Daily Archives: July 9, 2013

Medication (& Side Effects)

Disclaimer: In sharing which medications I have taken, I am sharing my personal experience.  Everyone’s body chemistry will work differently with different medications and what works great for me might not for you and, what works for you may not work for me.  Please don’t take what I say as advice on what to take, or not to take.

Continue.

Something crucial to know about medication. When you start feeling better, keep taking it. I could stop here and have made my most important point, but I’ll elaborate. When we are on medication and we are feeling better, it is because of the medication, NOT in spite of it. It’s very common for newly diagnosed bipolar people to want to stop taking their medication because they’re feeling better, I know I felt that way. Resist this urge and keep taking it. You have to face it, you will be taking medication for life. It may or may not be the same medication or the same dosage, but you will have to take something. There is no cure for bipolar disorder.

Getting stable was definitely a process that took a while for me, and it can take literally years to find the right medication(s) that will work for you. A tip about medications; being on the wrong medications or too many medications at one time can be difficult and troublesome. Often times you’ll find you’re taking one medication to combat another, instead of tackling the actual bipolar disorder itself. From my own experience, I suggest starting, stopping or changing medications one at a time. If you start two medications at once, for example, and you start to have a side effect you won’t know which medication induced the side effect and therefore you won’t know which to tweak or stop altogether. In this case you don’t want to have to take a third medication to address the side effect whereas you could have just adjusted the offending medication instead. (Please note, pregnancy is a separate issue when it comes to adjusting or removing medication).

The absolute worst side effect I’ve ever had was when I was taking Lithium. It was a time in my life when I was trying lose weight (when am I NOT in that time of life?) and ate frozen meals for lunch on a regular basis. Apparently, frozen dinners have a huge level of sodium in them and that doesn’t work well with Lithium. I had a nasty “side effect.” I was in the car with my mom one evening who was driving us down a busy street. We were laughing about something when I noticed something like gooey spider webs on my hands. It seemed very sticky and I couldn’t get it off. Then the dash board started moving. My mom was talking but I couldn’t make sense of anything. I was hallucinating. She quickly realized something was not right and rushed me home where she called my psychiatrist. I saw “little people” in the carpet and an old lady with a small boy. At twenty years old I slept in my parents bed with my bible tucked under my arm (ha!). It was a bizarre and extremely terrifying experienced (for all of us!) and I pray I never repeat it!

The second worst medication-related side effect I’ve had was when I took Topamax. I was a zombie. I was lifeless and dull. I sat with my jaw open and stared blindly all the time. There might have even been drool happening. It was totally depressing and disheartening for my family. I was working at a Title company at the time and just couldn’t put my finger on why I was struggling to do menial tasks. I was fired from that job (I’m sure I deserved it) and immediately asked to be taken off of Topamax. I was taken off of it, and I “came back” to myself. Phew!

Topamax

I’ve read articles before from various authors saying bipolar people won’t necessarily be on medication for the rest of their life. Personally, I found it easier to be REALISTIC (oh the realist that I am—ask Mr SQ and he insists I’m a pessimist. Po-tay-to, Po-tah-to) and come to terms with being on meds for the rest of my life. I don’t foresee getting off of them. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. And, on the other hand, if I’m struggling I’m certainly not going to just stop taking medications. I like to think that I’ll charge on and keep trying–as hard as that is.  As is everything I write, this is merely my opinion, from my own personal perspective, but I felt it’s something to be addressed. I suppose things are different for everyone but personally, I was setting myself up for disappointment by wondering if around every corner there’s some alternate reality where I can stop taking medication. I’d rather plan to take them forever and go from there.

Hang in there, friends,

Mrs Bipolarity

The Sword of Damocles

Every time the phone rings I dread it.  The several times a week that I see her sour face, I cringe.  It’s happened!  She’s found my blog!   My mother, that is.

I’ve written my heart out on the topic of the rage that seethes within me at the very thought of her.  Of the abuse that I suffered at her hands as a child, and that I have continued to suffer as an adult.

Because of her I became a teenage runaway, to escape her endless screaming, name-calling, belittling, gas-lighting, accusations of imagined crimes.

Because of her I preferred sleeping outdoors or in abandoned buildings, suffering  hunger, cold, and turning to prostitution in order to survive.

And when I tried over and over and over again to make amends for the crime of  having left “home” she drove me out with curses: “You’re shit!” she would calmly observe. “You’re good for nothing!”  And once again, I fled in tears, into the forest, into the arms of any waiting man who seemed to want me, into cocaine, into the underworld of dirty Chicago….anywhere but “home.”  I don’t have a “home.”  She threw me out of it.

So I started getting degrees, to prove to myself that I was good for something.  And maybe if I was good for something, she would love me.  A bachelor’s. An M.D., with a master’s tacked on for good measure.  Head of my class, 5.0 GPA, wall full of awards.  Exercised and starved myself into ultimate shape.  Made a lot of money, legally.  Sent expensive gifts.  All-expense-paid-for vacations.  Surely that would earn me favor in her eyes?  Surely now she would see what a good daughter I was?

