Tag Archives: me

Hrmph, Postponed!

I received a call yesterday to let me know that the doctor was ill and that I needed to reschedule. So now I’m in to see her next week. I’m less annoyed by this than I thought I would be… and less relieved, too. I tend to work myself up to the point of vomiting when it comes to physical health appointments, though that’s improved somewhat lately!

Also, of course, there’s the prepwork involved. I’m only just learning how to be a patient since moving to the UK; I grew up with pretty much no healthcare whatsoever, and there’s only so much you can confess to in the military without fear of med boarding. But I’ve learned from my mental health stuff that it does benefit me to have extensive notes and thoughts and my theories on why X is Y. Which is to say, it’s gone over well with my mental health stuff, so hopefully it’ll apply to my physical stuff as well.

There was also the epiphany I had this morning on me and getting my physical health looked at. You see, somewhere I absorbed that I was healthy (I wasn’t), that I emphatically was not permitted to ask for anything, and that I was supposed to be massively grateful for whatever crumbs washed up my way. And I commented to my husband, and he concurred — this is why I go in for physical health things and then self-sabotage. I go in and then demur, and it’s like… why self, why. I’m going in because I really want help, so. I grew up being told my health was fine, that I was healthy, that any time I tried to ask for help with illness, I’d have an n-parent deciding they had to one up me to shut me up (which meant no help). Lulz narcissists? Yarp.

But anyways, this realisation is a good one, because it means that I am probably going to do a lot better job self-advocating for care. I wrote a nice, concise letter yesterday to give to the doctor today (now next week) that outlines the greater picture, as well as the three specific things I am looking to be referred to in the appointment. I’m still not completely sure I’ve got the how to be a patient thing down (and there seems to be a dearth of guidance online), but at least I’m feeling a teense more optimistic? We’ll see how it goes next week.

As for brain stuff… eh, it goes. I’ve been having a harder time getting to sleep again in spite of the Seroquel, which is annoying. Like, it shouldn’t take me two hours of reading to nod off. And I know, some people are itchin’ to say you shouldn’t read in bed because some stupid magazine said X or Y, but I’ve been using it to fight insomnia since I was 5, so I know it’s what works for me. ;D And because I can’t read long stretches of text off of screens, I read from books, so none of that light/screen issue that seems to come up even more than ‘wah, don’t read in bed’. I’m hoping it’s just a random rough patch and it’ll smooth out, but we’ll see. No idea when I next see the psychologist, but if I had to guess, it’ll probably be March. I don’t foresee any issues between now and then, but y’all know the deal — bipolar requires eternal vigilance.

Hope everyone is doing well out there.

<3

 

to answer a mockingbird

Because this.

1. If I was standing at the top of a hillside, alone, and I wanted to shout until my throat hurt, what would I shout?

I love you. It’s the one thing that should be said more (eros, agape and all their little friends). Well, that or take your damn meds. Maybe they’re the same thing.

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2. If faced with a situation that made me uncomfortable emotionally, would I stand my ground or run?

If I (take the time to) think, I generally want to run. I don’t run though. I stand my ground, sometimes very unwisely, because the worse I feel, the calmer I get and ultimately, the more cruelly I behave. Not good. You know how it goes right? You start off bulletproof … and then it’s some kind of cruddy cocktail of shame, regret, contrition. I loathe conflict. I am very, very bad at dealing with it without breaking my nose and heart. Taking on conflict to stand up for someone I care about doesn’t cause me any emotional discomfort until I’m thigh deep in corpses.

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3. If I was a social butterfly and I could walk uninhibited into any place and do anything – what would that people and those things be. Have a gas? A quiet coffee? A dancing marathon? What? With who? Why?

Oh boy. I can … it takes hypomania or mania for the full butterfly effect and depending on the position on that *expletive deleted* spectrum, it could start with me monopolising the conversation and end with me attempting to rule the world. Bulletproof again … total *tons more expletives deleted* charmer (in my own mind), anything goes, anything is possible till

it

all

comes

crashing

down.

Social butterfly? I’m a social airforce. With anyone, everyone, because suddenly I’m *seriously it’s better these expletives are deleted* twinkletoes the tapdancing terrorist twins on speed.

Note to self:

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I don’t often think, but when I think, I overthink.

