mental illness

       I am sitting here listening to nothing but the hum of the modem next to me. The dog is sleeping and Mark has just said he was going to bed. I am tired, yet not feeling like I can get to bed quite yet. These last 4 months have been anything but easy for me or for Mark either. He has been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder for a long time. I am trying to pinpoint the actual diagnosis and I think it was around 2004. Before the diagnosis, there were times of extreme energy, and extreme “insight”, extreme anger, enlightening, followed by significant depression and paranoia sometimes on both sides of the spectrum.

  After the diagnosis, as we looked in the rearview mirror of our life, we realized that the times of behaviors that were not his normal self-were most likely  cycling through mania or depressions, and we could pretty much pinpoint the cycling was once every 4-5 yrs, and through the years it became more frequent, cyclical and seemed to be certain months/seasons each year.  After the diagnosis and medical treatment, 3 hospitalizations, and after trying a few types of medications, the docs for the meds that worked for him. Meds that helped to control the highs from getting too high and the lows from getting too low.

Well, this last manic episode, the current one, has been going on for 4 months, and it has been probably the most fluctuating, and high energy one yet. There have been quick decisions, fast changes, to the point that from one moment to the next it can feel like the direction changed  360 degrees. Now I am not saying the changes (as I step back and look are bad, )they are just rapid, and for a non-manic person, it is really exhausting.  I am doing my best to keep up with the latest changes, and I think when everything settles down, we won’t regret the changes, but he will be looking at it like he ran a 1000 mile marathon, and with his disabilities, that would be an impossible feat.      (20180314_193806.jpg  This photo represents the speed and number of thoughts and changes these last 4 months have been like )

Everything he has done, he has learned, he has made happen has been with the best of intention. To secure our future, our kids future, and their kids future. It has been 4 months of very little sleep, learning about how investing works, evaluating and adjusting our vehicle situation, thinking about where we live and where we may want to live in years to come, reaching out to family he had not spoken to in a very long time, realizing life is precious, and analyzing every nook and cranny of our life. He has not meant to, but cannot stop talking at times, assuming how an interaction will go that has not yet happened and having conversations with that person before the event even materializes ( if it ever will)

So that is why I am here typing,  the silence right now is priceless. I love him to pieces, and I am sure he has no idea how many words he can say in a short period of time, or how all the things that make sense to him, are hard to process for me, as his mouth cannot keep up with his mind or his thoughts. I read an article on being in a marriage with a Bipolar spouse, and one of the things mentioned is to deep breathe, well I have been a deep breather for a long time, but I have taken it to new levels, my lungs have got to be the clearest they have ever been.  All of the symptoms mentioned he has displayed, and FINALLY, I feel we are starting to calm the symptoms down. It has got to do a number on his body, the non stop everything, the emotions from ecstatic to such anger and rage, the lack of sleep, the continuing fast pace of his brain, and feeling like he is in a fog at times, that all has to take a toll on one’s body.

  HE tries frequently to take off for a bit to give me a break, and even though it is nice he does that, the mania can contribute to more new ideas, more changes. He will take his kindle and cell phone and head off to the library, or Dunkin Donuts and work on things he is doing there.

His doctor just doubled his one medication, and that is slowly working so he can sleep through the night. Last night was the first night he slept more than 2-3 hrs. Yeah, I think he actually slept for 7 hrs last night. I too was sleeping, as it has been a ride and a half. He said he does not feel as scattered or spinning as he has been. He tries to appreciate my needs during the day, but it is not easy for him.    I have learned many times over that Bipolar is not able to be managed without professional care. That med management or therapy might each work, but for the best care, you need both. The therapist should be one who understands bipolar disorder and also how it affects people in different phases of their life. As a person ages, the disorder takes on different characteristics, at least that is what I am witnessing.

 The internet is such a wealth of information, and there are forums and support groups for anything you can think of, BUT I do feel the internet can also be a trigger for the mania to be refed as it is trying to slow down. There is so much coming at us from all kinds of areas, it can be a blessing and a curse at the same time.

So as I sit here in silence, I am thankful he can sleep, I am spending some time praying, talking to God, I am trying to gather my thoughts and I am thankful for all the positive things that have happened and also thankful for the support of our family members who have been there through all of this. It has not been easy, not for me, or for him. Thank God for our children, for our grandkids, for his mom, for our children’s spouses, for our friends who understand and for our church.

