Monthly Archives: September 2020

Bipolar Rage

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Unless you’ve experienced it, you won’t really know what I’m talking about. I can try to describe it for you.

Something happens to trigger anger. Your initial reaction might be ever so slightly elevated, or it might even be normal, but very quickly it escalates into something that is over the top for the situation.

Example: Last night, my dogs kept waking me up, wanting to get out of their kennel. Their incessant whining and crying was more than I could stand. By the time I had thrown off the covers, unlocked their kennel, walked into the living room, turned on the light, and opened the dog door, I was ready to throw down with some dogs. I was yelling (and probably some not-so-nice words, too). I was huffing and puffing, and stomping around – because this was the best tantrum I could throw at one in the morning without waking everyone else up. Suffice it to say, I was really angry.

Fast forward three hours and the whole process starts over again. More crying from the dogs and I have to get up out of bed again. Again. Sidenote: I do not get out of bed to take care of animals. It’s a hard rule. My rule has now been trampled on twice in the same night and I am livid. My heart is pounding and I am ready to throw things at these dogs. My disdain for them is growing by the millisecond. The yelling continues and only gets louder. I’m surprised no one else woke up.

More crying as soon as I put them back in the kennel. This time, I remove myself from the room and sleep the rest of the night on the couch. Problem solved. Sort of.

You would think that would have been the end of it, right? No. I have been harboring hateful, vengeful feelings toward these dogs all day. I loathe the sight of them. Thinking of having to take care of them makes my blood boil. Feelings of wanting to throw and hit things have not gone away.

What is wrong with me? Why can’t I calm down? It wasn’t a huge catastrophe, after all. It was just an annoyance. Why so angry? Then it hit me. I was experiencing bipolar rage. It comes in, quickly escalates, and then refuses to dissipate. It clings on for dear life, not allowing you to move on from the anger you feel.

It’s kind of scary, actually. As with many of mood states of bipolar disorder, you sometimes don’t care about the consequences of your actions when you’re in the middle of an episode. Same was true here. Thankfully I didn’t act on it, but I truly didn’t care about the dogs when I was raging. No one could have talked me down by trying to be sensible. My anger was too strong.

Today, the only way out of it was anti-anxiety medication. I rarely take those because they throw me for a loop, but I felt like today was a day when it was truly needed. Sometimes grounding and breathing exercises work. Sometimes distracting myself works. Sometimes prayer helps. But today, it was pharmacy that helped.

If you know someone who has bipolar disorder, remember that bipolar rage is a real thing. It sneaks up on us at the more random, and usually inopportune, times. As much as we try to handle it, many times it gets the better of us, and we may need an extra helping of grace in these moments.

I want to be…

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Better.

I think that’s the bottom line. I want to be better in so many ways. A better wife. A better mom. A better friend. A better counselor. A better Christian.

Better.

More fit. More outgoing. More organized. More energetic.

More.

Do you ever feel that way? Like you’re not enough? Like what you’re doing isn’t enough? Do you ever feel like you’re just not quite living up to your own expectations?

I don’t mean this in a ‘oh I’m a terrible loser’ kind of way. I simply mean that I have this drive within me to be better. To thrive and not just survive. I have this desire within me to be a person who exudes love and who emulates Jesus. I want to be selfless in such a way that it builds me up as well as others.

But somehow, I don’t see myself being this person right now. I see a person who is too inwardly focused. I see a person who is bogged down with life. I see a person who must live within the confounds of a limited capacity.

For many years, I gave and gave and gave without realizing that it was too much. I didn’t realize that it was out of balance and that I was ignoring my own needs. But then, when personal crisis hit, I was forced to completely pull back and focus solely on myself. That’s hard for a giver, but I had no choice. Several years later, I’m ready to find some sort of balance. It can’t look like it used to, where I ignore my own needs. But doing for others is what has always come naturally for me, so that’s what I want to get back to on a more regular basis.

This is what I want to do. But there is a problem. It still overwhelms me. Life still overwhelms me. Stress unravels me. Many times, just getting through the day is all I can do. I have a hard time understanding this. How can this still be the case? How can it have been so long, yet I’m still so limited? Will things ever feel more normal? Will I ever move closer toward the person I once was?

Will I ever be better?

