Daily Archives: February 13, 2014

A slow toxin called ANGER

I am so angry right now, at everyone and everything.

Before, when I got angry I’d just spill it all out and say things I didn’t mean, and do things I really didn’t want to do. I had no control. Now, my angry seems almost serial killer like.

No, I’m not going to kill, but I just feel empty. I feel like an empty angry shell. I don’t really want to be angry, but I’m always playing the bigger person. I always play the its okay role, and then two seconds I’m back to the outgoing-nothing-is-wrong girl. This time, my angry is a slow toxic gas that waits to fill up the room until it kills you.

I haven’t said much to my husband or friends or myself in a couple of days. I haven’t really had any motivation to do anything other than eat, shit, sleep.

What am I to do about this? How do o release it? Exercise? Mediation? Food? I don’t want to do any of those, and there is no heat in my house, so moving around is a hell no.

I am one tough cookie to crack. I know more about myself than a fucking stranger. What is really bothering me!?


Filed under: Angry, depressed, Ranting

Bipolar Takes Another Life

CLOUD050

I’m totally devastated right now. I just got a call from my favorite cousin telling me that his wife had just taken her own life this morning. She was 67 and had suffered with Bipolar Disorder for many many years and tried to kill herself several times before. Always they were able to save her before, but not this time.

I couldn’t stop the tears as he described the circumstances of finding her face down in their swimming pool when he got up today. He’s been in very bad shape himself from the weight of caring for her for all these years and getting sicker himself as it went along. He couldn’t talk much but he knew how much I loved her and how it would affect me so he called me.

This is so sad to me I can barely write about it but I feel it might help me if I do so I’m going to. I loved this woman so much. She was so funny and articulate and bright. She was the best school administrator in her district for many years before she retired because of the bipolar disorder. She was a dynamo and a jokester par excellence. She was the light of his world and a good friend to me too.

We were born on the exact same day only she was 4 years older than I am. 11/11 for us both. We used to spend a lot of time together when I lived in CA but I haven’t seen them as much since then. They were here for a short visit a couple three years ago but she got sick when they were here and had to cancel the trip. We saw them two years ago when we went to CA to see relatives of mine.

I was shocked to see how she had deteriorated even then. She always had a hard time figuring out which meds were the right ones for her to take. It’s a cruel irony to learn that the antipsychotic that has pretty much saved me from mania was the one that eventually killed her. It scares me so much. Not just for the drug but for what I might do to myself someday.

See I spend a lot of time wishing I was dead. I wish I didn’t have to say that but it’s just true. I have suicidal ideation frequently and it makes life hard and difficult. I Know I can’t kill myself because of what it would do to my partner Louie and to my remaining family and friends. I’ve decided not to do it ever. But I don’t trust my mind and so I’m scared.

This could so easily be me we’re talking about, or maybe it could be you too if you suffer from depression or Bipolar disorder. It’s a cruel disease and we tend to forget that 15% or more of people with it end up killing themselves. It’s a life threatening illness tho it’s still considered a stigma to talk about it and try to heal those of us who have it. I hate it right now with a vengeance…

It could too easily be Louie making calls to my family to tell them that I couldn’t stand the pain any longer, as my cousin couldn’t do, and that I’ve ended it. My own experience when I did try to kill myself was instructive to me. It showed me that when you reach the end of your resources to endure the pain you believe you have no choice but to end your life. That’s what happened to me. I couldn’t bear it any longer.

I’m  lucky I did pills then and the docs pumped my stomach and gave saline and got rid of the drugs. I thought I’d been clever, even calling the Poison control center in my town so to make sure that the pills I took would  kill me.( I said it was about my roommate…. sick..) But it didn’t work and I’m so glad at this point. I didn’t think of others at all  but I don’t blame myself. I was doing my best. It just wasn’t good enough.

So it must have been for her. She reached the point where she’d tried to kill herself several times before this and was in so much distress and confusion from the wrong antipsychotic that she wasn’t thinking right anymore. I haven’t been able to talk to her in some time because she couldn’t handle the phone, so I don’t know where she was at at the end, tho I can guess. I know it too well myself.