 One of the MANY things that have been accomplished in a very short period of time, is he signed up for a domain name and will have a website up and running hopefully in a few weeks. We need to take time to dedicate solely to that, to design the web pages and have the platform for him, for me, for others to post on and for him to share some of his thoughts, some of his experiences, some of him that is what makes him the incredible person that he is. So be watching for his blogs to start on his very own website in weeks to come.  There will be things written, that come from his mind through his hands and end up as words on the screen, things that I do not know, things that show what makes him who he is.      So thanks for reading this, thanks for your time. Say a prayer that the meds will continue to slow him down a bit so he can see the world,  so he can stop and hear things being said, so he can stop and see all the gifts God gives us every single minute, every single breath, every single day.

Until later….                                     Mrs Justa  is signing off.




OK… I am trying to focus on writing and the wind is blowing so hard..I thought our furnace was malfunctioning and blowing super forced air through the vent. Our house is normally pretty quiet… do not hear wind… but tonight… holy shmolly… it is blowing big time. Just started—all of the sudden..The dog is pacing… and the wind smacking against the house.

So as I proceed..let’s hope the power and internet stay on. I was thinking about mental illness, and how many people suffer from it. Heck I look at this poor dog and see she even has a tad bit of mental illness . I had tried to tape a video of us trying to coax her in her crate..when she heard us say on the video to get in her house, she started trembling in here… oh I hope we can find things to work amd Oct 2011 055calm her down. This wind reminds me of what it is like to see a person ( or the dog !!) go through acute episodes of depression, anxiety or mania. It comes over them like a gust of wind, like huge waves… beating on their souls and emotions –like the wind is beating against the house.

Anxiety is a tough disorder, so is depression and mania. They all are real, and when they hit, the person going through it usually recognizes the problem and becomes more symptomatic realizing they can not stop it. It is like watching a person be a prisoner in their own body. I have taken care of patients and have been personally exposed to individuals who suffer from all of some of these illnesses. And there is nothing I can do to help when a full blown attack happens.

Oh I can try to stay calm, I can look for the sun ray through the dark cloud… but I feel inadequate, because I can not help to make to acute episodes subside. I can recognize when they are about to happen. But depending on the level of intensity they have..they can be like a tornado—taking down anything in their path.

For Riley… in the crate..when anxiety hits… NOTHING I can say or do will stop her from panting, trembling and bending the cage.

It is so opposite of her when she is not having an anxiety episode.

When I watch Mark deal with his high levels of anxiety, depression , mania—man again it hurts to watch, because there can be a path of destruction… he said the other day that it wears him out.. wears him down.

People I have met in life who have had similar disorders..they too felt at times that they were losing a grip at times.

So as the night hours begin to pass…africam 1-24-2012 011 I want to send a cyber hug out to all who suffer from mental illness…and to all who know someone with mental illness. Support them, never ever give up on them, and know that when an acute episode happens..that is when they need you most.

I learned a long time ago… that when an acute episode happens..that is when you find out who your friends are… and also who are not your friends .

I love you Mark… through your highs and your lows… you are a good man… a man passionate about your beliefs…. –It is a ride sometime s!!.

Love to all, Mrs justa alias Cindy…..


My life… I sat on the floor in the corner of this room, looking for something specific. And to my surprise I found much more than I intended to. The bottom two shelves are the photos and music of my life….

I was looking for a picture of a lady I work with. She is retiring in a couple of weeks and this photo was from when I met her, back in 1989. She oriented me to hospital nursing. She and I have had our paths cross for years on end, and then for a bit we may work in different places..but we never lost contact.. And times along the way we end up back in the same place again. She is a special lady. As I looked for this one photo I ran across my life. Things that have been pigeon holed in places in my mind.

It is funny how a photograph can bring you back to that year. It can make you remember a smell, or a breeze, or a sense of wonder . It brings back a feeling of being special, or discovering a place you had never been to before. It also can bring back a feeling of loss, or pain. It reminds you of relationships, of stages of youth, of people who have left this temporary home on earth to go to their destination. It kind of reminds us we are alive.

To relive these moments, to watch my little guy and Marks little girl grow up in photos. To  see their kids growing up… 100_3398

To realize that even thought it seems the years have flown by..those photo albums on the lower 2 shelves represent miles of life’s highway. The whale watches, the camping trips, the mini vacations Jeff and I took, the whale watches that Jeff ,Mark and I went on, the seemingly endless precious weekends that Jeff and Adrianne got to share with us, the evolving of my family from me being a baby to having all my brothers and sisters, smiles, reunions, marriages, births and deaths. All in-between sunsets and sunrises..each one different.

