Apathy Versus Acceptance

How do you know when the reason you’re letting something roll of your back is good or bad? If it’s because you’ve accepted it, or simply because you’ve become despondent and apathetic over it? This is what my therapist wanted me to think about this week, because I’ve just been letting life slide past me, not really caring one way or the other what was happening. She asked me pointed questions to see if I was just coming to terms with our situation and ad accepted it, or if I was so overwhelmed by all the events that I’ve become pathetic. Given the sheer weight of everything on my shoulder’s, we determined I was simply shutting down and it was apathy dictating my behavior, not acceptance. I want to be clear here, acceptance is not approval, it simply acknowledging what’s going on and doing what you can to improve the situation. Apathy is your brain shutting down to protect itself from more stress…not literally shutting down of course, but hopefully you get what I mean.

I’ve mentioned our issues with the IRS a few times over the course of this blog, and I’ll probably mention them a few more times as this blog goes on. They’re complete douche-bags…well, the entity as a whole, I’ve talked to some really kind and wonderful people over the course of dealing with our tax issues. Now, if you want a sincere douche-bag, that would be the state tax commission. Those bastards REFUSE to work with us, and instead continue to get some sick pleasure out of garnishing our wages…stopping for a few months, and then saying “JUST KIDDING!”, we really want another couple thousand. In addition to the $3000 they’ve already taken. And that has nothing to do with the $50,000 the IRS thinks they’re going to get from us. We don’t even have $5,000 in assets, paying off an incorrect debt of 50k will never happen.

I’ve talked about this a lot in therapy because it is a HUGE stressor that literally makes me sick to my stomach thinking about it. I’ve talked to tax lawyers, and they all want at least 5000 as a retainer before they’ll even take the case on. At the advice of my therapist, I contacted a few CPA’s, and they want 750 to just get the years not filed done. Once those years are filed then I can take over and hopefully get the OIC that I originally sent in reconsidered. I had no hope at all until I discovered CPA’s and that they could help too. It resparked my hope that there might be a light at the end of the tunnel because while $750 is a lot of money, it’s much less than $5000.

All this stress with the IRS has led me to be very apathetic in other aspects of my life as well, I’ve lost interest in my marriage at times, I’ve felt hopeless about the future, felt like things would never improve, and it’s even led me to contemplating suicide at times…what right does the government have to have so much control over my life like that. I think they have more control over my emotions than I do somedays. It’s not right. I shouldn’t have to feel so despondent over this that I can’t function on a day to day basis because I’ve just given up on life. What right do they have to harass people to death?

Oh the trials we mortals have to suffer through. I’m sure some of you are reading this and thinking “I wish that was all the problems I had’, but it’s worse than that. When our wages are garnished it pulls us down to the poverty rate of a family of three, and there’s 6 of us. We don’t live a lavish lifestyle by any stretch of the imagination, and we can’t even pay our bills when this happens. We’ve been together 6 years, and because of this whole thing, we’ve never been on a family vacation, we don’t have our kids enrolled in any extracurricular activities, and even going out to dinner as a family is a luxury we can seldom afford. My husband and I try to go out to the movies at least twice a month, because we value date nights and realize how important they are to a marriage, but that’s the extent of our entertainment for the month usually.

Take right now for instance, we have $40 in our bank account, and 4 days until payday, and both our cars are on empty, and there are bills that still need to be paid. Part of this shortage of disposable income is my fault…I have so many medical bills that we’re trying to pay off, and it’s really eating into our income as well. We’ll be paying off medical bills for at least another year, unless by the grace of God we find another job that pays more and we can pay them off sooner. And speaking of jobs, to make matters even wose, my husband was informed last week that his job will be relocating to Oregon as of June of next year, so he is frantically job searching for work here in our area. It’s so hard to stay encouraging during this trial because he gets so down over every place that declines to interview him, and it breaks my heart. I don’t know how to comfort him and really show him the confidence I have in him.

