The “Big D” strikes again!

For those of you that don’t know, I have given my bipolar disorder a persona…Big D.  He’s a maniacal character that tends to throw me out of sorts.  Most days, I can keep him away.  However, there are some where he reigns supreme. This last month is a good example.

For the past month, I’ve been living on 3-5 hours of sleep per night.  Occasionally, I get one or two good night’s rest, around 6 hours.  I’m usually exhausted by the time I think I’m ready to go to bed.  Big D has other plans.  My entire day starts to replay in my head:  What could I have done differently?  Did I really do that?!  Can I do better?  Then the “answer” scenarios start.  Oh this takes up a good chunk of my falling asleep time…if I actually able to fall asleep at all.  I know I’m not alone in this.  Although at 2 in the morning, when all of my family is fast asleep, it sure does feel like I’m alone in this.  Occasionally, I can still make an early appointment or  excursion with a friend.  It seems like just when I think I’ll get up early without an alarm (because I consistently have been waking up at 5 a.m.), that’s the day Big D is distracted enough to let me sleep longer.  I just feel awful by the time I wake up…awful and well rested.  I know I’ve let people down AND then it starts all over again.

This whole past month, I have not had two days in a row where Big D isn’t messing up my sleep.  I always think I can get a second day, but nope.  Big D is just playing his usual games.  For the most part, I can function alright, just alright.  I do have days that it seems like I’ll never fully “wake up”.  I’ll go about my day surrounded by a dense fog.

U2 has a song, “It’s The Little Things“.  The lyrics hit home for me.  These especially:

Sometimes the air is so anxious
All my thoughts are so reckless
And all of my innocence has died
Sometimes I wake at four in the morning
When all the darkness is swarming
And it covers me in fear
This is partly what it’s like when I try to fall asleep.  My anxiety ramps up.  My thoughts swirl around and around in my head, with seemingly no end in sight.  The last three lines are extremely poignant to me.  I’m often awake in the early morning hours and the darkness in my head and the literal darkness all around, do scare me at times.  I wonder how long I can go on with so little sleep and not go into mania.
My family and friends, I think, are what keeps me from going into the darkness of mania and depression.  Also, there is a strength and stubbornness within me that won’t let it happen.  Yes, I’m not always as strong as I would like to be.  I just hope this past month of not sleeping doesn’t continue too far into this month.


For the past month, I have not been getting enough sleep.  I take medications to sleep, like many of you, but they have failed me.  Sleep eludes me.  I either can’t fall asleep, like now, or I’m awakened at 2 in the morning…like this morning.

At first, I seemed to “function” alright.  I could make it through my day and things done that needed to be done.  After today, I’m declaring war on insomnia!  Really?! Awake at two in the morning!  Surely this must be some kind of joke.  Oh no it isn’t!  The “Big D” is playing games with my sleep and that’s not cool.

Today, I really struggled to function properly.  When I don’t get sleep for extended periods of time, my vision goes blurry; my ability to control my anxiety driven irritability escapes me; my ability to concentrate leaves and the list goes on.  Does this happen to any of you?  So, I’m waging a war on insomnia starting NOW!  This insomnia has to be put in its place…far, far away from me.

I’ll keep this posting short as I can’t seem to concentrate on my words.  Also, I’m complaining a bit much.  I will end with this:  What are some things you do to keep insomnia at bay?

Mental Illness And Parenting

I am a mother of two.  I also have bipolar disorder (hence the name of the blog). In general, parenting can be a challenge at times. I think parenting when you have a mental illness presents its own set of rewards and difficulties.  As a parent, you need to balance your needs with the needs of your family.  You need to be supportive of your children and still be the recipient of support from your family.  As a parent with a mental illness, finding these delicate balances can be difficult, but not impossible.  It also makes finding that balance even more important.

When you’re a parent living with a chronic disease, like mental illness, diabetes, or cancer, you’re ability to function at an optimum level can, at times, be compromised.  This does NOT mean you are a bad parent. It does NOT mean that you are unable to have a healthy family.  The ebbs and flows that can occur with mental illness…like irregular sleep, trouble concentrating, decreased energy, lack of concentration, etc., don’t make you a bad parent.  Some “experts” feel that because of mental illness, we, as parents, are “less available”.  I would disagree.  I have always been “available” to my family even in the midst of depression.  I may not have been 100% at my best, but my love for my family has always carried me through.

We create these crisis plans for ourselves, but I think we also need to create a plan for family.  This is something that all members of your family can be involved with.  What do you do when mom/dad are not at her/his best due to mental illness?  What can we all do to help?  These are just a couple of questions I think need to be asked and solved together, as a family.  It is empowering to your children as well as yourself.  You’re allowing your children and yourself to have some power/control over your mental illness and how it affects the family.

I’m not claiming to be an expert at any of this.  I’m just one person with an opinion. Just remember:  You and your family are a team in this.  Mental illness has an effect on the entire family whether it’s directly or indirectly.  How you cope and work with it can make all the difference.



I’ve known all along that self-care is so vitally important to my stability.  I’m constantly reminding others that they need to take care of themselves first.  Do I always listen to my own advice?  Sadly, no.  I’m writing this blog today, not only as a reminder to all of you , but to myself as well.

