Therapy

I started going to therapy last year in the late summer/early fall, and I still don’t think I quite get it. I wish it were a more academic experience with little assignments to complete to help your mind and actions to take and you report back at your next session. It might sound ridiculous, but with all the thoughts circling around in my head, it’s amazing to me that the solutions for stability don’t come to me; that I need another objective perspective to point them out. So much of the time I end up feeling like I’m supposed to keep talking but I end up talking about things that aren’t on my list of topics for the session. Not that organic flow of conversation isn’t appealing or unproductive, but when you have real issues that need addressing it’s kind of important to stay on topic before moving on to tangents.

This is all on my mind since I went to therapy yesterday. Very recently I switched therapists thinking it was the right thing to do. I went with the new therapist because she came highly recommended by my psychiatrist and has a lot of experience working with bipolar patients. Her office is welcoming and I like her a lot. But yesterday, I left wishing I hadn’t changed. My previous therapist didn’t seem to have a lot of experience with bipolar patients, but she was recommended to me by my primary physician and we did manage to talk about the stuff that really needed to get sorted. The new therapist hasn’t been a total loss, I have found another effective coping mechanism with her help. She has me write a few sentences everyday about my experiences in a planner, no matter if I’m manic, stable, or depressed. With the old one, I only journaled in a notebook when I was depressed and my therapist thought it was a shame I only wrote while sad. Now, I go back and review my entries, when before I would simply write and forget.

I should probably give the new therapist some more time to get into a groove, but today I can’t help thinking that I should switch back. I’ve learned enough in therapy to know that I can be impulsive so I should really let this sit for a while before making any decisions. I have two weeks until my next session, so that should be plenty of time to mull this over more fully.

Disclaimer on my Experience

Disclaimer on my Experience. A title like that doesn’t just drop into your lap. It had to come from somewhere.

It was all because of a mommy support thread on Facebook. A fellow mom pregnant with her first child asked those of us who had a c-section how we recovered. I let her know my recovery experience included keeping visitors at bay as long as possible, a post-partum binder, and sleeping on the couch until I could get in and out of my own bed. And that during this period of convalescing I kept the baby in a rocker next to the couch. Another poster misread what I wrote and said that she felt the need to tell this newbie mom that you should never sleep with your baby on the couch; that they should sleep in their own space with a flat surface. Her remark came off as very judgmental since she “wanted to make sure this new mom has all the facts” and was in direct response to thinking I co-slept with my baby those first nights home on the couch.  Co-sleeping, of course, is a controversial topic for parents. I’m for it and it was the best sleeping arrangement for our family while I was nursing. But nonetheless, this commentor made me feel like I had to put a disclaimer in my comment – to let this mom know this was my experience and may or may not be the best thing for her own family. In my mind that was understood.

It made me think what this means for society at large; that actually we do live in an age where you need to put disclaimers on your experiences – we need to put qualifiers in our speech. It’s phrases like “This was my experience but…,” “This is my opinion but…,” and “This is none of my business but…” Maybe I’m a bit sensitive to this topic, though. Words like “crazy,” “bipolar,” and “moody” didn’t use to bother me as much, either. But now that I have a mood disorder, they hurt a bit. I don’t agree with the philosophy others have that these words should be stricken from our vocabulary to prevent offending others. But I do believe loved ones should be very careful with works like that. I have come to realize that my loved ones are most likely to run all I say, do, and feel through  the “she’s having a crazy moody bipolar moment” filter since my diagnosis. It makes me feel that the validity of my person is at stake.

So maybe part of the purpose behind this blog is to acknowledge and own my experiences knowing mine is just one experience in the continuum of humanity. I need to accept that there is indeed a disclaimer – a bipolar disclaimer – on all I experience. Why else would my psychiatrist put special emphasis on the new aspects of my reality; that I need to be wary of all the ways my brain lies to me when I’m either hypomanic or depressed; that I need to  continue to live my fullest potential but also understand that the medications I need actually do put limitations on me. It seems counterintuitive, but in saying these things, he’s actually validating my experience as one with bipolar. He’s gently trying to make me accept that this is a part of me now, and I have to learn to live with it.

Words

I don’t claim to be a writer, but I do have the urge to write. Ever since I could string letters together I have been drawn to the written word. As a girl books were my constant companions. They helped me make sense of the world around me. I studied literature for my bachelor’s. And I still take refuge in words, but now mostly in the form of journaling. Writing my thoughts down helps me process my experiences and find meaning in them. It also helps cut down on the ruminating that goes on in my head. I can get stuck in my mind and at times it feels like my thoughts are spinning around and around as if stuck on a hamster wheel. Writing doesn’t always make it stop but it always help slow it down.

I’ve had some major changes in my life in the last couple of years. I became a mother and then after spending the better part of a year being sick I found out I was bipolar. Each of these experiences have brought their fair share of worry and doubt, but writing has been a way for me to grasp the changes in my identity in a positive way. I have also sought wisdom in the words others have written about their personal experiences with motherhood and with bipolar. Each testimonial has helped me, whether it be with the presentation of a new idea, the challenging of a old idea, or even a different perspective to help me cope with difficult emotions. I post here and there on my social networks about my experiences, but never with anything too revealing. What strikes me are those times that someone says what I posted was helpful to them. It let me know that I had something worthwhile sharing; something people can put to use in their own lives.

That’s my goal with this blog. I want to write what I know with the hope it puts words to the thoughts and feelings others are experiencing; to help them carry on with a better frame of mind. I read that starting a blog is one of the best things you can do for yourself even if no one reads it. So, even if this isn’t read, it’s okay, it is still a voice added to the human experience.