Daily Archives: September 11, 2016

Who’s That Random Guy Living With Us?

There’s a guy named James living in our spare bedroom.  He and his crazy dog Luna hang out at my house all day while Andy and I are at work, and he does mean things like eat all of the Cinnamon Toast Crunch AND all the peanut butter, which I don’t discover until the next morning when I’m stuck with a granola bar for breakfast (ew).

At least the dog’s cute….when she’s not eating my shoes.  Are shoes the textile equivalent of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and peanut butter?  Like owner like dog.

James has lived with us for about a month and a half now.  One of the most interesting things about his presence in our lives is trying to explain who he is when people see the three of us out together.  It’s always me and two guys, which doesn’t sound that weird until I find myself in all of these awkward situations.  Don’t believe me?  Check out these real life answers to the question, “Uh, who is that guy?”

QUESTION: “Uh, who is that guy?”

THE TRUTH:  He’s Andy’s friend from college.  He just graduated with a Masters degree in chemical engineering, and he’s living with us until he finds a job somewhere.  No reason to sign a lease and then get a job on the other side of the country, you know?  Okay, that’s the truth.  But who cares about that?  The truth is boring.

SITUATION 1: TALKING TO THE PASTOR:  I met the new pastor of our church, and when the two guys walked up the pastor said, “Hi, is one of these men your husband?”  I said yes and introduced him to Andy.  Then James jumped in with, “And I’m James, her other husband.”  Ack!  He said that to the pastor!   The pastor looked very confused.  I said, “No no no!  He’s just a guy who lives with us!”  Apparently this is also confusing (even though it’s true).  So then I had to explain the whole entire story, and now my pastor thinks I’m a freak.

SITUATION 2: ORDERING FOOD:  I stopped by a Mexican take-out place to get some food to bring to Andy at work.  As I was ordering the food, James went over to the salsa bar and mixed some salsas to make Andy’s specialty flavor.  As I was paying for the food, James said, “Here, I made Andy’s salsa. Throw that in there too.”   I said, “Awesome, you’re a great sister wife.”  The cashier gave us the straaaaaangest look, but I didn’t explain.  He’s a cashier, not my pastor.  I don’t owe him explanations.

SITUATION 3: MEETING NEW PEOPLE: Once, while we were at Andy’s work, one of his coworkers came up and said, “Hi, who’s this?”  James jumped in with, “Hi, I’m James.  I’m their butler.”  I liked it, so I left it.  So did Andy.  The guy looked really confused, looked at both of us, and finally said, “Wait, for real?  A butler?”  James said, “Well, I’m also their driver.”  Keep in mind, James was wearing shorts and a t-shirt with THE MOST RIDICULOUS yellow sunglasses.  He couldn’t have looked more un-butlery.  We tried to play it off, but finally we had to explain the truth (which, again, is so much more boring than the stories we make up).

SITUATION 4: THE SCHOOL PICNIC: Can you imagine if your teacher showed up to the school picnic with two men?  Well, that’s what I did.  My students all looked very confused, but what was I supposed to do?  Grab a microphone and say, “THIS IS JUST A RANDOM GUY WHO LIVES WITH US.  DON’T MIND HIM”?  It’s not like I could leave James at home…it would have been mean to eat all of the delicious school picnic food and then think of him at home with nothing.  Then again, he probably could have scrounged around for more peanut butter (*scowl*).  Instead, I just played it off like it was normal.  That worked until James came up and said, “Hey, a few of your kids asked who I was, so I said I’m your concubine.  They don’t know that word, right?”  JAMES!!!!!!  I think he was joking.  Hopefully.  We’ll find out at school tomorrow.

SITUATION 5: TO BE DETERMINED:  We decided that we’re going to buy James some dark sunglasses, and next time he goes somewhere with us he will wear all black, stand off to the side, and look menacing.  We won’t offer any explanation of who he is, but when someone asks we’ll say he’s our “security detail.”  We Hillboros are kind of a big deal.  We need a bodyguard.  We have a family reunion coming up…I think we might debut that look then.  It will look like we’ve really made it in life.

You might think, “Oh, this is Andy’s friend” would be a sufficient explanation in all of those situations, but think about it: why would I bring one of Andy’s friends to my school picnic?  Why would Andy bring him to work?  Why would we bring him to a family reunion?  It ends up seeming weird that we have this extra dude with us all the time.  Whatever.  It’s an odd situation, but it’s been a fun addition to our family.  Maybe we’re strange, but I’ve accepted that normal is far out of my reach.  That’s okay.  I’ll be happy with my husband and my butler/driver/sister wife/security detail.  Who knows what he’ll be next?


Running Out of Drugs

Isolated Empty Pill BottlesRunning out of your medications is scary.

