My Daily “Job” of Mental Illness

Strength and Courage

For me, the challenge of working was brutally and internally stressful on a daily basis.  While trying to work as a Registered Nurse, I continually tried to find a place of happiness where I felt less stress and more confidence, a place where I could use my skills.  Unfortunately I found a place where I became enveloped in a haze of discomfort and anxiety – not only once, but many times.  I was able to work with my Dad for about four years and thankfully he was able to monitor my emotional status, and he was able to make work capable for me.  However, the stress reaction and panic, aside from the help of family, was too much for me to handle on a continual basis.  And to read back on some of those times in my life is emotionally tiring to even think that I subjected myself to such inner turmoil.

Suffering from a mental illness while working was an all-consuming exhausting emotional ride for me – one that I had to escape from.  The inner rest obtained when I was able to stop working enabled an escape from a roller coaster of emotions.  A job was not just “a job” for me.  It was a time to implode and explode continually.  Dear God, thank you for the release!

Just the emotional ride from daily tasks (employment aside) is a job in itself.  A job that requires my monitoring of my emotions and reactions.  I struggle with daily thoughts, and require help from support people in my life.  It is not that I cannot be the parent, wife, friend to others.  I am capable of giving those aspects of emotional support to others.  Yet I also understand that a reciprocal relationship helps me immensely.  I try not to be needy, though I have become familiar with the inner struggle to ask for help from others and to actually “Ask”!

So though I do not have employment, I WORK on a daily basis.  My aim is happiness, emotional stability, and some sort of contentment.  The WORK of a mental illness is a challenging job.

Stand Up and Stand Strong

Manipulation

– is the skillful handling, controlling or using of something or someone.  Whether it’s the sculpture you made in art class or how you convinced your friend to do your homework – both are considered manipulation.

– to manage or influence skillfully, especially in an unfair manner: to manipulate people’s feelings.

Manipulation

To watch someone with the art of skillful manipulation and not be able to show the one being manipulated by that person their actions, is one of the most frustrating feelings of helplessness.  It is watching someone drown from another’s actions and trying to reach for them and show them how to swim and be strong, but they don’t believe in their capabilities.  Totally frustrating and emotionally draining to the person trying to help the abused.  Crazy!!!

Be aware of these abusers.  They can make someone be their savior and make them believe that the savior is the one who is pushing them under and is the evil one.  How this can be is beyond me.  But to look as an outsider into the entangled mess of chaos, it is an unbelievable poisonous power of capability.  Steer clear and stand up to these people.

This doesn’t mean that they are totally without compassion or decency at times, but they will twist any situation to make themselves look better, or they will give another the blame for what is, in fact, their actions.

Navigating the Pathways of Life

I love where I live.  I love my home.  I have nice neighbors, beautiful scenery, and a cozy beautiful home.  I love to decorate and express myself with the items I put around my house.  My home is definitely my sanctuary.

I have ended up where I need to be

There is a fine line though between having a sanctuary and becoming isolated and staying alone or being lonely.  I find that I sometimes get into ruts, where leaving the home is the last thing I want to do.  This is a time where I miss my parents.  Mom and Dad were good to get me moving about, and keep the loneliness away.  Also, my children being in the house and having the family around helped to prevent the grips of loneliness too.

My life now consists of being primarily alone most of the time.  I have my dog Daisy to keep me company, but she is on my schedule and stays pretty hushed during the day.  She perks up when her Daddy gets home (my husband).  My husband works long hours which makes for a long day for me.  He leaves early in the morning, and comes home between eight and nine at night usually (if not later).  He is tired and I’ve been alone all day.  This makes for a combination like oil and water.  We are not on the same schedule during the week.

Thankfully, I have found a Peer Support Home which I have been slowly getting more involved with.  It is a little distance away, but I enjoy going there to have some social contact.  I’ve recently started to exercise again.  That is, before pulling many muscles during a family excursion.

Becoming readjusted after the deaths of my parents has been draining, but I’m still working at it.  I went from being a wife, nurse, mother to school aged children, and daughter that truly enjoyed spending time with her parents to an isolated mother with children who live far away.  My married life is devoted to the weekends.  And my accomplishment of becoming a Registered Nurse is shattered due to my mental illness.  My parents have both died, and life is beginning in new directions.

Living day by day for me is key.  I have to make lists to keep me organized and structured.  And unfortunately maintaining social opportunities and home tasks alone can be overwhelming at times (as crazy as that may seem).  I do know that when my environment is clean and organized, my mind responds the same.  So cleaning has to be put into the schedule.  I have so many things I want to do and so little energy to achieve it.  Accepting and taking up bursts of energy are a must.

