Thursday, December 29, 2011

I love my bipolar

I distinctly remember the day I started Lithium, the gold standard as a mood stabilizer for bipolar. After years of unpredictable moods and behavior accompanied with bouts of psychosis my mind went from a constant raging mesh of thoughts to quietness.

Lithium is by no means a cure all. Nor a guarantee that your episodes will cease. But it can minimize their frequency and severity. I tried for years a trial and error process of medication after medication to find the right combination as a treatment. Either something didn't work or the side effects dramatically affected my function ability.

For years I sought to find relief. Stability. For years my mind was loud. Then my mind became quiet. It was not something I was used to. Ironically, it was something I didn't like. The music had stopped that I heard many times. The background voices were silenced. It was like losing a group of friends that left me feeling alone. Quieting the inside noises tended to make the outside noises louder. It was something that took some getting used to. So much that I took the Lithium off and on for quite some time until I reached a point that I refuse to go off of it.

Before then I have wallowed in depression and soared through mania. Been resentful towards the pills I will have to take the rest of my life. But no matter how bad my life has ever felt or consequences I have put myself up against, I cannot remember a time ever wishing I did not have bipolar.

How, given the choices, could I possibly choose to battle these ups and downs of a disorder that makes my moods mercurial, my family shaking their heads, my friends wary and others gossiping which turns my life upside down with every changing cycle?

For as long as I can remember bipolar has been a part of me. It has affected every aspect of my life deeply. It alters your mind, playing evil tricks on it, creating false hope and false memories. Bipolar creates imaginary worlds to live in. Sometimes when you cannot deal with the real world's problems.

Much my adult life I have spent coping and figuring out how deal with negative consequences because of my uncontrollable behavior. My lows have been, at times, unbearably low landing me in hospitals on suicide watch. In my manic times, I have come very close to destroying everything I hold dear. I have had to face the reality of unmet goals.

However, I honestly believe that this bipolar allows me to see the world in ways I otherwise would have missed. Ways I think most "normal" people refuse to see. I find the beauty and calm in ordinary things. I feel more deeply, have more emotions, and have a better understanding of myself that I believe I would otherwise.

The creativity sparked by manic times allows me to create in ways that would not otherwise be possible Experiencing the 'absolutes' of emotions is something most people never get to really do. I see the world in colors and pictures. I see it in darks and lights.

Even though I have felt the sting of stigma and judgments, I have also been extended true compassion and forgiveness. Some things most take for granted or never experience. In spite of how many times I feel so alone, I have been that I truly am not alone.

With bipolar I used to believe life's obstacles were too much to bare because of how my own imperfections impended upon it. Over the years I have learned through trials and tribulations life is what you let God make of it, not what it makes of you.

I still experience mania and depression. They are something that are not going away. My last hospitalization was four years ago. I've lived on a roller coaster ride dragging my family behind me. Other than affecting them and the troubles I've gotten myself into, I wouldn't get rid of my bipolar ever. To do so, I would deprive myself of a world I see and emotions I feel that most are not privy to. And those imaginary worlds and false memories somehow become real of which I would have to say goodbye.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The dangers of nothing

Every now and then I'll focus a blog on my bipolar. It's such an engrained component of my being it can't be ignored. It deserves and craves as much attention as everything in my life. If not more. And this may not make sense. But bear in mind, I'm in a severe depression.

I never see them coming. The episodes. They sneak up. But when they make their presence known it's too late and I am at their mercy. You would think after 37 years by now I would be able to spot them a mile away. Maybe the brain just becomes too weak and unable to recognize them; depression, mania, hypo-mania and psychosis.

Today I feel nothing. I call it the Nothing Feeling. There is no happiness. No joy. No sadness. Not even depression. Absolutely nothing. Calling it depression gives it no justice. Today I do not want to exist. I don't want to die either.

Thinking is all but non-existent. Have you ever tried to think feeling nothing? It's impossible. What minimal thinking I can muster up is reduced to thinking how you don't want to do anything.

And that's what I do. Nothing. Exhaustion has set in and even rolling over in the bed I have secluded myself to is a chore. It is where I have spent most of the day with low music in the background. I listen to Standards 90% of time and it seems to fit the occasion. It's just to have something fill my mind.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Part 5 of What marriage has taught me: "The importance of interceding for my spouse"

We did not have a formal wedding. We married at the courthouse. But our vows were just the same and just as real. Vows of forever and of love. We knew remarriages were tough and risky. We knew blending families would be harder. What we didn't know was how much harder the future held.

