Sleek Geek Ultimate You Challenge and mental illness

Over the weekend I came to the realization that I’m still overweight. I’ve lost some weight thanks to my new meds and my walking regime but I’m not getting to my goal. Yes I’m impatient. So I decided to do something daring. I decided to roll out my rolls and expose myself: half naked and bipolarish. 

I posted the below pic and accompanying text to Facebook. What was I thinking? Maybe I wasn’t thinking. Maybe I was feeling…

Feeling fed up…

Fed up of walking around with weight I never planned on gaining because of an illness I never asked for. 

I was fed up with the excuses I kept making for myself. 

I was fed up with being bipolar.

And fat.

I was mostly fed up with being fat. 

  

So this is me. I have bipolar disorder and issues with my anxiety. Due to my past medications and consecutive pregnancies I’ve picked up a lot of weight. I’m ready to take on the real me. Not this excuse of what I can be. I’m accepting any advice even sponsors for the next ultimate you challenge. I I have been clinically well for almost a month with my new medication and have lost a few kilograms but it isn’t enough. 
I’d like to thank Olivia Swail Adriaanse for supporting me and motivating me every day. 
This is me coming out. 
I need to make a difference to my life. I want my life back.”
There. I did it. I made myself feel totally vulnerable and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. 

Ok, I know what you’re thinking, I’m not as hot as I used to be- but that was before the medication. Now, I’m a lot healthier, mentally of course. So much so that I’m ready to take my physical health to the next level. After I posted this pic I got amazing responses from dozens of people who also suffer from mental illness. They went public about their illnesses too. This was a big deal because stigma in our country is a very big problem. It was absolutely amazing to be part of that kind of positive activity. It was like a mini anti stigma campaign. 
Anyway there were a few people who really liked what I had to say and sponsored me to enter the Ultimate You challenge.  In a nutshell, it’s an eight week weight loss / body transformation competition run by Sleek Geek in South Africa. 

My goal is win the competition. 

That’s it.  

I’m in it to win it. To win my life back..

A string of good days

Hear ye, hear ye!

I’ve been having the best time lately. Last week I was approached to complete a standing writing project. I’ve been unemployed for the last two years so this bit of income will really help. More importantly, working again (even though this is not what I studied to do) is doing wonders for my self-esteem. It took a big knock over the years with all the bipolar disorder and the drama that ensued.

My art is also doing well.

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I’ve been approached to do several other paintings- including an A1 size! Gasp! The project itself makes me nervous, but good nerves you know? Those nerves you get when you’re about to meet your baby.

I just wanted to share the good news.

Also, water was spilled on my iPhone today, so the speakers are messed up. I left it in rice so I’m hoping for the best. Notice that?

I’m hoping for the best.

Before, when the bipolar engulfed me in its flames, it burned negative thoughts into my being. I could not breath in hope; I choked on its smoke- its promise of dark days.

I’m hopeful now.

I’m smiling.

I’m free of the fire.

Recovery is good.

The business that I am, is growing.

Yve

Feeling fabulous, finally!

Not many people know this, so I thought I’d share my great news. 

I’m feeling fabulous!! 

No more hyper happiness or irritability sitting between my clenched jaws- in fact I laugh more than anything else now. No deathly depression either. No flashes or ideas of killing myself creeping in the corners of my mind. No, there’s light where once darkness lived. 

I wrote about my “healing” in Bp Hope magazine a little while ago. You can read it here

I tend to go manic and my head bursts with ideas but that hasn’t happened. (Now I have to work to make the magic happen).

After an intense manic spell, tinged with bouts of bitter psychosis I would find all my energy drained: I’d be crushed – pieces everywhere. I’d have nowhere to turn but to face the gloomy music every day. And being a mother or wife? That would be the worst jobs in the world those states. 

But it’s all gone. 

I don’t cycle (not even on a bike). 

I’m just Yvette. 

Oh world, it’s so good to be back. 
Now what?

Well my psychiatrist is so happy with how I’m doing that I’ve received the okay to go back to work. Eek. 

I’m a recovering bipolar with normal problems now. 

Double eek. 