It did, sort of.  She sang my praises far and wide, in the public sphere.  But in private, again: “You moron!  Don’t you know anything?  How could you be so stupid!”

Yes, I know she’s crazy.  She comes from a family of crazies. I know the stories of what she did to me when I was a baby, a toddler, and how the family laughed about it, and how she said I deserved it: always getting into mischief, that one.

So I’m terrified that she will find my blog, and read what I have written about her.  She will not think: “Oh my God, what have I done to cause my only child to fear me so?  How can I fix this, how can I change, how can I make amends?”  No, she won’t think that.  She will think:  ”Why, that g_d-damn  stinking little selfish bastard!  She can’t stand me, eh?  Well she’ll get hers!  I’ll give her something to fear!”  And she will.

Thirty years of therapy have not erased the trauma.  I still feel like that helpless little kid being cut to ribbons by her sharp tongue.  Some wounds don’t heal.


Hell…is other people

Yes, Sartre.

But seriously, when you have mental issues, hell really IS other people.

Because your thoughts are distorted by the ever changing moods and improper thinking and you just never know if people are on the level or if they are using you or setting you up for a knife in the back.

I will be the first to admit…I suck at knowing what is going on around me. It’s easy to just assume the worst. I mean, the last time I went against my gut instinct to be wary and paranoid, well, I ended up marrying a total manipulative hypocrite who abandons his kids and still believes he is a good man. Had I listened to my gut instead of the “You’re paranoid and negative” party line…Well, never mind, I wouldn’t trade my daughter for anything. But after she was born and all my misgivings and suspicions began to devour me and I dismissed them as my mental illness progressing…THEN I should have listened to my gut. It’s not always wrong. In fact, when it comes to human nature and the jerks people can be, my gut is rarely wrong.

But these days…I don’t know for sure. Am I just scarred by all of the hypocrisy and deception from my marriage to King Hyprocrite? Am I harboring scars from the past back when I was a teen and my friends stole my stuff and stabbed me in the back and I never saw it coming so now I am hypervigilant and creating potential betrayals where there are none?

I wish I knew.

Because I am more and more convinced every single day that R is using me for all I am worth to suit his needs without an ounce of concern for mine and the second it benefits him to do so or to save his own ass, he will throw me under the bus.

But is it real? Or is it just my scarred psyche talking?

I wish I knew.

But I feel very manipulated by him pretty much all the time. It really wears down on my self esteem, really wears down my patience and my ability to bite my tongue. One sure way to set me off is to do things that make me feel used and disrespected. And his actions set it off every single day. I know I complain a lot but I am so lost here. My big trigger is when people play me, take advantage, take but don’t give. It makes it very hard for me to be civilized because my instinct is to lash back. Porcupine quills come out.

The thing is, the level of feeling this way flip flops constantly based on my mental state. Bad mood, paranoia runs rampant. Good mo0d, then I convince myself it’s just me being stupid.

But what if I’m NOT being stupid? What if I see things as they actually are and one more time, I am letting the jerk yanking my chain get away with it?

I keep trying self pep talks. Rationalization. Logic. Self bullying. Whatever it takes to bolster my self confidence and not feel like a victim and not act like a neurotic spaz.

I am trying so very hard not to take other peoples’ issues personally. Trying not to let their issues impact me. Trying not to be petty and to rise above it.

But I think what it boils down to is the crap I have taken from R about my mood disorder. And still take.

Because in my mind it is shallow and asinine. NO ONE would tell a diabetic, “Your low blood sugar is a bummer, and you needing insulin and checking your blood sugar is a hassle for me, plus your special diet annoys me…”

To complain to someone with a MOOD DISORDER about BEING MOODY just seems like the height of arrogance, idiocy, ignorance, and plain being a jerk.

If he can’t see past my disorder and recognize I have a lot of good qualities…

Then I don’t feel the need to give him said consideration.

Sometimes, I just want to whack him upside the head (like Gibbs does to DiNozo on NCIS) and tell him what a douche he is about my mood disorder versus how he views his own alcoholism as not being a problem.

But it wouldn’t do any good. I have about given up on the human race.

It’s just him, though. I don’t know why I let him get to me. Maybe I still feel like doing penance because of all the years I was misdiagnosed and the wrong meds made me worse and I remember what a terror I was.

No one makes me feel the way he does. Except for the donor, of course, and even that has pretty much become nil. He’s not worth my fucking time or energy. His actions proved me right to the nth degree.

With R…I am never sure if it’s reality and he is a manipulative user or if I am just psychotic.

I wish I knew.

And that is the worst part about this mood stuff.

The perpetual states of distorted thought that make you unable to trust your own mind. I can handle mood swings, panic attacks, manic episodes…But not being able to trust my own judgment is unbearable.