Daily Archives: September 29, 2015

Among Others

Would you mind just knowing when I wanna be alone but not alone alone, so like maybe you could hang out in the next room with the door open but I wouldn’t have to tell you to do this, you’d just know it’s what I need right that sec?

Is there any way we can ensure that you’ll say exactly what I need to hear, at the pace and in the tone in which I need to hear it but without my having to instruct you at any point regarding what is the right thing to say because I honestly have no fucking clue?

Can we make arrangements for you to be gone when I’m feeling spontaneously creative and would really like the house to myself so I can make all the noise I want for the purpose of later choosing which noises I like best except I’ll never have to actually ask you to leave?

Can you please refrain from commenting that I seem like I’m feeling better because it places a lot of pressure on me to stay better and I don’t know if I can do that, plus having this conversations has the potential to make me feel un-better, so just like, know not to do that, Ok?

Would it be possible for you not to take, “FUCK YOU, [LOVED ONE], COME CLOSER AND I’LL PUT YOUR GODDAMNED LIGHTS OUT!” personally when I’m having a panic attack, and while we’re on the subject, can you jettison your natural instinct to comfort me physically when I’m freaking out because your well-intentioned hugs feel like burning sandpaper, but I don’t wanna have to recoil when you touch me, so you’ll just not do it?

If possible, can you try not to resent me when I’m in bed at 6 p.m. reading and rereading the same news article for 45 minutes because my brains turned to gutter slush while you’re downstairs both cooking and cleaning up dinner which I probably won’t eat until 4 hours later, and I probably didn’t clean the litter boxes either but you’ll just understand that an apology for this shit may or may not be coming several days later?

Is it alright if we have an implicit understanding that when I say I’m gonna “power down” for the evening it means I’m gonna get stoned and watch episodes of cartoons I’ve seen so many times I can recite them by heart and then fall asleep at 9:15 when my Depakote kicks in ’cause I’m still not totally used to it?

Can I not have to defend my irrational attachment to the 3 saplings that took root in the yard this summer so we can plant them in the spot I picked out and cross the low-hanging power line bridge when we come to it because destroying trees of any size makes me cry?

ch870113-1

Thanks. I love you a lot, though.

-LB

Tagged: being unreasonable, bipolar disorder, creativity, depression, family, friends, get what you need, marijuana, meds, music, panic attack, support

Among Others

Would you mind just knowing when I wanna be alone but not alone alone, so like maybe you could hang out in the next room with the door open but I wouldn’t have to tell you to do this, you’d just know it’s what I need right that sec?

Is there any way we can ensure that you’ll say exactly what I need to hear, at the pace and in the tone in which I need to hear it but without my having to instruct you at any point regarding what is the right thing to say because I honestly have no fucking clue?

Can we make arrangements for you to be gone when I’m feeling spontaneously creative and would really like the house to myself so I can make all the noise I want for the purpose of later choosing which noises I like best except I’ll never have to actually ask you to leave?

Can you please refrain from commenting that I seem like I’m feeling better because it places a lot of pressure on me to stay better and I don’t know if I can do that, plus having this conversations has the potential to make me feel un-better, so just like, know not to do that, Ok?

Would it be possible for you not to take, “FUCK YOU, [LOVED ONE], COME CLOSER AND I’LL PUT YOUR GODDAMNED LIGHTS OUT!” personally when I’m having a panic attack, and while we’re on the subject, can you jettison your natural instinct to comfort me physically when I’m freaking out because your well-intentioned hugs feel like burning sandpaper, but I don’t wanna have to recoil when you touch me, so you’ll just not do it?

If possible, can you try not to resent me when I’m in bed at 6 p.m. reading and rereading the same news article for 45 minutes because my brains turned to gutter slush while you’re downstairs both cooking and cleaning up dinner which I probably won’t eat until 4 hours later, and I probably didn’t clean the litter boxes either but you’ll just understand that an apology for this shit may or may not be coming several days later?

