Daily Archives: May 13, 2015

The Bipolar Parent – Q&A with Kitt O’Malley


Kitt gets interviewed quite a lot, doesn’t she? I stumbled upon this one and thought you might be interested too. And if you’re not already following both interviewer and interviewee, get thee hence in all haste and with a dash of speed and do so.

Originally posted on my spanglish familia:

Kitt O’Malley is a well-respected Blogger and an active volunteer/advocate for mental health. She blogs about her experience with Bipolar Disorder II (BP). I was fortunate enough to get some insight into how having BP has informed her parenting.


Q. How old was your son when you were diagnosed. And what was the diagnosis?

A. When I was eighteen, almost twenty years before I had my son, I was diagnosed with depression. Over twenty years later, at thirty-nine years old, when my son was 27 months, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder type II.

Q. Mental illness is an ongoing dialogue between a parent and child as they go through their stages of development. In terms of mental illness in general and your  personal struggle with it,how have your conversations, definitions or explanations changed with your son as the years have passed?

A. When my son was four, I…

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Lost Week

Last week was a "lost week" ... lost in depression and apathy and bipolar cycling. The worst thing about these weeks is how guilty and anxious you feel, even if you know you're doing everything you can, even if it's taking all your energy each day just to...

What do WE think about? We think about Side Effects.


I have severe seasonal allergies, I always knew I did. Two days ago, I went to see my allergist (who I’ve been seeing for food allergies :-( ) and he looked inside my nose (eeeek) and told me he was surprised that I could breathe as there was so much inflammation in my nostrils. So he recommended a steroid shot (100 mg Depo Medrol), some heavy duty anti allergy meds (Montelukast) and a steroid and antihistamine nose spray. And instead of being overjoyed that my allergies are being treated and will soon be gone, I went into panic mode. Steroid injection?! Will it send me straight into depression or, sometimes infinitely worse, mania?? Here are the psychiatric side effects for Depo Medrol: Psychiatric reactions, such as mood changes (including irritability, depression and suicidal thoughts), psychotic reactions (including mania, delusions and hallucinations), anxiety, confusion, memory loss, sleep disturbances.

What about the Montelukast? Here are the psychiatric side effects listed for it: aggression, anxiousness, dream abnormalities and hallucinations, depression, insomnia, irritability, restlessness, suicidal thinking and behavior (including suicide), and tremor. By the way, it’s very interesting that the Montelukast, which is an anti leukotriene, causes psychological side effects. Leukotrienes are molecules produced by leukocytes or white cells (the warriors of our immune system), they cause bronchial smooth muscle contraction, they attract other white cells to the vicinity. These are 3 – 4 times more potent in their effects as histamine. Anyway, the point is that once again there is a connection between our immune system and mental illness. There are many such connections. I will write a post about it soon.

For most people, a steroid shot for allergies is just an inconvenience. For people with mental illness, it is something to be thought about carefully, and even then, it could be an undoer of a life you have oh so carefully, with trembling, tired hands, put together. The same can be said for the leukotriene inhibitors, such as Montelukast.

So, now what do I do? Well I have two options, take them, or not take them. And I will discuss these issues with my psychiatrist and my allergist. In the final analysis though, it’s being injected into me, and I will react to it in whatever way I will, so the decision is mine. Scary, going into the unknown, I’m hoping that all will be well, mood as well as allergies.

From the Sandlot to the Big Leagues – Life Lessons from Baseball

OK.  Not the big big leagues.  The little big leagues.  I’m gonna say the equivalent of “going to the show”. In little league terms. Baseball.  We are talking about baseball […]

From the Sandlot to the Big Leagues

OK.  Not the big big leagues.  The little big leagues.  I’m gonna say the equivalent of “going to the show” Baseball.  We are talking about baseball in case the none […]

Who, Me, Perimenopausal?

How long does perimenopause last, anyway? I, for one, am sick of it. Tomorrow! NIMH Twitter Chat on Perimenopausal Depression – May 13 05/12/2015 While transitioning into menopause, women experience various physical, psychological, and social changes that may affect their…

aches and scrapes

When a family member has a mental illness, or any illness, frankly, it is important for the family to get educated. Read, talk, research and understand your loved one’s disorder,” said Laura Norman, the clinic’s chief development coordinator and communication specialist. “I cannot understate the important role family plays in getting help so a loved one gets healthy and stays healthy.
“It’s critical.”

