Tag Archives: counting blessings

Or Maybe a Cold…

Well, I’m feeling a bit better this week than I was this time last week. Which is sort of funny, seeing how I’ve a flu shot between then and now, ha ha. But I also was surprised with a bit of extra sleep, which seems to have gone a long way towards making me feel human.

Having said that, I am working to make peace with the fact that I’m not going to get a break from chronic fatigue this postpartum. I didn’t get a break from it during the pregnancy, and now… sigh. I’ve had spots lately where I’ve had both brain fog from meds and from the chronic fatigue, and that makes me feel worse than worse. And since the med fog is lasting clear into afternoon… eesh. Even now, here after 2pm, I’m still feeling a bit muddled. Heh, I guess I contradicted the above paragraph a bit, sort of. Well, I guess it’s better in some ways, and worse in others, and overall just a smidge better. I figure that makes sense to the Bipolaratti a bit more than those lucky healthy folk how it can be both at once, ha ha.

But ah well. I am mainly happy, and feeling creative enough to do things (and not just to keep the other blog afloat, honest!). So I guess we can say that it’s good enough.


So You’re Bipolar, and You Want to Have a Baby

One of my friends asked a few weeks ago if I would potentially be able to give a friend of hers pointers on surviving bipolar and pregnancy at the same time. While I never heard from the second degree individual, it’s been on my mind a fair bit. And then, what came across my Twitter feed? Why, it’s a pamphlet on just that subject from Bipolar UK!

Bipolar Disorder, Pregnancy, and Childbirth

The long and the short is, and the same as I would have told my friend’s friend — it’s an absolute and utter crapshoot. There is no magic bullet, and if anything, it’s accepting that things are likely to be a lot worse for awhile. You could be a perfectly mentally sound person and end up having a horrible time, because hrm… oh. You’re carrying a parasite, and your hormones are waaay over the place.

For me, my first pregnancy was pretty easy on the whole. I had the usual array of weird physical pains, but my mood was remarkably stable as compared to ‘normal’. The afters, however… I am not sure that I went as far as postpartum psychosis (which, I know now, is a 1 in 4 shot for a bipolar woman rather than less than 1 in 1,000 births), or ‘merely’ postpartum depression atop ‘normal’ depression… which is also a 1 in 4 chance for a bipolar woman, meaning that 50%~ of bipolar women have issues. Eeep.

It was that after that finally pushed me into getting some help. You see, I grew up in the States in an environment that reinforced that I was apparently making up any and all health concerns I had. There is also a vast amount of stigma, which as those of us with diagnoses know, discourages anyone from finding out that they’re ‘wrong’ or ‘dangerous’ or whatever buzzword is used to keep us quiet as a lot. I had been in a job where I would have lost my job had I had a mental illness; I know this is a common complaint, but it was doubly scary for those of us working military intelligence. Everything was stacked against me, to include my own biases, which meant I had to hit the bottom of rock bottom’s bottommost bottom to finally ask for help.

Worth it? Absolutely.

Worth it? Absolutely. For me, that is. Your values may vary!

If you’ve been here for awhile, you know that worked out well, and I responded well to medication. We got things tweaked to something that seemed to mainly work, and then I had to throw the works into it and get pregnant again. Mind, this was done intentionally, and my psychiatry team were duly informed. I had good care from both them and the maternal psychiatry team, and honestly? I don’t think I would have risked it if the first time around hadn’t been so good. My mood wasn’t as stable this time around; I had a bad spell of depression in the March/April time frame, which made me question the wisdom of coming off of my meds. I pulled through by being able to be honest to myself, but had I not had a need for home birth due to anxiety issues, I probably would have stayed on my meds. Thankfully, we don’t intend to have any more children, so I shouldn’t have to worry about that choice again.

