Daily Archives: October 14, 2014

On Loss

Today, I stayed home from work due to another bad migraine with accompanying nausea. I was in bed most of the day, largely unaware of anything going on in the world around me. Right about dinner time, my best friend called me. It’s unusual for her to call, we see each other at work just about everyday and text nonstop, so I knew something was up. She told me, through tears, that a coworker of ours had been found dead in his apartment. He was only 25 and leaves behind a 4 year old daughter. There were no obvious signs of suicide or foul play, so until an autopsy is performed, we have no idea why he is gone. To be honest, I didn’t always get along with my now deceased coworker. But over the last few months, as I got to know him more, we were certainly becoming friends. I think that’s what is hurting me the most right now, not the suddenness of his passing or anything, it’s the reality of all the things he will never be able to do. Watch his daughter grow up, finish his degree, live a nice long life full of helping other people. I said a prayer for my coworker and admitted to God that I really don’t understand this.

As most of you know, I work in a hospital in the emergency room. We deal with life and death on a minute by minute basis. With time, you learn to compartmentalize your feelings, as it’s absolutely essential in an environment like that. It’s how you’re able to go from assisting on a full arrest to taking care of the patient with a resolvable illness. You learn to keep yourself mostly detached from the emotional experience so that you can do your job. That’s not to say you have no feelings or that you’re insensitive, but that you put the emotions of your patient above your own, and deal with your feelings later. We go through training on helping people in all aspects- the body, heart, mind and spirit. We have policies and procedures galore on everything from what we wear to what medications we use to how to use our equipment and so on. But there is no procedure on this. There is no way to handle being told someone you work with on a daily basis is gone and that his sweet little girl no longer has her daddy.

The only way out is through- that motto is more or less the mantra of my life. And I suppose it’s the motto my workplace will be living for the next few months.


Filed under: Self Discovery Tagged: death, emotions, loss, tragedy

I’m Not Depressed. No, Really.

Sometimes I’m amazed at my ability to stand outside my own life as an observer. I should be wrapping and packing our stuff, but on this rainy, dreary day I have chosen to play armchair quarterback and analyze how I’ve been feeling over the past week or so. I don’t know if it’ll help me sort things out, but until I see Dr. Awesomesauce next week, it’ll have to do.

I’m not depressed. Well, maybe a little, but not all the time—yesterday I was laughing hysterically at Facebook memes and enjoying the last of our beautiful fall weather in between tears and thoughts of death. That means I still love life, it’s just this particular part of it that sucks and I wish all this crap would get over with yesterday. I am also somewhat restless and agitated, which apparently came across in yesterday’s post. This raised some alarms in several readers’ minds, and I want to assure you all that I am neither helpless nor hopeless. I’m just not dealing well with the suckage.

It’s weird, being up and down multiple times in the same day. This is not my normal bipolar cycling, but then this isn’t really a mood episode. (I think.) How can it be an episode when I don’t know from one minute what the hell is going on in my head? I can be sitting here, completely forlorn and trying not to cry, and two hours later I’m cracking up at cat videos on the Internet. I haven’t been out of pajamas since Sunday night (well, they’re old sweats, but I use them as PJs) yet I’m still brushing my teeth and taking care of my hair, which I often don’t do when I’m in a real depression.

Regardless, it makes me feel crazy and I hate it. It’s almost like a mixed mood episode, but I think it’s anxiety that’s feeding the beast because when I’m mixed, I don’t have enough insight to recognize it. Oh, no, I know perfectly well that I’m anxious, and when I’m anxious I have big trouble maintaining my equilibrium, which is already difficult due to the nature of my disease. I’m also easily overstimulated by TV, music, even the Internet, but I can’t stay away from any of them.

But you know what’s cool? I can still hide it. I can go through all kinds of mental gymnastics and no one knows just how complicated it is—not even the people who read this blog. I did some off-loading yesterday, but I can just as easily go underground and pretend that everything is just hunky-dory. Turn my angst inward. Put up a good front. Keep a stiff upper lip and all that.

