Author Archives: laurabedlam

Medzzzzzzz…

I had like 3 fucking meltdowns over Christmas weekend which is sorta normal for me but this year was probably worse than previous years ‘n I don’t really wanna talk about it right now, not because I don’t wanna revisit that shit but because I’m sleepy as fuuuuuck…..

My doc and I decided to halve my Welbutrin dose ’cause I think neither of us is 100% sure that I still need it. I tried it a long time ago, pre-bipolar diagnosis as a treatment for depression and that didn’t really work out, obviously (see LBD: antidepressants). Then a couple years ago, while on mood stabilizers, my doc prescribed it again to help me quit smoking because I have like zero willpower and I get upset a lot and it’s super easy for me to rationalize breaking my tobacco fast if I’m really, really, really upset (so, like, often). Welbutrin makes smoking really uncomfortable (I frequently liken it to trying to inhale a large marshmallow I picked out of bag of wet garbage) and also disrupts your brain’s ability to enjoy nicotine so you may as well just be smoking the paper for all the good it’ll do in terms of calming you down.

The other reason we went with Welbutrin is that it’s kind of an upper – not in the same way that speed or even caffeine is, but among its peers, Welbutrin is the most likely to give you a little boost. All my other meds are sedating so the intention was to sort of counteract that problem with more meds (I’ve written about medicating my medication before, but probably not thoroughly enough, remind me to get back to it).

This time around, I don’t think I’ve been prescribed Welbutrin specifically to combat depression, but if it happened to do that, then yay? So last week, my prescription ran out and I was talking to my doctor about it and we thought maybe cutting to dose in half might be fun (ahem: a medically sound choice that is reversible if it happens not to work out). I didn’t start taking the smaller dose until after my Xmas meltdowns because I fucking hate the holidays and I didn’t wanna start experimenting until they were over. Which turned out to be, probably, a really good idea.

This is either day 2 or 3 of the halved dose and I’ve been a fairly drowsy. Which, I mean, is unsurprising considering the drug’s invigorating properties. I suspect I’d feel similarly if I switched from coffee to tea or something – which will never fucking happen, when I die, I wanna be ground up like coffee beans and served, hot or iced, to all my mourners (no I don’t, that’s gross, Laura). 

So, like, I spent the day fucking around with my roommate’s mandolin and working on some poems just for fun, and I think I paid off the balance on my Target card. Like, I got some shit done. I taught myself this song on mando:

Don’t get impressed or anything, it’s not a super complicated song, just a really good song and a fun one to sing and play. But now my fingers hurt ’cause mandolin strings are a little more ouchy than guitar or banjo strings ‘n I’m not really used to them yet. But I did like, at least one or two things today and I didn’t actually have to do anything today, so good for me. Fine.

But it’s me, so I worry a lot about these specters of things that are pretty unlikely, chiefly here: I’ll be sleepy forever. Before my various Christmas freakouts, I had been doing really well. Depakote seems not to have given me the stupids like I worried it would. My moods were pretty even, almost predictable (!!!) and I was feeling good about myself and having all these neat ideas for creative projects which, at this point, I haven’t been neglecting as severely as I usually do when I have good ideas. Good. Cool.

But I wanna take as little medicine as I can get away with and Welbutrin, among my other meds, is the easiest to play around with, so here we are. Slightly less medicated, but markedly more sleepy. This should go away. I mean, if I were taking Welbutrin and nothing else, I’d be about 100% sure the drowsiness would wane after the physical withdrawal was over, but that’s not the case ’cause, like I said, I’m on other meds, 3 others exactly, and they all sometimes make me very tired. More specifically, they shorten my battery life. It’s not that I’m evenly sedated throughout the day, it’s more like I only have energy for one or maybe two activities in a day and I don’t like to stay out late anymore.

So right now it’s a little after 4 p.m. It’s rain-snowing like the goddamned apocalypse outside and I’m legit afraid my power will go out. I’ve run out of shit to do except take a shower which is only necessary because it’s my habit to shower daily, I’m not actually dirty enough right now to warrant bathing. After that, it’s very likely that I’ll get high and watch cartoons or something. Maybe reread my poems a few hundred more times. They are part in Italian and I’m like real stoked on that point. But that’s about it. I don’t have energy for much else. I could:

Clean something, like my desk maybe (nah…)

Investigate the meaning behind the text I just got from my sister which simply reads: “Butt fun?”

Learn more mandolin chords and maybe develop some muscle memory and build tougher calluses

Mulch Arturo more thoroughly (Arturo is my pet blueberry bush. He lives on my patio and should be able to withstand a northern Midwest winter storm but he almost died this summer so I worry about him a lot)

Play some solitaire chess. Gotta stay sharp ‘n whatever.

But I totally won’t do any of these things (except maybe find out what the deal is with “Butt fun?” ’cause there is zero context for that text and it’s fucking funny). I’m probably just gonna return my roommate’s mando to his room, take my evening meds (including the ones I prescribed to myself), move from the office to the couch, watch some Jaclyn Glenn youtube videos, lazily entertain sexual thoughts about this woman who I only know through her Etsy shop but who seems like my kinda people even if I can’t quite see what she looks like or tell how old she is from her tiny picture, and maybe see which of the cats is more amenable to being used as a pillow today ’cause one of them will usually let me do that, but it’s not always the same one. All eminently slothful pursuits.

Anyhowl, getting back to things, I’m gonna give it maybe another 7-10 days of grogginess before I decide if the new Welbutrin dosage is right for me. Like, fingers crossed real hard, I guess, ’cause, like I said, the less medicine I can get by on, the better. In the meantime, jammies ‘n couches ‘n…”Butt fun?”

