5 Ways to make your bipolar day pass without biting your nails

Today I am writing about one easy technique to shift your mind from facing racing thoughts, of even black ones. This worked well for me yesterday, and maybe it would work for you too.

Basically, I put my nice pjs (the ones that look like a training suit) and my nice coat on and hit the road. I had company, which had was great, but I could have done it alone to. So why is this would be good for you?

1- makes you get out of bed: Yet you do not need to take off your pjs if you planned it well the night before – don’t over do it. Getting out, I think is an essential tool for healing. First of all, you have to think about stupid things like crossing the street. You also despite your illness and foggy mind, start noticing people: a pair of purple shoes, a child with a dinosaur helmet, a woman with a chapka on her head…. (probably me)

Chapka hat, why not?

2- It gets your find an aim: I think a major problem I have is finding goals- no matter how small or useless – to fill up my day. I wake up and if you’d see my expression it is somewhere between a story dog and a toddler learning to walk. Well, I look weird and feel even stranger. I have say at least 12 hours to fill before the blissful sleeping pill is taken. So going out with your phone to find pictures that relate to your “illness” is great! It makes you feel important, like you are some artist on a mission for a new project they are taking on.

Bipolar is everywhere - credit of thought to dear father Ahmed Loutfy

3-It diverts your attention: Not to be confused with the previous point. When you focus on something, usually your brain forgets what it was thinking about the second before. I make this assumption even if your brain is completely coucou like mine. I have a rule of thumb, if it happens once, it can happen again. Guess what, while taking meaningless pictures across Paris with my father, I forgot being bipolar by totally being bipolar. Tricky right? I mean the importance of your state of mind is shifted to what your current state of mind can do. Hope you get it better now.

Nothing is perfect

4-You start taking hold of your destiny: Yes you are still crazy and your mood shifts from one minute to the other – I wonder how you are actually reading me now. Anyway, when you walk, you have to choose which way to go. You can keep going straight, yes true- but it is still a choice. Medication, psychotherapy sessions, visits to your psychiatric, you will do all this but with little to say. Taking this precious iPhone (fine you can take your Samsung either but not sure it would work as well) makes you the captain of the ship. The ship my friend is you.

Do you really want eggs?

5- Might be a useful exit in social situation: If you ever find yourself in a situation where you have to answer the famous “So, what do you do?” Or “What is your passion”? There, in their faces, you got your pictures, you are an artist. It is actually a bit more complex that this. I think taking pictures helps you shape your identity. Now, I would like to find one bipolar pal who doesn’t need this.

Define your identity by trying out things

Waiting for Monday

It is inexplicable what bipolar means. It sounds simple enough; one day up one day down. Yet, this dam type II has most of the time down periods.

I noticed it is mostly Sundays that I don’t tolerate. I think I never liked Sunday. When I went to school, I had Friday and Sunday off, so I always looked forward to Thursday. Till now, it is my favorite day. Sunday reminds me of regressing to routine, of boredom, of loneliness, of responsibility…

I decided to press the panic button today and went to the emergency day center CAC. I couldn’t open my eyes this morning without crying. I cried when I saw the bed empty, when I heard the sound of my husband talking to the kids. I cried to the sound of TV in the background. I cried because my children were beautiful. I got dressed, i even put on make up to look normal for them. I am sick of them seeing their mother crying and shattered in a million pieces.

I fought the feeling and went to make their favorite breakfast. Fuffy eggs. Everyone ate, tears came down even more because they ate. It was going up, the feeling was growing… The void, the meaninglessness of my life, my love to them..

Today my feelings are like a song, With a beat, with percutions in the background and a soft singer whose voice breaks through your heart with its depth, its high notes travelling through your veins.

I do not know what to expect from myself, from CAC, or from today. I am in terrible pain.

I see other people in the clinic, some gazing with their eyeballs made of glass. It scares me, I was like this once and I do not want this to repeat itself. But I like to talk to other patients. Their pains and stories make mine legit.

