I'm so glad I stumbled upon your blog. My 26 yr old daughter just had another Bipolar Meltdown today. I've been dealing with this for 16 years ( she was diagnosed at 10yrs old) and I know your pain and the pain of others out here experiencing this. The loved ones ( mostly the "targets") are in pain too...pain from watching this happen to you, pain from getting the brunt of your anger, and pain for not knowing how to help you. I am sincerely glad that you recognize these things in yourself and seem to be dealing with them well and educating your loved ones, that's fantastic! Could you please share some of the techniques you use when you feel these meltdowns coming on, and pass along the tips you give your family for dealing with them? Most days I'm at the end of my rope with my daughter, especially when it seems like she does nothing to help herself and just lets these tantrums fly.
To the parent with the 26 year old daughter, I so wish I had better answers for you... I am also sorry you are going through this.
As far as educating others- There is a book I gave my husband. https://www.amazon.com/Loving-Someone-Bipolar-Disorder-Understanding/dp/1608822192 I highlighted things that really related to me, my emotions, & my behaviors. I know he keeps it in his office, and sometimes I know he's been reading it because it's in a different place or the bookmark is moved. I've also written him little "How to" notes.. I tell him to just leave for a few hours if I upset him too much. If I'm having a really bad day, I tell him to just Go, enjoy the day with his friends, there is no reason he needs to suffer too. If I thought it would help to have him there, I would ask him to stay. But, most of the time I just need to deal with my own demons. He also asked me to start this blog. He thought that if I wrote about it, not only could we understand it better, but maybe the world could too. I rarely take out my anger on him, the worst of what he deals with is my withdrawal and sadness. He wants to fix me, and it tears him up that he can't.
And then you asked me, "techniques you use when you feel these meltdowns coming on". I'm sorry to say I don't have a good answer to that. I used to see my doctor and ask to tweak my medications, but honestly, I feel like I'm all med-changed out. I haven't changed medications in ten years. There are good days and bad days, more good days than bad days, and it's something I and anyone who loves me has to accept. Another thing I do, is "Go into my cave". I try to just wait it out.
I'm in the midst of one of the longer periods of depression that I've had for a long time. Every day, I wake up and tell myself "Tomorrow I will feel better". What else can I do?
I hope your daughter has a lot of good days too. I hope that on the days she is well, she showers you with love and kindness. That's what I do anyways. I try to make up for my shortcomings caused by bipolar any time I have a good day.
One of the largest barriers to my success has been my memory, or more lack there of it. I am often at loss for words. I forget names and sometimes even faces. I repeat myself often because I always forget what I've said and to whom. I lose things, because, of course, I forgot where I put them. I forget to show up for appointments (although rarely because I take extreme measures not to do that). These things are problems! I believe my memory issues are a combination of the bipolar; damage to my brain from years of being misdiagnosed and mistreated; a history of self medicating myself through drinking; and the Lamictal I'm now taking to manage my bipolar
That said, I have a pretty good life and I still manage to be rather successful. I'm a computer programmer and make a pretty good living at that. How is this possible when I forget everything?
I think the most important thing I have going for me is muscle memory. Muscle memory is memory that involves storing a specific motor task into memory through repetition. It is as if the muscles remember even when you don't. I have no problems mopping my floors. Muscle memory. I used to easily remember phone numbers back in the day because I had to punch them into an old fashion phone. Muscle Memory. I can type quickly because my fingers still instinctively know which keys to press.
I also use a combination of tools to help me remember things. I keep a small notebook by my desk where I record important information such as passwords, phone numbers, website addresses, and other information that most people easily remember. Of course I keep a calendar with dates and times of appointments. I ask my poor husband to remind me of everything. Any time I have an important thought, I grab an index card and write it down. I have stacks of these cards on my desk with random thoughts and information. I am constantly digging through the cards to get information and ideas.
As for loosing things and getting lost- I always put my keys in the EXACT SAME SPOT. I park my car in the middle right side of the parking lot every time. When in a parking garage, I take a photo of the row/floor. I use a GPS so I don't get lost. I don't travel alone out of my local town. I take picture of everything I like with my phone so that I can remember to someday make or buy it. Yeah, these things are imperative to my survival.
I am able to learn new skills, but keep reference materials nearby. I am often referring back to websites and books. I somehow know if the information I am reading is incorrect, but have trouble recalling.
In my current job, I have to write and remember computer code. Somehow I am able to do that most days. I know what needs to be done but often have to refer back to previous code I've written as a reminder of the correct code block sequence. I can usually remember how to do things, or where to go to look up the steps. That said, some days my mind is too glitchy to do anything but the most routine and basic tasks.
It took me 20 years to realize that conventional 9-5 jobs were not ideal for me. Things got easier for me when I started my own business. My mind doesn't work perfectly every single day and employers do not like or tolerate this very well. I was so good at my jobs though (on good days), that although my bosses yelled at me, I didn't get fired. I got more chances than anyone else I know. These days, when my mind gets glitchy, I take the down time that I unfortunately require.
I find people to be rather unforgiving regarding glitches in memory. People often get annoyed when I repeat myself or if I forget their name. I understand this. They see me as a successful, well put together person and assume that I didn't even bother to listen to their name the first, second, or even 3rd time they told it to me. They wonder why I keep telling them the same story. It's a problem.
I hope I've helped you with some ideas on how to cope with memory loss, as I believe that memory problems are very common for people with any mental health problems. I'd love to hear from those of you with bipolar as to how your memory has been affected. Have you found anything that helps improve your memory? I'd love to be fixed!
The rest of my house is very clean, but my desk looks something like this (Einstein's desk)
Bipolar disorder robs us of a normal life, no doubt. Doing the things that most people more or less can do in their sleep often takes every ounce of energy for someone with bipolar. Eventually we learn that we are faced with a choice- do we expend all of our energy trying to be normal, or do we redirect that energy and live a life that's normal for us?
I have spent most of my life being shamed by people who are "Normal".
Shamed and Shoulded. Does being normal make you better than me? You might think I am weak or stupid or simply crazy because I have bipolar, but you would be wrong. Every day I live with this disease makes me stronger. I am not afraid of a challenge. I am only afraid of the highs and lows that I'm forced to control, the highs and lows that have robbed so many people who share my illness of the desire and ability to cope and to live.
Today I am more successful than I've ever been. I'm more successful than most people I know. I'm making double the money I was making by trying to hold down a traditional full time job. My business is thriving, and I'm becoming much better at what I do. What do I do? I develop computer software, make websites, SEO, internet marketing, and do everything and anything along those lines that I can learn to do and that people will pay me to do. I do what I can, when I can, and that works for me.
If you have bipolar, my advice for you today is to not give up on yourself. If you are on disability, don't let that define you. Do something every day, or at least on those days that you can, to better yourself. There are so many great online classes which teach marketable skills. Get involved in that. If washing the dishes consumes all your energy (typical for a person with bipolar), use paper plates. If your medications make you forgetful (they do), write everything down. If you can't work during the day, work at night. If you can't work today, work only when you can. Don't let this illness rob you of your life, your well being, and your success.
If you love someone with bipolar, I know it is hard and I'm sorry. Just know that it's hard for us too. And please, try not to shame us, as we are doing a good enough job shaming ourselves. Although normal might not be within our reach, success is.
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