My First Time.

I have never been hospitalized before. I think that I am pretty good at hiding things, but I couldn’t hide this from myself. I knew there was something wrong. I wasn’t sleeping more than a couple hours, I was becoming emotionally abusive, and I was falling back into overspending. Mania. This isn’t the first time I have been manic this year, but I hope it is the last. I moved into a new apartment earlier this week and I already can’t make rent. I am exhausting. I am tired from being me.

I took myself down to the hospital which I think we can agree is a feat on its own. Not having insurance was both a blessing a curse. The plus side is that I could choose whatever hospital I wanted and the downside is that I am uninsured. I can’t help but laugh that this insanely expensive vacation I just took and I didn’t even get to go to the pool. I am constantly, actively working to better myself. I take my medication, go to all my doctors appointments, religiously see my therapist, use the breathing exercises. I am not immune to it. It wasn’t at all what I had expected. Clean, hospital like in some ways, slightly degrading, and cold. BUT I am blessed to have gone to a place that provided me a private room and bathroom. Granted, everything was bolted to the floor and the bathroom had no door. Overall it was a really nice place filled with people actively trying to get better.

I was sad and anxious that I was taking all these days unpaid, but I had to. I had to go and get help. It was an out of body experience watching me set fire to all the relationships that took years to rebuild. One conversation has sent it all tumbling down. Here I am, trying to intervene and slow the damage. I was discharged yesterday afternoon and it seems that my grandparents are going to be the hardest to recover. I suppose it is divine timing because we just moved away after living next door to them. I am fortunate to still have my mom in my corner because it would be hell living together for the next year if I am going to be the source of her pain and anger.

I am doing better today. Better than yesterday, better than a week ago. I just have to keep pushing forward. My anxiety is manageable right now and I hope that it stays that way. I hope that this made inpatient stays a little less scary for those who haven’t experienced it.

Keep fighting the good fight!

Now I See

Yesterday, I received my very first pair of glasses. I didn’t realize how blind I was. I now see everything so differently. So crisp. So clear. It’s insane. I had no idea that I wasn’t seeing things clearly. And it reminded me of myself when I realized something was wrong with my brain.

I have struggled with crippling depressions ever since I can remember. And these depressions are a lot longer than a week or a day. They last from 6 months to 3 years. My most recent depression lasted 3 years and included 6 months of not eating, which resulted in my body nearly shutting down. It included many, many nights of self-harm. And when I finally came out of it, I dove straight into my very first manic episode.

My manic episode lasted for a little over a year. And it took 9 months to figure out that something was wrong with me. During the first 9 months, I was extremely reckless, hyper-sexual, and felt indestructible, all-knowing, and ecstatic. I didn’t need sleep because I was fueled up on manic energy. I was creating art, music, books, and I wasn’t going to stop just to sleep. In order to stay awake when I did get tired, I turned to drugs, which is COMPLETELY out of character for me. The mania caused me to lose my appetite, so I lost a lot of weight again, and the drug use just made it worse. I overdosed 6 months into my mania (didn’t tell anybody, though). During the next 3 months, I was desperate for money and I was still hyper-sexual, so I began taking money for sex. This is also COMPLETELY out of character for me. It was after I got roofied that I realized something had to be terribly wrong with me.

I went to my PCP, who said it sounded like I had bipolar disorder. However, they weren’t equipped to handle mental illnesses, and asked me repeatedly to go to a psychiatrist. I put it off because I was feeling great (still manic). I also didn’t want to admit I had a mental illness. It didn’t take long before I tripped and fell face-first into another depression. This one was intense, and lasted 3 months. By the end of the 3 months, I was experiencing depression and mania at the same time.

I became extremely reckless with men again, and I was hallucinating a terrifying black demon. I couldn’t sleep anymore. I couldn’t even go into my bedroom; I was so afraid. The only way to get the demon to go away was to cut myself. So I started etching little red ditches in my thighs every time it happened. I begged for help. I went to the hospital and begged to be admitted to the psych ward. They even saw my thighs. They wouldn’t take me because they said I wasn’t a danger to myself or others. I never felt more invisible and helpless in my life.

