Daily Archives: March 3, 2015

Medications| International Bipolar Foundation & More, Oh My!

Originally posted on Kitt O'Malley:
My friend Dyane Harwood of Birth of a New Brain responded to a recent IBPF blog article by Susan Zarit entitled Medications: To Have Or Not, That Is The Question! Susan Zarit of Bravely Bipolar has struggled unsuccessfully…

What I Do in the Rabbit Hole of Failure

By Lois Caniglia

It’s not your job to like me, it’s mine.” ~Byron Katie~

I’m writing this filled with my high dose of Seroquel. You have been forewarned.

This past week I have once again traveled down that resistant rabbit hole of depression. Yes, I am still compliant with my medications. I guess a situational depression and not the bipolar type. My trigger started by running into a coworker heading home and still dressed in her scrubs. Although, I admit that I would’ve rather had my choice in professions and not my parents, I still was proud of what I’ve accomplished. This was what kicked me down the hole. Let me rephrase that, since my last therapy session, it is I who actually kicked myself down the hole.

I know I have written about failure in a previous blog. Yet, it’s an issue that I struggle with most through my recovery. Perhaps, there are others who struggle with ineffective coping. The inadequate choice that resist accessing our useful resources for repair. There are a number of reasons that I can justify my sorrow but this message isn’t about my woes. It’s about picking myself back up again and finding the right tools for a quick access in my box of coping skills.

It wasn’t so easy for my counselor and I to peel away the layers that brought me to the core that I call being a failure. Most of this stems from what I define as the superficial self-based on social status. Meaning, that upon greeting another with the introduction of name often follows profession, a number of stereotyping opens up for extended conversation. By identifying myself as a nurse, immediately a number of characteristics flow through our synapsis. She’s caring, nurturing, militant, hard, most of all, acclaimed in medicine. Well, there was a time a nurse was acclaimed for her expertise. Whereas, an introduction that identifies me as disabled, leaving my mental illness out entirely, and suddenly the picture becomes distorted. Way back when in my college course of Western Art History, I recall learning famous portraits and the painting beneath the picture. So do we have created portrait on top of portrait that actual identifies my true self.

My daily mental health task runs a bit deeper than most. Or, maybe, probably, you find the challenge of picking your own bootstraps when moving forward day after day. I walked out of my latest therapy session with several suggestions. None of which come as any surprise. It’s elementary to access the ability that best describes me being resilient. It’s so much easier to be recalcitrant, obsessive, and impractical. That’s my “bingo seat” (if you will) and you will not take it from me. I know that chair, its discomforts, its location and its view.

I really can’t linger on my trite interventions. So, my message will be short and bittersweet. What I am looking for are ideas, life experiences and a general conversation for my own enlightenment. I don’t have all the answers. I much prefer, as most do, the knowledge from those living with our illness. I look forward to the replies, reading your journeys towards recovery. I’m a late diagnosed bipolar although, I’ve lived with it most of my life. I didn’t get the early treatment in my youth that could have minimized the destructive path I’ve taken. We have the wealth of interventions to apply in our day to day. Our paths as different as they may be are what bring awareness to our cultural attitudes. I know that we are what will bring forth the cure and change the political minds. Our afflictions will be our recovery. I just need a little convincing that is true.

Emotions vs. Bipolar Disorder

I have started to notice that there is a difference between having normal human reactions, being emotional by nature, and being bipolar. An they often get all jumbled up together where it may be difficult to separate them. I’m not sure why, but for me I am starting to separate the differences. I’m starting to notice what is a “normal” reaction and what isn’t. It seems little bit cliche and simple even to me. But there are truly aspects that CAN be controlled an that CANT be controlled. 

