Pink & Blue Mummyland

Pink and blue parenting through pink and blue moods….

Dealing with Diagnosis

I have had a little hiatus from blogging. But I am now dipping my toes in, with the intention of being fully immersed before too long.

To start, here is a post I wrote for a wonderful site, ThinkTwice.

Dealing with Diagnosis

However you look at it, receiving a diagnosis of a long term health condition is life changing. The words “You have…” can turn a world upside down.

And yet, when I was told I had bipolar disorder, my first emotion was relief. Finally, I had an answer for the questions I’d been asking myself for so long. I finally understood why the antidepressants I’d been taking on and off for years didn’t work, and made sense of why I was sometimes the complete opposite of depressed – filled with energy, hugely productive, and able to do more than my friends with no grasp of how on earth they could be tired. It was as if a breath I’d been holding for years could finally be let out.

That day set in motion a process that will probably be lifelong. Looking back I would say that there were three processes I went through.

Accepting

Despite the diagnosis being a relief it was still a shock, and accepting it didn’t happen overnight. In fact it’s a journey I’m still on. Bipolar disorder can be a serious illness, and every so often something comes along again that brings home the fact that, even when I’m well, I still have a condition that needs managing and careful observation of how I’m feeling.

Acceptance means fighting denial. For a long time I struggled to believe it. I couldn’t decide who was making too much fuss – me, or the doctors, friends and family who tried to persuade me. There have been times when I’ve stopped taking medication because I refused to believe it. Fortunately I’m past that stage now, but I still question it every so often, suddenly unconvinced – accepting is a process.

Adapting

After the earthquake of diagnosis and the aftershocks of denial came a period of adapting. The main plus side of being diagnosed was that, once I knew what it was, I knew what I was fighting and could start to put specific things in place to make it better – self-management is easier when you know what you’re managing.

Adapting happened in stages. At first it was forced – I had to set alarms to remind me to take my tablets, and get used to the side effects that come and go. I even set an alarm to go to sleep! I also had to get used to the fact that people who knew often saw me differently once they knew about the diagnosis, and adjust to losing friends who weren’t willing to understand.

Now most of those things come naturally. I make sure I get into the fresh air every day, even if it’s just a short walk. I try and eat better. I don’t drink alcohol other than the odd glass of wine. I go to bed at roughly the same time each night. When I’m well I can be a bit less rigid about it, but if I begin to feel down (or my friends tell me I’m ‘up’) I get strict with myself again.

Advancing

Having bipolar has changed from being an enormous battle to an ongoing walk beyond enemy lines. Accepting was a stationary phase, Adapting was a preparation phase and Advancing is just that – stepping forward into the unknown.

Despite being on medication that seems to work for me, I still have pop-up symptoms that need dealing with, and every change in mood brings fear that I’m heading back into a major episode.

But the only way to deal with those fears is to keep moving on, brandishing the weapons I have – an amazing husband, a few good, strong friends who tell me the truth, and a supportive doctor with an artillery of medications and a willingness to listen to my concerns. And actually, I’m always going forwards, it just that the hills are sometimes steeper than other times.

The outlook is clear – I know what I’m dealing with. I have a condition that will forever need managing, but I can live with it, as so many do. Diagnosis went from being a thing to be feared to my biggest weapon – I know its name, and a known enemy can be tamed.

ThinkTwice, founded by Rachael Newham, was borne out of a personal struggle with mental illness. It exists to assist others in their own struggles, and aims to increase awareness and decrease stigma so that people are as able to be open about their mental health condition as they are about having the ‘flu.

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Nominated!

Tony Roberts, who blogs at A Way With Words has nominated me for a Liebster Award. I have absolutely no idea what this means, and don’t think I need to be dusting off the Oscar acceptance speech I’ve been polishing since I was ten, but I am grateful nonetheless.

As far as I can work out, I need to copy and paste the award guidelines (check) and then think up ten insightful but humourous questions (slightly harder).

