Daily Archives: January 15, 2017

When normal doesn’t feel normal 

There’s a lot of talk about what is normal and what isn’t. For me it is very clear that there is a normal and that most of the time I don’t fall into that category. Don’t get me wrong I get the wordage, but it really doesn’t bother me. It bothers me more to try to be normal or find normal things about myself than to just accept that I’m not and learn how to live with that reality. Being diagnosed at 34 but having previous experience with counseling and doctors I truly believe that I have a truly different perspective. My life and my thoughts and feelings aren’t just like no one else’s but I have a special gift. I am able to see and feel things that most people don’t. The last month has been so great! I have enjoyed energy and the ability to keep busy yet not lose my mind. As weird as it may sound I believe it’s because I am in the middle of something that happens every year about this time. I find energy when there is none. I wake up and getting up isn’t a difficult process. Through a series of events I spend about 2 weeks off both of my anti depressants. It was during this time that I realized I may not need 2. So at my doctors visit at the end of December he went ahead and stopped the Prozac. With a warning to call if things change and I feel like I need to start taking it again. I feel great! I feel like I can plan things and actually follow through with them. I don’t have to force myself to do the simplest of tasks and that makes it easier as well. I believe right now I am smack in the middle of my normal. I wish I could feel this way all the time and that I wouldn’t be up and down so much. But that’s the reality of this illness. I can’t force it to do what I want by sheer force of will. I have to accept the fact that my normal is far from most people’s normal. I don’t think it react the way others do. I am able to empathize to the point of almost feeling someone else’s pain and because of that sometimes I only can give so much. And I have to be in charge of what I can give and when I can give it. When I do that I stay healthy. I am able to get up and keep going and take care of my family and go to work. I am blessed by the differences in a way that I hope in the long run will define me. I don’t have to be normal. I can be me and I can give of myself in a way that changes lives. If there’s one person in my life that is saved from pain or is shown love for the first time I have been the most real me as possible. We shouldn’t seek to find a normal. We should seek to be healthy and to make the most out of our lives. We should embrace our “illness” and not allow it to define who we are and what our legacy is. We should stand strong and we should above all love in a way that changes people’s life’s. Be blessed dear friends!! And light it up!! Being Bipolar doesn’t have to be a curse, you can use it and be a blessing even when you feel like you have nothing to give. 

Faith-Full Sunday -Perseverance

I was reminded the other day of some scripture that has gotten me through my life for the past 7 years. Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the … Continue reading

The painbirds are here

(In which I whine about the onset of January depression)

What a shitty 3 weeks it's been.  Vyvanse hasn't made me immune to the depression that always comes this time of year.  I had hoped it would help. Perhaps it has made it less severe, but, of course there's no way to know that.
I don't even know what to summarize things since I was posting somewhat regularly.  It's been a very long time. I've often thought of writing. It's pretty obvious I often have doubts I have anything worthwhile to say. 
My free time starts after 7:30 at night which on the one hand is a luxurious amount of time before bed. On the other hand I'm usually tired and lazy by that time. I frequently disappear into my phone. Unfortunately I've developed a habit of reading the news, which almost certainly is not good for my mental health.  Maybe I'll get back to blogging..

Image credit: Pixabay  

So How Are Things Going So Far

I’m doing better in the sense that I am starting to clean the house a bit and showered today.

Went to the shrinks and she added  150 mg of Wellbutrin for motivation and increased my dosage of Rexulti to 3 mg. Hopefully it will make a difference. I mean I can already see that it is making a difference again because I am feeling things, good, bad, happy, sad the full gambit, though I haven’t really gotten angry at anyone just frustrated. So that’s something, though I would like to feel more of the positive side of the emotions though honestly. Tired of being sad all the time you know? Putting on a happy face so the people around you can’t tell just how shitty you are feeling.

The good thing is it looks I might be frozen in my house for the next couple of days with hubby, so at least this week I will have less time alone.

I’m starting to play Rift again, though I am slightly lost on where to start and how to use my shit, I’ll figure it out though.

 


Happy New Year

Happy New Year, dear Readers!

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to blog at least once per month. After I published my 5-part mania series in October, I stopped writing. I’m hoping to change that and to write more consistently.