I don’t know if I can see it clearly because I look for it, because my background is having an amazing people and family around me that taught me things a lot of people never learn, or it takes them years to understand. I’m not really sure but I do know this. I DO have control over my thoughts, words, and feelings. And medication and therapy allows me to have that control. Sometimes I can sit really still in the quiet and think, “there’s nothing hard about what I am doing right now. I struggle some but compared to pre medication things are so easy for me. Even when the hard and difficult moments come up.” And then I wonder if that is because, like has been suggested previously in my life, I am choosing to do something different and change my thinking. Then I remember that it’s only because of my meds that I am even able to have these thoughts. 

I vividly remember time after time crying, praying, begging, literally laying on the floor that I would just be able to do things and handle life the way it played out in my head. I remember being 16 or 17 and telling myself that I was going to get along with people, that I wasn’t going to get mad or irritated and mess everything up for everyone. Because that’s almost always what happened. I’m loud and emotional and out spoken and that translates to an ability to destroy any type of function or group outing. Even if that wasn’t my goal. I have no doubt that this disease, illness whatever word you want to use destroyed my ability to function regularly. I had these moments and glimpses of what other people had in their lives and I wanted that so badly. It was like I was two different people and there was nothing I could do to bring them together. 15 years later I am as together as I have ever been. I do things that remind me of BEFORE the crazy started. That make me pause and say…..now that…is who I am. I am sensitive and emotional. I am seeing those things come out in a way that I haven’t since I was like 12 years old. I can embrace them because they are hurting me or causing other people pain because they are so out of proportion. I can have conversations with myself that actually end in real change, and more importantly I actually believe I have the power to change the things I want to change. I don’t know if other people who are diagnosed a little later in life feel this way. I feel like I have control and that’s what was always lacking. And that’s even the way I described my feelings to people, out of control. So much starts to change when you start to feel in control and that you have the ability to act, react, and talk the way it is in your head. 

I don’t mean to sound like I don’t struggle. I do. God has blessed me and led me to place where I FINALLY have some really important things. First I believe in the power of knowledge. Second, I believe in the power of the right medication. Third I believe that being positive is so important. I know people say that all the time, right? Well, I don’t mean you have to be happy with every situation and everything that happens. But when you can be positive I truly believe it’s a good sign that your brain is working correctly. We all experience sadness and tragedy in some way but that should never define us. The love we have and share should define our lives. I know there are too many people not blessed with the amazing family I have but I believe it’s part of my calling to be that kind of family for people I come in contact with. And when I struggle I ask for the help of the people that love me to get back on track. This kind of took a right turn and I lost emotions vs bipolar. Oops. Sorry

Be blessed. Maybe I will try that post again next time. 


Medications: To have or not, that is the question! | International Bipolar Foundation

My friend Dyane Harwood of Birth of a New Brain responded to a recent IBPF blog article by Susan Zarit entitled Medications: To Have Or Not, That Is The Question! Susan Zarit of Bravely Bipolar has struggled unsuccessfully to find a medication combination that…

People of Color + Mental Illness Photo Project

I befriended Dior Vargas in a secret Facebook support group for women of color dealing with mental illness. A self-proclaimed "Latina feminist mental health activist," she is doing such important work around people of color and mental illness. To say that I am a fan is an understatement: she is my mental health activist role model.

You should totally follow along with the amazing work she is doing; check out her Facebook page.

She wrote a much-needed article for the Huffington Post titled "People of Color Deal With Mental Illness, Too." It is well worth the read.

One of Dior's projects is a photo project highlighting people of color who are living with mental illness. I recently contributed my own photo to her project. To see all of the other brave folks sharing their diagnoses, click here.

Another Day

Sorry for the late posting–I woke up with a headache and tummy upset this morning and then went to the doctor so I was tied up most of the morning.  But I feel better now and hope to continue to do so throughout the day.

I realized something last night–this constant watching of my moods is really draining on my energy.  I think I’m going to try to ease up on just obsessing about this time of year.  I made it through February well and just have to go through a couple more months of it and then I’ll be out of school and able to rest up some.  Soon my middle daughter will get her car and that will be the end of me running her everywhere–that will take a lot of stress off of me.  Better days are ahead.  I just need to keep remembering that.

