Monthly Archives: January 2011

New car, red budget

I bought a new car.  I think this was the right decision, but who knows?  It’s beautiful and I love it.  Alas, the note and debt are large.  I guess it’s an incentive to go to work when I’m depressed.

Today was payday, which for me means budget day.  I had a stack of receipts in my wallet I’d be avoiding putting in on a regular basis because if I saw how high the number was I was bound to freak out if there wasn’t new money to cover it all.  Total for January in bullshit purchases?  Almost $1000.  That’s not including bills or food or needed purchases.  That’s just what I spent on random crap.  I don’t even know what to say about that.  I could have a second house or something for $1000 a month.  Instead I have a lot of other things I probably didn’t need.

Regardless, I’m moving on and moving January’s red all over budget where I can’t see it and just trying to not screw up for February.  This may be difficult.  I finally got my new office and it’s a mess.  It has nothing I need in it which means I’m spending money on office supplies that work won’t reimburse me for.  I could probably argue for some supplies, but I wouldn’t get them for months and it’s hard to work without staples and clips and pens and such.  I’m hoping to go this weekend to get everything organized so my whole working days aren’t spent OCDing around the office.  Can’t pay the new car note with no money if I’m too busy filing and cleaning.


Bipolar Zen

So word came today that my uncle (also bipolar) is in the hospital.  Not the mental kind, just a hospital.  He has cancer and isn’t doing well.  When they tested him his Lithium level was .1 away from toxic.  He hasn’t been eating or sleeping.

A few weeks back I had told my mom I wished his answer to everything wasn’t religion.  I tried to talk to him when I was younger and the result was a plaque with bible quotes to “help” me.  I’m agnostic.  It didn’t help.  I’ve always wished I could talk to him though.  He’s my only blood relative that might understand, might have some advice that isn’t “it’ll be okay” or “just get over it” or varying degrees of suggestions that are useless.  Or even just someone to share experiences with.

I’m starting to think maybe I should reach out one more time.  I always want to but the thought of hearing scripture has stopped me.  Now that there’s a possibility that the chance might be gone forever I’m reconsidering.

I’d like to ask if it ever got easier.  If as time wears on the swings are less often, less severe, or even just easier to tolerate because you’re so used to them.  If ever he felt as isolated from everyone else in the family as I do because we’re not like everyone else.  I’d like to know more about his experiences.  I don’t know a lot because his wife is controlling and likes to overmedicate him and pretend he’s just sleepy a lot and doesn’t have an illness.  I have a hard time being around them and seeing him comatose and her belittling him if he mentions anything a little off the path of “normal.”  He’s a passive guy, especially so considering most bipolars I’ve met are just the opposite.  He takes the meds, doesn’t talk about his problems, and they both pretend like the bad times just never happened.

What I think I’d like to know most is now, with more years of experience than I have, if he looks back – would he change it if he could?  What would he have done differently or the same?

I guess I wonder this because sometimes I think if they ever do find some magic shot or pill that truly makes bipolar cease to be in a person that I might not want it.  Not that I think being bipolar is fun.  Most days I really hate it.  Manic, depressed, baseline – the words “I just want to be normal” come from my mouth a lot.  The thing is, all the crap I go through makes me who I am.  Most days if you ask me I’d say I like me.  I don’t like the swings that made me this person, but I do like the person they’ve produced.  Mostly.

Without problems how do you grow as a person?  How do you become stronger and better at dealing with things?  The people I know who have lived very happy lives with very few problems seem naive to me.  Sometimes even uneducated.

The problems we have, bipolar or otherwise, shape who we become.  When I look back I try to accept the bad things that have happened to me (small or large) and the bad things I’ve done and be thankful for them because each instance no matter how small it may have been taught me something.

There’s a cute book I have for my son called Zen Shorts.  It has a story about a farmer who loses a horse and the neighbors say “such bad luck” and he responds “maybe.”  Then the horse comes back and brings another with it.  They say “such good luck” and he says “maybe.”  The next day his son tries to ride the wild horse and breaks his leg.  The neighbors say “such bad luck” and again he says “maybe.”  The next day army officials come to find boys to draft for the military and pass his son up because of the broken leg.  Once again “such good luck” from the neighbors and a “maybe” from the farmer.