Mental Illness an Alcohol

From the moment I was first diagnosed bipolar, I did extensive research on the disorder. Knowledge is power and all. A common behavior with mental illness, bipolar, depression, and anxiety specifically, is the use of alcohol. Self medication.
Shrinks will tell you, don’t drink, bad for you, bad mix with meds, worsens depression…And they’re not wrong.
What none of them seem smart enough to figure out is, would a person drink if their meds did as good a job as the pharma companies claim?

I was a late bloomer, as far as alcohol is concerned. My dad used to give me sips of his beer when I was nine, ten years old. It wasn’t some mystical taboo for me. In fact, I still loathe the taste of beer. Drinking was just never a huge thing for me as a teenager when everyone else is experimenting and going off the rails. There were a couple of epic benders, but for the most part…No.
I turned 21 and still…Booze did not appeal. I was on 3mg of Xanax a day so my anxiety never really kicked my ass.

Over the years as my doctors have gone through the local mental health care revolving doors of serving two years and fleeing…They’ve lowered my Xanax. And since then, for the last ten years or so, my drinking has been sporadic but when stressed to the max…It’s a crutch. At times, it’s two crutches. It never helps the moods or depressions. It does slow the thoughts down, quiet the swirl of emotions, and provide a relaxed numb no medication can.
I have tried to explain this to the doctors.
Bam. Instant “alcoholic” label.
I dispute this whole heartedly because at one low point, I actually called the local rehab center and spoke with a professional substance abuse counselor. I described my symptoms, when I drank, how I’d go months, years, without a drop…How I could buy booze and not touch it if I wasn’t anxiety ridden…
And she told me I didn’t belong in rehab because I don’t have an an addiction, I had a behavior problem. I get stressed, I drink. I have anxiety, I drink. There are times I don’t drink and have no desire to.
I’m not in the bathroom pouring mouthwash down my throat trying to get a buzz. I’m not at the liquor store sticking bottles in coat pockets.
When I drink, it’s because I choose to. Not because I have to. Not because I crave the alcohol itself.
And I don’t go in thinking that bottle/can whatever is going to solve my problems.
I do know it will quiet my mind and buzzing nerves and that is what I crave.

So if a rehab counselor can figure that out, why can’t a so called mental health professional?

So many mentally ill people get wrongly labeled as “alcoholic” or “substance abusing”. I find it irritating and a little libelous.
If someone has chronic back pain, and they take a painkiller so they can focus on life rather than being in pain, does it make them an addict?
Well, I don’t see it being any different if someone who is in psychological pain decides to have a drink (or ten) when the pain gets to be too much.
Oh, my doctors have told me time and again, that’s abuser mentality, refusal to admit a problem, self justifications.
It’s crap.
I know someone who is a fine upstanding member of society, church deacon, owns his own business, everyone loves him…But he literally cannot go one day without beer. And I don’t mean a can or two. I mean three, four, five, six tall boys a night. And he’s been doing it since he was in his teens. To me, that’s functional alcoholism.
Because no matter how bad my mental crap gets, I can’t drink 7 nights a week. At some point, the thought of alcohol repulses me. I don’t like being altered. Sometimes, altered is better than batshit paranoid and nervous, though.

I just find it almost comical that someone who is socially acceptable can drink 365 days a year and it’s just who he is, ha ha, him and his beer.
But if you have a mental illness and drink a few nights a month…You have an addiction.

I have a behavioral issue that stems from my anxiety. Booze does fuck all for moods or depression. But when the prescribed meds fail to ease you into a place where you can manage your anxieties…That alcohol numb seems like a mirage in the dessert. And perhaps that’s exactly what it is. A mirage. Non existent.
But with mental illness, sometimes it really is just a matter of “whatever will get me through this day”.

I reject the notion that I have an addiction to any substance. I have an additive personality, true. I can’t have one of anything, I have five computers, working on a sixth. I can’t own one lipstick, I own thirty. One purse? Ha, try twenty. I’m a hoarder of sorts with possessions.
But as far as booze or drugs go, prescribed or otherwise…My problem is behavioral.
I take Tylenol when I am in so much discomfort, I can’t focus.
I take cough syrup when I’m sore from hacking up a lung.
I take Xanax when I am getting edgy and cranky from anxiety.
And when my mind spins and I get to that place where every muscle is knotted with tension and I think even the cats are plotting against me…
I have a drink.
I may have ten.
I may take one sip and stick it in the fridge for weeks.