I don’t know what else to say. I’m drained of energy and feel like a wet dish rag from the crying and sadness I feel. It’s hard to imagine I’ll never see her again. She always made me laugh and was one of the closest people in my family to me even tho we weren’t really related except for marriage. She was Family to me and my family is one short today. We’ll all miss her dearly and mourn her forever.

Grieving for the loss of a dear friend,

Steve

Filed under: Bipolar, Depression, Emotions, Medications, Mental Health, Relationships, Stigma, Suicide Tagged: Bipolar, Medications, mental-health, Stigma, Suicide

Bipolar Takes Another Life

CLOUD050

I’m totally devastated right now. I just got a call from my favorite cousin telling me that his wife had just taken her own life this morning. She was 67 and had suffered with Bipolar Disorder for many many years and tried to kill herself several times before. Always they were able to save her before, but not this time.

I couldn’t stop the tears as he described the circumstances of finding her face down in their swimming pool when he got up today. He’s been in very bad shape himself from the weight of caring for her for all these years and getting sicker himself as it went along. He couldn’t talk much but he knew how much I loved her and how it would affect me so he called me.

This is so sad to me I can barely write about it but I feel it might help me if I do so I’m going to. I loved this woman so much. She was so funny and articulate and bright. She was the best school administrator in her district for many years before she retired because of the bipolar disorder. She was a dynamo and a jokester par excellence. She was the light of his world and a good friend to me too.

We were born on the exact same day only she was 4 years older than I am. 11/11 for us both. We used to spend a lot of time together when I lived in CA but I haven’t seen them as much since then. They were here for a short visit a couple three years ago but she got sick when they were here and had to cancel the trip. We saw them two years ago when we went to CA to see relatives of mine.

I was shocked to see how she had deteriorated even then. She always had a hard time figuring out which meds were the right ones for her to take. It’s a cruel irony to learn that the antipsychotic that has pretty much saved me from mania was the one that eventually killed her. It scares me so much. Not just for the drug but for what I might do to myself someday.

See I spend a lot of time wishing I was dead. I wish I didn’t have to say that but it’s just true. I have suicidal ideation frequently and it makes life hard and difficult. I Know I can’t kill myself because of what it would do to my partner Louie and to my remaining family and friends. I’ve decided not to do it ever. But I don’t trust my mind and so I’m scared.

This could so easily be me we’re talking about, or maybe it could be you too if you suffer from depression or Bipolar disorder. It’s a cruel disease and we tend to forget that 15% or more of people with it end up killing themselves. It’s a life threatening illness tho it’s still considered a stigma to talk about it and try to heal those of us who have it. I hate it right now with a vengeance…

It could too easily be Louie making calls to my family to tell them that I couldn’t stand the pain any longer, as my cousin couldn’t do, and that I’ve ended it. My own experience when I did try to kill myself was instructive to me. It showed me that when you reach the end of your resources to endure the pain you believe you have no choice but to end your life. That’s what happened to me. I couldn’t bear it any longer.

I’m  lucky I did pills then and the docs pumped my stomach and gave saline and got rid of the drugs. I thought I’d been clever, even calling the Poison control center in my town so to make sure that the pills I took would  kill me.( I said it was about my roommate…. sick..) But it didn’t work and I’m so glad at this point. I didn’t think of others at all  but I don’t blame myself. I was doing my best. It just wasn’t good enough.

So it must have been for her. She reached the point where she’d tried to kill herself several times before this and was in so much distress and confusion from the wrong antipsychotic that she wasn’t thinking right anymore. I haven’t been able to talk to her in some time because she couldn’t handle the phone, so I don’t know where she was at at the end, tho I can guess. I know it too well myself.

