I just want to take a moment today to say that I love and cherish those in the autistic and bipolar communities. I know I may be extremely biased, but I find other autistic and bipolar people to be some of the most honest, creative, caring, and talented people around. I don’t want to bash neurotypicals or everyday “ordinary” people, but I often find them boring compared to others who share my abnormal brain neurologically or chemically.
I feel like no one can truly understand me or the struggles I deal with on a daily basis unless they share some of those issues. I am grateful when those outside of my reality try to understand what I go through and have empathy for myself and others like me, but some things have to be experienced to be fully understood. Here’s a special THANK YOU to all of you who make me feel less alone in this alien world!
Today was a busy (but good) day! I had therapy this morning, which went well. I am a bit hypomanic, so I think I talked for the entire hour straight with my therapist not getting much room to say anything. We discussed my difficulty dealing with criticism (which I may do a separate post on later this week) and we also talked about my long list of things I would do if I weren’t so anxious and scared to try. It was a long list! Maybe I will share that sometime too if anyone is interested.
After therapy, my husband and I went to the local Sweet Corn Festival in Fairborn, Ohio. We shared a delicious funnel cake, then bought some homemade soap, a jar of a concoction called “Black Bear Jam” (made with blackberries, blueberries, and black raspberries), and a little bit of handmade maple candy.
Lastly, we went to do a little shopping and I found these awesome 35th Anniversary My Little Pony Windy and Skydancer toys for sale at Target:
They even came with 80’s style puffy stickers! I had been hoping they would re-release some unicorn and pegasus ponies, so that made my day!!!
Just like with my thoughts and feelings, my self image changes so wildly with my mood. A good example of this is my view of my looks and/or attractiveness. Most days I think I look average when I look in a mirror. I’m not delusional, thinking I am some kind of supermodel or show-stopping beauty, but I also don’t feel like I am a troll or a goblin.
Once in a while, when I am slightly or fully hypomanic, I look in the mirror and think I am beautiful. I will never be gorgeous in the artificial Hollywood kind of way, but when my mood is just right I can see a kind of classic or wholesome beauty in myself that I like.
But then there are days, like one I had recently, when I feel as if I am sitting in the rock bottom level of despair and gloom. On days like these, I may accidentally catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror (because I wouldn’t intentionally look), and upon viewing my reflection, I feel down to my very soul that I must be the ugliest thing in existence.
Bipolar and other mood disorders can skew our view of reality so much, sometimes I feel like I am living in different realities from day to day. Today isn’t too good, but it ain’t too bad either, so I guess average wins out again.
I recently sold this oil pastel drawing shown above, but I wanted to share it because it is one of my favorite pieces I have done recently. If you can’t tell, the image is of a person and a little dog walking through a rainbow world (which represent happiness and life), but ahead of them lies the darkness of depression and they either don’t see it coming, or are impelled to continue walking, perhaps against their own will.
As someone who struggles with bipolar type 2 and chronic severe depressive episodes, this is clearly a personal feeling conjured into a visual image. I thought I would share though, because I bet some of you can relate to it too.
Yesterday was a weird day. I started feeling hypomanic (probably because of my psychiatrist upping my antidepressant again). Even though I was already feeling restless and off, I decided to go ahead and go with my husband to our weekly meditation group. Turns out that wasn’t the best idea. Have you ever tried meditating or even just sitting still in the dark for 30 minutes while hypomanic? STRESSFUL.
I didn’t outwardly spaz out or draw attention to myself, but I sure felt like it. My head was buzzing with what felt like a million thoughts and feelings, and my body wanted to get up and run around the room. I wanted to scream, but of course I didn’t want to make a scene and freak everyone out, so I screamed on the inside. By the time it was over, I felt like a nervous wreck.
