Archive For The “BIPOLAR DISORDER” Category

Suicide Warning Signs

Suicide Warning Signs

Suicide Warning Signs | TheSunnyShadow.com >> Click to Read!September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. September 5th-11th is National Suicide Prevention Week. And September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day.

One way you can show your support is by changing your social media profile pictures to a Suicide Prevention & Awareness Ribbon. The American Association of Suicidology and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline both offer downloadable badges.


If you or someone you know is thinking about hurting themselves, please get help immediately.

Call 911 -OR- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK{8255} -OR- Suicide.org: 1-800-SUICIDE {784-2433}


Suicide Warning Signs

Note that suicide risk is heightened if the behavior is new, increased, & seems to be related to a painful event; such as a loss or change. Signs vary from person-to-person, with some people not exhibiting any noticeable signs at all.

It’s okay to ask someone if they’re experiencing suicidal thoughts.

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SUICIDE WARNING SIGNS -via TheSunnyShadow.com


This acronym from the American Association of Suicidology’s website may also be used as a quick reference. 

IS PATH WARM?

I – Ideation

S – Substance Abuse

P  – Purposelessness

A – Anxiety

T – Trapped

H – Hopelesseness

W – Withdrawal

A – Anger

R – Recklessness

M – Mood Changes


REMEMBER

You are NEVER alone. You ALWAYS have options. You matter. You are loved, needed and wanted.

Suicide Prevention Lifeline w/Ribbon -via TheSunnyShadow.com

Suicide.org: 1-800-SUICIDE {784-2433}

Krista-Lee-Pfeiffer


Bipolar Disorder and Menopause

Bipolar Disorder and Menopause

Bipolar Disorder & Menopause | TheSunnyShadow.com >> Click to Read!I recently had a birthday. A year from now I will be forty years old. Thankfully the prospect of aging doesn’t get me down. But unfortunately when you’re a woman, and especially if you’re a woman living with bipolar disorder, aging can impact your mood greatly. This is thanks to menopause.


“Times of increased reproductive hormonal changes, such as the menopausal transition (MT), are associated with greater mood symptom severity in bipolar spectrum women” – according to this 2015 study published in the International Journal of Bipolar Disorders.


And Dr. Jim Phelps shares that bipolar symptoms can worsen in the five years before the end of menstrual cycling, sometimes even ten years before. This period is generally referred to as perimenopause.

What Is Menopause & Perimenopause?

*More definitions at bottom*

A common misconception is that menopause itself is a process, it’s not. Rather, it “is reached at the point in time at which a woman has not had a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months. Therefore women have either reached this point (are post-menopausal) or have not (pre-menopausal). — However, the process of declining hormone levels prior to menopause has been referred to as perimenopause, or the menopausal transition (MT).”

The average age of menopause is 51 years, although this can vary widely.

Symptoms

Some bipolar and perimenopause symptoms overlap. An estimated 20% of women going through the menopausal transition (MT) experience depression. And insomnia, a hallmark symptom of perimenopause, is also a common symptom of hypomania, mania and bipolar depression. Other overlapping symptoms include anxiety, irritability, fatigue and cognitive complaints.

Yet other symptoms of perimenopause can be mistaken as side effects of bipolar medications. Such as reduced sex drive, hot flashes, night sweats, migraines, weight gain and even heart palpitations and dry hair.

More symptoms of perimenopause include irregular or heavy bleeding, worsening PMS, breast changes, thinning of the skin, vaginal dryness, painful intercourse and urinary incontinence.


“Hot flashes and adverse mood tend to improve post-menopause. Whereas sleep complaints, vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, and cognitive complaints tend to persist or worsen in association with aging” – according to this 2015 manuscript published by Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinics of North America.


Solutions

MT treatment is a personal decision to be made between a woman and her health care provider. And just like with bipolar medications, it can be a trial and error process.

Hormone therapy may help, but there are many options available. Treatment plans are often multi-faceted.

Mood Disturbances

There are conflicting reports on whether depression risks are greater in early menopause or late menopause. But it appears clear that perimenopause poses a greater risk than premenopause or postmenopause.

