Monday, July 7, 2008

Mania vs. Depression

Reciently my partner mentioned that her theropist thinks I like my partners mania's more than her depressions. Hmmm its an interesting thought, hypo mania maybe a little but full blown mania not so much. Personally I enjoy the balanced moments. Depression is terrible, the anger, fear, confusion, helplessness, tears. I definately do not enjoy depression, the commercials are right; depression hurts. But so does mania, for me anyway. My partner is in a state of exticy while experiencing mania, she wants to do things, go shopping, see people, she moves at a super human pace, but she also chases rainbows, spends too much, leaves me behind in her whirlwind. Hypo-mania however I can deal with. To me she is fun, she wants to do things with me, she wants to go camping, she laughs and talks and we have fun together, but I have watched this illness for a while now and I always know that a good hypo-manic phase if not monitored will jump right up into a full blown mania, then I have stuff to worry about... Usually there is a great fall into depression from mania.
Nature seems to be the great devide for my partner, besides a little bit of hypo mania bipolar seems to remain at the city limits anticipating our return from nature. In nature my partner seeks out a place to meditate, she finds a sence of purpose in setting up camp, building fire, cooking, hiking, gathering wood for fires etc... She seems happy there. the call of the loons bring her soul peace. The stars bright at night guide her way to tomorrow. The cleansing water washes away the depression. There are no cars, there is no rush, out in the wilderness it is all about survival, the basics of life, food, water, shelter. There is no interfearance, no pointless quests, no need for stores, wastefull gadgets, its what life is all about. Out in the wilderness you have quality time with your loved ones, you work as a team on a survival project and feel the accomplishment together as a real team. Not the made up ideals of teamwork within an office setting, but real team effort, and when you need to you can take a break, when you are complete you have real down time, you can hop in the lake for a swim, you can take a nap, you can lay in the sun. In the city when you finish work you get in your car, run your erronds, you go home cook the family dinner, do the dishes, clean up, by the time you get any down time it is bed time.
If I had the means I would find a beautiful lake somewhere away with lots of privacy and move there, make life simple again. Refocus on survival and forget about the rat race.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Ten Wonderful Years

This month my partner and I celebrate ten years together. Ten years, on one hand it feels like 2 weeks on the other 100 years. We have survived through thick and thin, we have endured great happiness and great loss. Our love has remained strong, true and patient.
We have had our hard times like with all long term relationships. My partners diagnosis of bipolar disorder has been a prominant part of our lives together for the past few years. She has endured unbearable lows and sky highs. Through it all she has managed to remember me here, remember my love for her, she managed to muster up the courage to live and has remained here by my side in moments I am sure she wanted nothing more than to run as fast as she could. Either to chase a manic rainbow or to just give in and leave this world and her life here behind. For that I can never show her enough love.
A ten year anniversary is something that I wasnt sure we would see a few years ago. Our relationship went through a very rough time. It was tempted and strained. Without a diagnosis my partners mania nearly drove our relationship down a dead end road. Somehow our love provailed, we managed a 3 point turn before the end of that road and decided to head down another path. This path seems far more promising, sure it has dangerous twists and turns and there is always another fork in it somewhere but we are not driving recklessly anymore. We are taking the road slow and steady, making the best decisions that we can with both our minds unified in the process. I am so incredibly proud and humbled to be here, at this point, weeks away from celebrating 10 years together. I can't think of anyone else I would like to spend my life with. Bipolar Disorder can ride in the back seat with us on our journey but I refuse to let it take the wheel.

This year is supposed to be our diamond anniversary. I am not one to really follow those types of gift standards and well lets face it I couldnt afford to buy a diamond beautiful and big enough to house the love that I have for my partner. Instead I will give her a memory, a memory I hope she can take with her on our journey and beyond. I am going to take her away for a weekend to Algonquin Park. There we will spend a quiet, relaxing weekend with only our company. We will go hiking and swimming, we will enjoy some wine in front of a roaring fire and dine on steak cooked on an open fire. At the end of the day we will fall into eachothers arms and reminisce on the past ten years we have spent toghether, all the good memories of those years, we will remeber all of the difficult times and be thankful we came through them all together.