After my most recent manic episode (September 2016), I had a lot of self-reflecting to do. I grew tired of taking my meds, so I began to take them inconsistently last summer. I didn’t notice an immediate impact, but my spotty pill taking would eventually lead to a manic episode. Because of the consequences, I’m still kicking myself in the ass about that decision not to take my meds as prescribed.

There were two major consequences: more credit card debt and grad school fallout. I’ve accepted the fact that I’m in credit card debt, so when all was said and done, I did cringe at having a higher balance, but I’ve accepted that I spend when I’m manic. In the future, I’m hoping to use my mom and my fiance to help me control the spending. (Yup, fiance! I proposed when I was manic. We had been discussing getting married for a few months, so it wasn’t entirely a manic, impulsive decision).

However, unlike the spending, I’m still struggling to come to terms with the grad school fallout. At the start of the fall semester, I was enrolled in three classes and a yearlong internship. After I became manic, I, along with the school administrators and my internship supervisor, decided that I should withdraw from my internship so I could focus on my recovery. Two of the three classes that I was taking were tied to the internship, so once I withdrew from one I had to withdraw from the others. That left me in one class.

No longer interning three days per week, I began applying for full-time work. I figured that if I couldn’t at least intern, at least I could make some extra money. At the end of October I began working at a nearby high school in a position that fits into my needs. This job is a one-year assignment, so it’ll end in June when the school year does. That is perfect for me and my grad school schedule. I’ll hopefully work at a summer enrichment program for students/camp. Then, come September I’ll be interning again.

Even though leaving the internship was best for my well-being and recovery, I can’t help but feel disappointed. Disappointed that I won’t be graduating when I originally thought. Disappointed in myself, because I brought this on myself. And disappointed that I won’t be in classes with the two good friends I made in my program. I feel stagnant. Even though I know it’s only temporary.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, dear Readers!

One of my New Year's resolutions is to blog at least once per month. After I published my 5-part mania series in October, I stopped writing. I'm hoping to change that and to write more consistently.

After my most recent manic episode (September 2016), I had a lot of self-reflecting to do. I grew tired of taking my meds, so I began to take them inconsistently last summer. I didn't notice an immediate impact, but my spotty pill taking would eventually lead to a manic episode. Because of the consequences, I'm still kicking myself in the ass about that decision not to take my meds as prescribed.

There were two major consequences: more credit card debt and grad school fallout. I've accepted the fact that I'm in credit card debt, so when all was said and done, I did cringe at having a higher balance, but I've accepted that I spend when I'm manic. In the future, I'm hoping to use my mom and my fiance to help me control the spending. (Yup, fiance! I proposed when I was manic. We had been discussing getting married for a few months, so it wasn't entirely a manic, impulsive decision).

However, unlike the spending, I'm still struggling to come to terms with the grad school fallout. At the start of the fall semester, I was enrolled in three classes and a yearlong internship. After I became manic, I, along with the school administrators and my internship supervisor, decided that I should withdraw from my internship so I could focus on my recovery. Two of the three classes that I was taking were tied to the internship, so once I withdrew from one I had to withdraw from the others. That left me in one class.

No longer interning three days per week, I began applying for full-time work. I figured that if I couldn't at least intern, at least I could make some extra money. At the end of October I began working at a nearby high school in a position that fits into my needs. This job is a one-year assignment, so it'll end in June when the school year does. That is perfect for me and my grad school schedule. I'll hopefully work at a summer enrichment program for students/camp. Then, come September I'll be interning again.

Even though leaving the internship was best for my well-being and recovery, I can't help but feel disappointed. Disappointed that I won't be graduating when I originally thought. Disappointed in myself, because I brought this on myself. And disappointed that I won't be in classes with the two good friends I made in my program. I feel stagnant. Even though I know it's only temporary.







Patient Abandonment: Personal Experience of an Ethicist

http://m.content.healthaffairs.org/content/36/1/182.full

A patient receives prescription opioids after an accident—and no support from his physicians as he weans himself off.


Getting in Touch With My Hypomanic Side

I know all about how it feels to have depression. For dozens of years, that was my diagnosis and my daily companion – unipolar depression.

In the last dozen years or so, however, I have had to come to grips with the idea that I am actually bipolar – bipolar type 2, specifically. And that I sometimes have hypomania.

It was quite a revelation.