-LB

Tagged: atheism, bipolar disorder, bisexuality, Butt fun?, Christmas, creativity, energy, Italian, Jaclyn Glenn, laziness, Mandolin, marijuana, meds, music, Neko Case, poetry, sleep, Welbutrin, writing

I Finished A Book

I finished a book. That makes two in one month! If that doesn’t seem very impressive to you, bear in mind that I’m still kind of in the process of relearning how to read, so I’m pretty stoked on this.

I read Maggie Nelson’s Bluets which is lovely and philosophical and lyrical and just really cool. Highly recommend, especially if you’re into poetry, philosophy, or both. Even if the book did shit on the color yellow just a little bit, which bugged me ’cause yellow is my favorite color and has always been my favorite color, but I’m willing to forgive here, ’cause Bluets stretched my brain into all sorts of fun shapes and that’s something I both want and need with regularity.

I have another book lined up: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s short story collection The Thing Around Your Neck. I figured shorter books and short stories are probably a good way to ease myself back into being fully literate again and so far, so good. This whole thing is really important to me ’cause I frequently bemoan the stagnation I feel in my life, and continuous reading  keeps my brain from getting sludgy and helps me write better. And write more.

So this is basically me giving myself a cookie for having read a whole book, but I can’t overstate the significance of this for me. Before my dad died, before my bipolar diagnosis, and way before meds, I was always, always reading. There’s a period of my life during the first few years a college when I felt like I was advancing on a very satisfying track at a very thrilling pace. I don’t expect ever to get all of that back in the same form or pick up where I left off, but I’m hoping for a little redirection from the nowhere upon nowhere I’ve been passing through for the last several years.

Also, if I write it down and if I promise you guys I’m gonna finish another book, I’m a lot more likely to do it, so, you guys, I’m gonna finish another book. Let’cha know how it went!

-LB

Tagged: bipolar disorder, books, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, creativity, literacy, lithium, Maggie Nelson, meds, philosophy, poetry, quality of life, reading, writing

I Finished A Book

I finished a book. That makes two in one month! If that doesn’t seem very impressive to you, bear in mind that I’m still kind of in the process of relearning how to read, so I’m pretty stoked on this.

I read Maggie Nelson’s Bluets which is lovely and philosophical and lyrical and just really cool. Highly recommend, especially if you’re into poetry, philosophy, or both. Even if the book did shit on the color yellow just a little bit, which bugged me ’cause yellow is my favorite color and has always been my favorite color, but I’m willing to forgive here, ’cause Bluets stretched my brain into all sorts of fun shapes and that’s something I both want and need with regularity.

I have another book lined up: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s short story collection The Thing Around Your Neck. I figured shorter books and short stories are probably a good way to ease myself back into being fully literate again and so far, so good. This whole thing is really important to me ’cause I frequently bemoan the stagnation I feel in my life, and continuous reading  keeps my brain from getting sludgy and helps me write better. And write more.

So this is basically me giving myself a cookie for having read a whole book, but I can’t overstate the significance of this for me. Before my dad died, before my bipolar diagnosis, and way before meds, I was always, always reading. There’s a period of my life during the first few years a college when I felt like I was advancing on a very satisfying track at a very thrilling pace. I don’t expect ever to get all of that back in the same form or pick up where I left off, but I’m hoping for a little redirection from the nowhere upon nowhere I’ve been passing through for the last several years.

Also, if I write it down and if I promise you guys I’m gonna finish another book, I’m a lot more likely to do it, so, you guys, I’m gonna finish another book. Let’cha know how it went!

-LB

Tagged: bipolar disorder, books, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, creativity, literacy, lithium, Maggie Nelson, meds, philosophy, poetry, quality of life, reading, writing

Too Sad For Therapy

I rescheduled therapy today. I probably really needed to go to therapy today. But it’s a 90 minute commute each way on public trans, and I couldn’t fucking stop crying and, though I’ve said in the past that my near total lack of shame has accommodated a great many bus cries, there’s a difference between a few tears sliding from under my sunglasses and outright, unstoppable bawling. So I didn’t go. Also I was having unusually severe IBS symptoms and, in truth, if it was just the IBS, I could’ve bit the bullet, taken extra Imodium and peppermint oil, donned a very loose sweater and gotten my ass to therapy. But I’dve been super fucking uncomfortable the whole time and clenching distractingly out of a worry that I’d poop on my doctor’s white couch*.

I cried yesterday too, but only for like 20 minutes after I WebMD’d the symptoms** of this mystery shoulder pain I’ve been having for a few days and concluded, via the Internet, that I was dying.

My appointment today was at 2:15, but it took until around 1:45 for me to stop weeping ‘n shit. I didn’t know how long it was gonna take, but I still can’t get to my doc’s office in half an hour, so I guess I really couldn’t have gone.

My husband and I like to play one of three games when it’s just the two of us: Scrabble, blackjack, and chess so, in the hopes that it’d make me feel better, we spent like an hour playing blackjack on our bed. It did help. Probably more than therapy would’ve because I’dve just cried the whole damn time and my doctor and I would have probably come to the conclusion that I’m sliding into another depression, which would’ve made be cry even more because of how fucking unfair it feels whenever I start to get depressed.

I think my depressive episodes come saddled with a twisted and customized version of the five stages of grief:

Denial: It’s just a shitty week, I’m fine. Not cutting or scratching, that’s proof, right? This isn’t happening again, it’s not.

Anger: I can’t do any of the things that were moving my goddamned life forward and everyone who thinks they can help me through this can just fuck off.

Bargaining: I wish I was just stupid. Like really fucking stupid. Really stupid people don’t get depressed, they get sad but not depressed. Can’t I have that? I want it.

Depression: I’m worthless, I’m subhuman, I can’t eat, I oversleep, I can’t have orgasms, I’m a pollutant and a cancer. All I do is take from everyone around me and I don’t have enough strength to fight through this to give anything back.

