Tag Archives: drugs

I Get It Now


I haven’t had a whole lot to say since my last post about being oversaturated, understandably.  Plus, I’ve just been busy.  I proudly work at my karate dojo and have been trying to catch up on the hours I lost last month to my various doctor appointments and medication adjustment issues.  I can easily say my karate family has been a very important part of me being as healthy as possible lately, and I don’t just mean physically.  Unrelatedly but not unappreciatively, I was rewarded with a new (to me) computer to work on, which always rocks.  🙂

It’s also prime gardening time here in Central Texas.  If there’s a rush hour of gardening in these parts, it’s now.  Particularly if you like tomatoes.  They have to be started indoors and then put in the ground as soon as the last freeze passes.  Any later and you risk not having any at all because the summer heat kills the blossoms (mind you, summer starts in May around these parts some years).  Consequently, every nursery and garden is a flurry of activity right now.

I guess you could say I’ve been doing the “chop wood, carry water” bit and just going about my life.  In fact, it’s felt a bit plain.  As I was thinking about it earlier, it struck me that this may be some of the “flatness” that a lot of people with bipolar illness complain about.  It’s a dangerous flatness, one that makes people go off their meds.  That way, as they say, lies madness.

This gives me a great deal of pause, because I don’t like the flatness.  And as soon as I talk to my new psychiatric nurse, I’m going to tell him that, because I’d rather not be one of those bipolar patients.  The ones who go off their meds only to flip out and have to go back on them.  Sometimes forcibly.  I really, really, really don’t want to be one of  those people (if for no reason other than the age old “dear Lord don’t let me be like my mother” baggage so many women have, bipolar or not).

I get it now.  I so totally and completely understand why some people decide to throw the meds in the trash so their life can be the kaleidoscopic landscape of mental color that it can be sometimes.  It’s intoxicating and makes you completely forget the times you’re in a hole so black no light gets in, or are so agitated you really can’t control yourself even if you want to.  Life on meds, in comparison to the near delirium and incredibly creativity and productivity of a hypomanic or manic state, can seem lifeless and dull, almost unbearably so, ironically.  It’s this sort of attitude that is probably what often causes people around us to get a little disgusted.  After all, it’s really just regular life that you’re disparaging as being pedantic or boring or useless or just too goddamned slow.  It’s all yet another reminder that you don’t think like everyone else does.

As much as I dislike the flatness (which may in fact have some remedies), I dislike more the extremes in mood fluctuation.  I still have them, though not as severely.  Really, the height of each peak and the depth of each trough are progressively lower and higher, respectively, the more time goes on.  Which is not to say I am not still occasionally gripped by a frustrated agitation that makes me cycle between murderous rage, pathetic weeping, suicidal despair, and exhausted melancholia.  I prefer the latter state of mind, really, because it means whatever cycle I’m in is over, for the moment anyway.

Until that happens, though, my thoughts in these cycles often frighten me, and I am struck with the horrible irony that in my parents’ suicides, I learned firsthand the aftermath that follows such a terrible thing, and as such seem to be blocked by my own personal morals from even contemplating my own end beyond natural causes in far old age.  I know there are many friends who are worried about me, so I try not to go too long between posts.  Thanks to the internet though, I’m never too far away.

I still hold out hope for that magic place between dark despair, crazed productivity, agitated madness, and flat apathy.  Truly, there has to be a place that allows for balance.  If there isn’t, and I have to choose a bit of moodiness by altering or removing meds to avoid that flatness, then that’s my choice, but only to a point of course.  I’d rather have more color in my life, even if they’re awash in darkness on occasion, than live in a world of emotional taupe.

For now, though, my job is still to try to wrangle as much stability out of my schedule as possible and to fall into healthier patterns of living.  I can’t tell you how frustrating this process is.  Sometimes all I can do is simply track my moods and behaviors from day to day, which has its usefulness in that the more time goes on, the more I can predict how I might be feeling from day to day.  That’s actually extremely valuable, because if I know it’s going to be a shitty day, I can try to avoid stressors.  Someday I hope to have as little fluctuation as possible while still feeling like a “colorful” person.  Until then, I am still my own experiment and as such, I am still collecting data.

I get it now, though.  I get a lot.  And I don’t like a lot of it.

