Saturday, March 31, 2012

Bipolar & Mental Challenges: A Valentine's Day Massacre

For sixteen years, my older brother Billy has lived with my family and I. To say it has 'always' been a pleasure, would be a downright lie on my part. People that have a person that they love with a mental illness knows, it 'will' get frustrating at times.


Even though Billy and I usually get along and he rarely gets angry at me, it does happen.  I understand that it must be hard on Billy, as he is my 'older' brother and here, his 'younger' sister is his boss. It just can not be very easy.

Lately Billy has been ignoring the chores he is suppose to do around the house. The very work his counselors have told him he must do. Billy is refusing to do it and it has been a source of tension between him and I.  

Billy has started to make the couch his home and a idle mind with a person with a mental disorder such as psychotic manic depressive, is not a good thing.  When Billy is sitting around, ignoring my request to get up ad do his work, then Billy is on a low swing of his illness.   I must get him out of this funk.

I have my own physical issues to contend with and Billy is making it so my pain level is off the charts. Stress is not a friend to someone whom lives with a muscle disease. I was at my wits ends, I had run out of ideas and then, the blank Valentine's Day cards came. 

What Mama wrote on the back of the photograph: Denise is mad, Billy did not wipe his feet before he entered her pool. I made her hold his hand ha ha

                                                         Help Arrives!

Billy came home last Friday with some construction paper, they were for him to make Valentine's Day cards for his friends at school. Yes they were just plain pieces of paper, folded over to make a card. Just blank canvases and nothing more. Billy had them tucked in his back pocket and they were for the most part, wrinkled and no good. 

Billy walked into my room and showed them to me, he never asked me for any help, it was just a matter of fact, 'I have these cards for Valentine's day'. To be honest, at first I thought, he can just write 'From Billy' inside of the card and then I would decorate them, as I usually do but, not this time. 

I think Billy can participate a bit more in this project, Maybe it can help to get Billy out of this down swing he has been on for weeks. When Billy goes on a down swing of his illness, he will get depressed and just will not get up and do what he knows he must. Plus, I have been having to do his chores and I think he should help me.

Sometimes when you have a person in your life that has been diagnosed as being psychotic, manic depressive (bipolar), and they are on a down swing. They would rather just lay around and not even put up a fight against the illness they live with. When this happens, it is up to you, as the caregiver/warden to make sure you put a halt to it.

                      Be By Their Side
Will it always be easy, well let me just say this, hell no! You are only human and you can only take so much. You see them taking the wrong road and you try everything thing you can think of to change it, only for them to thumb their noses at you and withdrawing more. 

Yes Billy and I have had arguments, Yes I have yelled, yes Billy has yelled but, it usually last for a minute at the most, then we are both apologizing to each other. We are siblings and it happens.

The last thing I want to do is sit by this person that has done nothing but, do all he can to make me mad, just because he is hurting himself. Even though I want to just run away at times, I must be there for Billy, I can not fault him for his illness. 

So we are going to make some darn good Valentine's Day cards and maybe Billy it will help Billy break through this down mood and make him want to fight once again.

                     Make it easy, enough

Make things easy for them but, also make them have to challenge themselves a bit. We are not only trying to get Billy out of his low, we are trying to help build his confidence, so he will have the "I can do it" Attitude, so he is able to bring himself out of this funk.

I say this because, even with the help from the counselors, psychiatrist, the medication and my family and I, Billy will not come out of his mania unless he wants to. Billy must do the work, we are only there for moral support and to give him as much guidance, as he wants us to give him.

I will still have to do most of the work but, as long as Billy pulls his weight, enjoys himself and maybe gets out of the low he is feeling. I have no problems doing it. He makes me mad at times but, I love him.

Billy informed me, the guy cards are not to be lovey, dovey. So I decided on a baseball theme card for the guys. Billy will colour in the bats (I will cut them out) and I will draw the baseballs and Billy will cut out them out.

I will write what needs to be put on the outside of the cards: I hope you... Knock it out of the Park.

I will print out what I want Billy to write in the inside of the cards: With your Valentine! Billy.

We will both glue the bats and baseballs to the front of the cards. If I make this part of our activity something we do together, in a assembly line, then Billy does not notice I am doing more and maybe this will help give him some confidence. When Billy is in a low he has no confidence, he is so unsure of every move.

I will do the same with the girls cards, as in, make them simple for Billy to do but, also make him work a little for the final product. I want to reinforce the fact to Billy, he can do things, even get out of his down swing. 

Billy said that I could make these pretty but, I must remember, they are just friends. I had to laugh at that. So I thought we came up with a pretty card for the ladies.  That will make them smile but, not too much. 

I wrote on the outside of the card: I picked...these flowers.

I wrote out for Billy to put in the inside of the card: Just for you. Happy Valentines Day! Billy.

I had drawn the flowers and stems. Billy coloured them and we both glued the flowers to the front. I have to keep Billy's mental challenges in mind when doing a project. At times it can be like walking on a tightrope. 

Now Billy can honestly say we both made these cards. I know he is excited about bringing his cards to their Valentine Day party at school. Maybe it is a start.
                       Love is in the Air

At times I must seem like a warden to my brother, do this, take that, go there. There is nothing but love behind it and on occasion a bit of frustration. No, there will be no massacre come Valentine's Day, Billy and I love each other.

Billy and I have 7 more cards to make tomorrow, they are for the wonderful staff at the school he attends 5 days a week. I don't want to overload Billy, getting him up is good but, we must not over excite him or he will go on a up swing and that is a whole different monster, for another day. I also want us to make them a plate of the peanut butter cookies they all love.

The pink card was handed to me last Friday, from my brother Billy. I will just say, he called me a super star and top banana in the inside so, I think we will be just fine. Will this one session halt Billy's down swing, I hope so but, only time will tell. 

All I know is, if I don't try it, how will I ever know if it will work and how will Billy ever get back from his low, if I do not try.

A few more 'easy' Valentine projects

All photographs are the property of Denise O.  Do not use unless you get 'my' written permission. All written material is owned by Denise O, it will not be 'used' (sharing my article is different, it is acceptable and appreciated) without 'my' written permission.  Just keeping it real folks.:)

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