Daily Archives: September 1, 2014

What a difference a week(ish) makes

About 2 weeks ago I noticed something was off. I’m getting amazingly good at holding in problems and oddities until I see C for therapy every Wednesday, and by the time I got to her 10 days ago I was bursting with something being…wrong. 

I assumed it meant my meds were working. Since my hospitalization in February, I have been on the most regimented treatment I’ve ever experienced – heavy load of regular therapeutic and psychiatric intervention at every possible turn. After my volatile but short lived relationship with Seroquel, a bout of Abilify that spiked my Lithium to dangerously toxic levels, and an oh-so-patient tryst with the long term upwards titration of Lamictal, I threw my hands up and begged for something, anything, that would work as a mood stabilizer NOW. Dr W put me on Latuda, a drug so new that there are actually still commercials for it regularly on broadcast TV, which I knew nothing about – but I seemed to level out a bit and was fairly stable given the situation in general. 

By the time I got to my one-on-one session with C 10 days ago, what I had suspected was confirmed. I felt like (and much of this may sound trite or overly poetic but I’m still grasping for accurate descriptors) that I was manic, but not really. That I was energized, but not really. That I was easily depressed, but not really. But as opposed to previous episodes that left me feeling like I was bouncing all over the earth and easily self destructible, it felt oddly contained. Like I was bouncing around in a box instead. Or rolling all over but confined to a hamster wheel. It felt like there was literally an entity inside of myself trying to break free (a la “Alien”) but there were a thousand hands all over me holding whatever it was in. I thought it meant the meds were working – that although I was obviously going through something that the meds and DBT practices were keeping me somewhat sane. At least not hospitalized. To me, this was a huge improvement. The only outward symptoms seemed to be extremely erratic hypertension and tachycardia. Hence why I figured mania – its fairly difficult to be both depressive and maintain a resting heart rate around 120. 

In my sessions with C we’ve really been working on acceptance – you see, my biggest fear and anxiety trigger is the thought of going crazy with no warning/reason and ruining the shreds of my life still barely intact. One day, while I was bawling my eyes out with fear, she leaned in, looked me right in the eye, and said “Its probably going to happen. There’s no use spending your life in paralyzing fear and anxiety over something you can’t control.” That was a pivotal moment for me. Realizing that there was no cure to work for or discover – that I could do all I could, so could C, so could Dr W, so could my family, but this was an unstable, incurable chronic condition and there was nothing on Gods green earth that could stop me from ever “losing it” again.

But last week in her office, C seemed concerned and suggested I call Dr W about my symptoms. “Oh fuck. I thought these were good signs/feelings?” Why would I need medical intervention? Wasn’t this how I was supposed to feel now? Didn’t this mean I was getting better? She asked me if I had ever heard of a “mixed episode”. Not except for the fact it was on my Axis Diagnosis paperwork from BrookLane when I was in intensive outpatient there. I had always described myself as rapid-cycling, in that I could swing from minute to hour to day as opposed to months at a time in either extreme state. Turns out, it is actually possible to feel everything at once. How lucky am I?

It took me a few days to digest the possibility that my oddly different symptoms were perhaps a sign of a problem as opposed to progress. I made it until Friday during my lunch break until I called and left a message for Dr W – long and rambling with a “so I just need to know if this is how I’m supposed to be feeling, if this is the meds working, or what is this?”

She returned my call before I made it back to the office. Working in the medical field, I know that a quick personal call from a physician means there’s something up. “No. The answer is no. You absolutely should not have to feel like this.” I burst into tears in my office parking lot. I was surviving thinking this was progress, not something to cause alarm and warrant pharmaceutical intervention. She doubled my dose of Latuda and told me it should take 3-4 days for the mania to begin to subside if that treatment course was working. I was told to monitor my BP and pulse and get in touch with someone if it was still elevated and erratic after 5 days or so. 

So over the weekend I went on a boat trip with my family across the Chesapeake Bay.

 

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It was beautiful. I stood at the bow of the boat and soaked in every second – but something was still wrong. I was edgy and irritable and bouncing all over the place. I got stuck rather symbolically in a torrential downpour and seriously considered sleeping at the dock rather than face the 4 hour trip home on a crowded bus, a trip I had no control over and quite honestly was panicking a bit over.