Acceptance: I’ll always be like this. Even if this goes away, it will come back. There’s nothing I can do about it.

Acceptance is probably the most dangerous stage ’cause it’s usually the point at which I feel the most suicidal. It’s also, arguably, a vital pivot point, simply because I tend to acknowledge that this particular depression could actually dissipate (even if I insist it’ll come back). Depending on how well I can convince myself of the transience of my episode, I could feel more motivated to work really hard*** to get back to regular.

They don’t always go down like this, but right now, I’m oscillating between blaming the fallout of my hormonal IUD removal coupled with my lack of proper sleep the last few days and fearing that this an actual depressive episode rapidly hurdling over the horizon. Today, I’m probably leaning toward the latter. Or maybe not. I really haven’t been sleeping properly for like the last 5 or 6 nights. I get up and night a lot and have trouble getting comfy. Exhaustion and depression can both make me cry a fuck ton. Both leave me fatigued. Both make me irritable.

So, in short: I guess I have no idea what the fuck is going on. Except yes I do. I mean, I’m pretty damn sure I do. The best I can hope for is to land on that unsteady target where I’m just depressed enough to spin it into something cool, and not lose my motivation completely, but it’s not like I can arrange that shit. I could be staring down months and months of near-lifelessness and my mother’s infuriating commentary on how much weight I’ve accidentally lost (she doesn’t seem to be 100% convinced of the “accidentally” part, she thinks I should try harder). I could be going into a mental and social hibernation indefinitely. Again.

So, my doctor let me reschedule our appointment for tomorrow afternoon after I told her about my IBS symptoms. The rescheduling was a massive relief at first, until I realized I might be just as bad or worse tomorrow. I guess the best I can do at this point is to expect that in case it happens. Preparedness…

-LB

*I don’t have anal incontinence, so this really wasn’t likely at all, but my Pride and my Vanity have convened and are in agreement that you should know: I don’t have anal incontinence.

**Don’t do this. You know better. I know better. You type in “fatigue” and come away, definitely, definitely with stage IV esophageal cancer, even if you know you’ve been getting poor quality sleep lately and don’t drink or smoke.

***Depression is hard fucking work. You have to try to keep your life together but you’re probably pretty hobbled. So, it’s basically like having gravity turned up while you struggle to lift the same amount you were lifting comfortably a week ago.

Tagged: blackjack, crying, cycling, depression, grief, IBS, poop, self-harm, sleep, suicide, therapy

Too Sad For Therapy

I rescheduled therapy today. I probably really needed to go to therapy today. But it’s a 90 minute commute each way on public trans, and I couldn’t fucking stop crying and, though I’ve said in the past that my near total lack of shame has accommodated a great many bus cries, there’s a difference between a few tears sliding from under my sunglasses and outright, unstoppable bawling. So I didn’t go. Also I was having unusually severe IBS symptoms and, in truth, if it was just the IBS, I could’ve bit the bullet, taken extra Imodium and peppermint oil, donned a very loose sweater and gotten my ass to therapy. But I’dve been super fucking uncomfortable the whole time and clenching distractingly out of a worry that I’d poop on my doctor’s white couch*.

I cried yesterday too, but only for like 20 minutes after I WebMD’d the symptoms** of this mystery shoulder pain I’ve been having for a few days and concluded, via the Internet, that I was dying.

My appointment today was at 2:15, but it took until around 1:45 for me to stop weeping ‘n shit. I didn’t know how long it was gonna take, but I still can’t get to my doc’s office in half an hour, so I guess I really couldn’t have gone.

My husband and I like to play one of three games when it’s just the two of us: Scrabble, blackjack, and chess so, in the hopes that it’d make me feel better, we spent like an hour playing blackjack on our bed. It did help. Probably more than therapy would’ve because I’dve just cried the whole damn time and my doctor and I would have probably come to the conclusion that I’m sliding into another depression, which would’ve made be cry even more because of how fucking unfair it feels whenever I start to get depressed.

I think my depressive episodes come saddled with a twisted and customized version of the five stages of grief:

Denial: It’s just a shitty week, I’m fine. Not cutting or scratching, that’s proof, right? This isn’t happening again, it’s not.

Anger: I can’t do any of the things that were moving my goddamned life forward and everyone who thinks they can help me through this can just fuck off.

Bargaining: I wish I was just stupid. Like really fucking stupid. Really stupid people don’t get depressed, they get sad but not depressed. Can’t I have that? I want it.

Depression: I’m worthless, I’m subhuman, I can’t eat, I oversleep, I can’t have orgasms, I’m a pollutant and a cancer. All I do is take from everyone around me and I don’t have enough strength to fight through this to give anything back.

Acceptance: I’ll always be like this. Even if this goes away, it will come back. There’s nothing I can do about it.

Acceptance is probably the most dangerous stage ’cause it’s usually the point at which I feel the most suicidal. It’s also, arguably, a vital pivot point, simply because I tend to acknowledge that this particular depression could actually dissipate (even if I insist it’ll come back). Depending on how well I can convince myself of the transience of my episode, I could feel more motivated to work really hard*** to get back to regular.

They don’t always go down like this, but right now, I’m oscillating between blaming the fallout of my hormonal IUD removal coupled with my lack of proper sleep the last few days and fearing that this an actual depressive episode rapidly hurdling over the horizon. Today, I’m probably leaning toward the latter. Or maybe not. I really haven’t been sleeping properly for like the last 5 or 6 nights. I get up and night a lot and have trouble getting comfy. Exhaustion and depression can both make me cry a fuck ton. Both leave me fatigued. Both make me irritable.

