Sunday, August 5, 2012

Surviving The Spinning Madness

Some of you know this.

Some of you don't.

I don't "just" have gastroparesis. I am also recovering from anorexia nervosa and have been diagnosed as bipolar I, rapid-cycling.

To say my life can be a mite chaotic is a gross understatement.

I don't know what the clock on the bottom of the page says, but according to my clock it is midnight. I have these nights where I sleep very little or not at all. The less I sleep, the less I need sleep, and depending on which cycle I am on, this can send me careening into explosive mania or sink me down, down, down to the depths of despair.

Lately I've been on the "low" end of bipolar. I grow weary of all the all it takes for me to get well, stay well, be well. When I am on the low end of bipolar, and the enteral feeding bag empties, I do not want to clear the pump, open the new bag, pour the formula, prime the tubing, take the pump off the IV pole, ready everything for the backpack, and hook up, all while maintaining pristine technique, cleaning up as I go, showering and getting ready for the day FIRST before all of this...

Managing chronic conditions is a full time job. You cannot skip any steps. It is a domino effect. You neglect one and you're just asking for the other areas to topple down around you as well.

So what to do in the late night, when the world is asleep or oblivious, and the worry, doubt, fear, etc set in?

• Never Become A Victim: You are a survivor! Look at how far you've come. Sure, the road is long, difficult, and excruciatingly painful. Stand back up. You cannot lose what you refuse to give up. In this case I am talking about your basic human spirit. Only YOU decide when you give that up. No one, not a doctor, not a spouse, not another person can take that from you unless you let them.

• Be Stubborn: I bet your mom accused you of this in exasperation when you were a child. But you knew what you did and didn't want then, and were willing to go to any lengths to get it. I am not advocating whining or crying as your MO as you may have back then. Instead, try being persistent. Use "I can" and "I will" statements to carry you through the tough stuff. Find something that matters to you and commit to it. You may have wanted a shiny toy in aisle seven at Toys R Us as a toddler, so you screamed and cried and maybe your mom caved in. Use that same principal here. As you lay awake, think of ONE THING that matters so much to you that you are willing to fight for it. Then in daylight hours, do something about it.

• Don't Dwell There: Obsessing on your troubles will not make them go away. In the dead of night, thoughts atwirl, there is not a whole lot you can do to distract yourself, and nothing seems soothing. But try to distract yourself anyway. I find humor very helpful when I am low (since I have the sense of humor of a thirteen year old boy I am obviously easily amused), and hands on activities (journaling, painting), when I am manic. If I am physically ill I find a comfortable position and just breath. Usually if I am sick enough I will eventually nod off.

• The Sun Will Rise Again: Cling to hope that things will improve. I find it foolish to be anything but hopeful! Even in my darkest times, I know that this will not be the end of me or my life, because I have not given up my basic human spirit.

The thoughts still continue to tumble. They are inescapable. But are they going to kill me? Are they going to jump out of my head and strangle me? Of course not. In fact, making this blog post has already helped tremendously. I may not sleep tonight. I may feel my heart is breaking.

One thing I know for sure: I will survive, and thrive, despite the madness, and I will do it gladly.


  1. You are amazing. Thank you for the encouragement. Even though I'm not in half as much physical trouble as you are I can use it right now. Perfect timing! love you

  2. You have always been strong (which I always envied that)....keep it up! Like you said things will get I just need to remember that from time to time.... love you lots