I don’t know what else to say. I’m drained of energy and feel like a wet dish rag from the crying and sadness I feel. It’s hard to imagine I’ll never see her again. She always made me laugh and was one of the closest people in my family to me even tho we weren’t really related except for marriage. She was Family to me and my family is one short today. We’ll all miss her dearly and mourn her forever.

Grieving for the loss of a dear friend,

Steve


Filed under: Bipolar, Depression, Emotions, Medications, Mental Health, Relationships, Stigma, Suicide Tagged: Bipolar, Medications, mental-health, Stigma, Suicide

A Rough Winter

A while back I posted (railed, actually) about an incredibly insensitive pharmacist who declared that bipolar women my age quite often committed suicide because their medications quit working.  Well, it seems that has come back to bite me...the 'quit working' part, anyway.  Last summer/fall I developed Parkinsonian symptoms...tremor, primarily, but also dizziness, confusion, memory loss, hesitation, etc.  My doctor suspected the Abilify so we tapered that off and increased the Lithium. I wasn't sleeping so I was prescribed Lunesta.  A short time after that I developed Tardive Dyskinesia...my tongue and jaw would not stay still.  It affected my speech and eating...not to mention my appearance...and eventually affected my ability to swallow.  Then came the bitter tongue, dry mouth, and metallic taste.  Blood tests revealed that my lithium level was 1.2...within published therapeutic range, but way too high for me.  We lowered my dose of lithium and that helped the metallic taste.  We lowered it some more and added Mirapex to help with the other symptoms.

Long story short, everything got better...for a while.  I stopped the Lunesta.  It had quit working and apparently caused the bitter tongue.  But everything is back...Parkinsonian symptoms, slightly improved, tongue/jaw movement, dry mouth...and because I am on a lowered dose of Lithium, I'm cycling.  Some days I can't sit still and build 2-full page to-do lists, cleaning house all day; Other days, I'm so uncomfortable and foggy headed I just stand in the middle of the room and stare into space.

That is when I start wondering, "What is my life?"  I feel miserable, I don't want to be around anybody, everything tastes bad,...  On 'good' days I devise plans of attack.  Because I have lost 15 lbs. from not eating much (everything tastes bad and eating is difficult) I have decided to continue the trend by walking and eventually running.  I have decided that I want to run before I die; If not now, when?  Well, one week into the 7-week training plan, I develop sciatica.  Have I mentioned that I also have Fibromyalgia?

Another area for attack is my house.  When I was happily on Abilify, I wasn't paying too much attention to the state of things.  Without the happy-filter, I see how much needs to be done...hence the two pages of to-do's ...and that's just to get started.

In unrelated matters, I had a molar filled and the dentist owned up to lacerating my gum and hyper-extending my jaw joint.  I have been on Ibuprofen for days, which increases my blood lithium levels, which exacerbates my adverse side effects.  To top it off, my sewer backed up into the basement and there is 10-inches of snow on the ground.  I'M READY FOR SPRING in oh, so many ways!!

Thoughts of suicide?  Oh, they have been there.  I know how I would do it and I have even told my doctor and therapist.  I really have nothing more to say about that.  I don't want to prove that pharmacist right nor do I want to devastate my children.  So I continue to work with my doctors, try to exercise and eat right, take the current collection of meds, meditate/nap, and read for inspiration...except when I stand in the middle of the room and stare into space.

This post is probably not going to help anybody beyond letting you know that I understand.  Let me know if you want to chat.

Mercy

Ya know that game…Mercy, Uncle, whatever…You cry out when you’ve had enough and concede defeat.

Well..I am crying mercy.

It doesn’t matter whether it was a good day or not. Fact is, it was a day requiring multiple trips into the petri dish and dealing with people and crowds and…It took a lot out of me. The anxiety beforehand tapped me out as well. My mood has been so shifty. Up and down. Little sparks of life, then…CRASH. My brain is a traffic jam of thought. (And Xanax is supposed to slow the brain down yet mine is a fucking Tasmanian devil of thought even if I take the whole bottle.) I can’t focus. I’ve had three migraines today because the thoughts just swirl so fast, so furious. I’m tired even if I didn’t do anything strenuous and have no right to say it. I am saying it. I am tired.