So, in short: I guess I have no idea what the fuck is going on. Except yes I do. I mean, I’m pretty damn sure I do. The best I can hope for is to land on that unsteady target where I’m just depressed enough to spin it into something cool, and not lose my motivation completely, but it’s not like I can arrange that shit. I could be staring down months and months of near-lifelessness and my mother’s infuriating commentary on how much weight I’ve accidentally lost (she doesn’t seem to be 100% convinced of the “accidentally” part, she thinks I should try harder). I could be going into a mental and social hibernation indefinitely. Again.

So, my doctor let me reschedule our appointment for tomorrow afternoon after I told her about my IBS symptoms. The rescheduling was a massive relief at first, until I realized I might be just as bad or worse tomorrow. I guess the best I can do at this point is to expect that in case it happens. Preparedness…

-LB

*I don’t have anal incontinence, so this really wasn’t likely at all, but my Pride and my Vanity have convened and are in agreement that you should know: I don’t have anal incontinence.

**Don’t do this. You know better. I know better. You type in “fatigue” and come away, definitely, definitely with stage IV esophageal cancer, even if you know you’ve been getting poor quality sleep lately and don’t drink or smoke.

***Depression is hard fucking work. You have to try to keep your life together but you’re probably pretty hobbled. So, it’s basically like having gravity turned up while you struggle to lift the same amount you were lifting comfortably a week ago.

Tagged: blackjack, crying, cycling, depression, grief, IBS, poop, self-harm, sleep, suicide, therapy

Too Sad For Therapy

I rescheduled therapy today. I probably really needed to go to therapy today. But it’s a 90 minute commute each way on public trans, and I couldn’t fucking stop crying and, though I’ve said in the past that my near total lack of shame has accommodated a great many bus cries, there’s a difference between a few tears sliding from under my sunglasses and outright, unstoppable bawling. So I didn’t go. Also I was having unusually severe IBS symptoms and, in truth, if it was just the IBS, I could’ve bit the bullet, taken extra Imodium and peppermint oil, donned a very loose sweater and gotten my ass to therapy. But I’dve been super fucking uncomfortable the whole time and clenching distractingly out of a worry that I’d poop on my doctor’s white couch*.

I cried yesterday too, but only for like 20 minutes after I WebMD’d the symptoms** of this mystery shoulder pain I’ve been having for a few days and concluded, via the Internet, that I was dying.

My appointment today was at 2:15, but it took until around 1:45 for me to stop weeping ‘n shit. I didn’t know how long it was gonna take, but I still can’t get to my doc’s office in half an hour, so I guess I really couldn’t have gone.

My husband and I like to play one of three games when it’s just the two of us: Scrabble, blackjack, and chess so, in the hopes that it’d make me feel better, we spent like an hour playing blackjack on our bed. It did help. Probably more than therapy would’ve because I’dve just cried the whole damn time and my doctor and I would have probably come to the conclusion that I’m sliding into another depression, which would’ve made be cry even more because of how fucking unfair it feels whenever I start to get depressed.

I think my depressive episodes come saddled with a twisted and customized version of the five stages of grief:

Denial: It’s just a shitty week, I’m fine. Not cutting or scratching, that’s proof, right? This isn’t happening again, it’s not.

Anger: I can’t do any of the things that were moving my goddamned life forward and everyone who thinks they can help me through this can just fuck off.

Bargaining: I wish I was just stupid. Like really fucking stupid. Really stupid people don’t get depressed, they get sad but not depressed. Can’t I have that? I want it.

Depression: I’m worthless, I’m subhuman, I can’t eat, I oversleep, I can’t have orgasms, I’m a pollutant and a cancer. All I do is take from everyone around me and I don’t have enough strength to fight through this to give anything back.

Acceptance: I’ll always be like this. Even if this goes away, it will come back. There’s nothing I can do about it.

Acceptance is probably the most dangerous stage ’cause it’s usually the point at which I feel the most suicidal. It’s also, arguably, a vital pivot point, simply because I tend to acknowledge that this particular depression could actually dissipate (even if I insist it’ll come back). Depending on how well I can convince myself of the transience of my episode, I could feel more motivated to work really hard*** to get back to regular.

They don’t always go down like this, but right now, I’m oscillating between blaming the fallout of my hormonal IUD removal coupled with my lack of proper sleep the last few days and fearing that this an actual depressive episode rapidly hurdling over the horizon. Today, I’m probably leaning toward the latter. Or maybe not. I really haven’t been sleeping properly for like the last 5 or 6 nights. I get up and night a lot and have trouble getting comfy. Exhaustion and depression can both make me cry a fuck ton. Both leave me fatigued. Both make me irritable.

So, in short: I guess I have no idea what the fuck is going on. Except yes I do. I mean, I’m pretty damn sure I do. The best I can hope for is to land on that unsteady target where I’m just depressed enough to spin it into something cool, and not lose my motivation completely, but it’s not like I can arrange that shit. I could be staring down months and months of near-lifelessness and my mother’s infuriating commentary on how much weight I’ve accidentally lost (she doesn’t seem to be 100% convinced of the “accidentally” part, she thinks I should try harder). I could be going into a mental and social hibernation indefinitely. Again.

So, my doctor let me reschedule our appointment for tomorrow afternoon after I told her about my IBS symptoms. The rescheduling was a massive relief at first, until I realized I might be just as bad or worse tomorrow. I guess the best I can do at this point is to expect that in case it happens. Preparedness…

-LB

*I don’t have anal incontinence, so this really wasn’t likely at all, but my Pride and my Vanity have convened and are in agreement that you should know: I don’t have anal incontinence.

**Don’t do this. You know better. I know better. You type in “fatigue” and come away, definitely, definitely with stage IV esophageal cancer, even if you know you’ve been getting poor quality sleep lately and don’t drink or smoke.