Pregnancy is a hard enough time filled with all sorts of decisions for anyone going through it. There is less to do with right or wrong, but rather, what is best for each individual going through the time and after. If it’s something that is important to you as an individual and you have a mental illness, then do make sure to have a care plan. Do make sure to work with your doctors and psychiatrists if you are fortunate enough to have such. Growing up in the States meant I was one of the many without much in the way of appreciable health care, so I can appreciate not everyone has access to the care they need. But don’t think you should deny yourself parenthood because you’re mentally ill. You’re just as ‘worthy’ of parenthood as anyone else.


The Big Move

Allo folks!

Hopefully people have realized that I’ve moved domain. I didn’t get to do it as cleanly as I wanted to because… heh… I sort of accidentally decimated the back end on the old domain and couldn’t get it ticking over again. The upshot is that it did make me get off my arse and get this set up and shinified, so hooray for that. I’d said to myself when I changed the name of the blog to The Scarlet B that I would move it to this domain as soon as it became available. I didn’t; I dithered for a few months before finally scooping it up. But now it’s mine all mine, hee hee.

Of course, this all comes with a huge side of ire and no patience. Thankfully, my big girl was at holiday club most of the day, and the little one was quietly dozing. I’d gotten most of it done before I had to get Lilbit from the aforementioned, but you know how it is — there’s always tiny loose ends nagging at the brain, making the anxiety screw up in to a fevered pitch. It also doesn’t help that the internet here is waaaay slower than at our old place; the upload speed is practically non-existent. We’ll reputedly have faster, ‘better’ internet by the end of the year… but we’ll see.

I feel like I’ve been sleeping too deeply lately. Like, deep sleep is good on the surface (*rimshot*), but it takes a while to claw out of, and comes with a heavy dusting of dream residue for hours after. With that spot of delusion the other week, I’m wary a bit. I’ve not had anything like that since, but those of us with serious mental illnesses know how it goes — gotta watch and evaluate everything to the n-millionth degree. Not that it stops anything from happening, but yanno, at least you can say as everything catches on fire, ‘Yup, I noticed that thing that wasn’t going so well.’

It’s still mainly good though. The novelty of having a new house hasn’t worn off yet, and I find myself baking and cleaning and keeping things organized. Or perhaps it’s that it’s finally, properly home. Our home, ‘designed’ by us to suit us. I’m not sure it’s a sensation I’ve actually ever encountered before with all the moving I’ve done previously. And while I loved our old place, we both knew that it would not be our final destination. So we didn’t really do anything but occupy the space. Plus yanno… space to craft and bake. Bliss. I suspect I will soon be littering the counter with rising bread, ha ha.

Anyways, hopefully the move didn’t lose too many of y’all, and well, I’ll hopefully see everyone when I manage to make the blog rounds!


It’s Quite Okay

After my ‘scare’ of the other day, it was a big relief that the pressure of the false memory/dream/whatever faded fairly quickly after taking that little extra bit of Seroquel. And it didn’t come back, so perhaps the combination of upping my meds on the spot and talking it out neutralized it. I find that talking/blogging about things like that rob them of their dark powers over me. After all, if I expose it for false instead of letting it lie to me and make me hide in its gloom… :)

Still, I always worry a little bit that something will crop up that I cannot beat down. It took me a long time to get to a point where I tried to fight down anything, and once I started winning against some of my brain’s tricks, I was worried that it would find new and worse ways to catch me out. The devil you know, you know? My brain trying to convince me that I was formerly married is definitely a new one, and as said — it was a fairly disturbing thing for my brain to crap up. But I have to remind myself that I am still pretty freshly postpartum; time might be ticking along splendidly, Littlerbit is only just two months old. My hormones and everything are still pretty shaken up, even if I am feeling mainly fine. So that doesn’t necessarily mean that such delusions are likely to be the state of scumbag brain play normally. I’m hoping at least, and hope doth spring eternal.