Still waiting for that extra Latuda to kick in.

On Monday afternoon after checking my own vitals throughout the day, I decided to call my PCP about my BP/pulse. It had been high and erratic for over 5 days. I didn’t want to jump the gun, you see, as I ended up in the ER once before over a similar issue and ended up feeling ridiculous after being given the full “chest pain” protocol – EKG, cardiac enzymes, chest x-ray, CT – for them to say “well, you’re not having a heart attack, but this is weird, so keep an eye on that.” Since then I met with my PCP who I know well and trust completely regarding the issue, and he was resolute in his diagnosis that it wasn’t “pure” hypertension, it was 100% secondary to anxiety or manic episodes, and there was no justification for medical intervention – plus, as he put it “Do you seriously want “hypertension” in your medical records for the rest of your life anyways?” So that was that.

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But when this was my resting BP/pulse Monday afternoon at work (normal for me is 120/75, p85), I asked if I could sneak away for a moment to try to get in touch with my PCP. After all, I knew after my previous bout of possible cardiac nonsense that it was likely nothing serious, but just the same I’d rather not feel like I was swallowing my own heartbeats or get winded walking back the hall. So I started at the very bottom of the medical food chain – my family doctor. 

Again, I know how a medical office works. When I get one sentence out to their receptionist and she’s transferring me directly to a nurse, my stomach sank. I really didn’t want to make a fuss – but at the same time I felt 10 kinds of nutty bananas. I’m sure my coworkers overheard my end of the conversation which included “The ER? I just wanted to check with my PCP – seriously? Now? I’m supposed to bypass your office altogether?” because by the time I put down the phone my saint of a boss was already positioned at my desk ready to take over. Off to the ER I went. 

Hilariously, though the waiting room was empty, the department was full, and I was put in the only room they had left – psych holding. Are you fucking kidding me? Now go ahead and figure out whats wrong with my pulse and pressures. I had an extremely competent team, including a new Dr whom I have dubbed “McDreamy” who came to the same conclusion as everyone else – its secondary to the mania. Safest thing is actually to wait it out, as putting me on BP meds would only mean I would actually crash once I normalized. Mom & I grabbed dinner, I felt like an idiot. 

I woke up in the middle of the night that night feeling congested. “Fucking headcold.” Ran to the pharmacy to pick up new Latuda dosage, they reminded me about Flu shots – “I should get ahead of that this year, maybe I’ll do that Thursday…the last thing I need is to actually end up physically sick.”

By the end of Tuesday it felt like my sinuses were on fire. “Fucking allergies.” Poor mom had to come over and try to convince me I wasn’t dying. 

Wednesday I woke up with razorblades in my chest. I went in to work, trying to soldier through, and made it til about 9 before I totally lost my voice and by 10:30, despite chaos all around me on our busiest shift of the week, I walked into my saint of a boss’s office, announced “I can’t talk and I can’t breathe, I need to go” and off I went – straight to momma’s. See. I already had my ER followup with my PCP that afternoon but have never not been able to breathe through my chest. I was terrified. I was crying. 

I was still mixed/manic, in horrific pain, unable to breathe, and terrified. At that point, fuck my blood pressure. I was convinced I had pneumonia. 

FUCKING INFLUENZA. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Good old school flu. Nothing you can do, totally screwed, suffer through it flu. His best quess? Not JUST the fucking flu, but either para-influenza, H1N1 (how retro?) or influenza B. The serious hardcore stuff. My immediate aloud reaction? “My boss is going to kill me.” My Dr wrote me a note for 6 days off – pending not having a fever. “My boss is going to kill me.” My Dr offered to call my office personally and explain that if I stayed at work the whole staff would drop like flies. Grrrrrrrrrrrrreat. I went back to my office with the joyous news and before I was back out the door the place was being what we affectionately call “Lysol bombed.”

