Writings from Bipolar Bandit’s Father Part 1

dad and me I am so very proud of my wife (Bipolar Bandit’s mother) and all she does to keep our family together. I am also proud of the host of this site, my daughter aka Bipolar Bandit.

Michelle (Bipolar Bandit)  is awesome beyond compare. She struggled with more things early in her life than most people see in a lifetime yet she stayed the course, got an education, contributed to society as a teacher and now has a new calling as the host of this site.

As Michelle’s dad,  I know first hand how difficult it is to be a family member and the difficulties that go along with being a parent, spouse, or sibling of someone with a mental illness. Through all the difficulties and with her Mom’s unfailing guidance, I kept reminding myself that this was not the real Michelle. It was her illness and my job was to stay with her and to fight the battles alongside her no matter what it took.

Over the years, we have shared our inner most thoughts about almost everything and I have endured many sleepless night and challenges I never expected. I will never stop loving her and will do my best to support her in the future.

In the end, I know the world would be a much sadder place without Michelle and all those of you who suffer with mental illness. So, whether you have a mental illness or you are in a family who has a mentally ill member (1 in 4 families), please stay the course and be there to support each other no matter what.

Writings from the Mother of Bipolar Bandit Part 6: My Daughter’s Struggles in School

mom and me for blogI am writing this because I want you to know how important it is that as a family member that you never give up on your loved one with a mental illness and that your being their advocate is so very important.

Our daughter’s first struggles with weeks of depression was  when she was in 8th grade.
She would be too depressed to go to school and would stay home. Then it was like a light switch was turned on and she would catch up on all her homework assignments in a few days.  (she was always very smart) This was told to many doctors  over the years and knowing what I know now , at least one of them should have recognized this as manic behavior.
I went to school asking to speak to all of her teachers after her absences became  more frequent.
We were hopeful that perhaps her depression was environmental and had been taking her to environmental Dr for allergy shots.
This was helpful and I researched as much as possible. Food allergies were discussed and for awhile things seemed to be going better.
However, what teenager wants to give up pizza and coke and going with friends for ice cream?
This is a very difficult time for children in general- struggling with identity. Each time she was absent it seemed she lost more and more of her friends.
Some kids were very cruel- taunting her and saying unkind things.
I don’t blame kids… all were trying to survive and find their place. I must admit, I was disappointed in some- especially ones whose parents we  were friends with., and or went to church with us.
The principal told me that 8th grade girls are the meanest creatures on the face of the earth. To this day, I truly believe this smart man.
We some how got through each episode and Michelle was involved with music and horse back riding- 4H group  so she  had an outlet.
One of the things that was hardest on Michelle was that due to absences kids she sat with at lunch no longer wanted her to sit with them . I am not sure if this was true or if she just felt this way.
She was lucky that the guidance counselor let  her eat in her office.
This was all before anti- bullying talks and procedures were set in place. Despite many conversations with principal re:cruelty -nothing was ever done by the school to prevent or help in the situation.
We just kept keeping on. Taking a day at a time. Lots of talks, walks and reassurance that she would get through all this.
Lots of holding when tears came, lots of trying to explain disappointments we feel when  people we thought were friends doesn’t just happen to her age group but  happens at all ages.
The thing that I had hardest time about was lack of support from family members and”good”  friends I had always been there for.
Let me say, SHARE WHAT YOU ARE GOING THROUGH WITH OTHERS. . The thing that amazed me most were people I thought of as acquaintances who became great friends and avid supporters. I call these my Christian friends. Not all Christian friends were nice or supportive but  this  is when I realized that some people just give lip service to being a good Christian. You never know who might be your lifeline.
If you try to hide your difficult situation – I feel you are doing two things that could be detrimental. You are losing out on chance to gain support and you are telling your loved one that you are embarrassed or reluctant to share their illness with others.
Caution here- You must determine what it is your loved one wants you to share and be respectful of that when possible. On the other hand do not let them fall into the trap of stigma and all  that entails.
High school and college brought many ups and downs. Stay close, be as supportive and loving as you can be. Make your loved one contract with you if they feel suicidal. Make them promise they would not try to kill self and promise to tell you if they are feeling hopeless or suicidal.
You may be the only thing that stands between them and suicide.
This is not to say parents are to blame if child does commit suicide. Often times the discussion that you would not be able to live without them and you would feel like such a failure if they didn’t tell you and contract not to go ahead with their suicide  plan is just what they need to hear.. Explain How sad and empty your life would be without them.that it would hurt you and their siblings immensely and forever.
Talking about suicide does not give person the idea but it can make the difference of them not acting on deep depression and thoughts of ending their life.
Hang in there. Life gets better… Just get your child through enough life so they can know that things get better and they will experience wonderful friendships and things if they just keep keeping on. A day at a time.. and if that is too overwhelming  then an hour at a time.