Is it alright if we have an implicit understanding that when I say I’m gonna “power down” for the evening it means I’m gonna get stoned and watch episodes of cartoons I’ve seen so many times I can recite them by heart and then fall asleep at 9:15 when my Depakote kicks in ’cause I’m still not totally used to it?

Can I not have to defend my irrational attachment to the 3 saplings that took root in the yard this summer so we can plant them in the spot I picked out and cross the low-hanging power line bridge when we come to it because destroying trees of any size makes me cry?

ch870113-1

Thanks. I love you a lot, though.

-LB

Tagged: being unreasonable, bipolar disorder, creativity, depression, family, friends, get what you need, marijuana, meds, music, panic attack, support

Bravest Patient Ever

I hadn’t been to the dentist in 10 years before today.  For most of that time I had no insurance, and then when I finally got insurance I was too terrified to make an appointment.  When I finally worked up the nerve to start making phone calls, I couldn’t find a dentist that would accept […]

Bravest Patient Ever

I hadn’t been to the dentist in 10 years before today.  For most of that time I had no insurance, and then when I finally got insurance I was too terrified to make an appointment.  When I finally worked up the nerve to start making phone calls, I couldn’t find a dentist that would accept […]

For Every High, There is a Low

And so on from that song that was in The Sword in the Stone. This line is the main one of interest.

Which is to say yeah, I’m down. I’m keeping it together, but I’m down. I almost started sobbing Sunday for absolutely no reason. I snarkily attributed it to an early case of the Mondays, because why not. Humour is my weapon against The Pit, and I will use it until I can’t any longer. My BFFFFF bat knows that if I can’t crack a joke, then I’m in incredibly dangerous territory. So yeah, weathered that.

Nap_Attack

And then Monday. Monday… I just wanted to go back to bed. I don’t do that, because I can’t risk a nap attack. Naps have always made me feel incredibly shitty, like I was tossed in a sack and bashed to bits. And of course, if for some reason I drift off and take one, it fucks up my night sleep, which is fragile and rigidly maintained as the #1 non-medicinal weapon against bipolar. So wanting to do that is a pretty good sign of wanting to check out in a massive way. Seriously, the only thing I managed was:

Step 1: Vaguely wash a spoon
Step 2: Feed toddler with it

Seriously. That was the extent of it. I was well proud of myself for it. I think I might’ve managed some dishes later, but I felt so physically worn out and sore that movement was beyond me.

And today? Well. I got work done. I did dishes. I’ve bathed so that I can be normal passing for an outing tomorrow. Having that outing to look forward to helped me get through today, though I half-suspect that tomorrow it’s going to make me anxious and wanting to hide. I don’t know. It’s going to be a nice meal out with friends and my husband, which is something we don’t get a lot of since having the second kiddo. I don’t know. Even thinking about it is exhausting.

I guess I’m annoyed. Does this mean the meds don’t work anymore? Does it mean they won’t work at a higher dose? Does it mean I need to go through the pain in the ass of changing them? I don’t really know. It’s not as bad as when I was off of meds, but like… *waves hands* It’s still bad? It’s not ‘supposed’ to be happening anymore sort of thing. But is it bad enough to warrant calling Dr. K? She’s adamant that I should contact her without hesitation if I think I need help, but what if this is just a momentary dip into the Fetid Pool o’ Depression? I know it’s legit ’cause I can taste the chemical sad as I have times in the past, even if it’s just the faintest taste swirling around the edges of my tongue.

Eh. What can you do. I guess I’m going to try to see if I can focus on my knitting a bit, though my focus continues to escape me. I guess I blew the clandestine-to-me daily allotment in getting work done earlier or something. So it sometimes goes.

Hope y’all are doing well.

<3

My 4th Mania and 4th Hospital Stay

If you go back and re-read (or read for the first time) the blog entries for March 2015 it's pretty evident that I was headed for a manic episode. I was having sleep issues, I was posting more to social media, I was extra productive and creative, I had pressured speech (speaking quickly), and I had racing thoughts.

