BP Naturally

My Drug-Free Journey of Managing Bipolar Disorder

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Perfectly Calm Storm & the Bipolar Child

First, let me say, if you’re subscribed, don’t worry, I don’t normally post this frequently. Maybe a couple times a week at best. But I felt that this incident deserved a separate post, as it began after I started writing the last entry and so didn’t fit with my thoughts/theme at the time.

I have a lot of children. What is a lot you ask? Seven. I only birthed three of them, mind you, but I am raising seven full time. So I have a lot. Luckily, I don’t have to worry about BPD (I hope) with all of them! But, I have one daughter, who we’ll call “Little Q” and she seems to be my emotional twin. That is to say, she looks more like her father (and managed to be gorgeous in spite of it, haha! I kill me) but personality-wise and emotionally, she’s just like me.  I know. Scary.

I was a very emotional child, cried at the drop of a dime and was also very unique/creative/artistically-inclined. I was also extremely compassionate and empathetic. My daughter, she is the same. She’s a little artist, works hard in school, loves science, animals and the outdoors, can keep herself entertained for hours and has scary emotional outbursts that make you wonder if she’s possessed. (Ok, that’s an exaggeration, kinda). Part of me wonders if it’s all manipulation… that is, she overheard me discussing with my husband on more than one occasion that she’s sensitive/emotional and has a hard time controlling her emotions and we need to be more sympathetic. So now, that’s a license to act like a basket case. It’s entirely possible. On the other hand, these may be early symptoms of BPD. I air on the side of caution, so I’m treating it like it’s all very real and she must learn methods to filter/control her emotions. She’s 8 years old, by the way.

The Bipolar Child… so last night we are about to do “Chore Store” and I check chores and hers aren’t done completely, so she (and my son, we’ll call him dooney) don’t get to shop in the Chore Store. She has a MELT DOWN. She is begging me, crying, screaming from the kitchen as she finishes her chore… but I’m very calm and I refuse. She continues to scream and cry for at least 15-20 minutes, and I ignore her… with ease. This is strangely easy for me, with any one of the other kids I would have snapped and went off, but with her, I have some kind of empathy. I want to help her through these feelings, I want her to manage them, I believe it’s real, whereas with other I have almost no tolerance for whining. None. This is probably something I need to work on.

She returns now and then to the dining room, begging me to bend the rules, I’m cool as a cucumber and refuse, telling her to sit down and breathe deeply. This is a practice we’re still working on to help her control her anger/hysteria. Even I’m surprised at how well I’m handling this.

Part of what makes this journey so important for me is that if my daughter is BP, I want her to learn to cope without drugs. I don’t want a zombified 8-yr old with chemical dependencies. If I can manage this BPD without drugs then I can set an example for her and teach her how to do it too, and further, I can make dietary changes in her life that help her have balance as well, insha’Allah (God-willing).

Perfectly Calm Storm… so, after Chore Store is over I take her upstairs. Her head hurts, she’s crying. She lays in my lap for a while and eventually calms down. Then I send her downstairs to get some dinner and my husband snaps at her. She falls to pieces all over again. Now, mind you, my husband loves my daughter (his step-daughter) very much. They generally have a wonderful relationship, but recently she’s become, well, a mini version of me, and he is struggling to deal with it. I mean, after all, I’m bad enough, and with her he questions whether it’s real and has a very low tolerance for the talking back, angry mood swings, falling out aspect of her behavior. So he says something and she reels right back out of control. 

This was a delicate situation and it took me 10-15 minutes just to calm her down. He dismantled it in a moment. I was angry. I pulled him into the office to talk. So here’s the thing, I felt perfectly calm. Not enraged like usual. Interestingly, he argued very little and I think that may have been what kept me calm. Usually, especially when it’a about the kids, it can become an all out screaming match, but this time, I didn’t feel excited. I felt calm.

The things I said were very resolute. You are not going to do this. This ends today, etc. Awfully pushy, but I did have a right to be upset. He did, at one point, try to go in the kitchen and tell her to chill, but he does this in a “controlling’ fashion rather than a “teach you to control yourself” fashion which is where the “Little Q” arguments usually emerge. He was trying in his own way, though, and I must give credit where credit is due (even if I failed to last night).