I wasn’t always able to do this. Used to be when I felt miserable, everybody and his brother knew it, and I sometimes went out of my way to make sure they did. But I’ve grown up a bit, and then there’s medication…..the wonderful, miraculous concoction that has quite literally changed my life and lets me “fake it till I make it”.
Still, it doesn’t make everything go away, and I’m subject to breakthrough mood swings just like everyone else. It’s been like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride the past few days and I’m not sure just where I stand on the mood spectrum—actually it’s more like hopping than standing—but it’s OK. I’ve been here before. And I’ll get through it again.

Tell Congress to Decriminalize Mental Illness

Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA:

Please read, sign, and SHARE!!!! This is the direction we need to be traveling in: tell our government to STOP TREATING MENTALLY ILL PEOPLE IN CRISIS LIKE CRIMINALS! Every day we read in the news about somebody who is disoriented or in distress from a mental illness, being shot, beaten, Tazered, jailed….in fact, one of my recurring nightmares has to do with being arrested and thrown in jail without my service dog or my meds. What would I do? I would curl up in a little ball in the farthest corner I could find….and when I was found by the guards I would be screamed at, ridiculed, dragged out of my hiding place, roughed up, possibly beaten (because in jail, I have no rights or protections) and possibly die from the abuses, and if I didn’t die while in there I would most likely die soon after release. That’s what jailing a mentally ill person can do, and does do, on an unfortunately regular basis. So thank you to Rob for posting this, and please, friends, sign and pass it forward. Let me know if the link doesn’t work and I’ll fix it. –Laura

Originally posted on Art by Rob Goldstein:

 This petition arrived in my email today.

Please sign it even if you think mental illness will never affect your life.  It will probably affect the lives of many of the people you love.

Mental illness is not a crime

If someone you love forgot where they were and became terrified, who would you call?

For cash-strapped communities across the country, the first and only option for people with a loved one suffering a mental health crisis is to call 911. Police are often then the first to respond, a situation that too often leads to handcuffs and a jail cell.

The state of mental health services in this country is unacceptable. Instead of social workers, we have armed law enforcement officers. Instead of treatment facilities, we have prisons and jails. More than 450,000 people behind bars have shown recent symptoms of mental health problems. The Cook County Jail in Chicago…

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Excited or Overstimulated?

Excited...Over-Stimulated? Life with Bipolar is a Balancing Act

Volunteer training shadowing a Hearing Advocate last Friday either excited or overstimulated me. There can be a fine line between the two. Since then I’ve had trouble slowing down and turning off, and found myself glued to laptop, tablet, or iPhone until past my bedtime. I’ve resorted to taking clonazepam to turn off my brain and fall asleep. Either Saturday or Sunday I slept in past noon. Memory is a bit fuzzy. Do not recall which day. Now I’m exhausted and in a bit of a slump. I will recover. Just need to rest up today. Late this afternoon (or what the character Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory coined “preevening”) I will be attending group therapy. As I was sick last week, my activity with MHA of Orange County as a Hearing Advocate trainee will be news!

Filed under: Bipolar Disorder, Hearing Advocate, Hypomania, Involuntary Hospitalization, Mental Health, Mental Health Advocacy, MHA, Mood Cycling, Psychotherapy, Recovery, Triggers to Mood Cycling, Volunteering

Positivity Isn’t Always Good

I’ve been trying to be positive for days. I think it might have been a mistake. I was pushing down the negative feelings that I was having. The depression, the anger everything.

Last night I told my mom in law she could come stay with us but the cats would have to stay somewhere else. I’m really allergic to them. I thought that was that. Hours later she said what I thought was, you really wouldnt let the cats move in. To which I said no, the cats make me sick. Apparently I heard her wrong and she had asked, You really wouldn’t let ‘me’ move in with the cats. I inadvertently hurt her feelings. It broke my heart.