Here’s the truth. There is a balance that I can find. There will be ebbs and flows along the way. Sometimes I will be able to do more than other times. And that’s ok. I just have to remind myself that it’s ok. I have to remind myself that I am on the right track to being the best I can be. And if I’m not at my best everyday, that doesn’t make me a failure. It makes me human.

So, I’ll keep trying to be better, because that’s important to me. But I’ll do it in such a way that it’s healthy and uplifting. That’s a better way to live.

Soul Sadness

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This is going to be real and raw and heavy.

Somewhere deep within me is a sadness that is embedded into my soul. I can’t explain it, I just know it’s there. I feel it almost every second of every day. It doesn’t leave me but for short snippets of time. I carry on with my days. I smile. I laugh. No one knows the sadness I carry unless I tell them it’s there.

I hide it well.

But it weighs me down. It nags at me, begging me to deal with it. I want so badly to share it someone. I want to tell someone about it. But not just anyone. I want someone who can sit with me and really understand. I want someone who can sit with me and really listen. Really empathize. Really feel what I’m saying. I need this.

I need it.

It isn’t enough to just briefly tell someone in passing that I’m sad. It isn’t enough. A quick conversation or text message isn’t going to help. An effort to cheer me up or a ‘look on the bright side’ moment won’t do the trick. I feel desperately alone and I need someone to walk alongside me.

I feel as though I don’t belong here. The person I’m looking for doesn’t exist except in the person of Jesus. And though He is with me in spirit, I still long to be with him in a more tangible way. I want to be with Him, not here.

Not here.

I’ve tried so hard to overcome this sadness, but it still plagues me. I wonder what I’m doing wrong. Is there something I’m holding onto that keeps me from being happier? Is there something I’m doing that causes the sadness to linger? I don’t know. I don’t think so, but maybe I’m wrong.

There are days when it’s clear to me why God chose me for this life. For this illness. And then there are days when I have no idea why. There are days when I don’t understand why I’m sad so much of the time. I try not to let guilt pile on top of it, but it’s hard. I try not to fall in the ‘should’ trap. Because I should be happy.

But I’m not.

And I don’t know why.

And I don’t know if what I feel is a normal way for a Christian to feel or if it crosses the line into something unhealthy. I just know that I want to be with Jesus. More than anything. But at the same time, I have this awareness that my work here isn’t done, so it isn’t time.

Somehow I have to reconcile the sadness and the waiting. I don’t want to live a sad life. But I don’t understand happy people sometimes. How are they so happy? I don’t get it. I wish I did.

Oh, how I wish I did.

Backwards

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Sometimes being bipolar is so confusing. Things seem to be backwards for me. It seems that the less sleep I get, the more energy I have. And when I get plenty of sleep, I am tired and sluggish.

When I get less sleep, I have greater focus. I’m able to accomplish things that I typically couldn’t. I am driven. But when I sleep like I’m supposed to, I tend to feel depressed and lack motivation. I can’t seem to muster the energy to accomplish things.

This makes no sense. It’s backwards. This is how bipolar affects me. And I’ll tell you something – it doesn’t make me inclined to want to take care of myself the way I’m supposed.

I don’t want to get enough sleep. I feel better when I don’t. And I’ve kind of learned that I can manipulate it to some degree. I can choose to get up early and stay up late. I can choose to work nonstop throughout the day, which energizes me even more. It makes me feel like the energizer bunny. I keep going and going and going…

So what’s the incentive to practice good sleep hygiene? I honestly don’t know right now. Truly. I understand the risks involved. I understand it could develop into something I don’t want to deal with. But maybe I can control that to some degree too? Maybe I can ward that off if I start to see those signs. Maybe I can stay in the sweet spot. Or maybe it’s all wishful thinking and it’s too good to be true. Maybe after a few days of feeling great I will crash and burn.

I don’t know.

What I do know is that I’m overwhelmed right now and I have too much to do to be tired and sluggish. So for now, if I wake up at 5:00 AM, I’m getting up and getting to work. And if I’m not sleepy at midnight, I’ll keep working. Well, ok. Maybe midnight will be my cutoff.

This is a tough disorder to live with. It’s a constant balancing act, and one that constantly changes. Once you find something that works, you stick with it, but it only seems to work for a certain period of time before things begin to get out of balance again. I guess for now limited sleep may be what I need. Or not. Sometimes it’s hard to tell.

Welcome to my world.