The moral of which is sometimes bad things have to happen for good things to happen and vice versa.  “You never know what will happen next” is what the book says.  I like what the story teaches.  I wish I could be more zen about my life all the time.

So now, coming down from mania, I’m kinda glad it happened.  I watched what it did to my son and it made me more dedicated to my own health.  I’m not out of the woods yet, but I’m getting closer every day.  I look at the shambles our finances are in right now and I’m upset that I let things get so out of control, but I’m sure I can fix them.  Hopefully.  My husband was more supportive than ever and I think we made a lot of progress in our relationship over these past few months.  I found a doctor that seems to get it which is something I thought I’d lost forever after I got kicked out of pediatrics.  The mania itself was hell.  Certainly not one of those “euphoric manias” that seem to cycle in for me a lot less often than the dysphoric ones.  A lot of bad things have happened because of it, but some really good things have too.

I’m sure when I get depressed this clarity of mind will go to hell, but I’m going to enjoy it while I can.  But I would like to know if after a lifetimes of this illness – can you still see any good in it?  Can you look back at a lifetime of crazy and be grateful for who you are because of it or does it drain you to the point where all you see if a lifetime of swings and madness with nothing positive left to find?

Stress, lemon cars, and general freak out

I’ve been lazy about posting.  Partly because I’m not super manic motivated and partly because I have a lot of stuff going on and I’m stressed and pissed and all posts will be rants.

Went to the doctor on Monday.  Changed the Geodon to 120mg.  Just when I stopped twitching on 80mg.  I had to bring my son who, of course, decided to be the Biggest Brat Ever in front of my doctor.  He actually punched me in the face.  So here I am trying to control him, he sees there’s nothing for me to take or place to do time out, and all hell breaks lose.  Best moment?  As he’s saying “fight!” and punching me, my doctor goes “how are you feeling right now?”  HA-HA-HA.  How do you think?  I went with “annoyed” although “fucking annoyed/pissed and about to scream and/or break shit” would have been more accurate but wasn’t toddler friendly language.

Then my car.  Oh, my POS lemon car.  They sold the used car I kinda wanted, so now I’m looking at the 2011 model.  My brain says “buy it” but I don’t trust my brain.  Other people (husband/mother) say “probably buy it.”  I’m not stable enough for a maybe.  Tell me yes, we’ll sign papers.  Tell me no, I’ll file a lemon lawsuit.  Maybe does not compute.

The lawyer says he thinks he can get me a “keep the car and here’s some cash to shut you up” settlement.  This would take 30-45 days.  That’s too long for manic me and plus it will take a lot of my time which is better spent making money at work and such.  After he takes his cut, I might end up with not enough to have wasted my time, plus a judgment on the car probably effects the resale value, but maybe not.  He says no, but he was being sales-y about it so I don’t believe him.

I want the car.  Really bad.  Too bad, actually.  The rational side of my head keeps yelling at me about debt and payments and normal me HATES both payments and debt.  Especially on depreciating assets.  I hate big purchases if not made in cash.  Scratch that.  I hate big purchases even if in cash because then my balances look sad.

So I keep arguing with myself in my head all day and I’m stressing myself out bad and it’s making my mood swing cycle right back up again.  Part of my brain (manic?  rational?  who the hell knows??) says just buy it and be done with the stupid lemon POS.  Part of my brain says debt is evil and big payments suck.  I don’t trust either one of these parts of my brain any longer.  My husband isn’t much help because he’d probably give me an okay on Ferrari so long as he could have one too.

This whole situation would be so much easier if I could trust what my brain tells me.  Stupid broken brain.  I just wanna scream.  So yeah, that’s how I’m doing.  Crappy, but a different type of crappy than before.

Oh, and I bought more shit today after quite a few days of not buying dumb shit.  So it seems the progress I was making is going to hell because I’m so stressed.

It’s all that stupid car’s fault.

On trying to be crunchy

I guess my placebo effect is starting to wear off.  Yesterday I almost had a panic attack while driving because my husband didn’t answer his phone.  I spent thirty minutes just sure that he was dead.  I also almost bought a brand new car, though I still might because others tell me it’s a good idea.  That’s the only way for me to tell if I’m just being crazy.

