Homeland

So, let’s discuss Homeland. ~ 4.9.18

A popular Showtime series, currently in Season Seven, starring Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin. A show filled with tons of suspense. An espionage thriller.

Too bad it’s also filled with a ton of misleading fiction about Bipolar Disorder.

Actually I should say up front, when they portray Danes’ character, Carrie Mathison, finally going off the deep end due to her manic episodes – that! That they get correct!

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Here’s what’s NOT accurate about the character’s struggle with Bipolar Disorder. That it is in any way okay to stop taking medication. That there is any justification for it. That those with Bipolar are so gifted and brilliant, that if we’re the only one of us running in our circle of friends or co-workers, only we can solve the our little group’s problems.

It is irresponsible of this show to suggest that even though the heroine struggles, fails and hurts others, ultimately, it all ends up okay in the end. That it was necessary. In fact, Mathison swoops in and saves the day every time. No one else in the land of CIA, FBI or other acronyms can solve the threats faced on the show. Let me give you some idea of what it is I’m trying to say here.

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At the end of Season One, we see Carrie choose to undergo ECT treatments because she wants to forget some bad stuff that went down between herself and handsome traitor/wait is he a traitor, Brody. She wanted to forget that unfortunate romance because, again, it’s gotta be rough not knowing if you’re carrying on with a married traitor. So, in Homeland’s thinking, let’s take advantage of what is most often a last resort for those of us with Bipolar, and yeah. Strap me down and zap me a few times doc. Loving me some ECT! I know many people with Bipolar. I have never known someone to happily elect ECT in order to lose memories. In fact, most often it is avoided because memories are wiped from our minds. Dangerous and misleading.

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In Season Three, we think she lost her marbles again, and Danes is fantastic at showing us what that looks like, ugly cry and all. But we later discover that she purposefully quit medication in order to lose those marbles in a scheme hatched with her good buddy Saul, once again in order to ultimately save the day. She was outed as a Bipolar in Senate committee hearings, by pal Saul again, when he revealed she was an agent in medical trouble and experiencing paranoia due to the mental illness. The blame for bad stuff that went down lands on her. But wait. Later, after moves and counter-moves, we learn Carrie and Saul decided together that she would stop her medication – primarily Lithium – with the intentions of receiving blame for more things gone awry. Later, when back on a medication cocktail that is therapeutic and with sanity having returned, what happens? Yes! Carrie swoops in and discovers who bombed Langley! See? She had to go off her meds, right? Right. Only Carrie could have achieved that by discontinuing her meds and being thrown into another mental health hospital.

It’s going to be even more repetitive from this point further, so I’ll try to summarize a bit. She made it through Season Four taking her medication. However, what happens in Season Five? Right. Stopped her meds, heroically telling current boyfriend that when she spins out too far, he needs to then force her to take that med cocktail. So, here it’s important for me to say, if you ever try to get someone with Bipolar to take their medication while they’re in a manic state, good luck to you. We’ll either laugh you under the table or knock your damn head off. But hey, she stopped the meds, put a bunch of pictures and diagrams on the wall, and solved the mystery, like only Carrie can. Did I mention she sent her daughter to stay with her sister in order that she might embark upon this noble quest? Sigh.

Season Six – I promise we’re almost out of seasons – this is a season in which she took her meds. Yay! She’s acting responsibly! She’s learned from her mistakes. Only. Wait. No, again? Yes, again.

We’re sailing into Season Seven, and again, only Carrie can save the day, by stopping all meds, then buying meds from a dealer she seems to know, and has her friend tell her when to take what med. Sound familiar? Yes. Oh, and this friend turns out to be a traitor, too. Seems like she doesn’t make good, solid decisions off meds. (Funny, that’s how it goes in real life too, so we really don’t need Homeland encouraging discontinuation of meds). Oh, and yes, she’s really effing up with her kid. Neglect. Almost hitting her with a car. While Carrie is “coercing” a confession from that new traitor I mentioned –Β  coercing as in seducing, we’re in the sack, all clothes off, about to achieve the Big O – the feds (I feel cool saying that) bust down the doors. Did I mention her young daughter is in the next room? Sigh.

After tonight’s episode, she’s still off meds and finally has become manic again with full-on psychosis, hallucinations and all.

So, are we just strolling down Homeland’s memory lane, or am I actually trying to make a point? It’s the latter.

