Daily Archives: July 18, 2014

Moody and Broody

I was up until 4:30 a.m. with my kid. It’s been so long since she has slept through the night I don’t even really know what a good night’s rest is anymore. By four when she started a screaming mimi because I offered her cheese instead of a cookie for her “growling tummy”…I just shut her door and let her cry it out. I’m fed up and exhausted.

In spite the rough night, my mood wasn’t so bad when she got me back up a little before 8. Not elated but not too shabby.

The anxiety began to run rampant as the morning wore on. We were out in the dish doing yard sales and I had an appt. The kid was on full automatic today, an Uzi to the brain as well as an AK-47, and she was using hollowpoints. Bex got fed up within ninety minutes. We were both relieved when after lunch, she went down for a nap.

My mood just kept dipping. No real reason. Once ensconced in my safe zone I was less freaked out. Especially with the cease in 4 year old verbal gunfire. But for whatever reason, the mood just began to sink. Low. Lower. Lowest. My focus is in the gutter, my anxiety has me feeling like every neuron is misfiring, and there seems to be no light on the horizon. Which is bizarre because last night we watched Malcolm In The Middle and my mood was up and I laughed until my sides split.

I don’t get why the mood swings are so sudden. I am so sick of being told to identify a trigger. If there were any, I’d be thrilled to ID them and work toward coping better.

I am so looking forward to nothing but bedtime. I even declined an invitation to R’s house without even thinking to consult Becca and Spook. I am that worn down and low. Last week, I’d been disappointed we weren’t invited. It’s just a constant ebb and flow and there are no triggers. It’s gotten better with the Lamictal and Paxil doses being split between morning and afternoon, the crashes tend to be less severe. Nonetheless they still happen and it doesn’t feel like the meds are making me very asymptomatic. I still have another month before I see the shrink since she took 2 months off.

All things considered, things have gotten much better. The winter depression abyss makes even minimal improvement seem awesome. By comparison, this is happy fun ball time. Except it’s not with any stability. Up, down, all around.

Becca offered to watch Spook earlier so i could catch a nap. I’m really grateful but the control freak in me, combined with an unwillingness to shirt responsibility for my kid and the whole thing where I don’t fall asleep when intending to sleep…I’m toughing it out.

Who knows, by bedtime, my mood may swing to the other polar end. It has been every night for a couple of weeks now. Even if I go to my room, I’m usually awake for two or three more hours as my brain decides that is an excellent time to kick up a tornado of thoughts.

And I can never relax enough to fall asleep in a timely fashion because I live in terror of the spawn waking up. I purposely waited til 1 am to shower last night so I could actually relax…And there she was, two minutes in, pounding on the door, wanting this and that, NOW.

I’d like my Unabomber cave now, provided it has indoor plumbing and wifi.

Maybe soundproof rooms with stainless steel triple deadbolted doors.

She’d just get armor piercing rounds.

I love being a mom, I really do, but I’ve had maybe 5 days over three years of  a break from her. She’s kicked my ass.

And maybe she’s irritating and relentless but to an extent, I’ve just  always required so much alone time and personal space, me feeling smothered is my neuroses. Doesn’t make it any less authentic.

I feel like such a whiny jerk when I think of other parents who have 3,4,5 kids. They know hard work and stress and true exhaustion and no personal space. They’re not bitching and moaning.

I’m circling the drain with one kid.

But if you throw in my Disneyland of mental disorders, it’s sort of like trying to juggle multiple kids with defiance issues, ADHD, anxiety disorder, mood swings, and a partridge in a pear tree.

 


Pain

For many years, the phrase, “I have a headache” was just a comical excuse to get out of sex with your significant other.  It was most often used by women, so I don’t think most men truly comprehend the impact that headaches can have on your quality of life.  In my experience, many women can’t grasp the concept either, because they are fortunate enough to not ever have had to deal with a true migraine headache, and the aftermath. 

 

Mine started when I was about 12.  I had a math teacher who would let me go sit in a dark room adjacent to his classroom if it got really bad.  His wife had them too, so he understood.  Coincidentally, I also had just recently gotten braces, so I always wondered if there was a correlation.

 

My teens were not excruciating as far as migraines went, but once I hit my 20’s, they doubled in length, intensity, and frequency. By the time I turned 28, and I was about to get married, I was getting probably 5-10 a month.  It seemed like each year they got worse in one way or another. 
We moved in 2002, and after that I would get these marathon migraines that would last for 4-5 days, and I always ended up in the ER. 