Estrogen may help some women and can be used to combat such things as mood disturbances and hot flashes. I even came across an oral estrogen medication called Ospemifene. It’s used to treat dyspareunia (pain during sexual intercourse) encountered by some postmenopausal women.

Like all medications, estrogen should be prescribed with care and monitored closely.

Another option is psychotropic medications, such as mood stabilizers, antipsychotics and antidepressants. But antidepressants increase risks of mania. So they’re rarely prescribed alone for bipolar.

Non-pharmacological approaches are valid options as well.

Exercise is still an underutilized cost-effective mood stabilizer. Its benefits were mentioned in much of the literature I read on menopausal treatment. Dr. Jim Phelps shares an article about Exercise and Mood I think everyone should read.

Eliminating contributing stressors can help too. Many women around menopausal age are experiencing life changes that contribute to mood destabilization. Stressors, such as empty nest, divorce and others are risk factors for mood destabilization. Disrupted sleep is a risk factor for bipolar symptoms whether you’re perimenopausal or not. And not getting enough of it will make anyone cranky.

Sleep Disturbances

“Hormonal changes alone are not likely to provide the complete explanation for the relationship between sleep difficulty and menopause. Chronic poor sleep hygiene habits and mood disorders contribute further to sleep problems” – according to this 2015 manuscript published by Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinics of North America.

Often the solution is in changing our habits. The root causes of our sleep disturbances may lie in our evening routines and sleep hygiene. Otherwise, we can always work with our health care providers to develop a plan of action.

Sleep apnea risks increase with age. And restless leg syndrome (RLS) is another possibility. Treatment for RLS include dopamine antagonists and gabapentin. Hormone therapy may be considered if disturbances are due to hot flashes or night sweats.


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The most important thing here is to always keep our doctors in the loop and on the same page. For example, let’s say my gynecologist were to prescribe me estrogen. I’d run that by my psychiatrist first. Hormone therapy would obviously affect my mood in some way. Plus, I’d want to know of any possible medication interactions. It’s best to always err on the side of caution.

WHAT CAN WE DO?

See Your Psychiatrist & Gynecologist Regularly: GYNs have differing recommendations for how often we should get pelvic exams and Pap tests (definitions below). The standard used to be once a year. But now some say every other year is okay if you meet certain requirements. To ensure an educated decision I suggest checking with your doctor and insurance company.

If you have questions and/or concerns, share them with your health care providers. Don’t be afraid to call them between scheduled visits either. Be your own advocate. Speak-up, make sure you’re heard and get your questions answered.

Make sure that everyone is on the same page and that all providers are aware of what the others are doing and prescribing. Be sure to keep a medication list on you.

Keep a Menstrual Calendar (track your menstrual cycle (periods)). There is a printable Monthly Calendar available in the Free Download Library. Or, here is a list of 9 Period Tracking Apps from Refinery 29. Besides tracking your start and stop dates, also note any symptoms you experience. Most mobile apps offer this option. Compare it with your Mood Calendar (below) and share your results with your health care providers.

Keep a Mood Calendar (track your moods). You will find a downloadable/printable version in the Free Download Library. But if you’d rather use an app, you’ll also find a PDF in the Free Download Library that includes 10 Mood Tracking Apps Ideal for Bipolar Disorder. Many of them chart your results in a format that makes it easy to share with your health care provider. Note how much sleep you get and its quality, contributing stressors, anxiety, etc. My printable tracker provides spaces for this, as most mobile apps do as well.

Practice good self-care. I’ve written a blog post outlining 10 Basic Self-Care Steps We Should Be Taking for Bipolar Disorder. You will also find a downloadable version in the Free Download Library, attached to 10 Mood Tracking Apps Ideal for Bipolar Disorder (making it a 2-page PDF).

In Closing

My own worsening bipolar symptoms prompted this blog post. Add to that symptoms that seem eerily menopausal and the fact that my mom went through MT early. Granted, there are a plethora of reasons I can attribute them to. But with the big 4-0 around the corner, I’m a bit curious about where I am on the menopausal timeline.

It’s quite possible that my bipolar symptoms are worsening due to perimenopause. But the only way to know for sure is to talk to my health care providers. If you have concerns, you should speak with your health care providers as well.