Mercy.

The shrink wants me to stay on the Viibryd 40mg for six more weeks then she will see me again and go from there. Six weeks without an appointment is fine by me, the anxiety it induces sucks. But I also have to go get bloodwork for a Lithium level and…God, my kingdom for a brain that just does what it’s supposed to do. I am sick of doctors and pills and side effects. While the Lithium numb trumps the out of control bouts of crying and screaming…Gotta say, I’m getting REALLY fed up with the daily nausea. I eat with it, after it, and half the time, I still end up feeling like I am going to hurl up an internal organ. Toss in the groggy mind fog and neverending munchies…

I think I’d just as soon wish for this mental shit to go away as I would wish to win the lottery. Being able to think clearly, consistently, would be worth far more than money.

It occurred to me today that mental illness is a lot like Alzheimer’s. My grandma has the latter and when people visit, it’s always gauged by whether she is in her “:right” mind or not. If she is, she knows who we are and acts civilized. If not, she gets downright hostile and acts out or shuns because we’re strangers to her. Not her fault. It’s an illness.

So why can’t people realize mental illness is the same? It all hinges on being in your right mind and with me, cyclothymia means I am rarely in my right mind for very long. It’s constant cycles, constant changes, constant contradictions because at 9 am I may be manic and confident happy fun ball…Then  by 3 pm, I may be panicy terrified paranoia chick who glares daggers because I am feeling threatened and scared.

Altered mental status is the same whether mental illness or alzheimers, but I’m sure that statement will be met with opposition. I stand by it.

Mercy. As much as I’d love to stay up and read or write or play word games…My brain is screaming for a break and in the words of Celebrity Deathmatch’s Mills Lane….I’ll allow it.


Having Bipolar Disorder on Valentine’s Day

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As Valentine’s Day approaches, I have to wonder if my life would have been different if I had not had not had bipolar disorder. 

Would certain relationships have worked out?  Would I have made the mistakes I did in some relationships that I did?  Would I have hurt those guys who really cared about me?  Would I have gotten sexually involved with the guy so soon?

My first love was someone I thought I would spend the rest of my life with. My family adored him and I loved him more than anything. However,  when he told met hat he could never get married to me because I had bipolar disorder, that was the end of that relationship. It was hard on both of us, but had to be done.

I have hurt some guys because in my manic episodes have basically said things I should not have. 

I have scared others because of my odd behavior.

I was engaged to a guy who has bipolar disorder too.  You would think that that would be a good combination.  We understood each other and that was great. We were the best of friends and still are.  However, we just could not make it work because we were so similar.  He did give me a different side of the illness. I visited him in the hospital and had to see him manic and depressed and feel hopeless.

Another guy literally hid from me in a closet because he was scared of my odd behavior related to manic episode. 

I was married to yet another man. He was not a very strong person and was not able to put up with my mood swings.  He suffered from extreme depression.  He was worried about the money I spent when manic and the cost of medical bills when I was hospitalized even though I had insurance.  It was during my last manic episode that was really bad that he decided he could not do it anymore and wanted a divorce. I can’t blame him.

The next guy I got involved with took advantage of me.  He made me think that he loved me. He had sex with me, but didn’t want others to even know that we were dating. He lied to  our mutual friends and his family.  I was manic for part of our relationship and we tooka  trip to Florida together. He did not have any money so I bought everything. What a nice vacation for someone who did not even have a job.  I remember coming home from that trip, falling into a deep depression, and realizing how much money I had spent.  He was stil wanting more money and was upset when I would not give it to him.  All I have to say about that relationship,is that I would not have gotten involved with him if I had not been manic.

I am blessed as this Valentine’s Day approaches. I have been dating a wonderful man for about 3 1/2 years.  He tries to understand me, encourages  me, loves me for who I am and puts up with my mood swings.  We recently even got engaged!  I just hope that I can stay stable or at least not do anything that scares him off..  I do believe he is my rock and will be there for me until the end. I love him so much and he loves me too. 