 

I had been complaining about these issues since I was 12, but no doctor was ever able to offer the correct advice.  I’ve been on many medications, stopped taking aspirin, only to have the headaches quadruple, and been to the ER so many times I can’t even count anymore. Not to mention, tried several different types of eyeglasses.  For a while there, I was taking a medication that worked about 85% of the time, which was a wonderful thing for me.  Eventually, it started producing crippling side effects that I just couldn’t deal with anymore, so here I am, back at square one. 

 

The last time I was placed in the psychiatric “hospital” I spoke with a nurse practitioner there that had spent a great deal of time working with a neurologist.  I looked at her and I told her that no one could figure out why this kept happening.  She looked at me as serious as anyone ever has and said, “Honey, there is no reason for you to keep getting these migraines.  You have MIGRAINE BRAIN.  You were born with it, and it’s never going to go away”. 

 

I guess in the back of my mind, I always knew that was the case.  I mean when you’re in the ER on Morphine and your head still hurts, you’re probably up the proverbial creek without a paddle.  So, this is why I get aggravated when people give me all of their wonderful herbal remedies, or the number of the best doctor ever, or suggest some new medication.  It’s a give and take, I guess.  As sick as they are of hearing about my headaches, is probably pretty close to how sick I am of hearing about their miracle cures. 

 

This is just something I am going to have to manage, just like my depression.  It’s going to mess things up, cause me a lot of pain, and probably piss a lot of people off, but I don’t have time to worry about that anymore.  I have to worry about having some type of life despite all of the obstacles placed in front of me. 

 

So, there you have it.  When I say I have a headache, I’m not screwing around trying to be funny.  I am probably in horrible, excruciating, blinding pain with no end in sight.  It’s OK for you to say, I hope you feel better.  Just please don’t tell me what your best friend’s cousin twice removed that is related to a doctor told her to do and it worked this one time.  I don’t care.  Not to be an ass, but it’s the truth.  I just don’t.  What I care about is working through it, like I always do, and coming out on the other end pain free.  Yes, at this point I am at about 10-12 headaches per month, but guess what?  That’s down from 15, so I guess I’ll take that as a sign of good things to come. 

 

It’s like I’ve said before, you can’t possibly walk a mile in my shoes, or anyone else’s.  They don’t fit, and you would be bitching to get them off in about a minute and a half, so don’t even try.  Just be there to understand, and maybe once in a while check in and see how that person is doing.  None of us is asking you to FIX it.  We just want to be understood.  

 

On Dithering

If dithering were a power source, I could light up Chicago. Good thing it burns nerve endings instead of fossil fuels.

The last couple of weeks have seen a lot of dithering and anxiety. I hardly ever get to enjoy the rush of hypomania – except for that one brief spell a few weeks ago – because it comes out sideways as anxiety.

I also have a third-degree black belt in catastrophizing.

Both have gotten a workout lately, since a cyst was discovered in my left breast. (I wrote flippantly about mammograms on my other blog, so irony gifted me with this.)

I checked my usual sources (Mayo Clinic website and a friend who is a biologist and had a lumpectomy), and the consensus was that I had only the remotest chance of the anomaly turning out to be anything really dire.

Do you think that stopped my dithering?

Hell no! Of course not!

What could have gone wrong?

They could have stuck a needle in my breast to aspirate fluid and get a sample for the lab. (A friend who should know tells me that some people do this kind of thing for fun. Somehow, it doesn’t appeal to me.)

If the results were worse, I could have been scheduled for a lumpectomy. There was extra anxiety on this one because my friend almost had a mastectomy instead of a lumpectomy when the surgeon started making the wrong incision. (An operating room tech noticed, saving the day and the breast.)

And of course, my anxiety told me that a mastectomy could be in my future (either on purpose or accidentally, I suppose). My mother had a mastectomy, which added extra oomph to the dithering.

A mastectomy would suck for oh so many reasons. Cancer, surgery, body image issues, obviously.

Also, I would keep falling over to the right. And before the operation I’d have to take my breast on a farewell tour for all its friends and admirers.

Maybe worst of all, I would have to put up with all the pinkness and positivity. Not to denigrate this strategy for those who find it helpful, but I am not that person. Anyone with my brain chemistry is not going to respond to slogans and cheerleading and daily affirmations. (Reminder – As always with my posts, YMMV.)

Barbara Ehrenreich has written about this phenomenon in Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America.  Apparently many breast cancer survivors feel they must get something positive from the experience – appreciating life and family more and so on.

We’ve come a long way from Betty Rollins’s First, You Cry. Now it seems like we’re never supposed to.

The anticlimactic but welcome result came today: Everything is OK. I just need to keep up with yearly mammograms.