30 Mental Health Quotes that Inspire Part 8

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Before you quit because the road seems too long, turn around and look how far you’ve come.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

When your self worth goes up, your net worth goes with it. ~Mark Hansen

Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character. ~Einstein

Make today count. You’ll never get it back.

When you’re different, sometimes you don’t see the millions of people who accept you for what you are. All you notice is the person who doesn’t.

There is only one success; to be able to spend your life in your own way.

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

A positive attitude is contagious, but don’t wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier.

Live in such a way that if anyone should speak badly of you, no one would believe it.

I have many problems in my life, but my lips don’t know that. They always smile.

Love who you have become because you have fought to get there.

Always remember that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one.

Try and fail, but don’t fail to try.

It took me a long time not to judge myself through someone else’s eyes.

Opportunities are like sunrises. If you wait too long, you miss them.

Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.

The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expect it to change, the realist adjusts the sails.

They did not know it was impossible so they did it.

Where you start is not as important as where you finish.

Seek to be worth knowing rather than well known.

Everything will be ok in the end. If it’s not, it’s not the end.

Life is 10% what you make it and 90% how you take it.

Never allow waiting to become a habit. Live your dreams and take risks. Life is happening now.

Don’t be afraid to give up the good and go for the great.

Decide that you want it more than you’re afraid of it.

Self-care is never a selfish act. It is simply good stewardship of the only give I have-the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.

I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself.

Believe and act as if it were impossible to fail.

It is important to congratulate those who have succeeded. However, it is more important to encourage those who have not.

 

Interesting Statistics about Bipolar Disorder

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  • People with bipolar disorder, on average, suffer 10 years before receiving treatment y and only 49% of bipolar individuals receive 1
  • The average age of American bipolar disorder onset is 25 years old 2
  • 83% of bipolar cases are considered severe. 3
  • More than 66% of people with bipolar disorder have one or more relatives with bipolar disorder or clinical depression 4
  • Bipolar individuals’ average bipolar episodes last 3 – 6 months 6
  • The bipolar suicide rate is 60 times higher than that of the general public and one in five people with bipolar disorder commits suicide. 8,7
  • Bipolar disorder is the 4th-highest reason for disability WebM.D. AND 200,000 people with bipolar disorder are homeless 9
  • 69% of bipolar patients are mis-diagnosed at least 3.5 times 10
  • 10% of bipolar disorder patients have onset of symptoms in their 40s-50s  11
  • Bipolar relapse rate 80% within 2 years without meds; 40% with meds 12
  • Except for side effects, 90% of bipolar patients are satisfied with their meds 13
  • Mood disorder patients are more likely to be obese, smoke and have heart disease 14
  • Adults who earned high or top school grades are 4X more likely to develop bipolar disorder than their peers 15
  • 80% of those with bipolar disorder have at least one bipolar family member 16
  • The bipolar suicide rate is 60X higher than that of the general public 17
  • Bipolar disorder affects males and females 18
  • 50% of bipolar folks abuse drugs and/or alcohol 19
  • Following the first bipolar episode is a 90% chance of recurrence  20
  • Bipolar disorder is more common in high achievers [than the general population 21
  • 10% of bipolar disorder patients have onset of symptoms in their 40s-50s 22
  • People with bipolar disorder live 9.2 years less than the average 78 years 23
  • 50% of bipolar individuals abuse drugs and alcohol 24
  • 35% of people with bipolar disorder are obese and are 2X as likely to die of heart disease, diabetes, stroke. 25
  • People with bipolar disorder live 9.2 years less than the average 78 years 26

World  Statistics:

  • 2.4% of the world population has bipolar disorder 27
  • Less than 50% of the planet’s bipolar population receives any treatment 28
  • More than 33% of world’s Bipolar Disorder people have substance abuse disorders 29
  • Bipolar disorder is the 6th leading reason for disability worldwide 30

CHILDREN:

  • A child’s risk of having bipolar disorder is 30% if one parent has bipolar disorder, 75% if two parents suffer the disorder 31
  • In children, bipolar disorder is the 3rd highest reason for doctor visits, 2nd highest reason for hospital ER visits 32
  • 3.4 million children and adolescents suffer bipolar disorder 33

 

How My Dad has Helped me with my Bipolar Disorder

dad grad3As I have mentioned many times before, my mother has been very supportive of me during my life regarding my mental illness.  She went into psychiatric nursing to learn as much as she could about my mental illness, she has listened to me so many times and seen me shed many tears.  She has loved me unconditionally even though during times I was the sickest I have been outright cruel.  Because of her, I am still alive.

Tomorrow is Father’s Day and therefore I want to talk about how supportive my dad has been too.  He has been there when I need to talk. He gives great advice and I wouldn’t be here if it went for his support and love.   I have been blessed with two wonderful parents. They both have accepted me for who I am.