I can't wait to see what the next Ten years offers us! I hope that whatever life throws our way we will continue to come together and find our way through hand in hand and minds united in love and respect.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Hiking Rattlesnake Point

We desided last week to go camping, we were going to check our Earl Rowe Provincial Park but at the last moment desided not to go. The weather forcast for the weekend was terrible. Thunderstorms all three days, which wasnt what we were concerned about as much as the wind forcast. So instead we are going hiking and caving at Rattlesnake Point!
I have hiked and caved at rattlesnake point once before, when I was in highschool. I was a part of our highschools hiking club and I can say that rattlesnake point is amazing! It is chock full of cool little caves you can navigate your way through as well the scenery is awsome... I will have to bring along my camera for the day! Despite all of the forecasts for this weekend the weather is perfect for a day in the woods!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Real Life Results of Media Fear Tactics

I want to start this post by saying that I don't for one second buy into the media scare tactics. I don't walk around town looking over my shoulder expecting something tragic to happen at any random moment. The way I see live is what will happen will happen and I refuse to live my life in fear. I wish I could say that for all the people around me.

About four months ago we hired this guy at work, on his first day it was apparent there was something odd about him. My first memory of this kid is him crouched down in the hallway outside of the lunch room with his elbows on his knees just glaring around. At the time I just thought perhaps he is shy and doesnt feel comfortable enough to sit in the lunch room with everyone else. As time has gone on some more weird events have come about. For example, we will all be busy at work and the phones ringing and I will look around the room, this kid will be doing push ups behind his desk. He also comes in everyday tracking mud through the office, mud caked up to his ankles. He has been seen leaning back against the wall eyes to the sky in a prayer stance behind his desk. The little bit of history I know of this young man is that he was born in Haiti and chose to adopt the muslim religion. He is serious about his choice and prays more often then the remainder of the muslim staff working for us. To me this kid is just a little strange, not dangerous.

It is brought to our attention that one of the staff members saw him visiting a terrorist website while he was working. With that we decided to track his internet usage and have over 900 site hits in just the last four days. All staff sign an agreement upon hire stating that we are not to use the internet for personal use while at work. So to me just the fact that he has visited over 900 internet pages in four days is a major offence. But what the company is looking for is evidance that he was visiting terrorist web sites. There is a number of hits for Al Jazzeer which for those who dont know is a television station similar to CNN in the Middle East. I would expect that if he was watching Middle Eastern news reels they could be mistaken for terrorist web sites. My thoughts and feelings on the matter is that this whole situation is being blown out of proportion. People are scared. Yesterday I was involved in our weekly management meeting and was shocked at just how fearful people really are. The meeting consisted of the management piecing together pieces of an invisable puzzle to come to the conclusion that this kid is involved in terrorist activities. I work in a place that has access to some confidential information, we have access codes to important Canadian buildings etc... Which has just heightened the fear within our management team. Every attempt I made during that meeting to difuse this fear was rejected. They have themselves convinced that this guy is an imediate threat to the safety of our workers.

The conclusion to our meeting is I have to go in this morning at 8am and terminate this employee, on the basis that he has violated our policies by using the internet for personal use during working hours. The company has hired armed guards to protect the property for months to come in the event that this young man is a threat. The guards will be in the building this morning when I terminate him. They will be standing by in the event something terrible happens. To me this is excessive. My fear is that this kid is no harm at all and the company is discriminating against him. My problem is that I have to be a part of something I dont believe in. I agree that his employment should be terminated but not on the basis of imagined terrorist involvement but on the basis that he violated a company standard. We have terminated other employees while this young man has been employeed with us and we have never had armed guards present. The other thing that I just cant get past is, if the company truly believes that this kid is involved in this type of organization why are they not involving the police? Why do they not have the police look into his activities? No we are just going to set him free from our little piece of the planet and call it a day. We are going to assume based on some of his oddities and hearsay that he is involved in this type of organization and remove him from our work space.

I pray for a day when people can co-exist on this plannet, when we stop assuming things about people based on our own ignorance and fear, when people will be innocent until proven guilty. Until then I will go to work today and terminate this young mans employment for his personal internet use. Not because I believe he is involved in anything dangerous.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Different Perspectives

