Daily Archives: August 21, 2014

Cringe Factor

Two days of uber functionality, not by choice but by necessity. I’ve not been having good mental health. As I told my kid when she was complaining about not wanting to clean up her mess, “I don’t wanna have to go do this because my mind is sick but society doesn’t care. There is no such thing as sick days for mental illness.”
There should be, because yesterday my anger was skyrocketing, my anxiety boiling over, and I just wanted to curl up in a ball away from everyone and everything and cry. I came home, we had supper, and then it was batcave time (when we all retire to our respective rooms for solitude and brain reboots.) I zonked by 8:30. Unfortunately, I kept waking up every two hours even though I could barely keep my eyes open to sit up. I hate those nights, even if they aren’t the norm.
Today was supposed to be better, I’d been told I wasn’t needed at the shop and all I could think was, thank god, regroup time for the brain.Well…His daughter went into labor so I was beckoned for the whole day. Bex came with me. It was in spurts, calls, people coming in, but died off toward 2pm. Thank God. Kenny came in and I just started feeling overly crowded and stressed. Which puts me in a mood and makes me hateful because I feel threatened thus go on the defensive.
It’s 91 degrees today and we are sweating our butts off, but at least we are safely ensconced in the safe zone. I’ve had enough of my brain being hammered at. Voices have become like nails on a chalkboard, this is where I am grateful for Becca’s moods and being quiet. She gets it.
It’s just been a bumpy road. And it figures it comes on the heels of telling the shrink how well I am doing.
Well, some days I am, some days, not so much. When I feel crowded and anxious, it’s not good. If I am up and sort of manic, then it’s great.

In other news, I cut my hair off to my shoulders. It’s too fucking hot and I needed a change. Sad thing is, I hacked off 6 inches of hair and R and Kenny didn’t even notice thus proving…I am scenery. Nothing noticeable, just present. And it’s not so much attention seeking, I most often like blending into the woodwork. Just…six inches of hair is pretty drastic and the only responses I got, after pointing it out, were, “Oh, so you did cut your hair” and “I liked you with long hair, but you have an 80’s Joan Jett thing going on now.”
Then Kenny told me I am “one of the guys” which explains much. That’s why they have no problem dehumanizing women (R’s nickname for this one girl is “Tits”) and why they don’t notice anything about me. I’ve always had guy friends and I like being one of the guys rather than a set of tits, but damn. You can’t discuss women in front of a woman in demeaning terms without a little backlash.
Because of this, Kenny has slapped the label “Manhater” on me. No, I hate asshole behavior, which unfortunately seems exclusive to men when it comes to my gender.
Even in the best mood hearing women reduced to little more than body parts is gonna piss me off. I don’t understand how being referred to as “crazy bitches” by men is not woman hating but if you call a man on sexist pig behavior, that makes you a man hater. I really need to meet a better class of people or just avoid them all together.
I am soo cool with the latter. People are nothing but a migraine waiting to happen sometimes and I don’t have the skills to cope with it. Or more like, I don’t have the patience or desire to be bothered coping with it.

I cut my kid’s hair, too, chin length. I am awaiting the backlash from my family, my mother gets bent if I even cut the kid’s bangs. But she sees mommy getting a haircut, she sees her friends getting haircuts, so she wanted one. And since she doesn’t want the fuss of brushing and detangling long hair…Bye bye it went. It will grow out but I don’t think I did a bad job. Besides…It makes her happy, she keeps stroking her own hair and smiling and striking poses.

Grrr. The heat, the anxiety, it’s all making me an impossibly cranky person. Brain reboot time soon. So I can turn around and do it all again tomorrow.
The grind of the school year is tough for me.
The boredom of summer is too.
I can’t be made happy so I am just gonna give up on happy.

These days, if I make it through without slapping someone due to impatient anger or having a panic induced spaz out…I consider it a good day.
You take what you can get, even if it’s not exactly what you want. Small victories. Often, that’s all there are.