The mania started to surface in February 2015. I was grandiose in a job interview, basically told the interviewer "I'm the shit." There were other signs too (as mentioned above).

March 11th to 14th I was in Kentucky presenting at a conference. While there my manic symptoms escalated. My sleep issues worsened and I became extra emotional. The pressured speech and racing thoughts were worsening as well. My acupuncturist said the spring-like weather (it was warmer in Kentucky than in my home state of New Jersey) and the excitement of presenting a workshop did not help the mania. As I've written previously, spring is a trigger for my mania. All my manias, all four of them over the last eight years, have happened in spring, March to June.

Leaving Kentucky further worsened the mania. The flight was delayed, causing me to miss my connection in Charlotte, NC. There were hold ups at the airport and hotel. When I finally got to my hotel room it was after midnight. I had to be to the airport at 7am, so I had to be on a 5am shuttle. I only slept three hours that night. This was Sunday March 15th. Sleep, like spring, is also a huge trigger for me. I knew I was in trouble. I made an emergency appointment with my psychiatrist and acupuncturist for that Monday, March 16th. My psychiatrist increased my meds and told me to let her know if I still wasn't sleeping. My acupuncturist tried to bring the mania down. This session was my most intense acupuncture session in the two years I've been receiving treatment. I cried during the entire session. From the pain of the needles - I never cry from the needles, they're not very painful, for the most part, but the mania had me emotionally sensitive and physically sensitive. Each needle was incredibly painful. I talked through most of the session, explaining to my acupuncturist that I did not want to be manic. I lamented the fact that every spring for the last three years I had been manic (and also hospitalized). I wrote how the gospel song Withholding Nothing was extremely cathartic for me. I listened to it on repeat during my treatment. After this emotionally draining session I felt tons better. Calmer.

The next few days I slept three to four hours per night. Then, Tuesday night/Wednesday morning I slept an hour, at 6am on Wednesday morning. I was up all night on the computer. Being hyperproductive. Researching and writing. I knew I was in trouble after I woke from the one hour of sleep. I don't drive, so I text five of my closest family and friends asking for a ride to the hospital. It didn't occur to me to call an ambulance. Even though I had seen my psychiatrist two days prior, I knew that the mania had progressed too quickly, too fast for her to treat me outpatient. I either needed IOP (intensive outpatient program) or a hospital stay.

Even though I was in the throes of a heightened manic episode, I had enough sense to pack my hospital bag: loose fitting, comfortable clothes; underwear; toiletries; notebooks; and my bible. My mother returned home, my aunt, who I text for a ride, must've called her. When I woke I knew my mom wasn't home, but I wasn't sure where she was so I didn't think to text her for a ride. But my mom is the one who took me to the hospital. My aunt met us there.

The ER visit was pleasant enough. Since it was still early in the morning (in the past I've gone to the ER in the afternoon or evening) I didn't have to wait in the ER that long. I'm not sure if you're familiar with the process for a mental health hospital stay. But first you go to the Emergency Room. They have a crisis counselor assess you: they ask you a bunch of questions about your behavior, mood, and drug use. If you were accompanied to the hospital they also talk to your family member or friend, to get another perspective on your behavior and symptoms. The crisis counselor might also talk to your providers (therapist or psychiatrist). Next, a determination is made: inpatient (hospital) or outpatient (a few days per week of intensive therapy, but you get to live at home). It was decided that I'd be hospitalized.

Once I got to the behavioral health unit, it felt like returning to a second home. I hugged the nurses that I knew from my three previous hospitalizations. I updated them on what had been happening since my last hospital stay, only 10 months prior.

