5-Minutes

5minutes Are you listening? Can you hear me?

I need you to hear me.

I need you to know what I mean when I say, “I just can’t!”

You really need to understand this illness before we talk about, “I just can’t” It will make so much more sense then.

I’ve written about my troubles for years in my paper journals. I’ve always imagined that when I die, one of my family, my kids perhaps, would read them and finally understand me. They would finally understand that I’m not a bad person, a lazy person, or a freeloader.

I’m sick. I’ve always been a sick person.

With technology what it is today, it’s easy to find an informative book that explains what it is to have what I have. I’ve searched YouTube for videos that explain me and have found a few that try to do it and seem to do it well. We’re all different of course so what describes one person may not completely fit me. But if the person watching will just listen, listen and hear the pain and the wrongness of it all.

Wrongness. That’s what it is.

You’d think, maybe this is the child whose rage never seemed to end, a brat that pushed and pushed…. Wouldn’t you like an explanation?

I’d think someone who claims to love me would take a few minutes to watch a 5-minute video, just a five-minute video, to learn about me. Surely, someone, anyone of you must care enough to sit for five-minutes for me? Did you hang out in line for coffee or in line at the grocery store? Is that silly? Have you “liked” any funny pictures or memes today? Did you watch ANY TV? What were you doing on commercials? Why is this so hard for you?

Did you watch the news today or read your Facebook feed? Have you texted anyone or talked on the phone?

Would you think I didn’t love you if I didn’t return your calls or texts for two or three weeks? Would you call and check on me?

How much energy does it take to watch a video?

What are you afraid of?

I’d have thought I’ve shown you enough of what this illness is that you have nothing left to fear.

And yet, you don’t hesitate. You completely stop.

“I don’t have time.”

Will you have time to visit me in the hospital?

I’m not going to try to kill myself just to get your attention. But I can’t promise to do what’s best for me all the time.

Maybe I’ll have to mourn the death of you so that I can learn to live without you. Because you see, I already live like this. You are emotionally unavailable to me. Without “my people” surrounding me in a protective layer of love to cushion me when I fall….

Adults are just like children. We all have a fair expectation of being loved. When that expectation is not met we wither and begin to slip away.

Do you have five-minutes?

I need you to listen to me today.

Just follow the link.

Then maybe we could talk.

I’ve had a thought. I’ve unwillingly learned more about inappropriate relations whether they be physical, racial, or political just watching prime time TV than you’ve learned about me on purpose.

It isn’t rocket science. But it is science. I am sick. Unlike some illnesses like some cancers where the patient may go into remission or finally be overcome by it, my sickness has not given me a moment’s rest.

Sometimes I wish I had an illness you could see so that you would mourn me when I die. But for today, I live as though I’m normal. That’s how you see me. Normal. That’s how I look. This illness is rude beyond anything I’ve ever seen. It grabs hold and never lets you go. It bombards me from within, from where you cannot see. This illness, it stays in the “ON” position from before I was diagnosed until I die.

That’s right. I have it now. You cannot see it. I will die with it.

Would you watch the video?

Or would you rather I had cancer? Then you’d have something you could see.

I’m tired of being unseen for who I am.

Please, are you listening? Can you hear me?

I’m wondering if you’ve ever felt anything like this. This is all true in my life. What about you? If you have known that, I hear you. I will listen to you. I have way more than 5-minutes to give you.

* I had my counselor read this yesterday so that he could see what’s in my brain. I told him I was going to edit it, polish it up before I posted it so it would be clearer in some places. He suggested that I not do that. He felt that letting you see where my brain was at was a place of raw emotion. He urged me to keep the “rawness” in it. So, here it is. Right from my brain and served up to you on a virtual platter.

What My Med Provider Means to Me

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I’ve complained about my med providers and their apparent inability to comprehend the word ANXIETY for over a year now. You could assume that I don’t like med providers… that I don’t trust them, that I think they’re stupid. Well, umm, yes, that’s basically how I’ve been feeling. I’ve been living a nightmare that has been driving me downward toward my old companions: anger and rage. It makes me feel like they’re getting out of prison and are moving into the house next to mine. I’ve been really scared that I was about to lose control of my emotions again, and eventually, my mind. It has happened before.