As we were leaving, I told my husband what was going on and how much I had struggled, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t really get it, because a few minutes later he sort of sent me over the edge a bit. We stopped at the Chick-fil-A drive-thru to get some ice cream, and I became pretty agitated because there were two lanes and the one we joined took FOREVER. People who joined the other line after we got there had gotten their food and driven off BEFORE we ever got to order! Normally this kind of thing wouldn’t bother me so much, but in the state of mind I was in, it was infuriating.
My husband tried to distract me and cheer me up by being playful and sort of tickling/poking me. Normally this would make me laugh, but with all my senses already on overdrive and feeling angry, I screamed at him to stop and smacked his hand away. It was a huge overreaction and I felt bad afterwards, but I simply couldn’t help it. The rest of the drive home I could tell he was not sure how to act and that made me feel even worse.
Today I’m feeling more normal again, but we’ll see how it goes once I take my medication…
I’ve been severely depressed for a week or two now and yesterday it kind of hit a boiling point. I decided to try to get out of the house and drive to a local park to do some journaling, but all that ended up doing was causing a breakdown. I cried on the drive over, I cried while at the park, I cried on the drive home, and when I got back home I collapsed into bed and sobbed for at least an hour straight. By the time it was over, my pillow was soaked clear through and I had a migraine coming on.
I did journal while I was at the park, but it sort of ended up turning into a mock suicide letter – I was that depressed. I didn’t have the intention to go through with any form of suicidal action, but I sure felt the desire to do so. I felt so low that I had almost convinced myself that even my husband would be better off without me and would probably be relieved to be rid of me. Depression is a masterful liar and can be very persuasive.
Today I’m not feeling a lot better. More numb than anything I suppose. My body feels extremely heavy, like I have put on several hundred pounds, although I know the real weight is internal, not external. I might try to force myself out of the house again, just to see if today might go better than yesterday, but right now, I can’t even drum up the energy to take a bath. The most depressing thing is that THIS is my life. THIS is what living with Bipolar type 2 is like. I’m stuck on a wheel that I can’t get off. I’m so sick of this cycle.
Lately I’ve been feeling a little bit of an identity crisis. Mainly because I have two conditions (Aspergers and Bipolar Type 2) that color my world, outlook, and personality so much that it leaves me wondering what is left that is actually me if you took those two conditions away? Who actually is Maranda Russell without the neurological disorder and the mood disorder? I like to think that the heart of me is just me and not caused by some condition outside of my control, but I’m not sure if that is true. After all, the creativity, intelligence, thoughtfulness, child-like innocence, and sensitivity I am often known for and complimented on could all be well known traits from the Aspergers and Bipolar. So who am I beneath all that? I really don’t know.
It seems that there is this stereotype about Bipolar patients not wanting to take their medicine or stopping medicine without consulting a doctor. However, like most stereotypes, perhaps there is some truth to it. I personally have Bipolar type 2 and often find myself wondering, “Do I really need these medications?” or “Are these medications actually helping or hurting me?”. Why do I wonder this? Mostly due to negative side effects. I can’t help but wonder sometimes if the cure isn’t worse than the disease at times. Weight gain, acne, digestive problems, being pushed further into depression or hypomania, anxiety, jitters, uncontrollable muscle spasms, irritability, crying spells, etc. Sometimes I really do wonder if I wasn’t better off before.
And about consulting a doctor before stopping meds, in my case at least, my psychiatrist is only able to see patients once every few months due to the shortage of psychiatrists in the area. He is EXTREMELY busy. It is unlikely I will hear from him in the interim, even if I have a question. Of course I can speak to his office staff, but that isn’t the same as actually speaking to a doctor. And even if I were to call and tell the office staff I wanted to stop taking the medicine, likely they would just request I wait until my next appointment, which may be months away. If the medicine is truly causing side effects I can’t stand or making me feel worse, why would I want to endure that for months before making a change?
I am not writing this post to encourage anyone to go off their meds or anything like that. I believe strongly in listening to medical advice, but I wanted to explain to those who are outside of the Bipolar loop why this can often become a legitimate issue. And no, right now I am not stopping my own meds, but I have been tempted many times, which makes me sympathetic to those who have.