Daily Archives: November 8, 2015

An ideation

I am totally alone almost always, so when I’m suicidal there’s only me to stop me, or to force the hand of chance. Oh, the irony of it all.

“How can we know the dancer from the dance?” – W B Yeats

Quetiapine, end of first month.

End of first month, and I have mixed (sic) views. The past two weeks have been Quetiapine XR 300mg at bedtime. (Remember, it was 25mg+25mg+100mg for the first two weeks.)

Straight away, I felt less woozy by the afternoons – although dragging myself out of bed much before 11am has been quite an effort; and a mostly futile one at that. I’ve even taken the car out, one afternoon this past week. A shopping jaunt, much overdue.

I still marvel at the many comments online detailing how 25mg has knocked people out for 12+ hours and solved all their insomnia problems. How come 25 works for them but 300 doesn’t work for me?

The past few days I’ve noticed a difference again; the meds seem to be having less of a beneficial effect on my bipolar II symptoms, particularly anxiety and OCD. Strangely, I think the C part of the latter has been eased a little, whereas the O is as overwhelming as ever. Actually, a bit worse. Having bipolar is bad enough; add OCD into the mix and life can be pretty awful most of the time. Actually, always.

Yesterday I felt so anxious I thought sod it. Sod it, I’ll self-medicate again, and had a couple of small glasses of white wine. Well, it’s helped for decades, and although I’ve not touched a drop of alcohol for a month, I felt it was worth a try. After all, it doesn’t seem to be banned; just not recommended. What’s the worst that can happen? Well, falling asleep, it seems. And that would be a good thing, not bad.

As it was, I didn’t feel at all more sleepy and the wine did seem to ease my anxiety to some extent.

At my last psychiatrist appointment (when the Quetiapine dosage was doubled) she mentioned that when we next meet (at the end of the month) she’ll see if I can tolerate 600mg a day. That’s quite an advance from my initial 150mg isn’t it? I assume higher the dose, the more side effects.

I’ve done some walking, very little exercise bike work, watched what I’ve eaten, and have only put on 4-5lbs during these 4 weeks of meds. It seems I’ve got off very lightly – so to speak – in that respect. There are some horror stories online!

The most successful effect of the meds has been a ‘topping and tailing’ of my moods. Although I’ve sensed some hypomania, until this afternoon it hasn’t made a nuisance of itself. And while my default position as ever is ‘mildly depressed’ I’ve mostly remained at that state. Yesterday and today, with the anxiety making an unwelcome house-call, there have been some mixed episodes – always the most dangerous for me, with all symptoms becoming more acute but especially anxiety, restlessness and the feeling that every cell in my body is buzzing and shaking.

I’m also getting a bit peeved by the frequency of comments on social media saying that ‘hypomania can be pleasurable’. Well, come and spend an hour in my metaphorical shoes when I’m hypomanic and then tell me how good you feel. I’ll wager the answer is ‘not very’.

I have some spare Quetiapine 25mg tablets and I’m tempted to increase my prescribed dose independently. Say, one of those mid-afternoon? I’ll declare it to my psych of course. But for the next two weeks, I feel I need something and obviously wine isn’t going to solve many problems. Is it?

Mental Notes Quote of the Week: No. 3


Please add any comments to the author’s page as this is not one of my original posts.

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Loving the family time

I’ve been much more stable and present in my children’s lives after my last medicine change. I can’t only thank the meds for it, I also have a great therapist who has been working relentlessly to bring me back to my world. I haven’t had a long term therapist for years, so this adds to […]

Symptoms Of Mania and Six Key Recovery Concepts

Bipolar disorder is a pain in the butt at it’s best, and a devastating illness at it’s worst. Bipolar disorder often takes a lot out of people; not just the person with the diagnosis, but the people around them as well. There are the suicide attempts, the talk of suicide (suicidal ideation), the absolute despair of a depressive episode, and the joy and elation experienced at the beginning of a manic episode (this doesn’t last long ~ maybe a couple of days.) Following are the signs of a manic episode. Most people are familiar with depression having either experienced it firsthand, or knowing someone who has. The condition of mania is less well known as it does not generally occur in people without manic-depression. Also included in this post are 6 key concepts for recovery.