I went on a massive manic rant after she went upstairs upset and said horrific things to my husband, accusing him of not standing up for me and saying maybe I should just kill myself and he and his mom could have the house. This rant went on for an hour and it was ugly.

Eventually things calmed down and I couldn’t stop crying. I had hurt someone I loved. I don’t like most people let alone give my love to someone. I panicked not knowing what to do to fix it. I wanted to move out to our own apartment I wanted to run.

Jim told me that I could just send a text to his mom explaining the confusion so I did so this morning. I havent heard from her and she is staying at my sister in-laws for the next 4 nights. A long time to keep things festering. Jim says everything will be fine now. I mean he knows his mom. Yet I still feel heart-broken and have no courage to call her. I am a coward.

Rhino Buddha

Without resistance in all four directions,
content with whatever you get,
enduring troubles with no dismay,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.
Rhinoceros Sutra

This illustrates it pretty well: rapid cycling and mixed states as waves I suppose that I used to enjoy the happy highs, but I can’t now. I’m just … wary of myself and unhappy. White knuckling. Before, I’d tell people that I didn’t want to talk about what was bugging me, because it was all too affected by whatever mood I was in. I presumed rage and agitation came from fear.

Last time I saw her, my psychiatrist said that my cptsd is in full remission. I feel sort of proud of that.

I wrote that a few days ago and kept failing to resume it, because thinking and writing just wasn’t happening. Then the mixed episode stopped and went right back down to depression. 15 months of it so far.

I don’t feel like writing now either, but I said I’d track this crap.

Bipolar Roundup 5

… please stop using the word “bipolar” to describe the weather or your weird professor or your parents. Stop using the word “bipolar” to describe anything other than a person who is bipolar and who has expressed to you that they are bipolar. The weather is not bipolar — you are simply ignorant.
Let’s stop calling the weather bipolar

Negative life events, such as loss of employment, relationship, or close friend or family member raised the risk of depressive relapse, but so did positive events such as a new relationship or job.

However, I wonder if any young woman feels like marrying a man whose mother has such a disease. I’m afraid her parents would absolutely oppose the marriage.
I’m scared my bipolar disorder will affect my son’s marriage

Last month, Anna Fels wrote in the Sunday NYTimes suggesting that lithium be added to the drinking water because trace amounts of lithium are associated with lower rates of mental illness, violence and suicide in particular.  What she didn’t say was that communities with naturally-occurring lithium in their drinking water enjoy greater longevity as well.
lithium for life extension

Positive Things Can Come From Amanda Bynes’s Extended Hospital Stay


When I read an article by ABC News that Amanda would be required to stay at the psychiatric hospital for another two weeks, I was relieved and am really hoping that good things can come from this.

I wrote a blog yesterday that talked about how I was disappointed in her mother that she after trying to get help for her daughter, denied that she had a mental illness after Amanda was discharged.

Being admitted is good for Amanda, it is helpful to others who know nothing about mental illness, and is important for those who have a mental illness to hear that even celebrities struggle with mental illness.

Although Lynn, Amanda’s mother, said that the marijuana made her do all the bizarre things back in May, I am not convinced that this is true and explained that in my other blog.

As I discussed in my other blog, so many good things can happen from this all.  Most importantly, Amanda will get the help she desperately needs.  In addition, others will see her struggles and hopefully learn things from it all.

However, why I think good can  happen from this, other than her having a chance to get treated, is that by having these experiences, she can share her story and help others.  Yes, she had a successful childhood career. Yes, she could turn her life around and act again or work in the fashion industry (what she was going to school for).

What I hope for is that she becomes another person who uses their fame and misfortune of having a mental illness to join the other celebrities who have been coming forward and using their experiences to raise awareness, educate others, and do their part in erasing the stigma.

For a complete list of Famous People with Mental Illnesses or Famous People with Bipolar Disorder, please check out my Pinterest boards.

