Daily Archives: November 24, 2014

A Dose Of My Own Medicine

Did I mention that my medications were adjusted in the hospital?

I haven’t talked about meds in quite a while, other than to whine about still being on Zyprexa after eight months. They continue to be the mainstay of my treatment, and I think I’ve finally accepted the fact that I am going to be on a cocktail of psychiatric medications for the rest of my days. I can’t imagine a life without them now. I don’t want to imagine a life without them…..God only knows what a train wreck I’d be if I didn’t have my meds. Perish the thought!

But yeah, they got tweaked when I was inpatient, though it wasn’t as extensive an adjustment as I’d feared. The Zyprexa was bumped up to 7.5 mg and Lamictal up to 400 mg, which is pretty much maxed out. I still have hopes of going back down on the Vitamin ‘Z’ someday, but I’m not going to hold my breath for it. And I don’t know what will happen if the Lamictal stops working…..then it’s lithium, I guess. That’s the drug I dreaded so much that I avoided seeing a doctor for over a decade after realizing that I was probably bipolar. I didn’t know much about BP in those days except that lithium was the primary treatment for it, and since I knew what the side effects were, I wanted no part of it.

Lithium is scary because it can kill your thyroid and cause kidney problems. It also can be poisonous in certain circumstances and ineffective in the case that the dosage is too low. You also have to have blood tests periodically to see if the level of lithium in your blood is what they call therapeutic. If you catch a stomach virus and get dehydrated, you can become toxic and even die. On the other hand, it’s saved thousands of lives since it became the gold standard of bipolar treatment in the mid-20th century, so it still has its uses despite the hassle.

Hopefully it won’t come to that, but I’m not as firmly opposed to lithium as I once was. For one thing, it might make anti-psychotics unnecessary, and for another, this disease has caused me enough misery that I’ll do just about anything to tame it. I am so over this I could scream. I know it’s illogical, but sometimes I wish I could go back in time to the way things were before I was first diagnosed. I wish I could be blissfully ignorant of this illness like I was back then. But then, I would probably have kept getting worse and not understanding why, and I wouldn’t have learned that there were remedies for it that weren’t as intimidating as lithium.

Even so, I sometimes toy with the idea that medications might have made things worse instead of better. I existed for 53 years without anything but Ativan and an anti-depressant; I don’t remember having to fight so hard for my sanity, nor experiencing this many ups and downs. Then I remember that I was getting worse for several years before I finally saw a psychiatrist, and that I no longer throw screaming fits, go after people with garden implements, or spend every dime I have on worthless crap. Who knows what might have happened if I’d never gone on meds—for all I know, I could have wound up in the state hospital, or even prison.

So I’ll continue as I have for the past 33 months, taking my medicine faithfully (well, I forget every so often, but those times are few and far between), getting enough sleep, and doing my therapy with the great Dr. Awesomesauce. None of those things is negotiable—they are almost as essential to life as breathing. And I want to live.


Featured Post on Goodtherapy.org !!

So I wrote an article for GOODTHERAPY.ORG, a site that will help you find a doctor, learn about mental illness, and just a really cool community for advice and sounding out about mental illness… http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/stigma-come-at-me-if-you-can-112314 I’m really excited about it because I reveal who I am outside of OHTEMP, which was totally scary, but I …

Finally, the day is here

Secondary Care assessment and diagnosis appointment this morning.

25 mins late going in, for their first appointment of the week.. doesn’t bode well. Spent 90 mins with an OT who asked almost all of the questions, and a psych doctor who wrote reams of notes.

Conclusion? Who knows? They like to ask ‘what treatment do you want?’ I tell them: ‘I don’t know, whatever’s best and works. That’s your job! I wouldn’t let you do my job but I wouldn’t expect to do yours either.’

I made a stab at a guess: medication to get me stable then off it as soon as possible and some kind of therapy. He said ‘you’re not far off there’. I was ‘off’ with the ‘coming off drugs asap’ bit it seems…

I pushed for a ‘label’ for diagnosis but they wouldn’t say. Apparently the thing these days is not to use labels as it’s not about a name but a treatment. *yawn

He said: ‘there are a few things going on here.’ They focussed a lot on anxiety as a symptom and a trigger. I hope they don’t do what our Ed Psychs do when they’ve filled their ASD quota and diagnose ‘Anxiety’. I will have to wait to see a consultant now for medication. That won’t be this year..

So again, like the past 8 weeks, I have no help to call on, no treatment. I’m on my own, same as it ever was these past 35 years.

Friends And Social Anxiety Disorder

I had no friends growing up. I was unpopular. I sat alone by myself. Nobody liked me. If someone did try to be my friend, they would quickly realize I was weird and wouldn’t want to be near me. Absolutely none of the above is true, of course, but at the time it all seemed […]

The post Friends And Social Anxiety Disorder appeared first on Insights From A Bipolar Bear.