I feel nauseous, not from the stomach. I feel I want to throw my “guts” out. I wish one could throw up their mind and feel this amazing void afterwards.

The psychiatric nurse and I spoke and we decided I should not be sedated. I have to have feelings, but they hurt. It is like a fresh wound on which you throw alcohol and scream each time – perpetually…

We will see what will happen. At least Sunday will be over soon and Monday will come. It will be grey yes, it will be freezing, but it will be Monday. My roller coaster ride will slow down, and there will will be at the dawn of a new day.

I know it hurts to be here. But I kept my promise and pressed the panic button. I want my family to know that I love them more than anything and despite everything. I just wish they have the patience to wait for me, for this darkness has to cease. They say there is light at the end of the tunnel. If one saw it, I can too.

Not religious, but praying to see this light for more than one day, i saw it for the most for one week…

May you never experience my pain.

See you Monday

TBC

Leaving the clinic today

Well, I’m quite excited about today. You see, today I leave behind 41 long days of hospitalization. I have been waiting for this day for so long, it seems almost a dream come true.

Yet, I am afraid or rather apprehensive that today I leave the cocoon and safety of the hospital. I know I want nothing more than being with my family, with my husband, with my beautiful children, my ever so giving father and my loving mother in law.

My apprehension comes more from expectations outside. I need to get back to my role as a mother. My children miss me, but I miss them even more. I know that my husband is waiting for me patiently. I also know that my immediate family would like to have the house come back to normal, this was mainly my duty – I am a stay at home mother…

I also know that everyone understands my condition. They understand that now I am in a state of convalescence.

So since the last few entries that I posted on the blog, I like to leave you with some tips and tricks which I hope might be useful should you find yourself in a similar situation.

Here it goes…

Don’t get too comfortable in your hospital stay: I think from my experience you have to know that everything is temporary. Getting used to the safety of the clinic is not something that you should really get used to. What I mean is you always have to know that there is a real world waiting for you outside. This real world is where you will spend the rest of your days. Please know that no matter how long the hospitalization is you will eventually get around and you have to be ready. This is basically a primary psychological preparation.

Prepare your exit so that it easiest for everyone: Knowing that you’re not going to be at your full capacity once you are out makes expectations more real. You will need help. I am speaking as a mother of two beautiful children who require plenty of energy; energy that I do not have right now. Even if your budget is limited try to find help through family, maybe hiring a cleaner or a nanny, or maybe even relying on some good friends. Basic tasks could be haunting In the beginning, and I am certain that people around would be willing to land you a hand.

Continue seeing your therapists and psychiatrist: I cannot stress the importance of this. Professional support outside of the safety of the clinic is essential for your well-being. You will adjust your medication according to the development of your case. You also should make sure that your therapist is there for you, ensuring that you are on the road to healing.

Don’t pretend to be stronger than who you really are: We get carried away, thinking that we are better, thinking there could be no harm in taking more tasks than we should. Remember, one step at a time. Do not take more on your plate. You have a long way to heal even if it doesn’t look it to others.

If you are a parenttalk to your children love them though as a mom or dad you might not have your full energy yet: You would be amazed at what can children understand. Just by maybe saying that mom or dad are yes at home, they will help little by little and take care of you slowly but surely. Ask for their patience, more important and more efficient than melt downs. I cannot stress enough the importance of one day at a time.

Routine is your best friend: My doctors told me to try and keep a routine even though it could be difficult at the beginning. For example try to wake up early and have breakfast every day at the same time. Maybe we can go to the market, pick up the stuff that you would be eating the same day. I personally find that my muscles have weakened so much over the past months. Morning walks will keep you sane and will get you into an exercise routine slowly but surely.

You need to rest: Again my doctors told me that I need to rest everyday. Even talking too much can drain you. He recommended naps but not more than 45 minutes a day.

