Daily Archives: March 20, 2014

The Baby Step Tango

A few steps forward, then a few steps back. That’s how it seems to go for me lately. My most recent psychiatrist visit was good and we agreed to more time between appointments provided I continued to feel good and then the anxiety set in. It’s not crippling anxiety but it’s bothersome for sure. I believe the anxiety is stemming from not being able to differentiate between myself and my mental illness. I was an undiagnosed, untreated bipolar sufferer for 30+ years. I honestly don’t know what “normal” is. From obsessive and self defeating thoughts to uncontrolled rage and spending, I’m not exactly a role model of normalcy.

In medicine we talk about a “baseline” for a person, or how they behave when they’re feeling ok. I’ve been spending the last several months on medicines that regulate my mixed up brain chemicals, trying to figure out my own baseline. I’ve been messed up for so long, I’m not sure I would know what “normal” would be if it hit me right between the eyes. But I keep hoping I’ll at least start to feel better for an extended period of time. My mother often points out to me when I’m feeling especially jacked up that no one is really normal, it’s just an idea.

I also find I am hung up on the diagnosis and my personality traits. As in, is procrastinating just something I do or do I do it because of the bipolar? I know “normal” people procrastinate all the time but I’ve got an entire room of unfinished projects not to mention half finished drafts for the blog. There’s darker parts that I worry about too, like my anger and dangerous behaviors I have engaged in. I’ve noticed since I started my medicines it’s a lot better and I know that anger is something everyone is supposed to feel (Let me add on if you are as angry/behaving  as I was before medicines or engaging in destructive/angry behaviors like I was you need to look at that more closely. It could be a sign of something deeper than just anger). I’m happy to say with my medicines and self care, my dangerous/risky behaviors are cut down substantially- no more speeding or reckless driving, no more drinking while on medications, no more looking for a fight because I don’t know what to do with my restlessness or feelings of inadequacy, no more self harm.

In a sense, being treated for a mental illness that was unchecked for so long is like learning how to do everything and how to be all over again. It’s daunting and tiring but the hope of a more peaceful, satisfying life keeps me going. I’ve made some improvement and have also had some backsliding, but I keep getting up every time I fall. I also realize that in learning to live my life all over again, I also get to dictate how it will be, for the most part. It’s especially empowering to know that I am not a victim of my mental illness, that I can live successfully even with bipolar.

I’d like to wrap up this post by saying that if you are feeling down or noticing symptoms like unreasonable anger, destructive behaviors or depression, please seek professional help. This is a list of symptoms associated with mental illnesses, but I must emphasize: Do NOT check out WebMd or Google and try to self diagnose! Contact a licensed professional if you are concerned!! NAMI.org is a great resource with links to care providers in your area.  Also check with your employer regarding no-cost therapy sessions that may be available to you. There is no shame in admitting you need help!

Filed under: Self Discovery, Wellness Warriors Tagged: anger, bipolar disorder, personality, progress, strength, therapy, wellness

A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That

I’ve noticed that a lot of my friends who have psychiatric diagnoses display at least minor symptoms of other conditions as well. Depression with a side of Tourette’s. Bipolar with a soupçon of OCD. OCD with a smidge of anxiety disorder. PTSD with all of the above.

The symptoms of the secondary problem are usually not severe enough to warrant a second diagnosis and a separate treatment regimen. Most likely the add-ons are noticeable only to the person who has them, or possibly to very close friends (largely those who know about the main condition).

I don’t exclude myself. I have little rituals that help get me through the day, a certain order I do things in. I have a couple of words or phrases I mutter under my breath to keep me centered when I am stressed. (“Kittens” for mild stress and “jumping” for more than that. I suppose that if I ever get into kinky sex, I could use those as my “safe words.”)

Do these mini-disorders ever grow into major ones? I don’t know. They could be coping mechanisms or side effects of medication or fairly routine habits or personality traits.

Mostly I think one should ignore them – until or unless they start causing problems with one’s life. My husband, formerly a certified addiction counselor, says that’s how to tell when drinking or drugs have become a problem – when they start causing problems (in finances, work, relationships, legal matters, etc.)

For now, they’re  just little quirks – reminders that my brain has an alternative wiring scheme.

(See the disclaimer. These are my opinions only, not professional medical or psychiatric advice. YMMV.)