I hate living like this. I pray that things will improve, and I have hope for the future right now, but it’s a long, cold, depressing path I’m on when I get overwhelmed by all this. Sorry for the downer blog, but I had to vent somewhere about what was going round in my head, and since this is my blog, what better place to do it then here?

So, apathy or acceptance? Where do you think I’m at with all the stress going on in my crazy life? And what’s going on in your life? Cheer me up with the good news in your life right now.

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Being inpatient…again and again…and again.

I recently spent close to 3 weeks inpatient psych after 2 suicide attempts. 20 days away from my 4 kids. On one hand it sucked terribly, on the other, I suddenly was forced into discovering ME, and figuring out who Tricia was when she wasn’t being a mommy or a wife. Not that this was my first venture into a psych ward, I had severe postpartum depression after my last child was born and spent 2 weeks inpatient then. I also spent many weeks in the psych ward after a mental breakdown in my early twenties. Not to mention the in and out stays during my teen years. So, back to my most recent visits…

I actually had two forays into inpatient stay, one lasted 8 days, and the other lasting 11. The worst stay was those first 8 days I was gone…I had a terrible doctor who refused to put me on the right medication, instead she opted to put me on Haldol (an older antipsychotic used in the treatment of schizophrenia and acute psychotic states and delirium)which did me no good at all. She refused to prescribe my Concerta, yet continued my Suboxone, and refused and anti-anxiety medication at all, choosing to let Haldol replace any benzodiazepines.  It did such little good because it caused such extreme sedation that I was practically a zombie. I gained no valuable experience from that stay, being unable to attend therapy or groups and whatnot. So after 8 days of no good at all, I was released because I was considered to “no longer be a threat to myself”. This clearly wasn’t true because not even a week later I had a much more serious suicide attempt, thus landing me in a different hospital further away from home and family.

As much as I resented it at first, this actually proved to be a godsend. I had a doctor who actually ‘got’ me, because he understood bipolar disorder. He immediately put me back on the medicinal regimen I had been on  6 months prior to my inpatient stays. He listened to me, he didn’t hide things from me, he was honest with me, and I felt I could be honest with him as well. He respected the fact that I knew my body best and was educated enough about my disorder to know what was effective and what wasn’t. I was back on my Welbutrin, Abilify, Xanex, Concerta and Ambien that day. (After my experience at the previous hospital, I quit the Suboxone and swore off all narcotics for good.) Now that I was in a controlled environment, I discovered that Xanex wasn’t the best anti-anxiety med for me, given it’s short half life, and my extreme anxiety.  My doctor and I made the decision to try Klonopin instead, even though I had not had good results with it in the past, because I was willing to trust him and try it again. Miraculously enough it worked wonders for my anxiety this time, and it lasted much longer than the Xanex.

So with my meds fixed, I should have been good to go home after a few days right? Wrong! This hospital had several different psychiatric units, and I was on a unit exclusively for women who had suffered trauma or abuse at some point in their life. We had a very rigid schedule from 7 AM until around 4 PM, which is when we could finally have some downtime. We spent at least 6 hours a day either in therapy or in classes; learning valuable new skills and learning new coping skills and gaining new insights and perspectives on our lives. The therapy groups were very DBT based, and I’ll never forget some of the practices that were taught. We were given schema diaries, and had to discover our ‘life traps’, which are  negative beliefs about the world that affected how we behave.  I had done the schema diaries before, but never took it seriously until now. This time I was given a starter kit, if you will, on how to proceed with life going forward once I left the hospital.

