There Is Hope

I’ve had a long decade. But specifically a long past 3 years. My bipolar has been tough to treat and I was nearly ready to just give it all up. I was frustrated, tired and mentally unstable. That is not a good combo. Then, when all seemed lost for good, my psychiatrist pulls out what he said was his final option of medication for me. It’s been 8 weeks and I haven’t felt this “normal” and like myself in 10 years.

I’ve spent time in residential treatment; I’ve been hospitalized acutely. I’ve been in therapy 2x a week for years and I’ve been on more medication combinations than I can even recall at this point. And finally, after all the work and effort my treatment team and myself have put forth, it finally has paid off. I am able to live in the moment right now. I’m not suicidal. I’m not nearly as depressed. I’m not as anxious. I feel human again and I can’t even begin to explain how happy it makes me to feel so alive.

But, as usual with the good comes the bad. My beloved therapist of 9 years accepted a job offer out of state. To say I’m heartbroken is an understatement. But I know this will be good for him and he deserves the opportunities that lie ahead of him. It’s just hard to say goodbye to someone you’ve become so close to.

I do feel like this is a time of new beginnings though. For him, for me and hopefully for my life to take a positive spin.

Hope. A word I’ve struggled with for years. A word I questioned its validity. A word I nearly gave up on. It’s a word I now believe in. I pray things continue as they are and only get better form here.

~Lindsay

This entry was posted on March 9, 2019.

Bi-polar and Anxiety: The Inside Edition

I have Bi-polar 2 (BPD-II) which in my case results mostly in depression and only occasionally with the slight manic episode. Even with my “mania”, it may only last a day or so where I’ll go on a cleaning or spending spurt before I quickly fall back into my depression. One of the bad things about my disorder is that I have been labeled “treatment resistant” by my provider. My psychiatrist and I have tried many medications and combinations as well as elctrocovulsive therapy to try and balance the inbalances of my brain. The chronic symptoms make it exhausting. I don’t get a “break” when my depression and/or anxiety alleviates itself for a period of time with medication.

I am in the SMI (Serious Mental Illness) category and without my management plan, I would be in the hospital regularly.  Maybe this makes me different from others with bipolar, which is why I feel so envious when I meet or hear of those whose symptoms are alleviated for periods of time in between illness episodes.

Along with my BPD comes severe anxiety. My anxiety is debilitating every single day. I’ve been seeing the same therapist for over 8 years, yet I still cry on my way to every appointment and get there early because I have to talk myself into actually going into the building for my appointments. I can count on less than one hand the number of friends I have because anxiety overwhelms me in relationships and the thought of leaving the house to socialize paralyzes me. I sing in the choir at church and yet I have to get there 45 minutes early and sit in the parking lot talking my way into the building because the idea of sitting in a room full of people terrifies me. (Even if it is doing the one thing that brings me the most inner peace- singing). The same is with church on Sunday mornings.

My anxiety is debilitating. I freeze up in my own home when I think about getting a job to try and get out of the house more. I’ve had 3 jobs in the last year… all of which I quit within the first 2-3 weeks becuase I simply couldn’t handle the panic of being out of my home. The panic attacks and anxiety both in the car and on the job were hindering.

Home is the only place I feel safe, yet even here I have daily panic attacks. I tend to lay in bed a lot becuase there is a sense of calm under my blankets. Lately it’s all been even worse. I tend to have high anxiety during flu season for fear of my chronically ill son with lung disease catching some illness, but unfortunately this has been much worse and much more cumbersome lately; plus it started long before this flu season began.

I’ve also had an unusual bout with a deeper depression than usual as well. Part of it was due to a short time being unmedicated, but even before that, I was struggling. My depression and anxiety makes me question my life. I feel like a burden and hindrance on my family. There are days when suicide feels like the only way my soul will ever find peace.

I can only hope that we can soon find a remedy that helps me feel like my life is fulfilled and worth living. I question whether or not that will happen but hope deep down that the right medication and therapy combination is out there somewhere for me to lead a more normal and less anxious life.

~Lindsay

This entry was posted on February 1, 2019.

My Definition Of Suicide

Suicide has a lot of controversy around it and I think it is becuase there are so many different perceptions as to what it really is. As someone who has attempted suicide in multiple ways, I have my own thoughts as to what it is:

“I think that to stand or sit there and go against every single survival instinct in your body and act on those truly horrendous, awful, dark thoughts, whilst knowing the consequences of what you’re about to do to yourself, shows that it’s an illness and that it certainly is not a cry for attention. To go against your survival instincts and go ahead with any action to end your life, and to spare what you perceive is the burden you are putting on everyone else, actually takes a whole lot of courage. Of course, it’s probably to end your pain and suffering, too, but mostly from experience I’d say it’s driven by a skewed perception of protecting the people you love around you from this all-consuming disease.”