(scheduled post)

Grief has been punching me in the face again lately, in the form of assault by tears. It’s the only way I can think of describing it, they come out of nowhere and leave me feeling winded. Instead of smiling wistfully at memories and reminders, I’m impaled on them. It doesn’t feel remotely cathartic, there’s no sense of relief afterwards, just desolation. All kind of crap is resurfacing, not only the obvious causes of grief. Since I’ve been instructed by my psychiatrist (and a former counsellor) not to focus on the past at all, I continue to distract myself from it all. Distraction good. Thinking bad. So much for Socrates, who said, “the unexamined life is not worth living”. Sorry Socrates, I’d love to discuss it, but… Oh look ! A butterfly!

I’m walking on the beach twice a day at the moment. I’m reading, sewing, talking to people, doing chores, but still my own mind finds the time to slap me around. The three friends I have close by are inaccessible for now; one is in a new relationship, one is in another city and the other is in a solitary frame of mind. The other friends I have are too far to drive to until I feel a bit better. I talk to my dog and hug her; it does nothing to assuage the skin hunger. Far but close friends hug me virtually, but arms are better than asterisks. I had to reactivate facefuck to sort some app connections, but didn’t look at it till very recently. Then the notifications began to freak me out, it all felt horribly invasive. Two months off it wasn’t enough; I logged out. I’ve kept the messenger app to stay in touch with people, but I’m in no hurry to get back into the rest of it. I keep thinking back to my shrink telling me that none of the shrinks in the practice use any social networks because of the negative effects. I should probably stay off facebarf permanently. I like the fact that I don’t get manic online anymore. Well, I haven’t for quite a while, but I think staying off facecrap can only be helpful.

The open wound gapes and my bones ache and I wonder how long I’ll be raw for this time. Just call me sashimi. I know, I know, the self pity is almost tangible, but I have to generate my own empathy and sympathy a lot of the time. And then Mother’s Day too… two of those down and so far my approach has been to avoid looking at my social network’s newsfeeds (happy Mother’s Day, happy Mother’s Day, happy Mother’s Day), hunker down and hide out. Astonishing to realise that it’s possible to hide more than I do every other day, but it is. Just call me Mr Havisham. No, second thoughts, just don’t call me at all, I rarely answer the phone.

Death has a life of its own. Grief is violent.

Life changed so fast and then kept changing; I’m still reeling from the quake, and the aftershocks just keep on coming.

Mother’s Day though… feck. I went for a long, fast walk on the beach, which did me good. Then I bumped into a good friend of my mum’s, who totally brushed me off when I told her I was miserable and why. Luckily I could go and weep all over her daughter afterwards, I wouldn’t have coped well at all otherwise. I want the people I care about to have lovely and loving Mother’s Days though; I’m not a complete Scrooge. My dog spent the day on security patrol, getting passed off with every noise in the area. Fortunately she mostly barked under her breath, which is quite fun, because her cheeks puff out like a chipmunk’s with each subdued woof.

My meds have changed a bit, for the better, I think (despite the continuing depression). 400mg lamotrigine, 200mg sertraline, 50mg chlorpromazine, sulpiride prn. I’m off wellbutrin and coming off ritalin. Thank fuck for the sulpiride for anxiety. 6 months’ free therapy as a case study coming up too. Amazeballs. Good to have something to add to both the gratitude list and the recovery toolkit. It’ll be my second case study thing, my psychiatrist wrote up my apparently rare side effects of most meds I’ve tried.

Writing helps a lot to calm the nerves too. And who the fuck taught my nerves to tap dance anyway? Bastard.

I’m okay.

I’m Sashimi Havisham.

Urgent Purge

It’s not an urgent purge because anything dire has happened. Except maybe the fact that irksome things have happened and yet…My mood is neither low nor high. I feel sane-ish. Level, even. Like my perception of things is more within the realm of proportion. This is holy grail territory. When everything is just as shitty as it’s been for the last umpeen weeks and yet today…Your Teflon coating has somehow reappeared and rather than sticking, everything is sliding off…

So, yeah urgent. That mind frame doesn’t tend to linger for long so you run with it while you can.

Last night…I actually jerry rigged the tent (and splintered one of the poles) just to get my kid to stop complaining. It was my hope, like ya know, winning the lottery or discovering that moldy bread in the cupboard is the secret cure to bipolar, that in her pink tent with her pink pillow and pink sleeping bag and her ice cream string lights and her leap pad…She might sleep in her own room the whole night.

That didn’t happen. Same as always, she lasted about three hours then was in my bed. Sighhhh. And she’s not even six yet so I don’t want to be making this big deal out of her climbing in my bed. Hell, my sister slept with my mom til she was 11 because neither of them could stand to be alone. Perhaps it’s that dysfunctional cycle I fear perpetuating that makes me so bent about Spook not sleeping the whole night in her own room. After three years, I think I have a bit of right to complain. I did all the crap the doctor told me to do to make her feel safe and encourage her to sleep on her own. There are times I think the term “doctor” is a synonym for “knows a little about a lot but knows a lot about little.”