Symptoms of a manic episode include, but are not limited to:

  1. Increased physical and mental activity and energy
  2. Heightened mood, exaggerated optimism and self-confidence
  3. Excessive irritability, aggressive behavior
  4. Decreased need for sleep without experiencing fatigue
  5. Grandiose delusions, inflated sense of self-importance
  6. Racing speech, thoughts, and flight of ideas (one idea after another at an exaggerated speed)
  7. Impulsiveness, poor judgment, distractibility
  8. Reckless behavior such as spending sprees, rash business decisions, erratic driving, and sexual indiscretions
  9. In the most severe cases, delusions and hallucinations

Six key recovery concepts

  1. Hope. Believing that you can cope with your mood disorder is not only correct, it is essential to recovery.
  2. Perspective. Depression and Bipolar disorder are cyclical in nature. The moods come and go; what a lot of people understand as mood swings. While you are in a depressive episode, it may seem like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. The important thing is not to give up hope that things will improve.
  3. Personal Responsibility. It is up to you to take the actions that will keep you stable. This includes taking your medication(s), asking for help when you need it, and keeping your doctor’s appointments.
  4. Self Advocacy. Become your own best friend and learn to advocate for yourself to get the treatment that you need including medication, therapy, disability (if you need it), and other services. Create a world you want to live in, and a life that you want to live. This is a bit easier said than done, and, in my opinion, is a learned skill.
  5. Education. Learn everything you can about the illness (this goes for friends and family as well). You cannot adequately fight a disorder you do not understand. Learning about your disorder also helps you make decisions about your treatment, and all aspects of your life. Education will help you become a better advocate for yourself.
  6. Support.  Doing the work to get better is entirely up to you. Support from others is essential in maintaining your stability and the quality of your life. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or let friends and family know that you are having a hard time.

For me, personally, I think that hope, education and learning self advocacy are the most important. Perspective comes in at a close 4th place. Having hope that things can and will improve can help you through the mood swings, and can also help lead to long periods of wellness (unless you have rapid mood cycling which I do. I tend to stay “well” for a few weeks at a time.) Education is probably my best weapon against this disorder. Understanding what is happening is key in fighting any illness, but I think it is most important for people with mental illness. You cannot battle that which you do not understand. Self-advocacy is, as I mentioned earlier, a learned skill. You simply have to shore yourself up, and ask for what you need. This is really difficult when all you want to do is stay in bed, but that is precisely when you need to stand up for yourself so you can get the help you need.

Having perspective is important as well. Look around you sometime. There are many people with mental illnesses that totally trump manic depression. Schizophrenia is one of the illnesses that I am glad I do not suffer from as is Dissociative Identity disorder (no offense is meant to people who live with these disorders or any others.) There are many others that I am glad I do not have to live with. I have enough on my plate with about 5 different diagnoses. But, I am serious, if you want to gain perspective on your personal situation, all you have to do is look around you or watch the news. That’s guaranteed to make you feel grateful that Bipolar disorder is but one thing that you have to manage. Life can truly be a whole lot worse than having abnormal mood swings. At least that is my perspective. I am grateful I do not live in a country that people are fleeing from by the millions because of military violence, I am grateful that I have not lost a loved one to gang violence or any other type of violence, and, most importantly, I am grateful to be alive to experience mood swings. There was a time when no one really expected me to survive, and I almost lost my life during that time. But that is my reality, and may not necessarily reflect the reality of others.

Credits: http://www.dbsalliance.org for the symptoms and concepts for getting and staying well longer.

Filed under: acceptance, appreciation, being okay with one’s self, Bipolar Disorder, challenge, courage, depressive episodes, healing, inner strength, management, manic episodes Tagged: Bipolar Disorder, Recovery, Staying Well, Symptoms of Mania

The Depression Diet

It seems that Target (and other stores) can now send, well, targeted ads based on previous purchases. The example usually given is that someone who buys a home pregnancy test will start receiving coupons and discount offers on diapers and strollers.

I maintain that one way to spot depressives is through their grocery-buying habits. Just as psychologists say that odds are that the last three people in any long line are likely to be clinically depressed, I say that someone who purchases an entire chocolate chip cheesecake and a bottle of Jose Cuervo is going to be in the back of that check-out line too.

Which brings me to my point. There are certain foods that depressed people tend to eat. These foods don’t cure depression, of course, but they do seem to provide some comfort.

The first category of depression food is, of course, comfort food. We all have our own definitions of comfort food, but a lot of them seem to be high-carb, high-fat, no-nutrition sorts of food. They bring back memories of childhood, maternal nurturing, and a simpler time when calories didn’t count. Some of my comfort foods include club sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup, mashed potatoes, and macaroni and cheese.