I’ll never forget the staff there, ever. I’ve never been inpatient anywhere where there was so much true compassion and genuine caring for the patients in the staff’s care. From the head nurse to the therapists, to even the cafeteria staff, these people cared about us and we could feel it. It gave me the courage to actually reach out and allow myself to be vulnerable, and to open up about issues that had never seen the light of day. I actually did the homework assignments, I actually did the workbook assignments, and I actually discovered who I used to be, and who I could be again. It was liberating, and yet terrifying at the same time. I’d spent so many years suppressing my emotions, I had no idea how to handle them now that I was allowing them to surface out. I was in a great place to learn how to cope with them in a safe manner. I also finally had a clear game plan for therapy out in the real world. I knew what direction I wanted to take, and what I needed to work through. I went into that hospital as a broken woman, and left with a sense of purpose and hope that I’d never felt before upon any other discharge. My husband swears that if I ever relapse again, I’ll go back to this hospital because they did me the most good that he’d ever seen.

So how did I end up spending all this time in the hospital anyway? I mean, after going so long on the outside without needing to be admitted? You see, I had quit taking all my meds a few months prior, for a multitude of reasons… which did me no good at all, but for some reason seemed like an excellent idea at the time. I lasted about 5 months without any meds; five miserable months in which I had a few days of functioning, and then many days where I simply couldn’t even get out of bed to properly care for my family. It was a rough time and I feel horrid about how it affected everyone around me, especially my kids. I know they suffered the most by not having mommy totally there. Thanks be to God that I have a wonderful husband who was able to be there too and pick up all the pieces of the mess I was making.

It all really started spiraling downward when my cousin hung herself and left her family behind. I’d been having suicidal thoughts for awhile but couldn’t bring myself to do anything about it because I had my family to think of, right? Yet suddenly here was someone who was able to overcome that and leave it all behind, and if she could do it, why couldn’t I? Not very rational thinking I’ll admit, but what bipolar person thinks rationally when they’ve been off their meds for awhile? No justification there, just an observation. I got more and more depressed, I started fighting with my husband more and more, and there were more and more days that I couldn’t get out of bed and function.

The one who bore the brunt of this, to my shame, was my youngest, who I felt was to blame for all my woes. She suffered the most because she was the most helpless of my kids, the least independent and the one who needed her parents the most. She could sense my disinterest and clung to her dad all the more tightly, distancing our relationship even further, even to the point where I felt giving her up for adoption would be in her best interests because I felt I was doing irreparable damage to her, simply by being her mother. Fortunately, small children are quick to forgive, and also quick to give their love to those willing to receive it and much of the damage I had done has been repaired since I was released this last time. I’m so grateful to have been given a second chance with her and that she has responded so well to my new attitude and sudden interest in her. My other children don’t seem to have suffered as much, they were very happy to have mommy back home, and wanted a lot of snuggles at first, and I made sure they got them. I still make sure they get their snuggles now, in fact.

What was the point of this rambling post? I’m not sure really. Maybe someone will come across it and find some hope in that there is quality treatment out there, that there are good hospitals out there, or maybe someone will feel like trying therapy again, or maybe going to their doctor to try yet another medication again, or whatever positiveness that can be found here. I hope someone can find some positiveness in my little ramblings here because I found hope through what I went through, and I want to share that with the world.

The beginning of my story…

Hi, I’m Tricia, and well, I blog about living with bipolar disorder. I’m a full time mom and a full time blogger. I have 4 adorable kiddos, and one amazing husband!
 
This is the beginning of my story, which starts here…
 
I say the beginning because my story is still unfolding. When I originally wrote this I was on my meds, doing wonderfully until a mini-disaster struck…I stopped my medications, which is something I’ve always had a problem with. So there is more to this story, but that’s for a different blog, at a different time.
 
So my story….it’s about a bipolar woman who struggled to find herself, and still struggles to find herself occasionally…which is just one of the joys of being bipolar.

 

The story of a girl who’s struggled with being misdiagnosed since she was 14, and has only recently found the right diagnosis, which means she could finally start finding the right meds. The story of a girl who struggled with being a cutter and dealt with anorexia as a teen. A story where staying stable enough to not rotate in and out of the psych ward was a battle that took years to settle between her illness, the ‘real’ her, and the mental health courts.