 

 


And Here Goes The Other One…What Will I Do?

As my regular readers know, life with my mom has always been far from pleasant.

And now….Dementia Case #2.

I had suspected it, even before I left Jerusalem in 2011 (January 11, 2011, to be exact) to come to the US and help with my dad.  Fears out of proportion, throwing screaming fits in public and not just in private, arguing with the carpenter about whether or not she had paid his bill (she hadn’t).  He even came to me and asked if I had noticed anything wrong with my mom.  He’s been working for us for years, and never saw anything like that.

Interesting how dementia brings out a person’s true character traits.  Take my dad: soft, sweet, gentle, kind.  Very occasionally grumpy or moody, but who isn’t?

My mom, on the other hand, is selfish, angry, suspicious, and nasty.  And she lies.  In fact, she likes to say, “a little white lie won’t hurt.”

The hell it won’t!

But one or two of you might know her personally, and you will say, “Oh, but she is just the sweetest person!  How can you say such things about her?  It must be YOUR misperception.”

The hell I say!

That’s the way people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder operate.  They bask in public accolades, while conducting a Reign of Terror at home.  But the abused ones are in a pickle, because if we try to get help from anyone who knows her, they will shout, “How can you say such a thing about your lovely mother, who is such a gift to the community, such an angel, has dried so many tears and started so many non-profit charities!?”

So in general we just shut up and take it, and marry someone equally dysfunctional.

That’s the way I grew up.  And my dad was terrified of her and hopelessly in love with her, both at once.

Think “Mommie Dearest.”

No, she never dragged me out of bed to scrub the bathroom floor, but plenty went on, and I won’t elaborate here, because today I got the confirmation of a growing suspicion: she’s got dementia.

I’ve been too caught up in the emotional tempest surrounding Dad’s plight to really pay attention to her acting-out.  I’ve been mightily pissed off because she threw a bunch of pottery items that my dad made (he’s a potter) behind the refrigerator.  Right.  And she somehow disposed of a beautiful porcelain vase that Dad and I collaborated on back in my painter days.  It just “disappeared.”  And like the little cups that ended up smashed behind the refrigerator, every inquiry about my vase gets an “I don’t know” with averted eyes and a little smirk.

She’s been on a gaslighting campaign regarding my memory, accusing me of forgetting things that she never told me, such as important appointments.  Gaslighting, if you don’t already know, is when someone tries to make you think you’re crazy by setting up situations that don’t really exist.  It’s a power trip, or it can be used as a coverup for someone’s own mistakes.

Last year I went to the trouble of having a complete cognitive workup–lasted two days and cost me $1200.  And it turns out that I do have one very specific hole in my memory: reconstruction of long and detailed stories–which is distressing for someone whose job used to be collecting and reconstructing long and detailed stories, as a physician.  But my long, medium, and short-term memories are perfect.  So it ain’t me, babe, as someone once wrote in a song.

So this whole business of Dad being in a nursing home has brought out some interesting (heh) and instructive situations.  On a couple of occasions she has asked me to bring something from the house, and when I bought it, she would scold me for bringing the wrong thing, citing my “terrible memory.”

Today, in fact, she called me from the nursing home, asking me to bring Dad’s slippers and a couple of packages of pull-up diapers.  When I reached their house, though, she was already home, having lunch.  The slippers were sitting on a chair.  I picked them up to put them in my backpack and she screamed with her mouth full, “No, not that!  Those are his Pads.”  “Pads” are the brand name of the slippers.

“Didn’t you put these out for me to take?  Did you mean a different pair of slippers?”

“You don’t know what you’re doing.  Go take your shower.”  The building I live in does not have a bathroom, in the usual sense of the word, and I was in fact planning to take a shower at their house before going to the nursing home.  So, cursing under my breath, I did.

