Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Post Mania & Stigma

Yesterday, David had the opportunity to read my last post about his mania and how scared I was. Here was his response:

I finally got my relief, as my mania broke. I also learned something about what my disease does to my family. Even though I may be physically present, I am mentally absent. Life just passes me by, and after the mania or depression subsides, it is like trying to catch up on a tv show, figuring out what all has happened. Without meaning to, I ignore everyone. This mania made it to the point that K tells me I lie and don't keep my promises. If there were ever an environmental trigger to stop the mania, that was it. It woke me up and I realize I have to take better care of myself.
I was hard for me to read, but at the same time, refreshing because he really wants nothing more than to feel better and he keeps trying. We've had two close calls of late where we thought he would definitely be hospitalized. Both times, he has given it everything he has to keep that from happening and brings himself back from the brink. This is a tremendous step in the right direction. He is not solely relying on the medication to heal him, but is working on behavioral therapy to correct his actions.

He is definitely feeling the come down from the mania, and almost always this leads to depression. We are trying hard to keep that at bay and he is not taking it lying down. Quite literally, he refuses to lay down and nap during the day to try and avoid the onset of depression. While he is having mild feelings, he is keeping busy in effort to not let it go past mild.

Yesterday, he emailed me this link http://surfcitysupport.blogspot.com/2012/09/compassion-fatigue.html that he said made him think of me. It's pretty spot on. Life caring for a loved one with a mental illness / mood disorder is exhausting. This is probably one of the few times he has recognized and mentioned how much he realizes I deal with each day. It's a good feeling to know that he appreciates how difficult it is on our family, not just him.

He's still running his support group every Thursday night and we've added several new members, which is nice. I'm happy he has stuck with it and kept it going even during times when he hasn't felt the best (like last week). He really wants to help others; I love this about him.

People with mental illness need help and often times don't seek it out because they are ashamed. There is a stigma placed on mental illness that makes it taboo. Why?? Are people afraid they will catch it? Do they really believe that the person is weak and should just "snap out of it"? Until our society can start acting more accepting of those who suffer from a mental illness, affected individuals will continue to seek what they see as the easy way out - suicide. I'm appalled and ashamed of the attitude we have towards these individuals. Mental illness is not ANY different than heart disease, diabetes, or even cancer. Your brain is the most complex organ in the body; how does it not make sense that it can also be affected by disease?

The new health care regulations (I'm not looking for a political debate) will really help those with mental illness in ensuring they can get the proper treatment and medications. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/10/health/policy/health-care-law-offers-wider-benefits-for-treating-mental-illness.html?_r=0
Treating any chronic illness, which is how mental illness is classified, is extremely costly, particularly for those without insurance. Heck, for those of us with good insurance it is still expensive - we spend approx. $1,500 per month on insurance premiums, doctors visits, and medication costs. That's more than our house payment. This legislation will hopefully help to alleviate some of the burden by covering costs at a higher rate.

I'm not complaining about having medical expenses - it's part of life. And I'm quite thankful that I have a great job with excellent benefits. But there are so many people who don't have this luxury. When your choice is medication or food for your family, what do you think a person will choose?

If you know someone with a mental illness, support them by being their friend. Don't treat them differently. Don't single them out because you think they can't handle something. We all want to be normal, and the best way to do that is to act as if the disease doesn't change who the person is - because truly, it doesn't.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Today I am scared. David is on the inner edge of mania, walking a very fine line. He's become obsessed with a project for his computer and it consumes his every waking thought. If left to himself he wouldn't eat or sleep or do anything that wasn't involved in his project.

However, I do not leave him to deal with this on his own. I make sure he takes his meds, does his CES treatments, eats, sleeps, and unplugs from the computer. I force him to get through his responsibilities.

This morning he tried to tell me that he couldn't go with my dad to a training he was registered for because he didn't feel well and wanted to sleep. While I know his sinuses and allergies are crazy right now, I wasn't buying it for a second. Not that I think he was trying to lie to me, but mania is a persuasive disease. It does what it wants to get what it wants. At times mania is much scarier than depression.

Last night when the two of us were trying to figure out exactly how to keep the mania from coming on full force, he said something that made my heart ache. "Honey, please don't let me go back into depression, I don't know if I can take it."

ARGH!!!!!! I freaking hate this disease! Why are mania and depression the two main options with a little bit of normal every once in awhile? How is this fair? While I would never want to lose him, I have this feeling (please don't be offended if you have experienced this) that a loss would be easier to heal from than a chronic illness. I'm not saying death is easy by any stretch, but I feel like there is at least some closure and you can start the healing process even if it takes a very long time and you never stop some of the hurt. With bipolar we have NO end in sight. His pain and struggle continues day after day with no cure on the horizon. Again, I never want to lose him, I just want him healed.

