Bipolar Disorder, endometriosis, Uncategorized

Earth Day Adventures

pexels-photo-167706.jpegThis time last year I was preparing to embark on my first backpacking trip.  The excitement swelled inside of me.  To be out in the wilderness for a weekend, carrying only what I needed on my back was something new to me and it was adventurous.  And this made it something that I really wanted to do.

The trip was a success, minus us forgetting bug spray and a deck of cards.  I slept in a small tent, with a thin mat separating me from the brown, dusty, cool earth.  We sat around a fire pit eating a dehydrated meal from a pouch, it was delicious.  When we consumed all our water, we went to the nearby body of water and filtered our own water, yes you read that correctly, we filtered pond water and drank it.  I was in pure heaven.  Every moment that I was in this oasis I was soaking in all that my eyes and ears were experiencing.

Sadly, upon arriving home, I had a horrific, yet recognizable pain in my lower right abdomen, and within less than two weeks I was having my, um I think 7th, surgery to remove an endometriosis mass.  So, the whole having surgery was less than desirable, but the thing that I was so upset about was having to cancel our couple’s retreat to Zion National Park in Utah that was supposed to happen the second weekend in May.  To say I was pissed, was an understatement.

 

Today, I sit impatiently waiting for the afternoon hours to roll by, so I can leave work and begin running my errands.  Errands for what you ask?  Well, it is finally time for another backpacking trip, and I think that I have more excitement today than I did this time last year.  I know what to expect now, and this adds a greater level of anticipation and less stress and anxiety.  We have additional gear that we were lacking last year, and it will better prepare us for an enjoyable weekend away (including bug spray).

The biggest thing that differentiates this year from last year is where I am with the Bi polar.  I am stable, stable.  Like pyramid constructed by Egyptians thousands of years ago that are still standing, strong.  So, when you add in that I am in decent shape (not hiking as much this year vs. last year because of working more hours and being in school) and that I am mentally in the best place than I think I have ever been, this makes a tremendous combination.  Never-the-less, I do still have bruised toes and a large blister on the foot from the last few weekend adventures that I have undertaken, I am incredibly ancy for tomorrow to roll around, so I can start my Earth Day Adventure filled weekend.

To make this trip even more special, we are going for two nights.  And this girl right here, has never camped for two nights in a tent.  My hair is bound to get greasy and I know I will get sweaty (gotta love those menopause symptoms), but you know what, who cares?  There will be no makeup, no belt that accessorizes my outfit or shoes that increase the perception of my height.  I will have hat hair, from my handy dandy new wide brimmed, sun protecting cap.  I’ll likely be a hot mess.

April has been a month of adventures for me.  A twelve mile hike a few weeks back and swimming in my skibbies and now a weekend away in the mountains with only the bare necessities.  I am thrilled with where I am.  I feel accomplished.  I am so happy that I have listened to my doctors and that I have been fighting through the weight gain side effects, while continuing to take my medication as prescribed regardless.  I want to share with others that suffer with Bi polar that stability is possible, but yes it can take time to achieve it.  With all that I have been through, I now feel that I have a greater appreciation for what I experience in my life, that there are so very many gifts that we receive during each day of our lives.  That each day is filled with so many positives, should we just take the time to identify what they are and appreciate them.  Blessings to you and may you have peace that fills you.

Uncategorized

Communing with Nature: Fossil Creek

30411734_10100752817172189_4174089388052517552_nPrior to the temperatures hitting the 90’s towards the end of this week, we ventured out this weekend on an adventure.  Well, it was an adventure for me.  Unbeknownst to me, the hike that I was embarking on would be a twelve (12) mile round trip hike with more elevation gain than I have ever experienced before.

Fossil Creek is part of the Tonto National Park and is in the Camp Verde area of Arizona.  Just far enough outside of the city that there are no good places to eat and not a Starbucks in sight.  The trip to the turnoff took about ninety (90) minutes but passed quickly.  With our permit in hand, we made our way down a fourteen (14) mile dirt road.  The road was so rocky that my Fitbit assumed that I was mountain biking based upon how I was being jostled about in the cabin of our Subaru.  When we arrived at our assigned parking lot, we had a good one (1) mile hike to the trail head.

At the trailhead we had to cross part of the creek.  And there were no rocks to hop on.  This meant that we needed to remove our shoes and go barefoot.  In my head I was starting to panic.  I had not brought a towel to dry my feet, and after walking through the water my feet were bound to be dirty, and gosh how am I going to put my socks on.  I told myself to woman up and recalled I had a handkerchief in my bag that I could use.  The water was chilly and refreshing.  I made it across the creek and sat on a rock and dried my cold to the touch feet.  I was able to get most of the crud off my feet but there was lingering dirt.  I just bit the bullet and put on my socks.  What’s a little bit of dirt between my toes?

30443118_10100752817237059_1051701259973592773_nUp the first incline, something happened to my right lower back and pain started to trickle down into my hip socket and the back part of my thigh.  There was no turning back, so I just powered through it.  The sun shining down on my skin that was lathered in sunblock made me feel like a snake sun bathing on a large rock.  There was a gentle breeze that brought a nice cool relief on my warm to the touch skin.  The lack of rain this season was evident as much of the scenery could be described as dull and muted browns and yellows.  There was only a sparing amount of green in the landscape and that was near the areas where the creek was rustling through the forest.  As we marched through the trails it became known that it would be five miles until our destination.  This was hard to swallow as I had pain with every step that I took, but I had made the commitment so there was no turning back.