Be patient: Rome was not built in a day. Stay in tune with your body and don’t over do it. Little by little you will find your old self emerging; or better still your improved self coming to surprise you.

Take supplements: read about taking supplements because this is very important for your overall health. Read about the importance of vitamin D, magnesium, omega-3 as well as a variety of other vitamins and minerals, they can benefit your wellbeing more than you can imagine.

Congratulate yourself: Yes, you made it! Give yourself a big pat on the back. Be grateful you made it. They wouldn’t have let you out if you were not ready. And remember, you did most of the work! Be proud for your achievements: )

TBC

A typical day at the clinic

I discovered boredom.. real boredom here at the clinic. They try, they do try to make time fly. It doesn’t. I have recreational classes; painting, relaxation, a sort of gym class that is supposed to be for muscle “awakening”, and even a sewing class. Yet, nothing really fills the time.

I decided to have a routine, boring as it might be, it still makes my days have some meaning. I wake up either by the nurses or by my breakfast tray. Coffee and an apple. I grab my coffee and go down to the terrace to smoke my first and second cigarettes of the day. I go up again shower time. I try to make it as long as possible, to pass time.

I choose my outfit, loose and mostly ugly. I put on my shoes on and go down for another smoke. I socialize. The main question is “did you sleep well”. The answers are the usual. Yes, I took my sleeping pills, or no I woke up at 3 AM, or I have been down here since 6.

I go up again. I decided to write everyday. It keeps me sane. I talk to myself, but also to a different audience – hoping to get read, to get heard. I wait for my notifications, signaling that someone somewhere read me and thought I make sense.

Now the round of psychiatrists begins. I pull the chair away from my desk and put it besides the door. He comes in, silence. I grab my red notebook with the questions of the day. I ask if I should start, and he always says yes. He mostly repeats himself. I am anxious, I am suicidal, I threw up my meals but still gain weight. No, I lie about the throwing up. Someone told me they could lock my bathroom and I have no intention to get this far in my “imprisonment”.

He says little. Let us change this, add that and reduce this. It should work within a few days to a few weeks. I write down everything he says, why I do not know. It gives me the illusion of control; maybe by knowing the names and the dosages of my meds I will be somewhat more lucid.

“N’importe quoi” as the French say – nonsense.  How long do I have to stay here I ask. I get the same response – it depends and we shall take it day by day. I say ok and thank you. He asks if I want a permission to go out. I am always accompanied by a family member – not a friend. I say yes even if I will not go out. It feels good to be in control – illusion again but what can I say? Sometimes I have the luxury of spending the night at home.

Never two days on a row, it is too dangerous he says. I say ok. Whatever, I just want to see my children, sleep in my bed while hugging my husband, holding his hand and seeing him first thing in the morning. I want to hear my baby’s steps running from his room to mine in the middle of the night saying “butterfly”, and asking to sleep in the big bed. I tell him there are no butterflies in the house and resign and happily take him in my arms.

My daughter comes in later about 7 or 8 AM. She stretches her body, still with sleepy eyes and says “good morning mama”. She would then thank me for being here at home. My big baby thinks I could possibly prefer sleeping at the clinic than in her arms. She thinks I am at a medical spa. I do not ask what she imagines or thinks of this place. I would rather not know. She literally jumps over me and look into my eyes. I melt.

My father woke up long ago. He took care of the kids to give me an hour or so in bed. He lovingly makes their hot chocolate. Patience is his virtue, nothing makes him tick. The kids know it and abuse it, but his love does not make him flinch. He has unconditional love for them.

My husband is ordering breakfast online not to make me move a muscle. He is beyond loving – the man of your dreams but just for me. He plans the day, making sure the children stay busy. It is not easy because he tries hard to find not only things that would interest a 2 year old and a 9 year old at the same time. He also tries to make sure I could fit in should I wish to join. He is my rock, my angel.