I admire my dad. He has always been a hard worker. He is creative, intelligent, goal-driven, a leader, and loves his family.  I am so proud to be his daughter.

There have been so many times he has listened to me when I have been in tears.  Neither one of my parents allow me to have self-pity. However, they both understand that my depression and mania are chemical imbalances.

When I was first diagnosed, it was devastating to our whole family.  However, my parents stuck by my side and helped me get through it all.  There were nights I would not sleep at all and one of them would stay up with me.  There were times when I was manic that they had to literally rescue me.

They would have take time off and travel from NY to Florida to get me admitted to a psychiatric hospital or take me back to New York. There was one time that I disappeared and they had to use law enforcement to find me. I had bought a new car and had gotten engaged (using their money for the engagement ring).  My dad was able to get the car salesman to take the car back and got the ring returned.

Out of all the things that my dad has done for me, I vividly remember one night he stayed up with me when I was about 17 and got me through the night. We talked about so many things and him caring meant so much to me. Another time, I remember him trying so hard to get me to relax when I just couldn’t because I was manic. Yes-he was probably frustrated, but him wanting to help me  meant a lot.

When I was diagnosed, I would have understood if my parents were embarrassed.  I know they kept my illness from others mostly at my request.  However, they never let me know think they were ashamed of me.

They have continuously throughout my life let me know that they are proud of me and admire my strength.

I love my parents so much and have never doubted their love for me.  I have heard of so many people that have been abandoned by their families.  Some are told that they don’t have a mental illness. Others  have no desire to learn anything about their mental illness. Living with someone who has a mental illness is not easy.  However, my parents have stuck by my side and I know they will continue to do so.  I sometimes wonder why. I am not sure if I would have stuck around the way I have treated them.

Thanks Mom and Dad! Happy Father’s Day Dad!!!

 

 

 

Can Worrying Lead to Mania?

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I have been depressed for the past week. In fact, I had not left the house in a whole week.  It is now 6 am and I have not been able to sleep.  If you know anything about bipolar disorder, you know that a lack of sleep can lead to mania.

My ex-husband told me one time that he thought I worried myself into manic episodes. There is a lot of truth in that.  Because I panic when I am not sleeping and think I am going to get manic, I get stressed about that. The more stressed I get, the less I sleep I get.  This stress and lack of sleep will oftentimes lead to mania.

I would get nervous about not sleeping and having to go to work the next day. My mom pointed out one time that everyone has nights that they can’t sleep. Even though she knows that not sleeping can lead to mania, she tried to assure me that I would be fine.  (She did know that I still could get manic. She was just trying to point out that it could be nothing, also.)

I had a psychiatrist one time tell me that if I can’t sleep after a half hour to get up and do something for awhile and then try again. If I can’t sleep, then just stay up until I crash.  She told me to do this even if it meant I stayed awake more than 24 hours.

I have taken that advice a few times since. There is no reason I should just keep lying in bed with my mind racing when you can get up and accomplish something.  This is where worrying can come in.  If I were to sit here thinking right now that a manic episode is on the horizon, it could be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Yes, I need to take every precaution that I have in my action plan.  If I don’t sleep sometime today or the next night, I need to make an appointment with my doctor.

I know that right now I am in trouble because my medication need to be adjusted.  To be frank, I am sick of this roller coaster since my medications have been changed. I had to switch medication because my insurance no longer covered the medication I was on. Don’t get me wrong, I was still cycling when I was on the medication that my insurance no longer covers. Therefore, I was hopeful that trying something new might be the answer. I have not given up as I have not been on them very long.

I know I will be ok and will stay out of the hospital.  I know that I can do things that will keep me out of there. I need to lay low, eat right, not going anywhere or spend any money.  I need to let the people in my support system know that I am in danger right now.

I have confidence that everything will be ok.  I am not worried because I know that I will be ok.  I have a great doctor, a wonderful supportive fiancee and a loving family.  We have gotten through so many things together in the past.

I am so sick of this. I am sure they are too.

I usually am not so open about my current struggles. I was not intending on sharing my current situation when I decided to write this blog.

Can Worrying Lead to Mania? The answer to my question is yes.  I do think worrying can lead to mania.

If you are reading this and think you are getting manic and worrying about it, I would suggest that you take a second look at your situation.  Worrying and stress definitely can lead to mania.  Try and remove the stress. Even if you have to take work off for a few days, do it. It is better to stop the mania in its tracks before you end up getting full-blown manic and end up in the hospital missing a lot more of work.

There are a lot of cliches about how worrying is a waste of time. However, it is easy to get trapped into the web of worrying.

My suggestion is to realize that you are going to be okay.  I am going to just keep saying that to myself.

The good news is that by writing this blog entry, I have gotten tired enough to go to sleep.

Good night! Zzzzz