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Hello.

I am Leah and I have Bipolar Disorder. To make life even more interesting, my husband, Dan, has Stage IV Cancer. He was diagnosed at 37 and has  been in ongoing treatment for 4.5 years! We also have a healthy and rambunctious 7 year old. So follow along as we try to manage our life together and strive for love, gratitude, and joy.

One Year Later: Bipolar Disorder and Chocolate Chip Cookies

IMG_8015 As the one year anniversary of Dan's diagnosis came and passed, I had nothing to say. My world that I created to survive his diagnosis was not stable; it was darkly fracturing. Pins of pressure were poking at me from every angle--The anxiety about Dan's condition and prognosis, trying to be a good mother, trying to be a strong and capable wife, starting a new graphic design business, and the revolving anxiety about my mother's condition.

To everyone who has asked me, Leah, How do you do it? I could no longer provide an answer. I can't do it.

I had to explain to Dan how I had self-medicated and coped with his illness by riding the highs of mixed mania episodes--spending with credit cards catastrophically--and abusing alcohol. I could reside equally in a 24 hour period of both delirious pleasure, believing I could do anything (I am f*ing Superwoman!) and atrocious apathy and irritability. I felt like a monster. I wanted to throw things, weep, drink it all away, cut myself. All the old habits of the past rushed back, lining up so quickly I was dizzy. And they all felt so familiar and tempting! I made poor choices that put myself and others at risk, as well as poor choices that jeopardized our already fragile household.

 

My doctor and therapist worked fervently to help me out of my newly diagnosed Bipolar (rapid cycling) state--a condition that I have denied for nearly a decade. They added Lamictal to Lexepro, then Lithium, Zyprexa, Seroquel, and back to Trazodone for insomnia. Each medication change made me feel either more like a monster or completely dazed and staring at the wall.

I was exhausted.

I stopped writing. I stopped taking photos. I stopped smiling. I stopped working. I stopped feeling any pleasure or hope in anything. It was painful to be around friends and feel so detached.

I am spending a lot of time watching TV and binge-eating chocolate chip cookies.

But today, I am hoping this is a turning point. Maybe if I tell the world what is really going on, I can get out from under the oppression of it. I have to try.

Truly, this is not the picture I planned to paint of myself and our marriage at the 1 year mark. In the photo above, Dan looks SO happy and healthy. I can say that I felt happy, too, but I also felt drugged and somewhat broken. It goes to show you that you never know what is really going on when someone shares a photo on social media.

Please continue to keep us in your thoughts as we address my medical needs in addition to Dan's. <3

 

The Letter That Started It All - Circa June 2003

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