I last week I spoke with my counselor (Lee) before my visit with my med provider (Susan) this week. He thought the Ritalin obviously wasn’t working and that my ADHD was out of control. I allowed myself to interact with him the way I do at home with Jessica. My inability to control things like how fast, how much, and how many topics I covered while speaking certainly indicated that this was true.

<OMG! Alexa is playing music from the 1950’s for me. I LOVE THIS MUSIC!>

I was stunned. ADHD? If he was right, this could change everything about the way I approached my brain. I was told I had ADHD just a few years ago and had never taken the time to learn anything about it. Wow, that wasn’t like me at all. I love research! Following rabbit holes is my favorite pastime!

Anyway, I assumed Susan would look at my chart to see what notes Lee would have put in it before she saw me. Doing that would give her knowledge she should have used to help her understand where I was at and she would have seen what Lee was concerned about. It was an assumption I shouldn’t have made. Apparently, things don’t actually work that way.

Every time I see Susan 12 times a year. Yikes! So many times. One of the first things she asks me is if I feel like… if I FEEL like the Ritalin {1} is helping me focus? Focus? What does that mean? How can I tell it’s working? I can pay attention in class. Is that what she means? My attention is crap at home. I can’t ever do just one thing at a time. I have to leave the commercials in when I watch from the DVR (DISH) so that I can read or research stuff online that they just talked about. Is it working? I suppose so? I always replied that I guessed it did. I guess that was silly of me. I would say that because I had no idea what else to say. If I was a little boy, I could probably mean that I’d slow down and stop bouncing off the walls and maybe stay in my seat. But as an adult… I had no idea what that looked like. If I said the wrong thing, she might mess with my meds and right then, they were treating me okay. I wasn’t raging at anyone that day and I didn’t feel depressed.

After I mentioned what Lee and I had talked about and that he was very concerned she took a minute to read his notes. Suddenly she made a whole new treatment plan. I had been on Lithium when I was first diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder (BD). The first book I read on it was: “An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness” by Kay Redfield Jamison. I was deeply touched. I felt like I understood what she was talking about, like we were kindred spirits, linked through the ether by BD. Jamison was very sick when she was diagnosed.

Let me attempt to generally get right to the point for once. Jamison was placed on Lithium to treat her BD and it worked. So, that’s what I asked to be given. My personal doctor (MD), was the one who initially treated me. He said that Lithium has been around for many years and there is a lot of evidence that it works.

The Lithium worked.

Susan felt that since the Ritalin was obviously not helping me focus. I guess that made her rethink her strategy. She finally agreed that my brain was hopping along on two of four legs. She told me that does think I have ADHD she now believes that I’m far more manic, which was making me act like that bouncy ball they teach kids to sing songs with. Do you know what I mean? It might be too old for some of you. They wanted to teach kids songs so a character on a film or on TV would get you to sing along as it had a bouncing ball hop around on the lyrics so we could see the lyrics while we sang. It was great fun! than anything else. Sure I talk incessantly to Jessica, but my brain was exploding with ideas. It was time to help me continue to be creative, but to control my mania so that I could be productive.

The plan: no more Clonazepam, no more Ritalin. Start Lithium.
*The reason I went off Lithium was that my PC (Primary Care) had been highlighting the dangers of being on Lithium more than he was the benefits of it. It was because of these side effects, that I requested I be put on something else that didn’t have the same drawbacks. Lithium toxicity can occur even at a low dose. While on Lithium, the user has to be closely monitored so that the dose can be adjusted as needed. The symptoms of Lithium toxicity are numerous and I already have several of them for other random reasons. This website lists the long lists of side effects. In addition to these potential problems the user (remember this is me) has to carefully watch their intake of salt, caffeine, and alcohol. And get this… some of the other medications that may interfere with Lithium and increase the risk of toxicity are ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Aleve). Oh, and I can’t leave out this one: acetaminophen (Tylenol). So… yeah. I had a lot of scary reasons to ask to be taken off the drug that was helping me but was also kind of terrifying too. 

Susan believes that this change in medications should make my extreme moods in control much better.