I’m soon going to start revising on my manuscript that has grown out of this blog.  I’m hoping to take it with me over spring break and start really editing and polishing it.  I’m a little scared to do it right now because I know it will be a big job.  I’ve found so much material on my computer and laptop that I was not aware of that can be included in a second draft.  So pray for me to make the right decisions on what to include and what to leave out if not needed.


The Voices Are Back…. (Up-Cycle Tuesday)

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This is a post from the archives, published 8/19/2014. Enjoy!

I’m struggling today. If you read the first post or so of this blog, you’ll remember that I have “psychotic features” along with my bipolar. And those features are back. I have been hearing voices pretty steadily for the past couple of nights and am to the point where I am pretty much glued to the couch. The meds I take for the voices make me really weak.

I didn’t much feel like writing a blog entry today…I had been feeling so good and it was easy to write then. But I figure if you’re going to get a good look at my disease, you’ve got to see it all. This isn’t the worst of it, but it’s fairly crummy.

This recovery has been a struggle. It seems like forever since I have felt good for a long period of time. I have a week or so of good days and then a couple of disasters. Today is a really bad day to take “off” of life. I had several good things planned. I was going to have lunch with my best friend from high school. I rarely see her so that would be a treat. I have my therapist to see this afternoon. And I will miss my bipolar support group, which I love. It’s not the end of the world. I think my friend will understand (I need to explain more of my illness to her), I can call in and do my therapy session, and lots of people miss my support group from time to time. It’s just that I WANTED to be up and around and normal.

I seem to have a routine of several pretty decent days, followed by a couple of active days, followed by a weak crash. Just unable to get out and move. I don’t feel depressed, which should be a celebration within its self, but I do feel guilty. Guilt and bipolar walk hand in hand with me. I’m not crying either, which is a great sign.

People always ask me what the voices sound like. They vary a little but have the same theme. They often sound like a marching band crashing up the stairs. They also can sound like a sporting event with screaming. Sometimes they just call my name. That one is the eeriest. They sound SO real. Like someone is right there talking. It’s hard. Fortunately, I haven’t had a lot of demons telling me to leap off buildings. Or that the CIA is watching me.

I’ve always wondered why people’s voices tend to lean toward the dark. No voice ever says, ” Hey, get up and go buy a lottery ticket. I have the numbers!”

I had a nice little vacation away with my family and did great. I was alone a lot of the time as the guys were off doing their own thing and I did fine. No voices. So why they have appeared now I have no idea.

On a different take, it is raining quite hard here, which is very unusual. The news is just “flooded” get it? with story of excessive water everywhere. We have a standing pool of water in the center of our backyard but it doesn’t look like it is growing too much. The news is showing people stranded by their cars with water flowing in front and behind them. That’s the sort of thing that helps me, a little tether to reality.

I hate this feeling of exhaustion. Those darned voices really keep me up. I get so tired and drained. I have things to do…I want to read my book for my new book club. I want to run over to the mall for some new clothes. I wanted to get to yoga. But I am just too darned tired to do much more than get a little something to eat and maybe get something in the slow cooker for everyone’s dinner. No matter how bad I feel, people here always need to eat.

So today’s big goals are : 1) get something prepped for dinner 2) read a bit of my book 3) clean up around my little table (it’s crowded with junk), and 4) try to avoid crying or feeling too lonesome.

I feel a bit better after writing this entry. There’s a little company in all of this. I know some of you are going through it too.

If you feel inclined, leave me a comment and say hello! Would love to hear from you. You’re real.

Living to See Another Day

<blockquote>In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Reward.”

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The Bipolar Parent – Q&A with Kitt O’Malley

Originally posted on my spanglish familia:
Kitt O’Malley is a well-respected Blogger and an active volunteer/advocate for mental health. She blogs about her experience with Bipolar Disorder II (BP). I was fortunate enough to get some insight into how having…

Nutter Butter From The Mental Gutter

Wound for sound…

Every day right after I take that lump 40mg of Prozac…I get seriously pepped up. Not exactly manic, but my energy shoots up. I was once on 80 mg a day and it worked for quite awhile. This current regime is so fearful of a manic episode, he won’t even ponder another increase. Which is crazy because Cymbalta did make me manic and I went and told the doctor. I know when something is making me better or exacerbating the issue. Too bad the doctors don’t consider a patient’s input.