Signed: An aging woman with bipolar disorder.

Definitions

Dopamine Antagonist: a chemical, medication or drug that prevents the actions stimulated by dopamine. Dopamine is a naturally produced chemical in the body that binds to regions in the brain to help regulate emotions and movement. Dopamine antagonists disrupt the activity of dopamine by blocking dopamine binding sites without activating them. These medications are used to treat a variety of disorders.

Early Menopause: Menopause that occurs earlier than the normal range of menopause. See also Premature menopause.

Estrogen: A variety of hormone chemical compounds produced by the ovaries, influencing the growth and health of female reproductive organs. They are active in many cells throughout the body by interacting with estrogen receptors. The three main naturally occurring estrogens in women are estradiol, estrone, and estriol. Estrogen levels fall after menopause. Several types of estrogen therapies are available for menopause indications. Also available in some contraceptives but at much higher doses than those used for menopause treatment.

Gabapentin: A non-hormonal prescription drug government approved for the treatment of seizures from epilepsy, sometimes prescribed off-label for treating hot flashes.

Gynecologist: A doctor who specializes in the care and health of the female reproductive organs.

Hormone therapy (HT): Prescription drugs used most often when treating menopause symptoms. Includes Estrogen therapy (ET) and Estrogen plus progestogen therapy (EPT).

Hot Flash: A condition resulting in a red, flushed face and neck, perspiration, an increased pulse rate, and a rapid heartbeat, often followed by a cold chill. This is the most common menopause-related discomfort, thought to be the result of changes in the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates the body’s temperature. If the hypothalamus mistakenly senses that a woman is too warm, it starts a chain of events to cool her down. Blood vessels near the surface of the skin begin to dilate (enlarge), increasing blood flow to the surface in an attempt to dissipate body heat.

Late Menopause: A vague term used to indicate menopause that occurs later in the normal range of menopause.

Menopause: the time at which a woman stops having menstrual periods. It is defined as the absence of menses for 12 consecutive months. The average age of menopause is 51 years, although this can vary widely. 

Menopause Transition: See Perimenopause.

Pap Test: A screening test in which a sample of cells is taken from a woman‘s cervix and examined under a microscope for pre-cancerous conditions. Named after George N. Papanicolaou.

Pelvic Examination: Clinical exam of the vulva (external genitalia), vagina, cervix, uterus, and ovaries. A speculum is inserted into the vagina and a Pap test is usually done during this exam. See also Pap test, Speculum.

Perimenopause: A span of time that begins with the onset of menstrual cycle changes and other menopause-related symptoms and extends through menopause (the last menstrual period) to 1 year after menopause. Perimenopause is experienced only with spontaneous (natural) menopause, not induced menopause. Also called the menopause transition.

Postmenopause: The span of time after menopause (the final menstrual period).

Premature Menopause: menopause occurring in a woman younger than 40 years. About 1% of women experience premature menopause.

Premenopause: The span of time from puberty (onset of menstrual periods) to perimenopause.

Surgical Menopause: menopause induced by the removal of the ovaries. Women who have had surgical menopause often have a sudden and severe onset of the symptoms of menopause.

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SOURCES: NIH | PsychEducation.org | eMedicineHealth.com | bp Magazine | NIH | Medscape | The North American Menopause Society | Livestrong.com

Krista-Lee-Pfeiffer

Identifying Bipolar Disorder Triggers

Identifying Bipolar Disorder Triggers

Identifying Bipolar Disorder Triggers | TheSunnyShadow.com >> Click to Read!Bipolar disorder triggers are stressors, or really anything, that bring on or worsen bipolar symptoms and mood episodes. People with bipolar disorder tend to be more sensitive to various stressors and triggers than people who do not have bipolar disorder. And different things trigger different people.

When I think about identifying bipolar disorder triggers, it reminds me of when my daughter got diagnosed with migraine headaches. She’s fourteen now, but when it all started she was in third grade. Because she was so young, and the phenomenon was new to her, she was unable to clearly articulate what was going on within her.

She wasn’t able to recognize her migraine until it had reached its final stage. By this time she was nauseated and vomiting.