Today, I couldn’t seem to stop talking.  I kept telling myself to shut up, but my mouth didn’t listen.  My thoughts are still streamlined and not intrusive, but I can’t seem to shut up.  I woke up full of energy.  I cleaned baseboards.  I didn’t nap all weekend.

I also decided to try juicing.  Ever since my son was born, I’ve been heavy on the organic food train.  When I was pregnant, I bought books on how to make baby food.  Everyone said I wouldn’t do it, which made me want to do it more.  It lasted about a week, as these things do, before I was exhausted and overwhelmed and pissed that I couldn’t even food process.  My son is also the Pickiest Eater Ever, as confirmed by daycare.  My mom makes most of his meals and freezes them so he can eat healthy organic versions of whatever I can convince him to eat.  When I try to cook for him, he gets two amazing meals and then sandwiches.  I just can’t manage 40+ hours at work, parenting, and master chef.  Some days I’m impressed I have the energy to make a sandwich.

At one point, we were buying a lot of fresh produce and organics from one of the healthy food stores.  This was before I started using budget software.  We were always broke and I couldn’t figure out why.  Turns out for me and my son to eat the kind of healthy I’d prefer we needed to spend upwards of $2000/m.  I’m sure people manage all organic cheaper, but I don’t know how.  So now I get what I can organic and fret about the rest, but suck it up so we can afford to send him to school.

Wal-Mart sells one organic juice.  I’m not too big on juices in general, but I figured once and while was okay.  Fresh juice got in my head this weekend because I’m forever lamenting the lack of nutrients in store juice and since my son is such a picky eater, I have to sneak what I can in what he will eat or drink.

Turns out, my mom had a juicer.  Good thing, cause I can test if he likes it, if I’ll stick with it, and if it’s worth the money before blowing $100.  Since it was an old juicer, it was without an instruction booklet.  I thought the container area was where the juice went.  It’s not.  There’s a hidden spout you’re supposed to put a cup under.  I didn’t, and made a mess.  Once that issue was fixed, I made foamy apple juice.  It kinda looked gross, but I don’t like store apple juice, so I don’t know how much my opinion counts.  My husband did agree though.

At first, my son would have none of it because I was diluting it.  Once I gave it to him just plain, he loved it!  I’m thrilled!  Something good for him that he likes!

There’s always a “but.”  It was pretty labor intensive to do, which could be helped by a newer juicer, but I’m not sure how much.  When the hypomanic high finally wears down and it’s 9pm after a long day at work and a long night at home, will I still be juicing?  I’d like to say yes, but my husband tells me I better not spend any money until I have some solid time behind me.  He cited the twice used food processor I insisted on last cooking attempt.

We’ll see how it goes I guess.

And I started wondering who he was going to be…and I thought heaven help us if he’s anything like me

Yeah, I stole lyrics from a country song.  How lame.  I am without my Sirius radio and the country station is the only one that plays music in the morning.  Normally hate country, but I liked the lyrics and they fit where the post is going to end up, so oh well.

Today my brain was quiet (or as quiet as mine ever gets) but things were shiny and had auras.  I don’t know how to classify that.  Normal-ish?  Hypomanic-ish?  I’ve been hypomanic/manic for around three or four months.  My brain having normal levels of thought actually had me bored.  I didn’t know what to do with myself without ten internal dialogues going on at once.  It felt abnormal to have normal thoughts because my brain has been going and going for so long now.

I spent some time on some message boards and found that a common topic amongst the bipolar sect is “will you have kids” and if you do “will you worry that you might pass the crazy on.”  It’s something I think a lot about, so I figured I’d post about it.

When I was young, I swore I’d never have children.  I was in the height of my illness and in such misery that the thought of dooming someone else to a living hell was unbearable.  Plus how could I be pregnant without medication?  How could I handle a child when there are so many days I can’t take care of myself?  I forget to feed my dog constantly.  I can’t even grow a plant.  I thought I’d be a terrible mother and the weight of passing on my illness was too hard on me.

I held these thoughts even into my early 20’s.  Then people around me stared having kids.  Notably, though it’s something I don’t wish to discuss on here, my husband had a child from a previous relationship who was still a baby when we got together.  We don’t see the child anymore and there’s an adoption process pending, but needless to say for a while I was around a lot of babies, one of which I cared a good bit for.  It was a hard time in my life, but I really loved caring for babies.  They brought out a compassion in me that I didn’t know existed.  I babysat sometimes for my friends’ children, ranging from 1-4, and I magically became a different person.