~Lindsay

This entry was posted on January 25, 2019.

Dear Son, From Your Suicidal Mom

I have been off of my psych meds completely for over 2 weeks. My doctor weaned me off of them in order to start a new regimen. But, in order to begin this regimen the other meds had to be out of my system for 14 days to prevent blood pressure and heart issues. This has been a rocky time for sure as unmedicated bi-polar is not an easy thing to deal with. I’ve had manic days, but mostly depressed days that have led me to therapy 2x a week and multiple weekly conversations with my doctor just to check in and make sure I’m safe.

I had a rough few days in a row where I was actively suicidal and my safety was in question. I found myself dissociating from my surroundings and doing things that were putting me in harms way such as self mutilation and self over-medicating.

But what was even more scary was that one day I found myself at the table with pen in hand writing good-bye letters to my family and friends. I also had planned out my funeral down to the music and who would be speaking. But, when it came to the letters, the one that struck me the most was my letter to my son, Mason.

Mason has been through a lot in his short life. He’s had many hospital stays, surgeries, a laundry list of medications that he takes daily and he’s fought harder than most kids ever will in a lifetime just to make it to age 13. And here I was writing him a letter telling him to keep on fighting all the while I was giving up. Now, realize that I am a strong believer that suicide is NOT the easy way out or that people WANT to commit suicide and end their lives. I believe people lose all hope and in a moment when thinking is unclear make an ultimate decision that leaves them with regret. I believe that suicide is something that happens when there feels like no cure for their pain and that people believe they are relieving those around them from the burdensome pain that they falsely believe they have become.

But still, I was encouraging Mason to keep fighting just as he always had. I was ultimately telling him that my disease was worse than his and that while I was letting go of life, he needed to continue and press on. The hypocrisy that I was writing down on paper caught my attention and through tear-filled eyes I snapped out of my suicidal moment and realized I could not leave my child behind. I could not let him continue to fight life’s journey alone. I could not show him that exiting life when it gets too overwhelming was an answer.

This doesn’t mean it cured my suicidal thoughts or that I was suddenly well. It just means that in that particular moment I realized that I couldn’t tell Mason to keep fighting while I was giving up. So, I contacted my therapist and explained where I was mentally and how I was struggling and I came up with a plan to continue pressing onward in this fight.

Sometimes it is in life’s worst and most painful moments that we learn the biggest lessons that life has to offer. Sometimes all it takes is a few words on a piece of paper to remind us to continue to press on and fight the good fight.~Lindsay

This entry was posted on January 10, 2019.

Life And Relationships With Depression

Having depression is often like having this black cloud over you. It can follow you everywhere, insisting you isolate yourself rather than drench everyone else around you.

It’s good at making me believe I’m just a burden.

There are times when I feel bad to the core like a waste of space, and I lose that spark of interest in life. I can’t think of the future because it feels like I don’t have one. I can’t smile or be happy, and there’s this empty black void I can’t seem to fill. I hide behind my mask and tell everyone I’m fine while also thinking about how the world would be better off without me. I get flashes of me committing suicide. It can be hard to really know what’s going on in a person’s mind who is struggling with depression because some of those people are “high-functioning,” appearing as though nothing is wrong from the outside. I am able to socialize with friends, keep up with household chores and get the kids to their practices and games on time.

My husband of 14 years and I still manage to move forward but that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with PTSD, depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. I still do despite being in love with him. It eats at me when I feel nothing toward him — when the black cloud is over me. It can last for weeks or months until the point where I sometimes don’t even know how long I’ve been under it. It causes irritability, mood swings, lethargy, insomnia, loss of appetite, and faulty thinking like catastrophizing, and black-and-white thinking. I’m afraid he’ll leave me because others can only put up with so much. Despite his assurances, my demons have a way of pulling me back down.

The cloud doesn’t last forever though. It feels like it does, but that’s just the lies depression tells me. It’s not easy, and I still fight it every day to stay alive. I have help though. I’ve learned to reach out when I need it, rather than letting the depression consume me. It’s a part of me, but it doesn’t have to define me. It shouldn’t be able to steal my future away from me. I’m blessed to have a therapist and doctor who ar there for me when I need them.

There are days when I still experience flashbacks of my past, insomnia that keeps me awake in the middle of the night, and anxiety that makes me have catastrophic thoughts about everything and anything. There are days when I feel unbearable pain, when I go from feeling like a survivor back to a helpless victim, days when I only see the world in bleakness.

But there are days when my husband and I have the best time of our lives, and both of us make each other better people. Those are the days I wish to live for. I may have mental illness, but it doesn’t mean forming intimate relationships is beyond my reach.

It’s not easy being in a relationship at times when you can’t even bring yourself to get out of bed or shower. These ups and downs have only strengthened our relationship. It has only given me more strength to fight the depression that overwhelms me at times. Reaching out for help when you’re struggling with depression is never easy, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that isolation intensifies the pain and everyone deserves to have someone in their life.~Lindsay

This entry was posted on December 30, 2018.