A week later, I called my boss and told them what was happening to me. She has bipolar disorder, too, so she immediately called 911 and asked them to do a wellness check on me. Instead of coming to my house, they called me and asked if I was okay. I wasn’t ready to go to the hospital yet. I wanted to say good-bye to my daughter (who I sent to my mom’s because I knew I wasn’t safe). So I told them I was fine. Thankfully, my cousin decided to call them again, so then they actually came to my door. It was just in time, because I was just trying to cut a path in my arm that was deep enough to bleed out. They saw my arm and said if I didn’t come with them, they would 302 me (give me no choice). I said PLEASE take me, I’ve only been trying to go for a month. So, I finally got the help I needed, and it was 2.5 years ago. I’ll write about my stay in the psych ward another time.

My whole point is that sometimes you don’t realize how blind you are to your situation, actions, behaviors, etc until something is put in front of your eyes to make you see it. For me, being raped opened my eyes. And then my brand new glasses made my vision clear, for real. 😉 The important thing is to make sure that once you see your issues, you get the right help for them. And then do the research so that you can be self-aware and catch episodes before they have a chance to spin out of control, which we all know happens very quickly.

Babbles: Blanket Monsters

When I was young, and I could not face the world, I would go to my room and I would hide beneath my blanket, sitting on my floor, with my blanket pulled over my head.  In my head, no one could see me, I was safe, and I was in my own world, numb to whatever was on the outside causing a ruckus.  It was my way of protecting me, giving myself a timeout.  As an adult, I still want to be able to hide under a blanket and disappear from the world at times.

One of those times was this morning/afternoon.  We changed a medication or two and I am struggling.  I am coming down from a very high manic episode and I would like to think of the descent as something that could be compared to that of a kite slowly descending from a beautiful ride upon the wind waves, putting on a beautiful show, but in reality it probably looks like a three year old having a tantrum because her leg is stuck in the string of the kite and she’s kicking and screaming down on the ground as her mother attempts to get the string dislodged from her ankle while not getting kicked in the face after she herself has had a few cocktails.  The key thing that’s missing is grace.

I really am struggling today, as I have all weekend.  The fatigue is intense.  I fear being away from my bed and I loathe having to be in clothes that are not ones that could count as pajamas.  I nearly had a panic attack today thinking that I would have to actually work and did not have the opportunity to sleep all day.

“What do you mean, work??? I want to sleep, not work! 

How can I work if I can’t even think today!  Will I be able to drive?”

This was part of the internal monologue that I had with myself today.  I lost the fight by the way.  The practical part of my brain won, and I took a shower, and dressed in reasonable clothes, did my hair and makeup, even threw on some jewelry.

But, a mere hour into my day, I am in the middle of a vacant parking lot, crying on the phone to my mother.  And it did not take her long to figure out that I was “hiding under my blanket”.  And she called me out on it.  In her high pitched, sweet and loving voice,

“Bella, are you hiding under your blanket?”

And I answered with snot being slurped up my nose and with my right-hand swiping across my face, yes (it is no wonder I have only gotten pink eye once, with all the tears and swiping that happens to me and my face).

“Are you done hiding?”

“No……”

So we talked some more….

Depression is a mother fucker.  It robs you of so much.  I shared that it feels like I am carrying around my weighted blanket and wearing shoes with sand in them.  It is heavy and causes oppression.  It takes me extra effort to get up out of my chair.  I have to will myself to get up, and to go pee.  Like I am sitting here thinking hard about it, and making sure that it is something that I really have to do and going to fully commit to and just not some willy nilly have to pee thing, because I am not getting up for some tinkle, I am only getting up for a full fledge if I sneeze I am going to flood this seat kind of a pee.

 

“Bella, are you ready to come out now?”

“Yes mama, I will come out now…”

Life must continue and we must move on and keep things in motion as hard and dragging as it is.  Today is a grueling day for me.  I have much to do, although I have zippo energy to do such things.  I will be kind to myself and I will cut myself a break.  But I will also realize that I can not hide under a physical or metaphorical blanket all day.  I need to be brave.

 

Sprinkles and Cupcakes (and kites and blankets),

~Bella

www.bellasbabbles.com

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness month. While it’s great there’s a month dedicated to this, it should be 365-day year awareness.

I understand suicide can be a touchy subject especially for those who have struggled with it themselves or have lost a loved one to it.

