Bipolar, Musings, Personal, Stories

What the bleep was that all about?

This week that has just passed was unbelievable. It was like anxiety was an entity that came into my apartment and curled up into a knot in my stomach. It was totally unexpected. The week before I had been feeling great. I had been to the gym every day, my medication seemed to be working like a charm. Once Sunday or Monday came of this past week I just didn’t know what happened! I could hardly shower, the ringing phone would send my stomach into knots, I didn’t even open my computer until today. I actually spent the entire week curled up in agony on the couch afraid of the phone, email, people, and just couldn’t do anything. I tried meditation, going for a walk, tidying up, but nothing worked, everything was unbearable! Finally,  it occurred to me on Thursday night what the problem might be. You see, one of my medications is very expensive so I decided last week that I would just take one every second day, you know, to save money. It didn’t occur to me until Thursday, well, yesterday that that could be the problem. I spoke with the pharmacist and he assured me that the drastic up and down that was happening from day to day was almost certainly the cause of my crippling anxiety. So let that be a lesson folks! Take medication as prescribed, I sure will, because that was unbearable! images

I feel like I can breath again!

Bipolar, Musings, Personal, Stories

Smile? Not for 8 bucks an hour I won’t!

It was happening, it was one of those days, one of those moods. I began to get hot, things were ringing up as wrong prices, people were waiting while I tried to get things worked out, waiting for managers to fix the system. Customers getting impatient in line, staring at me work. I started to sweat, I was seething inside. I was not blatantly rude to anybody, but I certainly was not overly friendly, and I most definitely couldn’t muster up a smile. It was taking all my energy not to flip the cash machine over, walk away and say “to hell with it!”.

Little did I know, a similar scene was soon to unfold…

A Story About An Un-medicated, Undiagnosed Bipolar Cashier

I have been on mood stabilizing medication for several years now. Sometimes I think I am fine and wonder why I need any medication at all. Then I remember back to when I was not medicated. I remember the unbearable irritability, the profound anger and rage of a volatile and explosive mind. I was so irritable that I couldn’t even stand myself, I was literally getting in my own way and on my own nerves. I thank god often that I didn’t actually murder someone in a fit of rage. This kind of irritability and anger could result from just dropping a pencil or stubbing a toe. I’m not even going to talk about driving… Well… maybe just a little. The only way I could manage to not rip off my own head to relieve the anger was to imagine my car having undetectable go-go-gadget weapons that would just disintegrate any driver that would send me into a fit of road rage, which was almost any driver. I can’t even go into the things I imagined doing to people who honked their horns at me. Needless to say, after thinking back at how unstable my moods were I remember why I am on my medication and all is well with the world (for the most part anyway).

I am telling you this because I was thinking of an incident from back in the days of my unmedicated madness and thought I would share. At the time I am surprised that I did not spontaneously erupt into a ball of flame and combust from the heat of my own rage. It took place in a store where I worked customer service, which is quite possibly the worst job I could have in my unmedicated days, heck, even medicated.

It was around Christmas time…

I was working at a store that I would describe as a small version of Ikea. It wasn’t all that bad for the most part. I mostly worked organizing shelves and stocking merchandise, things I enjoy doing anyway. It is not that I am not a people person, but I do not do well with a large number of small, superficial interactions, especially if I am in the middle of doing something and am focused on it. I also hate being interrupted and having to drop what I am doing just because someone needs to ask me a question. If I am in the mood for it, I am great at it, but if not (and I am usually not) I loathe it. I’m pretty sure I did a terrible job hiding my complete and utter irritation with the customers. Especially when they were asking me how much something was when the price was plainly posted no more than 2 millimetres below the item on a bright yellow tag. Just like on every single other item in the store. Either way, I was completely out of line. It was never the customers fault, I just quite simply was not cut out for dealing with people and had a bad attitude and an un-medicated mood disorder. Some days I was fine but others, when my mood was off, I could be pretty bitchy. Typically I wasn’t put on as a cashier and worked as much as possible on the floor, left alone to organize and arrange just as I liked it. Besides, that was what I was really good at anyway. I didn’t mind just filling in on cash for someone to break or something like that, but I hated being assigned there for my shift. I would rather eat glass.