I’m sick of having to feel bad about it. People party every weekend and get shit faced drunk and they’re “having fun”.
I have some booze when I’ve clawed my arms from nerve induced hives and I have a problem?
Fuck the professionals.
There’s one thing all their education and degrees can’t make them an authority on.

Actually having a mental illness.
You can’t judge until you’ve walked in those shoes.

Not everyone who chooses to have a drink or two or ten…is abusing alcohol. Sometimes, it’s a buoy in a sea of anxiety to cling to.
And then life goes on and alcohol isn’t at the center.


Lone

Have you ever walked barefoot on a tarmac road on a summer night? Make it a long, straight, flat road, with no streetlights, no moon. The road isn’t comfortable or uncomfortable, it just is what it is. No scenery to look at, because it’s dark.

My nights are walks along that road.

That’s enough of that metaphor.

Lithi-no-yum and the Downward Spiral

She lived in her head and that’s why it glowed.
Miriam Toews – A Complicated Kindness

Lithium tastes like shit. More lithium tastes like more shit. I googled to see if anyone had managed to describe it accurately, but couldn’t find anything beyond sour, salt, almost metallic. When I started on it, a friend with some experience told me, you might want to buy less food and more toilet paper for a while. That one didn’t happen till 1000mg and it happened the night I was also barfing my lungs out. I’ve hit depression harder lately, a kind of panicky one. I’ve got to grab more blood forms from the shrink’s rooms, I’ll check when my October appointment is then. Things don’t feel right, like I’m fraying at the edges.

There is good news. I did an editing job and got told I’d done a good job. With the amount of words I’ve been losing lately, I’m relieved. It was only 40 pages, got 136 pages next and then dead quiet again.

Last coupla days I’ve been side-eyeing the life hurts too much zone yet again. I keep wrapping my arms round my dogs so I remember my deal with myself. That is no threat btw, I’m just tracking everything. If I had that fantasy personal shrink I’d be nagging them to tell me how long this is supposed to last. Ah I’ll be honest, I’d be screeching for more pills.

Blah blah blah.

Being seasick at sea is not the same as being homesick at home.
Miriam Toews

OCD and Self-Diagnosis

One of the rather annoying things with Bipolar is that it comorbid with any number of other mental illnesses. I refer to these as the Uncaring Cousins, ’cause hey, child of the 80s who loved the Care Bears and Care Cousins. Common comorbidities include ADHD, OCD, panic and anxiety disorders, and all sorts of other things. Myself, I very much have OCD, ADHD, and anxiety issues to deal with… not that anyone has ever officially diagnosed those.

I’m sure some people snort and roll their eyes at that and mutter under their breath about special snowflakes. Okay, but here’s the thing. Mentally ill people, as part of their treatment regime, are highly recommended to track the ever-loving shit out of mood, actions and patterns of behaviors. We often have to be our own advocates, and in that, we are paying attention to things and gasp, become rather expert in our own situations. I’ve read enough about OCD and ADHD from blogs, articles, and medical papers to know that I have both of these things without an official diagnosis. And really, diagnosis is not an exact science. There is no blood test for these things — psychiatrists are having to take what we can tell them and make an educated guess based on *gasp* observation and guidelines. Me, being the expert on me, can similarly make an educated guess, and likewise have had to present this and my main diagnosis as a theory based on my own observations for a professional to basically sign off on.

Mind, the head psychiatrist at my hospital has expressed repeatedly that he wants me to focus on treating the bipolar first. This is fair enough, especially since the OCD isn’t exactly treatable by anything past what we’re already doing (medication would be antidepressants, which I’m already on). The ADHD is the annoying-to-me booger. The NHS doesn’t like to admit that adults have ADHD, and as I was not diagnosed as a child, I’ve not had any luck getting diagnosed — I did managed to get a referral for such, but it got shot down above my doctors’ heads.

I want this in my face so bad. :s

Even if I DID have that diagnosis, there is no guarantee I could get meds/treatment for it. One of my best friends WAS diagnosed as a child before immigrating to the UK, and even with that diagnosis in hand, her GP can’t give her anything. He can for undiagnosed bipolar treatment, but not diagnosed ADHD! Really, at times I’m tempted to consider the black market of the intarwebs to get my hands on some dexedrine, ’cause I know it helps me a loooot compliments of a helpful friend in high school who shared his or her meds, but I prefer to stay above board. :D

Then of course, there’s the wondering if I want too much. I am so much better than I was before diagnosis and treatment, but I would like to feel even better. And I don’t mean that in a glowing hypomania sort of way, but just… not having to spend ANY time in tiny rituals to dispel anxiety. To actually have some focus and energy; while some of my lack in this regard is due to chronic fatigue, I know it’s not the entire cause.