I didn’t believe I had ever felt manic in my life. I couldn’t recall feeling anything but miserable, despondent, and worthless. Although objectively, I was doing well in school and in college, had a few friends, and was never suicidal, in fact I was a depressive mess. Later, as I learned more about mania, I was able to identify some manic – or at least hypomanic episodes that had occurred during that time, but that I had never noticed when they were happening.

When I was hypomanic, I thought I was just feeling what everyone else described as “normal” – happy, able to enjoy activities, functioning pretty well. They didn’t last long, but I didn’t realize how very tenuous and brittle those good feelings were – how they could be shattered by the slightest bump, plunging me back into the old familiar depression. It was even more depressing to think that I couldn’t even do feeling good right.

I struggled along under these circumstances for years, until at last one-half of my problem was diagnosed – the depression half, of course. It certainly was the most noticeable half, the most troubling, and the most disruptive of the problems that plagued me.

My doctor prescribed Prozac and I remember it working pretty well at first – at least when it kicked in after about six weeks of taking it. I can remember feelings of calm, contentment, and enjoyment. It changed my life, and probably saved it. Prozac didn’t alleviate all my problems, but it did let me glimpse a world in which they were not the only things that existed. It’s not too extreme to say that I rejoiced.

But, unknown to me (and my doctor), I was not purely unipolar at that time – or ever. What was happening to the lurking hypomania during while the depression was being treated? Did it disappear? Did the Prozac take care of it too?

No. With the depression more or less at bay, hypomania found new outlets to express itself – as anxiety, for example. I had a spell of being alarmed in the cereal aisles of grocery stores. There was a time (not yet completely gone) when I thought other drivers were swerving into my lane, even when I was a passenger. (That one alarmed my husband too, when I would fling out my arms and gasp or cower, shaking in my seat, at the thought that a crash was imminent.)

My psychiatrist later explained to me that these were manifestations of hypomania that came out sideways, as anxiety instead of euphoria, ambition, desire, exaltation, and assorted addictive or destructive behavior. Trust me to have the less-fun alternative. (Although somewhat less life-wrecking.)

Since that revelation, I have tried to harness my hypomania and use my power for good. I channel my hypomanic binges into writing, for example. I can’t say that it’s always good writing, but at least I get words on the screen that I can fix up later. I usually have several projects – paying and non-paying (like this blog) going at the same time, so I can switch among them as needed. That may be hypomania too.

Sometimes I can even use my hypomanic fits to enjoy myself – have a pleasant lunch out, read a book, do a puzzle, have a conversation with my husband or another friend. Of course, these activities do not always fit in well with my hypomania. At times, instead of simply enjoying these activities and sensations, I am too twitchy and nervous to relax and enjoy them.

I must admit that two of my strategies for controlling my hypomanic spells are naps and anti-anxiety pills, not necessarily in that order. But at least I am getting better at identifying when the anxiety, which I used to think of as free-floating, is actually a form of hypomania. Then a combination of hot tea, silence, cat-petting, reading, and Ativan can bring me back to some kind of stasis.

If not, I just have to accept that I’m having a hypomanic episode and try to stay away from things I can buy using my PayPal account.


Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: anxiety, bipolar disorder, bipolar type 2, coping mechanisms, depression, hypomania, mental illness, my experiences

Catching Up

the-captive

After almost three weeks of Clear, Calm Mind, weeks when I made art with quiet joy and dug into the second draft of my book about being bipolar, weeks when decisions made themselves, weeks when the Dark Times of last autumn faded, the inevitable shift came.

northern-exposureFirst, just a melancholia setting in as I  watched the last season of Northern Exposure (like getting weepy over Hallmark commercials).  Mopping up with Kleenex, I would have called myself hormonal if I still had any Girl Parts.  But after the final episode, I felt bereft.  I’d binge-watched all six seasons of the show, and now it was over.  I have a bad feeling about this, my Inner Han Solo muttered.

Later that day, I shut down during therapy.  We hit something big, and it blew all the circuits.  My therapist talked and all I could hear was the teacher from the Peanuts cartoons (Wah-wah-wah).

lala2Yesterday I met my friend at the theater to see LaLa Land and cried through the whole thing.  Not that I was paying attention to what was on the screen.