One of the things that I love so much about blogging is the feedback. All that I am here, is an individual, like many others that are searching for some answers. We turn to the internet, we turn to other bloggers, we turn to eachother, and hope to make some sense out of this world, this life. I have spent the last three years living daily with Bipolar disorder. Day in and day out I have watched it eat away at my partner. It has ripped her from the life she had, has changed the way she thinks, reacts and carries out her days. The last post was not intended to simplify bipolar disorder down to the chemicals in our world. If you will, it was more a stab in the dark at a possible factor. I find myself on a constant mission to try and find possible solutions to HELP my partner's battle with this illness. It is an illness I feel helpless against.
greenishtinge said...
1. extreme moods have been documented since at least the time of Aristotle when the chemical lifestyle of today didn't exist. There are, throughout history, clusters of people who were considered bp or as having one type of mental afflication or another, hysteria, etc. I understand that you are weary of the rate at which people are being diagnosed with bp but as the DSM gradually includes more and more symptoms in its list of criteria more and more people are fitting the bill of being mentally ill. Also, be careful of your logic. Just because people eat more ice-cream in the summer and there are more drowning deaths in the summer doesn't mean that the increase in ice-cream consumption causes drowning.
2. Be careful. Sometimes people can take offense at their symptoms being whittled down to chemical products. They may feel that perhaps you are making their illness less legitimate. Remember that bp often runs in families and that many older generations, in spite of mental illness, did not believe or receive a diagnosis. If, for example, I was to take my own family history, there was a lot of mental illness types of incidents/behaviors but no one was ever diagnosed with anything, including my grandmother who attempted a murder/suicide and probably had what we would now call Aspergers syndrome. Just some of my thoughts.

I want to thank greenishtinge for her thoughts on this issue and for brining home how my words can trigger others that read them. I had not thought about the stigma associated with mental illness in the past, it is yet another lesson in the reliability of statistics. I hope that those who read my words on this site can keep in mind that I love my partner dearly and want to do whatever I can to help in anyway. I figured that eliminating some of the chemicals we are exposed to on a regular basis can't hurt. Which is why at the beginning of the last post I wrote that I didn't think it was advisable for anyone to read my words and decide to stop any medications. Even in talking about this more natural lifestyle with my partner I was sure to specify that she needed to remain on her medications. The trouth is I dont have any answers about this illness. I dont know what causes it and I dont know how to fix it. What I do know is the effects it has had on my partners life and the lives of those who love her. And all I want to do is help.
The conclusions I have come to in the past few years is that my partner finds peace in nature. Having a dog helps as well (he forces her off the couch and into the fresh air, wether or not she wants to). She does a little better when she eats properly and excercises regularily. Meditation is helpful, both with helping her sleep properly and with making her step out of the thinking planning mode that her mind loves and makes her live in the moment. I would do anything for my partner. I built her a meditaion room in our home so she would have a clean quiet area to practice her mediation. Its her space and her space alone. She can retreat to it whenever she wants or needs to. I try to get her out into nature as often as possible, even going as far as to look into a career change for me so we can move to a farm. I come home after working all day and make us dinner because I know she needs to eat and often does not unless I force her too. If I had the money I would move us into a cottage somewhere beautiful with trees and water and a lot of space for her to walk and hike. Just in the hope that a change in environment would ease the grip this illness has had on her life over the past few years. I hope anyone reading this blog will remember that anytihng I say or any ideas I have are all about trying to help my partner cope with this illness. I didnt think for one moment that changing to all natural cleaners and organic foods would cure her of this illness I just thought perhaps it would be helpful with some of her symptoms. Beyond that I do believe that it would be healthier overall to live a more natural lifestyle.
Thank you Greenishting for your thoughts and insites on what I had to say. It is nice to have other thoughs and perspectives on the ideas I have. Thank you as well for delivering those perspectives in the respectful manner in which you did. I appreciate that. I am not here to offend or diminish this illness or anyone suffering with it. I use this blog to document my thoughts and feelings on bipolar disorder and my partners battle with it. My love for her is pure and I strive to find ways to help, I dont think for one moment that I will cure anything. I am not a doctor nor do I have any solid science background, I just have love and respect. With that I arm myself and try to find ways to be helpful. I feel like it is not enough for me to be supportive and to be there for her both physically and emotionally, I feel like there has to be more I can do. Ways that I can change our environment to ease some of the symptoms she has, to try to create a space in which she can experience happiness and clarity. Alas I am helpless against this illness, perhaps one day I will accept that and just let what be, be what is.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Our Chemical World

Before I start this post I want to first put out a warning. I do not in any way shape or form suggest anyone take what I am about to write in this post and use it as a reason to stop taking any medications perscribed by a medical professional. I do not want my words to be responcible for anyone making a decision that can harm their health and well being. The ideas that are about to come are nothing more than a girls thoughs on the effects of the world around us. Having said that if you are in a fragile state and angry or frusterated with the fact that you have to take medications I ask that you read no further.