So Ive spent the last 5 days off work, mostly restricted to bed, hacking up lung after lung, totally conquered by this stupid illness, and still partially manic on top of all of it. Im a jumbled up mess. Im sure having an “actual” illness on top of a mental episode doesn’t help speedy recovery from either, and Im too exhausted to make “use” of any of this time off Ive had, despite my rapid thought process and the “oh I havent coughed for the last 3 minutes maybe its time to redecorate…oh wait no thats the dumbest idea youve ever had.”

And thats about all I have to say about that. 

Except that Im due back to work in the morning and seem to have just spiked a fever. 


Thank You NAMI Walks Donors

NAMI Walks

Thank you to my wonderful generous NAMI Walks donors, all of whom I know and love: my friend Jonathan, my friend Kathleen, my sister Tracey and her husband Joseph, my parents, my Uncle Larry, and Dyane Harwood. There is still time to donate to NAMI. As you may recall from my previous post, I am participating in the 5K NAMI Walks 2014 campaign.


Filed under: Family, Gratitude, Mental Health, NAMI, Posted Thoughts, Psychosocial Education, Stigma Tagged: fundraising for mental health, NAMI, NAMI Walks 2014, National Alliance on Mental Illness, thank you donors

Tie a Knot

Reputedly, if you tie a knot around your finger, you’ll remember things. Reputedly. I don’t know the veracity of such a thing as I’ve never tried it; I think it would freak my brain out to have something on my hands that wasn’t a ring. Not that I’m wearing any rings right now ’cause my fingers are still a bit swollen postpartum, but anyways.

You see, my brain keeps telling me that I’m forgetting to do something. Like, every day, all day. I know that I’m not though! The house is mainly clean, kids are fed, I’m not flashing the neighbors, and I’m doing all my daily/weekly writing tasks with no issues. But the brain insists I’m forgetting something, and as a result I have some pretty high anxiety. Which in turn feeds OCD rituals. At least the newest one is not particularly harmful — my brain keeps insisting that my hands and face are dry, which means I’m applying lotion to both anywhere from half a dozen to several dozen times a day. Hooray for overmoisturised skin? If anything, I’m sort of chuckling at myself and wondering if I need to go watch Silence of the Lambs. You know, ’cause it rubs the lotion on the skin…

Salvation in a container (I prefer the tubs!).

Still, it’s sort of annoying because it takes up a bit of time. The other main OCD thing that bipolar has ever-so-kindly granted me is compulsive skin-picking to cope with/bring relief against anxiety. While it’s not ideal, it doesn’t take up a lot of time, and using Carmex helps me minimize the actual damage (being mentholated, it gives me chunks to peel off that aren’t ‘live’). And while sure, it would be ideal to not need to injure my face to exact relief… it brings relief and that immediately makes it tolerable-to-okay. The relief lotioning brings is much more short-term, and requires parts of me to be damp, and I’m such a cat-at-heart that I dislike being damp, and and and.

There’s also the vast annoyance that once an OCD ritual establishes itself, it doesn’t seem to go away. Could manage to be all sorts of relaxed and having a great time, but that ritual is stuck with you. I know, you can supposedly get rid of them with therapy, but yanno, therapy doesn’t work for everyone (or we can’t get on the waiting list, or we can’t afford to go private, or any number of other things). And really, there seems to be no rhyme or reason about what becomes a ritual either, heh. It just happens, and keeps happening forever (or close enough to).

Of course, with anxiety repeatedly spiking because my brain thinks I’ve forgotten something, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the lotion thing has established itself so fully. Hopefully this sensation is going to pass as we continue to settle into this new house of ours, and that it’s just a leftover from having to double down and work really hard to get packed up. We’ll see. Until then, I guess I should be grateful for such hydrated skin.

<3

I was asked this question….

So I was asked this question middle of last week and now I can’t stop thinking about it. I was asked if I am “feeding” the bipolar beast or “starving” it? I take that to mean do I think about it all the time and can’t do anything else which is going to make it worse. Or am I trying to move forward and not letting it consume me.

I do not understand this question. It’s not like up till now my brain hasn’t had the same issue just with things other than the word bipolar. I get the premise in theory, but what am I supposed to do. How can I ever have a hope of changing anything if I don’t spend time taking a hard look at my thoughts and emotions. My husband recently told me that he thinks I am doing a little better and I haven’t even really started treatment yet. Just being aware of my reactions and understanding that they may in fact actually not be “normal or average” has allowed me to start doing things a little differently at times.