Initially we thought she had stomach issues and attempted to treat those, even taking her to a G.I. specialist. Because that’s what we saw and what she complained of. But eventually an E.R. doctor diagnosed her with migraines and finally that nasty symptom all but stopped!

My point?

When our bipolar symptoms become severe, they take center stage and we have no choice but to dedicate all of our attention to treating them. There’s no time to look for what triggered them in the first place. But if we employ self-awareness early on, often we can identify warning signs and triggers.

Why Is It Important to Identify Your Personal Triggers?

Identifying your triggers provides you with the opportunity to eliminate triggers all together, to minimize them, or to find ways to cope with them. In turn, this may help you avoid a mood episode or reduce its severity and duration. That’s pretty empowering.

Of course there will still be times when it seems that bipolar symptoms hit us out of the bright blue sky, but over time, we grow to know ourselves and our bodies better. It takes practice. Self-awareness is key.

Common Bipolar Disorder Triggers

  1. Disrupted Sleep Patterns and/or Sleep Deprivation: Insomnia, jet lag, or falling out of your normal sleep/wake schedule for any reason can contribute to an increase in bipolar symptoms. Sleep deprivation can increase risks for hypomania while increased sleep can sometimes be followed by depression.
  2. Disruption to Routine: With bipolar being a circadian rhythm disorder, keeping a daily routine is important in order to maintain mood stability and consistent energy levels. A typical bipolar routine may consist of staying on a consistent sleep/wake schedule, taking medications at the same times daily, eating and drinking regularly, building in personal and social time, exercise, and so-on.
  3. Season Changes or Transitions of Any Kind: For some people, season changes bring about mood fluctuations. Winter commonly triggers depression and spring and summer commonly trigger hypomania and mania. But if a person becomes aware that this is one of their triggers, precautions can be put into place. It starts with awareness. You and your psychiatrist can develop a plan of action based on this knowledge. If you so happen to get depressed in the winter, as I tend to do, perhaps your psychiatrist may discuss with you a light therapy lamp.
  4. Stressful or Positive Life Events: Bad and good things, big and small, can trigger mood episodes. Like marriage, death, childbirth, the loss of a job or the beginning of a new one, moving into a new home, etc. It’s always good to work closely with a therapist while going through a life adjustment.
  5. Alcohol and Drug Use: Alcohol and drugs are mood-altering chemicals that carry with them the potential of interacting with prescribed medications. They can trigger depression, mania and even psychosis in some people.
  6. Overstimulation – from within or without: Caffeine and nicotine can be potentially triggering. As can the excitement and passion that go along with taking on a new project. Lots of noise, clutter, crowds, conflict, and/or pressure can also be triggering.
  7. Physical Illness can also trigger bipolar symptoms.

Identify Your Bipolar Disorder Triggers

  1. Practice Self-Awareness. When we’re tuned into ourselves, we’re able to notice subtleties within ourselves. Such as the early warning signs that we’re becoming triggered.
  2. Track Your Mood. Keeping a thorough daily mood chart will also help in identifying triggers. Make sure there is room for not only mood, but also things like the quantity and quality of sleep, and what stressors may have contributed to your mood each day (like the free printable mood tracker pictured below!)

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Mood Tracker by TheSunnyShadow.com

>> Also available in the Free Download Library: 10 Mood Tracking Apps Ideal for Bipolar Disorder

Warning Signs

Warning signs are milder forms of typical bipolar symptoms and, like triggers, they vary from person-to-person. The longer you live with bipolar, the more familiar you become with its effects on you and it will become easier for you to spot warning signs. Remember, some of the warning signs may overlap.

Examples of Depression Warning Signs:

  • Disrupted sleep, insomnia, or increased sleep
  • Sadness
  • Tearfulness
  • Lethargy and apathy
  • Decreased interest in activities you enjoy
  • Desire to isolate
  • Anxiety
  • Etc.

Examples of Hypomania/Mania Warning Signs:

  • Disrupted sleep, insomnia or decreased need for sleep
  • Elation
  • Increased energy
  • Taking on new projects
  • Fast, pressured speech
  • Increased spending
  • Increased interest in sex
  • Etc.

