In The Genes?

I rarely write about my big girl, my 18-year-old, if you have read my previous blogs you may be aware that she has not lived with me for 11 years now, it has been a hard slog to get to the point where we are now, that she has made the journey alone to come and visit is something I have waited many a year to happen, and I never thought it would.

My daughter has complex needs, at 18 she finds general life hard to cope with, going shopping is an extremely difficult thing for her to do, her self-esteem, her nervousness due to being unable to count change or follow a shopping list, makes day-to-day life a struggle. Until recently she was unable to take a bus alone.

She has in the past self harmed, and at one desperately low point, made an attempt to take her own life, thankfully it was a feeble attempt, more a cry for help and attention then having thought it through.

My daughter’s diagnoses is still a mystery to me, perhaps on the autistic spectrum, definitely  some severe mental health issues.

She struggled for years through the school system, could never keep up with the work and had little or no friends.

For many years, and still today I hold myself partly to blame for the person she has become and the struggles she faces, even if I am told over and over, even if I rationalise with myself that even if she had been bought up in a stable environment she may still have difficulties I still hold myself partly to blame. When she was a very young child I became very ill (mentally) and she lived with a family member following my divorce from her father, living there, even as a small child she was always aware of her difference, knew she was not one of them, she then went to live with my ex and his new wife, again she felt that they to would reject her, they tried their best but sadly the professional help and support both she and they needed did not arrive for many years, by then the damage had been done. Over the years people have asked me why I did not go to court, why would I sit back and let her live with my ex in another town, seeing her only every 4 months or so, just for a day trip.  I did not have a choice, from the very beginning at a time I was unable to care for myself let alone my daughter I was told this was the best for her.  Due to my mental health decline,  I knew that if I had indeed gone to court to fight for custody I would not stand a chance. There have been so many times that I wanted with all my heart and soul to grab my daughter and run away with her, but I have known that she can not handle change, that it was best for her to stay there, and so for 11 years I have put my own pain and hurt aside and have done what all parents would hopefully naturally do, the best for the our children.

Around a year ago, after a drastic few months when my daughter walked in to a main road in the hope of being knocked over, she was finally accepted and funding was found for a specialist college, a place where each student is given the chance to be the best person they can, gardening, music, life skills, making mugs, bags etc to sell are all part of the daily timetable, for the first time in her difficult life, she is happy, she feels in her own words ” she has come home” when attending college, she is also the most able in the college which has contributed to her self esteem slightly rising.

Today, as always when she leaves I am full of a heavy sadness, saying goodbye to her, after spending just over 24 hours with her its always painful.

she has been on medication for a while now, after a bout of self harm her step mum realised she needed to be on medication and thankfully it is helping, but I see myself in her in so many ways, last night she noticed a book I have on Bipolar and she asked me to get it for her as her Dr has begun to suspect she may have it.

It was a mixture of relief and sadness for her when she told me this, relief that finally things may start making sense for her, and sadness that I have passed my mental health issue to her.

I have written a blog re Bipolar and obsessive thinking, and this was confirmed for me during a conversation with her, she explained to me that she went through a period of not sleeping, not eating, crying non stop as she struggled with obsessively thinking about a boy in her college, she could not concentrate on her lessons, she began to self harm again.  It was as if I was hearing someone describe my thought process when having an episode of obsessive thinking.

Whilst the pain for her is still there, so is the hope for her, the fact that she has a diagnoses, the way she thinks and acts explained via the Bipolar “label” will eventually make her life a lot easier, she has the advantage of knowledge so young, and even though it is not something any average 18-year-old would want for themselves for her it has given her courage, she can accept her diagnoses, and work with the experts to encourage her to lead the best life she can.

Interestingly, it has given me a sense of closeness to her that I did not have before, it is sad for her that she has experienced in her life so much pain and suffering, but I can now help her, through my lived experience of bipolar I can help her, empathise with her, know that with the correct help and treatment there is no reason she should not live a happy, fulfilling life.

How I wish that my daughter did not have any mental health issues, that she would never have to struggle with her thoughts and feelings, that her self-esteem was high, that she sees what I see, a beautiful young lady with so much to give, a girl who has a bond with children whom have special needs, a teenager who has had to fight for everything and has accomplished so much ( for example teaching herself sign language so as to be able to converse with a little girl she looks after, something she hopes to continue doing and eventually having a profession as a sign language interpreter in a hospital etc), but as she grows I see a positive future for her.

Till recently having a diagnoses of a mental heath disorder such as bipolar was a shameful secret, but now, I see how happy she is to have been given an explanation of how her mind works, and this is an attitude we can all take a lesson from.

Mental Health Awareness Day.

Today is Mental Health Awareness Day.

From a personal view every day is mental health awareness day, and not only for me, but for the millions of people who live with a mental health condition.

It is an admirable endeavor, creating a day focused on Mental Health Awareness, but I find the similarities to other times where awareness is heightened and then forgotten about are clear, take Christmas for example where homelessness is the big “thing”, organizations like Shelter campaign tirelessly for the homeless, adverts tell us that £20 can pay for a meal, clothes and a shower for those on the streets, and then, Christmas comes and goes and those campaigns are forgotten about until the next year.

The same goes with Mental Health awareness, in one day we will all experience mental health in some form, whether it is healthy, positive mental health or unhealthy, developing in to illness, or need for some form of psychiatric help.