I guess I would be what you consider high functioning in that I do have some ability to control things. And because I am a little bit older getting this diagnosis there are so many things that I can point to and say “hey I’ve done that”, or ” I already knew that about myself, I just didn’t know there was a name for it”. I was actually on the line of being diagnosed with bipolar when I got my initial diagnosis of depression at 17. But since I didn’t have all the characteristics it was labeled as depression. I am thankful for that as I look back now. I’m pretty sure that things may have been way worse had I had to deal with this then.

I have also realized that I can’t deal with a lot of things at one time. I have to have downtime, if I don’t get it I find myself saying, ” I can’t deal with all of this”. Maybe everyone says that from time to time. But I feel like I am spinning out of control when I don’t get a break. I have recently had to tell my husband a couple of times that I need a break. He’s been really great about it. It’s hard ton balance everything sometimes. And with my kids in football, and cheerleading, and one trying to get into Student Government this fall has already become chaotic. Not to mention that while I work part time I work 6 days a week because we are only open for lunch. It works out for me though. I work at the most 5 hours and I need those shorter shifts that allow me to leave and focus on my family. Instead of worrying about what is happening at my store at night when I’m not there like I have in the past.

There are so many things I have learned about myself on my own. There are so many things that I have been able to adjust to and after much trial and error figured out how to make work for me. I guess that’s a blessing going into treatment because I have already in many ways started the journey. But I do know this. The things I have done are to manage, not get rid of my thoughts and reactions. Like this question I was asked. I know what I think about it. But I keep thinking about it thinking that maybe my initial reaction is wrong. Trying to figure out if I am indeed making this worse in my thoughts. It was also suggested that my blogging may not be helpful, especially since my blog is focused on my psychological issues. Which I completely did not understand. I’m not just on my computer all the time posting and thinking about what is “wrong” with me, and perpetuating the stigma on myself. I am blogging in the hopes of helping someone else and giving all of us a voice.

I am frustrated by the mentality that too many doctors slap a label on people and medicate them when it’s not necessary. I do believe that happens, A LOT! But then the people that truly have the problems and want to get help and be able to function in more healthy ways then find themselves feeling like they are defending something that they didn’t even want to begin with, and if given the choice wouldn’t choose to have to deal with in the first place. I know it sounds strange, but I do really feel better having a diagnosis. It’s like I have been given the hey to the door that will open up life being a little easier. I know that it will take time and that I will constantly have to be aware of what is going on around me and I will have to make sure I do things that are going to keep me in a good place. For the first time I feel like that is going to be possible. That I am not bound by the thought “this is just how I am, and no one understands it”. Well, still very few people understand. But at least I know that it’s not because I don’t have enough self control or faith or whatever. It’s because my brain literally does not work like the majority of people around me.

I have also noticed the last several years it has gotten worse. I’m still not totally sure of my cycle but it seems to be that I have two pretty horrible times within a year, with a little bit of more normal in between. The last couple of weeks I have been pretty up. I want to do things and I get a genuine excitement about things going on, even little things. Which is different than what has been happening the last couple of months where I felt nothing and didn’t really care about doing anything. I guess it’s a learning curve and I’m still learning.

Sorry, this post kind of got away from me. I guess I still wasn’t really prepared to talk about “the question” that was asked without having my thoughts go in a thousand different directions. Maybe someone will understand this. Haha

If not until next time…Be Blessed!!!


Family is just another word for hell

I did fuck all over the weekend. And I am still exhausted, in spite of my kid staying at my dad’s last night. I feel emotionally and physically embalmed. It’s the start of the seasonal, I can feel it in my gut, even if everyone and their dog wants to call me a pessimist with a self fulfilling prophecy. You go through something often enough, you begin to notice the little telltale signs. But at least it was an uneventful fairly calm weekend, even if I did spend a lot of it snapping the rubber band on my wrist to deter my mind from going off on obsessive negative tangents. (It sounds crazy but the rubber band snapping thing actually does rewire your brain to an extent, even if it doesn’t stick, it can distract you enough to get over the bumpy parts.)