I will just give a little background note here: Around the time of the incident myself and some of the staff who had been there for years had recently found out that a girl who barely graduated high school, had no education, hadn’t worked in four years and had no experience was hired as a cashier for 75 cents more per hour than the rest of us. More than people with university degrees who ran their own sections, and had worked there for years. So there was a little bit on animosity brewing anyway…

So, on a busy day during the Christmas rush my manager decides I should spend my shift on cash. I requested that I please work the floor, but it wasn’t happening. A bitterness seed sprouts open in my gut, uh oh, that familiar feeling is brewing. So, swallowing my contempt I slowly moped to the cash. I kept up appearances but inside I knew I wasn’t going to be able to hide my absolute disdain for the hundreds of meaningless interactions I was about to endure. People started to enter, the store became more and more busy. It was the Christmas rush. I wasn’t even that experienced on the cash anyway so I’m not sure why he would put me there at the busiest time of the year. It was happening, it was one of those days, one of those moods. I began to get hot, things were ringing up as wrong prices, people were waiting while I tried to get things worked out, waiting for managers to fix the system. Customers getting impatient in line, staring at me work. I started to sweat, I was seething inside. I was not blatantly rude to anybody, but I certainly was not overly friendly, and I certainly couldn’t muster up a smile. It was taking all my energy not to flip the cash machine over, walk away and say “to hell with it!”.

Little did I know, a similar scene was soon to unfold.

I was barely holding myself together, but I was managing to keep things civil, ringing up the items and saying “have a nice day!”. You know, the basics at least. Then they came. The curtain guys. I will never forget those damn curtains. The first gentleman said hello, I responded the same and took the package of curtains to scan them. I didn’t engage in conversation and certainly didn’t give them a friendly smile, full of Christmas cheer, but I wasn’t directly rude to them either. Not good enough. The second man, with his smug face, his half smirk and is condescending attitude snidely remarked,”Uh, you could smile you know.”

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I’m not sure where it came from, but before I knew what was happening my mouth was moving and I could hear my voice say, “Not for 8 bucks an hour I won’t.”. (Maybe some lingering bitterness about the 8.75 the unskilled labour was getting at the cash next to me?)

 Oh shit, oops.

He glared at me and snottily said, “You’re a little bitch.” “I want to see your manager!”


 

Silence

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Much of what happened next is a blur. I froze. It was as though every negative emotion hit me at once not allowing any of them to break through. The silence was palpable. There was a line up extending to the back wall of the store and only two cashiers.  I glared at the men for a moment, then without a word I slid their curtains back to them without completing the transaction, left the cashier station, walked to the managers office and calmly said, “I need to speak with you right now.”

imagesI was regaining my voice, emotions were starting to emerge.

My poor, clueless manager.

Trying not to lose it completely I informed him , my voice quivering from restrained rage, “They are pissed and want to speak to my manager, I really pissd them off.” Then it burst through and I snarled “But you can tell them that you are not my manager any more and I’ll be waiting for them outside of the store!”

By now I was livid, all the anger about the unfair wages amongst other issues I had with the staffing, hours and all the bullshit at the job bubbled up and as I gathered my things I proceeded to inform him that we all know about the new girl’s wage and all the other things that pissed me off about the store. Finally I said, “I told you not to put me on cash today.” and I stormed out the back door in a blaze of glory. Then, as promised, I awaited the men outside of the store. I watched them walk to their car. They looked back several times in fear.

“What are you doing?” “Are you following us?” “We are going to call the police!” they shouted in worried voices.

“And tell them what?”, I yelled. “That a 20 year old girl is going to attack two 40 year old men?”

I’m really not sure what I was planning to do, but I finally backed off and watched them until they were out of site. I’m pretty sure they were terrified.

Needless to say, I never returned to that store again. I hated working customer service anyway and it was worth giving up 8 measly bucks an hour to steal any ounce of pleasure they would have had complaining to my manager. It mustn’t have been very satisfying complaining to a manager about an employee who no longer works at the store.

Long story short, I no longer work customer service and I continue to take my medication regularly.

I am not proud of my behavior, but at the same time the emotions were so strong and so unbearable and overwhelming I couldn’t control them. If only I had known that I had a mental illness that was causing these powerful episodes. It was so difficult to live with.

Since being diagnosed and treated I live a relatively normal life. Of course I have up and down episodes but I know how to recognize them in time and I understand what is happening and what to do about it. I am so grateful to haver been diagnosed and been given a chance at a more balanced life.