Something clicked in my head, and I felt a void that had never been there.  I felt like I was meant to be a mom.  I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea.  I was the girl that never wanted kids.  My illness hadn’t changed, I was actually cycling all over the place at the time.  Months of depressions, months of mania.  I just knew though, I was supposed to have a child.

I didn’t plan well, though my pregnancy was very much planned.  I was on medication and just figured I’d stop taking it when I got pregnant and things would work themselves out.  It took me nine months to get pregnant, and each month that passed with no positive test sunk me into a deeper and deeper depression.  I felt incomplete.  I felt like I would never get pregnant because someone like me shouldn’t have kids.  I had no plan for my swings when I was pregnant.  I had no plan on how to manage myself after he got here.  I was underserving and the great universe knew it and made me barren.

My reasons were selfish.  I know that now.  Then, I don’t know what I thought.  I knew what I wanted and knew I’d do whatever needed to be done to make it happen.  I spent hundreds of dollars on fertility calculators.  I was still worried about passing things on.  I didn’t know how I’d manage through the pregnancy or motherhood.  I just somehow had a feeling things would be okay, which is so rare for me, that I just trusted it.

Finally one month, I knew I was pregnant.  Before the positive test result came back, I knew.  I could feel it.  I felt suddenly complete and could feel warmth from within me and I just knew.  A few days later, a positive test result.  I was ecstatic.  I stopped taking my medications.  Everything would be okay.

I was wrong.  I lost in about three weeks in.  I made an emergency appointment with the doctor I recently quit going to.  We tried all sorts of pregnancy safe medications that I approved.  Some anti-histamines and Busapr.  Anything for bipolar I wouldn’t take.  I didn’t want the medication to hurt him.  I could go crazy for nine months, but nothing was going to touch my baby.  I refused any medication that didn’t have years of study in pregnant women.  I was physically and emotionally in agony.  My marriage collapsed around me because I was so unstable.

Reality sunk in.  Would I be a single mother suffering with bipolar with no support system?  How high were the odds that my son would be bipolar or mentally ill in some other way?  How could I parent like this?  My journal from when I was pregnant has so many entries that say “Son – I’m sorry.”  I talked to a few doctors who confirmed his odds were high since I have bipolar and technically my husband has a bipolar diagnoses, though as stated in a previous post, that’s my fault and not accurate.  He does have personality disorders of some type.  Combine the two and the odds are stacked against my son.

I hated myself.  I hated what I had done.  But I loved my son more than anything.  I would have died for him even before he was born.  I did everything I could to eat right and stay off any dangerous medication, my own problems be damned.  I had a scheduled C-section because the idea of not knowing was a big issue for me.  I needed some plan.  Medications prescribed and in bottles waiting to go to the hospital with me so I could start back up on them the day he was born.

After I had him, my moods were still bad but not as bad.  My husband stayed with me through it all, though not without issue.  But holding that little boy in my arms, I had clarity that I should have had before I made the choice to have him.

One of the unique things about bipolar is intensity.  Most bipolars are intense people in almost every way.  We feel the same emotions, but at higher levels.  I have the ability to love intensely. I might be one of the few people that can say “no one will love you like I do” and it would be true.  I love my son with fire-like intensity.  I’m sure all moms do.  When he hurts, I feel it ten fold.  When he’s happy, it brings me joy.  I would sacrifice my life a thousand times over for him.  I look at him and I fight back tears of joy.  No words that I can write will ever be able to explain my feelings correctly.

So here’s how I feel now.  I worry every day that I might have passed on some illness to him.  Not just bipolar, but any mental illness.  I hope every time I look at his big smile that he’s always happy, though I know that’s impossible.  But if it doesn’t work out, if he is bipolar – well, who better to help him?  My mom is an amazing woman and I would not be here today without her constant support, but I know she’ll never really get my illness.  She can support me, but she can’t understand.  I can do both for my son if I have to.  I can spot the manias and depressions and I know how to talk to people going through them.  I can hold him and tell him I love him, but I can also make sure he gets the right help.  I can be an ear to listen when everyone else doesn’t get it.  I can handle the rages and the tears because I’ve been there.  I can understand like no one else because of my experiences.