Today is Labor Day. Joy,joy. My family is having a cook out. I hate family functions. Vehemently. There is always inevitably some sort of personal attack, interrogation, or insulting. Usually aimed at me by one or more of my parents. Even when there’s nothing explosive, there are the usual shots and barbs taken at me for where I live, not having money, my subpar parenting, et al. It’s just a big bummer on a precarious mood state and I dread it with every fiber of my being. It’s not like I even care because nothing they say changes anything about my behavior or thoughts or beliefs. It’s just the fact that they can never shut up and just keep their thoughts to themselves. Think I’m a loser, but do it silently.
My anxiety is shooting through the roof, my stomach is in knots. Which is bizarre because when we go to R and Sandi’s I don’t feel any particular dread or nerves. Probably because no one there is out to critique me to within an inch of my life.
Family is another word for hell, in my case.
I have always been amazed by these families who actually enjoy each other’s company and get along so well.
I almost envy them, if only because their self confidence isn’t being chipped away at.

On the plus side, without my kid here last night, I rebooted my story and wrote 9 pages and I didn’t proof it this morning and think, this is shit. It’s actually fairly lucent and without rambling or even many typos. Amazing what the ability to focus can accomplish.

I have the feeling I will be snapping the rubber band on my wrist a lot today. I want to be the bigger person and not let my family get to me. But my compulsion to defend myself against their attacks is second nature. If you let it go, it just encourages them because like sharks, they smell blood of weakness in the water. You’d think I was being hypersensitive or exaggerating. If only…So many have thought that then met my family. They were immediately apologetic for not taking my word for it.

Example. I asked my dad if they could spring for some eggs, milk, and loaf of bread until I get my check Wednesday. Stepmonster had no problem with it. Dad, on the other hand, launched in a ten minute lecture on how he’d have to think about it because money’s tight there and blah blah blah. We’re talking six bucks here.
YET my sister, who works and lives with two other people with full incomes, wants to have a cookout but can’t afford the food. So Dad goes out and spends about sixty bucks so she can have a cookout.
REALLY?
I am not the golden child. Hell, half the time, I get the feeling I’m merely tolerated rather than included in my family. Which is a bit reciprocal because, face it, even the most secure confident person would not be gung ho to be surrounded by people who insult them. Let alone someone whose moods shift every six seconds and deteriorate the mental state and confidence. They are toxic to my mental health and even counselors have said as much.
But family is family and nothing will change it. I can take one for the team. No matter how many times I tell myself it will be okay, I can handle it…I will spend the next few days dissecting every word said to me, every tone, every snarky comment. It will make me angry, it will hurt my feelings, it will make me want to tie them to a train track and watch as a locomotive makes them go splat.
Yeah, I’m terrible. I can live with that.

It’s only logical to harbor ill will towards those whose lifelong existence has been to ensure you have no self confidence.
I never gave them permission to make me feel inferior, but damn it, they have magical powers of destruction.

I just hope I don’t have any abrupt mood crashes. That turns me into a livewire and I tend to pop off without regard to the shitstorm it could create.
I really hate my fucked up mind and my mental damage and emotional baggage.
At the same time…it’s what makes me who I am.

And whether I like that or not hinges on the next mood swing, which should occur in the next five seconds.
Viva la cyclothymia.


Sticking to my Writing Plan (It Ain’t Easy!)

Dyane & Lucy after my first writing session (Are her puppy paws big or what?) This past week has been more hectic than the previous 10+ weeks, and it has put me through the wringer.  Those of you who are … Continue reading

Death isn’t so bad

I mean what does it matter if I keep going or not. Nobody cares to talk to me…..My man said, “Stop saying that shit.” But I didn’t and he went back to his computer games. What the hell do I do anymore? Some people claim to know what I feel and I am sure they think they do but this is getting to be overwhelming. I just want to sleep it away. I just want to be done with this struggle. DOne struggling with finding the right words that won’t freak others out. I say, “It will pass” “It is just the weather” “I am just over reacting” “It is only because I didn’t sleep well” “I am sorry to have bothered you”