Now that I have that out I want to talk about the current state of our surrounding environment. 50 years ago our world was a cleaner place, food was grown naturally, meat was grass or grain fed, the cleaning products were natural. My partner was looking at some statistics about bipolar disorder last week that got me thinking. The statistic that peaked my interest is that people in my age group are being diagnosed Bipolar at alarming rates. People of my parents generation are beginning to be diagnosed now as well. So why all of a sudden are people in their 30's being diagnosed and in their 50's? how did the people who are being diagnosed in their 50's get through the last 20 years without symptoms? Could it be this?
I started thinking about all of the changes humans have come through in the last 50 years. The one staggering thought is chemicals. Everything we eat, drink, wear, sleep on and clean with is infused with multiple chemicals. We are injesting, breathing and absorbing an alarming amount of chemicals just by getting up, getting dressed and having breakfast in the morning, not to mention the chemicals our bedding and the beds themselves are soaked in that we are sleeping on. My question is, is it possible that chemical sensitivities could be at least partially responsible for the influx in people showing symptoms of mental illness?
I started researching Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS) an illness that is not yet recognized by medical professionals, mainly because there is not enough evidance to support the claim. Here are the symptoms listed for MCS:
-Difficulty Concentrating
-Intolerance to heat or cold
-Stuffy head or congestion
-Sore throat
-Memory Problems
-Breathing Problems
-Changes in heart rhythm
-Chest Pain
-Muscle Pain and/or stiffness
-Bloating or gas
-Skin Rash or Hives
-Mood Changes
This list blew me away! So many of the symptoms here reflect the symptoms my partner has complained about for years. I am not suggesting that my partner is not bipolar or that she should stop her meds, I just think that with the change in the frequency of which people of this age group are being diagnosed Bipolar coupled with the fact that nothing (and I do mean nothing) that we come in contact with daily, hourly or by the minute or second is free of chemicals. I am sitting here right now in a t-shirt and pajama pants thinking about the anti flamable chemicals my cloths were dipped in during manufacturing and the laundry detergent and fabric softner chemicals mixing and seeping into my body through my skin. My bare feet resting on the wood floors treated with chemicals, the air that I am breathing, tiny particals of chemicals that I have cleaned with I am inhaling with each breath. Have you ever looked at the ingredients in dish soap? There is nothing in dish soap that I can even pronounce. Or air freshener.. my god! I have known for a long time that man is killing the environment and creating a place unfit for the future of our children, now I know it is much more urgant than that. We are changing the chemical makeup of our bodies. Yours and mine. Everytime I put my hands in dish water I am absorbing about 10 different chemicals that are traveling directly into my blood stream. Wear rubber gloves to avoid that chemical transfer? What chemicals are the gloves treated in?
5o Years ago people cleaned with natural products, vinegar and water amongst others, we were not afraid of our cloths or bedding catching fire, cotton was what was worn, or food was grown in dirt, not in pesticides. Our animals fed grass and grains, not hormones and biproducts. My partner and I will be going through a pretty drastic lifestyle change in the coming weeks. I will be changing our hygene products to natural products, or cleaning products to chemical free cleaning products and the food we eat will be organic. I am even considering throwing the microwave in the garbage.... Who thought that cooking food in a device that DOES NOT HEAT UP was this great idea?
I am no professional, I do not know with any kind of solid proof that bipolar disorder has anything at all to do with our chemical world and am not suggesting in anyway that anyone including my partner discontinue use of perscribed medications. I can not conclude that MCS is responsible for any symptoms of bipolar, all that I am saying is in my house we will be changing to natural chemical free products for the good of both of our health. As well as the environment.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Dragging her out

Last night there was a function for my work, its called the Dolly Awards where people recieve their service awards among others. I recieved an invitation about a month ago and decided to RSVP for two but wait until the event neared to ask my partner to join me. I didnt want her to have weeks to dream up all the ways in which these kinds of events could be disasterous. I work with some amazing people, people that I knew my partner would love. I have been trying to get her to join me at some of these events for ages but could never convince her that the event wouldn't be boring and uncomfortable. So two days ago I asked my partner to join me for this event assuring her that she would have a good time and not to worry about anything. The event was being held at the Old Mill Inn and Spa, a beautiful, rustic building caked in history. To my surprise she agreed to go, if not with some hesitation and a little show of anxiety.

The night was amazing! We had some drinks and laughed the night away. The whole thing was a success, and my partner had a good time. Bipolar disorder has a way of playing with her imagination and turning the idea of social events into possibly painful experiences and she often succumbs to those ideas and holds herself back from some great experiences.

Last night she was wonderful, getting along with everyone like they were old friends, there is nothing that makes my heart melt for her even more than when I see her laughing, I am so happy she decided to come. Next time we will have to get a room at the Inn, and carry the beauty and ambiance of this wonderful place into the night!