I don't remember much from the first few days. But the salient memories for me from this hospital stay are:
  • I really liked my psychiatrist. Every psychiatrist I've had while hospitalized has been great.
  • The food is always really good. But it took me about an hour or so to eat each meal. When I'm manic I'm easily distracted. I'll do anything but eat: talk to another patient, talk on the phone, wander around, etc.
  • I didn't get many visitors this time. I normally have at least one visitor per day. I don't know if people were busy with their own lives and concerns or had conflicting schedules or no babysitters or whatever, but for whatever reason, less people visited me. It snowed one day while I was there and no one showed. I cried. I was on the phone calling everyone trying to find someone to come visit me. Understandably, people did not travel in the snow to come see me.
  • I was supposed to be discharged on a Friday. That morning the psychiatrist told me he was concerned that I was only still sleeping three to four hours per night. So he was going to keep me until Monday. Three more damn days. I cried hysterically at the news. So instead of 10 days, I was hospitalized 13 days. This would be my second longest hospital stay. My longest stay was 17 days. To give you some perspective, most people stay, on average, 5 to 7 days. I doubled that number. It is incredibly hard to be "locked up." Meal times are scheduled. Computer and phone time, your links to the outside world, are rationed. Visiting hours are only two hours per day. You can't have any technology: phone, laptop, tablet, iPod. And your expected to attend group therapy and process why you're there in the first place. Plus, you can't go outside; there's no terrace or courtyard we have access to. So 13 days is a long ass time.

My 4th Mania and 4th Hospital Stay

If you go back and re-read (or read for the first time) the blog entries for March 2015 it's pretty evident that I was headed for a manic episode. I was having sleep issues, I was posting more to social media, I was extra productive and creative, I had pressured speech (speaking quickly), and I had racing thoughts.

The mania started to surface in February 2015. I was grandiose in a job interview, basically told the interviewer "I'm the shit." There were other signs too (as mentioned above).

March 11th to 14th I was in Kentucky presenting at a conference. While there my manic symptoms escalated. My sleep issues worsened and I became extra emotional. The pressured speech and racing thoughts were worsening as well. My acupuncturist said the spring-like weather (it was warmer in Kentucky than in my home state of New Jersey) and the excitement of presenting a workshop did not help the mania. As I've written previously, spring is a trigger for my mania. All my manias, all four of them over the last eight years, have happened in spring, March to June.

Leaving Kentucky further worsened the mania. The flight was delayed, causing me to miss my connection in Charlotte, NC. There were hold ups at the airport and hotel. When I finally got to my hotel room it was after midnight. I had to be to the airport at 7am, so I had to be on a 5am shuttle. I only slept three hours that night. This was Sunday March 15th. Sleep, like spring, is also a huge trigger for me. I knew I was in trouble. I made an emergency appointment with my psychiatrist and acupuncturist for that Monday, March 16th. My psychiatrist increased my meds and told me to let her know if I still wasn't sleeping. My acupuncturist tried to bring the mania down. This session was my most intense acupuncture session in the two years I've been receiving treatment. I cried during the entire session. From the pain of the needles - I never cry from the needles, they're not very painful, for the most part, but the mania had me emotionally sensitive and physically sensitive. Each needle was incredibly painful. I talked through most of the session, explaining to my acupuncturist that I did not want to be manic. I lamented the fact that every spring for the last three years I had been manic (and also hospitalized). I wrote how the gospel song Withholding Nothing was extremely cathartic for me. I listened to it on repeat during my treatment. After this emotionally draining session I felt tons better. Calmer.

The next few days I slept three to four hours per night. Then, Tuesday night/Wednesday morning I slept an hour, at 6am on Wednesday morning. I was up all night on the computer. Being hyperproductive. Researching and writing. I knew I was in trouble after I woke from the one hour of sleep. I don't drive, so I text five of my closest family and friends asking for a ride to the hospital. It didn't occur to me to call an ambulance. Even though I had seen my psychiatrist two days prior, I knew that the mania had progressed too quickly, too fast for her to treat me outpatient. I either needed IOP (intensive outpatient program) or a hospital stay.

Even though I was in the throes of a heightened manic episode, I had enough sense to pack my hospital bag: loose fitting, comfortable clothes; underwear; toiletries; notebooks; and my bible. My mother returned home, my aunt, who I text for a ride, must've called her. When I woke I knew my mom wasn't home, but I wasn't sure where she was so I didn't think to text her for a ride. But my mom is the one who took me to the hospital. My aunt met us there.