***Depression is hard fucking work. You have to try to keep your life together but you’re probably pretty hobbled. So, it’s basically like having gravity turned up while you struggle to lift the same amount you were lifting comfortably a week ago.

Tagged: blackjack, crying, cycling, depression, grief, IBS, poop, self-harm, sleep, suicide, therapy

The Very Distracting Elephant Has All Of My Attention

I almost never think about this because I kind of don’t really care, but it comes up now and then, at which point I’m forced to think about it, which often leads me to the conclusion that I still don’t really care.

I have ADHD as well as bipolar, which is pretty common. I often forget I have ADHD even though I’ve been diagnosed with it twice and treated for it twice, and I feel like maybe there’s a joke hiding in the fact that I generally don’t remember that I have ADHD. I guess part of it is that my ADHD is really mild and treating it with meds ended up exacerbating my bipolar symptoms a whole lot more than it alleviated my ADHD symptoms, so it’s really not worth it. Most of the time (but not all of the time), the meds you get for ADHD are stimulants, usually methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta) or amphetamine salts (Adderall). I tend to think of these drugs as “legal speed” much the same way that oxycodone is arguably “legal heroin,” because prescription stimulants can be a little intense and cause a person to behave in ways that are similar to their illicit, street-dwelling cousins.

Way back in April, 2006, a few months before she turned 19 and after an inexplicable plummet in academic performance at the beginning of college, Laura’s well-meaning dad brought her to a specialist to get tested for ADHD. Currently, Laura isn’t 100% sure why she’s speaking in the third person, but she’s gonna keep doing it for a sec, so deal. The nice doctor (he really was super nice) prescribed Laura 18mgs of long-acting methylphenidate a day. Upon beginning treatment with the methylphenidate, Laura did not sleep more than 4 hours a night for about 6 weeks (“night” meaning between the hours of 7:00 and 11:00 a.m., after the sun was up). During the day, Laura spent hours and hours playing guitar in her room and doing little else. She…fuck it, I’m done with the third person thing…I couldn’t bring myself to close my eyes while it was still dark out because I was afraid of this or that faceless, gloomy specter, likely a shifting amalgamation of horror movie previews, posters, photos, and fucked up memories. So, I was almost 19 and so afraid of the boogeyman that I kept every light in my room on all night and tried to keep blinking to a minimum. Once the sun came up and I heard my parents moving around the house, I felt Ok to close my eyes and get some sleep, but I still usually kept the lights on. The point is that I got bizarrely paranoid of shit I don’t and didn’t actually believe in (demons, ghosts, the remaining peppery flakes of my gothic-ass Catholic upbringing – side point: I posit that growing up Catholic predisposes nervous people to deeply intense but irrational fears, or at least that’s what happened to me).

So I was getting by on 4 hours of sleep, hyper-focused on creative projects, and immensely paranoid of the dark. It was a weird time. Through those long nights, I watched a lot of shitty romance movies and replayed the sex scenes over and over (bonus points If the DVD had a cache of scenes deleted from the film for being TOO HOT FOR THEATERS!), because, at 18, I had done most of the sex things I was then interested in doing, but not all of the sex things I was interested in doing, and I wanted to make sure my orgasming visage would be the right combination of sexy and cultivated* when said visage would smear itself all over my face.** Pro tip: don’t explore your own sexuality by watching adaptations of Nicholas Sparks books, you won’t have any fun. DO masturbate more.

Shit calmed down a lot after that first 6 weeks, but the paranoia stuck around, kinda shapeshifting. I felt I could sleep with the lights off, but I was convinced people were watching me from their windows when I walked around outside. It should go without saying that by “watching” I also mean “judging” which is a little funny to think about, when I root around in that notion a bit more and realize how important I must’ve felt. I went back to school for my sophomore year of college (which, for like a dozen reasons was a total blast, despite the really bad cockroach problem in my apartment), but over the course of that year, my paranoias got worse. In quiet elevators or train cars, I was never sure if I was talking or thinking, so my brain would go off the rails, whipping up waltzing cyclones of hateful language that I never use in real life, like just to fuck with me. Did I really just call that woman standing next to me a [blank-ity blank blank]??? I would never call a person that! She has to know I don’t think she or anyone is a [nope-ity nope nope]!!! So my solution to this was to bite my lips. Like real hard. ‘Cause if I was chomping down on my lips, I couldn’t be also using them to hurl obscene epithets at elevator strangers, right?

In a moment of clarity, I realized that the shit that was happening to me re: this paranoia nonsense and the things I was doing to cope with it were stupid and making my life needlessly stressful. So I called my doctor and told him I was gonna stop taking the methylphenidate and he said Ok. Fun thing (and my psychiatrist has told me this more than once): sometimes when you stop taking a medication, the side-effects you experienced when you were first taking it that went away after your body adjusted can come back. And mine did SO HARD. I became completely hypomanic (which I didn’t know was a thing at the time). I may have told this anecdote before but for like about 2 weeks, my poor, poor roommates had to deal with my assertion, nay, my insistence that the floor was a trampoline. Thusly, I would often start screaming, “THE FLOOR IS A TRAMPOLINE!” while jumping up and down in the living room (which should’ve scared the roaches at least a little, but totally didn’t, those fuckers are hardy as hell). I was bathed in awe, and the object of my awe was skyscrapers, which was pretty convenient since I live(d) in a major city. I haven’t had a hypomanic episode with that awe component in it for a really long time, but it’s not unusual for a person experiencing mania or hypomania to feel an intense reverence for X thing. People often land on stuff like trees or mountains or bodies of water, but it can really be almost anything. I considered skyscrapers to be these magnificent testaments to human ingenuity – from the minds of the architects who envisioned them to the hands of the workers who made their integrity incarnate. It was all very poetic, etc.