My ex-wife attacked me attempting to remove my children from life. My wife's ex-husband attempted to take their children. Both consisted of multiple false child abuse investigations. She reacted in her way with anger frustration. I reacted in my way with alcohol and an eating disorder. We both grew apart.

The distance grew longer, and the hurt grew deeper. We lived without living at all.

We moved through our marriage with scuffs and wounds. With cutting open old wounds. I focused on her weaknesses. But not for her benefit. I focused on how I was deprived. What I she wasn't giving.

Life gave us battles that left us on the defense. Life gave us distractions - some beautiful and precious - some evil and malicious, we focused on them, not each other. She closed her heart to most of me, and I resented her.  I made myself distant. We put up walls.

Walls for safety, to keep each other out, built for the purpose of protection while desperately wanting to be let in to each other's walls only when it was safe. These walls were supposed to offer safety, all I felt was alone. I heard the emptiness fill our home, just big enough for me and no one else.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Part 4; What marriage has taught me: The myth of "Just because someone doesn't love you the way you want them to, doesn't mean they don't love you with all they have."

"Just because someone doesn't love you the way you want them to, doesn't mean they don't love you with all they have."

Sounds like a pretty good liner to make us feel secure, huh? I don't think so and I have never liked this quote. I think it's a cop out. A way of saying, "You know, I can see that you don't feel loved and that our relationship isn't secure, but you're not important enough to me to make an effort."  Pretty shallow and selfish.

Maybe we marry the wrong person. "After all, if they really loved me they would just know. Right?" If that's true we all marry the wrong person. No one ever automatically knows what it takes to make the other person feel loved. We all marry a person who is apparently incompatible with us on all kinds of levels.

To give you another quote: "The husband is neat, the wife is messy. The wife is talkative, the husband is quiet. The husband is always on time, the wife lives more in the moment. The wife is social, the husband is a homebody" - Stephen Altrogge The fact that we are different sexes is enough to complicate things.

The differences go much farther than that. What makes me feel loved and secure does not make my wife feel loved and secure.

What good is love if it is withheld? Even Christ knew and clarified this truth. "He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me." (Jhn 14:24 NIV) Christ clearly clarifies how love is exhibited. He never says the Father will accept love on our terms. He Himself tells us what He needs and wants to be loved. He clearly states what He recognizes it as.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Part 3; What marriage has taught me: The reality of grace.

In our world today "grace" can carry any number of definitions. It's something that I write about often on my blog. It's easier said than done and typically that's acceptable today. Because people need to earn our forgiveness before we give it. We've all heard the expression of some sorts, "Oh I've forgiven "them," but they better not...(you fill in the blank)." Shallow grace. Grace today is generally accepted with words and no action.

The answer to this is a "no brainer." Grace is hard. Grace involves action. Grace being vulnerable and at risk. Actions that makes you cringe at the thought of. Actions that let them off the hook and makes you look weak and gullible.

My definition: Forgiveness without justification.

And it's easier for us to view and accepts God's grace even though we never deserve it and never will. It's easier for us view God's grace as loving and trust that it will always be there. It's easy for us to take it for granted. It's almost impossible for us to see God weak and naive with His grace. Most of the time we accept His grace as if we deserve it.

The first three and a half years of my wife's and my marriage was rocky to say the least. Our devotion to each other was tested like nothing either of us had ever experienced. Our willingness to sacrifice individually was broken on many occasions. For much of that time I failed to extend my wife grace. My illogical reasons: I didn't receive grace. I didn't receive what I wanted or needed.

Marriage has taught me my wife is sometimes God's hands. Sometimes His teacher. Sometimes His mirror seeing my own reflection.

Where my inspiration comes from

A Recycled-Dad with Bipolar & Parkinson's, reflections on fathering and family life and other stuff thrown in'll love my Soap Box Rants

Blog with Integrity\\ Auhor Lupe Picazo

Why I call myself a Recycled Dad

I call myself a Recycled Dad because of the struggles with remarriage and being a step-parent and weekend dad. This is also about my life living with bipolar and how it affects me personally, my family and my job. It also reflects on the grace God has poured out on me throughout recovery from alcohol and an eating disorder. Recycled Dad is about my reflections on the wisdom God teaches daily on fatherhood and being a better husband in spite of being bipolar.

Please feel free to leave comments. I welcome them