Bipolar Roundup: Sarcasmatron Edition

More proof of the decline and fall of western civilisation follows …

“In no other area of health care would we tolerate the escalation of an illness to its crisis point – and then punish the patient for having it in the first place. That’s because, in every other area of health care, we have the humanity and decency to push the notion of prevention, early diagnosis and adequate care.”
Mental illness a monumental prison problem

In contrast to articles like this upper middle class one that state cheerfully that bipolar is completely manageable, the next article is an eye opener of note.

“She said she took a gun, unloaded it and set it down in front of him. She told her son if he really wanted to kill himself to get it over with. She told him to do it outside so as not to make a mess.”
Mom testifies she warned that Covington was bipolar

What the fuck is the answer? That without money, you’re basically fucked? What did Mr Covington need? How is his family ever gonna be ok?

Bipolar celebrities continue to underwhelm completely. Amanda Byrne bitches about her parents, Rene Russo says another teeny handful of words about the disorder, Dolores o’Riordan has a meltdown on a plane, Kirsty MacNicholl doesn’t say any words about bipolar. As per usual, nobody says anything unrelated to their own fame and advocacy continues to be about combating stigma, rather than useful stuff like oh, say, better diagnostics and treatment. Assholes.

Have you seen the Dualities bipolar photo project thingy yet? I dig the motivation. I think the result is a leeeetle simplistic, but a good starting point for dialogue nonetheless.

Every bipolar news roundup is basically the same. Murder (bipolar people murdering people, cops killing bipolar people), missing people, mice and genetics, another song by Bipolar Sunshine and plenty of celebrity wank. And every week, researchers prove yet again that water is wet, by discovering that it’s better to take your meds, get diagnosed early etc.

Extreme mood swings may indicate Bipolar Disorder …

WHAT?! Oh my sweet bipolar baby jebus on a CORNFLAKE! Give the man a Nobel.

This one is slightly better than most, because although it fails to deliver any new facts, it presents some important ones neatly and was cool enough to go to Cappadocia to do so.

What else …

App’s novel approach to mood disorders: Real-world rewards

Blah blah blah eh?

This Bites…..

I am experiencing that horrible fate that at times overcomes even the most prolific of writers: Writers Block. Its like having a mixed episode with words. The words want to come, they are the most motivated words in the world, but they are also the least motivated words in the world, preferring to laze around […]

Bipolar among the top ten most disabling disorders in the world!

In Ireland the term ‘soft day’, means it’s raining, but not the lashing rain we sometimes get. It’s not quite a mist either – its somewhere in between, what we’d term a drizzle or ‘soft day’ and it goes on … Continue reading


I’m sinking. I should be having an ECT treatment today. It’s been four weeks. I have an appointment for an ECT consult on December 8th. That’s kind of a long way away, because that’s not even the ECT appointment. Just the consult. I’ve called the provider and asked if they could get me in sooner. I was told I’d get a call back, but I never did. Sadface. You know, when someone is fighting depression, it’s very hard for them to advocate for themselves. Why are these fuckers making it so hard?
Also, this fucking Walgreens. I have four prescriptions to pick up. I went to the drive through yesterday and sat there for five minutes with no movement. So I said “Fuck it” and took off. I don’t want to go sit there and wait! And wait! And wait! And I don’t even know if they’ll give me the damn scripts because I haven’t gotten a Florida ID yet. Oh fuck my life.
Yesterday’s sermon at Unity Church was on Radical Gratitude. I know I have a lot to be grateful for. A wonderfully supportive family, getting this hefty private disability check every month, living at the beach . . . yeah. It’s just so hard to feel it. I don’t do well when I have so much insecurity in my life. Part of me just wants to hop in the car and head back to Colorado, where I know I can get the care and medicine I need, without any obstacles. It’s just so hard to fight. I don’t have a lot of fight in me.
Today I’m delivering for Meals on Wheels and I started worrying about it at 4 am. Dreaming about it, wondering if I’d be able to find people’s houses. Part of the reason I decided to do it was that I thought it would help familiarize me with the area. And I think it will! It’s just so hard, being outside of my comfort zone. Practically everything I do here is outside of my comfort zone. Driving, trying to find my way. Going to Meetups, where I know no one. Well, I have met some people at one of the Meetups. I’m just feeling so vulnerable!!!
Ok I just called the ECT provider and they’re going to send me the orders for labs and a release form to fill out and send to Colorado so they can get my records. Hopefully this speeds up the process. Hold a good thought for me, blogosphere!! I’m off to deliver meals!

Filed under: Bipolar, Bipolar Disorder, Bipolar ECT, Psychology Shmyshmology Tagged: Bipolar, Hope, Mental Illness, Psychology, Reader, Walgreens Sucks

Novels and Mood Spikes

I live, honest!

I’m a bit grumpy at myself for letting my post a week minimum fall by the wayside, but you guys understand — writing a novel takes up a lot of resources, mentally and physically. And in that, I can happily report that I won NaNoWriMo on the 19th, and wrote those magic words ‘The End’ on the 21st. So it’s done and done until whenever editing happens, and I’m well pleased. I managed it without being too huge a stressy nuisance, which was very pleasing to both myself and my husband. Part of me is already thinking sequel and he’s not running for the hills, while the rest of me is like ‘Gah woman, you’ve already won twice quit while you’re ahead, it’s off the damned bucket list!

