Therapy 101

myopicToday, the writing stopped.

175 words.  That’s it.  That’s all I can get out on my novel.

This past December I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.   I haven’t written publicly about this for a variety of reasons, but tonight I find myself at the raw end of a depression swing and without the impetus to do my work, and I find it therapeutic to look the problem straight on and just write.

Moods are a tricky thing for anybody, I imagine.  I must say imagine rather than know because my own subjective experience of moods and mood swings isn’t normative.  I’m not sure how it works for others, but my own moods get in the way of simply living life.

It’s interesting what triggers the worst of a mood.  My schedule was off both yesterday and today – yesterday because of (oh, joy!) a 3-hour glucose test followed by a 3-hour nap, and today because my child has discovered both the joys of being naked  and, when he’s clothed, the comfy, free feeling his Mickey Mouse underwear provides.

You guessed it: he put himself on the road to potty training.

Potty training was not a part of Mommy’s upcoming plans.  I have word counts to meet, people!  But I smacked myself upside the head and reminded myself that my family’s needs come before my writing, period.  I may not like the timing, but the kid wants to run around in his birthday suit.  With great power (nakedness) comes great responsibility (going pee-pee in the proper place), therefore I had, and have, to follow through.

That… means a change of schedule.   A change in activity.  In focus.

On Saturday, my mood crashed.  Since then, it’s been down and scattered and then crazy-manic (my pregnancy has made me uber-sensitive to some of my medications) and then back down.  Playing into this is guilt over some impulsive and/or sinful things I’ve said/written in the last few days, about which I obsess.  And obsess.  The mental static – ugh!

Today’s unexpected change in routine played right into this perfect storm, leading to the feeling of extreme listlessness and discombobulation.  That then veered off into God-knows-what, my imagination skimming across the waters of the deep darkness.  “Shall I tempt you to imagine the worst of the worst?” it teased.

My first coping method was to open up Facebook and skim it for a good 45 minutes.  Genius!

Second, I slid down the never-ending blogosphere rabbit hole.  Double genius!

My third coping method (after Facebook and blogs failed me) was to a) articulate what was wrong, and b) stop everything and get outside my head and outside my house.

We took a break from the potty and I put the kiddo in a diaper.  We went for a walk in the breezy mid-70s sunshine.   We stopped by the chapel.   I called a trusted friend.   I stopped by to see my husband at work.  Once I returned home, I forced (!) myself to make the beds and put the laundry away and make bean croquettes with Southwest flavors for a pre-Assumption Vigil Mass snack.  We went to Mass.  I received Our Lord in Holy Communion.

It helped a tiny bit, but I still felt yucky.  Still do.

Of course, this makes sense.  Normal coping methods do not always work for me.   I just have to be patient and ride the wave.  In the meantime, it does no good to beat myself up over what I did or did not accomplish today.  If 175 words is it, then I have to be accepting of it.

That’s all I have to say about that.  Thanks for letting me get this out.


  1. Rachel Sullivan says

    Here’s the thing about psychiatric illness: it’s super duper actually a really real disease. It’s brain hormones going completely haywire. If you were a type one diabetic having an insulin crisis, would you judge yourself? Why not? That’s pancreas hormones going wacky in a very similar, not just analogous way. It’s just a different hormone cascade, a different organ system. But because you don’t get sweaty and pass out, or you don’t have a bone protruding through your skin, somehow you’re not sick, and somehow it’s your fault. Rubbish!

    p.s. I like your use of exclamation points.

  2. says

    I second everything that Rachel said, PLUS you also have insane preggo hormones adding to the lovely mix. And I personally found that potty training, especially at first, was the most trying experience of parenting thus far…well, maybe tied with colic. That was pretty horrible too. But yeah, potty training is enough to give anyone tics, twitches, and crying jags, in my humble opinion. I’m just still amazed and impressed that you’re writing a NOVEL during nap time. I take NAPS during my kids’ naps. Sometimes I even try to take naps while they are awake (it never ends well). Keep up the good work of growing a baby and taking care of a toddler, house, husband, etc.

    • Rhonda says

      Thanks, Jenny. :-)

      And, colic…. that’s an experience I don’t envy. Knock on wood, I hope this baby’s non-fussy and a sleeper. One can hope, right?!?!?

  3. says

    Welcome back to naptime blogging! I’ve been away from the actual computer for a while and I’m just now catching up. Thanks for your personal revelation–you know me, I’m all about sharing these pieces of ourselves in the hopes that I could potentially help someone else who is struggling. That said, I’m going to privately email you about someone else struggling with a mood disorder (not me, not my story to share in this forum).