I stayed up until after ten watching more Empire. (No, I will NOT feel dirty for that, my Morgueticians who shall remain nameless yet publicly admit watching DWTS!) Frankly, I am impressed with Empire. Fox has a shit track record for quality programming that lasts (They kill Firefly, Dark Angel, now The Following) but I think maybe this one will stick around. It’s a little nauseating how they’re basically celebrating “gangsta” culture, especially in a family where only the parents were ever street level and the kids have all been pampered diva boys. Still…Entertaining. I am soo rooting for the shunned gay son to take daddy’s empire down. He has all the true talent (hate rap, but love that smooth r and b stuff) and I despise homophobes so…

I get way too involved in shows. This morning I watched The Flash and for a season finale…It left a little to be desired. I dunno, maybe it was watching it at 7 a.m. and having to pause it so I could drop the spawn at school then returning…It wasn’t bad and of course, I can’t wait to tune in for next season…Just some of the prior episodes had a better cliff hanger.

Spawn woke me at 6:10 this morning. It was already light out and I bolted in panic, reaching for my phone to check the time (fearing I overslept.) Ha. I groaned and told her to go back to bed, we had a half hour. But by then she was wound for sound and my bladder demanded attention so…I was out of bed before 6:30 a.m. That’s depressing.

Fortunately, I live in the trailer hood and we had our entertainment right next door at that time. The cops were talking to the neighbor ladies while this dude was screaming and cussing about her having a boyfriend and where was his wallet. I only heard bits and pieces, but my nosy kid’s window is right next to them so she filled me in. “That boy whose underpants are showing from his pants spit on that girl and that cop says he has to leave but he says the woman stole his wallet…”

This woman has the cops there two, three times a month, always because of this same guy who apparently wears a belt but his underpants still upstage his jeans. (WTF is that?) Kick his ass to the curb and move the fuck along already.  Prior to her living there was a guy who got arrested for knocking up a 14 year old girl. Before those winners there was a guy I used to work with and he was on the sex offender registry for molesting his niece. I actually consider this side of the trailer park the good side. The other side is where all the convicted burglars, meth makers, and drug dealers live. I don’t even go on that side, not in car or on foot. Once you’ve seen toilet paper floating in the street along with raw sewage from someone’s trailer…NOPE. I’m not classy but geesh, I ain’t that trashy, either.

I suppose I’m not giving a ringing endorsement for how fit it is for a kid to live here. But hey, I can’t be held responsible for the landlord’s slumminess nor his taste in renters. I’ve been here six years and I don’t cause anyone any shit. I mind my own business and I shield my kid, as much as possible, from the seediness around. Frankly, aside from the lady with the weekly cop visits (and only because her front door is right outside my window) I wouldn’t know a thing about my “neighbors”. Only reason I know is because my father can’t wait to call me daily with reports on which of my neighbors ended up in police beat for what crime. Thanks, dad, it’s comforting. But trailer parks aren’t a sign of being a criminal or a druggie or a bad person. For some of us, with bad credit, low incomes, shoddy renter’s history…This is the only game in town for us. So my neighbors are less than sterling silver human beings.  Not my business unless they bring it to my doorstep.

Besides…the street mom and sis live on (where Spook’s kindergarten is) has had two fatal shootings in the last year. I don’t think seedy trailer park trumps three blocks of police tape roped off street with ten cop cars walking about when dropping your child off at school.

Oh, I am prattling again and ya know what? I’m not sorry. It’s lovely. I’m not feeling all Hulk SMASH today. I guess that Latuda really was fucking me up. Not that the doctor will  buy it. They never do. And frankly, having watched and read several things about the pharma industry and their kickbacks for docs prescribing their “new med of the week”…I am more convinced now that my shrink is getting Latuda reward points or some shit because he didn’t warn me of ANY side effects other than causing sleepiness and weight gain. To be handed a three page print out from the pharmacist, to read horror stories from others who have taken it…My faith in doctors needs a splint, it’s so broken.

So thus far today I have…Watched The Flash, taken the spawn to school, and gotten my lip clawed open by a cat who wanted me to pick her up then swatted me for my troubles. Yayyy. I’ve done nothing, I have nothing to say, and yet I feel so lucid, I want to say nothing and lots of it because even as I’m saying ‘this is shitty” I’m not feeling shitty or mad or well, anything. Just lucid. Unicorns are real!!!! (Still have some brain zappy numb tingly finger withdrawal thing going on, but the fact my mind is clearing without the Latuda…HELLO, doctor???)

And while I should probably not even give this any notice…I am going to, because it truly indicates how everything depends on frame of mind.

