Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Stress, Anxiety, and Bipolar Disorder

I'm tired, so tired, and have been for days.  I haven't been able to just sink into this fatigue, since there are still things to do that are time related. I've been working on deadlines for weeks.  I've been spending money I don't have, trying to get things done that will at least allow me to have an income so I can start paying off the things I couldn't pay for once my bank account was emptied but the work not finished.

I always worked on deadlines (modeling and acting) and I always spent more than I earned (compulsive shopping is a symptom of bipolar disorder).  This creates a lot of stress even without the horrifying thrill of knowing that your house might fall down around your feet. I have termites.  And it's been the rainiest spring I remember.  This is a dry climate, and so termites are not that common.  But this year it might as well be the Pacific Northwest and termites are drawn to wet wood.  So I'm exhausted and worried.  That's not a good combo for anyone with bipolar disorder.

Those of us with bipolar disorder spend most of our lives coping with the stress our disorder creates.  For people with families, bipolar disorder effects everyone.  In my case, it has effected a man or two or three.  I can only imagine how difficult it would be to know that my personal chaos was driving my children crazy.  And then there is the genetic factor.  I didn't reproduce because I'd been raised in an abusive family and wanted to stop the cycle of abuse.  But in the bipolar family, if one person is bipolar, there will be others.  Bipolar disorder is one of the few genetic illnesses that has not just one genetic marker, but two.  This is a double whammy.  There is no escaping the fact that if you have children, you will be passing this illness on to the next generation and the next and on into infinity.

I take my bipolar medications religiously.  Even when I was on bipolar drugs that made me fat and lazy, I took them as if my life depended on it.  And in truth my life does depend on it.  I have had bad psychiatric care and good psychiatric care, but no matter the quality of care, I've taken the drugs they prescribed for me.  Suicide attempts and hospitalizations for psychosis will scare the bejeezus out of almost anyone.  Years of sleeping as if you were under the spell of an evil witch will make you hate your wasted life.  Depression kills.  There is no way around that.  And after awhile, it is only on the way down or on the way up that you know you have a window of opportunity and the energy and the knowledge to plan and carry out another suicide attempt. Suicide is our leading cause of death.  I know this, and so I take my medications.

I carry thirty to forty pounds of drug weight.  But I'd rather be fat than dead.  I'd rather be fat than in a sleep coma.  I rather be fat than bankrupted by a shopping compulsion.  And even with those extra thirty or forty pounds I'm normal weight for my height and age.  It's just that as a former model I was always very slender.  I am genetically predisposed to be thin.  So "fat" to me is not "fat" to most.

Today I'm taking a day off.  I'm going to stay in my little house and putter around.  I'll do a load of laundry and make my place a little cleaner.  I'm going to let the boys do their thing without any help or input from me.  I'm going to ignore the phone.  I'm going to nap when I feel like it.  I'm going to rest my weary body and mind.


PENolan said...

I know that sleep like under the spell of an evil witch. I'm lucky because my depression just presented like bi-polar so after bucket loads of medication and years and years and years of therapy twice weekly, I'm as cured as anyone every can be.

But I know that thirty or forty pounds - and you're right: It's better to be fat than dead (most days, anyway)
Even though I didn't pass on that gene to my kid, he'll always remember using my sleeping body as a mountain on which he positioned about a zillion Playmobile guys and action figures. If I started snoring, it was an earthquake. I tell myself that at least I was there and relatively calm - but still . . .
Hang in there soul sister

Utah Savage said...

God it's nice to be understood.

Lisa said...

I've been wondering how you are. I catch you on Twitter, but it's hit and miss since I try to stay off for 15 minute stretches at a time.

I hope you got the rest you needed.

Beach Bum said...

Get some rest Peggy, hope you feel better soon.

Cleveland Bob said...

Laundry is a very therapeutic task. Always a good place to start.

I read an interview with the fabulously talented Gregory Hines, (RIP), one time and he stated that his favorite thing to do in the world was a load of laundry.

He said that it made order out of chaos for him. I heartily agree.

mary b said...

I can relate. I, too take meds that have left 40 extra pounds on me. I take mine religiously too. Without them, all I did was lay in bed and cry 24/7. I was always thinking about suicide, the only thing that stopped me was the fact that I have children. My marriage is a complete sham as my husband thinks it's 'all in my head'. I'm sure you've had that one thrown at you before. That we can control it ourselves. If only it were that simple.
Thank you for writing this post! It helps to know that you are not completely alone, that others understand what the hell is the matter with you and you feel so helpless at times.
I wish I could take a break from everyday living. Just go away somewhere by myself. But that is impossible for me.
I hope things turn around for you. I hope you find the work you need to get on your feet. Hold your head up high and know that you, at the very least, made me feel a little better today!

quin browne said...

It is horrible to know that along with my curly hair and dark eyes, I've passed on the bi-polar gene.

Nothing I can do about it now...thankfully, my children learned young to understand, and are very caring when I'm in a bad place. My niece is going to handle my money, because I can't stop shopping.

It sucks to be bi-polar (and my thyroid issues jack it up even more)...still, it's better to understand and deal than go off the meds and go wild.

Sins of the Eldest Daughter said...

Thank you for writing about my winter. And my spring. God willing and the creek don't rise, it will not be my summer. New insurance has seen fit to deny me my meds and I was un- or undermedicated for a month before getting a new drug. Of course it will take another two to four weeks before I can see results. Everyone thinks my behavior is a choice. As if!

Thank you so much for being on my Twitter feed today. You saved my sanity. Bipolar hugs to you in triplicate!

Utah Savage said...

The very best thing about writing about your own personal hell is that at least 10 other women will completely understand. Where do men get the idea that a mental illness is a weakness or just something we made up to piss them off? Who teaches them this shit, their daddies?

Sins of the Eldest Daughter said...

I've no doubt that what men are taught early and taught often is this: Suck it up, boy!!

quin browne said...

My ex would say to me... "It's all in your head"

No, really?

Fran said...

Hey! You worked your ass off & whipped that place back into shiny clean shape in a very short order.
Now you can kick back some & relax.

We have to listen to our bodies ~ it's hard to take it down a few notches all at once when you psyched yourself up for full tilt boogie to get that place ready.

Put your feet up & chill out. Job well done!