I wanted to share my personal story with suicide because that was something I struggled with for a long time.

I was 14 years old when I started getting suicidal thoughts. I was in high school and was completely miserable. I was living in an abusive household suffering abuse from my mom on a daily basis. It was physical, verbal, & psychological abuse. Living in such a toxic environment and experiencing that abuse on a regular basis caused me to go into a severe depression.

I would spend hours locked in my room crying myself to sleep. I would always question God asking him “why me?”

“Why was this happening to me?”

“Why did I have to get a mom who treated me so terribly?”

It wasn’t much longer when I started to get suicidal thoughts on a regular basis.

My mom told me so many lies on a regular basis that it was hard for me to not believe them. She convinced me I was a burden to others & that I shouldn’t be on this earth. She told me things that no child or person should ever here. She told me she wished I were never born and that she wished she had me aborted when she had the chance. These are things I wish I could say never happened, but those were all lies she told me.

My thoughts started to become more negative and darker as the days went on. I started to lose feelings of happiness and forgot what happiness felt like. I started to feel numb & empty on the inside not feeling any emotions but sadness. I started to cope with self-harm when I was 14 years old. I believed it was the only way for me to feel something besides emptiness & sadness so I turned to self-harm.

That’s when the suicidal thoughts started to creep in and became more frequent. I started to believe the lies my mom and my depression told me. I believed I was a burden to others and that the world would be a better place without me in it. I wanted out of the world so bad that I came up with a plan when I was 15 years old to end my life. I had been prescribed pain medication from a dentist visit when I had to get a root canal and researched that medication and found that if I took all of the pills in the bottle I could never wake up again. That was my plan.

It was like playing tug o war in my mind though, there was that part of me that believed I was a burden and that I should just leave the world now, but there was another part of me that wanted to keep fighting. It told me to keep pushing through that those negative thoughts were lies and I could beat them.

I confided in my high school’s guidance counselor and he helped me push through the suicidal thoughts. I didn’t seek out treatment for my depression at the time even though I should have. Throughout high school I still struggled with depression and being active in sports helped me manage it.

After high school and when I went away to University the suicidal thoughts started to creep in again. I thought it was just homesickness since I was going to school on the other side of the country, but it was much deeper than that for me.

It was the summer of 2014 when I was home from University that I sought out treatment for my depression. I struggled with an alcohol addiction and one day when I had way too much to drink I couldn’t control the suicidal thoughts. I knew that if I didn’t seek out help that night, I would have harmed myself and may not be alive today. I had my best friend’s boyfriend drive me to the mental hospital and drop me off. He asked me if I was sure I wanted to do this and I told him yes I knew if I didn’t get help I was only going to get worse.

I spent three days in the crisis unit of the mental hospital. I was put on Zoloft and anxiety medication that helped ease my anxiety while I was there. I wish I could say going on Zoloft helped with my depression, but it actually made things worse for me. At the time I was diagnosed with depression and didn’t know I had bipolar disorder. When I was on Zoloft I felt like a zombie I was so out of it and numb, I hated it. I didn’t realize that for those who have bipolar disorder, anti-depressants could cause you to go into mania, which it did for me.

When I was back at University that semester I was a wreck. I was in and out of depressive episodes along with being in manic episodes. My alcohol problem was out of control and my behavior was reckless. I was failing all of my classes and was drinking on a daily basis. I started to struggle with self-harm again and the suicidal thoughts again. I knew that if I didn’t leave University and get myself out of that environment things were only going to get worse for me. That’s when I withdrew from University and moved back home to Florida.

I wish I could say everything got better for me when I got back home to Florida, but my depression grew worse. The psychiatrist I was seeing was no help at all to me and didn’t listen to my problems. He didn’t care to give me a proper psych evaluation and just wrote me a script for the next anti-depressant out there. I continued to struggle with self-harm and battled the suicidal thoughts daily.

I was empty & numb living in an endless cycle of my depression.

It wasn’t until the end of 2016 when I finally found a psychiatrist who gave me a proper psych evaluation and diagnosed me with bipolar disorder. Getting on the proper medication and changing my lifestyle to healthier habits, put an end to the suicidal thoughts. It was like the fog had finally been lifted and I could see clearly again. I started to see a therapist for a few months as well that helped me work through some of the issues from my past.