Saturation Reached


I got an email from the City library yesterday informing me that the due date on a stack of library books was approaching.  Instead of being disappointed that I was once again running out of time to read the books I had checked out, I hastily stacked them up, removed the bookmarks from the as-yet-unfinished titles, and banished them to the living room to be taken back to the library posthaste.  Why?  Most of them were titles on bipolar disorder or related topics, and quite frankly, I’ve grown sick to fucking death of reading about it.

Yes yes, high risk of suicide especially considering the family history.  Yes yes, have to stay on the meds.  Yes yes, high likelihood of having to alter those meds over the course of my life, perhaps more than once.  Yes yes, vulnerable to a whole host of other mental maladies, not to mention relationships that will never function the way everyone else’s do.  Yes yes, blah de blah de blah you can cram your bipolar illness straight up your ass, thanks very much.

Something tells me this is terribly normal for a newly diagnosed bipolar patient.  Or for anyone newly diagnosed with an illness that’s going to affect their daily lives, forever.  My mind is filled with a supercarrier of questions that may, in fact, not have any answer, which I hate.  I am the sort of person that will dig and dig and dig until I FIND an answer to whatever question I’m asking, and the longer it takes me to find an answer, the nuttier the question makes me. I know this is a personal problem, because indeed, some questions do not have answers.

some things can never be changed
some reasons will never come clear
it’s somehow so badly arranged
if we’re so much the same like I always hear

Rush, “The Larger Bowl“, from Snakes and Arrows

Yep, I know I just outed myself as a supergeek.  Got a problem with that?  This summer I see Rush for the 9th time, and I’m taking my kid with me.  Anyway.

This stuff makes me want to flip a massive middle finger in the face of the concept of acceptance and to tell the Buddha to take his acceptance and his compassion and his understanding and go fuck himself.

Are you serious? After the bullshit that I’ve had to put up with over my life, the drunk parents, the calls to the police, the broken glass, the splashed blood that *I* had to clean up, the oppression, the sexual abuse, the absolute pathology that tainted just about every.single.interaction that my family ever had with itself or anyone else, the having to be an adult from the time I was about five, the intrusion into parts of my life that DO.NOT.BELONG to anyone but ourselves, being the only person in my house regardless of age to be intelligent, and this is what I have to put up with?  Really?  Truly and really and seriously?  Where’s God, or Buddha, or Yahweh, or whoever?  Nope, bring Him here, front and center, because He gets my best right punch straight to the nose, and it’s going to HURT.

Great, it’s not enough that I have a plain old medical problem to deal with, I get to have a full-on existential and religious crisis to go with it.  And the first person who says “Life isn’t fair,” to me gets the same punch to the nose God gets.  No fucking shit, Sherlock, got any other gems of wisdom to share? (not really, I don’t hit people, of course)

I’ll get over it, I’m sure, though I couldn’t possibly say when.  It’s all a bitter pill to swallow (about as bitter as those trazodone tablets, I sure wish they’d coat those fuckers), and you know what?  I think I’m entitled to a bit of bitterness.  I know I shouldn’t stay here on my bitter pedestal for too long, because that won’t be good for me, but I think it ought to be just fine if I dwell here, however briefly.  People say that feeling sorry for yourself is a bad thing, but I disagree.  I think feeling bad for yourself is the emotional equivalent of crawling into a warm bed with a huge bowl of ice cream and chocolate sauce and watching a completely vapid movie that makes you feel better.  Sure, if you do that every night for a month you’re going to get fat and miss out on a lot of life, but not if you do it a few times.  I know part of me is waiting, incorrectly, for some kind of stamp of approval, or official acknowledgement from wherever that You Madame, have had a Raw Deal!  And I’ll have to deal with that part of me quite slowly, because it’s right: it got a raw deal.  But there is no Department of Raw Deals to which one can apply for one’s Raw Deal Certification, and even if there was, what would it get me?  Discounts at Starbucks and Amy’s Ice Cream in perpetuity?  Free massages and chiropractic?  My own lane on the freeway?  No, of course it wouldn’t.

What I DO have, though, is a pretty large circle of friends who keep telling me how amazing I am despite the hindrances life has thrown at me.  My job is to keep hearing those voices, not tax them to say such things too often, because no one likes a suckup, move forward, and not get on my case when I have a “Raw Deal” day, as long as I’m not having them too often.

