Thinking About Dad

I’ve been thinking about Dad.

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For years, I’ve heard friends talking about their dads attending their high school graduation and walking the brides down the aisle. I’ve listened to stories about how much dads love their grandchildren.

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This and so much more wasn’t in the cards for me, as I was only 15 years old when he died.

On top of that, I heard some disturbing things about him after his death, which I now question. Not certain I believe what I heard based upon the source and that person’s past. Or maybe I just want and need to believe that person lied to me.

So, I’m left with a lot of questions. I was also thinking about what I did in the days, weeks and months after he died. How did I cope? Because I know I certainly didn’t cry much. Had I, I think I would have never stopped. So, I threw myself into sports and listened to a ton of music. One song I repeated over and over was Cold November Rain by Guns N’ Roses. I could probably sing you every lyric from memory. Like right now, if you’d so wish.

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So yeah, anyway, where am I going with this? Well, it’s more of a rambling tonight, I guess. I did realize a connection between my 15 year old self and my 42 year old self. Both of us turn(ed) to music and physical activity (even though mine is limited now due to health conditions). And I suppose that’s a good way of coping. And I’m learning to forgive, as well as asking to be forgiven. I find it a shame that so often it’s easier to forgive once the person has passed away.

Thanks for listening. Take care of yourselves and each other. ✌🙏💛

Hug your Dad. 💙

Pass the Asthma Inhaler, Please

Let me start by saying that I am blessed, and then let me tell you the rest.

I have a nice home. I have a nice family. And yes there are struggles. Some minor, some a little more urgent at times than perhaps what some other families go through daily. But overall I am blessed. This is my temporary home, and I look forward to the day of being in my permanent home with my Lord and Savior, and my family and friends.

Having said that, if you asked me to tell you the worst thing about having Bipolar Disorder, I would say it is a LIAR.

It just flat lies. You can try to fancy up some sort of elegant sentence that eloquently and precisely states that synapses over-fire, mis-fire, under-fire; damage to nerves in the brain; chemical imbalance, blah & etc, all absolutely true, by the way.

But what that boils down to is that I am being lied to, and often.

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Tonight, I feel utterly and completely alone in this world, and I feel weak, vulnerable and raw. I could even possibly be a danger to myself, but if I edge my way further to that point, I will get help from my family or BP support friends.

Tonight, I could tell you that no one cares. That people respond only if I reach out to them first. That people don’t seem to have a hard time missing me, as I miss them. That a loved one doesn’t mind sitting in the same house, or even in the same room, and doing something completely and utterly different and having nothing to do with me for days, even weeks in a row. I could tell you no one in this house knows what I’m feeling.

That’s completely ridiculous of course, because my son also has Bipolar Disorder, so right there I can rationally see that this Bipolar venomous gas is creating the dense fog that lies to me. The thing is, it’s convincing, and it’s manipulative, and it is hard to work my way free of it; to breathe in clean air and replenish my burnt, withering lungs. This is one of those nights, and right now the only thing that is working is the asthma inhaler.

This is me. Real. Being lied to and feeling crummy.

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Even with the Pain, You Gotta Live…

So, my friend is moving back to Texas. She will still live five or six hours from where I’m living, but I’ll still be able to see her more often. This is wonderful, because this person is family. She helped me through so many good times and bad. She was a friend when I hardly had any, due to my family situation at home. She knew that my step-father was, at best, rude and crude, and at worst, violent. Yet she still came to my home. Years later she would help me move my  belongings cross-country because my hideous ex-husband threw all of my things out on the lawn and had moved on with another woman. I can tell you for certain I would NOT have survived that incident without her. There are many memories and lessons learned and even a few tough times she and I had to work our way through so as to keep our friendship. I’m so lucky she’s been in my life whatsoever, and I hope I’ve helped her just as much.

This caused me to think about several things, but mostly that I don’t have many relationships of any sort in my life right now, and that’s mostly because I’m not putting myself out there. I’m not trying.

The point of this is to say, I’m so happy she’ll be back soon. It got me to thinking about things that make Bipolar bearable. Straight away, these are the things that first come to mind. Things that can lead me, inspire me, help me remember…whatever I need to start moving. An emotional move that needs to take place. Emotional efforts. Emotional chances. Sometimes, I believe I fall into not taking on these emotional issues because I want to remain steady and not rock the boat. Not feel any new pain, any new hurts. But the not putting myself out there, the lack of trying, is actually helping the Bipolar defeat me, and I will not accept that.

So what helps me? What drives me? What is realistic? What is not? Can I set up proper time management. Do I have a Plan B. I was taught that by a therapist over and over. Always have a Plan B. (Sometimes, I have a C.)

What is important and healthy for me?

God, good friends, family, writing, listening to music, dancing around for a few minutes in a locked room with only the cat to watch me and think of me as foolish, previously mentioned cat, art, books, learning, nature, people to discuss books with and attending Bible studies. How can I incorporate some of this into my life, because I’ve figured out that without planning or meaning to, I’ve become mostly isolated. Thus, it’s time to go to work.