For what it’s worth, my brain has been working delightfully lately. For example, I’ve made some breakthroughs on my knitting abilities. In this week, I’ve figured out cabling, knitting in the round, and how to actually use stitch markers. I’m so chuffed — it opens up the world of knitting quite a bit wider. And, being left-handed, all my learning is hard-earned, as there is very little useful tutelage online for us sinister sorts. Between that and latent anxiety, my knitting skills have been especially hard won. But it’s so good for keeping my brain quiet in addition to writing and gaming, so hooray for being able to do it more better, ha ha.


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The Sound of Settling

Howdy from the new house!


Home is where the desk is!

Yes, we’re mainly moved now, which is yay. There’s still lots of unpacking to do, but at least the most important (to me) thing is done — my Technonest is rebuilt. It’s not the same configuration as before (as the space is different, for starters), but there’s a lot of storage for my wool and craft gear, and I get a great view of most of the downstairs from where I’m sitting. It’s *my* space for me, and it’s badass.

Suffices to say, this has eaten up the bulk of my attention lately. Emails? Yeah, I’m a few months behind on those now. Work? Well, got close to caught up before we had to focus on packing, so that isn’t dire. Crafting? Well, I fished my knitting out and have done a few rows, so that’s starting to progress again. Which is to say, things are finally starting to settle after being one helluva busy first half of the year.

And with that, I’m trying to take stock of my mood. I think I’m okay, but I’m also worried that I’m trending towards hypomania, or maybe a mixed episode. Even with Seroquel, my sleep has been a bit fractured and insomniatic. That could also be the horrible weather here in the UK; I’ve not been able to sleep under a proper blanket most of this year, and the lack of that comforting weight is sort of a big deal for me. I got to last night for the first time in weeks, and I slept a lot more deeply and remembered my weird-ass dreams. I’m also wary because some nights it seems like the soporific effects of the Seroquel never kick in, but who knows. It’s all a bit of a crapshoot!

I was reminded this past week by a friend that we sometimes are not the best witness to our bipolar experience. She had commented that at a certain point, she had thought she was very stable and doing well. On reflection some time later, she realized just how badly she had been doing. In that, I asked my husband today how he felt my relative mood was. He expressed that he felt I was pretty normal, as relative as that is, though pointed out that I do get a bit poker faced and lost in my own head. Fair enough; it’s a bit of a coping mechanism for when my brain gets away from me. And I’m probably doing it a touch more because as wonderful as the new house and my new setup is, as comfortable as it feels from the get-go, it’s still a new environment that I have to get used to. But on the whole, yay. I’m happy, I’m relaxed, and life is good, and the familia out here agrees that I am.

Back to trying to remember what the heck I was gonna do with myself today, ha ha.


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Somewhat Attenuated

Of all the toys, Mommy's sock is the bestest.

Of all the toys, Mommy’s sock is the bestest.

Allo allo from the land of… something… something. Yeah, I don’t even know right now, ha ha.

Things continue to stay afloat, for which I am grateful. I’m especially grateful because I am having the worst luck with taking my Seroquel at night. If I take it around 8 or 9, it punches me out in a few minutes. If I take it any later, it doesn’t kick in for a few hours, and then I wake up even groggier in the morning. There’s going to be some amount of groggy just because, yanno, I don’t get on with mornings, but there you go.

Still, there are good things to note amongst the spots of bad. This morning, I caught myself feeling very self-pitying and abrasive because of stupid things, like forgetting to do the dishes last night and wanting to blame every one in the house for this apparently heinous oversight. My dear husband had also left a bit of rubbish in the bathroom that my brain decided was ire-inducing as well, and I just… powderkeg much? Except it wasn’t. Somehow. I told my husband the things I was cranky about and that I loved him and valued him, and felt like I’d managed to healthily emote my ire without trying to take everyone in range down with me.