Mixed Episode, Party of One?


It’s taken me four days just to start writing this post, though it’s had a title for that entire time.  My posts to date have been more upbeat, or at least introspective without being too depressing.  For whatever reason, I decided I needed to keep the truly depressing and frightening posts to myself or to a very select group of readers over at Livejournal, where I have kept a semi-private blog since 2001.  After unleashing a black spew over there this morning, I decided to edit it somewhat.  Submitted for your approval, then: a look into the bleaker corners of my mind.

Bleaker?!  Did she say bleaker?  Good gods, I better get my emo hipwaders on.

While there has been some improvement in my mood since I began the bipolar journey about 5 weeks ago, it has been with growing dismay that I’ve descended into some deep, dark holes of late.  Some are merely depressing.  Some are very angry.  And yet a few more are just downright destructive and filled with nothing but hate.  Illogical, unfocused, unfiltered hate for whatever and whomever is unlucky enough to tweak my brain’s nerve cells in just the wrong way at that particular moment.

I.hate.it.  Ihateitsomuch.  The irony of hating my hate is not lost on me, but we have gone way past the land where logic and reason are the rulers.  Here, they are just words.

It’s a weird state of mind that thinking about death puts people in. That book I now consider my bipolar bible, “An Unquiet Mind“, talks about it quite extensively. The author and a friend of hers, on a good night, made a deal with each other to call the other one and let them take them wherever for a week before they killed themselves, if they indeed still felt like doing so. Each was to give the other a week of reasons not to do it, to go back on their meds, to call their doctor, etc. Despite this deal, the author’s friend didn’t keep their end of the bargain, with predictable results. Neither did the author on several occasions that she was feeling suicidal. She admits that in those darkest of hours, the thought of calling anyone else just didn’t occur to her. Which doesn’t surprise me. Logic changes its rules in the mind of a suicidal person. What makes sense to everyone else doesn’t make sense to someone who wants to die, or is at least thinking it might be better.

I dislike having this kind of knowledge about humanity, and about myself. I don’t like knowing how the dark clock ticks in the minds of the disturbed. It has many hands and many chimes, most of them as loud as a klaxon horn, blaring one’s misery in cacophanous tones that are unignorable. Interspersed are the rings of guilt, which serve to amplify all of the others.

What’s wrong with you? How can you possibly feel this way? You’re broken. You’re bad. You should be punished for feeling this way because it doesn’t make any sense, you whiny fucking baby.

A hundred years ago, you’d find someone crouched in a corner with their hands over their ears screaming, “SHUTUP!” Today, you find them like me: parked in front of the television watching Doctor Who for as many hours as it takes to dull the sharp bite of a monster I *know* is meaningless and powerless. Then trying and failing to stay asleep as anxiety attacks set in *during* sleep, making me feel as though I’m suffocating. When sleep does come, it’s punctuated by very strange dreams that always involve swimming in dirty water and being at risk of being eaten by large industrial machinery, also underwater. Talk about waking up with the heebie fuckin’ jeebies. Let’s add a sprinkle of the constant doctor search anxiety, too, just for flavor.

*headdesk*

I *am* getting things done today, though. I’ve already made a few necessary phone calls, and now I’m doing what is probably the most important task for the day: “write down analysis of moods for last 2-6 weeks, and further if possible“. Really I should analyze back to getting on lithium and trazodone, then back to quitting smoking, then back to getting rid of the IUD. These things all come to bear and I feel it’s crucial to figure out how and when and in what way they interact. For instance, obviously a hormonal IUD was doing some good stabilizing things to my mood, but wasn’t fixing the problem since I felt vaguely PMS-y pretty much constantly, and some of my worst episodes happened while I had it. So obviously that’s not the only issue. Then there’s the quitting smoking, which I feel had a much more deleterious effect on my mind than getting rid of the IUD. Indeed, on my bad mental days, I still feel a super strong urge to smoke that I feel is indicative of far more than a mind dumping nicotine receptors, and I have felt very unstable since I quit. Those who have been supportive of my effort to quit smoking really have no idea of the Herculean effort it has taken not to smoke again, because I know it will make me feel better mentally.  My mouth and brain ache with desire to smoke sometimes.

