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Archive for the ‘purpose’ Category

I’ve been well for two years now with just 2 or 3 slight dips in mood. I handled the dips well and they didn’t escalate into desperately depressed episodes. What I am desperate for is something to do since I am retired, have too much time on my hands and I don’t think I can handle the stresses of a full or regular part-time job.

Before my last deep, dark episode 2 years ago, I was volunteering for Hospice doing data entry for 4 hours once a week and I liked my job. I did it very well. While I was sick in the hospital, my husband called in for me telling my supervisor I was ill and I wouldn’t be back. I didn’t have any interaction with people there but I liked my work. My husband and therapist felt that having no interaction wasn’t healthy and maybe they were right. But now that I’m doing so well, I am desperate for something productive to do. I have too much time on my hands.

I tried volunteering at the Sheriff’s office doing fingerprinting. I had a 4-hour shift one day a week. The problem was that only one or two people came in to be fingerprinted during my shifts. Sometimes no one showed up. I would have to sit there doing crossword puzzles since they didn’t have any other work for me to do. I was bored out of my skull. I quit after only a few months.

I also tried helping out at our church office one morning a week answering the phone and doing some copying. I thought it would be fun but it was boring—no people interaction since I was covering for staff while they were in a meeting every week. I stopped signing up for hours (there were a few ladies who volunteered).

For a while I would go to the church café on Friday mornings and help six or seven older ladies stuff bulletins for the coming Sunday’s service. I was bored. The ladies were (and are) very nice people but the work was boring and the interaction didn’t grab my attention.

A number of years ago, I tried working at the animal shelter socializing the cats. The dander bothered me so I had to quit that.

My husband and former therapist felt I should sign up for classes at Joanne’s Fabric Store.   They have classes to make jewelry, knitting, decorative painting, crocheting and sewing. They even give occasional classes on cake decorating. The classes are one or two sessions long, are for beginners, which I would be one, but once you’ve taken the class where is the support to improve your skills at your newfound hobby?   Learning to knit hats and scarves in Florida is not practical. A sweater would be but you’d need an advanced class to learn the skills to do that and they aren’t offered. You need to pay for these classes plus the tools and materials. I don’t see the point in shelling out the money when the classes are so limited and I can’t completely learn a skill. Decorative painting sounds nice but you have to buy the items you want to paint plus the various brushes, the paint and the varnish/sealer. It’s expensive and I don’t have room in my house for clutter—I have everything I need—I live simply. You can only make so many gifts for people before it becomes clutter for them too.

So this is my dilemma: what do I do with my spare time? I can only clean my house so much. Once it’s clean it’s clean. There are only 2 of us so it doesn’t get too mussed up or dirty. I need something fairly stress free since stress is a trigger for anxiety which is a trigger for a mood swing.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

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Well, here we are, fairly settled into our home.  Much of the painting and decorating is done and it finally feels like it is truly ours.  There’s a peace here now, finally.

A few weeks after we arrived here, there was little peace.  Then, on March 2oth, I had an appointment with a new psychiatrist (Pdoc).  I gave him all my records from my Pdoc in NY.  He reviewed them, interviewed me and told me flat out that I don’t have cyclothymia or major depression.  I have Bipolar Disorder coupled with anxiety.   I was blown away but everything he said made sense.  To prove it to me, he had me keep a chart of my daily mood swings following the directions on the chart’s scale.  What a revelation!   I didn’t realize how unstable my moods were.  My poor husband is a saint for loving me this way.

Until now, I have been very embarrassed about this whole Bipolar diagnosis.  It’s a mental illness.  Moods can swing from very high (manic) where one’s judgement can be impaired, all the way down to extremely deep depression where one may become a danger to him/herself.  I’ve been on both sides of the normal line, but the side I’ve experienced the most is the downside.  The worst was the deep depression.  Thank God it’s only been a few times.

I was angry about the diagnosis because I had always been more than capable and fiercely independent.  I could run rings around coworkers in every job I had.  This is not lofty Bipolar thinking on my part–I have job evaluations to prove it.   But about a year before our move, something started happening that was sapping my strength, my memory, and my ability to work at the intensity and pace that I was accustomed to.

This demon finally had a name and is incurable and I was mad as h***!  The Pdoc did say we would work together to get it under control–that was hopeful.  The downside was that it has gone untreated in me for about 40 yrs and had just recently gone totally out of control–multiple full cycles in 1 day.  Because of how intense my cycles were, he said there is a good chance we may never get it under full control but he and I would work as a team to do the best we could.  At least he was honest.  He has kept his promise and we’re making progress–SLOW, but it’s progress.

My mood crashed on Oct. 1 this year.  I mean bottomed out so that I didn’t want to stick around anymore.  Hubby & I knew I needed help badly.  Pdoc told him to take me to the hospital.

It was the strangest experience I ever had.  I always had visions that a psych hospital was a scary place and full of weird, strange people, thanks to old TV movies and even some not so old movies.  The folks there were, for the most part, caring.  They made sure no one was cold & got you a cotton blanket if you were.  One poor fellow would start to nod out over his dinner plate.  Any one of us would catch him and wake him up before he drowned in his soup or potatoes.  Yes, all of them had mental issues, most less severe so you’d never know if you worked with them.