Hubby has added more responsibility on my plate – which is good. I can handle it. I still get (a little) nervous when I drive but I find it more exhilarating than anything else now. 

Anyway, just wanted to share the good news. 

I don’t want to give false hope. 

But this feels good. Normal feels good. 

Why I told the world I was crazy

Many years ago, I remember my mom and dad arguing about her telling the whole world our problems. And she answered something to the effect of: “the more people know, the more prayers we will get.”

And that struck me. Even as a young child I could grasp her desperation but also unwavering faith in God’s grace. 

Since then I’ve been living a life where I’ve shared my most intimate, darkest moments for the whole world to see. 

Was I fishing for prayers?

Maybe. Maybe not. 

All I know is that I’ve grown up with an inherent yearning to share. 

And that included my bipolar diagnosis. 

I just wanted people to know. 

I wanted people to know why I disappeared every now and then. 

I wanted people to know that there were valid reasons behind my feeble excuses. 

I wanted people to know about my bad days and good (I have those too).

I wanted people to know why I couldn’t read anymore, how terrible it is to hear things you cannot see and to have consecutive numbers spinning around in your mind over and over again. 

I wanted the world to know that this illness is so real. It’s taken away from my life and confused the hell out of my loved ones. 

I wanted people to know so much about my world that they had an opportunity to see for themselves that the illness is but a small part of who I am and who I strive to be. 

The stigma and ignorance is killing us (sufferers and non sufferers alike) and if sharing this part of me will save one life then I’m all in. Of course I’m not saying that my story is so amazing that it could save the world. I’m saying that one sentence, one word could change someone’s insight and change their world. I’ve read so many ordinary stories by ordinary people who have changed my life for the better.

 So I embark on a mission to share and get others to share. 

There’s healing there. 

I am so much more than this diagnosis. 

Yvette

Anxiety, jou Bliksem!

“Anxiety, you Bastard!”

Loosely translated, the Afrikaans word, “bliksem” is a bastard.

According to the list of Afrikanserims on Wiki:

  • bliksem – strike, hit, punch; also used as an expression of surprise/emphasis. It derives from the Dutch word for “lightning”, and often occurs in conjunction with donner. Used as a curse in Afrikaans: “Jou bliksem!” (You bastard!)

The Afrikaans language packs a real, lekker punch.

Anyway, back to this anxiety issue of mine.

I’ve always been a nervous and shy person, but with age, it seems to be getting worse.

To me, anxiety is that little niggle that sits between my shoulder blades, there at the back of my neck, where the hairs stand up to attention.  It whispers to me, constantly- it’s breath heavy, bringing with it with a deep kind of fear. Normal activities like driving down the road becomes a stressful event. At every stop street, my heart starts to race, and in my mind I see myself making an accident. (And that’s just at a stop street.) My eyes become wide and the sweat starts to gather on my forehead and on my cheeks. I need to turn the aircon up because I start to overheat.

It’s been my secret. I’ve become more home bound because of it. Even social situations where, for example, I’m meeting my husband’s colleagues, would get my glasses all steamed up. It’s embarrassing. I even overwhelm myself during art class as the anxiety to get every brush stroke perfect, eats at the joy of the process of creating the art. My art teacher often needs to step in to calm me down or take over because of it. I stand there, on the brink of tears, filled to the brim with angst.

My youngest son, Gabriel, won a role to be a model for a kiddies shoe company in South Africa. I entered his pictures on Facebook last week and they made contact on Thursday. I was excited, obviously, like any normal person would be.  The shoot was set for the following Tuesday in Cape Town and I made arrangements for myself and Gabriel to sleep over at my parent’s house in Cape Town the night before the shoot. A few hours before I had to drive, that familiar flashes of car wrecks played over and over in my mind. It became so overwhelming that my husband had to drive me to Cape Town instead. He was sick so it was a brave move on his part. But I couldn’t shake the feeling even at the shoot itself where there were a number of other small children , with their parents.

Babies were crying and laughing and playing and fighting and running everywhere.

I was on edge.