To a large extent unless a family member/community member/dr or friend takes action when someone’s mental health is suffering a person can go through incredible pain emotionally and physically, the age old stigma we have all heard, when discussing mental health sadly still applies, “why is mental health treated any differently to physical health” we all know that saying, we have probably used it in some form ourselves, yet the stigma is still strong, in fact I have been told not to write about mental health, to keep it quiet, as it is a shameful secret, and I wonder, and ask myself why, why after all these years, with all the information, mental health organizations, and awareness days is it still a shameful secret?

There are positive aspects though, and one of those is the organization I work for JAMI. JAMI is an organization focused on Mental Health Recovery, it focuses on the positive, the recovery rather than the negative. We have social workers, Occupational therapists, benefit advisors, support groups and so much more. I am honored to work for an organization where I see on daily basis clients arriving, feeling welcomed, knowing that no one will judge them, no one will view them as “different”, where people are treated with the respect all humans are entitled to.
It is an honor to work for an organization such as JAMI, and I have learned so much through my position here, I have learned that deep down we are all the same, we all crave care and love and respect for who we are.
Each person who comes through the door at JAMI know they are wanted and welcomed, no matter what stage of mental health they are at.
Mental Health awareness day is of course a necessity but until we all are able to stand up, be counted and accept our own and others mental health, there is still a long way to go.

Fighting it

Right now I’m fighting.

Fighting with my brain.

I managed almost a year with no episodes, the longest I have ever gone since being diagnosed.

Last night, out of the blue I had an episode, there were no warnings, my train of thought had been stable with no hint of mania or rapid thoughts, there was nothing  out of the ordinary to give me a chance to get home, get the help I know I need when I’m about to have an episode, take more medication and sleep it out.

This snuck up on me, though I should have realised as I wrote my last blog on therapy anxiety that writing about my therapist often means my Bi Polar monster is  yawning and stretching, getting ready to do battle with me, the obsessive thinking about my therapist , the googling her name etc… all classic warning signs, except there were no other signs, it hit me full force, one minute I was in the kitchen, doing what I needed to, next minute I was pacing up and down the bedroom freaking out on the phone to my 2 people who are my “ go to” when I’m unwell about the blinking cow that the meat I had just opened came from, now I’m a meat lover, could never actually be vegetarian!!  Give me meat anytime of the day and I’m your friend for life , so me freaking about the cow was super odd.

My episode only lasted an hour or two.

As I wrote in my blog my Bi Polar has changed . Last night it came on suddenly and just as suddenly receeded, I did not need to take an extra dose of meds or call a psychiatrist.

Today there are those thoughts, racing, irrational thinking but I am constantly, every minute fighting it and WILL NOT let it beat me!

My stratagies are

Keep busy

sleep

eat

relax

read

Acknowledge  the thoughts and then let them go.

I would  be really interested in hearing your strategies are ? How do you, when you know your thinking isn’t right, stop a full blown episode happening ?

Lots of love

sara

The roundabout

Yup 2 posts in one night , but as the picture above so aptly states sometimes you just have to write it down.

Ear worm , a word I recently heard describes those times when you have that song stuck in your head and it goes round and round and round … replacing it with another song is usually the only way to get it out of your head.

Now imagine that it was not a song but thoughts of that off hand remark someone said, or something you said , or your health, or whether or not your husband loves you.

There are many studies which give a direct connection with obsessive thinking and Bi Polar . It’s an accepted fact in the mental health world that People with Bi Polar will often obsess about anything and everything.

Some examples, my husband doesn’t answer his phone when I know he is on his lunch hour, the thoughts begin, is he with a female colleague, is he having an affair , by the time he calls me back 10 minutes later my mind is already throwing his clothes out the door, convinced he is having an affair.

Having obsessive thinking with Bi Polar is like being on a constant daily roundabout. It’s not a matter of  will I obsess about something, but more a matter of what today’s obsession will be.

Often it is harmless, getting the house in perfect order, being the best I can be at work, making the perfect meal .

Mainly though it is not healthy. For example today. A few weeks ago someone said a harmless comment to me, it was a comment meant to help me, it was during a conversation in which she was guiding and supporting me, but because of my Bi Polar and because of my obsessive thinking it was all I could think of today and for quite a few days.

The obsessive thinking will lead you in a direction that you have little or no control over, googling the person , bringing them up in conversation etc.

It can affect your daily life, it is exhausting.

I am used to being told I am ” over sensitive ” a word which I have come to hate … I do not think anyone can be over sensitive, everyone has their own fragility, everyone is insecure about something and we don’t know if the comment made can touch that person deeply , for the good or bad.

I know I am having a good Bi Polar day when thoughts flow seamlessly from one to the other, obsessions only last for a little while and they can be replaced.

Today is a bad Bi Polar day, where an obsession about someone has stayed with me for to long.

Whilst having these obsessions all other clear thinking goes out the window, you are unable to concentrate on anything.

So how do people who have bi Polar related obsessive thinking get off the roundabout ? How when it is turning faster and faster, when your brain is completely overrun with the one thought do you stop, do you shout ” I want to get off “!

For a lot of people quiet time works ,lying still , with relaxing music on, just listening to your breathing . This has been the go to for a lot of people.

For me lying still is not an option, if I were lying still the roundabout would go faster and faster.

With my form of this thinking I need to firstly if I am able to talk to the person or write … and I have now done both.

 

Deep breath… relax …

 

 

 

 

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