Even though I have enjoyed most of the episodes from day one ground zero until now, I must say I hate how they romanticize Bipolar. Only poor, misunderstood, persecuted Carrie can figure out the answers, no matter if she hurts family, friends or herself, because eventually, everyone will see it was worth it. Carrie had to do it!

The danger for fans here is that not everyone is educated about the disorder, or mental illnesses in general. So, while I can watch and appreciate for entertainment value, others can get a false impression. When someone with Bipolar quits their meds, many, many things can go badly. And fast.

First of all, the body can go into shock. Seizures and even death. Secondly, once the meds are out of the system, one of two very dark things will most likely occur. Severe depression, or severe mania. Depression that smothers you down deep so far from anything good, any light, that often times a person takes extreme measures and tries to commit suicide. Conversely, if one becomes manic, a myriad of things can occur. Hyper-sexuality that often leads to extramarital affairs, over-spending and derailment of finances that can land one into tens of thousands of debt, hallucinations and hearing of voices that can cause one to hurt themselves or threaten others.

Most people who don’t know much about Bipolar seem to only know that last bit I mentioned. That is because shows like Homeland, with a huge fan base, play fast and loose with the truth. Most people only see a situation that has become dangerous with the Bipolar sufferer hurting themselves or others. A series that is viewed by so many does have a responsibility to air truths, even in fiction. The stakes are high.

For whom, you might wonder. Teens just being diagnosed and working with the doctor to figure out what medication best helps them, when they see this misrepresentation, many will combat mom and dad, rebel and be absolutely certain they don’t need meds. The general public that thinks we just pick and choose ECT and expect an effect much like what we see in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a movie in which painful memories can be selected and eradicated from the mind. All too often, Bipolars and those with Schizophrenia are the second to be blamed for mass shootings or school shootings, coming in just under “the terrorists.” Homeland could also speak to the person who is protective of their manic states. That might be hard to understand, but all too often, when we take our meds, we lose some of our creativity and sharper thinking. The medication dulls things somewhat. It’s a trade off; the lesser of two evils. We don’t need fictional characters promoting poor decisions.

Look, it is extremely difficult work to stay mentally healthy and sound with this disorder, and shows like Homeland can be an insult to us. We take our meds daily. We see therapists/counselors. We have families and successful careers. We are a part of our communities. We make sound decisions, something Homeland and Carrie Mathison do not.

As I close this blog entry, I glance toward the tv and scrolling across the ROKU screen I see beautiful Claire Danes in a Homeland advertisement. So perhaps I am actually talking about something timely and of significant relevance after all.

RESET DAYS

RESET DAYS ~ 4.4.18

Here’s a thing. Well, here are a few things.

There are a few things I notice when I’m starting to tank. Tank, as in, I’m so overwhelmed, it’s a danger to myself.

1. Everything I read on social media infuriates me, even when it’s perfectly nice. It makes no sense, but unfortunately, despite BP being a brain chemistry problem, it affects my emotions. Skews my perception. When my best of friends are saying things that plum piss me off, I finally notice I’m tanking. And by the way, I say piss me off because that’s the truth. Saying it makes me angry doesn’t cut it because “piss” relays that dirty, mean-spirited, nasty factor.

2. I don’t want to get out of bed. Okay, so most days I don’t wanna get outta bed. Like 95% of days. But when it’s so bad I’m afraid to move, even to use the restroom, or feed the cat who we all know I love dearly, then I recognize that, “Houston, we have a problem!”

3. I hurt more everywhere. Physically, I’m discussing here.

So, what do I do now?

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First, I try to maintain a low profile on social media. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but sometimes I fail at this.

Next, I do extra stretches, extra walking outside in the backyard.

I pray and read devotionals.

I listen to my “Peppy Make Me Wanna Move” playlist.

Finally, I call a RESET DAY.

During said reset day, I get lost in a book, as of late an audiobook, and color while listening.

And my loving, supportive family here in the home respects that I need to take the day as I need it. I love them for that.

Then, start over tomorrow. Reset.

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Black

BLACK ~ 4.4.18

Here’s a thing. Great mood or not, Johnny Cash music speaks to the situation every time. 🎡🎢🎧🎡🎢🎧 The Man in Black. Every single time.

As for me.

Truth?

It’s not peppy social media post type stuff. It’s the negative stuff most people fail to post.

SPOILER ALERT: LIFE (and its truths and this post) AREN’T ALWAYS PRETTY.

Miserable. That’s me. Okay? Miserable. So miserable and tired of fighting it. And for effin what? Even if I crawl my way back to the top, I’ll be back here soon. It is the reality I face with my day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month Bipolar. And I’m so extremely tired of the physical pain.