It has been so long since I have been in such an unstable state that I sometimes forget what it feels like and how detrimental it is to myself and those around me. That is why, when I start to wonder if I really need my mood stabilizing medications, I think back and remind myself of the alternative, then swallow the pills.

Awareness, Bipolar, Shared, Social Media, Stigma, Stories, Video

His Finest Hour

Faris Khalifa in this brave video opens up about his mental illness and breaks his silence, not just for himself, but for those who still feel they can’t.

Find the original source article here.

Bipolar, Mental Health, Musings, Personal, Stigma, Stories

I think he’s like, bipolar or something…

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I wanted to write this evening about something that has stuck in my mind for a long time. There were two incidences, several years apart, but they are very similar. They are both examples of stigma and how uninformed many people are about mental illness. Both occurred where I was working at the time, and both involved a discussion between co-workers (myself included). In each scenario several of my co-workers were talking about a regular customer, an acquaintance (more of mine than anyone’s). Each customer was a regular at each place I worked. Most of us had close to daily interactions with them, mind you they were the typical superficial interactions that a coffee shop regular would have with a seasoned barista. The customers were regular enough that we had plenty of time to observe each of them, their mannerisms and their perceived characteristics.

"He was different, very quiet. He kept to himself a lot."
“He was different, very quiet. He kept to himself a lot.”

In the first workplace, I actually had a chance to sit and chat several times with the gentleman and I happened to really like him. I could see how he could come across different or even a little strange, but he was actually quite interesting and very nice. He was just really quiet and kept to himself. He always walked to and from the shop and dressed like someone who might live a simple, natural life in a cottage by a lake. I could see why they found him to appear out of place.

In the second workplace, I had never personally met the individual, but I was listening to the conversation of a couple of my co-workers and immediately got the impression that he was not a nice guy. He clearly had some issues and they seemed to find it quite acceptable to make it clear that he was screwed up and most certainly not a good person. He had major issues, in their opinions.

In both situations, the conversations drifted to an end with exactly the same conclusion. Not one that was based on any previous training or understanding of the “diagnosis”, mind you. Nevertheless, it wawomen-gossip-at-work-e1359396952867s clear to them. The first pair, about a man that they had never actually spoken to, agreed that “Yeah, he’s bipolar. He creeps me out so much.” The second pair, the two that I was considering sharing that I have bipolar, quite simply stated, “I’m pretty sure he is like, bipolar or something.”

“I’m pretty sure he’s like, bipolar or something.”

This sentence has silenced me for far too long. Those conversations still paralyse me.

These people had no idea what qualifies as bipolar disorder. They didn’t know that I was bipolar. I am quite certain that neither of those men were bipolar. Those two scenarios pop into my mind often. I have not come out about my bipolar disorder to many people, and it is situations like that that keep me silent. It is my impression that bipolar disorder is perceived to be an illness whose sufferers are plagued with unsavoury characters, that they are selfish, dangerous or miserable. They are strange and not to be trusted. That is my experience of how those who do not know anybody personally (that they know of) who has bipolar disorder perceive a person with bipolar disorder to be. It scares me frankly. It makes me worry that suddenly those who I have been close to will immediately question every moment that we have spent together, that they will suddenly see me as something else. Someone that is not safe, that needs to be kept at a distance. This is stigma. This is what it does and how it feels.

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Sometimes I imagine what would happen if all of us with bipolar disorder were to come out and tell the world at the same time. At least there would be an accurate representation of what bipolar disorder looks like, acts like, is. They are people that they like, love and have known as friends for many years. That is what bipolar looks like. Just like the person they are sitting next to, sharing another story about the strange guy who just came in for coffee again.

Bipolar, Musings, Personal, Stories

Depression ~ My Perspective

Depression and laziness are not the same thing. ~BPScorpio

I am coming out of a severe depression that has lasted for almost an entire year. It began to subside, slowly, about three months ago. When I say slowly I mean, I could start to remember what I did the day before, dates, appointments. I could finally take a shower and even use shampoo.

I really hate depression. It makes me feel lazy. What’s worse, it makes me feel like other people think that I am lazy. “Get up and go outside for a walk, it’ll make you feel better!” “You don’t have it that bad, look at how good you have things!” Add more guilt here. Do they not know that I would do almost anything to have the energy to get up and go for a walk? I would love to comb, and blow-dry my hair? Maybe add a little make-up and put something nice on? That’s funny. Those things are out of the realm of what I would do almost anything for. I would do almost anything to have the energy to take off my sweats and take a shower that includes washing my hair, shaving, oh my god the nightmare! I always do it, eventually, but I wish just one person could feel how physically difficult it is to do those things.