Last night at 9pm, after 5 days without so much as a “you alive” R sent a text that said “WOW!” And it was Tuesday and he’d just watched Flash so I knew what he was on about. Still…Five days, not so much as a reply to the text I sent…I texted back: “In the five days since you last sent or replied to a text, Niki was attacked by honey badgers and died.” I was expecting a call where he’d do his manipulation thing. Ya know, make me feel shitty for “misinterpreting” his shitty behavior. Instead he sent back the text, “Damn those honey badgers.” ha ha ha ha. Idget.

THEN as I was finally drifting off, another text came in. And I ignored it. Fuck him. When I read it this morning, it was little more than a quote he likes from Guardians of the Galaxy. Sent at nearly 11 p.m. !!!! What the actual fuck is wrong with this man? Is he that wasted? I fail to reply to his call or text once, he berates me. He blows me off for 5 days and it’s cool. I know it’s pointless, the man hasn’t changed a bit, and never will, because narcissists simply don’t have a clue there’s anything wrong with them.

But I cling to a tether of hope that deep down, like maybe inside his bone marrow’s marrow, beats the heart of a human. That and I like the perks of having someone buy me smokes and booze from time to time. I’m shallow. The entire point is, he doesn’t play fair. He  can ignore me 5 days, but if I miss one phone call from him, he’s  yelling at me for treating him like shit and using him. PLAY FAIR. My expectations are not unrealistic. His are.

Oddly I have zero inclination to go scoop out his heart with a spork. I feel almost giddily blank…Like I am watching things going on around me but I’m not involved or feeling it. It’s pretty pleasant compared to the last ten days of wanting to puree someone’s spleen and pour it down their own gullet.

Back to Empire. I may do some housework eventually. I may shower eventually. I may do fuck all. But it’s all good because I’m not violently angry now and my skin is NOT crawling off my bones.

“Milder” side effects my ass, Latarda.


Final Grades

Just posted final grades for my Composition classes.  Lots of C’s, a few B’s, a few D’s, but no F’s other than the ones I already gave out earlier in the semester for absences.  SO it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

Talked to the reporter for Woman’s Day yesterday.  We had a good talk for about a half-hour.  She said she just wanted to get a preliminary idea about my story and journey and was looking at three other ladies to possibly feature.  She said she would talk with her editors and see which one of us would be a good “fit” for the article they wanted to do.  SO we will see how that goes.

Rachel is home sick today–she woke up feeling nauseated.  I gave her some medicine and she is feeling better, but we are still keeping her out of school for the day.  Luckily Terrie is hoe to keep her so I can go ahead and go to my doctor’s appointment.  I am still bleeding and want to talk to her about my options at this point.  I really want to go ahead and do a hysterectomy just so it will stop.  I am very scared that I may have cancer  and I simply want it out so they can find out what is going on .  Pray that we can make some  headway here and I don’t just get put off to wait it out again.  Pray that I’ll be polite but forceful.  I tend to err on either side with doctors–I’m either too nice or I lose my temper.

Hope everyone has a great day!

Weight Loss and Weight Gain Update

In June 2013, my Seroquel dose was increased from 600mg to 800mg. Seroquel is notorious for weight gain as a side effect. Mind you, I had been on Seroquel for 6 years on a low dose of 100mg and had never had weight gain issues.
But at 800mg, the uppermost dosage I believe, I didn't stand a chance. I couldn't control my hunger urges. I was eating everything in sight. Literally. I was eating all the time. And the pounds packed on. I gained 52 pounds in three to four months. In my first 29 years, I had never weighed more than 128 pounds. In fact, it took me forever to break 125 pounds. I was so happy when I finally weighed that much. But after the Seroquel weight gain, I got up to 171 pounds. The weight gain coincided with a 12-month depression. I'm sure the body image issues I gained did nothing to help the depression.
I became manic during the summer of 2014 and the weight just started to fall off. I wasn't exercising, but I was consciously eating less (as a tactic and as a side effect of the mania). And I've heard weight loss is more about diet than exercise. Well, they work together, but portion control goes a long way.
After this recent manic hospitalization (March 2015), I lost a few pounds as I always do when I'm having an episode (whether manic or depressive; I don't eat much during either). But since getting discharged, I've gained about 11 pounds. I'm currently hovering between 140 and 142 pounds. I don't think I'll see 128 pounds again, but I also don't want to be more than 150.
I'll be going back to watching my portion sizes and I'm going to get back into a consistent exercise routine. I haven't exercised consistently since before the third mania (summer 2014). A year ago I was exercising three to four times per week. That is my goal again.
What a difference a year makes!
Left: February 2014
Right: February 2015