A Tiny Dress for a Tiny Daughter

A Tiny Dress for a Tiny Daughter

Still, I’m wary of my state of being, and am doing my best to keep myself occupied. Whether it be work, or Minecraft (which I am currently calling my second job), or knitting — I am doing my best to keep my hands busy. I am not completely sure that my brain is behaving right now, you know? The Seroquel does a splending job of quashing most of the intrusive thoughts, but a few are getting through. It might be that I will need to ask my psychiatrist to up my dose, but I am not quite to that point yet.

And I do have another biggun to keep my brain occupied — moving day is finally night! The rest of the carpet goes down oxt Thursday, and the removal men are booked for the week after that. That should give the paint time to dry and air out too, so much excitement in the land. Well, until I have to start cramming things into boxes and sorting them out, ha ha. But I have a lot of experience with it, so it won’t be that big of a deal once I get going.

But we’ll see! I’m just taking it one day at a time for now, and doing my best to be grateful for how good things are. :)


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The Busy Bee

Hello, lovely readers!

Funny how time slides by when you’re actually able to live in the moment. I have been, and demonstrated this to myself by taking over two weeks to respond to an email to my grandmother… whups. But can you blame me? I’m actually feeling decent, I’ve got an adorable pair of children, and yanno… happy. Scary that.

This is my room. It is cooler than your room. *nodnods*

This is my room. It is cooler than your room. *nodnods*

I’ve also had another big thing going on in the background the last couple of months — we’re moving house. A house came onto the market in February that we just had to put a bid in on… and we got it. We closed on it in May, and there’s been extensive renovations going on since then. But we’re getting near to the point where we can finally start packing things up and moving in — bliss. The heating and wiring were 50 years old, you see; both of these things had to be replaced. And then we decided that yeah, we were going to have to buckle down and get some decorating done. We never did with this place because really? We were already living here, and could not be bothered. We also knew that we wouldn’t be living here permanently, so outside of doing a bit of reparative panting on rusty bits of a few radiators and replacing the bathroom carpet with laminate, we’ve not done a thing. This place, on the other hand… we’re pretty sure this is our forever home. So we’re prettying it up and making it ours, and we’re all rather excited.

Too much cuteness <3

Too much cuteness <3

It’s also sort of exciting to me to know that I am finally done moving. I’m not sure quite how many times I’ve moved… twenty, at least. And living in this house is the second longest I’ve lived anywhere by a few months. Yeah, I know, a grand total of seven years in two locations; the longest after that was my apartment in San Antonio. When I was in the military. Yeah, let that sink in.

So yeah, lots of moves, very few blameable on the military, and just knowing that I am going to be settled in situ ‘forever’ is wonderful. I’m so excited that my children will have that stability, and that they will go to the same school(s) as their father. Maybe they’ll resent such a placid existence when they’re older, but whatever; on this, Mother knows best, and this is the best for my babies. Their risk of bipolar aside, stability is definitely something to cherish. We don’t build houses on rolling logs; we build them on solid slabs of concrete. Even the most adventurous want a good home base to return to, right? :D

As for me, I’m holding up pretty darn well. Mornings are hard, but older child permitting, I’ll hopefully manage to get a bit of me-time to wake up before she gets out of bed. I think that will help me hold up a bit more firmly in the face of the morningtime zombietude that Seroquel so lovingly grants (which I’ve mainly got contained, but it’s still a bit rough). I’m doing my best to be mindful of the probability of postpartum depression atop bipolar; while I certainly hope that it won’t happen, I’m choosing to be realistic about the chances of it happening. There are little spikes of depression and anxiety here and there, but they are mainly momentary and so far of no actual concern. As said — I’m mainly keeping busy, and happily so. I feel like a real girl with the helping around the house and actually being able to pay attention to my children, le gasp!

So yes, doing well, and I hope everyone else is doing as well as possible out there.