10 Ways to Reduce Stress

  1. Exercise.
  2. Minimize physical and mental clutter.
  3. Learn effective coping strategies
  4. Develop and stick to a routine.
  5. Get plenty of sleep.
  6. Set boundaries.
  7. Maintain healthy relationships.
  8. Keep your finances in order.
  9. Eat a well-balanced diet and stay hydrated.
  10. Learn relaxation techniques.

 How do you go about identifying your bipolar disorder triggers? What are some of your biggest triggers?

Krista-Lee-Pfeiffer


It’s Time to Flip the Script on Inpatient Psychiatric Care

It’s Time to Flip the Script on Inpatient Psychiatric Care

It's Time to Flip the Script on Inpatient Psychiatric Care -by TheSunnyShadow.com >> Click to Read!It’s time that we flipped the script on the way inpatient psychiatric care is viewed. I shouldn’t even have to provide an explanation for the previous sentence. I mean, surely you notice the judgmental thinning of the lips and hushed voices too – whether we’re talking about involuntary or voluntary admissions.

Stigma seems to be equally attached to both. Perhaps part of this is due to past conditions and the treatment of patients within old psychiatric facilities. But they have evolved over time, as should we.

Going Inpatient

People who are admitted, both voluntarily and involuntarily, are sick. And like with many other illnesses, complications arise from time-to-time throughout the course of bipolar disorder, as it’s a lifetime illness. When this happens, inpatient care is required to sort things out as quickly and as safely as possible.

Patients don’t just sit around and watch T.V. all day, nor are they alone in a white padded cell. There is some downtime, of course. But people go inpatient to heal, not to rest. They are undergoing active treatments aimed at stabilizing mood, teaching them how to cope with life and manage their disorder. Sadly, hard-earned progress can quickly be negated by stereotypes and judgments upon being released from a healthcare facility.

Judgment and misconceptions stop many people from even seeking inpatient care in the first place. It induces shame and results in sicker people. This eventually leads to dead people.

“Honesty is sometimes ugly, but it’s the essential building block for self-growth.” ~KLP

From what I gather, the current consensus is that, you’re officially crazy if you’re brazen enough to cross over into the realm of inpatient psychiatric healing.

Involuntary admissions are nothing to be ashamed of, but I still think voluntary admissions deserve to be celebrated in some small way. Especially if you have a history of involuntary admissions.

For a long time I feared going back to inpatient psychiatric care. But I’ve since realized that it’s not going back to the hospital that I fear. I fear going back to “The Madness.” It’s being so sick that I no longer have a say in the space my body occupies, that’s what I fear.

I believe that I’ll eventually make my way back to an inpatient psychiatric facility in one way or another, simply because of the nature of bipolar disorder. But I hope to do so of my own volition. It would be a drastic improvement from where I once was, 9-13 years ago. Back then I was involuntarily admitted numerous times due to suicide attempts, self-injury, and alcoholism. I call that time in my life “The Madness.” It consisted of active addiction, undiagnosed and then unmanaged bipolar disorder.

So you see, if I admit myself for inpatient mental health care, I will be taking a proactive self-care step while I still possess the piece of mind to do so. I will be practicing self-awareness by listening to what my body’s telling me. I will be going against the lies my disorder is screaming at me. And I will be doing all of this despite the thin lips, hushed voices, judgments, and misconceptions. I will be strong and courageous. I will be putting my mental health care first, which is pretty badass if you ask me. And I think it deserves a small celebration.

Have you ever voluntarily admitted yourself to an inpatient psychiatric facility? Were you judged? How did you handle it?

Krista-Lee-Pfeiffer

5 Ways to Successfully Re-Enter Life After a Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis

5 Ways to Successfully Re-Enter Life After a Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis

5 Ways to Successfully Re-Enter Life After a Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis | TheSunnyShadow.com >> Click to Read!This week The Sunny Shadow: Bipolar Support Group hosted its second Live Chat. And I’m sorry, but I cannot continue without first commenting on how amazing this supportive community is. This community rocks my world.

This week’s topic was: “How to re-enter life after a bipolar disorder diagnosis and treatment.” For so many reasons this can be difficult. You may feel as though you’ve lost something… control, who you once were…

And of course, there’s the various forms of stigma one has to face… societal and self-imposed. You have to figure out how to navigate this world as what can feel like an entirely different person. You have to face people… do you tell them? How and when? How will the react?