Then my dad died. I was reaching this unbelievable psychic climax when, without warning, my dad was felled in seconds by a faulty heart. I was still hypomanic during the first week or so of grieving my dad, which may be the most surreal thing that’s ever happened to me, if you don’t count psychedelics.

All this weirdness ’cause of some ADHD pills. When I returned to college post-graduation to study more Philosophy, I was put on Adderall, but this time, I was also taking mood stabilizers, so I didn’t have any significant episodes, none that I can readily recall, anyway.

So, it comes up in therapy now and then. The ADHD. My doc will occasionally remind me that I have it by suggesting it may have a minor role to play in such-and-such event/feeling/endeavor. My response is usually along the lines of, “Well, whatever,” and then I just move on. I don’t know exactly how to express the fact that I don’t really care whether or not I have ADHD…except, I guess, by saying that I don’t really care whether or not I have ADHD. But it’s probably fair enough to say that it has me sometimes, as in, by the short hairs but so what? Is it Ok to say “so what?” here? It doesn’t feel especially un-Ok. Plus, ADHD seems to fall into that category of Silver Lining Disorders where people who have it may experience some trouble, like in school maybe, but that trouble is often (sometimes tremendously) offset by the facets of the illness that are fucking great. People with ADHD are often more adventurous and creative than the average bear, and, I’ve been told, more easily think outside the box (sorry…) than their unaffected peers. There’s also a theory that ADHD may be the result of an evolutionary advantage re: hunting vs. farming, essentially making people with ADHD traits better suited to certain scenarios and more prone to hyperfocus, which, when aimed at the right target, can be really fucking fun. Look it up, it’s cool.

So, 1,500 words say that I have an illness about which I don’t really care. But maybe that I’m better than you (I am…on some days, on other days I’m less preferable than hemorrhoids, but this whole parenthetical is pretty typical of what I know and feel about myself as a person with bipolar, not as a person with ADHD). So, long story short, uh, comorbidity is a thing, it can lead you to some weird crossroads and…maybe not all disorders need treatment. I think I’m getting along Ok. The hand I drew doesn’t allow a ton of room for perfect, functional normalcy, so why try to force it? In this case, I insist for myself, that it’s better not to.

-LB

*This doesn’t exist. Humans, with little exception, look ridiculous when we come. That doesn’t make it any less hot, though.

**Yes, that phrasing was intentional, thanks for noticing!

Tagged: ADHD, bipolar disorder, Catholicism, comorbidity, dad, death, drugs, hypomania, masturbation, meds, paranoia, sexuality, side effects, therapy, treatment

The Very Distracting Elephant Has All Of My Attention

I almost never think about this because I kind of don’t really care, but it comes up now and then, at which point I’m forced to think about it, which often leads me to the conclusion that I still don’t really care.

I have ADHD as well as bipolar, which is pretty common. I often forget I have ADHD even though I’ve been diagnosed with it twice and treated for it twice, and I feel like maybe there’s a joke hiding in the fact that I generally don’t remember that I have ADHD. I guess part of it is that my ADHD is really mild and treating it with meds ended up exacerbating my bipolar symptoms a whole lot more than it alleviated my ADHD symptoms, so it’s really not worth it. Most of the time (but not all of the time), the meds you get for ADHD are stimulants, usually methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta) or amphetamine salts (Adderall). I tend to think of these drugs as “legal speed” much the same way that oxycodone is arguably “legal heroin,” because prescription stimulants can be a little intense and cause a person to behave in ways that are similar to their illicit, street-dwelling cousins.

Way back in April, 2006, a few months before she turned 19 and after an inexplicable plummet in academic performance at the beginning of college, Laura’s well-meaning dad brought her to a specialist to get tested for ADHD. Currently, Laura isn’t 100% sure why she’s speaking in the third person, but she’s gonna keep doing it for a sec, so deal. The nice doctor (he really was super nice) prescribed Laura 18mgs of long-acting methylphenidate a day. Upon beginning treatment with the methylphenidate, Laura did not sleep more than 4 hours a night for about 6 weeks (“night” meaning between the hours of 7:00 and 11:00 a.m., after the sun was up). During the day, Laura spent hours and hours playing guitar in her room and doing little else. She…fuck it, I’m done with the third person thing…I couldn’t bring myself to close my eyes while it was still dark out because I was afraid of this or that faceless, gloomy specter, likely a shifting amalgamation of horror movie previews, posters, photos, and fucked up memories. So, I was almost 19 and so afraid of the boogeyman that I kept every light in my room on all night and tried to keep blinking to a minimum. Once the sun came up and I heard my parents moving around the house, I felt Ok to close my eyes and get some sleep, but I still usually kept the lights on. The point is that I got bizarrely paranoid of shit I don’t and didn’t actually believe in (demons, ghosts, the remaining peppery flakes of my gothic-ass Catholic upbringing – side point: I posit that growing up Catholic predisposes nervous people to deeply intense but irrational fears, or at least that’s what happened to me).

So I was getting by on 4 hours of sleep, hyper-focused on creative projects, and immensely paranoid of the dark. It was a weird time. Through those long nights, I watched a lot of shitty romance movies and replayed the sex scenes over and over (bonus points If the DVD had a cache of scenes deleted from the film for being TOO HOT FOR THEATERS!), because, at 18, I had done most of the sex things I was then interested in doing, but not all of the sex things I was interested in doing, and I wanted to make sure my orgasming visage would be the right combination of sexy and cultivated* when said visage would smear itself all over my face.** Pro tip: don’t explore your own sexuality by watching adaptations of Nicholas Sparks books, you won’t have any fun. DO masturbate more.