Then there’s the last 5 weeks, which is how long it’s been since I took myself to the psychiatric ER after the mother of all PMS episodes. According to my reading, it’s completely possible for one’s worst episodes to occur during PMS time, but for them not to be directly attributable to hormonal influences. Everything gets ranked in terms of primary, secondary, and tertiary effects. The PMS is just secondary for me, with the supposed bipolar disorder being primary (although I’m beginning to question if that’s really my problem, or if I’m on the right meds, or if I’m on *enough* of them). I definitely have some unaddressed symptoms, though, which I would very much like to go away right about now, thanks very fucking much. I do not enjoy having a head filled with suicidal and otherwise violent thoughts (which had gone away for a while but have returned). I do not enjoy having to construct my day so that I avoid certain kinds of stimulus, or else I’ll lose my temper. I do not enjoy not knowing which days these things will occur on. There’s a whole lot about this ride that I really don’t like, and if I had my druthers, I’d have a bottle of PRN Haldol sitting around for when I’m feeling just a wee too crazy. Or something like it. Let’s kick it old school with Thorazine! I’ll pass on the modern atypical antipsychotics that give you horrible weight gain, diabetes, or high cholesterol, though. No thanks.

I’ve been doing a shitload of reading, though. I may very well have bipolar disorder, but I’m pretty damn sure there are some others glommed on there too. PTSD from growing up in such a fucked up house and never, ever having a childhood, for starters. The two parents dead of suicide don’t help that one, either (you should have seen the looks people at the clinic gave me when I told them that). I’m not sure if my OCD-like tendencies are actual OCD or if that’s just how hypomania and mania manifest in my life, because it’s certainly not in the stereotypical “I’m awesome, let’s shop and fuck!” sort of way many manics manifest that phase. I would really like to be tested for adult ADD or plain old high-functioning autism given my complete inability to look at anyone in the eyes, along with some other behaviors (don’t move my shit. really, don’t move my shit). Hell, I’d even take the epic-length MMPI if it would figure out what’s wrong with my brainmeats. I took that once for a grad student friend who needed volunteers to finish her degree. My results were apparently……strange. She asked her professor what she would do with the results: “Hit her with a battery of tests.” Maybe it’s time for the battery, so to speak. I don’t care what the answer is, I just want to KNOW so I can take care of it.

*sigh* Some of the websites are nice enough to admit that it may be several weeks before anyone bothers to get back to me due to the high demand for psychiatrists (maybe *that’s* what I should major in at UT, if I ever go back: people are like cellophane to me, they’re so transparent – perhaps it’s my karmic duty to use this knowledge and ability to help other poor crazed individuals like myself). I’mma keep on callin’, though. *sigh* I should really get paid for this shit, it’s a lot harder than most people’s jobs, and it’s certainly a lot less enjoyable.

Today, though, hopefully my GP and/or his nurse will call back and either schedule an appointment for me or just call in something to help me feel less hostile and like breaking things. I love my family and I really do love the world, but right now it’s all buried under a burning pile of hate and dissatisfaction that doesn’t listen to logic or reason, it just wants to destroy and it’s on a very unpredictable hair trigger. My other option is going back to PES and going inpatient in a building that looks, sounds, smells, and feels like every hospital Mom ever stayed in. I don’t think that’s the right place for me. I think just being around that shade of green for more than a few hours would send me right over the edge.  The view is frightening enough, thanks: I don’t need to ride that merry-go-round.

Whee!


First, a bit of happy news: I got my yellow belt in Seido Karate last night!  W00t!  😀  My daughter got her advanced yellow belt, and this Saturday she will be competing in the regional science fair with her model of an electrical motor.  My little girl is not quite *8*.  🙂  Okay, back to your regularly scheduled blogging.

So it’s been almost a month since I was driven to the psychiatric ER in an effort to alleviate my increasingly agitated brain.  In that time I’ve been from one extreme to the other, although I’m extremely happy to say that lithium apparently puts a lid on suicidal thoughts no matter how sad I get.  So that’s a good thing.

I’ve also learned that my particular bipolarcoaster (one of my new favorite words, thanks to friend Dianne Sylvan: she writes fabulous vampire books, look her up) is heavily linked to my womanly cycles.  So I’m like that character Chameleon in Piers Anthony‘s Xanth series: when it’s fertile time, she’s dumb and happy, but when the other half of the cycle comes, she’s ugly and mean.  Okay, maybe I’m not dumb when I’m happy or ugly when I’m mean, but you get the idea.