At the end of the day, I do hate my illness, but it’s made me who I am.  I’m someone people don’t forget.  I’m not replaceable.  I’m a better listener, a better understander, a better person because of what I’ve endured.  I’m stronger than people twice my age because I’ve been through twenty times as much.

That person that I am?  Has the ability to be an amazing mom to a son who turns our to be normal or a son who is just like me.  Maybe being raised by someone with a misunderstood illness, even if he is normal, will teach him compassion and empathy for others.  Teach him to be able to support and understand.

There are, of course, some downsides.  I’m not always stable.  When I’m not, I make sure to get away or to enlist help from my husband or my mom.  I try to keep my swings away from him as much as possible.  I’m more committed now to my health.  I’m trying to be more med compliant.  I’m considering therapy and support groups again.  I have the ability to be a great mom, but my illness can take that from me quickly.  I can’t help him through any troubles he has if I’m off hallucinating or crying all day.

My son gives me a reason to manage myself.  Before him, I didn’t care.  I could cycle like crazy and everyone could just deal or leave.  I didn’t care.  I could be in agony and I’d take meds just long enough to bear myself and then get right back off.  I won’t let myself do that anymore.

I’m formulating the plans now I should have had before I considered getting pregnant.  I didn’t, and perhaps the chaos that he lived in for the first six months of his life will leave an effect, but I hope not.  I hope he doesn’t remember a mom who cried a lot or yelled at daddy and flew off the handle.  I hope he remembers the mom I’m trying to be now.  I hope that through the break through cycles, he’ll remember he has a mom that loves him with every fiber of her being and is doing everything she can to be there for him.

I still worry about his mental health.  He has panic attacks and it scares me.  I hope they’re fleeting.  He’s only two, clearly too young to formulate opinions.  I keep a watchful eye, but try not to obsess over everything he does.  If he ends up like me, I’m sure I’ll never forgive myself.  With every depression or mania he might have, I know I’ll feel them a thousand times over all laced with guilt.  I stand by my pregnancy journals – for any sadness he may have because of my genes – I am truly sorry.

But I do not regret my choice, not for one second.  He’s already an amazing kid.  He’s charismatic.  He lights up a room when he enters.  He’s everyone’s favorite.  He makes this world a better place just by existing.  He makes my life full of hope where once there was only despair.  I cannot imagine a world without him.

I know that many bipolar people choose not to have kids.  I thought I would always be one of them.  Everyone has to make a decision that’s best for them.  Mine wasn’t thought out, but it was the right one for me.

So for my son, my reason for being, I will take better care of myself.  That way, if my worst fears come true and he is mentally ill, he has a strong mommy to support him and understand him.  Someone to cry to if he’s depressed, someone to speed talk to if he’s manic, someone to tell the scary thoughts he might have without worrying that I won’t understand or that I’ll think he’s not right.  No matter who he is, no matter what illness he may have, he is my world.

And one day everyone will know:  the world is a better place to have us in it.  My illness allows me to offer things and do things others can’t.  That part, at least, I do hope to pass on.

I love you, my little man.  You are the best thing I’ve done with my crazy life.  No matter who you turn out to be, no matter what problems may or may not come, you are perfect.

Can medicine work in two days?

On my mood chart today, I charted all 5’s.  There were some times that probably could have been a low 6, but I was generous with my number again.  I bought a few things, but perhaps more out of the habit of buying things on my lunch break every day.  Well, probably not.  My anxiety levels were kinda through the roof for a few hours though so I’m not sure what’s going on with that.  I don’t know if it’s a side effect issue or just a me issue.

I kinda hate when I feel better one or two days in on a new med because I know the med isn’t working that fast and it becomes hard to tell if I’m just breaking out of the cycle or if the medication is working.  Not that I’m complaining, more just wondering if it’s possible for a medicine to work quickly.  Three days in on Topamax I felt better and then two days after that I was right back.  I think I give myself pre-kick-in placebo effects sometimes.  I want them to work so bad I trick myself into thinking they are but I can only fool my brain for a few days.