So here goes…..

The rules:

  • Each nominee must link back to the person who nominated them
  • Answer the 10 questions given to you by the nominator
  • Nominate 10 other bloggers for this award who have less than 200 followers
  • Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer
  • Let nominees know that they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them

My Answers to Tony’s Questions

  • What is your favorite punctuation mark?

So many to choose from and so little space! I’m tempted by the apostrophe just as a point of pride – it makes me feel good and somewhat smug that I am able to use it correctly when so many falter. That said, the punctuation mark I really can’t live without is the exclamation mark – who can be manic without them?!

  • Do you really believe man walked on the moon or have you come to accept the reality that it was a very elaborate Hollywood hoax?

I’m afraid I’m a believer. Film producers are too proud for one of them not to have laid claim to their work…

  • What brand of toothpaste do you use and why?

Sensodyne Rapide, because my dentist told me too. Because there’s not much that’s more important than dental hygiene.

  • Can you listen to John Prine (above) without smiling and/or Zoe Muth (above) without crying in your beer? (If yes) Are you human?

Leaving out the fact that I don’t drink beer (I realise I may be losing many followers as a result if that admission), it would seem I have some YouTube searching to do. It may be because I’m British,  but I’ve never heard of either of them….

  • Do you prefer print books or e-readers?

I’m all about the paper. I am aware that ebooks are more ecologically sound, take up less luggage allowance and normally cost considerably less, but until they can replicate the smell of faded paper I won’t be dissuaded.

  • Share a quote that you find inspiring.

“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” – Maya Angelou
OR
“You have brains in your head,
You have feet in your shoes,
You can steer yourself any direction you choose” – Dr Seuss
Please don’t make me choose….

  • If you write, what is the title of your work in progress? If not, what book are you currently reading?

The proofs for ‘Insight Into Self Harm” went to the publishers yesterday, so I don’t have a work in progress, which is such a relief! I’m currently reading An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamieson.

  • Favourite Beatle? (John, Paul, George, or Ringo) Why?

George. To be honest, I’m not really bothered, but no one ever says George, and I always go with the underdog.

  • What group of workers do you believe actually deserves to make what top entertainers and athletes make?

Teachers. In the UK we entrust our children to them thirty hours a week for twelve years and yet pay them a pittance. And you may think they get long holidays, but both my parents spent most of them working. I’d better stop there, before I can’t be removed from my soapbox…

  • Name one poster you put on your wall growing up.

Fox Mulder: “I Want To Believe”. I didn’t really, but I thought David Duchovny was hot…

My Nominated Blogs

This is really difficult, as most of the blogs I currently follow have between 200 and 300 followers. However, there are a couple who don’t reach the two hundred mark who thoroughly deserve to, and some new blogs that I’ve pledged allegiance to in the process of searching for nominees:

That’s ten, right? To be honest, I’m not always sure how to find out exactly how many followers each blogger has. Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes not (at least to me). Please forgive me if I’ve got it wrong….

My Questions, should you choose to accept them…..

  1. If you could be any superhero, who would you be and why? Feel free to make one up…..
  2. If you were a colour, what colour would you be? (I should probably admit to stealing this one, but it appeals to me, especially with the number of knitters/crafters on my nomination list…)
  3. If you won the lottery (those who don’t play, humour me), what would you do with the money?
  4. Can you name three books or movies that taught you something about life?
  5. When I was nineteen I had a Sliding Doors moment, where I could clearly see two different paths before me – university or mental hospital. Have you ever had one of these moments, and if so, which path did you take?
  6. How would you sum up mental illness in three words?
  7. The classic fantasy dinner party question – which three people would you invite? And, out of interest, what would be on the menu?
  8. What is your favourite place in the world?
  9. If you could speak to your twenty-one year old self, what advice would you give?
  10. Why did you start blogging and what keeps you doing it?

I think, I think, I am the proud recipient of a Liebster Award! Thank you, one and all.

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