And I love you folks, I promise I do, but don’t tell me to pray it away with name it and claim it, and don’t tell me to drink a smoothie. Sometimes, it really is okay to say, “I have no idea what you face, or what to say, but I’m listening. I care. I’m here. It’s important to me you’re on this planet.”

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Keep On

KEEP ON ~ 4.2.18

Whatever you’re doing to make it through the day, keep on doing it. Congrats as well for getting it done. Whether you took it by waking hours today, hour by hour, minute by minute, or even second by second. I’ve been there. Recently. Often. Whether it’s in your home, or a hospital, or even a mental health facility…you’re doing what you must to keep moving. To keep LIVING, even when you don’t want to breathe that next breath.

Just keep swimming.

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Posting photos to prove I’m alive. πŸ˜‰ I hope you’re all well. I’ve not blogged much. Had to take my mom on more travels. Her brother passed away.

Tired.

 

The Secret Scripture

The Secret Scripture ~ March 19, 2018

So, yeah. Two things after watching The Secret Scripture with Rooney Mara, Theo James, Eric Bana and Vanessa Redgrave.

1. Glad I wasn’t a woman in early WWII.

2. Glad I wasn’t a Bipolar woman in early WWII.

The movie premiered two years ago (2016) and the book was written and on shelves in 2008, so I’m thinking I’m good to go ahead and say what I want here, but I guess just to be sure ~ spoiler alert.

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I am thankful I live in a time when women are treated better. I know there are still lots of #metoo type issues going on, but back in the early 40’s, a woman could be committed to a psychiatric facility by a man, not only in hopes of receiving genuine medical help, but also as punishment, or as a means of manipulation. But the character in the book would have none of it, continually repeating to herself,

“My name is Rose McNulty. I did not kill my child.”

She kept notes in her Bible in order not to forget her husband, her child, herself and the truth.

The other horrific moments she repeated those facts to herself was when she was about to undergo ECT treatments. Mind you, she didn’t really even need such drastic measures, but it was a way of controlling her. Some people did and still do require ECT. Back then, you’d be zapped and convulse for far too long, her character usually reacted to the volts for five minutes, only as a means of punishment. However, even if she had indeed suffered from Bipolar, the art of ECT was nowhere near perfected.

Maybe it’s still not perfected as I write this is 2018, but it’s much better, and many patients, along with their doctors, use it as a means of helping control Schizophrenia, Bipolar and Severe Depression. Now days, you receive anesthesia and a drug that relaxes your muscles. Electrodes are placed on your temples, and you receive a quick current. You wake a bit later, usually remembering nothing. You could possibly be confused for a bit afterwards. So, it’s effective for some, though many still lose memories. It would be my absolute last choice, but for those that it helps, that’s wonderful.

I’m probably scared of it because of movies depicting a severely screwed up Jack Nicholson flying over the cuckoo’s nest, and this book and movie, The Secret Scripture.

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Anyway, I still recommend Secret Scripture, by the way. It’s wonderful. Even with the sadness, there is beauty throughout, which is much like life, I think. Stellar acting. Top marks all around.

But yeah, I’m so glad to be a woman today, and I thank those who came before me and endured what they did in order that I may go to the voting polls and that women who are abused can receive justice, not just have their truths tossed aside.

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And I’m darn glad ECT is much more effective and safe now, and that it’s a choice for me, not a punishment, or something used as unnecessary treatment when a Lithium pill could solve the matter.

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BP Thorns

BP Thorns ~ 3.16.18 ~

So, I read someone else’s FB post, and it got my mind spinning.

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I think it was about our trials in life actually being a gift from God, and if I understood the writer, some events are basically engineered by God to lead us back to Him. To rely on Him.

I just wanted to hear some replies about that if you’re a Believer. Most pointedly, I’d like to ask if you believe Bipolar, or any other mental illness, or even physical chronic pain, is something in your life because God wants to draw you closer to Him. To lean in, as the writer of the post often says. And does He engineer it, or just allow it?

Me? I think there is sin, hate and illness in this world because we are allowed free will and man is corrupt. I don’t think he said, “Tag, Jen! You’re it with the Bipolar!” But because there is suffering, I think He expects me to use that to feel His love. Considering Paul, ship-wrecked, beaten, stoned, and carrying a thorn in his side. I guess if Paul can make his way through that and write several books for the Bible (the most in the New Testament) then I can endure what is going on in my life. Even more importantly, if Jesus sweat blood in The Garden of Gethsemane, so dreading and fearful of his betrayal, flogging and crucifixion, then I can handle the occasional hallucination, no?