Whatever the case, the knowing what’s up, whether it be ‘official’ or not, gives me the tools to try and cope with it within my means. I combat ADHD with tiny lists and a hefty dose of behavioral awareness. I try to keep productive things to hand so that when my mind wanders, I’m doing something good like a chore, or knitting, or working on different bits of writing (I’m knitting right now and tending to the baby between writing this in snippets). The OCD I will probably bring up again with my psychiatrist because I feel like it’s starting to eat more of my time. We’ll see. It’s only a real nuisance in that once I start doing a thing, it tends to become a permanent fixture.

Hope everyone is doing well out there.

<3

Do you ever struggle to ID your emotions?

I wish I could afford therapy. I don’t want CBT strategies right now, I just want someone to tell me what mood I’m in from time to time. Not knowing and not being able to work it out is frustrating, to put it mildly. I used to just know, I presume it’s ‘normal’ to just know.

Maybe I’m over the fascination of my own symptoms and side effects now, after almost two months of obsessive research. A good sign, I think. When confused, I try to get back to basics.

mood dis·or·der (noun)
    a psychological disorder characterized by the elevation or lowering of a person’s mood, such as depression or bipolar disorder.

My next question is why am I  unable to work out wtf I am feeling. My google fu failed me. I couldn’t work it out and I have no idea if everyone goes through this. A few years ago I noticed I was growing less fond of talking about emotions, but being able to identify them came later (and got steadily worse).

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. :)

<3

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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

<3

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Delight and Terror

Whelp my dears, my parents’ attack against me has begun as of the other night. Which is to say, they finally took note of my last post; how wicked of me to politely and kindly suggest that I had been mistreated! What a malicious person I obviously am for having feelings of my own! A friend reminded me that I could set up an IP block, so I did — they’ll get a white page now. Maybe they’ll just try from another IP address, but ah well. I long ago accepted that no matter what I do, as long as they disagree with it, it’s ‘wrong’. So it goes, so it goes. All I know is that I will not be bullied out of my spaces. I will not be silenced and forced to comply. It’s new ground and it is terrifying, but I have a wonderful support network reminding me that I’m doing the right thing for me and my family.

 


I have to say though, this post-week has been mainly satisfying. I’ve not felt that great physically, but my sleep has been fairly decent, and my brain is just… well. Skittering, but making connections and processing and figuring stuff out, which is my constant delight. I’ve been able to tune into my family a bit better, which is awesome. I’ve got a great family here, and being more functional within the unit is really, all I could ever want. I can see places now where I was just completely shutting down to avoid risking repeating problematic behaviors, and in general, just… carrying the weight of my pre-recent life was destroying what limited functionality I could muster. Which isn’t to say I wasn’t doing anything, just that I couldn’t do as much as I wanted. I still can’t do as much as I want, but heck, even little things like managing to stay on top of the dishes and leave the house once in awhile are awesome. Yeah, I’m pretty good at masking my lack of functionality, ha ha.

Really though, I’m starting to feel a measure of resilience I’ve never felt before in my life. Yes, I felt more stable than normal last pregnancy, and less stable than medicated this time around, but I can’t think of a time I’ve actually felt resilient. I guess that’s what happens when one firms up the boundaries of their world? Oh sure, I know my brain will find its ways to shiv me, ’cause that’s what a bipolar brain does, but. Maybe it means my future lows will be less severe? I certainly fully intend to get back on my meds the second this kiddo is born — I pretty much completely lost the ability to hold it together whatsoever after Lilbit was born. While I have learned so much since then, and healed a lot of my wounds, I’m aware that my chances of postpartum psychosis and depression are higher than average. Heck, it’s what finally pushed me into seeking diagnosis! Not that I hit psychosis last time, but my depression went from crippling to unreal. I certainly don’t want to see that again.

So tl;dr – things are good, and I have chocolate chip cookies ’cause Lilbit insisted we make a batch so she could eat the dough. Good kid, ha ha.

<3

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