Finished Scrivener Tutorial!

Just finished Scrivener tutorial. Considering massaging blog posts into book(s).

October 2015, I last modified the import of my blog into Scrivener thinking I’d massage my writing into a book. The next month, my mother had a stroke. Never got back to the book or to figuring out Scrivener. Just finished the tutorial.

Enrolled in National Association of Memoir Writers‘ online memoir writing course and will be attending the Southern California Writers’ Conference later this month. The conference features memoir writing this year!

My first Scrivener project contains my outdated blog dump. Sometimes I edit old posts and pages, so I need to figure out how to import my current version of this site. Haven’t had luck so far today. I did create a blank new project into which I plan to organize my writing under four categories:

  • Kate — fictionalized autobiography, starting at the beginning…
  • Bipolar — mental health focus
  • Parenting My Son — my son has struggled with migraines since he was two
  • Parents with Dementia — both my parents have dementia and live in memory care

Wish me luck. I may go nowhere with putting together and publishing my writing. I may not. At least I’m writing here. Actually, I’m pretty happy with blog writing.

Bipolar & Dementia

I fear dementia. Both of my parents have dementia and live in a memory care community. They love one another and seem happy where they are now, but it took a while to make that happen. They wanted to maintain their independence. Understandable.

I fear dementia. Though I hope by avoiding alcohol and taking my bipolar medications, I can stave it off. (Alcohol is a neurotoxin, and I have a family history of alcoholism.)

Still, I fear a downward spiral. That fear I want to overcome. Face it. Stand up to bipolar disorder and dementia. Take care of my brain.

Even if my bipolar disorder progresses, even if I get dementia, I can still love and be loved, just as my parents still love and are loved.

Bipolar Disorder & Dementia Research

Analyzing six studies, researchers concluded  in “History of Bipolar Disorder and the Risk of Dementia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis“:

History of BD [bipolar disorder] is associated with significantly higher risk of dementia in older adults. Future studies are necessary to evaluate the potential mediators of this association and to evaluate interventions that may reduce the risk of dementia in this population.

Diniz BS, Teixeira AL, Cao F, Gildengers A, Soares JC, Butters MA, Reynolds CF 3rd
The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. 2017 Apr;25(4):357-362. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jagp.2016.11.014

Spring Brings Hypomania

SpringBringsHypomania

This year, as winter has ended and spring has begun, I’ve taken it slowly and protected myself from overstimulation. You have not heard from me as much, as I’ve not been as active writing here or on social media.

You see, springtime triggers hypomania in me. Now I’m experiencing mild hypomania, irritability, and some mixed features. I feel myself internally crying, and on the verge of tears. I have good reason to cry, but my feeling of emotional vulnerability and instability goes beyond my current life circumstances. Perhaps, for I’ve never experienced losing my parents to dementia while raising a chronically ill teenager and living with bipolar disorder type II. Sounds pretty stressful.

My response is to cocoon, to reduce stimulation, to take sleep meds if I must, to reduce stress. When I haven’t been busy caring for my son or visiting my parents, I’ve relaxed and let my husband spoil me.

Hopefully I’ll feel much better once tax season is over. Exhausting and stressful.

Hypomanic Episode Symptoms

By Steve Bressert, Ph.D. for PsychCentral

  • Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
  • Decreased need for sleep (e.g., feels rested after only 3 hours of sleep)
  • More talkative than usual or pressure to keep talking
  • Flight of ideas or subjective experience that thoughts are racing
  • Distractibility (e.g., attention too easily drawn to unimportant or irrelevant external stimuli)
  • Increase in goal-directed activity (either socially, at work or school, or sexually) or psychomotor agitation
  • Excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that have a high potential for painful consequences (e.g., the person engages in unrestrained buying sprees, sexual indiscretions, or foolish business investments)

Source: psychcentral.com/disorders/hypomanic-episode-symptoms/

Who Do I Care For, Really?

Definition of caregiver: a person who provides direct care (as for children, elderly people, or the chronically ill) https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/caregiver

I spend way too much emotional and physical energy toward the care of others, aside from myself. Why do I care so much, too much? No doubt due to my upbringing, to my relationship to my parents – trying to please, to earn their love and approval. Why, after decades of therapy, do I still feel and act as an enmeshed parentified daughter? I’ll just leave that question hanging there for now. Not up for explaining alcoholic family dynamics. Too tired. Adult Children of Alcoholics has a good concise description.

Who do I really care for? Good question. My husband and my son are the most important people in my life. I have devoted a great deal of time and energy trying to help my son. Too much, perhaps. No, not perhaps, without doubt. Now, I need to step back, to neglect a bit, to allow for more independence. Time to do just enough. To be just good enough. Just enough. Enough.

My sister, trying to help me set boundaries and stop taking on too much emotional responsibility, reminded me that I am not our parents’ caregiver. They are in memory care. The memory care facility provides their daily care. That’s what we pay them for.

I am not my parents’ caregiver. I am my son’s caregiver, and even he could use less of my care.

Now that my parents both have dementia and live in a memory care community, aside from being their daughter, my role is to be their power of attorney. With my sister, I make decisions on their behalf. I pay their bills. I coordinate their care, which is not the same as giving them direct care.

Before my mother’s stroke, I did not visit my parents regularly. I did, though, talk and play Words with Friends with my mom daily. I miss communicating with her. I miss my parents as they were before dementia. I’m grieving.

Living with bipolar disorder, I must take care of myself. This season, springtime, is a time when I often start mood cycling. I’ve feel particularly vulnerable and fatigued. The longer sunny days trigger hypomania and irritability.

On a more positive note, in January and February and again next week, I’ve been a NAMI Provider Educator for the staff at the hospital where I received both inpatient and partial day treatment twelve years ago. I enjoy educating their staff on what it is like to live with mental illness and to be in mental health recovery. Wish me well next week. We’re increasing the time that we devote to our personal trauma stories, so I must rewrite mine. I may edit my In Our Own Voice presentation for content, or I could take a look at what I have shared here.

Reunited and Learning ASL

My mother has moved back in with my father, back into the same Silverado memory care community (which is lovely), again sharing a room. I hope and pray it goes better this time round than last when they isolated and refused medication and care. They love one another very much, so it is wonderful to see them together.

Missing his old home, my father asked about his old beach house which we sold last year to pay for their care. The staff has told my dad “therapeutic white lies” about the house, such as saying that the plumbing is being repaired.

Instead of using a “therapeutic white lie,” I skirted the issue, telling my dad that since my mom had her stroke, she needs care and that the house was too much work. He asked her if she wanted to live in the memory care community, she nodded her head yes (since the stroke, she hasn’t been able to speak).

I told him that it was no longer her job to cook, clean, or take care of him. Up until the stroke, she was his caregiver, as he’s had progressive memory loss for years. I told them that their individual needs differ now. Mom cannot use language, but dad can and should take part in community activities designed to exercise the brain and fight memory loss.

The community’s social worker has started working with my mom to help her communicate her feelings. My mom didn’t like using communication boards. I knew from previous attempts at using them that my mom doesn’t seem to understand what the drawings on the boards represent. She didn’t want to try writing either, as she knows that she simply cannot.

BUT… the social worker discovered that my mom responds to ASL (American Sign Language). So now my mom, dad, and I are using simple ASL signs to communicate. Not sure how much my father will remember due to his dementia, nor how much my mother really understands due to her stroke and vascular dementia. At least, my parents seem to enjoy learning it.