I’m wondering if anyone has suffered doubt or anger towards God because you agree with me, that this might be the thorn in our sides, that we need to lean in more to God, and that you ultimately think that it’s bull to be put through this kind of thing from He who is supposed to be a loving, caring, generous God. I admit I have battled with those feelings when I’ve been down deep and dark in those depressive prisons, when and where I feel Satan and his demons take advantage.

I hurt every day. Physically, but moreso mentally and emotionally. Every day. But every day, I know there is Jesus with me, and that one day all of this will fall away. Thank God. I can’t even imagine and am certainly not worthy. But one day.

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A Pic Says It Best

Nothing can describe it more accurately than a simple photo.

When Bipolar Depression and Fibromyalgia are kicking your a**.

(Honestly trying to look my best with these supportive pillows, heating pads, ice, Voltaren gel, and no care or energy to comb my hair today. Though, I did manage to drive my son to youth group at church. That’s big on a day like this.)

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Every Day

Every. Single. Day. ~ (Trigger Warning)

So, here’s one.

When I wake in the morning, our dog has to go out, not only to do his business, but also to play and run. It makes me smile. He’s fun, and I also love watching the birds and hearing their songs. Fresh air. Watering the lawn. Stuff like that. Then, I also love watching a cooking show, at least one each day, sometimes more. Fascinates me, all they can come up with and demonstrate. I will listen to music or read a book, and I’ll do some adult coloring. Fun stuff. And I feel good in those moments. I truly do. I do stretches and light exercise. I take my meds for Bipolar (and other mental health acronyms) as well as Fibromyalgia and other auto-immune mess. Meds AND vitamins and supplements.

And just as easily as all of that delight comes each day, so does the internal voice in the quieter moments…the one that says, “just swallow all the pills and you’ll be done with it.”

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And honest to God, if it wasn’t for my family and a few friends who would be upset, I’d chug them now instead of writing this.

I think there is a common misconception that a person is suicidal and goes to the nut-hut (as I jokingly, lovingly call it – hey, I’ve been three times, I’ll call it what I want)…where was I? Oh yeah. I think folks think a person gets help and is no longer suicidal, and I know that’s how it is for some. That’s a good deal. I also know there are many like me who are chronically suicidal, even if unseen on the surface.

Understand this, there is a real reason to be suicidal, it just doesn’t always make itself known to those of you without mental health issues because it’s so well hidden. I have years of practice hiding that. If you could see inside of me – my soul, my brain, you’d be horrified. It is quite possible to have a good day and be suicidal.

So, what is my point? Not a lot, really. Just saying that, at least for me, it’s always there. Chug the pills. Find the gun. Car on, garage door shut. Blah, blah. Daily, I tell the instinct, the inner voice, no. But, I often wonder if one day that voice will win.

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Alive…ish

Just wanted to check in real quick. I’m alive.

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I’m behind on reading other’s blogs. I thank you for your continued support. I feel I should tell you that I was extremely mixed-episode type ill for a couple of weeks around early January (I believe). Then, I was physically ill after my immune carrier-monkey son brought home the flu. Then, I had to start with a new PM doc, and new meds and changes. Finally, a moment to breathe, I think, and we get texts stating my aunt lost her battle with 20 + years of Parkinson’s. Everyone is sad, family devastated, but my happiness comes from knowing two things.

1. She’s no longer in pain.

2. She is with Our Savior, Christ Jesus.

So, in Terminator type style, I say to you, “I’ll be back.”

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Coming Soon

Hope you enjoyed tonight’s blog entry “Gifts from Jesus.”

In the next couple of days, we look forward to discussing a new calming app I have discovered, and I also want to do a little bit of soul searching with you guys. I need to verbalize some decisions I believe I’ve come to about my dad. Get it out there. Tell my truth. Transparency.

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So we’re going to see some of that in the next few days, and we are eagerly awaiting our interview with Chef Aarti! Thanks for following. Y’all mean a lot to me.

Alive

I’m checking in with you guys.

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I’m alive. I’m okay… if I’m describing my emotional state. Maybe a little on the downside. The reason I’ve not written much, however, is due to the chronic physical pain I experience. I had a bit of an accident in the house, and basically everything hurts!

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I guess I’m realizing as I type, that truly the pain’s got me somewhat down.