And now I can move on to the next thing that needs dithering about – the work I wasn’t able to do while I was catastrophizing.


194

Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA:

Clay’s comic rings all kinds of bells.
Speaking from my experience as a bullied depressed suicidal child, I suspect that most bullying starts at home. It did in mine. The bullied child is the scapegoat. His or her self-image is formed practically in the womb (I have my theories about that), or at least in the pre-verbal period. S/he has no words to describe herself apart from what he has been told: **you’re worthless, you’re useless, you can’t ever do anything right, why can’t you be more like your sister/brother** et cetera. S/he’s a sitting duck at school, for all the reasons Clay illustrates here.

Originally posted on depression comix (WP.com):

depcom.194.col.400px

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Read at depression comix at http://wp.me/s3zYhM-194

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Bipolar Bites

…..except when it doesn’t.

God must be listening to the people who are praying for Will and me, because other than that hiccup in June, I am having NO issues with my illness. (OK, it was more than a hiccup, but it was over with pretty quickly.) It’s like it doesn’t even exist. Yes, I take a fistful of pills every morning and night to keep it in its hiding place, but with everything else I’ve got going on in my life, I am blessed indeed not to have to deal with bipolar.

Not to worry though; I am under no illusions that I’m cured or that it won’t come back to bite me in the ass again. My last hope of that was dashed when I had those back-to-back episodes last fall, and the point was reinforced when I had to go back on that second anti-psychotic in March, this time to stay. I have made up my mind that this is the way it has to be, at least as long as Dr. Awesomesauce says so, and I need to quit fighting it because it only tires me out.

I will confess that I miss my hypomania. I could use a little dose of that right now, with all that has to be accomplished in the next few weeks. Sometimes I look at the pills in my hand and think “What if I just ‘forget’ the Zyprexa or the Geodon for a week?” And then I think of what it took to get me to where I am—all the med adjustments and the blood, sweat, and tears—and I promptly drop those thoughts right into the circular file in my head. It’s SO not worth upsetting the delicate balance of chemicals to have a week or two of extra energy and fun. Besides, as we all know, it usually doesn’t stop there, and the last thing anyone needs at a time like this is me going totally ape shit. End of discussion.

This beast isn’t what it was two years ago, hell, not even one year ago. It still interferes with my life in some ways, like cutting my nursing career short and making it hard for me to stay focused. I still need to take medications and abide by my sleep routine and see Dr. A on a regular basis. But somewhere along the line, things have changed to where I see it like this: I have bipolar, but itdoesn’t have me. And that makes a HUGE difference in the way I feel about it and deal with it.

Thanks, God. :-)


Jinxed

So apparently I jinxed myself with posting about maintaining mood during a vacation. I am sure part of my current dilemma stems from normal post vacation letdown, but it’s becoming more clear I am in the midst of a mixed episode. It started with me feeling a bit blue. That wasn’t so surprising as on vacation I visited a place that holds a lot of powerful memories for me, both good and bad. And while I had a great time, it was impossible to avoid some less than happy memories. I’ve healed a lot but in some respects, it was a bit like pulling off a scab and making the wound fresh again. The last several days have found me sorting through the residual emotions, making sense of things and getting back into my regular routine. 

Today found me irritable and longing for solitude following quite a few days of feeling “less than”. If I could get over my bad habit of comparing myself to people who (seem to) have the life I want this would be less of a problem. I know I’m not alone in this problem, studies have shown that thanks to social media, we’re all less satisfied and more depressed. 

But the most troubling thing is that I cut a few days ago. I hadn’t done it in months but after allowing social media to get in my head and reaffirm the messages of “I am Not Good Enough” “He Didn’t Want You” and “You are Mentally Ill And Alone”, I did it to ease the pain. And I remembered why I used it as a coping mechanism- instant relief, followed a while later by shame. I’ve been able to keep from cutting anymore, and it’s definitely something I need to discuss with my psychiatrist. So for now, I’m trying to avoid comparing myself to anyone, reminding myself I don’t know their whole story/struggles/thoughts. I continue to try to focus on positives, to reach out to God for help. 

I keep remembering being on the outskirts of a forest fire back when I lived in Montana. There was just enough smoke to make it hard to breathe, to cloud your vision. The smoke made things far less comfortable and reminded you of the danger that lay behind it. Mixed episodes remind me of that forest fire, of that smoke. I am praying for safe delivery from the danger. 

Filed under: Self Discovery Tagged: bipolar, comparison, depression, emotions, hypomania, mixed episode, self-injury, social media