Another Ray Of Hope

I’m almost afraid to say this because I might jinx myself, but I could be on a bit of a roll here.

While I was surfing Craigslist for jobs last night, I found one that is PERFECT. The position is with the county as a peer support specialist for people in the mental health system. It’s all about advocating for them, teaching life skills, and coordinating services. And one of the requirements is—can you believe this?—you have to self-identify as a) a person receiving mental health services, b) someone who is in recovery for a substance abuse problem, or c) a relative of someone who is.

I qualify on all three counts. Could anything possibly be better than a job where I don’t have to hide the fact that I suffer from a mental illness? I must’ve read that job description half a dozen times, unable to believe what I was seeing. I have NEVER heard of a job where MI was a bona fide occupational qualification. It almost seemed too good to be true…..but it’s a legitimate government job, and even better, it’s part-time and pays well above minimum wage.

I didn’t hesitate for a minute. Within 30 minutes I filled out the application form, attached my resume and fired it off. I don’t expect to be called for an interview anytime soon; the closing date isn’t until the third of September. But I have a good feeling about this; I think I’ll get an interview at the very least. Once again, I can see where my clinical background would be useful even though this is not a nursing position, and of course my experiences as a person living with MI are valuable because I know what mentally ill people have to deal with. The stigma. The difficulties with maintaining steady employment. The impact MI has on loved ones. The shame.

I’m afraid to get too excited, but I can’t help it. And I’ve still got the interview tomorrow at the children’s psych facility. If nothing else, this has opened up a whole new world of possibilities which I didn’t even know existed till a week or so ago. Obviously, I think I’d be good at working with other people with mental health issues, although I’d have to be careful not to over-identify and get too involved in their lives. Boundaries are a good thing! But I can’t see any other real downside to either job, with the exception being lower pay than I’m used to. It’s hard to think about scraping by on $15 an hour when you’ve been bringing home twice that much.

At this point, however, I’m much less concerned with money than I am with quality of life. Yes, money contributes to quality of life, but I’d rather have a job that doesn’t swallow me whole. And if it’s something I’m passionate about, so much the better.

Besides, if I were to start earning a big salary again, the bill collectors will be all over it like a cheap suit and I wouldn’t see much of it anyway. Having a middle-class income is overrated; the more one makes, the more it takes to live because the “needs” always seem to expand to meet (or exceed) the available funding. I mean, does anyone really NEED candles, room sprays, and air fresheners in matching seasonal scents?

Anyway, that’s my exciting news for today. We shall see what comes of it. I’ll keep you posted.




Carrie Fisher Quote About Meds

  I’m fine, but I’m bipolar. I’m on seven medications, and I take medication three times a day. This constantly puts me in touch with the illness I have. I’m never quite allowed to be free of that for a day. It’s like being a diabetic. Carrie Fisher

The post Carrie Fisher Quote About Meds appeared first on Insights From A Bipolar Bear.

Vyvanse sucks

Current meds:

Risperdal Consta for psychosis and mood stabilization. 37.5mg every two weeks, IM

Clonazepam for anxiety. 0.5mg 3x’s daily

Cipralex (lexapro) for anxiety, 20mg once a day, tapered down from 40mg

Artane for side effects, 5mg as needed

Vyvanse, 30mg, not taking it because it makes me BATSHIT.

I took Vyvanse the first day and it made me super irritable, restless and have the akathasia feelings. It was awful. It didn’t help my attention, either, I was even more easily distracted and couldn’t focus. Next day, same thing. Call doc’s office, get an appointment, take it today to see if its continuing and yes, it is.

I’m having urges to self harm, and I haven’t done that since May, 2011. It’s making me very restless. It’s hell. I hate it.

Fuck you, Vyvanse, and fuck my drug plan for not covering the med I need.

Baby Steps

My doctors have indicated that I may have to learn how to manage two illnesses that interfere with each other for, what is likely, the rest of my life.