Shit calmed down a lot after that first 6 weeks, but the paranoia stuck around, kinda shapeshifting. I felt I could sleep with the lights off, but I was convinced people were watching me from their windows when I walked around outside. It should go without saying that by “watching” I also mean “judging” which is a little funny to think about, when I root around in that notion a bit more and realize how important I must’ve felt. I went back to school for my sophomore year of college (which, for like a dozen reasons was a total blast, despite the really bad cockroach problem in my apartment), but over the course of that year, my paranoias got worse. In quiet elevators or train cars, I was never sure if I was talking or thinking, so my brain would go off the rails, whipping up waltzing cyclones of hateful language that I never use in real life, like just to fuck with me. Did I really just call that woman standing next to me a [blank-ity blank blank]??? I would never call a person that! She has to know I don’t think she or anyone is a [nope-ity nope nope]!!! So my solution to this was to bite my lips. Like real hard. ‘Cause if I was chomping down on my lips, I couldn’t be also using them to hurl obscene epithets at elevator strangers, right?

In a moment of clarity, I realized that the shit that was happening to me re: this paranoia nonsense and the things I was doing to cope with it were stupid and making my life needlessly stressful. So I called my doctor and told him I was gonna stop taking the methylphenidate and he said Ok. Fun thing (and my psychiatrist has told me this more than once): sometimes when you stop taking a medication, the side-effects you experienced when you were first taking it that went away after your body adjusted can come back. And mine did SO HARD. I became completely hypomanic (which I didn’t know was a thing at the time). I may have told this anecdote before but for like about 2 weeks, my poor, poor roommates had to deal with my assertion, nay, my insistence that the floor was a trampoline. Thusly, I would often start screaming, “THE FLOOR IS A TRAMPOLINE!” while jumping up and down in the living room (which should’ve scared the roaches at least a little, but totally didn’t, those fuckers are hardy as hell). I was bathed in awe, and the object of my awe was skyscrapers, which was pretty convenient since I live(d) in a major city. I haven’t had a hypomanic episode with that awe component in it for a really long time, but it’s not unusual for a person experiencing mania or hypomania to feel an intense reverence for X thing. People often land on stuff like trees or mountains or bodies of water, but it can really be almost anything. I considered skyscrapers to be these magnificent testaments to human ingenuity – from the minds of the architects who envisioned them to the hands of the workers who made their integrity incarnate. It was all very poetic, etc.

Then my dad died. I was reaching this unbelievable psychic climax when, without warning, my dad was felled in seconds by a faulty heart. I was still hypomanic during the first week or so of grieving my dad, which may be the most surreal thing that’s ever happened to me, if you don’t count psychedelics.

All this weirdness ’cause of some ADHD pills. When I returned to college post-graduation to study more Philosophy, I was put on Adderall, but this time, I was also taking mood stabilizers, so I didn’t have any significant episodes, none that I can readily recall, anyway.

So, it comes up in therapy now and then. The ADHD. My doc will occasionally remind me that I have it by suggesting it may have a minor role to play in such-and-such event/feeling/endeavor. My response is usually along the lines of, “Well, whatever,” and then I just move on. I don’t know exactly how to express the fact that I don’t really care whether or not I have ADHD…except, I guess, by saying that I don’t really care whether or not I have ADHD. But it’s probably fair enough to say that it has me sometimes, as in, by the short hairs but so what? Is it Ok to say “so what?” here? It doesn’t feel especially un-Ok. Plus, ADHD seems to fall into that category of Silver Lining Disorders where people who have it may experience some trouble, like in school maybe, but that trouble is often (sometimes tremendously) offset by the facets of the illness that are fucking great. People with ADHD are often more adventurous and creative than the average bear, and, I’ve been told, more easily think outside the box (sorry…) than their unaffected peers. There’s also a theory that ADHD may be the result of an evolutionary advantage re: hunting vs. farming, essentially making people with ADHD traits better suited to certain scenarios and more prone to hyperfocus, which, when aimed at the right target, can be really fucking fun. Look it up, it’s cool.

So, 1,500 words say that I have an illness about which I don’t really care. But maybe that I’m better than you (I am…on some days, on other days I’m less preferable than hemorrhoids, but this whole parenthetical is pretty typical of what I know and feel about myself as a person with bipolar, not as a person with ADHD). So, long story short, uh, comorbidity is a thing, it can lead you to some weird crossroads and…maybe not all disorders need treatment. I think I’m getting along Ok. The hand I drew doesn’t allow a ton of room for perfect, functional normalcy, so why try to force it? In this case, I insist for myself, that it’s better not to.

-LB

*This doesn’t exist. Humans, with little exception, look ridiculous when we come. That doesn’t make it any less hot, though.

**Yes, that phrasing was intentional, thanks for noticing!

Tagged: ADHD, bipolar disorder, Catholicism, comorbidity, dad, death, drugs, hypomania, masturbation, meds, paranoia, sexuality, side effects, therapy, treatment

Hi. Poe. May. Knee. Uh…

*big loud screeching noise*

*laugh track*

*laugh track*

*honkey tonk guitar lick*

*words words words words words words*

*the sound of my tongue moving in my mouth*

*tasteless lesbian porn*

*laugh track*

*trains, lots of them*

*I can hear my eyeballs slide*

*Ok Ok Ok Ok Ok*

*distant hisses*

*laugh track*

*uh, um, uh*

*lightbulbs popping*

*a belly flop from which I never recover*

 

Theory: I am, in fact, my dad’s kid even more than I thought, which is to say, my natural state is quiet, ponderous, shy, and introverted. The only reason people don’t believe this about me and the reason I don’t always believe it about me is because these traits are squashed by my big, loud, sexy hypomanias. Which means sometimes I don’t live up to myself (?) which, in turn, causes a fair degree of dissonance upstairs ‘specially  when I have to perform Laura when Laura is feeling quiet, ponderous, shy, and introverted.