I was worried Gabriel wasn’t going to do well and that the organizers would think we’re wasting their time. (Stupid) Negative thoughts plagued my mind and I couldn’t get my heart rate slowed down. Gabriel picked up on my aura and realized my fears. He was cranky and refused to go in front of the camera. I was uncomfortable and irritable and he echoed that.

IMG_1033 rsz

 

 

Worst of it all, my other two kids were with and carried on like wild children at the shoot. Okay, I wasn’t myself, so they seemed like wild children to me.

Nothing looked right through my lenses.

The world, and all it’s occupants were skewed.

As someone spoke to me, my mind would show me images of them sneering at me. Flashes of snickering people tormented me further. But I knew it couldn’t be real. Or could it have been?

Anxiety leaves me unsure and tormented, bruised and battered.

Anxiety picks at my worst fears and makes them real. I go through all the physical symptoms of fear and sink into a dark abyss of not being able to tell what’s real and what isn’t. The confusion is debilitating.

At the end of the shoot, Cayden, my eldest helped with his baby brother and got him to smile. I was over the day anyway. We then decided to take the long drive home and I offered to drive.

Stupid.

It was anew road for me and I was already shaken up. The tension sat etched into my shoulder muscles. And of course I was sweating. My husband took over the driving again.

Lessons learned? Yes.

Anxiety is an asshole.

How do you overcome your experiences with anxiety?

child-429197__180

 

Facing Demons

I had a meeting with a publisher for my memoir in Cape Town this past weekend. I should be glad, right? I am. I’m sure deep down inside I am. Maybe.

On the surface, fear of being judged bubbles. The thought of writing thousands of words about my manic depressive life shoots my anxiety levels way up. This is due to the fact that I did a whole lot of stuff I’m not proud of and there are days when I feel like my ability to write has gone with the wind. Okay, more like gone down the toilet. Questions about why I did certain things will come to the fore and I don’t have any answers for them. So, in short, I’m scared to write about a life that’s messy and dark and wild.

This stupid bipolar disorder giveth and taketh away at the worst of times. The bipolar gods never favour me.

I sit here, wallowing in pity, all because of worry.

I should be excited, like the rest of the people who support me.

But the disorder robs me of that too.

 

Ouch! Hernias and brain lesions

*Singing* This cut hurts like a motherf$%^&. AH HA AH HA

This was adapted from my favourite song right now, “This Summer’s Gonna Hurt” by Maroon 5. The explicit version has a real kick to it.

I underwent surgery last week Friday for my hernia, and I tell you it’s been rough. Not that I’m some sort of wimp. Puh-lease. I’ve had three c-sections. But stitches in your navel?! So, so uncomfortable to live with.

Two days ago, I woke up sweating due to the immense pain I was experiencing all over my abdomen. I ran to the toilet, because I felt like I had to “go”. It was 3am, I sat there and couldn’t figure out if we should call the hospital or not. I wanted to cry: poor, vulnerable, sore me just wanted to weep like a baby.

So we call the hospital and their message was like, “take more pain meds biatch.” They said it in a nice way. Oh yes and that I should call my surgeon or my doctor later the morning if I really need to. I do just that as instructed because I went to the toilet and saw blood! I immediately call the surgeon and he said my symptoms are nothing to do with the surgery and I have to see the GP.

At this point, I thought my stomach was going to collapse and that fixing this hernia was the worst mistake ever. Thankfully we get an appointment with my GP and she does an examination of my stomach. Turns out the meds I was given in hospital was overstimulating my insides and I might have another hernia.

WHAT?!

And when I’m “well” we’ll do a gastroscopy to check.

WHAT?!

“When I’m well” ?

Why didn’t we do this when I first complained about all my symptoms?

I was too sore to be furious. I didn’t want to upset my colon or any other intestine anyway.

The GP added a new tablet to calm things down and I stayed away from the duphalac. *shiver*

The past day or so has been much better! It’s still helluva (blerrie) sore when I want to do simple things like water the garden or make the bed. I have to drive today to my shrink’s office, so I’m a little nervous it’s going to hurt like a motherf%^&* (singing again).

Regarding the lesions on my brain (on the right temporal lobe), the GP read the report from the scans I went for at the psychiatric clinic and arranged for me to see a neurosurgeon next year January (when we can afford it). Sigh.