My stepmother takes over and makes some order in the house. She is trying so hard to follow our old system. She gives love and security to the children – especially to my daughter. She would take her out to eat or to do something girly.

Let me not bring up how I get to say goodbye to them. It is always so painful, just like someone is slashing me in half, someone taking my soul away. I am alive because of them. Meaninglessness slowly but surely starts to settle in again…

Back to reality, back to the clinic. Lunch time is around noon, disgusting tray. I am on a diet and also vegetarian. I get almost everyday some pasta without anything on it, some green beans, and some carrots. If I am lucky some yogurt and some cheese too just to brighten my meal. Disgusting, I pick the edible and leave the rest.

Smoke after lunch and some more small talk. We talk about our illnesses, how we ended up here. Same pain but different stories. Many are bipolar like me, some are addicts, while many more have eating disorders. Ages go from 16 to probably above 65. Groups are formed by age more than illnesses. Although age and illnesses are correlated. I sometime try to nap, specially after my Valium taken at lunch time. It relaxes me and make me lose two more hours of my endless day.

I often get a permission to go out for 2 hours in the afternoon. My father or my husband come around. We run to a place where I can eat. Sometimes my husband takes me on his Vespa. I fly with him to eat out, drink something, or go and enjoy a lovely surprise he prepared. Going back brings back this nauseating feeling, especially when I kiss my visitor goodbye and see the sliding doors closing one after the other…

Dinner at 18:30, meds too. I try to bargain to get them after dinner – I generally throw it all up. This depends on the nurse. Some are real Parasians and some aren’t. Same ugly tray with same food as lunch. Cannot eat it anymore, makes me sick to see the tray despite my huger. I go down for some hot chocolate from the vending machine. Sometimes I bring some food back with me from the supermarket next door. Smoke some more, yes what else to do.

Closing down at 22:00. No more going to the terrace or to the poor common room with it’s useless babyfoot table and meeting chairs. Go up to my room, read on kindle and take the sleeping pill to drift into oblivion till the next day. Nurses check on me like three times at night. Why? No idea, maybe to know that I am still in my room. Maybe to know I am still alive. At 8:00 it starts all over again…

TBC

The real men died in war

I heard about this Asian proverb; that later says the rest are cowards.

I am not making drastic changes, by now you know I am a good old classic chicken. I am all talks and no actions….

No OD planned- partially unachievable given the circumstances. Also, it never works because I am never too serious about it….

I just want to close my eyes and find everything the way it should be. But we cannot have everything… Sacrifices are made. Pricey and painful yet essential. Tears are shed, big hugs, promises that are hard to keep. Burn out; how many can one have? Ho many can the family survive?

A chicken; back to the clinic. Dinner check, medication check, last smoke of the day check. Now waiting for the stuff that sends me to Lalaland, which is unfortunately after a whole 45 minutes. Long time it is when looking for more numbness.

Am supposed to have 24 hours plus out of the clinic tomorrow. Bipolar, I cannot decide… good for me? Bad for them? The opposite? More pressure I am sure on the family. In french they say “on fait aller”; one day at a time.

I miss everyone; but maybe seeing them would do us all no good…

Am off the grid

TBC

Racing thoughts 

Thoughts rushing through my head from absolute stillness to maddening movement. One moment am in bed the next running through the streets. I run with my mind standing still. I have ideas of things now. I can think outside of my existential crises, though I find myself crippled by my fear of failure.

It is easier to imagine myself running as far as I want, than actually going for a jog to find myself out of breath after a mere 10 minutes. 

The whole time while am stuck still in my moving thoughts the clock is ticking. Just like Captain Hook feared the Tic-Tocing of the crocodile, these digitital numbers changing constantly on my iPhone show no mercy. I hate watches. Why know how much time has elapsed when I know that it was waisted? 

I won a month today. I was writing about dread in my last post; saying I had to reduce my dose. But I fought for it, or have I been a fool of my own procrastination? 