Upon arrival at the watering hole, I thought that I was in Fern Gully.  Lush, magnificent green, surrounding a pool of crystal clear water.  Holy Jesus and Moses, this is breathtaking.  After much debating while hiking to this point, I made the decision that I would swim.  I was not prepared, I had not known that there would be an opportunity to take a dip, and therefore did not bring a suit, or shave my legs (gasp!) But after the trek that we took, and the amazingness of what was sitting before my eyes, I said, I’m doing this.  In just my under garments I propelled myself into the water and it was the most refreshing moment I have experienced in my life.  There were fish swimming around me and my eyes were taking in the pure, unedited beauty as I tread water and hollered at the men to jump in.  The thirty minutes or so respite was rejuvenating, but all good things had to come to an end.

The hike back to the car was a long six miles.  Although not as much incline and elevation gain as the first half, there was still a bit and my body were screaming in pain.  I think that the only reason I did not cry was because I was too dehydrated and had no tears to cry.  The pain was taking my breath away, however, there was no other option but to persevere and power through the discomfort.  I will also admit that I was focusing on the cheeseburger I would inhale once we got to town and just how amazing it would taste.

30412195_10100752817187159_4068198364431447917_nWhen we made it back to the trailhead, we spent a few minutes just standing in that original creek.  That cold, icy water was like heaven on our aching, blister ridden feet.  I no longer cared that there was dirt on my feet and in my socks.  Nor that there was dirt on my legs, that I had sweat through my shirt and was wearing clothes that I had gone swimming in (something I had never done before and found that it was incredibly liberating and freeing).  The walk from the trailhead back to the car was long and agonizing.  I think it was that I knew we were close, but just not quite there.  And oh, how I wanted to sit on the heated seats and get relief for my back and my right hip and knee that were now screaming like an infant at 3 am.

When we stopped for a burger, I could hardly walk.  The time spent in the car, was a wonderful respite, but it allowed the pain to really set in.  I was moving like a 90-year-old woman, I very well could have used a walker with no shame, or even a wheelchair.  But goodness, that time in the creek, the way it felt, the calming, the communing, the amazingness, made the pain just a little less severe.

And then there’s the way I wrap it altogether.  In life we at times embark on adventures and we don’t know all the details of what we can expect from the trip.  We make decisions along the way and do the best with what we have and challenge ourselves to move outside our comfort zones.  At times, through this, the moving outside our comfort zones, we experience something new, something that stays with us, that shows us we are stronger than we thought we were.  We create memories of these experiences and even though we can barely walk the following day, we smile.  We look back and say, I did something I never thought that I could do, and I am stronger today as result of yesterday.

Press on my friends, regardless of what it may be, move past the tough times, knowing that there will be light at the other end.  Persevere.

Bipolar Disorder

When ok, isn’t really ok

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I am in a good place.

I wake up nearly every day and I feel refreshed.  Focusing on positives makes me happy.  In regards to some aspects of my life that are not ideal, I press forward, knowing that the situation is temporary and “this too shall pass”.

With the start of the new year, I have resurrected goals that I had the beginning of last year.  I have powered through anxiety attacks to get back in the gym and yoga studio.  Rising an hour earlier in the mornings to hike and walk with friends has been possible due to the very mild weather that we are experiencing in our region.

I am aspiring to step up my normal attire.  Working in a more laid-back environment means that jeans and a flannel are completely acceptable.  Wearing a dress, a nice pair of boots and taking the time to do my hair and makeup, make me feel simply, better.  It helps me stay in that positive mindset, makes me feel good in my skin.  I can tell myself, “you look pretty” and that makes me smile.

The weekends are now filled with time spent with family and friends, crafting, baking and socializing.  The days of isolation, darkness and existing in a bleak place are something from the past.  I am now living for the weekends, longing for that time to be carefree and have fun.

This all sounds amazing, right?

Why would I write a post about this?  Am I just bragging? Sadly, no, I am not bragging at all.

 

Being a person that has been diagnosed with Bipolar 1, one needs to be very cognizant of changes in one’s mood.  A slight variance could be nothing, but also could be a sign that trouble is on the horizon.

Per the Bipolar Caregivers website (http://www.bipolarcaregivers.org), signs of mania or hypomania may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Sleeps less
  • Is more active or pursues more goals (has lots of energy)
  • Is more sociable
  • Is irritable and impatient
  • Talks much more than usual or speaks very fast
  • Can’t concentrate well or is easily distracted
  • Has increased self-confidence, self-importance or optimism
  • Has an elevated mood
  • Is agitated or restlessness
  • Thinks much more quickly or has racing thoughts
  • Has lots more ideas and plans
  • Starts doing more risky activities
  • Has an increased sex drive
  • Drinks lots more alcohol
  • Has heightened senses (e.g. everything looks more colorful or scents are more intense)

 

As I look over this list, I have identified that I have eleven (11) out of the fifteen (15) of the signs.  Wow, just wow…

Over the last ten years, my mood around my birthday has been mostly more manic, but there have been a few years that I was wavering between stability and depression.  The whole “it’s my party, I’ll cry if I want to” was definitely part of my life.  With my birthday fast approaching, it is appearing that this year will be a mania year.

So, what’s a girl to do?

How do you moderate your life when you are already in a spiral?

Although I see my psychiatrist at the end of the month, it may be beneficial to get in to see her within the next week or so.  Catching a change in mood before it is fully in place means that it will be easier to balance the mind and get to a place of stability in a more expedited fashion.  Handing over my credit card and disabling the “one click payment” options on several of my online shopping accounts would be in my best interest.  I did share with my family, that my therapist was worried about my mental state and suggests that we keep a close eye on the mania symptoms.  Obtaining support from a good support system is critical.  Finally, ensuring I stick to a sleep regime that will grant me the amount of sleep that I know I need to best enable me to function is imperative.

 

Managing a mental illness is not always easy.  Identifying that there is trouble on the horizon is very important.  Asking for help is a critical action, although hard to do, that can make the situation so much more manageable.

 

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