I’m happy to say that I am stable now and have not harmed myself in over three years now. I still find myself going into depressive episodes every now and then and will catch the suicidal thoughts creeping into my mind. I’ve become a lot stronger than I was three years ago and can fight off the thoughts much better than before.

I know living with a mental illness will be a life long battle for me. I’ve spent over ten years now fighting the demons and while it can be exhausting, I know I will survive the fight.

For those of you that have experienced something similar or going through a tough time please never hesitate to seek out help. There are so many resources available out there today and remember you are not a burden to others. Your life matters and you are never alone in this fight.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

Babbles: Monsoons and Moodswings

Where I live, we have storms called Monsoons.  There are mainly dust storms, but sometimes are accompanied with rain, and massive wind.  What makes them unique is the fact that it can be bright and sunny in one part of the sky, pitch dark in another place, torrential down pour of rain in one area and complete peace in another.

Sunday, we had one of these storms and I had a few work-related errands that I had to run, and I was taking in the sights that were surrounding me.  I drive a larger SUV and it was being moved around the road from the massive winds, my windshield wipers were moving about wiping the rain from my wipers and I was in awe of the contrast of the light and the dark of the sky.

I was thinking about the latest occurrence of a Bipolar mixed episode in my life.  The presence of depression and mania, quite close together, if not happening at nearly the same time, co-existing, the light and the dark, the calm and the violent, much like the weather that I was driving in, in that very moment.  I had to keep reminding myself that I was indeed driving and to not get totally lost in my head, but it was quite the visual for what I was experiencing within my body.

It has been challenging this last month.  A few changes to two medications are what we think led to the upheaval of the apple cart aka my mood and stability.  We are working together as a team to try and pick up the pieces and get back on track.

Each time I go through an episode I learn a lesson.  This last lesson, I learned a few things.  First, we change one thing at a time.  We ended up changing something with my hormones and my psychiatric medication and this was too much for my body to handle.  Next time, it would be best to change one, wait a month and then change another.

The other thing that I learned is that I most likely waited too long before asking for help.  I waited the month between doctor visits with both doctors until fessing up and stating that I was having problems.  I allowed myself to be in denial that I was struggling for weeks before stating that there was a problem and asking for help.  The reality was two weeks in, I started to notice a change for the worse, and at that time I should have raised my hand and asked for help.

Currently, I am still struggling.  I am extremely fatigued and lacking drive.  I am trying very hard to push myself, to be present and complete what is needed to be completed both at home and at work.  My reward for completing my tasks is to crawl into bed and allow the world to crash around me while I escape from it all.

I am scheduled to meet with my doctor this week.  I will request for more help.  I want for things to go back to how they were several weeks ago.  A month or so ago there was a gentle breeze, there was sun, a few clouds, but a big beautiful blue sky.  It was warm, but I could see the positive in everything, I could focus, I was motivated, and I had contentment.  Life was swell before the monsoons moved in and brought their unbalanced and unpredictable weather to my world.

 

Cupcakes with Sprinkles,

~Bella

www.bellasbabbles.com

A Special Thank You to my Friends & Family

Right now I’m at a period of my life where I’ve been focusing more and more on my own inner work & personal development. It’s something I neglected and put off for far too long. I held the belief that if I pushed away the painful memories & experiences I could forget about them forever. I’ve learned though, that’s not the truth. At some point they will resurface and force you to deal with them.

For being 23 years old I feel I have experienced so much already in my lifetime. I grew up in an abusive household for almost 18 years being abused by my mother on a daily basis. I was sexually assaulted at the age of 19. I struggled with an alcohol addiction during that period as well. I hit rock bottom and almost killed myself. I was hospitalized for my mental illness. I was in & out of depressive episodes along with manic episodes. It was only two years ago when I got the help I needed & became stable again.

During the years when I was away at college and struggled with my alcohol addiction I stopped caring about the others around me. I stopped caring when my friends voiced their concerns about me and wanted to help me. My actions became careless and reckless that cost me friendships at that time.

I think back and wonder that if I did listen to them or if I showed more compassion maybe some of those people would still be in my life. I wonder that if I didn’t struggle with alcohol and mental illness that some of those people would still be in my life. It also showed me, who my true friends were, the ones who stuck by me through it all and are still in my life today.

