“I’m Not A Mess” by Dyane
A touch of profanity and silly, embarrassing neck movements
Last Friday I was inspired by the writing of Dr. Walker Karraa, founder of Stigmama.com and author of the bestselling book Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women’s Stories of Trauma and Growth.
Dr. Karraa wrote about how the media only portrays women with postpartum mood disorders (PPMD’s) as sad. The reality is that I, along with most women with PPMD’s, use the full range of our emotions. Many of us don’t walk around 24/7 with gloom and doom expressions. I came up with my ditty “I’m Not a Mess”, and I felt pretty spunky when I recorded my tune. Little did I know that I’d become a major mess over the weekend.
Valentine’s Day was beautiful and sunny, but I woke up out of sorts. The previous night I read a Freshly Pressed post that deeply affected me: Asher’s “Bipolar as Unexpected Gift” on My Beautiful Machine. In a nutshell, I allowed Asher’s post title to trigger me. I wrote a complaint to WordPress letting them know why I wasn’t thrilled with their selection.
Next, I wrote my own blog post about Asher’s post. I broke my stringent rule of not waiting a minimum of twenty-four hours to review and publish any post. Instead, as soon as I finished typing “Do YOU think bipolar is a gift?”, I pressed the blue “Publish” button. Shazam! I had no idea what I was about to stir up.
I received more comments about “Do YOU think bipolar is a gift?” than any of the other 257 posts I’ve written. (Speaking of comments, I apologize for not having responded to comments yet. I will! My apologies!)
If I could re-do Valentine’s weekend, I would have put my energy into doing something else than writing about Asher’s post. It’s so easy to look back at such events and think, “Hmmmm – that wasn’t good for me, as much as I wanted to hop on my soapbox and pontificate!” I should have given stinky Lucy a lavender and mint-scented bath instead, or hang out with the girls, or God forbid, work on my book. But nooooooooooo!
Ironically, Asher and I wound up getting in touch with one another after I published my post. He took the high road instead of becoming defensive. I thought he had every right to be huffy, so I was pleasantly surprised by his positive attitude. We both agreed on how much we love the blogosphere, and it was nice to interact with a blogger who could take my criticism with a grain of salt and a cup of compassion. Asher was willing to re-examine different perceptions of bipolar as gift, as evil incarnate, or somewhere in between… (You all know how I feel about that! 😉 I was grateful to him.
Then, Saturday evening I became The Devil.
Valentine’s Day is always weird for me. For years I’ve pretended that I’m low-maintenance and claimed that I don’t need a mushy card, flowers, high-end chocolate, a nice dinner, and so on. But that has been a blatant lie, and like a volcano, I’ve kept my bubbling, lava-like anger inside of me until I finally burst.
I didn’t communicate with my husband about my expectations – my first big mistake. When Valentine’s Day came round, my husband gave me a card, but that was it. When Craig and I turned in for the night, I made a caustic remark that irritated him more than I thought it would. He became an ice cube and fell asleep instantly.
Meanwhile, yours truly fumed. I even started crying – it was unusual for me to cry over a rebuff like that, but I felt so hurt and disappointed. I wanted our evening to be special, or at least have some affection, but there was no hug or kiss goodnight. Nada.
I couldn’t sleep.
That became a BIG problem.
I took an extra 25 mg of my Seroquel. I read a book. Still, no sleep in sight.
I fumed some more. Then I did something extremely rare. I woke up Craig from his enviable deep sleep. I told him that I couldn’t sleep. He didn’t hear my snorts and sniffles; instead he rolled over and he went back to sleep within seconds.
I woke him up again. The same pattern took place.
I barely slept the rest of the night, and my history has shown that’s disastrous. Even one night’s lack of sleep messes me up big-time! The following day I was a zombie and despite another beautiful, sunny day, I stayed in bed. I was exhausted, I was still bottled up with anger and what was worse was that I felt depressed. That scared the sh*t out of me, as I hadn’t felt that down in a long time.
I tried taking a nap, but it wasn’t happening. The only thing that brought me comfort aside from Lucy licking away my tears was watching the sixth season of “Nurse Jackie”.
In the afternoon Craig inadvertently made some noise as I tried in vain to nap. I got out of the bed and met him in the hallway, unable to look him in the eye.
Our girls were at a playdate, and so I let loose like Mt. Vesuvius. I slammed the door several times, screaming all the while like a banshee about every wrong he ever did me for the past seventeen years of our relationship, and I screeched other things that should only be thought about, but never said out loud in anger.
I told him that he should have woken up when he heard me say that I couldn’t sleep, and he should have helped me somehow.
Ever since my bipolar one kicked in (which, aside from a genetic predisposition to bipolar, was mainly caused by no sleep due to labor), without proper sleep, I become the biggest mess of all time.
My tantrum was so awful that afterwards my throat was bloody. That evening I took extra Seroquel PRN per my psychiatrist. (Coincidentally PRN stands for the Latin phrase pro re nata, which means “as the situation demands.”) I’m allowed to use Seroquel PRN when faced with acute insomnia. Thank God I slept through the night.
Craig and I made peace the next morning, and I explained to him that in the future, if I ever wake him up and indicate I can’t sleep, it’s imperative that I need his assistance. I should have taken extra Seroquel at the first sign that my insomnia was much worse than usual, but rage and sorrow clouded my judgement. If Craig had urged me to take the medicine, I could have nipped the cycle in the bud.
This is no rocket science-like realization, but it took our having that kind of argument to realize that as someone with bipolar one, we can’t screw up even one night of my sleep if we can help it. And yes, it needs to be a “we”.
The best valentine I could ask for from my husband, bar none, is mental health support. When it’s obvious that I’m emotionally disturbed at bedtime (a precarious time because if I’m upset, I don’t sleep…) I need him to pay close attention, even if he’s tired and/or mad at me. I need him to check in with me, and suggest I take extra medication if I haven’t done so already.
We learned a sober lesson from this Valentine’s Day. Next year I’ll remember to ask for what I want instead of repress my feelings. I don’t expect a diamond ring or roses, but I do expect communication, kindness and proactiveness from my partner.
Literally right after I finished writing this post, I spotted an International Bipolar Foundation Facebook announcement of a new app called “Aware” creating awareness for people living with bipolar disorder. Check out what it does below…
‘Aware’ is about exactly what the title suggests, creating awareness for people living with bipolar disorder with sleep being a prominent bio-marker in terms of managing the disorder ” After many intense interviews and observations it was apparent that sleep has a major effect on bipolar disorder relapses and eventual hospitalization.
This then led to the influential design ‘Aware’ which is a wristband worn at night, enabling a method to measure,monitor and manage their sleep to become aware of a possible relapse and aim to prevent it from happening.