These are things I have planned. If I don’t manage all of them, I’m not going to call it failing. Rather, if I accomplish some of this, I’ll put a huge check mark in the win column. Joining a book club, finding a church that has an evening service (because I sleep so little it’s hard for me to make morning church services) volunteering for CASA and going back to school with hybrid/online classes. I’ve got to be around people, and I must use my mind.

Additionally, I must feel emotions. Feelings that don’t come just because of how my brain chemistry works that day, but out-in-the-world, real-life feelings. Even if there are a few bad feelings with the good. I’ve got to live a life. I must learn to navigate and build friendships, and fall on my face, and attend class on a day when I feel like hell.

I’ve got to live a life. Otherwise, even if I feel somewhat stable, it’s a stability I feel while shut away from the world. No. Just no.

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What gets you going? Is there something you need to do? Are you living a full life, according to your terms? Are you struggling with any of this? Found things that help? Advice or feedback?

Would ALWAYS love to hear from you guys.

Three Faces of Jen

Hi, my name is Jen, and I thank you for stopping by and having a look. I’m sure I’ll get better at navigating all of this and have a more striking looking blog and site. I’m sure I’ll learn to better relay and organize my train for thought. Bear with me, please. Patience, please, and loads of thanks ahead of time!

So, allow me to tell you about the Three Faces of Jen.

We have depressed Jennifer. We have manic Jen, which mostly manifests itself as irritability and rage. (Only occasionally do I feel giddiness with my mania. Lucky me, lucky family.) The third version of myself is the ultimate goal. This person can be absent for days, weeks or months. The one who is supposed to govern these other two trouble-makers and maintain stability. That’s tricky.

Tricky because I’m dealing with chemical malfunctions in the brain, folks. Tricky because I also have several physical issues, which are really struggles, but “issues” sounds better, right? Comorbidity, they call it. (They? Who is they? I think it was some doctors and fellow Bipolar peeps who first told me about that.) Basically, mental health issues and chronic pain issues, in my case, are running buddies. (So thrilled for them.) Also tricky to govern because of possible medication interactions. Fun stuff too like hyperthyroid that, when is overly hyper, is extremely problematic and mirrors anxiety and paranoia. I got thrown in what I lovingly refer to as the prison nut hut due to a hyperthyroid foul up. (I call it prison nut hut not because I was in prison, mind you. Because the staff there treated the patients as if we were indeed in prison instead of checking in on our own for help. Later entries about that to come.) Point is, it’s a tricky son-of-a-gun to manage. For one to maintain stability, level-headedness and middle of the road…tricky.

The efforts alone are exhausting. Manage meds correctly. Grounding work. Calming music. Distraction activities when they can be helpful, but not an excuse to avoid difficult things that need to be done. Prioritizing. Small steps. Exercising…but wait, my feet and shins/calves are now in braces, my lower lumbar is fused, have fibromyalgia, and knees are experiencing arthritic pain and changes due to everything else falling apart. Like freakin dominoes. So, I do what I can. Mainly stretches and stomach crunches. (Did you know you can do stomach crunches while sitting on your couch?) I journal…sometimes. I talk to friends – those with and without Bipolar. I take care of my 17 year old son, who also has Bipolar, by the way. I try to manager all of that, plus so much more, and if I pull it off, Governing-Face-Three, that I am, can help me along to stability, without flatness, without apathy (not giving a crap about anything) but instead, walking a straight line in hopes that I’ll find one or two things along the way that bring happiness, or maybe even a smile.

Some days, I do “settle” for contentment, but let me tell you, contentment can be a saving grace. And if there are days when I just get out of bed, brush my teeth, take out the trash, and pick up my kid from school, that’s a HUGE WIN. What do I mean “if?” When. When there are those days… I’ve learned to accept that. I’ve learned to put the so-called star on the chart and go to bed.

I will hopefully sleep, and if I’m really lucky, it will be before 3am. Maybe it will even be restorative. Then, tomorrow, I start all over.

You wouldn’t even want to read all of that again, would you? (Don’t worry, I’m not offended.) I wouldn’t want to type it again, either. Imagine living it each day, never knowing which of the three I’ll first encounter when I wake.

I guess that’s it for now. Here at the beginning, my goal is to discuss when I get it right, and how to improve when I get it wrong. I hope to talk to people, and LISTEN to people, and maybe answer questions. The STIGMA must be ANNIHILATED! Suicide must be seen as a permanent solution to what is truly a temporary problem. It should never be viewed as a coping mechanism and final act to end the pain. That pain will only be doubled and passed on to those after you. I hope to post during my good days, bad days and everything in between.

Peace out, folks.

With Love, Hugs, Prayers. Hope. Always Hope. Always Dream. Just Try.

~Jen