What to expect when reading bi-polar wife

Thoughts and feelings of living with bi-polar as a wife, mother, and person in the world.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Lets discuss the business of being busy

Now you may well be wondering why I haven't written so much about the actual bi-polar diagnosis yet, or even got to the point of diagnosis? Its for a reason. A diagnosis can be made on say, 2 episodes of mania in 2 years, or a few short bouts over an extended period of time. So it can actually take a while to capture a patient in a full blown episode and ensure that it is definitely mania and not just an over excited and gregarious disposition. Also mania doesn't always last that long, and some people actually love the feeling and choose to not take medication, advice or action. They stay in it and wait for it to pass. For most of us the hardest thing to cope with is the crippling depression. Saying this though, if you ask any of my friends or family, they will tell you that I am a high speed, energetic person, prone to days running around like the Duracell bunny.

From my initial referral interview with my CPN up until the end of my self esteem CBT course, I have regularly discussed my "rushy" episodes, when they happen and what happens. I kept a diary for a while and they were unpredictable, but significant enough to warrant attention. When my CPN and I first talked to the psychiatrist Darren about it, he dismissed it out of hand. He felt that it was probably a side effect of the high dose anti depressant or taking too many stimulants. In my case that means only coffee. I knocked booze and party drugs on the head a very long time ago. As I mentioned, the run in to my initial contact with psychiatric services involved me being 100mph in the head and verging on suicidal. Sadly the professionals didn't see me like this, all I could do was explain it after the event when I slowed down a bit. I talked to my new psychiatrist about it and he felt that it did need further scrutiny to see if there is a difference between my general upbeat, rather too bouncy and annoying self, versus something even more fast paced and detrimental to my well being. I'm not keen on the waiting game and to be honest, even though I am "well" I don't feel quite right.

So here is how the land lies. I'm doing CBT self esteem course, I am up to 3 days a week in the office, one day at home, taking my anti depressant medication and seeing my psychiatrist every 6 months. It seems ok but then things start to get a little stressful. As I said, something just didn't feel right and during the May things started to go a bit wrong.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Thinking bias, mood contamination and my dodgy internal barometre

So, I've been talking about my inner beliefs about myself, and as well as these low self esteem thoughts I get additional body states, behaviours and emotions that go with it. You know like emotional fatigue, headaches, over eating; perfectionism, people pleasing; fearfulness and anxiety, hopelessness, depression. Low self esteem is not a pleasant state of being. I'm already at war with the depression and it appears that I also sabotage my life by wrong thinking. This is what I mean by thinking bias. My mind has made up its own little rule book of how to interpret information and eradicate low self esteem.Unfortunately, my mind has actually got it all wrong, and what its really doing is keeping me enslaved to the folly that is my bottom line thought - you know the "I am no good" thought. This is only one of a series of bottom lines that I have - I have a low self esteem broad sheet newspaper going on in my head as well as me being its biggest critic! Its very noisy up there in my grey matter.Maybe I am a twin stuck in one body, and the child that is trapped is resentful and won't shut up!

Here are a few thought biases/wrong thoughts that i have:
  • I get given 99 positive comments and 1 bad - I only hear the bad (Filtering)
  • If I am not good at badminton it means I am bad at everything (Labelling)
  • I missed a payment on my credit card; this means we'll get bad credit, lose all credit options, we won't get a new mortgage, my husband will be mad so we'll end up divorced (Catastrophic thinking)
  • My friend cancels lunch, which in my head means she doesn't like me I must have done something wrong (personalization and blaming of self) 
I know it's awful isn't it. Thank god you're not me eh?
    Thankfully because all of this stuff is just opinions in my head, apparently it can be changed. Ironically all of the group members feel so rubbish about themselves, none of us actually believe that we can change, which is a representation of a bottom line that we all share which is, "Its one rule for everyone else, but it'll never work for me". It becomes a bit of a group joke throughout the course when anyone goes a bit off track or makes a sarcastic or self deprecating comment we all chant in sing-song voice, "That'll be your bottom line!"  The excellent thing about group working is that you can see so much of yourself in others and the mirror never lies.

    At this juncture, I will not go into a blistering tirade about a crap childhood, trauma or or self inflicted horrors but what I will say is that my low self esteem has been around for a very long time. The more I explore my behaviour I begin to accept that I need to unpick the massive rug of protection measures I've been stitching together, unravel the wool, and make it into a snug cardigan that keeps me warm and held. I must start to focus on my strengths and not my weakness. I've been looking down the wrong end of the telescope and I really need a reality check. God bless me - it's at times like this I wonder how many other people are walking around with this type of dialogue going on in their head.We are all our own little universes, bobbing around and knocking into each other, and  we never truly understand one another. It's rare to meet other brutally honest people who will actually tell you the truth. Many a time when someone has asked me how I feel and reply, "Shit actually", they look at me aghast or fall about laughing. Honesty is very underrated you know, and sometimes I'm sure people think you are saying it just to raise a laugh. Many people can't tell these days if I'm being honest or funny. Openness, directness and frankness are more akin to presents for Jesus than traits of character I swear.

    I suggest you go out and try it one night. Go on - Do a CBT experiment I dare you. Be blunt but not vicious.I assure you, it will be a very interesting experiment. People will think you've had some kind of mental episode, which is the paradox really isn't it. Normally we'd be all submissive and polite or lie, which is actually dishonest. Lets hope you're friends are understanding though. They might just think you've lost it. Welcome to my world.