It takes me a bit to catch up with the shift.  I have to find a little spot of compassion and mindfulness where I can change gears.  What do I need?  What do I have to take care of and what can wait?  I will stay home today and do art at my table instead of going to church and the Writing as a Spiritual Practice group that I love.  I can make this decision without guilt or self-loathing.  It’s what needs to be today.

Tomorrow I will focus on preparing my apartment for the new bed-bug prevention regiment.  There’s a lot to do—vacuum, get everything off the floor, pull the furniture away from the walls.  I don’t quite understand what will be done, some kind of silicon mist, so I need to get as much stuff under cover as I can.  Then, on Tuesday, the cats and I will camp out at friends all day while this procedure takes place.  I’m not sure what kind of clean-up will be required once we get back.  All I know is that I can’t vacuum for three days.

no-need-to-hurryStuff like this is stressful on my best day.  I had found a rhythm with the quarterly bug-sniffing dog’s visits, but I guess Radar wasn’t as accurate as advertised.  Now management has decided on this annual preventative hoo-haw instead.  It’s so disruptive and worrisome.

So, I breathe and try to turn my thinking.  I don’t have bedbugs, but if my neighbors do, I’m at risk.  So this is a good thing.  Proactive.  And only once a year.  I can do this.

And if it’s all I do this week, it will be enough.


Out Of Sorts

I’m feeling decidedly off-kilter these days, so please forgive me if this post reflects that. But I have stories to tell, and I hope you’ll read them. That’s why I write this blog—not only to help myself sort out my life, but to educate and hopefully entertain you, the reader. (At least sometimes.)

I’m still having trouble with excessive irritability. I bite my lips almost until they bleed in order to avoid yelling at people indiscriminately, knowing it’s no one’s fault I’m in this state of mind. Besides which, the family is doing their best to support me at this challenging time (for which I’m eternally grateful!), as I’m all at sea trying to process this stage of grief. I’ll be damned if I know what stage it is—depression? Anger?—but I know I’m in one of them…probably the anger part.

My grief counselor came by on Friday, which was terrific timing given the fact that it was the six-month anniversary of Will’s passing. She is a licensed professional counselor who knows my difficulties and helps me suss out what is my illness from what is simply emotional suffering. Even though I’m very good at that under ordinary circumstances, I’m more than a little confused these days because I’m definitely feeling a stirring underneath all the emotions that reminds me of past episodes…mixed episodes. And that is no bueno. Nothing good has ever come from a mixed episode. Those are the kind I fear most of all, and if things go any further down that road I’m going to call Dr. Goodenough. I’d rather deal with depression.

This is a bad time for all this shit (not that there’s ever a good time for it). My birthday is this coming Thursday, and I’m trying to be happy about it. I’m turning 58. Might as well be 60, Lord knows I’m getting close enough. But my son-in-law Clark has already spoiled me rotten by buying me my first honest piece of luggage, a beautiful London Fog carry-on bag with wheels for our next trip. He also got me a dressy top (only a 2x!! I was too big for 4x just a few months ago) and a tiny purse that was outrageously expensive, but with 70% off it wasn’t too bad. That’s for Disney World, where I won’t want to carry around a big bag. Clark says, “You deserve nice things”. I’ve only heard that from one other person in my life, and that, of course, was Will.

Oh yeah, I renewed my nursing license for one final time. I had enough practice hours in the last five years to qualify, so I went ahead and renewed just for the hell of it. I can’t see any situation that would enable me to use it, except maybe for volunteer work, but there’s something so satisfying in calling myself an RN. I’m proud of it.

Once again, I had to disclose the fact that I have “well-managed bipolar 1” and am not practicing at this time, but I had no trouble with the Board of Nursing. Sometimes they can be stinky about nurses with mental illnesses and tend to lump us in with addicts and alcoholics; I’ve been lucky twice in not being mandated to enter a so-called “rehabilitation” program. I don’t even want to go into detail about how horrible these programs are, especially for nurses who have only MI and don’t deserve to be placed in one. Suffice it to say that I’m in the clear, and though I’ll have to give it up the next time my license comes up for renewal, I should be able to apply for RN Emeritus status and be officially retired.

So, that’s my verbal incontinence for the day. Lot of words in this one. If you’re a praying person, I ask you to put in a good word for me with the Lord that I can get past this whatever-it-is, and continue to mourn my husband without my illness complicating things. If not, positive energies and good vibrations will do. Thank you.