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The Warning Signs

warning_pageThis week has been a bit rough, I have to admit. While I am still feeling mainly optimistic and cheerful, I’ve hit a few walls this week where I had to break down and cry from stress and frustration. I know that this is probably a normal healthy new parent thing, but. BUT. I know the spectre of postpartum depression and psychosis, and I am not going to let it shaft me if I can help it. And the best way to avoid that is to be completely honest with myself about feeling frazzled and worn and upset.

Still, that doesn’t make me any more able to handle the drain from getting that sort of upset; while an incident this week was well resolved (a communication mishap between my husband and my crap-at-listening self), it left me feeling really run down the rest of the day.

And, because lulzirony, it was the morning of my first postpartum psych appointment! I think I’m finally set up with my new main psychiatrist, which is yay. My primary fellow retired to write and do conferences and stuff back in December, and while I’ve been seeing a fairly nice lady, she seemed a bit alarmed dealing with me. Not so the new lady, Dr. K! She caught a big thing that makes some of the doctors nervous — do I always speak that fast? I chuckled, and pointed out that the boss doctor loves to use me for students, because American and Italians (there’s a high Italian population locally) speak a lot faster than the average Brit. I know the first person who diagnosed me as bipolar before all my paperwork vanished thought I was manic because of how quickly I spoke, ha ha. So that Dr. K thought to ask that question pleased me. She also made sure I took note of her name (I’m TERRIBLE at remembering doctors’ names), and that if I felt I needed to up my dose(s), to call her asap to get things adjusted.

I also told her that I was going to restart my Zoloft. She was a bit hemming and hawing because I haven’t had any particular depressive episodes yet, but she also concurred that it was prudent to not let postpartum depression or the risk of psychosis get to me first. My husband felt it was especially prudent and said so. I take him to all my appointments to give that near, but outside point of view on my behavior. He feels very strongly that while the Seroquel went a long step, the Zoloft shored me up in a very useful-functional way, and that me going back on sooner rather than later was ideal. We’ll see. Hopefully, we’ll see continued cheer and functionality rather than some of the nastiest, soul-sucking depression a person can ever see (seriously, it’s extra bad).

I also understand that yes, it’s completely normal to be super-frazzled with a new baby. I’m not diving after pills because new parenting is ‘too hard’. I figure that I have tools at hand that can lower the difficulty level and keep me on an evener keel, and I would be foolish to deny myself ‘just ’cause’. Every day, we be doin’ Baby Science™®, and are learning to better understand Littlerbit, and that’s coming along wonderfully. :D


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Ask Me No More Questions (Tell Me No More Lies)

Allo from the land of… something… something. Dudes and Dudelettes, my brain has been converted to pure fluff, ha ha. But we continue to do fairly well on the whole. Having a baby in the house is tiring and stressful and my husband and I have both hit the point of frustrated sobbing, but yanno… par for the course. And honestly, it’s probably better than we CAN admit that we’re frustrated in such a way, ’cause it enables us to support each other better. And maybe, someday, we’ll understand Baby and be able to translate what each cry of complaint is, ha ha (unless it’s just crying for the sake of crying, which dear deity above is extra stressful!). But at least I’m getting good sleep compliments of the Seroquel, and depending on what my psychiatrist thinks when I see him/her later this week (not sure which one I’ll be seeing), I suspect I’ll get the Zoloft rolling again shortly too.

One thing that’s really stood out since the last entry though, in the realm of mental resilience, is tangential to the snippet of nursery rhyme I used for the title. You see, I abhor advice. I hate asking for it, I hate receiving it, and it frankly terrified me. Yes, past tense; I’ve figured out assorted chunks of why it was so problematic in this past couple of months. And yeah, ties into the abusive/narcissistic parent thing, quelle surprise. When one grows up being treated like they’re too stupid to live on their own (and has that reinforced in adulthood via parental bullying and their flying monkeys), ‘well-meaning’ help from people feels the same as the abuse laid down as a foundation for that premise. And really, what the hell yo. I know the bipolar triggered somewhere between 12 and 17 (I had to add a few more years to the front due to OCD things that started popping up that young), and that I made it into my 30s without going to jail, getting fired, or any other number of bad things that could have happened, especially with the total lack of support network I had. Oh sure, I had friends, good friends, but I was in such an isolated place before moving to the UK that I couldn’t really make use of what I had to me.