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Anyway, I’m okay.

The point of this blog is to capture and share everyday life with these illnesses. Otherwise, there’s no accurate, true representation.

I will try harder to pull it together.

So… how are you? What’s up in your lives?

On a Common Mood Symptom

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Article about hearing hypersensitivity according to mood. I’ve found that to be true. When people are talking and the commercials are blaring on the tv. It’s as if sand paper is scratching at your brain and eardrums. As if, it goes on one more second, your head will in fact blow and where there once was only white walls, now lives white splattered with strawberry jam.

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https://www.bphope.com/when-noise-annoys-coping-with-hypersensitive-hearing/

 

 

Hope

So, talking of books about Bipolar and other mental health issues, two are by far my favorites, as they present the facts, but in a funny, we are in it together, self-deprecating humor sort of way. As well, wonders never ceasing, the author is even right here in our very own galaxy. We don’t have to go far, far away. I’m so happy she received a posthumous Grammy for narrating Princess Diarist. Please check out Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking and Shockaholic.

 

What are your go to BP and MI books? Which do you recommend? Please feel free to share.

Take His Hand

I think the hardest part of being a mom to a son, both of us with Bipolar Disorder, is the utter inability to take away his pain. All that pain I know has existed, currently resides and will strike in the future.

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So, I resign myself to knowing that holding his hand as he makes his way through is the best I can do. I hope he feels that love in my touch, and I thank the Lord that He is carrying my son through all he has faced and ever will encounter.

Down In It

I’m not good. Something’s not right. Won’t sleep for a couple of days, then go to sleep not remembering a lot of the time I was awake. Thank God I have my husband and mom to be sure I don’t do something off the grid ridiculous. I’m convinced that’s the only reason why I’ve not done some really crazy stuff in the past that I know I’m capable of when hypomanic and manic. And the added pressure of my son seeing me off my game and emotionally turned upside down weighs so heavily. Because, you see, now he’s feeling down. I tell you, we’ve been doing this long enough, he and I, mom and son, Bipolar and Bipolar, I know my emotional absence and far out, screwed up head the last few days (which I know has been at least hypomania) affects him. Then, I get scared for him. Anxiety builds. Snowball, snowball, snowball… & there’s an expression about a snowball’s chance in hell. I better pull it together soon.

24 and Counting, Face of Bipolar

Twenty-four hours plus (24 hrs +) with no sleep.

A Face of Bipolar ~

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The fabulous ideas I had last night but could do nothing about because everyone else was asleep, now appear to me as insurmountable and unrealistic for sure. I’m reminded of something a friend said recently in response to one of my blog entries. Paraphrasing, she said she’d forgotten she once had hopes and dreams. I’ve heard so many friends with BPΒ  (met through a support group) that, despite every effort, have fallen short and not achieved what they wanted. I hope God points out to us that we’re in a different place than we planned for a reason, though we may not understand, or even want it. For those of you reading who are not Believers, I hope you can figure out with the help of friends and loved ones that something positive came, and continues to come, from something crummy and awful.

Because to me, if we can’t find or help develop the good, then what the heck are we even doing here.

WHAT DOES BIPOLAR LOOK LIKE

What does Bipolar look like?

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I’m curious if you would be brave enough to share with me your first impressions of someone with Bipolar. Whether you knew them first and later discovered their mental illness? Or, for example, if you heard someone at work, who you hardly knew, has Bipolar Disorder. Your initial reaction.

Thoughts?

As for me, some *family* called me crazy and pill-popper, and that’s just the stuff I know. The other folks I’ve told were attendees at the same church as myself (some years back) and *coincidentally?* these folks no longer wanted to be my friend and outright began ignoring me. As well, some stopped their children hanging out at my home and having fun with my son. My son and the kids didn’t understand. I was devastated. I’ve had the most painful things said to me from church-attendees.

Do you have good or bad stories to share? Would you care to share a photo – display the faces of Bipolar?

(I promise I will monitor and moderate replies, so that there is no cruelty and slandering.)

LONG DRIVE WHEN ILL

Traveling for an emergency appointment to see my psychiatrist about six hours away. Lesson – don’t ever take for granted that my Bipolar is overall well-managed and I’m okay to see my doctor every three months. I made it for two years like that. Won’t happen again, even though I trust this doctor and he’s known me for six years. This is absurd. He is too far away! I could easily end up in the hospital.

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This blog is supposed to log the good and bad, and all the in-between’s. This is probably the worst I’ve felt since I began this blog.

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