Hello medical aid, it’s me again.

Here to claim

for my good health,

eroding your wealth

and mine.

Eating at my daily savings.

Hanging onto your emptiness-

your promises in cheap brochures.

Only one thing rings true,

that you’re just a scheme.

You’re just one of those schemes.

 

Look after yourselves,

Yve

D-day has arrived: Operation Hernia, here I come

When I was at the clinic for depression, we discovered a few other things that were wrong with me. You know, the usual, hernias and lesions on my brain. Gah! It was scary trying to deal with all the emotional stuff and these new physical things but I think I managed to keep myself sane. A few people helped along the way. I could never have done it alone. (Thanks Blahpolar and fam). I was diagnosed having an umbilical hernia observed while doing a sit up in the gym. It put me off exercising- that’s how embarrassing and awfully uncomfortable it was.

Source: An umbilical hernia in adults usually occurs when too much pressure is put on a weak section of the stomach muscles, due to factors including:

  • being overweight
  • frequent pregnancies
  • multiple gestation pregnancies (having twins, triplets, etc.)
  • fluid in the abdominal cavity
  • stomach surgery
  • having a persistent, heavy cough

I tick a few of those boxes, lol, especially the frequent pregnancies bit.

Anyway, I’m off to surgery to have it fixed. I’ll have more on the brain lesions when I get a chance.

Life is a precious thing.

Yve

So, I lost some weight!

Yes people, after changing to Abilify (aripiprazole) from Zyprexa I can honestly say I’ve found the right mix of medication to help with my weight issues. I suffer from bipolar type 1 and when going manic I do experience psychosis. So I do need anti-psychotic meds in my life. Problem is, a lot of these medications we are given have terrible weight gaining effects.

 I just recently survived two consecutive pregnancies (a year a part from one another) and the weight I gained from those two escapades were catastrophic. So meds like Zyprexa was just not going to work for me. It made food taste like air. I was insatiable. But now, now things are different. Now I eat when I’m hungry and I know the feeling of being full. I welcome it and don’t overstep the boundary. Full is full. Before there was no line to draw. I’d just eat and eat, as if I was eating for two… Or three. It became a huge problem. I had no energy (Zyprexa made me sleepy) and I felt like I was too big to move around. Exercise was a chore (read as pain in the bum). Actually everything just ached. I did some exercise when I was in the gym during my last clinic stay but haven’t been continuing. But I’m proud to say I’ve lost 6kg in the short time of being at home (3 weeks). And that’s after not lifting a finger or a leg! I could have lost more yes but I’m just thankful that losing the weight is NOW POSSIBLE. With the old meds, i had to  to “accept” my fat fate. It’s difficult to explain to someone who hasn’t been through picking up weight due to medication but it really is a reality people with all sorts of illnesses face. (Like thyroid issues)
Anyway, I just wanted to share my great news with my world.

I feel comfortable in my own skin, mood is stable and my weight is down. This has really given me a boost in confidence. Whooorah!

Look, I know I may not have my 19 year old dancer body back, but I just want to feel like myself again.  Free. At peace. 

Yours in power,

Yve 

happy eyes

 

Loving the family time

I’ve been much more stable and present in my children’s lives after my last medicine change. I can’t only thank the meds for it, I also have a great therapist who has been working relentlessly to bring me back to my world. I haven’t had a long term therapist for years, so this adds to my recovery. 

Yesterday, we took a short trip to Paternoster close to where we live on the West Coast in South Africa. I decided to take some pictures – even add some pictures of myself which I never do. 🙂

say “cheese” mom!

  

while dad’s at work, we play around with mom’s camera!

  

I’m the easiet to throw up in the air

  

my three boys

  

i am one!

  

not -so-baby Gabriel- stillness of heart

    

paternoster beach

 
My camera didn’t quite capture the simple seaside beauty of the town. But then again, a camera can almost never do that anyway. 

I look forward to being part of my children’s lives every day now and that’s one of the best gifts a mother (with or without mental illness) can ever receive. 

Mommy, wife, woman. 

World, Yvette is back. 

Yve