On being too much

Ever been so excited about something that you just can’t get it out of your head? Mix that with a manic state, and all sorts of behaviors and effects seem to spiral out of control. The problem with this, in my experience, is that I don’t always recognize my behavior. It takes someone else close to the situation to ‘sit me down,’ and help me become aware of my actions.

As a person with bipolar I recognize that I may not always have the best self-insight, and not even realize that I don’t. I am blessed to be one of those people who, when manic or hypo-manic, the ideas flow and I am a prolific writer. I just don’t seem to be able to recognize when it is time to put down the pen, or time to go to bed.  I don’t recognize when I have overwhelmed people with my ideas and thoughts.

I keep inundating friends with requests to share essays and what I perceive to be ‘profound observations.’ I am terribly embarrassed when a friend holds a mirror to my face to help me see that perhaps I am “being too much.”  However, after all is said and done, I am so grateful that that person was brave and truly loved me.

I would like to thank persistent, compassionate, and observant supporters who love me anyway, regardless of what comes out of my mouth or pen. It doesn’t seem to stop me when the cycle repeats itself, but at least I have had time in between to recognize that I should trust what my supporter has to say.

So…thank you.



Fierce Optimism as a Way of Life


My “official” experiences with bipolar disorder have spanned 27 years, since I was diagnosed at age 14.   The disorder has waxed and waned and woven itself into the very fabric of my life.  After struggling with it for many years, feeling like it had control over my life, I find that the only tenable position that I can take is one of fierce optimism.

I have been disabled since 2006, when my ability to cope with the vagaries of work was overshadowed by the suicidal repercussions of any job that I held.  I am a hard worker, giving my all too each project or assignment, and that would invariably lead to trouble.  Like the two poles of bipolar, my work was either stunningly good, or scrape-the-barrel less effective.

To be productive and involved in the world around me, I stay current with the latest scientific findings regarding bipolar disorder and its attendant manifestations.  I am always involved in at least one major activity in my community.

Winter of 2011 I coordinated my children’s middle school memory book.  April-September of 2011 I was the volunteer coordinator for NAMIWalks UT.  The work for the walk in 2012 is ongoing.

My family and my religious beliefs are the bedrock of my stability.  The first and only time I was hospitalized my husband made me sign a contract that I would not complete the act of suicide because of the ramifications on the kids.

I see how my moods and actions impact others.  I am not always able to control my words or actions, but I realize that I am accountable for them, nonetheless.

Bipolar is not an excuse for bad behavior.  Every day I have to decide how I will face that mood or feeling and meet it head-on.  Some days are more effective than others.  Life is too short to be a victim of something that could ruin and run me if I let it.

This all sounds good on paper, but it is truly my life.  I am Bipolar I, Rapid Cycling, Mixed Mood.  I go to a CBT trained LCSW therapist weekly who is trained in EMDR.  She helps me recognize distorted thinking and is trying to help me see that it is OK to just take a step back and just be “me,” without having to accomplish so much .


On Recovery

Severe mental illness is not sexy. It is not clearly understood. It is not something that can be packaged or managed with a magic pill or injection. It is not predictable. It comes with a heavy cost to society. But isn’t this true with many other major diseases? So why is it so hard to wrap our minds around the concept of recovery in mental health? Other disorders can identify when someone is in recovery or remission. Are we so certain we are broken and beyond repair?

SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) has been conversing with consumers and providers to come up with a new definition of recovery that would be relevant to the mental health community. “The new working definition of Recovery from Mental Disorders and Substance Use Disorders is as follows:

A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.”

Notice that this is a “process of change.”

Looking at the definition is empowering, but also can be daunting if you don’t know where to start.  The goal is to improve both “health and wellness” as they go together. You cannot separate your body from your mind.

We are to strive to be as involved in our own care and life plan as possible and live life to the fullest.  Realistic changes are often made by baby-steps.  Understanding how to integrate recovery in your life is a vital first step.

Through the Recovery Support Strategic Initiative, SAMHSA has identified four major dimensions that support a life in recovery:

  • Health: overcoming or managing one’s disease(s) as well as living in a physically       and emotionally healthy way;
  • Home: a stable and safe place to live;
  • Purpose: meaningful daily activities, such as a job, school, volunteerism, family care-taking, or creative endeavors, and the independence, income and resources to participate in society; and
  • Community: relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship, love, and hope.

The authors continue by expounding on the “Guiding Principles of Recovery.”  These are ten aspects to guide our way.  By understanding them, we are in a position to work with supporters and care givers to create our own baby-steps and wrap our minds around hope for the present and action plans for the future.

It is well worth a look at the site to see more about how you can apply this concept of recovery in your life.  You can find further information at