One Reason To Think This: I’ve been hypomanic for about 2 weeks and it hasn’t been particularly euphoric but hasn’t been irritable either. It’s been creative above all else and it fucking rules. I’ve been reading and writing frenetically and, while I’ve been enjoying other people’s company more comfortably than usual, I’d rather be in my office makin’ shit with my suddenly cartoonishly oversized brain.

Another Reason To Think This: I’ve been super, super good about not drinking and this is probably the first hypomanic episode I’ve had where I haven’t had a single drink, not even once. I’ve had to learn about 9 times (non-hyperbolic) that Laura + hypomania + booze = a noise blasting sex monster that’ll chew your damn ear off. Instead of expending this energy and disinhibition on trying to fuck your girlfriend, I’ve been shoving creative production out of my being with superhuman strength and I’m enjoying it a great deal.

 

What about the eventual fall?

What about it? Fuck you.

 

So I can’t sleep for shit. I’d been self-medicating with weed or NyQuil (or both) until my doc asked me to please stop doing that and prescribed me Sonata. Cool thing: Sonata gives me crazy vivid dreams. The people in my dreams are so lifelike, I’d deem them identical to their IRL forms. I dreamt of my dad the first night. I saw his real face, his real height, his real glasses, and I heard his real voice. I’ve not seen, in any hallucinatory form, my dad so lifelike since he was actually still alive. SO. FUCKING. COOL.

 

What about the eventual fall?

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK you.

 

So, I’m sober, sleeping about 7 hours a night, laughing ’til I get stomach cramps, writing, writing, writing, writing, writing, just diggin’ it, really. I haven’t frightened anyone yet, not even myself. Good. More than good.

FRENETIC. The word has a great mouthfeel and is an entirely apt descriptor. I’m good with it, I’m just good. Barking for a speeding ticket, gesticulating even more than usual, tying together the windblown threads of my savaging ming because there is good stuff up here, and despite alienating people who might be put off by my pace or my presentation, I’m fine. And safe. And diggin’ it. Absolutely.

 

What about the eventual fall?

Not even dignifying that one right now.

-LB

Tagged: alcohol, bipolar disorder, dad, dreams, hypomania, identity, insomnia, marijuana, sexuality, sobriety, the car analogy, writing

Absurdities

I’m working on a writing project – which is the ambiguous name I give to song lyrics, short stories, essays, poems, and attempts at novels, just in case I don’t finish the thing which is almost always. Anyway, the narrator/protagonist of this particular project is starting to take shape and take on dimensions and feel like an approximation of a plausible person, which is what I’m going for. But there’s something missing. My protagonist is not mentally ill. So there’s a challenge here.

The storyline calls for a pretty hefty amount of absurdity, so I think creating a sane character in an absurd setting isn’t, in practice, dramatically different from creating an insane character in a non-absurd setting. I could be wrong about this. I’m excited to find out.

But I’ve been a weirdo all my life and then “weirdo” got stamped with the clinical “bipolar” around age 22, so I kinda question my ability to explore how the average brain works. Maybe I’m just being down on my own abilities and refusing to flex muscles to see if I do indeed have them, I’m kind of negative. At any rate, and I’ve said this before, probably out loud and probably here, I assume that the average brain is a dull space. I assume things happen methodically and I assume the average brain doesn’t tend to question whether or not to pathologize this or that emotion upon feeling it. ‘Course, the thing about average is that it’s a pretty blurry figure. Everyone’s bizarre on their own right, regardless of mental illness. My narrator doesn’t have to be sick to be weird.

‘Cause of course (s)he’s gonna be weird.

So, I guess, in the context of simple daily functioning, how does my thinking and behavior differ from someone who doesn’t have bipolar? Not in the broad overall sense, but more like, what am I thinking as I board the bus vs. the person behind me? I’m hyperaware of how I situate myself in my surroundings. I don’t just take a seat. I often feel watched and very occasionally judged. I have a very hard time sitting still. I have mildly dissociative fantasies to kill the boredom, it’s one of the reasons I’m almost never bored. And then there’s the disentangling of bipolar traits from simple Laura traits, and just believe me, 8 years of therapy will make that hard for anyone. If I explore something long enough, the detail seems infinitesimal.

Maybe I’m in a unique position here, ’cause most often, to me, the world feels absurd and arbitrary. I can totally work with absurd and arbitrary. They’re my vernacular.

Boiling this all down, I guess I’m questioning whether I can craft an imaginary person who responds as reasonably to a situation as is required when I don’t know if I could pull that off myself. Also, y’know, people have done this shit for as long as storytelling has existed so the more I think about this and the more I write about it, the more I’m sort of seeing that this is really an issue with me and my self-doubt. Despite my history of candor here, I actually have a super hard time sharing my creative work, even with close friends because I fret over details, I fret over how they’ll interpret it, I fret over its general likability. Sometimes, I wish I had a proxy who could assume all credit for whatever work I do and I can just enjoy the work (except when I backtrack on that if the work is received positively and I want my props, because of course I do).

Anyhowl, I guess all this explains my sporadic presence here and…my absences to come…sorry…really. BUT! BUT! A couple weeks ago was Casual Bedlam’s first birthday. This baby is a year old! And I’m still writing about about my poop, just like the inaugural post. Poop, one of the greater equalizers. It’s kind of out of character for me to do something for an entire year, so this is a proud moment for me. CB is not my first or second bipolar blog. Some of the early few died before the first post ’cause I couldn’t settle on a font or a background color or some shit. You guys, you guys, I did a thing. I don’t get to say that a whole lot. I get the chance to feel proud of it even less often. So, ending on a high note: Happy belated birthday, Casual Bedlam, here’s to many more!

-LB

Tagged: absurdity, bipolar disorder, creativity, daily life, mental illness, poop, therapy, writing