As a tester, I made myself ask for some advice on things. The one that comes to mind was a silly game-related question, but I couldn’t find a good answer and figured it was worth risking a chunk of my sanity to find out (and also, because it was innocuous enough to not require lots of pile-on follow-up). Not only did I get the answer I required, I had a good conversation with friends and was able to see their further suggestions related to the core subject (Minecraft) without utterly flipping my shit. This is big, ha ha. I’m not sure I’ll ever be happy with purely unsolicited advice, but I think I might be moving to a place where my natural response to it is not an abusive one. I own that — even if I have no desire to beat down my friends, my natural developed defense mechanism honed by that less-than-ideal growing up situation wasn’t a good one. And realizing this after reading a piece last summer about the isolating effects of having been abused, and unintentionally repeating it and wondering why nobody wanted to hang out with you, was definitely part of the unravelling to where I am today. I’d link the article, but I apparently misplaced it — boo! It was really useful though.

So yeah… as said, things are good, and getting better every day. For now though, I need more caffeine. xD


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The First Week (Like Night and Day)

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Lilbit entertaining Littlerbit

We did it, folks! We survived the first week of newborn yet again. Send more caffeine, quick, ha ha.

Really though, it’s been a good week all in all. Nights are hard of course, but my husband has been handling most of that and letting me sleep. Oh deity, glorious sleep it has been; the return to Seroquel has indeed been like being KO’d by the Zzzles Faerie. Bliss. And I have found that I CAN wake up and help if need be, so that’s been useful as well. It also led to an hilarious (to me) dream wherein I threatened to kill myself if I wasn’t permitted to get more sleep. Which is to say — I am ecstatic that I am in a healthy enough mental state that my brain doesn’t feel bullied into staying quiet about its distress, and thereby permitted me to get a whine out in a healthy fashion. It’s a silly/strange thing to be amused and pleased by, I grant you, but I reckon that unless you were subject to constant denial of the validity if your emotions, you’d not particularly understand. And really, that’s awesome; I am quite happy that most people cannot empathise with some of the stickier parts of my growing up life and times.

As of last night, I am back up to my therapeutic dose dose of Seroquel, being 400mg. I’m suppose to take it as 200mg twice daily, and compliments of my GP, I’ve got the script set for extended release. I need to figure out the best times to take it to get the most of the knock-out effect, while insuring a minimal of morning zombie-tude. I saw someone somewhere suggest taking the doses at night, but staggered (like, one at 5pm, and the other at 9 or 10pm//an hour before bedtime). This is what I am likely to try tonight, though I might try morning and night tomorrow. If any of you out there have suggestions, I would love to hear them.

I’m still intending to hold off on the Zoloft until after I after I see my psychiatrist, but as that is next week, it’s not a long slog. I know it will take a month or so to kick back in, hence reason to delay it — while I am mainly holding up right now, I’m not in a rush for that month of feeling mega-weird while dealing with something as engulfing as a newborn. But that is balanced against a very real concern with postpartum depression and/or psychosis, and wanting to give the Seroquel time to do its initial brain rewiring, and and and… definitely better to consult on timelines, hee hee. I’m certainly not for dropping it, as it very much helps bring up the lower ends of my mood atop the Seroquel foundation.

So really, I can’t complain overmuch. Yes, I am tired. Yes, I am still rather sore and I miss having full usage of my arms (I need to see if I can find the one baby wrap we have). But it’s like night and day as compared to the first week(s)/month(s) with Lilbit. I am happy. I am enjoying myself. I can admit that I don’t feel great through and through, but at least my hurts aren’t a soul-destroying black pit of disquiet agony.



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