Anxiety today was mostly more work stuff.  I have to go out of town on a business trip which is always high stress for me.  I can’t fly, so I get to drive for hours.  I’m a picky eater and they supply food I can’t eat.  Then there’s the worst part – hotels.  Hotels are big on my list of things I just don’t like.  I hate being alone at night and I’ll be alone.  In a hotel.  I don’t know why hotels freak me out but they do.  I feel like I’m going to get killed or something.  Or that the hotel will be haunted by ghosts of people who might have died there.  All sorts of random things I just don’t like.  So I spent at least two hours today freaking out over it.

I’m sure I had more to day, but my brain just turned off and I can’t remember anything else from today and everything is suddenly kinda fuzzy.  So I guess I’m done.

Don’t ask, don’t tell

When I check my site stats it says people are getting here from my comment on the blog post I linked to yesterday.  I didn’t leave a comment though.  I just linked.  But for some reason, my blog appears as a comment.  I was gonna open with something else, but now I’m creeped out by my computer commenting on people’s blogs just because I link to them.  I kinda don’t want that post linked because I’m not as optimistic in my musings about calling and things because I just don’t have a wide audience.  There’s no one to post that info for really.   I linked just in case though, but now if depressed people are getting back to my site I’m kinda upset because my views aren’t great if you’re depressed.  Meh.  Stupid technology and it’s creepiness.

Today was mostly a good day.  Except for the above and the killer migraine I finally had to break down and take Dilaudid for.

My son graduated speech therapy today with “high average” scores.  I’m a proud mama bear!!  He’s always been smart, but he was slow to pick up on talking and has been in speech therapy.  He’s been doing amazing lately, so they tested him and he passed!!   I’m worried about sliding back now that he won’t be seeing someone every week, but I’m so proud of how much he’s accomplished.  He’s a really bright kid, and now I have test scores to say I’m not just being a mom about it!

Mood wise, I didn’t peak above a high range 6 today, which was nice.  Mid-day it was on the real high end of what I’d still consider a 6 and I was probably being generous with the numbers, but that’s where I ranked it when I was there, so I don’t wanna mess with my charts.

However, I did get my usual 5000 thoughts per second deal again today (likely the cause of my four day migraine – why I’m even on here I don’t know).  In those thoughts, I started to stress about something at work that was brought up in the peak of my mania and I just haven’t had time to obsess over it.  Luckily, my brain was slow enough today to allow some time to obsess once the thought made its way in the rotating tape deck of my mind.

At some point, I’m not sure when, I was told that when I get to my new office, I should not discuss my illness with coworkers.  Basically a gag order on what’s wrong with me, as my husband put it.  My boss told me this.  I guess it doesn’t look good to be the person that hired the crazy girl.  I get that.  There’s some issues though…

Anyone with any serious illness has to deal with how to handle discussion of said illness at work.  I’ve tried different ways, and now what I do is within a month, everyone that deals with me a lot at work gets a talk about what’s wrong with me and how best to deal.  If we just say hi to each other, then it’s not your business.  But if it’s your job to have to deal with me in any fashion (liner, above me, or below me) I feel like I need to explain why I’m going to be a pain.

I used to not tell anyone because that’s what my mom advised me.  The thing is, it’s not like you can’t tell.  In small doses, I come off as “not average” but no one that sits with me for an hour is gonna conclude I’m really crazy.  Probably just “eccentric” or “different” or something else.  Even a few days and it might go undetected.  After a month, people start asking questions.  Or worse, making assumptions about things that are far off the mark and making it gossip.  If “Kira’s crazy” is fact and not rumor, it’s not as exciting to talk about.  Comments that get made are usually the same ones that they would say in front of me, not in hushed voices after I leave a room.  In high school everyone though I was going to blow up the school because I didn’t really talk about my issues at school.  I got kicked out because they thought I was going to kill people.  I promise, as much as I hated high school, I wasn’t going to kill anyone.  I was just sick.  If you don’t explain, people tend to assume things that are worse than the truth.  I’d rather be “bipolar” than “potential assassin.”

Even if people don’t think I’m going to kill them, I miss days at work a lot either due to my mental illness making me physically ill or just the mental illness itself.  Without HR to back me up, I’d be out of a job.  So in that case, at least someone has to know why I’m missing so many days.  It’s not for trips to Hawaii or extra three day weekends.  When I’m out, I need to be.