I mean that is what this is…..me forcing my words of woe into others heads. People in my life are sick of me and I know it. I see it in how they ignore what I say and just keep talking about their own choice of topic. I send I text message and there is no response to the topic but merely a new line of conversation started. Have I become mute to those around me. And then there are the ones who can fix me….I didn’t even know they were doctors. If I just lose weight and get off some meds I will be whole again. Funny….but I thought I tried that 6 years ago and ended up trashing our apartment and taking part in risky behaviour. I am not going to kill myself but the idea is there and a plan is forming. But it is only that, a plan. I will be here a week from now trying to encourage others not to succumb to the feelings I have just spoke of. Who better to say don’t do it then someone who has been there. But also……what a relief it would be. Where is my blessed hypomania….where is my depression. I am just flat.

Social Butterfly

No, that does NOT describe me, but it’s a good starting point for this post.

Yesterday was my grandson’s ninth birthday, and just like every year, his parents hosted a big family party. We usually have it at the lake, but after three solid months of warm-to-hot temperatures, the weather shat the bed and we got rain showers. Luckily, his great-grandparents have a lovely home not far from there, so we ended up taking the party to their place. They have a huge yard, a patio, and a barbecue, so there was something for everybody while my daughter and son-in-law grilled burgers and chicken.

Now, I always start out dreading these things because as much of an extrovert as I am, I do not like being in large crowds where I cannot control the ebb and flow of input. That’s why I favor the parties at the lake: if I feel overstimulated I can just go for a swim. My usual strategy is to hang out with Will, Mandy, and Mike exclusively, or join a small group that’s out of the major traffic zone and stick to them like glue until it’s time to go home. But for some reason my chosen companions were right in the middle of everything, mainly because the eight of us were the only women—and we talked amid the happy shouts of children and the hustle and bustle of people going back and forth to get food.

Seated in a comfortably padded Adirondack chair, I found myself marveling at the commingled smells of barbecued meats, lavender, and fresh vomit (my younger grandson had gotten too excited and lost his lunch in the juniper bushes). I also noticed with some amusement that Will, who used to be really shy, had gravitated to the larger men’s group and was talking cars with obvious gusto, for which I was grateful as the ladies had launched into that perennial favorite topic, childbirth experiences.

I will, of course, spare the reader from the gritty details of that discussion. I just think it’s amazing that while I never look forward to these events, I wind up enjoying myself almost every time. No one would ever know that I’d rather have my teeth cleaned than go places where I don’t know many people and there are bright lights and noise I can’t get away from. No one would ever even guess that I’m not the brilliant conversationalist I play on TV <cue the hysterical laughter>.

But I’m glad I went. Every time I face down something I don’t want to do and do it anyway, I feel like I’ve won a small victory. Even if it’s something that no one else finds uncomfortable.

Now if I could just get rid of my issues with the telephone…..


I Am Always Afraid

Tonight we had some horrible weather. Some warnings, some lightning and thunder. Luckily we never had a tornado hit, we even though we are still under a severe thunderstorm weather until 2am, so it not even being 9:30 its gonna be a long ass night.

The anger is still lurking, I’m just deeply unhappy and unsatisfied. I am happy when I am out of the house but then within a couple of hours of being back the darkness starts coming back again.

I got angry tonight at this painting that just hasn’t been going the way I like it. I asked hubby for a steak knife and stabbed the shit out of it. I didn’t feel any real malice but it felt somewhat relieving.

I want to cut my hair short and dye it pink and blue, but hubby wants me to keep it long. I don’t know if I want to keep it that way for him for change it for me. I mean he’s all I got and if he somehow found me less attractive I don’t know what I would do, I mean I’m already fat and old.. maybe I shouldn’t. I’m so torn.

I put one of my pictures up on a site to sell, for some reason I can’t get it to print above picture size but I think that it will be awesome if I can figure it out. I am going to make a print for my MIL because she really liked it. I hope she was being honest and not just kind.

Thursday seems like a long time off and tomorrow family is coming over for the holiday Monday. I must just keep breathing and stay calm..

Breathe, breathe, breathe..

oh and my fucking neck seems to hurt worse now then before I got it cracked. WTF.