You will be amazed at how many celebrities have a mental illness.  This goes to show that mental illness can affect anyone and that just because you have a mental illness does not mean that you won’t be able to make a difference or accomplish great things.

Although so many celebrities have come forward, I especially am impressed with Demi Lovato, Glenn Close‘s family, Patrick Kennedy, and Brandon Marshall.

Amanda could  deny that she has a mental illness or she could show the world that there is nothing to be ashamed of.   She could contribute to the stigma or she could become part of the solution when it comes to mental illnesses.

She could use her mental illness as a platform and I guarantee that more people will respect her especially in the mental health community. I believe that would help her career gain momentum. She would be known as an actress with a mental illness rather than a “crazy” former actress who denies she has a problem and does not care about other people who have bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, OCD, ADHD, autism/aspergers, PTSD, eating disorders, borderline personality disorder, drug addictions, etc.

What do you think she will decide to do?  Do you feel strongly enough about letting her know what you believe she should do? If so, contact her.  One way would be to tweet her.  Support her and encourage her and let her know why you think she should do the right thing.

I hope to be writing a blog in the near future about how much I admire her and add her to the list of people who are making a difference when it comes to mental health advocacy.

In conclusion, I truly believe that no matter what happens, that her being in the psychiatric hospital for two more weeks is a good thing and a lot of good can come from it- I hope.

Picture found at: www.starpulse.com




I Hate Weekdays

When Monday comes around I get lonely, I get sad. This happens almost every week without fail. If hubby is home then it doesn’t. It’s pretty simple.

The fact that it’s been raining since last night doesn’t help. I have yet to buy a UV lamp and there hasn’t really been any sun. Yet I walked outside forgetting that it was a gov’t holiday enjoying the fresh crisp air and smell of decaying vegetation. I found something positive in a negative.

My mother in law didn’t get her loan approval so she wont be moving next door. I have to admit I am pretty sad about it. A legitimate reason to be sad. I can’t think of a way for it to work now. She could sell her house first but then she needs somewhere to live until the new one is built. I can’t take the cats and bird in. She has no where for them to go. Plus another 7 months of not being alone with my husband.

Some things are just not meant to happen I guess.

I’m going to try to not let it get me down. However it is during the week and keeping myself up is already hard.

I must keep my eye on the positives.

The positives are that my house building is moving forward. My marriage is strong and healthy. My mental health is getting better. I am looking toward the future instead of dreading it.

I’m alive, I’m healthy and can healthier. Life is good, even if my moods are the top most, my life can still be good.

Dear Folks: Sorry I Haven’t Written Lately

This has been the longest trough I’ve had in a while, and I’ve been spending all my spoons on work, because the cats do insist on eating.

Tomorrow begins a new adventure: My psychiatrist has prescribed Abilify. The $800/month price tag seemed a tad bit high to me. We have insurance, but the benefits don’t really kick in until we meet the absurdly high deductible. A few months of Abilify would probably do it. (We couldn’t afford the gold plan. I think ours is aluminum, or maybe tin.)

The manufacturer does offer a free month’s trial and a discount card, so at least I can see if it works for me. If it does, I’ll figure out how to pay for more. (BTW, if your meds are way expensive, check out needymeds.org. They have a database of manufacturers, discounts, requirements, and contacts. My psychotherapist turned me to that.)

When Dr. R. prescribed Abilify, he told me that it could make me restless. “How will I know whether it’s the drug or my usual twitchiness?” I asked. “You’ll know,” he said. After reading the literature, I can see what he means.

So here I am with three work assignments (not particularly tight deadlines, though) and am about to start a drug that could feel either heaven-sent or hellish. Or just “meh,” I suppose, which would leave me exactly where I am now.

Wish me luck.

And tell me if you’ve had any experiences with Abilify. I know anecdotal evidence doesn’t mean squat to scientists, but I’m interested in hearing from people who have tried it, or seen how it worked (or didn’t) for a friend or relative.