Second Life

Ever hear of Second Life? Second Life is an online virtual world whose only limitation is your imagination. (I think I got that from their website.) It looks similar to many online games, but it’s hard to really call it a game since there is no competition and no common goal. It’s more like an … Continue reading »

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Urban Decay is on Hautelook Tomorrow – 3/21/14

Want to stock up on some Urban Decay? They’ll be on Hautelook tomorrow! Continue Reading →

My stats are booming…misery does love company

I get a giggle when WordPress alerts “Your stats are booming!” People must love reading what a loser I am so they feel so much more superior themselves. Whatever. That’s my pessimistic cynical side. My optimist side wants to think it’s because others are in a similar boat and like reading the struggles of others to feel less alone. Maybe the truth lays somewhere in between.

I keep doing this thing where every night I go to bed in this depressive state and think, “Well, the seasonal affect should lift now that the season is changing, I might feel much better tomorrow.” It’s not happening, though. I’m still low, irritated, frustrated, stressed, and can find no real reason for existence. I’m in such a vile place, I can’t even say “Well, my life is shit but I would want to live if I could have Suzy Q’s life of excitement and wealth.” Nope. I don’t have that much going on. It’s gotten so redundant I get annoyed with myself.

Yet this is what I am stuck with and I am trying to cope and it is joyless and like being on a hamster wheel to nowhere.

I watched a Foamy the Squirrel this morning. Normally Foamy makes me laugh hysterically. For six months it has failed me. Today it did as well. But it was about the psych med conspiracy wanting to make everyone sedated and medicated so they’ll be controllable little drones. Bullshit. My meds solve shit. They help WHEN they work. I am so sick of the pharma conspiracy theorists. I’m the biggest rebel paranoiac out there so if I honestly believed for one instant I didn’t REQUIRE these meds, I’d be on a soapbox.

One line in the cartoon that resonated though was when Germaine said, “I’ve been on the anti depressants so long, I’ve forgotten what I am actually like.”

THAT is cold hard truth there. And it’s why so many of us have a history of going off our meds so we can be reminded and that’s where the cycle of suck begins. Few of us started taking this shit for giggles. Few of us stick with it because we love the plethora of side effects. We just know without them is much much worse and we have a dozen loving family and friends who will back this up. NOt that they like us any better with the meds. They just don’t understand why we can;t be normal.

That’s the point. Normal people don’t  five finger discount and drink until they wake up in a pile of garbage crawling with maggots while being served an eviction notice because they used rent money to stay wasted. Normal people don’t throw shoes at people’s heads in a fit of fury then curl up in the bathtub bawling “:I love you, don’t leave me!”

Off my meds, I am all of those things. It’s not normal. It’s not what I want to be, ever. So I take my meds and they mostly don’t work and I keep taking them because this is me making an EFFORT to get better and be better even if I can’t remember if I had constant stomach aches or sensation of bugs crawling all over me before I started Lithium or Vibryd or whatever. Then I go to counseling because I’m told I need it and I get told I have various personality disorders, most of which are also symptoms of a mood disorder, so I don’t know if I am coming or going and I am all upset and confused and angry. STILL, I keep trying, keep taking the meds, while mainstream media and various flotsam and jetsam judge me and criticize me as being lazy and weak rather than having a legitimate illness.

Yeah, the pills are a kick, I do it for the attention.

Who knew a two minute cartoon could inspire an entire rant? I am fucking gifted that way.

 

 


International Day of Happiness: How Will You Be Happy?


 
 


Today, March 20th, the first day of Spring, is also the International Day of Happiness!  Of course, here in Meadville, I woke up to snow, which did not, unusually, impede my own personal happiness index—like the country of Bhutan which has an official National Happiness Index (really! They track and promote happiness!)—because I have decided to use an overabundance of exclamation points today in celebration of this happiness holiday!  A way to push myself out of the gray and into the gratitude. 