Holiday Miracles

On this last day of November, I’d like to share something I’m thankful for. This might be long, but hang with me.

Many of you know I have a very strong mental health history. I suffer from bipolar depression, an eating disorder and severe anxiety. I like to advocate for Mental Health awareness as I feel there is such a stigma still associated with it all and it inhibits folks from seeking the help that they need for fear of rejection (or worse) from their friends and families. It is an illness and nothing more. We need to look past this idea that people choose eating disorders or anxiety or depression. True mental illness cannot be fixed simply with a little extra sleep and by “toughing it out”.  They require the help of a professional and can take years to overcome.

Wednesday evening I was sitting in a trauma room in the ER. I had gotten so sick with dehydration from my eating disorder that my blood pressure had risen to a dangerously high level. My electrolytes were terribly imbalanced. I had a kind and compassionate doctor (Dr. Tuel) sit next to me and tell me I was in danger of seizures and a stroke and that I was very sick. They began giving me medicines and rehydrating me as well as hooking me up to monitors and machines to keep a close eye on my heart.

I have a history of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. As this is in my record, they asked me if that was my intent with this episode. I assured them it was not. The doctor looked at me and told me I was lucky to be alive, sitting up and talking. He actually told me he was unsure how that was even possible given my vitals. I can only thank God for keeping me alive.

I received many medications, several boluses of fluids and was under careful watch for several hours. Almost as quickly as it all came on, it all went away. My vitals returned to normal, my labs readjusted themselves back to normal and I was ok. I stuck around for observation, but Dr. Tuel was quick to tell me someone “up there” had His hand on me because he had never seen something go from so bad to so good in such a short period of time and he’d been an ER doc over 20 years.

I look at my life and I’m grateful that I am here. I am alive becuase God has a plan for me and has kept his hand on me over the years. There have been many times in my life that I shouldn’t have made it to the other side of a medical emergency, but miraculously I have. There’s no other explanation than the Big Guy upstairs looking down on me. I take this all to mean I have a greater purpose here on this earth and He’s not done with me yet.

So here I am, pressing onward. Thankful and grateful and not for a moment overlooking the miracles in my life.

 ~Lindsay

This entry was posted on November 30, 2018.

The Invisibility of Invisibile Illnesses

I recently posted two pictures on Facebook. One was of me in the middle of a severe depressive episode. The other was when I was slightly manic- or you could say on a “good” day. Both of them included my children.

“Can you tell the difference?”, I typed. There didn’t appear to be any difference in either photo. That was the whole point. I wanted people to realize that those with mental illnesses- or any invisible illness- can be having the best or worst day and you’d never know the difference.

There’s a reason we say be kind to everyone you meet because you don’t know what battles they’re fighting. This is why when people hurt themselves or commit suicide, we often hear: “Well, I didn’t know they were even depressed. They didn’t appear that way.”

There’s a reason we say appearances are deceiving.

There’s a reason we call them “invisible illnesses.”

Many people who face depression are also filled with shame and guilt. They do not share their feelings with anyone. They do not want to appear ungrateful for the life they lead or judged for their apathy. They do not know how to justify a sadness they themselves cannot explain.

So, how can we help?

Be kind to the mom who seems off or keeps canceling.

Don’t judge the woman who may dress differently or isn’t as friendly as you think she should be. She may have used every bit of her strength just to show up to that event.

Offer help to the parent who seems overwhelmed.

Check in with friends, even when you feel like you can’t fit one more thing into your busy day.

And realize that you will rarely “see” that someone is depressed, hurting or fighting an invisible illness unless they themselves point it out.~Lindsay

This entry was posted on October 20, 2018.

How Times Change

A month ago I was in a horrible emotional and mental place. It was evident in my mood, my writing, my every day life. I was sleeping 16+ hours a day and barely functioning. I didn’t want to be alive.

My psychiatrist and I have been working for months to find a medication that would help me after my others sort of ran their course. I tend to need a new medication every 12 months or so. But, this time I hadn’t had one that worked to alleviate my depressive cycles of my bipolar in over a year.

Finally, we decided to go with a drug that is typically a “last resort” for when all else fails. Within 2 weeks of starting it we say a difference. It had lessened the intensity of the suiciadity and given me some energy. My mood has been better and I’m out of bed a majority of the day.

This is yet another cycle of bipolar that I have pushed through. Another time I’ve folloed the tattoos on my wrists that say “Alive” and “My Story Isn’t Over”. It’s another time that we have seen bipolar up close. I look back and am thankful I am alive and surrounded by people who kept me that way and kept me pushing onward even when all I wanted to do was give up. I’m cautiously optimistic that these new meds along with an increase of my ECT treatments will help me stabilize for a while.