It’s why I want to say thank you. I want to say thank you to my family and closest friends who stuck by me through my darkest moments. I thank you for not giving up on me when I was at my lowest points. I thank you for not getting mad or leaving when I wouldn’t listen to your advice. I thank you for always being there to support and show me love even when I didn’t want to receive it.

I believe it’s always through our darkest struggles and moments that shows us the people in our lives who truly care. It strengthens us to rise up even higher than before. So again, thank you to all those who showed me support and love through my darkest moments.

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Why You Should Start Practicing Mood Hygiene

We practice personal hygiene, dental hygiene, etc. But have you ever thought to practice mood or mental health hygiene?

The word hygiene was derived from the Greek goddess of health, Hygiea. Hygiene is defined as the science of the establishment and maintenance of health. Mood hygiene is when you practice and build habits that will promote good control of your mood symptoms. For those who have a mental illness this helps take preventive measures to improve the symptoms over time.

Living with mental illness, I never thought to add mood hygiene into my routine. The more I learned about it made me realize how beneficial it can be. Practicing mood hygiene doesn’t have to be just for those who have mental illness; it can be for everyone to practice. There are a few ways to practice mood hygiene and incorporate it into your daily life.

  1. Stress and conflict management

When you find yourself in stressful situations, it can sometimes trigger symptoms of your illness like a depressive episode or anxiety attack. There are several ways that you can take to help and prevent stress in your life such as exercising regularly or meditating.

I’ve learned that when I find myself in stressful situations is when my depressive episodes start to surface again. It’s why I’ve added exercise and meditation into my routine because it does help eliminate the stress and lifts that weight off of your shoulders.

  1. Lifestyle regularity

Having structure in your day-to-day life is extremely important. By establishing and sticking to a schedule will help build that structure in your life. For example, I wake up at the same time everyday and have a morning routine that I stick to everyday. I start my mornings by journaling and listing out a few things that I am grateful for each morning. By practicing that gratitude also helps get me in a positive mindset for the day. I then get my workout in before I start my workday.

By having a schedule you stick to on a regular basis builds the structure in your life that will help you feel in control of your life.

  1. Track your moods

By keeping track of your moods will help you determine if there is a certain pattern or cycle in your moods. I started tracking my moods a couple months ago in my journal and it has helped me become more self-aware. It’s helped me notice a pattern in my moods and it allows me to get my moods more under control. It allows me to prepare for the month so I can be strategic with my commitments and make sure I don’t over extend myself.

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These are just a few ways on how you can practice mood hygiene and start implementing them into your own daily life. Practicing mood hygiene on a regular basis will help immensely in the mental health recovery process. It allows you to have a new sense of control in your life and can be empowering for the individual.

Bella’s Babbles: Sunday Edition 5/12/19

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Photo by Buenosia Carol on Pexels.com

Friday has come and gone.  And there was not a babble that was recorded due a mental day off that was in place.  I did much of nothing on Friday.  Had breakfast, saw my family on their way to work and school and then took a much-needed restorative nap.  Upon waking, I headed out and I had lunch with my love and headed home to greet my kiddos after their day from school ended.  It was quite an uneventful day, but it was exactly what I needed.  I needed a day to just chill and let my brain rest.  I needed to just be, and to not have a place to be or to be restrained by a schedule or a time limit.  I was way in need of resting.  Both physically, mentally and emotionally.  And that is exactly what I did.

It has been a rough week.  My emotions have been a roller coaster.  I have been hot and cold.  Up and down.  Here and there.  Happy and sad.  Calm and angry.  I have had quite enough of myself, so I am pretty sure that my family probably feels the same as I do.

The irritability that has plagued me has just been tearing me apart.  I want to scream.  Then I want to cry.  Following, I want to throw objects on the ground and gauge holes in the walls.  And then I want to sob in the corner.  Although I have done none of this, except sobbing in the corner, or rather my car, the feelings have been so intense, and I have not felt this way in so long that it has been overwhelming and just saying that seems like such an understatement.

