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.

Friday, 21 April 2017

The importance of friendship

Think of yourself in an old fashioned sweet shop. Scanning the shelves and the counter, you realise the choice is many and varied. Some sweets suit you better than others. I'm not a lemon sour type of girl, cough candies make me heave but a mint humbug always goes down well. Cola cubes are a bit nice too!

Personality types are varied in the same kind of way. Some people I have a natural affinity with, some I can take or leave and others set my teeth on edge. The world of friendships for me work in a similar way in that after I meet you, a friendship might develop or I might avoid you at all costs! Some people I have met are as a result of being thrown together at work, clubs or on the school run. Some were when I was at school or university. The little islands of experience where you connect with others are hugely diverse. And my friendships have developed past the initial island of identification, by discovering new islands and creating little bridges in between where we relate to each other. You hold hands and hop between islands, getting to know the other person, building trust and a shared history.

The attitude toward friendships can also be a sprawling map of complicated ideas and opinions depending on who you meet. The spectrum of behaviours and belief systems can fall anywhere between never wanting to upset anyone and people pleasing to be approved of, to thinking it's fair to scream at your so called mate in the face, all kinds of abuse when you've copped the hump. Some people are loyal and trustworthy, some are helpful until they reach a limit of which they cannot pass; some lie about you or gossip and sleep with your partner, and some are amazingly selfless, lovingly honest and incredibly funny. There is also this weird system of "by bestie" or BFF stuff that quite frankly I am not quite up to speed with either intellectually or practically.

Navigating this zone of friendship is tricky if, like me, anxiety and being self conscious and lacking in self esteem are on the menu. Trust for me is also an huge issue. I am also hideously sensitive which is a double edged sword. In history, a very long time ago, I had been a shit friend. I put that down to being ill, out of my face and not having a clue about what a good friend actually is. Also, not having a decent sense of self means you think you are something you are not, and are unsure of how and where you fit or relate. Thankfully my head, which was firmly up my backside, has now mercifully been removed. I sorted myself out and adjusted to a new framework of what I wanted to be in a friendship and what kind of people I wanted to spend my time with.

In writing this, I realise that it sounds like I thought about this stuff in an over analytical way, when really it's not rocket science. It's easy to fix a car if you already had the manual and someone telling you where to shove your spanner. I was late to the class. I had to work it out on my own as my manual was written in a language I couldn't read. Also, my car essentially has running issues. It needs more regular servicing and every now and then the solenoid misfires and I cannot get off the drive.

So why is my friendship circle so important in relation to maintaining my mental health. My illness wants to isolate me, take me hostage and tell me nasty lies about myself. Being in fellowship, relating to others, exposing myself to support and kinship mean that the darkness can be held at bay. It's a strong part of my recovery as others can sometimes see things that I can't. I begin to trust, have fun, laugh, share my secrets and my fears and tell people about the real me. It reinforces my sense of self, helps me to feel that I am not journeying alone and that I am heard and understood. More importantly, it means I can ask for help and share my vulnerabilities hopefully without the fear of rejection. Whilst I am defunct on the drive, you don't walk off and get a taxi. You help me call the AA  (The irony is not lost on me!) and eat chocolate whilst we wait. Eventually we begin driving again with the windows down blasting out extremely loud music.

Sometimes it goes wrong. In these instances I feel wounded, angry and sometimes confused. I have learned to recognise toxic people, liars and people who seek power and control. I am selective and careful about who I spend my time with. There are lots of people I know, people I am friendly with, people I see occasionally who I get on with, people I really do not like but tolerate and am always polite to, and there are a small handful with whom I trust my life. It is these people who see the inner workings of my life, the struggles and the terror. It is to them I reveal the spiritual reality of my God given essence, the most precious parts of who I am. The quote below tells you why, and this is why I value them so highly. You know who you are xx

Image result for quotes about deep friendship

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Riding out some tricky weeks

When difficult life events happen our emotional barometre wavers. This happens to all of us, and if we are tired, intellectually challenged and stressed already, it gets exacerbated. None of us are exempt. Imagine standing in front of a punch ball, you know the ones that stick on the ground with a bendy pole with the ball on top. You hit it, and it boings back and forth in little arcs depending on the force you hit it with. That's kind of how our emotions reverberate. They have an immediate expansion where the reactions are large, then they ease down in little, gradually reducing to a normal level where it all feels manageable.

The last few weeks have felt like my punch ball of emotions has taken quite a few knocks and has been (not so) merrily bouncing back and forth with abandon. What I have to be mindful of is whether or not my arcs of flux are within the normal remit of emotional response in relation to the situations at hand, or, am I sailing off into over emotionalism or unbridled fluctuations resulting in a depressed mood or mania. Sometimes I wish I could just let it all cascade out with total abandon and not give a monkeys whether I'll be OK or not. Sadly, it's a luxury I cannot afford. I'm a finely tuned organism don't you know.

Being a responsible mentally ill person can be a hideous drag. I feel like the grey local government officer of my mind, implementing rules and regulations for the greater good. It's all very regimented and dull but makes things run smoothly and with little drama.

Sleep hygiene ✔ 
Meds taken 
No alcohol or drugs 
Financial spending control 
Mood monitoring 
Letting go of resentment 
Letting go of anger 
Quite time 
Avoiding conflict 
Understanding triggers 
Reducing stress 
Reducing caffeine 
Taking positive risks 
Asking for help 

Really what I want to do sometimes is set fire to everything and joyfully dance around whilst it burns to the ground, smashing plates and doing a massive moony at all the arseholes who've totally pissed me off. I'd also love to do all the things I know are really bad for me just because. Ignorance is bliss I tell you. The thought of running around doing anything you want, denying responsibility and feeling emancipated afterwards is deceptively alluring.

Sadly for me I would experience hideous guilt, major mood chaos and then have to pay up for the damage I'd caused and spend months apologising! The naughtiest thing I do these days is eat dry crackers at 2 a.m in the morning, use sarcasm and occasionally use the C word. God I'm boring!

But my point is this. The last 6 weeks some pretty tough stuff has happened. A major incident in my street, 2 funerals, a trip to London involving intellectual work and lots of driving, the possibility of having to appear in court as a witness, my husband travelling away for work a few times and going away for cycling fun, a football tournament weekend away. And although it probably sounds not overly challenging, for me this stuff has a major impact. I do feel well but the last few days I have felt very tired. Tired in my bones tired. I have also felt rather emotional and yelled at my husband at the services on the A34 whilst standing in the road refusing to enter the car. We were both tired. It was ridiculous.

I am grateful for the level of insight I have, the tools I have been given by recovery college, psychiatric services and church, the support and love of family and friends and the ability to manage my illness in all circumstances. It's incredibly hard work. I wish there was an easier softer way.  (Wry smile).  There isn't. I either do the work or give in to being ill all the time and live in chaos. I am aiming for more of a balance where I am less rigid in my policing of self, and able to relax a bit more and enjoy being well. It's a tricky balance to strike. I imagine that my local government officer of mental wellness would still be boring, but be able to act out a little without fear of relapse. I'll get there in the end! I'd like to think he'd be like Sam Lowry from Brazil!

Image result for brazil film images

Sleep hygiene
Meds taken