How do I feel happy today?  Let me count the ways.  I am happy that the house has grown momentarily silent after the pell-mell rush of the kids off to school.  I am happy that I’m about to practice my headstand—and I’ll achieve liftoff for a few seconds, something I wasn’t able to do even last week.  I’m happy I am continuing my meditation practice; it is a brief, sane spot at the beginning of the day that serves as my anchor.  I’m happy that I’ve managed to maintain stability now for a long, peaceful stretch of time—it brings me hope and joy.  I’m happy that my daughter seems happy in her group of friends and secure in her own self.  I’m happy for my son who has finally started to sleep in his own bed—just a week ago he didn’t believe he could do this and was despairing that he’d be the only kid still unable to sleep in his own room, so this accomplishment is HUGE!  I’m happy for my husband who was just yesterday promoted to Full Professor, a distinction he’s worked long and hard for.  I’m happy that I feel secure in myself, and no longer feel frayed and empty but feel bound and full.  And happy that there’s another load of laundry to fold—all those small—but getting bigger!—socks to match up.  And happy to check-in with my husband mid-day by phone just to see how things are, nothing in particular, just the sound of his voice.  And happy to pick the kids up from school, and listen to their rush of chatter in the backseat, their bickering, too.  And happy to go to my Recovery meeting tonight because it is a recovery meeting and my days keep growing.  And happy to come home after that to the family that’s mine.

How will you be happy today?     

 


Happiness

            --Jane Kenyon

There’s just no accounting for happiness
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.

And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day


to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.


No, happiness is the uncle you never
knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
into town, and inquires at every door
until he finds you asleep midafternoon
as you so often are during the unmerciful
hours of your despair.

It comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink.
It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basket maker
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.
It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of pine barrens
to rain falling on the open sea,
to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.

 

Better Living Through Chemistry, Part 2

Ahhh……48 hours on Zyprexa, and I feel like a new woman.

Today was the best day I’ve had in weeks. I slept well again, wasn’t nearly as bombed-out as I was yesterday morning, had no trouble staying awake at work—even doing nothing but bookwork—and drove home without screaming profanities at other drivers. I’m calm and no longer feel the urge to flee, despite the fact that I really do need to do something about my job situation. The nervous energy that made me literally want to crawl out of my skin is gone. And I was even able to read some of the material in my training manuals for a short time without losing my focus.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I feel like me again. I still have the same problems I did two days ago, but I don’t feel the desperate urge to hide in a dark closet or run away like I did. I don’t feel like crying and dancing at the same time like I did. I don’t feel restless or confused or irritable or afraid like I did. I just feel like good old normal everyday ME, and that is an enormous relief.

Once again, I am astounded at the swiftness with which Zyprexa puts everything right. This wasn’t anywhere near the worst mixed episode I’ve ever had, but it’s gone on for way too long and I just got tired of fighting it. Of course I should’ve done something sooner; as usual, I let things get pretty bad before I hollered for help. But I honestly didn’t know whether I was hypomanic or depressed, so I didn’t have any idea of what to tell Dr. A (who was in Hawaii for at least part of the time, but certainly not all of it).  Guess I should’ve let it all hang out and let him sort out what was what…..I didn’t really believe any of it was related to my illness.

Which makes me wonder if I’m still not taking it seriously enough. My doctor certainly does. He’s very conservative in prescribing, yet here I am on five different meds, two of which are APs. And obviously, I need ALL of them or I wouldn’t have become such a hot mess in the first place. But I also wonder sometimes how the hell I got along before I started these things—what did I do before Lamictal, Zyprexa, and all the other psychotropics I’ve been on came into my life?

Once in awhile I let my mind wander back to the days before I was medicated and think, what if the meds are actually causing my symptoms? Or was I really this bad all along? Time has a funny way of softening bad memories and blurring them around the edges; I don’t remember how I coped before, except way back in my drinking days, and of course food has always been there for me.  But if you listen to my family tell it, I was ten times worse, what with my screaming fits (that I no longer have), my spending sprees (two-time loser in bankruptcy court, haven’t even had an overdraft in the past year), and my inconsistency (they never knew which wife and mother would come home on any given night).

So I put my trust in Dr. A and the affirmations from family and friends that I’m doing the right thing, and resist the temptation to just stop everything and let the chips fall where they may. Is it really “better living through chemistry”? For me, the jury’s still out on that one—except for the miracles wrought by Zyprexa—but for everyone else who has to deal with me, it’s probably safe to say “HELL YEAH!!”

 

 

 


NARS Light Reflecting Setting Powder vs It Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Powder

Check out my setting powder showdown featuring NARS vs It Cosmetics Continue Reading →