When people ask me why I am in hospital I barely know where to start. I often find myself telling people I have an “autoimmune disease”. Which of course I do. But those two words are easier to cough up than talking about the nasty, dirty, reality of psychosis, continual diarrhoea, vomiting, bowel pseudo obstructions, suicidal ideation, urinary catheters, depression, involuntary detainment, ECT, stomach pain etc etc. No one wants to hear about that (excuse the pun) shit.

And the biggest problem is these diseases love to mess with each other. My entire (almost) five month hospital journey was due to three major reasons:
1: malabsorption of my psychiatric medication due to excessive vomiting and diarrhoea.
2: taking Prednisone to counteract my OG, which instead increased my psychiatric symptoms.
3: mismanagement by poor communication between psychiatric, surgical, and gastro medical teams. Probably because no one knew what to do with me.

I trailed around psych wards with an IV and catheter. On medical wards i required my own psychiatric nurse. Medication for my bipolar negatively impacts my gastrointestinal symptoms. Medication for my OG negatively impacts my psychiatric symptoms.

In other words, it is a big fat mess.

I’m so afraid of what people will think of me when I am discharged. Am I bad mother for spending so much time away? A bad wife? Family member? Friend? Graduate? Employee? I think of some of the stuff I have done and cringe. I’m ashamed.

Years ago, in a psychology 101 lecture we learned that the true madness was defined when despite evidence to the contrary, you believe yourself to be sane, and those around you to be crazy. Indeed, the greatest difference between a locked and open ward seems to be that those in an open ward agree they are unwell and wish to change. Often those in a locked ward don’t believe they are unwell and turn against the doctors and nurses who suggest otherwise. I did this.

I was crazy.

After a brief visit home (and a good 600 or so new emails) I realized that the world had moved on. My friends who had only just announced their pregnancies before my admission had grown an entire baby during my absence, and given birth to new life. My loved ones had moved on with their lives with new jobs, hobbies and hairstyles.

What have I contributed to my family, friends and society in the last five months? All I have done is become a burden, not only to my loved ones, but to the community in general.

Today in group I expressed these concerns. Afterwards, to my surprise, one of the group members, Lyla, sat next to me at lunch. After some small talk she looked at me and said;

“Your memory will come back…my husband has Bipolar disorder too and needed ECT. It took time, but it came back.”

I wasn’t sure what to say, other than “Thank you.”

“Also,” she continued, kindly, ” I have seen my him through everything. I had to stop him jumping off a roof top. But I still think the absolute world of him. He is my everything.”

My eyes welled up with tears.

“And our son, he was five when all of this happened. He can’t remember much, and he would never want another Dad. Kids are so resilient. You are the best mum in the world for your son. And you are trying to get better. You will get better. And that is all anyone can ask. The people who love you will continue to love you…and those who don’t understand…they are not worth worrying about. You will get there. Baby steps.”

I nodded tearfully and whispered “thank you,” again.

It was when I got back to my room I realized that I didn’t need to close this chapter of my life forever, and jump back on the moving train. I didn’t need to pretend nothing had happened, and one by one answer those 600 emails. Instead I could look at it as a leaning experience. These ailments, it seems, may always hum away in the background. Something I need to accept as a part of myself rather than try and forget. Steven even suggested, humorously, that I could look upon this experience as anthropological field research for my PhD topic. Laugh as we did, if anything this experience has taught me that stigma towards mental illness is still rife, and a topic that is important in contemporary society. One day, hopefully, I can pay back society with some solid research.

But first of all, I need to let go of the guilt that wakes me up at night, and realize that there was precious little I could change.

Baby steps, baby steps.

Yesterday At The Bus Stop

A story about how my mental paradigm shifted about 180 degrees yesterday while having a conversation with a young man with serious psychiatric issues, and his obviously devoted family. They were homeless, and that made me think, a lot. Continue reading