Ive had the feeling recently of wanting to run away, not in a physical sense but a mental and emotional sense.  To get away from the way that I feel.  The pain, the anguish, the hurt and pain.  To just run, run until my legs won’t stop and then run another ten miles until I pass out and can’t get back up.

The mania is not the worst that I have ever had.  It is actually slight in comparison.  But because I have been so good for so long, this mania is literally kicking my ass in a Marine’s boot camp kind of a way.  With a drill Sargent screaming down my throat and tears welling up in my eyes as I try my hardest to pump out one more push up before my arms give out.

 

Today was the first day that I did not feel the irritability.  It was first day in two days that I did not spend in bed.  Today I did not pick a fight with my spouse.  Today I got myself all dolled up for the holiday and made the best of the day.  I was exhausted with all the commotion and excitement and celebrating, but I made the best of the event and kept myself composed.

I return to work tomorrow and I pray that I can keep myself composed.  That I am on the upswing and that the mania is now something of the past and that it will not resurface.  The anger issues were never resolved so I ponder when their nasty heads will resurface, but I will save those for another day.  Today I will focus on the fact that I have happiness and peace.  That the bitterness and mean heartedness has disappeared, and a bit of happiness has returned.

I go bits of time debating whether I do have Bi polar and then I am so graciously reminded that indeed, I do.  It is a part of me and we co-exist.

I will wake tomorrow.  I will make it a good day.  I will wear a smile on my face.  I will speak affirmations.  I will speak positively to myself.  I will remind myself that this tough times are temporary.  That the sunshine will return.  That the beautiful sunsets are there waiting for me.  That I am a gift.

 

Cupcakes and Sprinkles,

~Bella

www.bellasbabbles.com

Fluttering Manic Butterflies

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Photo by Isabella Mariana on Pexels.com

The sitting.

But then there’s the movement.

And how can I not mention the mental buzzing.

There’s the lethargy, and exhaustion, but at the same time a desire to run, to run like the wind and to not stop until your legs give out and you topple over, face planting onto the hot, dirty pavement.

Yet, I sit.

I think. Think thoughts.

I should do this.

I should do that.

I shouldn’t of done that or said those things.

While thinking there’s all these things that I think I could be doing, or should be doing, that my brain is telling me to do, but I sit, nearly paralyzed.

It’s a physical paralysis as my mind keeps going and going, running and running, leaping and bounding over hurdles, yet my body remains still, still on the outside.

Under my skin, deep within my skin throughout my muscles there is a muted chatter.  A movement where nothing seems to quiet.  I refer to it as the butterflies.  They live within me and are never quiet or still.  I sit and I do not move and like a baby in the womb, they move about with their own destination in place.

It is torture.

One may think that the inability to be still is a godsend, the answer to getting all they’re to dos done in one day.  But it is not, it is in no way a godsend.

The inability to concentrate.  To not be able to think long enough to compose a well thought out sentence.  It does not bring joy but sadness and despair.  There is literal pain felt through the body when trying to control one’s unquenchable desire to move, especially when one is exhausted.

Loved ones and friends offer to help.  And there’s nothing that they can do.

A big, sincere, long hug left me with tears streaming down my face last night.  The realization that he feels just as powerless as I do, breaking my heart, again.

There are birthdays to celebrate and mothers to shower with love.  I do not have the time nor the energy to have a manic episode.  Yet here it is front and center, present….. Major Mania reporting for duty.

 

Cupcakes and Sprinkles,

~Bella

www.bellasbabbles.com

 

The Silent Sands of Illness



This is a new rendition of a poem I wrote on my blog.

The Silent Sands of Illness

Spheres be fed the blackened beast,

For long to fill his gluttonous feast.

Not life itself could escape it’s grasp.

For death to all the plague they clasp.

Yet random the beast, it toyed it’s prey,

Amused with the game of chance to play.

Ally of time, it’s patient was astound.

Stomach growls the best around.

But who would have thought that the beast – himself,

Could make it’s prey place their hopes and aspirations into a shelf?

What will the prey be bound to do, to make it through?

The beast as it preys, acting as a bough,

A bough of illness.

Amused again by the game and a chance to play,

It’s patients were astound — astound,

by the growls of the beast’s stomach – the growls of the best around.

Thank you for being with me. Let us rebuild a healthy state of mind.

Love, Francesca.

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