So what of it? I left the office, sat down with the kids and watched a movie. He never came out of the office. I knew he was upset, but this time I didn’t feel the urge to beg and plead and make amends. I felt, dare I say, a little bit apathetic. I rarely ever feel apathetic these days, so that was strange. Intellectually, I did feel bad and even guilty in that I was asking him to control himself and be an adult when I, myself, often cannot control myself and be an adult. That’s the hard part about BP, you don’t want to use it as an excuse, but you know its a reality, and a reality for you, not everyone else. So you still have normal expectations of them while demanding they have *adjusted* expectations of you. I hate that guilt. But there it is. 

Why is this worth blogging about? The apathy and lack of depression afterwards. Arguing with my husband is a HUGE trigger for me, it almost always leads to a deep depression immediately after (read journal entry #1). But this time, he didn’t argue much, he stayed mostly quiet, and I remained very calm and feel no residual depression the following morning. Amazing and a bit scary.

What worries me is the apathy. I went through a stage in my life where I felt nothing. Absolutely nothing. I didn’t love my mother, I didn’t care about the starving orphan, I didn’t have remorse or shame or anything. I felt dead inside. It lasted for years and afterwards I was on emotional overload and the slightest thing made me cry (I still have this) even happy things, commercials, cartoons, it all brings tears. But that period of apathy was scary. I don’t want that again. However, the sense of calm and control I appreciate. I do plan to apologize because I was a bit harsh in that conversation, and hope I can be a bit more considerate of all that he’s struggling through in dealing with this disorder, both from me and potentially from my daughter. I really pray he is rewarded for his patience and devotion. He is a wonderful man under tremendous pressure and deserves recognition for that. I love him deeply and don’t ever want to feel apathetic toward him. So this is a work in progress. We’ll see what develops.

Do you ever experience a sense of apathy? Is this typical for BPD sufferers?

Mood Tracking:

September 7th, 2012
Neutral –> Annoyed –> Irritated –> Neutral –> Focused –> Calm–> Angry –> Apathetic –> Neutral
(Angry->Apathetic->Neutral were the result of this incident)

Lessons Learned:

  • I am capable of maintaining control in an argument, the level of control I maintain is directly related to the degree to which the other person argues back. I’ll need to work on that.
  • I must maintain compassion and understanding for my husband who is struggling to deal with all of this. I must try to see it from his perspective and be sympathetic.
  • I need to work more with my daughter in helping her control her emotions. (Maybe look into yoga for kids?)
  • There is a fine line between apathy and control, I must be careful not to cross it.
  • I need to give my husband some tools to help him deal with my daughter.

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Against My Better Judgment

So, here’s the thing… I’m going to begin actual challenges soon, but I have to decide on what to start with. I don’t want it to be so difficult that I can’t maintain it, right? We need some moderate success so we can all feel encouraged. So, I’m taking suggestions. What natural remedy, coping or management method should I start with? Something dietary? A supplement? Exercise? Spiritual? Organizational? What ideas do you have folks? I do have something in the works, that I’ll blog about shortly… something very promising, I think, but it’ll take a couple weeks to get results and start the treatment, so we need something in the meantime.

A run down… yesterday was utterly unproductive, but not uneventful. Woke up and one of the children decided to argue with me about their school clothes. SMH. Oh, I was mad. Here I was thinking, I’m gonna do good today, no snapping, and first thing in the morning, somebody wants to be a little s$@t and have an attitude, lol. So I snapped, but not too much. Afterwards, I felt bad, and actually apologized to my daughter. I rarely apologize to children when I snap. I think it’s because I feel like they’ll get the upper hand or feel like since my reaction was over the top, theyre actions were ok. Um no. The other part is embarrassment and shame. But this time, I thought it over and apologized and told her, let’s not make ourselves out to be enemies and voila! all was well. LOL. Gotta apologize more often!

In retrospect, I realize that I *should* apologize when I lose my temper, even if the child is wrong. It’s teaching them a lesson in humbleness and they learn more from what we do than what we say. So, I’m going to try to be more apologetic when I do lose control or go overboard… maintaining that their actions were STILL wrong, but that every action deserves and equal or opposite reaction and mine was over the top.

Against my better judgment… and then my day disappeared behind a computer screen and a button machine. Now, here’s the thing. I didn’t feel manic. I didn’t feel driven and wildly obsessive. I just thought to myself (against my better judgment) y’know, I’d like to do *this.* Yeah, I have a grip of other stuff to do and this is unnecessary, but I *feel* like doing this. So what happened? No shower, no breakfast, almost no prayers, no exercise, no journal write. Nothing. I spent the day making Animal Alphabet Stacking Magnets for my daughter.  Mind you, they are awesome and I DO sell them (lemme know if you’re interested), but my day went all to hell and I did next to nothing.  Ok, add Facebook to the mix and that’s a more honest portrayal of my Friday.