And if that’s not enough, if they don’t assume I’m a serial killer waiting to happen, all my ticks and oddities could be signs of about 9 different personality disorders.  If I take internet tests I score above 70% on all but one or two.  It’s not that I have them, but that bipolar can sometimes mean “all encompassing crazy.”  I’ve never figured out if this is the illness itself or just having to deal with it that causes all these other problems, but a lot of them remain even at “normal” mood levels.  I’m diagnosed bipolar, ADD, PTSD, and GAD.  I have hints of OCD and other such lovelies in there just because of my bipolar, not because I’m really OCD.  My anxiety is a daily issue.  So they’ll come up with way more problems than I actually have trying to come up with it on their own.

I don’t wanna be the girl with 20 disorders.  I’ll take my bipolar plus two (PTSD is pretty much gone).  I don’t like thinking that people would think I’m 20 kinds of crazy when I’m only really one.

I’d get all the cover up if I sucked at my job or something, but the thing is I’m really good at it.  Not in an egotistical way.  I can pull my numbers versus others and I’m usually top 25% in the company.  So my results tend to mean my crazy is magically easier to tolerate.  Such is corporate America.  If I was bottom 10%, I doubt they’d deal with me long.

Without being labeled “bipolar” I’d probably get “bitchy, high maintenance, and difficult.”  I am these things, but I do have a reason.

Some examples?  I can’t have people behind me if I’m on the computer.  This is an anxiety related issue as best I can tell, as I have panic attacks if people stand behind me when I’m on a computer.  I can’t be in buildings alone or in the dark, which means I can’t open or close anything ever.  Again, anxiety.

My memory is non-existant as possible without qualifying for Alzheimer’s.  To combat this, I notate obsessively.  If I talk to someone, as soon as they leave (and sometimes while they talk) I make notes.  If I work on a task and have to stop before it’s done, I have to make notes on where I am, what I’m trying to do, and what’s left to do.  I have to set myself reminders to finish.  While I’m making these notes, no one can talk to me.  Not even a two word sentence.  If they do, the memory gets fuzzy and I’m screwed.  Depending on my mood, this can result in me being very mean to someone who should know better.  I classify this in the “OCD like” things, though I’m not sure if it goes there.  The blame on this one is going to years of bipolar medications that make you stupid.  Plus ADD means I can’t concentrate well.  Double whammy.

Things have to be in certain places, organized certain ways.  If it’s not, I can’t do anything else until it’s right.  Pens go a certain place.  Paper goes a certain place.  Files are organized in a particular manner.  If anything is out of place, sometimes it will take me two hours of frantic freak out to get things just so again.  Thus, no one can sit at my desk, otherwise I waste a lot of day fixing.  I don’t like to waste time at work.  I like to work.  So it just makes more sense if people don’t use my desk unless there is no other choice.

My moods shift, so things that I laugh about one day can make me cry the next.  I try to be aware and give forewarning on mood changes and after you get to know me, the things that will set me off become more predictable.  If I can’t come in and say “today’s a depressed day” I just know I’m gonna end up crying at work over something stupid and everyone will think I’m PMSing or pregnant or something.

I can’t multitask.  At all.  I can do one thing with intense focus (with Adderall) and perfection level precision. Try to add just one more task in, and I can’t do either.  If I’m typing, I can’t talk.  If I’m talking, I can’t listen or write.  No clue what this one is attributed to.  I just know I get frustrated and pissed if people try to throw multitasking my way.  I can finish one thing and go to another in a quick enough way that I can create an appearance of multitasking though (because everyone wants someone who can multitask).

The upside to a lot of these is that I do things perfectly. Not always, but for the most part, people know if they give something to me it gets 120% of my attention until it’s just right.  I get things done fast and accurately.  Very rarely do I have mistakes at work.  I thought I was missing a signature once at my old office and the assistant that checked all that stuff was confused.  Turns out, it didn’t need one, but the system doesn’t check to see if it’s needed, just if it was there.  So it flagged even though it shouldn’t have.  That’s the level of consistency I generally produce.  Things get done right or not at all.