I hoped that by the time I finished my toilette that she would be in a more reasonable mood, but no luck.  As soon as I landed downstairs she began screaming at me about my terrible memory, and shoved a bag of stuff in my general direction.  It contained a couple of packets of diapers, with the already mentioned slippers on top.

“Wait a minute, Mom,” I said, trying to control my temper and not doing a very good job.  “These are the same slippers that you said were the wrong ones.  These are the ones that were sitting on the chair, and I picked them up, and you said they weren’t the right ones!”

“No I didn’t!  I told you to get the Depends (diapers).  You don’t know what you’re talking about.  You can’t remember anything!”

At that point I put my coat on, gathered up my stuff and the package, and sailed out the door cursing, not so much under my breath, and not caring whether she heard or not.

When the blood stopped pounding in my ears, I realized that my suspicion is dead-on: she’s sliding into dementia.

Now what am I gonna do?

My dad is safe where he is, but she is a loose cannon and could do anything.  She’s already made some disastrous financial decisions that I am powerless to reverse, because at this point it would be very difficult to prove her incompetent.  That may change very quickly.  But what am I going to do in the meantime, having to interact with her on a daily basis because of my dad, having her living in a place that is now completely inappropriate for her, and having her seething anger aimed in my direction?    Granted, part of the anger is due to the grieving process for my dad.  But that does not excuse her leveling it at me.

I can’t go to the Social Services people, because they all know her in her “public face” and none of them would believe me if I tried to tell them what’s going on.  And of course if they approached her about it, she would tell them all about her mentally ill daughter with the “terrible memory.”  She even has a story about how my memory got so terrible: it was the Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation treatments that have saved my life over the years.  That’s her explanation for why I can’t remember anything.  And of course the Social Services people would shake their heads and cluck their tongues, because they KNOW her and they know she’s a competent person, a kind, sweet angel.

So what am I going to do?


Writings from the Mother of Bipolar Bandit Part 3: My Daughter’s Diagnosis and my Reaction

mom and me for blog
Michelle was diagnosed with bipolar  disorder 30 years ago.

Michelle started having periods of deep depression when she was about 13. We explored every avenue we could, complete with environmental testing,and psychotherapy.
At age 17 we experienced Michelle’s first manic episode. It was almost a relief to finally have a diagnosis and medication she could take that would stabilize her mood. We were hopeful the worst was behind us.
Michelle had gorgeous hair, thick and curly. The morning before she became full blown manic I awakened to see that she had cut off all her hair. I am not proud of my reaction. For me this was the straw that broke the camels back. I still remember the shock ,pain and sick feeling I had. Shortly, I was back to mother/nurse and trying to figure out what to do next. Of course , calling and getting an immediate appointment with the so called expert/ psychiatrist  was and still remains out of the question.
By the next morning we were on our way to the ER and got the diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
I remember with such sad and empty feeling having to leave our dear daughter at the hospital in the care of others.
She came crashing down and was deeply depressed for weeks. It was difficult for her sisters. They were afraid  of her frequent mood swings and embarrassed by her bizarre haircut.
Luckily we had good insurance for mental health so did take family  to counseling several times but all were at different stages of accepting and understanding bipolar  illness.
(Prior to computers in every home) ..I made many trips to the library and found myself borrowing anything I could get my hands on to learn about Bipolar disorder. I transferred to working on a psych unit so that I could pick everyone’s brains, trying to find the best doctor and what meds should be avoided.
Again, let me just say… no matter what anyone tells you or what their degree is. You MUST  advocate for your loved one and educate yourself. NEVER be intimidated by a Dr  telling you  that you are not compliant. If you have strong feelings about whatever the Dr is trying to sell then go with those feelings. No two people are alike nor should all treatment be the same for every person. Read , talk to your Pharmacist ,research on  line.
You are your loved ones best chance at not just surviving but thriving.
Gods blessings to all. – Sue, Michelle’s Mother
Michelle has bipolar disorder and is willing to share her struggles in hopes that others will be helped by them.
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