I love to bring my granddaughter to my home, and for us to have fun together.  She is the little girl in my life and brings me such happiness.  I feel that my husband and I have achieved a place of stability with finances, though we do both like to shop.  Our downfall, definitely.  Yet we are filled with bubbling joy as we go to yard sales, consignment shops, and auctions.  What fun!

As time progresses forward, the stretch behind obtains more meaning.  The obstacles that my children are going through are in my distant memory, and now the thought of how life changes so drastically and quickly becomes in focus.  The thought of how short life truly is becomes comprehensible.  Therefore I plan to live life to the fullest, and not waste time.  I will spend time with those who matter.  Live as happily as humanly possible.  And I plan to reach for destinations that seem unimaginable.

But most of all – I plan to smile going forward, make others happy, and leave my contributions.

A Silent Explosion

Let It Out - The Journey of Peace and Happiness

It’s amazing to me how many people tell me I look so calm, self-assured, and patient at times when my inside is screaming and my suspiciousness is at an all time high due to my anxiety.  I have always liked this fact because I can hide my fears well.  However sometimes I need to vent these anxious thoughts so that I can get back in balance and not panic in retrospect or worse yet, lose touch with reality.  Many times I hold my feelings in then need to escape so that I can explode when alone and perhaps talk it (or scream it) through with someone.  Situational anxiety can be debilitating at times, but I’m looking calm and confident.  How can that be?

Being the Protector of Your Family

The very first time I had suicidal ideation was the day that I left my ex-husband.  I never quite understood how that suicide could ever be an option for anyone.  The thought scared me so much that I had to run fast.  Praying to God on my knees, asking for his help to guide me.  He is always the perfect one to go to.

Understanding why I had these suicidal thoughts was difficult to understand.  My children were always needing my protection and strength.  They were needing me in every aspect for their growth.  I was scared to leave them to their father because his anger was too much to bear for me, and for them.  Therefore I was their protector.  This I believe kept any thoughts of leaving this earth from my mind.  I was always able to focus on the ones who needed me, and the ones who I loved more than life itself.

Strange though how in an instant suicidal thoughts can plague the mind.  I remember this day so well.  The anger was still there with my husband, yet stronger and scarier this particular day.  The children were almost gone from the home completely.  My daughter, Candace was engaged and living with her then boyfriend.  Corey, my oldest son, was living in an apartment in Vermont and finishing his college career.  And Jay, my youngest was all ready to start college in about two weeks.  All arrangements on dorms, items that he would need, and financial needs for the year were figured out.  And yet the anger seemed escalated to me.  I guess I was scared with the thought of living alone with this man.  Crazy as it may seem.  Did I now have a purpose?  I felt trapped in my situation suddenly, and immediately my mind went to suicide.  What a horrifying thought and experience to live.

Since that time I have suicidal ideation with situational stress that I am unable to handle.  It is with frequent counseling and medication management that I can glide through without being scraped and bruised.  But to live with “fleeting” thoughts of suicide, or even “sticking” thoughts makes life a terrifying walk.  Learning how to manage situations and handle the anxiety and stress is a constant education to me.

I am constantly learning how to be in a healthy relationship without anger.  The feelings of shock when I get a level-headed response to a question, observation, or an action still leaves me with feelings of wonderment.  Pleasantly I am beginning to understand the reality of non-threatening love.  This is allowing me to embrace my Journey with joy.

With Bipolar, suicidal ideation is a SYMPTOM.  It is not how I truly feel, but it is a difficult symptom that tells me where my mind is at the moment.  Sometimes it is torturous to live through this symptom and learning what to do in these times is key.

I have a wonderful counselor that I have had for years who is teaching me how to deal with day to day life, how to live in a healthy relationship, and how to manage my illness – because, yes Bipolar is an illness.  It is similar to any other illness that has to be managed on a daily basis!  It is just the stigma that comes along with Mental illness that is the Monster.

I have learned a lot along the way.  It’s funny how a comment from somebody can resonate for a long time, if not forever.  I had a counselor, years ago, when I was going through a difficult period and I believed suicide was a way for me to release my burdens.  She explained to me that even though I was done raising my children, that commitment goes on forever and through the generations.  Being accountable lasts forever because when someone commits suicide it is more likely that their children, grandchildren, family members, or others close to them will also commit suicide.

What an obligation we have to ensure the safety of our families.  A truly overwhelming and difficult task to accomplish at times.  But, I’m in it for life!  It’s ironic that I will always be their protector and with this, that job protects me.