 

The story of an unstable girl who had no one to speak for her rights, let alone the ability to speak up for herself, who over time became the woman who no one walks all over and is able to speak up for her needs and desires. This is the story of a woman who cares about those walking this dark, almost unendurable path of hopelessness and despair because she’s walked it too.

 

This is the story of a girl who once lost everything of value, all within the blink of an eye; her family gave up on her, her child was taken by the courts, she was evicted from her house, she had her car impounded, she lost her job, she lost her clean criminal record, and she lost even the desire to live. Everything of value to her was ripped away.

 

Over the course of a year, I’d completely hit rock bottom. I had absolutely no where to go but up. I crashed and burned and spent 6 weeks in a psychiatric unit, being watched to make sure I stayed alive. Ultimately, a decision from me had to be made. I had to start trying to live again. Because for the majority of those 6 horrid weeks, I just existed, willing myself to die.

 

So I did it. It was a small miracle, but I was released from the hospital close to Christmas time. My parents begrudgingly took me in off the streets and allowed me a place to stay. For that, I’m grateful. It was a small, but huge thing that managed to push me back into life. On New Year’s Eve, I reflected on my year, and all that had transpired, and realized that I had just survived what could only be described as sheer hell. It was absolutely the worst year of my life. Knowing that it was going to be all over in only a few short hours had a powerful effect on me. I woke up on New Years Day a new woman. I owned myself again. There were still setbacks, sometimes daily, but I eventually felt better and better more and more frequently.

 

Clawing my way up; tripping over pebble sized family issues, stumbling over seemingly insurmountable legal troubles, working through horrid rough patches that would set me back so far that giving up would feel like the only feasible option, I survived these trials.

 

There was the eventual turning point, the huge moment where I knew change had happened . Happiness had become a feeling that I recognized again. I was feeling real emotions for the first time in years and I now knew I wanted to somehow become a worthwhile member of society. I had finally overcome the pain of existence in what had seemed to be a hurtful, cold and meaningless world.

 

This is the beginning of the story of triumph over my bipolar disorder.

 

After years of suffering, I finally took ownership of my disorder and completely changed my life around. I went from being homeless on the streets with no rights to her child, no support from her family, and legal problems that would take years to untangle. The story of my life, my new life, was when I began having a life where I  truly lived in the moment. I gained a college degree, married a wonderful man, and started life as a stay at home mom to 4 wonderful children. It was a new life of becoming successful and trusting that success could last. It involved acquiring the courage to take risks while knowing I could fail, but still going for it. This is the story of a girl grateful for the new found confidence in her work, and being truly satisfied in the work she produces. This is the story of a girl finally accepting that she has the ability to succeed at anything, all she has to do is put  her mind to it.

 

This is not only a story of difficulty, hurt, suffering, and pain ,but is predominantly a strong story of hope, as well as a story that encourages advocacy, and a  strong passion for getting rid of the stigma surrounding mental illness. This is a story of caring and compassion, with a focus on the importance of volunteerism and service, and of giving back to those who are going through the darkness of mental illness themselves.

 

Ultimately this is the story of a woman who wants to give back as well, to offer support, to give people hope and to give hope to as large an audience as possible. I wanted to share a story that wasn’t just an interesting read, but also a story that is emotionally charged, hopefully moving, and a story that resonates with everyone who reads it. I want you to passionately feel the emotions that bipolar disorder patients suffer with.

 

I want you to not just think, but KNOW changes need to be made, and to know, really know and understand who you’re advocating for and why it needs to be done. A story that moves you to contact programs in your community and start doing something NOW. A story that has you contacting your local politician and becoming a voice for the mentally ill in your community.

 

But ultimately I hope you read a story of hope. A story that  you read and after finishing it, feel encouraged that there is hope for the mentally ill, there is treatment that works, and recovery is possible!