A100E0347nd as I soaked in the memories as they came to life.. I thought about how lucky we are to live in this country. The unrest in other parts of the world.. I wonder if these people have good memories. Have they stopped to see the beauty of the world? My heart says they have missed a lot of the soft sides of life… for they carry around such anger and hatred.

Yes … my journey through time that has been, it has  reminded me that I have been truly blessed. I thank God for that, over and over again.

I hope you have memories of your life captured somewhere. Stop and take a moment to remember. Good night all. Mrs Justa alais Cindy

100_0244This past weekend we were driving into Phoenix NY. It was Sunday and it was rather hot and humid out. As we drove towards the village there is a stretch of road with really nothing there. Overgrown edges to the road, street signs stating the speed limit is still 30 and warning folks not to park on the side of the road. And this morning something else….

an elderly woman, standing with a straight posture, holding onto the handle of a fairly good size Aqua suitcase on wheels and her purse laying on top of the suitcase. She stood at tis sign..just stood there. As Mark and I drove by her..well there was absolutely no sense why she was there. She did not look like she had been thrown out of a car, or was moving..just standing at this sing on the side of the road in a section of nothing.

So as soon as we could turn around, we did and pulled to the side of the road. I walked up to her and asked if she was okay? She smiled a rather pretty smile..and said “Oh yes dear, I am waiting for the bus to go the State Fair”  I told her the state fair bus stop is down towards the village..over the bigger bridge that goes over the river..just before the draw bridge for the Erie Canal. 100_0246She went on to tell us that she was living in her grandfathers house in Phoenix, helping to clean it out. And than she told us her grandfather was fighting in Iran. She said her father was in Afghanistan. She said she has been caring for 24 different refuges who come over to the states and spend time with her. She said she wanted the state fair bus because no other buses would be running, only the state fair one.

Mark asked her why she had her suitcase if she was going to the fair. She avoided the question 4 times and than said she was a teacher ad the suitcase was all her lecture material She used it with the refuges when they came. Her speech seemed to ramble at times, her eyes looked glassed over and empty at times. She did not want a ride and was heading to the bridge to go to the area where the bus came.

On our way passed her starting her walk, we stopped and let a Park Police know that we were concerned about her. She just did not seem totally coherent. And now… 3 days later.. I am wondering about her. Did she get on the bus? Did the police officer speak to her, maybe call for someone to come and assess her? Is she safe?

This world seems small at times.. I get so focused on what we have going on in our lives..and sometimes witnessing something like makes it so apparent how the 100_0022world is massive. A person can get lost in the system, lost in the background. I believe this woman was suffering from a dementia disorder of some sort. It was almost like she was in a time in her mind 30 yrs prior. My goodness her grandfather in Iran would be in his 100s at least. People like this woman could fall , go into the river, hop on a bus and not know where she was going, …how many people in the world are going through things just like this?

She made my mind stop for a moment from worrying about what we had to do… she made me appreciate life. God bless this woman… and the man I wrote of a few posts ago..and so very many other who need strength and protection. Love to all Mrs Justa..

We had gone to Oswego to watch nite time 9-6-11 002the sunset over Lake Ontario. And although it was raining when we arrived, there was so much more than a sunset to absorb.

It was a very muggy night..there are severe thunderstorm warnings all around us tonight, but it was only drizzling. There is a cold front lurking..just has not landed yet.

So as we approach an area where there is a look out,( it is pretty elevated, so you are looking down on the marina and the lake seems to go on forever)…there was a man, he appeared on the sidewalk in front of us . As we drove slowly past him, he held his hand at waist height and did a wave. ( like  Queen Elizabeth wave)  His smile so real  looking. We pulled in and he so youthfully said.. “Nice night.”  “ You like it up here?” “Nice breeze.” and “Wouldn’t you like to be on that break-wall?”   as he spoke, I saw he had no apparent worries in the world, he seemed to have a developmental issue..where he never lost the innocence of youth.  Mark responded with “Yup.” and “I do not feel a breeze in the car.” and “Yes the break wall would be interesting to do, it is getting dark though.” After the brief encounter he proceeded to a park bench. Soon to be accompanied by an elderly woman. We assumed he probably lives with his mom, and he is mentally challenged. As I watched him, I felt blessed to have watched him, and his seemingly simple outlook on life. I do not think he could feel hostility, and everyone he interacted with was like his friend.