As always, thanks for sticking by and hanging in there with me. Hold on, press on, the times will change.~Lindsay

This entry was posted on July 9, 2018.

The Pain That Never Ends

Before the tragedies of this week even happened, I wrote a note. It feels like something is in the air causing distinct pain and hopelessness in people right now. I managed to avoid the psychiatric hospital only because we are leaving today for vacation. I doubt seriously vacation will help me feel any better, so we’ll see how things are when I return.

In my note I wrote that I was ready to end my life. I’m frustrated, beyond depressed, feeling extremely self destructive and like the only thing that will make me feel any better is to just disappear.
I cannot keep up with this lifestyle. There is nothing that is helping my mental status and I can’t keep going based on the hope or idea that maybe one day something will help.

I am not mentally well; my mind feels hazy, engulfed in shadows with nothing left but absolute darkness. I feel like I am a failure, and that everyone I know would be better off without me.
I feel so done. There are no answers. There are no solutions. I don’t know what to do. I’m tired of fighting what seems like a never ending battle.

I live a life of never ending anxiety, pills and frustration. It’s just not fair. I just want the pain to end.

Suicide isn’t the answer… until you feel like it’s the only way out of a spiral of cycling bipolar disease (or other mental illness).  It doesn’t feel like you’re abandoning your loved ones; it feels like you’re freeing them from the burden that is you and your illness. You feel like you are doing the world a service by leaving it.

I don’t have the answer. Some people would say pray it away. I find that pointless to even try after years of relying on that method. Some people would say “Get help”. Well, I have a therapist and psychiatrist who are notably the best in Cincinnati. I rely on them and while they do help, they aren’t the answer either. I just want this nightmare in my head to go away. I want the pain of bipolar to disappear so I can live a life of joy and hope and love.~Lindsay

This entry was posted on June 8, 2018.

How Quickly Life Moves On

Two years ago, life for us nearly changed. You see, I have a disease. I have a mental illness. Multiple illnesses, actually. I suffer from bipolar depression, anxiety, PTSD and an eating disorder. On a warm June day, despite so many efforts, I nearly succumbed to my diseases. I was in therapy, receiving both conventional medication treatment as well as the unconventional electroconvulsive therapy- all as a drastic measure to try and relieve my symptoms. Unfortunately, the trial and error of medication for mental illness is one that can’t be avoided. My medicines and therapies were not the right combination. I couldn’t see clearly. I was desperate for a way out. I remember thinking to myself that there was no way that my family could possibly love someone as broken and messed up as me.  I felt like a burden. I felt like a failure as a person, wife, mother, daughter and friend. I felt so lost. I was feeling like all I did was care for everyone else, and yet still believed my love wasn’t enough for everyone.

I’ll never forget skipping my son’s baseball game and instead going for a drive. I remember on the drive when I texted my best friend and told her I was done and I couldn’t do life anymore. I remember crying in the car begging God to let people know that I was truly sorry and that I didn’t want them to hurt because of me.

I stepped on the gas pedal and after exceeding 100mph on the highway I jerked the wheel of my car to the right and went head first into a tree on the shoulder of the highway. I hit at such a speed that my engine flew out of my car and landed on the highway. I went through the airbag and my head through the windshield.

I don’t remember much. I remember firetrucks and good samaritans who happened to be in the medical field trying to find a way to get me out of the car due to anxieties around a small fire that had started. I remember waking up in the trauma unit of the ER with a doctor standing over me telling me he had no idea how I was even alive. I remember crying to him about how sorry I was and to tell my family the same.

I lived. I survived a car wreck that firefighters and police told me was one of the worst they had seen in their entire careers; i survived with little more than a concussion, bruised body and cuts on my face.

I survived. Death did not grab hold of me that warm, June day.

Here’s what I want to share about how I feel about that entire situation. It’s what I think most people who attempt suicide feel:

  • I wasn’t running from my problems. I was desperately searching for a way to conquer them
  • It wasn’t about dying. It was about escaping the horrendous pain
  • It was not a cry for attention
  • I know I am blessed to have survived but I still struggle with the demons
  • You never forget the unbearable pain a suicide attempt creates
  • It becomes additional trauma

I still pass that section of the highway all the time. The tree I hit was deformed but still stands strong. I often feel connected to that tree. I stand tall today, a little deformed from that accident, but still alive.

My depression didn’t end after that. I’m still in therapy and receive ECT. But, I am better. New medications and an increase in other therapies have allowed me to find a balance that I can sustain.

I still cry. I still feel guilty for what I put my family through. I was lucky enough that they rallied around me to love me and care for me instead of shoving me aside. I share my story when I can so that I can hopefully let others know that they are not alone and that there is hope both before and after attempts such as mine.~Lindsay

This entry was posted on April 22, 2018.