Sometimes I feel like I know it all. I feel I have no social inhibitions. I am me and me is just ok. Next moment, am nothing but self-conscious doubting my own existence. 

I want to break loose, be like Zaz in her Je Veux song. Do like I please. I wish I could transfer all this energy from my head somewhere. For now my keyboard is the one and only place of refuge; my channel. I have to write more. You won’t have to read any of it though. I owe this to myself. It is even apparently fashionable now with Prince William’s #oktosay… 

More to follow…

If it happens once…

I have already said that my meds are my shield; my little bullet proof glass shield through which I see life. No harm comes in as long as the window is closed.

Yesterday was a good day. I spent time with my husband and I was not thinking of anything else. Just him and me. I didn’t push him away, I didn’t talk about my sad thoughts, I didn’t try to say everything will be ok. I was there and then. In the now and in the moment.

I was enjoying looking at him, holding his hand, having coffee together, hugging him and talking to him. I felt normal. It has been so long since I felt normal. I didn’t need excuses, I didn’t think what would happen if, I was simply enjoying his love and my love to him.

This could sound so absolutely stupid and trivial. It might come to many as something usual. To me this is a big deal. To stay a few hours worry-free is beyond liberating. To accept the love and devotion given by another human being (in this case the love of my life) without any fear is priceless.

If it happens once, it can happen again. I am trying to do my own cognitive behavioral therapy. Using my background in psychology since my psychiatrist said it is too early for psychotherapy. I argue much less, defend myself much less, and try to really listen to those around me. I stopped feeling misunderstood, I don’t want to be a victim even one to my own thoughts.

I am giving myself a chance…

More to follow

Till death do us part..

I married out of love. No, I married out of insane love. My husband is my world. He is my rock, my home, my best friend, my lover, the father of my children, and above all he is my family. 

We go way back, we spent half our lives together. We don’t own each other. We chose to be together and continue to do so on a daily basis. 

Loving me in my good, bad and ugly moments; it is not easy for him. I burden him when I am down and down I am many days. Don’t get me wrong, it is not all gloomy. But it takes a rock to stand by me and to love me without judgement throughout. 

I wouldn’t be me without him. He has this outlook to life full of positivity and trust. He believes impossible is nothing and tells me I can achieve anything I want. 

We drift apart here. I don’t wish for much that is the problem. I cannot have long term plans or any plans as a matter of fact. Taking decisions is one of the things I hate the most. I always weigh in the pros and cons and end up with complicated opinions that make choice so difficult. I take it one day at a time – and this is probably one of the reasons why I am depressed. 

I can’t project myself into the future, but you are my future Hassan. You are my present and my past too. I trust in you and I trust you. You asked me to write about you and here it is. A testimony of love, of a two way unconditional love. I wish nothing but your wellbeing and happiness. I know you dream the same for me. 

Till death do us part…

More to follow 

Getting out of the closet

Getting out of the closet would make you think of sexual orientation. But many others have gotten out. Today, I will write about why I decided to link my blog to Instagram and Facebook.

I have been writing for a while now. I am documenting my journey fighting mental illness as a person, a woman, and as a mother. It has been rough mostly, but it taught me a lot. You might be surprised by some of the topics or posts that will be shared. The main purpose of this blog is to promote awareness of mental illness. I want to also tackle a broken system, where mentally ill people are seen as helpless beings with no choice of treatment or quality of life.

Although I am supposedly a clinical psychologist, please do not take this blog as as a place for “medical” advise. It is just a safe heaven for broken hearts. I hope that in our unity we will be able to free ourselves from the burden of depression, bipolarity, eating disorders, addiction, or else.

Thank you for respecting other points of views, and thank you for trying to understand what the other is saying. We shall not blame each other or use inappropriate words. We are builders – it is enough to fight our inner battle; we do not need a wall to fight on to.

Bless