So I'm scared, terrified really. Full blown mania is Bad! Definite hospitalization required, and he hates the hospital. I woke up 10 times during the night just to make sure he was still sleeping. His heart is racing, his bp is elevated, and he just can't shut his brain off. I'll call his dr but am afraid he'll want to reduce the happy meds and then he will fall back into depression. I'm so very tired. I'm also feeling selfish because I have 50 women coming to my house for a bridal shower for my niece on Saturday and I'm praying I can pull it off with him being okay.

I can't eat because the anxiety from my worry makes it hard to swallow. I just want to go get him, drive to our place at the lake and enjoy the serenity and peace totally unplugged from technology. God make this better. Hear all of my prayers and answer as you see fit. But please give David some relief.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012


I want to say thanks to each of you who have offered words of support and encouragement. It truly helps to get through the toughest of days knowing you are thinking about and praying for us.

I'm always curious (appreciative, but curious) when someone tells me how strong I am, because strong is not an adjective I'd use to describe myself. I've done nothing extraordinary. Nothing beyond supporting my husband, my love. I vowed in sickness and in health, in good times and bad, and I meant it. I've been asked why I don't leave and live a "normal" life. To that my initial reaction is "wow."

If David was battling cancer, would I get the same question? Because honestly he has no more control over being bipolar than getting cancer or any other illness.

It does not make me strong to love my husband. It makes me a wife. A wife who feels weak when I cannot take away my husband's pain. Who feels weak for the times when I'm worn out and frustrated when I need to be supportive. Who is terrified of losing the love of my life because of a mental illness that takes away his will to keep fighting for better days.

David is the strong one. He DOES keep fighting even when he has nothing left to fight with. He does this for one reason. Her name is Kennadie and she blessed our lives 6 years ago. Our daughter makes the most unbearable days worth living through. I'm not sure if he would still be with me fighting this battle if not for her.

So thank you for your support, kind words, and prayers. They mean more to us than you know.

With love, M

It's a new day

Sleep was evasive last night. After his normal night meds, which include a sleeping pill, and a full dose of Nyquil, he finally fell asleep around 12:30 a.m. At that point, I couldn't sleep because I was too worried that he would wake up and I wouldn't realize it. I drifted in and out until 6:30 a.m., and I calculate I probably got a total of 3 non-consecutive hours of sleep. Needless to say we were both tired this morning.

Yet, he was intent on pushing through the grogginess and got ready to spend the day helping my dad. He says he feels okay, but I know his obsessive feelings are distracting him. He's still trying to make it through an entire day and told me not to worry about him (um, hello, is he new?).

I'm plugging away at the endless list of tasks at work, trying to focus as best I can. Being busy is a huge help at keeping me from thinking/dwelling. I certainly could use a nap though :)

Endless thoughts keep me worrying when I'm not distracted by work. Will he have a good day? Will he sleep tonight? Will he feel the need to run away? How is all of this affecting Kennadie? How much has she picked up on other than "daddy gets headaches." What if this medicine tweak doesn't work? What if something bad happens and he can't bounce back? Will he need to go back to the hospital? How would I get him there, when he hates it so much? How do we keep making everything work financially when we spend approximately $1,500 between medical insurance premiums, prescription costs, doctor office copays, etc.? Can we just take a weekend off from this disease? Just one blissfully happy, worry-free weekend?

Ahh, that feels better - I needed to write everything going through my head, just to clear my mind a bit, even if I don't have any of the answers. We will make it through because we always do. God provides and our faith is comforting. Solid family and friends keep us grounded and sane (well, as sane as we get!). So today is a good day so far, and we're working hard to keep it that way.

Monday, September 10, 2012

An exhausting battle

Everyday is new and with that everyday brings a different challenge. Somedays David wakes up, feels great, and struggles very little with his illness. In all aspects, some days are quite normal.

But many days are anything but. One day (pretty frequently) he struggles with the necessity of taking a cocktail of medications. Be it because of the side effects, the monotony of taking medication day after day, or just the craving to live a normal life.

One day he might wake up jittery and panicky, ready to crawl out of his skin. Those days he wants to run away and hide, but he can't hide from his own mind.

The next day he might wake up fatigued and achy from depression. These days he doesn't get out of bed, eat, or feel like there are reasons to keep fighting.

Today is a panicky, obsessive day, where he can't shut his mind down no matter how incredibly exhausted he feels. The use of his CES machine helps as it resets his alpha brain waves, but it doesn't give total relief.

I'm equally exhausted, not to mention sick to my stomach at the anguish I watch him endure. I pray and I research and I pray some more. I can't fix it and that pisses me off and breaks my heart at the same time. He's trying so hard to feel better and to make the best of each day. To that end, we can only do so much and have to leave the rest in God's hands. He just had another medication tweak. Fingers crossed that this will lead to better days.