My husband knows enough to make me comfort food when I’m stressed out. He does add tuna fish and peas to the mac and cheese to make it somewhat more nutritious. He knows my needs and does well at meeting them, though his grilled cheese will never rival my mother’s. He does pretty well on the tomato soup.

The next category of depression food is weird food. I suppose this category includes the chocolate chip cheesecake and tequila. One of my depressed friends introduced me to her particular specialty: wavy potato chips dipped in cream cheese with an M&M stuck on top. My husband starts to worry about me if I ask him to pick these up for me at the store. But it does contain all four food groups: salty, sticky, sweet, and crunchy.

When I was a kid, my favorite was a block of cream cheese with that odd, unnaturally orange French dressing poured over it, mashed with a fork, and with pickle relish if I we had any. This was my own chip dip creation. It resembled my friend’s in the cream cheese and wavy chips department, but French dressing is no substitute for M&Ms. Let’s just say my tastes have grown. (Not necessarily up.)

Another category of depression food is useless food. These are edibles that one can make with very little effort, as even small efforts can be overwhelming at this point in depression. Frozen dinners are good for this. I recommend Marie Callender pot pies if you go this route, because they have both a top and bottom crust and so feel more like a meal. Foods that come in small cups with pop-open tops are good too: Beefaroni, mac and cheese, soups.

Sometimes, however, the depression is so severe that even these simple efforts are beyond you. For those occasions, there are truly useless foods. It’s a mistake to call them meals at all. Here I’m talking peanut butter straight out of the jar (spoon optional), and dry cereal straight out of the box. During my worst days I used to keep a box of Cocoa Puffs by my bedside, just in case. As I slowly improved, I replaced that with a box of Life cereal. (The name was a coincidence, I assure you.)

I know that eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet is one of the most common suggestions for keeping depression at bay (along with exercise, sleep, and all that other good advice). I also remember that when a person is talking about suicide, one of the questions you’re supposed to ask is, “When’s the last time you ate?” Supposedly it’s harder to take your own life if you’ve recently done something as life-affirming as eating. (I don’t know if that’s actually true, but I did try it once and the person is still alive, so maybe.)

I also know that sometimes irrational thinking extends to food choices as well. I worry about my husband when he starts eating peanut butter sandwiches dipped in cold chunky soup (still in the can). I’ve been told that’s a guy thing, not a depressive thing, but still sometimes I wonder. Even at my most depressed, I’ve never been tempted to do that. Ew. Just ew.

Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: comfort food, coping mechanisms, depression, friends, husband, my experiences

Punking Up the Harbour

Taken at Steampunk Doncaster: 4 July 2015

Taken at Steampunk Doncaster: 4 July 2015

Some November flash fiction for you

It’s cold, so cold. Plastic doesn’t float well, you see. Neither does brass: either kind. As a Yorkshire Steampunk, I know about brass. And I know it won’t save me, not now.

Crumpets and tea, crumpets and tea, she said. So where have your jolly japes brought you now? she asked. She mocked me, from her superior position on the pier. Even then, God help me, I thought how good she looked in top hat, goggles, and short-cut riding jodhpurs, and those boots, oh, those gorgeous boots, climbing up those wonderful legs, creeping up to her glorious thighs.

Steampunk Doncaster: 4 July 2015

Steampunk Doncaster: 4 July 2015

I was a fool for her. I’ve been a fool for her, ever since I first met her at her dad’s DIY stall on Donny market, where I went looking for parts for costumes. Even now, with the full moon shining on the bay, brighter than gold on a fob watch, I thought to myself, how did I, George Perkins – accountant by weekday, Steampunk by night and long weekend – manage to captivate such a beautiful girl?

The accountant in me answers: tot it up, George. Look at the ledgers. Her beauty – in the black. My savings – in the red.

Steampunk Doncaster: 4 July 2015

Steampunk Doncaster:2015

The tide is against me, now. She is smiling. The last thing I hear, as I swallow my final draught of the North Sea, is the click, click, click of those fabulous, murderous boots.

Bridlington: Sept 2015

Bridlington: Sept 2015

If you enjoyed this short story, check out the “Storytime” section of this blog, and my short story collections, “What! No Pudding?” and “Koi Carpe Diem”.

You can also come to Doncaster Brewery & Tap and hear myself and other writers read at “Well Spoken!” on Thurs 12th November, or “A Thanksgiving Read” on Thurs 26th November. “A Thanksgiving Read” will feature Steampunk author Craig Hallam.