I give the appearance in short term of just being super organized.  It’s only when things aren’t done in my special way that the crazy part is painfully obvious.  The way I react is anything but normal.  If I mess up, I freak about it for lengthy periods, sometimes months.  If things are out of place, I lose my mind very literally.  I wasn’t always this way.  Living with bipolar had made me start to develop these “ticks” to get through the day.  If I don’t do them, I suck at my job because I forget what I’m supposed to be doing other than the most basic job description.  Plus routines keep my mood in check (to a point).

Oh, I also have to work a set schedule because of that.  If you need me there for 8:00am any day, that means I come in at 8:00 every day, or my body will either not allow me to wake up or a fifteen minute change in the time I wake up for a one day event will screw my moods up for a month.  Daylight savings is especially fun for me.  I can work in “7:30am every Monday, 8:30am Tuesday-Friday” or something so long as it’s the same every week.  I don’t know why, but I guess the week is what my body uses for basing routines, not a day.  So I can sleep in on a Sunday and not get messed up, but if I sleep in on a Monday I generally do get off track.

It’s all very complex and exhausting for me.  For other people, it’s just easier to know what my limitations are up front and how to deal with them.  That way I’m the most productive me I can be, and everyone usually benefits.  Like I said, if I’m not freaking out, I do an amazing job.  It just takes me a little effort to get there.

If I can’t explain these limitations, how will people manage to work with me?  How do I say “don’t sit at my desk” without sounding like I’m being a bitch for no reason?  How do I say “don’t stand behind me” without sounding like I’m paranoid or just being dramatic?  Once bipolar is established, I generally can say “sorry, it’s my crazy issues” with a laugh and people kinda shake their heads but comply.

The times I’ve tried to use the underlying issues on some of them (ADD, anxiety), they become too relatable to “normal” issues.  If I say I can’t step on the chair because I’m scared of heights, people relate it to something they have a fear of at a normal person’s level.  A normal person can be scared of heights, yet stand on a step stool.  I can’t.  I’ll have a panic attack.  I overreact.  “Turned up to 11” at all times.  People scared of spiders can kill a small one if needed.  I can’t.  I run like I’m in the Amazon and some terrible man eating creature is after me.  The “anxiety” is too relatable and therefore people expect a relatable response that that won’t get.  A “I’m scared but can still do it” response.  Not me.

Conversations have been tried this way.  “I’m sorry, I have anxiety issues, but if you let me take my medication I can probably do it in about 10 minutes.”  This gets an “oh, you’ll be fine!  It’s no big deal!” every time.  Without fail.  Or “you’ll get used to it!”  Maybe you.  Not me.  It’s not that simple.  If it was, I wouldn’t be crazy anymore.  I’d have “stopped” or “gotten over it” all a long time ago.  So then I end up with “look, I have bipolar.  I can’t do [insert scenario here].”  Then it’s big and scary sounding and they back off.

How do I get that result without the “I’m bipolar” in front of it?  I’ve never found a way.

I don’t want to cause lots of issues because I can’t explain my limitations.  I don’t want my work to suffer simply because I can’t tell people not to touch my papers or not to talk to me until I finish typing.  I also don’t want them assuming I’m 20 kinds of crazy or that I’ll kill them just because they touch my stuff.  I just want to do my job and do it well.  Which I can, if people all agree to play nice with my imbalanced head.

I have no idea what to do.  I’m very stressed about it.  I’m also annoyed about being given a gag order on an illness.  Do you ask the people with diabetes not to talk about it and we can all just assume the needles are for heroin or something?  Or the frequent snacks are an excuse for extra breaks?  No, you tell people so they know you’ll have needles and might need a cheese stick or whatever if your blood sugar drops.  No one puts gag orders on diabetes.  Or any other type of illness.  Add this to “reasons why mental illnesses can suck more than physical ones.”  I need one of those fancy brain scans to show to people.

Suggestions encouraged here because I’m really at a loss.  Husband says “just let them think whatever and deal with it” because that’s just how he is.  If people hate him, he doesn’t care.  If people think he’s going to kill them, well then they stay away and all the better for him.  I’m not like that.  I have no friends, but I do like talking to people, at least when I’m at work.  I hate feeling alone at work.  Work gives me a community feeling I don’t get anywhere else.  Sad but true.  Plus my job relies on cooperation from coworkers, so them hating me will impact my bottom line and theirs too.

I feel like I’m screwed.  *sigh*