So yeah, quite happy with that. Will be putting it out as a pdf for free if anyone wants to read it, but that requires getting the husband to hold my hand through it ’cause he’s fancier at making PDFs look nice than me!

Mind you, I have been stressing enough this month that I’ve had a few spots of mood wibbliness, almost enough to make me regret not being more forceful about getting my meds upped. On the whole, i still agree that it wasn’t needed and I’m fine, but I sort of scared myself the other night. I was really frustrated on Thursday for a myriad of reasons. For one, I’d gone out the night before, which was absolutely wonderful and a great celebration of finishing NaNo. But on the dark side, it meant that I took my Seroquel late, which meant that I had to deal with more fog the following morning. And unfortunately, Thursday I had to go into the office for the first time in ever for training. It wasn’t that bad, but being around people was more stressful than I realised it would be.

It also left me worried that had completely lost the steam on my novel when I was so close to finishing it, so that and kids and frazzle meant I was short-tempered… and I caught myself throwing something. When I hit that point, it’s usually very septic and dangerous. I’ll throw one little thing, then I’ll want to throw more things and then I will want to break things and start screaming and crying and that pushes into ‘whelp, let’s kill ourselves’ territory before I can blink.

Or has in the past.

So yeah, I was annoyed and chucked a shoe a few feet… and then caught myself before the ritual could bind me to a dark path. I caught my breath, I passed off the baby to my husband and explained that I was feeling really stressed out and needed people not talking to me for a bit. And you know what? Telling him that took a huge chunk of the weight off. I was still really worn and frazzled, but I was relieved enough to cheerfully converse with him and to thank him for giving me the space I needed.

It’s amazing how even a few minutes now make such a big difference in my ability to recentre. Mind you, the spikes still come out of almost nowhere… at least, it feels like that. You cope and you cope and then suddenly whups, can’t cope everything is terrible and bad and unsafe. It’s really encouraging, you know? I’m figuring stuff out, I’m breaking things. I’m able to take all that work I’ve done on myself over the years and apply it better now that I’ve carved out a wider me space. Yanno, ’cause actually feel like I have borders now after cutting out people who disrespected them.

Now, the real question that reminds — will this month of novelling trigger a depressive episode? It did in 2012 because I ignored my mental health and applied ‘discipline’. But also, then, I was only on the Seroquel; we didn’t add the Zoloft until half a year later when it became apparent that I was still having depressive episodes. We’ll see. I’m better at listening to my health now (though as prone to error as the next person), and I am doing my best right now to ease back into non-writing things. :D

Hope everyone out there is well.


Too good for the rubbish dump

The other day, my four year old son asked me “are you a robber mum?”  In my defense, I should quickly add here that no – I am most definitely not a thief.

However, I do have a fondness for rescuing unloved, unwanted items left out for the dump truck. Case in point my lovely, new white side-board in the picture below.

Hard rubbish recycled table

Three weeks ago, it was on death-row, left out in a pile of hard rubbish – hours away from being splintered into a million pieces and on its way to the tip.

Driving past with my four year old son, I glanced it out of the corner of my eye and quickly slammed on the brakes.  Getting out of the car to take a closer look, I noted that – under a layer of grime – it was actually a beautifully shaped, elegant piece of furniture.

Somehow, I managed to get it into the back of my small hatchback car and drive it around the corner to its new home.

A bucket of soapy water, some elbow grease and a coat of fresh paint later – my new sideboard table was happily nestled in my family room.

Glancing at it while watching a DVD tonight, it made me think of myself and others with mental illness.

I’ve shared before about the time I spent acutely unwell in a psychiatric hospital after the birth of my first baby.

In a locked ward for six weeks, I can still remember the look of fear and disgust on the faces of the nurses and “carers”.  The way they seemed to look right through me – without seeing the person inside.

They didn’t see the person that I actually was – the loving wife, daughter, sister, friend and faithful employee.  They only saw me in my current state – psychotic, delusional and resistant to being medicated.

My sense of self-worth fell and I started to believe that I was  the person they saw.  That I was someone not to be listened to.  Not to be left alone.  Not to be trusted.

Being in a psychiatric ward felt like the equivalent of being put out for hard-rubbish.  My true-self and my potential overlooked because of my brokenness.

Today, like my side-table, I am one of the “lucky ones”.  I am well and I am home with my family.

Yet, I can’t help but wonder about those with a mental illness who aren’t so blessed.  Those who don’t have caring family and friends to get them the help they so desperately need.  Those who are out there tonight – roaming the streets, living rough, going hungry.

I pray that someone will notice them, see past the symptoms of their illness and – like I did with that sideboard – see their true potential.

Mariska xx

Have you ever felt like people were treating your symptoms, but not really seeing the real you?