The ER visit was pleasant enough. Since it was still early in the morning (in the past I've gone to the ER in the afternoon or evening) I didn't have to wait in the ER that long. I'm not sure if you're familiar with the process for a mental health hospital stay. But first you go to the Emergency Room. They have a crisis counselor assess you: they ask you a bunch of questions about your behavior, mood, and drug use. If you were accompanied to the hospital they also talk to your family member or friend, to get another perspective on your behavior and symptoms. The crisis counselor might also talk to your providers (therapist or psychiatrist). Next, a determination is made: inpatient (hospital) or outpatient (a few days per week of intensive therapy, but you get to live at home). It was decided that I'd be hospitalized.

Once I got to the behavioral health unit, it felt like returning to a second home. I hugged the nurses that I knew from my three previous hospitalizations. I updated them on what had been happening since my last hospital stay, only 10 months prior.

I don't remember much from the first few days. But the salient memories for me from this hospital stay are:
  • I really liked my psychiatrist. Every psychiatrist I've had while hospitalized has been great.
  • The food is always really good. But it took me about an hour or so to eat each meal. When I'm manic I'm easily distracted. I'll do anything but eat: talk to another patient, talk on the phone, wander around, etc.
  • I didn't get many visitors this time. I normally have at least one visitor per day. I don't know if people were busy with their own lives and concerns or had conflicting schedules or no babysitters or whatever, but for whatever reason, less people visited me. It snowed one day while I was there and no one showed. I cried. I was on the phone calling everyone trying to find someone to come visit me. Understandably, people did not travel in the snow to come see me.
  • I was supposed to be discharged on a Friday. That morning the psychiatrist told me he was concerned that I was only still sleeping three to four hours per night. So he was going to keep me until Monday. Three more damn days. I cried hysterically at the news. So instead of 10 days, I was hospitalized 13 days. This would be my second longest hospital stay. My longest stay was 17 days. To give you some perspective, most people stay, on average, 5 to 7 days. I doubled that number. It is incredibly hard to be "locked up." Meal times are scheduled. Computer and phone time, your links to the outside world, are rationed. Visiting hours are only two hours per day. You can't have any technology: phone, laptop, tablet, iPod. And your expected to attend group therapy and process why you're there in the first place. Plus, you can't go outside; there's no terrace or courtyard we have access to. So 13 days is a long ass time.

Better Day

I feel some better.  I slept on the couch last night and got some relief from the cough from being propped up halfway.  So I don’t feel so bad,  Followed up with my doctor about my cholesterol and  got a z-pac prescription and a safe OTC cough syrup from him.  So I’m looking forward to better sleep tonight and being able to work on my class assignment tomorrow.  I printed the work I’m reviewing off yesterday and look to write my paper tomorrow, revise it on Thursday, and send it on Friday.  Iv’e been  thinking about it since it was assigned so I think I will have it in hand once I start typing.

I still can’t do any significant house work lifting anything like laundry etc. for a while, so I’m not sure how it’s all gong to get done.  I may just have to do it myself anyway.  I may talk my youngest into helping this afternoon.  That’s the only solution I see so far is for her to actually put the in and out of the machines and me just tell her what to do.  We will see.


Suicidal tendencies with loads of metaphors

Because it’s been the case with me for so long – well, all my adult life, 35 years or so – I find it impossible to imagine what it’s like not to have suicidal thoughts drift into my consciousness with regular abandon. Do people really not, ever, never ever, have genuine suicidal thoughts? Unbelievable!

If you lose your hearing in adulthood, or even late childhood, or lose another sense, you have a memory of that sense. You know what some things looked, sounded, smelt, tasted, felt like. It must help with dealing with the loss of a sense.