I know. It’s happened to me several times in the last few months.

Sometimes it was a matter of supply. My usual pharmacy ran out of Ambien and wasn’t going to get any more until after the weekend. Fortunately, they recommended a mom-an-pop pharmacy (yes, such things do still exist) just down the street and helped me transfer my prescription there.

Another time the problem was the prescription. I ran out of Ativan, but when I called in for a refill, I was told that it wasn’t time for one. When I looked at the bottle more closely, I discovered that they had given me 60 pills, as if I were taking two a day, instead of the three a day actually prescribed. (I was changing doctors about that time and there was miscommunication.)

Yet another time, it was money. I ran out of Abilify (actually aripiprazole – all my scrips are generic) and was told that even with insurance, it would cost me $800 because of the out-of-pocket required minimum. I spent a couple of days arguing with the insurance company, researching solutions online, and making sure a local pharmacy would take the coupon I found, which lowered the price to under $200. (I also had to stand in line while they called the coupon people and the insurance company to see how to enter it all in their system.)

And of course there are the everyday screw-ups. My husband forgot to pick up my scrips, or forgot which pharmacy they were at, or didn’t hear me say that I was completely out, or the pharmacy didn’t open until 10:00, or they had my pills in two different bags and they only gave us one. There are lots of ways it can happen.

Once I even took my entire supply on a weekend getaway and left them in a drawer in the bed-and-breakfast. I know. Stupid.

Most of the time running out of drugs isn’t a crisis. It just feels like one.

Of course, there are exceptions. It is a crisis if you run out of certain anti-anxiety drugs and you don’t get any for several days. You can have withdrawal – actual, physical as well as psychological withdrawal. I’ve heard that benzo withdrawal can be as bad as opiates. That’s one reason it’s important to replace your meds as soon as possible.

A lot of psychotropic medications build up to a therapeutic level in your bloodstream, so a day or two without them probably won’t even be noticeable. When you start taking them again, your levels will even out.

But even if the med you run out of is one that you can easily tolerate a day or two without, you may have some psychological effects. When I run out of a prescription, even for a short time, I become twitchy and agitated – my hypomania kicks in and comes out as anxiety, the way it usually does for me. I fear crashing back into that deadly unmedicated space where all is misery and despair. Intellectually, I know that likely won’t happen. But it sure feels like it will. This is one way my none-too-stable mind plays tricks on me.

It’s like the opposite of the placebo effect – believing that a medication will help you and experiencing gains even if the pill is fake. In this version, I believe that not taking the pill will cause relapse, even though it actually won’t.

Whatever else you feel or do, DO NOT use missing a couple of pills as an opportunity to go off your meds entirely. This is another lie your brain can tell: “You’re doing fine without it. Why keep taking it?” It may not be right away, but you will feel the effects of not taking your meds, and then there you are, back in the Pit of Despair or rocketing to the skies. It won’t be pretty.

For me and a lot of others like me, the key to effective medication is consistency. Once you find the right “cocktail,” stick with it. But if you run out, don’t panic. Keep Calm & Get a Refill.

Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: Abilify, anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, mental health, mental illness, my experiences, psychotropic drugs

It’s not real 

Anxiety is real, but what it tells us is not real. The churning in the stomach, the fear and not just fear, the utter panic is not real. The thoughts in our heads, the catastrophizing, though based in reality, are not real. What I mean is the thoughts you are thinking are not really going to take place!

The situation that gives rise to these thoughts and feelings is real. There may very well be a worrisome situation in your life right now. There is one in mine. But, the utterly extreme and frightening thoughts that go through my mind, especially in the morning after I wake up, the fear, the panic, the going down roads I have no business walking on, that is anxiety, and though based in reality, is not real itself. That is, the thoughts are not real. The thoughts, in my case, are totally due to PTSD from the extreme trauma and traumatic events in my life in the past. My brain makes connections from what is going on in the here and now to what catastrophes had happened in the past. It is all very odd, but it happens. I end up in “panic from the past” land more often than I would ever like to.

This is happening these days as a result of a situation in my life about which I have been expressly forbidden to talk. So all I can tell you is that the situation in and of itself is probably not that extreme.  Hope, hope, hopefully. My PTSD and anxiety is of course taking me down Catastrophe Lane. Argh! Why? Why can’t I just react calmly and evenly to things, even worrisome things?

I know, I’m almost positive, sure that all will be well, but until I know that it is, my anxiety might kill me.

No not really, I have a prescription for Ativan and I’m not afraid to use it!!

Struggling With Urges

Yesterday was World Suicide Prevention Day.  I had sworn off doing anything remotely productive that day, so I didn’t post then, but now I feel I should have said something. Things have been going quite well in my life for months.  So far in my Abnormal Psychology class I have a perfect score, and even […]