The Most Important Thing

The most important thing we can do for ourselves and our mental health is commit to our recovery and make it our number one priority. This means fully participating in treatment, taking proactive steps to care for ourselves (e.g. good self-care, calling psychiatrist in between appts. if need be), and becoming our own advocates. Below are just a few ways we can stay active in our recovery and reintegrate into life after a diagnosis.


1

Develop & Stick to a Routine

Routine is important for those of us living with bipolar. But developing & sticking to a routine becomes especially important when we’re recovering from an extreme mood episode or when we’ve just been released from a treatment center, for example.

WHY?

Bipolar disorder is believed to be a circadian rhythm disorder and the circadian rhythms of people with bipolar are naturally disrupted. Further disrupting these rhythms with say, irregular sleeping or eating schedules, can potentially trigger mood episodes. Sleep deprivation in particular is a major trigger for mania and hypomania.

Blog Post >> Bipolar Disorder & Sleep

Blog post >> Bipolar Disorder & Circadian Rhythms

Studies show that “ …interpersonal and social rhythm therapy may ease the symptoms of bipolar disorder because it works to regulate the daily routines of these patients, who are often found to have more sensitive circadian clocks. Disruptions in sleep and routine may spur bouts of mania or depression… “ -via American Psychological Association

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7 Therapies Beneficial for Bipolar Disorder >> Available to Subscribers in the Free Download Library | TheSunnyShadow.com

2

Educate Yourself & Accept Your Illness

Typically speaking, no one is an expert on an illness until they have a reason to be. This means that before we’re diagnosed, we’re generally working with the stereotypes and stigmas generated by our society. If we allow it, all of this can induce undue shame and make us feel bad about ourselves. But if we do our research and become educated we soon realize that the stereotypes are false and we have no reason to be ashamed. Education makes acceptance much easier. And so, we’re free to just be ourselves, rather than living behind the veil of our diagnoses.

Blog Post >> Understanding Bipolar Disorder

3

Seek Support & Stay Socially Connected

People who have support have better outcomes. They recover quicker, generally have fewer mood episodes and milder symptoms. It’s best to include both people who have and have not been diagnosed with bipolar disorder in your support system. Connecting with others who have also been diagnosed makes accepting your disorder easier. It will allow you to see that you’re not alone. It’s always helpful to hear other people’s perspectives and how they manage their disorders. And the ability to return this support helps build self-esteem, something that’s often lacking among people living with bipolar disorder.

“Research has shown that social support wards off the effects of stress on depression, anxiety and other health problems.” -via Mental Health America

• Join The Sunny Shadow: Bipolar Support Group!

• Find Local Support Groups via DBSAlliance

• Find Online Support via DBSAlliance

• Find Support Groups via Mental Health America

4

Identify & Minimize Stressors & Triggers

Everyone’s stressors vary and thus what we do to overcome them will too. But there are a few things we can all do to reduce stress.

Like stressors, individual triggers vary as well. To minimize and avoid stressors and triggers you must first identify them. You’re likely already aware of some of them. But to gain a clearer understanding, I suggest working closely with your therapist. Work on being more self-aware and mindful, touch base with yourself many times throughout each day. And keep a journal.

5

Maintain a Healthy (& Hopeful) Perspective

Yes, bipolar disorder is a mood disorder. But we still have a large degree of control over our mindsets. We’re not victims. It might be hard ass work but with support and effective coping tools, we’re capable of anything and everything. When we’re going through a low, it’s important to remember that it’s not going to last forever. We can take comfort in that fact. Some days (or weeks) it’s going to be difficult, but do your best to remain hopeful and solution-focused. You’ve got this, you CAN do this!

Blog Post >> How to Gain a Fresh Perspective

Blog Post >> The Thing About Bipolar Disorder

Krista-Lee-Pfeiffer


I Did Something Crazy: I Went On a Job Interview

I Did Something Crazy: I Went On a Job Interview

I Did Something Crazy -by TheSunnyShadow.com >> Click to Read >>I did something crazy this week. I went on a job interview.