The very first time I had suicidal ideation was the day that I left my ex-husband.  I never quite understood how that suicide could ever be an option for anyone.  The thought scared me so much that I had to run fast.  Praying to God on my knees, asking for his help to guide me.  He is always the perfect one to go to.
Understanding why I had these suicidal thoughts was difficult to understand.  My children were always needing my protection and strength.  They were needing me in every aspect for their growth.  I was scared to leave them to their father because his anger was too much to bear for me, and for them.  Therefore I was their protector.  This I believe kept any thoughts of leaving this earth from my mind.  I was always able to focus on the ones who needed me, and the ones who…

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Coping Skills and a Helping Hand

Help Others See - The Journey of Peace and Happiness

When stress begins for me, my mind becomes clouded, scattered, and sometimes defensive.  I begin to “read between the lines”.  I listen for clues, signs, guidance.  Sometimes I believe that it is the “hand of God” that is talking to me.  He is everywhere.  And one thing that I do NOT believe in is coincidences.  Everything happens for a reason.

I am so thankful to all the doctors along the way who have helped me to decrease my constant anxiety.  For me, anxiety causes my depression.  A brutal combination.  That took me many years to figure out.  When my anxiety disorder (anxiety and panic) are out of control, I have loss of control and thoughts of ending the anxiety and subsequent depression is mostly what crosses my mind.  I also am reactive to situations. Ultimately resulting in situational anxiety.  The ability to handle these situations and to find supports during these times is the goal. I am on about five meds that help to control the anxiety – as well as one of these anxiety meds helping with the depression.  These meds along with other depression and mood stabilizing medications.  I am so thankful for this combination.  The ability to finally control some of the anxiety and my Bipolar is reassuring to my mind.  And my doctor is a supportive help in my life.

The ability to handle these situations and to find supports during difficult times is the goal.  My coping skills have increased, but are still lacking at times.  Along with isolated coping skills there must be a support system in effect for me.  I have a few family and friends who have taken those positions.  Thank God for these wonderful people who don’t mind walking with me on my Journey.  I never realized the amount of care and support that my parents were for me.  I read back on journal entries and am amazed still at the amount of reference in all these years that they were close with trusted help and guidance.  It is without question the true definition of love!

I have now had the job of restructuring my support system, and believe that it is strong.  I sometimes lack in reaching out though.  And I find that with any instability with my main support (my husband) I become panicked and vulnerable.  It is in those times that coping skills and a support system are the most necessary.  And a major component of my support and guidance is my Counselor.  She is filled with knowledge and I have trust in her.  I am not afraid to say anything to her.  She is able to reassure me and help me to make informed and prudent decisions.  She never gives me a look of astonishment or distaste in anything I say to her.  That is skill in itself because I can be astonished with my words at times.  Absolutely!

The road is in front of me and the twists and turns and pattern changes are surprising.  Managing these times without becoming lost is a challenging task, but definitely not impossible.  Keeping hope, faith, and working toward living life wholly with gratitude is the skill that I try to achieve.  Repeatedly, that is!

Walk With Me

Walk With Me - The Journey of Peace and Happiness

It is those people who you have beside you during the road of life who lift you, encourage you, balance you, live your joys and hurts, and stay with you no matter how life twists and turns – those are the ones who are quietly just there, who love your soul and will hold your hand during all of it that matter.  The other acquaintances during life’s path are beautiful pleasures that make life whole, and are there for a purpose.  But the glue of the beauty of life are the ones who make life worth living.

Conclude the Day With Positivity

How does an uplifting beautiful day turn into an emotionally chaotic day?  Is it because I was productive with the day, but I had so many things to think about today – therefore by mind is interpreting overload?  It seems absurd that the day becomes too much to handle when there are positive results all around.  I felt good today.  I interacted and I had self-assured conversations.  In retrospect though, I realize that the unresolved quantity of the day gives me an unsatisfied perception.  The beautiful positivity of the day turns into emotions of too much to handle.

I believe that these feelings are a part of my need for immediate gratification.  My need for a completeness to the day with a sense of accomplishment is what I desire.  So I’m going to take the advise of my mother and turn the negative feelings into positive.  I will override the negative with the positive, therefore bringing a sense of fulfillment to the day.

Happy Spirit

I’m on my journey and I’ve almost finished my day.  The positive results are everywhere.  I handled myself well.  I helped others.  I helped myself, and my family.  I’m not in control of other’s feelings or responses, that is their journey to handle.  I had many things to control and think about today, and I absolutely did a wonderful job.  I managed the day brilliantly.  What an awesome day!  I may not have concluded all of the overall tasks, but they are one step closer and they were done with absolutely the best quality and dignity. Another day awaits tomorrow.  Bring it on – I’m ready.