I was happy to discover that the website Crazy Boards is still around.  I found them back in 2006 when I had my “holy crap I’m at home alone with the kid for the first time EVER” freakout.  I doubt there is a finer discussion forum for mental illness of all flavors.  I love them for their forum descriptors.  Here’s the one for bipolar:

Bipolar Spectrum Disorder – The Pole Dance

If life is a ride, BP’s a fucking theme park. Whether you’re riding the roller coaster, spinning ’round the demonic carousel, buying souvenir toenail clippers for the population of Rhodesia, or weeping on the sidelines as some kid pukes on your head, we’re here for you.

Goddamn, that’s fucking perfect! Theme park indeed.  In fact, some bipolar oriented websites seem to play off the whimsical sounding nature of bipolar disorder.  Bipolar World!  Which makes me think of Benny’s World of Liquor from the movie From Dusk Til Dawn.  Or a retail store with sales from hell.

Sale, sale, sale!  Get your mood swings right here!  We got ’em all!  Up, down, sideways, whichever mood flavor you want today, we’re here for YOU!

What else have I learned?  A LOT about pharmaceuticals.  It’s a good goddamn thing I took so many freakin’ science classes between the ages of 10 and 20 and that I’m blessed with critical thinking skills or I’d be lost in a pharmaceutical morass from which there is no escape.  Mood stabilizers, anticonvulsants, antipsychotics (typical and atypical), antidepressants, anxiolytics, so on and so forth.  Let’s not forget that in large part, scientists still have zero fucking clue, or at least very limited clues, about how any of this shit works on the gray matter.  They can guess, and that’s about it.  Length of time on the market makes absolutely no difference.  Lithium is probably the oldest psychiatric medication still in use and the only true mood stabilizer, and they only just very recently have begun to figure out how it works (probably by regulating DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, which reduces inflammation in the brain that leads to the mood swings).  Which is why so many people wind up spending months if not YEARS figuring what meds work for them because all you can do is try one and see if it works.  Not to mention that you have to wait several weeks or months for each one to really stabilize before making a judgment as to its efficacy.  Fun!  Not.

Then there are the side effects of many if not most of these drugs.  Tardive dyskinesia (a Parkinsonian-like tremor that never goes away, even after you stop taking the offending medication).  Akathisia (an inability to sit still).  Dry mouth.  Kidney and liver dysfunction.  Diarrhea and/or constipation.  Tremors.  Sexual dysfunction.  Weight gain (probably the most common side effect of all of them other than sexual dysfunction).  Fortunately I don’t have any of these problems (yet: the weight gain was because of those damned birth control pills), and I don’t want them, which is why I research the fuck out of everything.  Hopefully the doctors that have to deal with me in the future will appreciate this tendency and not find it annoying or infringing upon their God complex (and there are still quite a number of psychiatrists who would prefer you describe your problem as briefly as possible and then STFU so they can write you a prescription).

I still have to find a psychiatrist, a task that daunts me for some reason.  Same with a therapist.  I at least have a general practitioner to check my blood levels, but I need to get going on those other things.  The first task causes me the most anxiety because I really do NOT want one of those God complex shrinks who just wants me to shutup, and goddammit, shrinks are EXPENSIVE!  I try not to think about it too much and how mental health is only for the rich and those lucky enough to have just enough to take care of such things to the detriment of things like replacing broken washing machines (raises hand).  I’m glad I have the resources available to me that I do, but there are so many who don’t, and the way our country treats and thinks of mental illness in general is just loathsome.  Oops, got on a soapbox there.

I am also on a quest for books for children with parents with mental illness, particular bipolar.  I’m finding a lot of books about kids with bipolar illness (which strikes me as odd: aren’t mood swings just one of those characteristics of childhood?), but that’s about it.  So I may have a writing project in my future, because I want to help my daughter, and other children, understand what’s up with Mum (or Dad), and since I seem to have a gift for the written gab, not to mention a Bodhisattva’s heart, I feel obligated to use my talents and knowledge to help others.

But first, let’s finish helping me.  *sigh*