Paranoia…

I don’t really get this newfound aspect of my illness. I don’t consider myself a paranoid personality, I’ve just gotten burned enough times to be cautious.
But since my daughter was born…I’ve suddenly become scared of every sound, every knock on the door, every ring of the phone, even people walking by outside.
I once had a bout with this sort of thing but at the time, it was with just cause.
This…makes no sense.
And it’s not like I hear voices or anything.
It’s just this underlying sense of…some sort of threat.
The doctor says anxiety, but how many years do I have to put up with it before it’s treated somehow? They sold me on the atypical antipsychotics for bipolar and anxiety and NONE of them ever worked.
I don’t know what the answer is, but it’s certainly not this.

Cold sweat…

For years now, when I get anxious, I am prone to excessive sweating. Cold sweat, no odor. Just sweat that no anti perspirant seems to stop, including the stuff that’s supposed to seal off sweat glands.
It’s gross, but it’s my reality.

Small victories…

I just realized I bathed two days in a row.
I know it’s so basic to others. But in a depression when your give a damn is busted…It’s just a small victory to be relished.

Order…

I am trying to weed through and get the place back into some semblance of order. I am a huge fan of organized chaos. But during the depressions everything just overwhelms and buries me so I have to dig my way out and…I usually get halfway up…Then have no idea where to go from there. It’s like I blank out. With the attention span of a gnat, though, it makes sense.

I just had..

a funny thought. The shrinks always inquire “How’s your appetite?”
And I say I eat when I am hungry.
But it’s not entirely true because sometimes, I am hungry but I can’t be bothered to cook and sometimes, the though of food just repulses me. (Usually after taking my meds.)
I don’t think the doctors ask the right questions.
Or they do but don’t pay attention to the answers.
Like “How much sleep are you getting?”
I’ll say five, six hours a night, but no more than 3 or 4 without waking up.
I’d identify that as a problem yet the doctors…It’s lost of them.

Panic…

I got my power bill on Friday. My winter power bills frighten me. The electric use I own, I leave stuff running all the time and there’s the washer and dryer. But the gas, which usually runs $40 during summer, skyrockets and it gets scary.
I opened it today.
More than I can afford. Hopefully they’ll give me a payment plan.
Pretty sad when you’re frightened of your own mailbox.
People say they’re “afraid” to see their bills. In my case, it’s literal.

Merry go round…

My brain is spinning around.
I can’t seem to grab an idea and run with it.
I want to read. I’m reading three books at once because I can only focus for a page or two. It’s insane because one year, I was reading two books every other day.
Movies…too long to focus.
Writing…Same story since ’07 and all the plot lines are twisted in my head and even my notes don’t make it all connect.
Organizing the place…Um…Start, stop, forget, get overwhemed, take a break, try all over again. Resist desire to bang head against the wall.
I feel like I am on a merry go round from hell and I just want off. Panic attacks, racing thoughts, no focus, mood swings, paranoid anxiety…Make it stop.

Gnashing…

I don’t even realizing I am doing it but my gums and tongue are aware because they get sore from the teeth grinding.
Stress reaction.
They call it bad habit. I say nervous tic.
On the plus side, I had a big cyst on my finger from rubbing it nervously…I even named it Enrique, it was so big and the doctor tried to drain it twice to no avail. I’ve rubbed it flat over the last five years.
RIP Enrique. Odd how something that once bothered you immensely goes away and you kinda miss its presence.
I am sure I will pick up some new tic soon enough.
*****
Every time…