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I loathe depression. Lying there, knowing how many things you need to do, appointments to go to, mail to open, laundry to do, hell, eat! Just anything! Knowing how lazy you must seem to everybody around you. How do you explain the feeling? That feeling of agonizing heaviness that makes you feel like you cannot physically move. Depression is not just sadness, guilt, emptiness, feeling of failure, fear, anxiety and on and on. Those aspects of depression to me are the ones that I have become used to. I have my head wrapped around those symptoms as much as one can. It is hard to remember at the time, but you know that it is depression. The nightmare for me is the physical toll that it takes on me.

You see, when I suffer a depression that is contained mostly to the emotion symptoms, a few of which I described above, I can still manage to complete some daily tasks. I am just very sad, anxious, guilty, etc while I drag myself through to completion. It is the deep, all consuming depressions that hijack my mind and my body that leave me feeling the most helpless.

images (29)Have you ever had a dream where your mind wakes up but your body is still in sleep paralysis? Those terrifying nightmares where you can’t move, scream or call for help? That sort of how a severe depression feels to me. It is difficult to explain, but every motion, every movement feels more difficult and exhausting than if I had the flu. Most people find it difficult to get up and at ’em when their body is overtaken with a flu, right? Well, that is the best way that  can describe how I feel when going through a severe depressive episode.

I can only write this now because I am feeling pretty good. I have come through and finally am in the care of a strong team of professionals. A great GP, Psychiatrist and counsellor that I have never had before. I am feeling happy today. Some days are better than others, but things seem to be looking up and I seem to feel better more often than not these days.

Now that my depression has been treated for some time, as difficult as it was, I can get up and go for a walk if I am feeling a little low, and it does make me feel better. Going for a walk and counting your blessings do not cure severe depression. Professional medical help to treat severe depression will eventually lead one to have the ability to get out and go for a walk.

If you are suffering a depression right now, my heart goes out to you. I understand that it is too hard to do a lot of things that many around you might think are simple tasks. I know that simple tasks are only simple to someone healthy, and that you are not ungrateful for the things in your life. You are ill and that is it. It is not your fault.

If you know someone who you believe may be suffering from depression and want to help, acceptance of where they are and education are a good first step.

Here are some links:

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bipolar

 

Bipolar, Shared, Stories

SHOW ME THE MONEY: A Story About Professional Farts

I want to share this post with the intention of ending the stigma of mental illness and to raise awareness to the fact that many suffering from “Mental Illness” have lived through unimaginable abuse or other trauma and there is most likely a reason behind behaviours that we might find less than desirable.

Bipolar, Musings, Personal, Stories, Video

Just Shag It

It is really late right now. I have been fighting really hard for a long time. Fighting to be positive, to grow through self improvement, meditation, healthy lifestyle, blah, blah, blah. I feel worn down right now. I should be in bed, I should have gone to the gym, why was I so tired to today? I thought I was feeling better lately. Ahhr!

I just don’t have the time nor am I in the mood for pretty words right now. The fact is I am tired of trying to feel good. Do you know what? Most of the time I feel like I am dragging my ass through quick sand and the moment  I get a medication that gives me a bit of energy I am suddenly becoming hypomanic. We better stop them or you’ll become manic. Well to hell with it! I say bring it on! Bring on the hypomania, while we’re at it, ramp it up to full blown mania! Anything to get me out of this slump.

I see the laundry sitting there, I want to do it but it is as though there are a thousand elephants holding me down. It is so frustrating to almost have normal energy but to be not quite there. It’s down right painful!

I will admit that I have been feeling better than I did when I was in a severe depression, but god help me I do not feel the way other people appear to feel. Why is everything such a chore for me? Showering, errands, cooking, getting dressed, and on and on. I want to have daily energy! Some days are okay but I am still pushing myself through. That makes the days that are not okay a darn chore. I have just started Wellbutrin and I hope to high heaven it boosts my mood and energy because I can’t fake it anymore. Not that I have been doing a great job of faking it anyway. Shag it all!

And that, folks, is how I am feeling right now. Raw. I am so sick of it!

 


 

 

Sick Of It