The second person that seemed to intrigue me was a guy, a very very tall thin man, age easier to estimate as in his late 20s. He was dressed in a loose white tee shit ( like an under shirt) and grey sweat pants with many snap pockets. On his feet were just flip flops. And even though he was super tall , the cuffs of his sweat pants dragged as he almost shuffled with each step. His gait was not steady. He was reaching for things I did not see. His arms almost floating as if directing a symphony or catching butterflies. His hair matted, he said nothing, just moving his head to and fro and reaching at times. He sat down on a park bench just to the right of us. Every once in a while he would look to the left and than do a semi circle movement with his head as he smiled a gentle smile.

As he sat there, the first guy got up from his bench and walked past this man who appeared to be either suffering from drug use or mental conditions. The first man said… “Nice night.”  “ You like it up here?” “Nice breeze.”… the man who seemed really out of it politely spoke back and answered each question coherently. It hit me …. this guy on the bench, having trouble identifying real from illusions… he is some moms little boy… and I wondered… “ Is his mom alive?”  “Does she know how he is doing ?” “ Is he homeless?” Where will he lay his head tonight?” ….The first guy… I know he is a special son, and I believe his mom was who  we saw and will probably tuck him into bed tonight.

But the second guy… is out there somewhere…

Like salt and pepper…They were two totally different people… they both initially made me feel uncomfortable… and in the end…. they are each weighing heavy on my mind.

This is a world of uncertainty…a world with blessings and tragedy… and tonight as I take my hot shower, and sleep in our bed… I will say a prayer for these 2 people. They made me stop and be thankful for all I do have….

Love always, Mrs Justa alias Cindy

June 2011 house, garden, sunset 018It is getting darker earlier,—literally and figuratively….

the tomato plants are dying, the zucchini plants seem to be thinking about maybe retiring for the season and there is less humidity in the air. It rained all day today, tomorrow maybe it will stop, and I wonder what the fall and winter will bring. And this weekend we saw red leaves lying on the ground

We had what has seemed to be an ongoing summer, warm, HOT, humid, and parching at times. Sun seemed to shine forever, air conditioners humming us to sleep…. uggg I really hate the hot humid temps of July, I feel impatient and easily frustrated… but I think I hate more the fact that as we had our breakfast dinner at 7:30… it was getting dark.16600008The hummingbirds were there, but hard to see.  Hummingbirds…..I find them fascinating, these tiny little birds, flitting around, they come and go so quickly and they love red sweet liquid.

Mark asked a good question … “How did someone figure out that hummingbirds would be attracted to red sweet liquid?” That is a great question… I have no idea. But I do know they like the red syrupy liquid….

100_3084As the darkness starts to creep in slowly, it seems there is a proverbial black cloud over many people I know and care about. People with some significant health challenges, people with emotional issues, people with insecurities, people with  misfortunes. Their names I will leave out, they know who they are, but I am thinking of them each, and hoping they each have the strength to get through the challenges, the wisdom to not panic, and the acceptance that they have people who care.

So to all, I wish each person peace, and hope that the blue skies come back and the darkness fades away.

Love to all, Mrs Justa alias Cindy

green house, brandon and preston, linda and brian blair 3-2011 032

Have you ever felt lost within yourself? Like looking at the world is like looking through a glass. This photo of Badger reminded me of how people describe when they are experiencing a time of mental stress, mental imbalance.

It has to be uncomfortable, because no one can see in another’s mind, it is not like having a red throat or a bloodshot eye. And depending on how unfocused a person is, it makes it tougher to explain what they are feeling. What is it like to live  inside your body, but not be able to feel totally in control of your body.

I have known people throughout my life who have had challenges with mental issues. The mind is really fascinating, the body is incredible. All based on balances of chemicals, and if that balance gets off, well it can cause all sorts of things, but when it causes the emotional imbalance… that is the toughest.

We, as a society tend to disregard mental illness, as not being real. It is easy to turn away ones head and pretend like it does not exist.

But it does and the more stressors we are faced with, the more challenges we have… we are bound to see more people with depressions, anxieties, feelings of being helpless, hopeless. And we, as a country,green house, brandon and preston, linda and brian blair 3-2011 036 need to have more professionals who can help to work with people who need help. it is amazing how hard it is to find a good social worker, a good psychiatrist. To find one who will listen, who cares.

We need to help remove the thick glass from peoples focusing, and help to find answers.We need to understand how frustrating it is when thoughts are jumbled, minds are reeling and every thought is moving quickly…. Mental health issues are real…. take a moment and prayer for people who are dealing with the various issues that fall under mental health care.

Peace to all, Mrs Justa… alias Cindy

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