I get a like or comment on my writing…It really helps bolster my resolve.
Not because I need the validation for myself.
But I’ve always been proud of my writing so having it acknowledge means a lot.
Come to think of it…My writing is all I’ve ever really been proud of. It’s imperfect but it’s honest.
I know I’ve said it before and it might seem attention seeking…But I really like to linger in the background. I just want my writing to stand out.
*****
So…

this whole exercise thing is supposed to help with anxiety and depression. I once had a shrink tell me to run up and down the staircase, it’d cure me more than the meds.
Guess what?
It doesn’t work for me.
I’m not saying activity can’t boost brain chemicals (SEX) and give you a short term boost…But it’s like caffeine crash.
Something fleeting is just as bad as never knowing what the uppish thing is like.
As for anxiety…nada.
The one size fits all professional party line gets very very old.
*****
Have I ever…

mentioned I get very chatty when anxious? So I do the written verbal vomit thing even if I am apparently not saying anything of importance.
****
I need…

to call the power company and see if I can set up a payment agreement.
But making calls makes me nervous.
Panicked nervous.
Maybe later.
*****
Tick tock…

The nearer the time gets to go pick up my kid…The more the anxiety mounts. Because it’s out in the dish and I simply don’t fare well out there. Not in current mind frame, at least.
This is how it always goes. Do okay a few days then start folding under the pressure.
*****
When…

I was out to get my kid, a firetruck siren wailed. And having had one apartment building catch fire, I now have serious issues when it comes to sirens. The minute I see a firetruck…I don’t breathe until I see it go in the opposite direction of my home.
That may be imprinted from sheer terror and losing everything, but it runs deep.
*****
The guy…

I mentioned the other day called again. I was out getting Spook. I’ve been thinking of him a lot, especially when he failed to leave his number after saying he was calling to give it to me. But I am fairly sure it’s his number on caller ID.
I want to call.
But I am a nervous wreck.
Nothing ever works out for me as far as people go.
I always fuck it up or they can’t handle the crazy.
It really is enough to make you retreat into your own shell.
I’m working up the nerve to call him back. I mean, two calls in two days, he must be interested. Right?
Or does he want something from me?
God, I hate being me.
*****
BRILLIANT….

They have energy drinks and shots.
They even liquid melatonin shots for sleep.
I DEMAND a drink or shot for panxiety.
And it’s not that I am so keen on a quick fix for everything. (Psych meds are opposite of quick fix considering how long they take to kick in.)
But it stands to reason if something can speed your mind up so your body has extra energy…Why can’t there be something to slow your mind down?
*****
Still…

haven’t called that guy.
My nerves are frayed and I took a double Xanax dose. (Ya know, what used to be my normal dose that kept me so mellow I wasn’t a zombie nor did I need a drink or a closet to curl up in?)
This could be a good thing. Like I said, all my friends had their kids long ago, so someone I get along with who has a kid near Spook’s age who could be a playmate…That means more than anything I could get out of it.
So why am I regarding the phone like a ticking time bomb and why is my heart palpitating? And my palms and armpits sweating?
I am so bad at this life thing outside my own little bubble.
Soooo very bad.
*****
Worse still…

When nervous, I don’t only sweat, but I also need to pee a lot.
I am a hot mess.
*****
Ok…

I made the call.
After tons of sweat and heart palpitations.
And D seems receptive to hanging out. I actually talked to him like 20 mins. He pays support on his daughter (despite being on disability) and spends time with her.
That alone makes me want to gobble him up.
I guess my daughter ending up with a shitty donor really scarred me deep.
Of course, now my daughter is trying to marry us off and that’s enough to freak out any dude.
Still…
He was good to me once. He’s good to his kid.
And those pretty eyes…
It’s worth a roll of the dice just to have a friend whose kid can be friends with my kid.
God, don’t let the crazy wreck it all.
****
Grrr…

Now my mood is starting to crash.
I hate when I am feeling up and make plans, or open my mind to plans.
Then within hours, it all comes crashing down.
It’s like some switch has been flicked on.
I despise it.
*****