Spontaneous Combustion

This past weekend I experienced rapid cycling (alternating depressive and manic episodes over a short period of time) for the first time since I weaned off all my meds 18 months ago.  And while very uncomfortable, I managed fine.  It did make me wonder about my stress level, though.

Losing weight is stressful for anyone.  Making major behavioral changes is very stressful for anyone.  On top of those, I’ve also eliminated two of my life-long, sure-fire methods of dealing with my bipolar disorder—TV and compulsive eating.  So not only am I under a great deal of stress, but I’ve lost the two most powerful ways of coping with it.  What’s left in my old bag of tricks is compulsive spending and sexual fantasy, which are both shouting for constant attention.

“Hmm,” I pondered, “perhaps I need a bit more support as I tear my life apart.”

So, today I went to my therapist.  Michelle said all the things I knew she’d say, but it was so comforting to hear them out loud:

All these changes are positive and incredibly stressful.

Don’t worry too much about Captain America and The Huntsman hanging out over your shoulder—have fun with them.

Keep journaling and tracking your feelings.

Try not to be rigid—if the agitation gets too big, allow yourself some TV.

Okay, then.  I’m not hallucinating when I hear Chris Hemsworth mumbling behind me.  And I’m not failing when eating my supper sans distraction makes me cry with loneliness.  No.  It’s just me ripping my life apart and feeling the effects.  Feeling, without numbing those feelings, is frightening and painful.  Many days I feel like an open wound.  But, I’m okay.  And the hunks standing behind me are okay.  However, I’m going to keep seeing Michelle for a while.  She knows how to hose me down if I burst into flames.  Everyone needs a buddy with flame retardant.

20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. littlesundog
    Jun 19, 2012 @ 20:00:53

    Oh, I do wish you could escape over here and I would have plenty of activity to keep us busy… a little outside work, some sketching for you, and fun with Daisy deer. We eat healthy here so you’d be stuck with the menu! I have a great guest room, plenty of privacy, and I do believe the drapes are of flame retardant material! Keep up the good fight, my friend!!


  2. ManicMuses
    Jun 20, 2012 @ 03:07:07

    “Feeling, without numbing those feelings, is frightening and painful.” Do you think we BPs numb our feelings too much? Sexual fantasy is normal (I mean who doesn’t have them while watching Chris?) I wonder if sometimes we’re too critical of normal feelings when we have them.

    Sandy, you’re doing incredibly well and are so courageous for making these positive changes. Go, you! Be kind to yourself. Remember, if things get to be too much, you can always OM to that Latin beat 🙂


    • Sandy Sue
      Jun 20, 2012 @ 05:26:08

      Thanks, always, for your support, Vivien.
      I don’t know about “too much.” I just know that those old, maladaptive tools soothed me, and I ran to them when the mood swings were overwhelming. Sorta like now. And you’re right, my therapist said sexual fantasy is normal. I just get nervous when I feel those guys standing behind my right shoulder and immediately see them whenever I close my eyes. It’s when I really feel crazy. But, like my therapist said, I’m just going to enjoy their company for awhile.


  3. Fork in My Eye
    Jun 20, 2012 @ 06:50:03

    I use the TV for company too. During the school year when the kids and my partner are all all gone for the day, I spend most of my time alone. We resolved 2 months ago to turn off the cable because we want to be more active and can’t really afford it. I did cut it back to basic a year ago (no more sci fi channel!), but haven’t been able to bring myself to make the call to turn it off altogether. I think you’re very brave.


    • Sandy Sue
      Jun 20, 2012 @ 09:53:43

      Thanks, Tori. I think I’ll always keep TV in my hip pocket for the times when my illness is too overwhelming to tolerate without the tube’s lulling effect. But, I think I’ve figured out that the only way to really manage my compulsions is by being awake, and I can’t do that and use TV, too.


  4. pegoleg
    Jun 20, 2012 @ 09:59:13

    You’re really very brave to go this road alone without the numbing effects of TV and food. You inspire me, Sandy.


    • Sandy Sue
      Jun 20, 2012 @ 10:01:25

      Bless your sweet heart. I guess I realized I couldn’t do it alone. My therapist is the best cheerleader and paid best friend I could ever ask for!


  5. rachelmiller1511
    Jun 20, 2012 @ 12:50:50

    Keep going with cutting out TV & compulsive eating. Sounds like you’re doing well. I’m on day 4 of quitting sugar and eating lots of fruit & veg. So far I’m doing OK, but I haven’t had to deal with any tough feelings yet- that’ll be the real test.

    Keep going- you’re inspiring me!!


  6. Kana Tyler
    Jun 21, 2012 @ 03:24:26

    “ripping my life apart and feeling the effects”–that is SUCH a perfect description of the challenge of Change! And a buddy with flame retardant–you have such a gift for description. 🙂 I’m cheering you on–you’re an inspiration!


  7. Trackback: I would Like To Thank the Academy……(sniffle) « My Bipolar Life
  8. rachelmiller1511
    Jun 21, 2012 @ 10:22:39

    Hi Sandy Sue,

    Hope things are going well for you. I have a little blog award for you:




  9. carlarenee45
    Jun 21, 2012 @ 14:17:46

    see, things are better than they look to you. I’m glad you are making changes for the good for your health, mentally too.


  10. Dee Ready
    Jun 23, 2012 @ 17:26:42

    Dear Sandy, it was so good to wake this morning, sit down at the computer, and find a comment from you on my blog. I didn’t post it because your full name was there and I wasn’t sure about doing so, but oh, learning that you, too, are blogging was a delight to me.

    I’m not sure I ever knew–up there in Minnesota where we used to live–that you were dealing with bipolarity. This posting makes me think that you are grappling with it effectively. That you are knowing mental anguish and loneliness but that you are being good to yourself. That is so wonderful to know. Let’s stay in touch.
    Peace, Dee.


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