So when is it obsession? When is it normal? You don’t always feel *crazy* when you get off track, you don’t always feel *enraged* when you argue or *suicidal* when you’re sad… so what’s BP and what’s just me? I made a conscious decision to waste most of my day away, even though I KNEW it was a bad decision and I was gonna miss deadlines, etc. What happened to my better judgment? Is this a symptom of BP even though I felt perfectly normal and my thought process seemed clear/uninfluenced? Where do we draw the line and who do we blame, ourselves or BP? 

It’s a mystery… a MYSTERY! (OK, sorry Yo Gabba Gabba moment, lol) But seriously, what about you? Where do you draw the line?

Mood Tracking:

September 7th, 2012
Neutral –> Annoyed –> Irritated –> Neutral –> Focused –> Calm–> Angry –> Apathetic –> Neutral
(Angry->Apathetic->Neutral were the result of an event that I’ll detail in the nest post)

Lessons Learned:

  • Being apologetic is a means of taking responsibility for my actions.
  • Choose your battles. Kids are going to try to annoy you, take control of the situation by being more nonchalant and less confrontational.
  • Poor decision making is a hallmark of BPD, but it may also become an ingrained habit/personality trait. I have to manage BPD and make lifestyle changes as well to ensure that I’m making good decisions whether symptomatic or not.
  • I need to make a schedule that is both feasible and flexible and find a means to motivate myself to really follow it… and find a way to get back on track when I fall “off track.” 
  • Other lessons pertain specifically to “the incident” which I’ll detail in the next post.



Recognizing Triggers

Yesterday started out great, I woke up in time to pray fajr (morning prayer before dawn), had a light breakfast, took a shower. Then as I lay on my bed, all dressed and ready to go make myself brunch, I debated between taking a nap or going outdoors for a bit (sunlight is therapeutic). But I felt sleepy, so I laid down for a nap. The nap went too long (1.5-2 hours) then the baby woke up and I had to run down and start her day. I had a headache from the poor quality-too long nap, but it passed and my good mood returned. Note to self: Naps that are TOO LONG or of poor quality (uncomfortable, too much light in the room, etc) cause me to have headaches and feel irritable. Then my husband came home and all was still well. We went to pick up the kids and it was uncomfortably hot outside, so I was a little irritated, but not too much. Then I got into a very small spat with my husband.  I tried to tell him it was silly to argue about, but he felt that convincing me to his side would somehow help me calm down and see why my getting upset in the first place wasn’t necessary. Ah… the road to hell is paved with good intentions, lol. So we argued and immediately after depression set in. Just that quick. Arguing with my husband is a huge trigger for me. No matter how small the argument, it causes my mood to drop almost instantaneously. I hate that I feel so dependent on him in regulating  my moods, but there it is. 

Later, the kids were off task, being loud and wild and this sent my irritation level waaaay up. Which led to me snapping. I mean, really snapping. I had to walk outside to the backyard to gather myself. Making wudu crossed my mind, but I was too angry. (I know, that’s the point) But I went outside into the sunlight, sat down, breathed deeply and calmed down. When I came back in I talked to my husband about it… took him through my day so that he could see how quickly my mood can flip from something so small. It was a good talk, masha’Allah, and he had been cognizant of it and just wasn’t sure how to handle it right. That’s progress for us. His awareness of my potential mood swing is a big deal.

He then teased and joked until he got me to laugh and took me to make wudu and pray. That helped and by the end of the day the depression had lightened a bit. Today is a new day. Im not in the same bright mood as yesterday, I didn’t sleep well, woke up late, and am on this comp instead of in the shower (being off schedule is all bad). But I’m gonna go ahead and start my day, even if it’s late and see if I can recover some balance today, insha’Allah.

Mood Tracking:

September 5th, 2012
Happy –> Sleepy –> Irritable –> Angry –> Depressed –> Irate –> Depressed –> Sad –> Neutral

Lessons Learned:

  • Oversleeping and poor quality sleep cause headaches and irritability.
  • Sleeping in rooms with too much light cause poor quality sleep.
  • Arguments with my husband lead to depression.
  • Temperature discomfort (too hot outside) lead to irritability.
  • Chaos & noise/kids being off task leads to intense irritability.