So what’s the point of this.  I spent 1 week with  these folks and I have to say it is the best thing that ever happened to me.  I am one of them and we are just like anyone else, just people looking to get our medical issues under control so we can go on with our daily lives.  One of us could be your neighbor and you would never know it.

I discovered that I’m still a whole person, I just have a condition called Bipolar Disorder.  I’m not ashamed of it anymore.  I  can talk about it now.  I am healing, slowly, but it’s happening.  Now I want to get on and serve others.

Did I mention NAMI?  It’s the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.  They have chapters all over the country.  My chapter has support meetings for people with mental illness as well as support meetings for family members.  What a blessing this NAMI group has been for me and also my hubby.  We’ve learned a lot there.  I’m hoping that perhaps I’d be allowed to serve there.

Time will tell where God will put me.

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It’s day 2 on the road and I sit now in a motel feeling a bit lonely.  Hubby and my dog are both asleep.  I am contemplating the idea that tomorrow we will arrive at our home in Florida.  New York is no longer home for us.  We are now Floridians by choice.  I can’t shake the feeling that we are just on another vacation.  We retired just days ago.  We’ve thrown out and packed up 36 years worth of stuff over the past few weeks preparing for this day.  Now its here and my mind just can’t take it in.

I’m looking forward to having the time to actually sort through boxes of pictures and putting them in some kind of order.  Creating scrapbook pages for special milestones in our family members lives, sewing curtains, placemats and decorative items for our home.  I also see myself getting involved with a new church when we finally find one to call our church home.  I’d like to find a cause that ignites passion in me and volunteer my time.

I hope to find a new purpose for my life in this chapter of my life.  I know my husband has similar feelings.  My psychiatrist (pdoc) gave me a homework assignment for when we arrived in our new home–read “The Purpose Driven Life”.  He told me, “You do have a purpose to fulfill now and you will find it.  Spend time in God’s word and in prayer.”  This is my intention so I will grow spiritually and do things that will matter for eternity, even if no one ever knows about my efforts.  It helps to stay unnoticed–there is less to interfere with one’s focus.

Right now, I need to focus on getting settled in.  I intend to enjoy this chapter of life full throttle.  I want to get past Social Phobia and truly enjoy people in any type of setting and not care about any criticism or whether or not they think I’m slightly odd.  I am who and what I am and I am learning to like myself with all my quirks.  I read a story once that a cracked pot can unintentionally water the ground surrounding it helping it’s portion of the Earth to grow beautiful flowers and green grass.  I want to be like that.  I have a medical issue that has changed me and I must constantly work hard to overcome it.  I could hate it but yet, because of it, I have learned life lessons that are invaluable.  So I embrace it as a blessing, hard won lessons that have permanently changed my outlook and me.  It has made me more sensitive to people facing serious physical and mental challenges in all areas of life.

I hope and pray that I can serve in some way to ease people’s fears and give them hope that they too can overcome their life challenges.  I want to inspire and motivate them to work at it because anything worthwhile requires an investment of time and energy–and each person IS worth it.  I want them to believe in themselves and in their abilities again.  And, if I can help them know God in the process, that would be the greatest gift of all


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It’s day 2 on the road and I sit now in a motel feeling a bit lonely.  Hubby and my dog are both asleep.  I am contemplating the idea that tomorrow we will arrive at our home in Florida.  New York is no longer home for us.  We are now Floridians by choice.  I can’t shake the feeling that we are just on another vacation.  We retired just days ago.  We’ve thrown out and packed up 36 years worth of stuff over the past few weeks preparing for this day.  Now its here and my mind just can’t take it in. 

I’m looking forward to having the time to actually sort through boxes of pictures and putting them in some kind of order.  Creating scrapbook pages for special milestones in our family members lives, sewing curtains, placemats and decorative items for our home.  I also see myself getting involved with a new church when we finally find one to call our church home.  I’d like to find a cause that ignites passion in me and volunteer my time.  I hope to find a new purpose for my life in this chapter of my life.  I know my husband has similar feelings.  My pdoc gave me a homework assignment for when we arrived in our new home–read “The Purpose Driven Life”.  He told me, “You do have a purpose to fulfill now and you will find it.  Spend time in God’s word and in prayer.”  This is my intention and I intend to grow spiritually and do things that will matter for eternity even if no one ever knows about my efforts.  It helps to stay unnoticed–there is less to interfere with one’s focus. 

Right now, I need to focus on getting settled in.  I intend to enjoy this chapter of life full throttle.  I want to get past Social Phobia and truly enjoy people in any type of setting and not care about any criticism or whether or not they think I’m slightly odd.  I am who and what I am and I am learning to like myself with all my quirks.  A cracked pot can unintentionally water the ground surrounding it helping it’s portion of the Earth to grow beautiful flowers and green grass.  I want to be like that.  I have a medical issue that has changed me and I must constantly work hard to overcome it.  I could hate it but yet, because of it, I have learned life lessons that are invaluable.  So I embrace it as a blessing, hard won lessons which have permanently changed me and my outlook.  It has made me more sensitive to people facing serious physical and mental challenges in all areas of life.  I hope and pray that I can serve in some way to ease people’s fears and give them hope that they too can overcome.  I want to inspire and motivate them to work at it because anything worthwhile requires their investment of time and energy–and each of them IS worth it.  I want them to believe in themselves and in their abilities again.  And, if I can help them know God in the process, that would be the greatest gift of all.

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