining us tonight and plan to stay at the lake (resort) until the end of the long weekend.
My dad enjoyed the times he spent with us at the trailer. He would come out for supper and spend the evening. I miss those times so very much. We would enjoy sitting around the fire or if the insects were too bad inside the trailer and share our memories.
My dad and I enjoyed shopping at the monthly bake sale held in his condo. The lady who supplied the baked goods also sold fresh vegetables from her own garden. Her canned pickles, jams and jellies were delicious. During the summer months dad and I would shop at the local weekly farmer’s market.