Some may ask why something as simple as a job interview would be considered crazy. And that’s a fair question. A question that, 13 years ago, I never thought I’d have to answer. But this week I did, again.

To get fully acquainted with my situation, you may want to read Bipolar Disorder, Disability, & Stigma. 

I didn’t expect to try for a “real” job again so soon after my last failed attempt, but I found myself in a financial situation that warranted the consideration. I thought, “Why not give it one more try? An interview won’t hurt anything.” But there was one thing I failed to consider, my esteem.

As soon as the interview changed from theory to reality, anxieties rose. Not only mine, but my husband’s and my mother’s as well. The thing is, neither of them spoke up. This is odd for my mother, who’s rarely shy about sharing her opinions. But my husband tends to patiently allow me to go through all the motions myself. I’m sure that he hopes I’ll eventually reach a conclusion he’s comfortable with, but if I don’t he lovingly finds a way to adapt and support me. Why? Because he wants happiness for me. I appreciate him dearly. But sometimes, like this time, I wish he would just tell me the way things are as to save me from myself.

Through the motions I began, with the interview less than 24 hours away! As always, I researched the company, researched and formulated responses to common interview questions, freshened-up and printed-off my resume, and laid-out “business professional” attire! And as usual, I neglected all the cons and glorified potential pros.

What If

Then I crunched numbers. My asking salary would be equal to → What rate of pay would compensate for the risks of losing my disability, my sanity, and ultimately my family?

I assigned the “what ifs” a monetary value as I neatly stored them away in a dark corner of my mind. What if working turns out to be too much for me but I’ve already lost my disability? What if working exacerbates my bipolar disorder? What if working exacerbates my alcoholism? What if I miss the red flags and my illnesses become destructive, again? What if working ultimately leads to me losing my family, again?

But the only “what if” I truly focused on was, what if this turns out to be an opportunity of a lifetime… the perfect job that I love, that doesn’t exacerbate my illnesses and pays a lot of money.

I Did Something Crazy -by TheSunnyShadow.com >> Click to Read >>

I killed the interview. I always prepare and fake it until I make it, a skill I first learned in A.A. The interview was not my concern.

Reality

But once I got home, the realities of what working really meant began to settle in. I realized that my thinking had been delusional. There was no possible way I could work, take care of my two daughters, my mother, and myself! Especially considering that there are times when I fail to take care of myself at all!

When I initially started my job search, I could sense my husband’s concerns. To ease his anxiety I told him, “I’m more educated and aware now, so I’ll notice red flags sooner. I won’t allow things to get out of control.” HA! It must have been so difficult for him to bite his tongue as he watched me ignoring the huge red flags bouncing off my forehead.

Even though me working would have greatly impacted our entire family, my husband completely left the decision up to me. When I finally decided that working wasn’t a reality, I had mixed feelings. Initially I felt like a failure. I admit it, there was a minute when I even felt sorry for myself and cried. I thought, “damn you bipolar!” I see other people who live with bipolar and work and do all kinds of things. But that only lasted for a minute.

The Lesson

Soon I felt relieved. And though part of me feels that I’ve wasted everyone’s time and energy with this whole job thing, I know that there’s a lesson to be learned from every situation. I realized that I was building it up to be something it wasn’t. I remembered that I don’t want to be like anyone else. I remembered that success is what we make it out to be, and that I’m already successful. Just look at my loving family and YOU, the supportive readers of this blog.

It’s up to us to create our own versions of success. Mine looks different from the way I once thought it would – and that’s okay. If I would have followed the path I’d originally laid out for myself, my life would lack meaning. And I wouldn’t be fulfilled in the way I am now. Money is not everything.

If my old therapist was here she may be disappointed. We worked so hard on me recognizing my red flags. So I’d say that I need to work on increasing self-awareness and acceptance. It makes sense that I’m not as in-tune with myself right now. I’ve gotten away from my Morning Routine and I’ve been under a lot of stress. And stressful times are when we need grounding and centering activities the most. Some more grounding/centering activities that increase self-awareness are deep breathing, journaling, meditation, mindfulness, and yoga.

Have you done anything “crazy” lately? What lesson did it teach you?

Krista-Lee-Pfeiffer

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