But I have absolutely no idea what it’s like to live without weekly, often daily, thoughts of suicide. And they’re not just thoughts; they’re instincts. A need, almost, same as any other physical and mental, spiritual, need. And this has gone on for decades. It’s bloody tiring, I tell you. Never let it be said people with a mental illness aren’t strong. We’re Hercules, Samson and, uh, other very strong people.

I manage to ‘hang in there’ (an unfortunate turn of phrase) and ride the storm, which comes in waves. Sometimes the waves are like prissy lappings at the Welsh shoreline in summer at the beach. Sometimes they’re like surf-stuff in North Cornwall. Sometimes they’re thrashings at cliffs, like that sea which just hates the land and wants to, like, totally destroy it.

shoreline

At this very moment, I’m in a North Cornwall-cliff thrashing kind of place. And I have no-one to talk to about it. I’m not a ringing Samaritans kind of guy. I’m certainly not a ringing that emergency number my therapist gave me kind of guy. I’m too shy for that; don’t want to cause any bother, eh?

Not only do I have to deal with the idea that there are people who aren’t suicidal, and who never, ever have been not even for a fleeting second, I have to deal with the apparent fact that some people even experience happiness. Daily!

People are strange.

So I put my blinkers on, put the music I know will make me focus, have a glass of wine or two (I know, I know..), and wait for the waves to stop beating up on the land.

The philosopher Bertrand Russell (whose childhood home was in a village with a lot of meaning for me, Trellech) pointed out that just because the sun comes up every morning and has done for millions of years, there’s absolutely no reason why it should do so tomorrow.

I’ve weathered the storm, Canute-ed the waves, and no doubt I’ll make it through the rest of this evening too. Same as it ever was. Same as it’s always been. And if I’ve done it for 35 years then it’ll never be different. Will it?


Suicidal tendencies with loads of metaphors

Because it’s been the case with me for so long – well, all my adult life, 35 years or so – I find it impossible to imagine what it’s like not to have suicidal thoughts drift into my consciousness with regular abandon. Do people really not, ever, never ever, have genuine suicidal thoughts? Unbelievable!

If you lose your hearing in adulthood, or even late childhood, or lose another sense, you have a memory of that sense. You know what some things looked, sounded, smelt, tasted, felt like. It must help with dealing with the loss of a sense.

But I have absolutely no idea what it’s like to live without weekly, often daily, thoughts of suicide. And they’re not just thoughts; they’re instincts. A need, almost, same as any other physical and mental, spiritual, need. And this has gone on for decades. It’s bloody tiring, I tell you. Never let it be said people with a mental illness aren’t strong. We’re Hercules, Samson and, uh, other very strong people.

I manage to ‘hang in there’ (an unfortunate turn of phrase) and ride the storm, which comes in waves. Sometimes the waves are like prissy lappings at the Welsh shoreline in summer at the beach. Sometimes they’re like surf-stuff in North Cornwall. Sometimes they’re thrashings at cliffs, like that sea which just hates the land and wants to, like, totally destroy it.

shoreline

At this very moment, I’m in a North Cornwall-cliff thrashing kind of place. And I have no-one to talk to about it. I’m not a ringing Samaritans kind of guy. I’m certainly not a ringing that emergency number my therapist gave me kind of guy. I’m too shy for that; don’t want to cause any bother, eh?

Not only do I have to deal with the idea that there are people who aren’t suicidal, and who never, ever have been not even for a fleeting second, I have to deal with the apparent fact that some people even experience happiness. Daily!

People are strange.

So I put my blinkers on, put the music I know will make me focus, have a glass of wine or two (I know, I know..), and wait for the waves to stop beating up on the land.

The philosopher Bertrand Russell (whose childhood home was in a village with a lot of meaning for me, Trellech) pointed out that just because the sun comes up every morning and has done for millions of years, there’s absolutely no reason why it should do so tomorrow.

I’ve weathered the storm, Canute-ed the waves, and no doubt I’ll make it through the rest of this evening too. Same as it ever was. Same as it’s always been. And if I’ve done it for 35 years then it’ll never be different. Will it?