Self care for my is my glass art.  It calms me.  The creativity I can put into glass helps me make sense of my world.  It also allows me to help others (by donating sales to charity) which, in turn, helps me even more.  However, this week I allowed outside influences to throw off my self-care routine.  I haven’t been in my studio in about 4 days.  As a result, my mood is low.  I’m lashing out others.  I’m just not myself.

For me, there is just something about the sound of breaking glass (in a controlled manner) that centers me.  Now, sometimes the glass has a mind of its own and won’t break the way I had intended.  This does frustrate me.  However, if only happens a couple of times, I can handle it.  If it does it too often, well, then I know it’s time to stop.  At that point, I take out my pencil and paper and create patterns for later use.

I know how much my glass helps and yet, I neglect some times.  Does this happen to any of you?  The self-care that you know works for you, you sometimes neglect because of what’s going on around you.  You know you’ll feel better if you do it, but you don’t.  For me, it brings my mood down even further.  It becomes a vicious cycle.

What do you do for self-care?  What do you do to make sure that it doesn’t fall by wayside?  I know that when I’m done with post, I’ll head out to my studio.  I’ll give it a good clean up and then just create whatever is in my head without worrying if it will sell.  I’ll just create for me.  I’m really interested in hearing from you.  It may give other readers ideas as well.

Thanks for reading!

It’s Too Early

I lay in my bed wide awake this morning at 5 a.m.  I tried desperately to fall back asleep, but to no avail.  This has been happening quite a lot lately.  On the days I want to wake up early, I’m too tired and sleep past my alarm.  **Oh “Big D”, you’re sending me to the brink!**

Three hours later and I’m still trying to function.  Even though my mind is awake, the rest of me has yet to catch up.  I can just picture “Big D” smirking at his handy work.  It was too early for my coffee before (though why I’m not really sure).  Perhaps a nice hot cup of liquid strength would be nice right about now.

Hang on a second….

Okay, that’s better…a nice hot cup of nespresso coffee…  Now where was I?  Oh ya…

I love to drink coffee.  I just don’t to have to drink it.  However, when “Big D” starts to effect my sleep, coffee becomes a necessity.

The up shot of being awake so early is that sometimes I can be quite productive.  I’ve empties out my glass kilns (oh my goodness I just love how everything turned out!).  I’ve done the dishes…which I hate.  And now I’m writing a blog, something I haven’t done in awhile.

I really enjoy writing this blog.  I know I don’t do it on a regular basis.  I just love to hear from other readers and I hope that my blog is helping others.  For as much as I complain about Bipolar (Big D), there really are many positives.  I have a courage to things that others without Big D don’t have.  I just try new things and if they stick great.  If they don’t, well I had fun trying.  It’s also opened many doors to many opportunities to help others that I don’t think I’d be able to do otherwise.

Uh oh!  I’m afraid I’m rambling on.  Maybe the coffee hasn’t kicked in yet.  I’ll write more tomorrow or even later today.

Thanks for reading!

Love, Friendship, and Bipolar

I’ve watched people come and go in and out of my life.  They’ve become shadows… casualties of what they don’t or won’t understand.  Only I’m left holding the shattered glass of my life in their wake.  They failed to understand me.  Maybe I failed them.  All I know, it isn’t easy living with Bipolar Disorder and it can be just as bad for those on the outside trying to catch a glimpse.  A glimpse of something they can wrap their brain around that will have it make sense.

I have a very small circle of close friends.  It used to be much larger, but they left.  So for those brave souls (true friends) that stand by me, I’m cautious about revealing too much…about needing them too much.  It’s a very fine line to walk.  For people to trust one another, each person has to feel safe enough to share their true feelings.  In today’s stigma ridden world, that can be difficult.

I’m getting there.  Little by little, I’m letting people in, but that makes me vulnerable to pain.  I’ll keep trying as long as the people I love have patience with me.  It feels like I’m asking the world of them… to be patient.

The Masks We Wear

When people first meet me, they don’t see the darkness that lurks deep inside my brain.  They don’t see the constant battle I am fighting with myself.  They don’t see how much I hurt.  They’ll never really see the pain I feel inside.  Why?  Because I have a “mask” for every occasion.  We all have them and wear them.

When people meet me, they see the persona of me.  They see the confident/talented glass artist.  They see the activist.  They see the teacher.  They see the wife, mother, and family caretaker.  They see what I want them to see…to some extent.  There are a select few that I have allowed into my inner sanctum and they are allowed to see just below the cracks, but only just below.  Nobody is allowed to get too close.  I fear if anyone truly knew the darkness that surrounded me, they run away.  I wouldn’t blame them.

So, when I wake up, I put on the day’s mask.  Oh, it gets exhausting.  The cracks in my facade to begin to show from time to time, but no one really notices.  I suppose that’s okay.  I mean…how much do we really know about the people in our lives.  We really only know what they choose to reveal to us.  Whether they have a mental illness or not.  Through a mental illness into the mix and it gets a little more complicated.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about my life or the people in it.  I have a very close-knit group of friends and a family that loves me.  They all do the best they can with me with the information I reveal to them.  I do try to let people in more and more, but that’s a scary proposition for me.  It’s a vulnerable position to be in.  I suppose to truly care for and understand someone you have to let them in all the way, not just part way.  I’ve always said that I was a work in progress.  I guess I still am.