Excuse me? As long as I’ve been seeing the professionals in this clinic, I’ve never had anyone decide to try Lithium again. All this time… lost. Years of feeling my little grey cells melting, running out of my ears. But then again, Lithium toxicity…

I want to be a writer when I grow up. I once heard that writers go through life with their head cocked a bit to the side. I showed Susan a piece of paper that was covered with writing on both sides. It was filled with websites, blogs, and email addresses that I’d created. She studied it for a while. I asked her if I was stupid and delusional to think that I could do all these things and believe that they were not just good ideas, they were great ideas. They were creative ideas. Is my mind actually existing in a consistent state of delusions of grandeur?

Delusions of grandeur. I’ve always been afraid that people would remember that part of the list of symptoms for BD and dismiss me as a kook. Am I brilliant? Or am I bonkers and deluded? I’ve always believed my ideas were great. Yeah. Delusions of grandeur?

She said no. It wasn’t that. Yes, my thoughts are crazy fast, but I am very creative and smart.

Me – creative and smart. OMG!

Of course, now I respect her. She believes in me. She agrees with me that I’m smart and creative. No one has really said that to me. No one has said, “Robin, you’re not delusional. You’re smart. You’re creative. You have good ideas… cleaver… innovative. Don’t worry about being crazy. We just need to slow you down so you can get things done.

Since then, I’ve discovered additional information that indicates that one aspect of BD is the tendency to be super goal oriented. Yep, that’s me. Why haven’t I’ve seen that before?

Watch out! Corner coming!

What are the good things about having BD? I’ll have to think on that for a while.

Go ahead, get mad when the medical professionals don’t seem to be listening. Pester them until they hear you. Then, you listen to them. Work together. Hope that things will finally start to workout. Now that Susan and I are communicating, now that she hears me, we have a new plan. Maybe my mind won’t keep leaving the scene without me.

Yes, it really has done that. We’ve called professional trackers to find it a few times now. It-is-very-embarrassing when your mind is so exposed, so naked.

New plan. New hope.

Bring it! I’m ready.

I’m more than ready –

{1 – Concerta and Ritalin are stimulant medications used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They’re both different brand-name versions of the same drug, called methylphenidate hydrochloride.  https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/concerta-ritalin}

Bipolar – Med Provider Day

I’m unstoppable.

I’ve been trying to sleep, but it eludes me like a chicken running for its life.

I’m going to see my med provider at 10 in the morning today. I hope she listens this time. If she doesn’t I’ll be requesting someone else and informing them of why I’m choosing to under go all the stress that comes with a decision like that. I’ve had enough.

I’m going to confront her with the facts. I’ve been keeping a list of my symptoms since I saw her 30 days ago. It has grown quite long. It looks even worse than before I was being medicated.

I’m unstoppable.

My pain management guy and I had to ween me off one of the long acting pain killers I’ve been taking for a couple of years because of supply issues. I went from 100 mg twice a day to 50 mg over night because there wasn’t anymore to be found anywhere. No one knew it was going to happen so there was no helping it. It didn’t feel so great. Then we kind of gradually weened me off the rest. Now my pain level is constantly higher. Also, the torn fascia in my foot still isn’t healed. It’s painful. I got special shoes for it today. But as the compassionate woman said while I walked around and around testing shoes, my foot was going to feel soar and tired. It still is. It wasn’t fun.

All this has added to my overall stress level, as you can imagine. Withdrawal is never a good time, nor is added pain.

I’m unstoppable.

I will be thankful if my counselor, Arthur, can make it to my appointment. He said he’d try. He feels it is important for her to understand my mental state from his side of the equation. He’s been with me two previous visits.

It hasn’t helped.

I’m still choosing to be unstoppable.

I may stumble, and I may fall over and over, but this damn illness is not going to continue to run my life. I’m very ill. I’m too exhausted not to fight anymore. I feel like my life has been a waste.

I’ve had enough.

I’m unstoppable.

Help me. Or, stay out of my way.

I refuse to stop!

I’m Bipolar 1-How Much Further Must I Go?

I’m dang angry. I’ve worked my agitated ass off for three years, stumbling under the nightmares of depression and raging as anxiety unleashed tries to undo all that I’ve endured. So close. One more quarter and I’ll graduate from UWT. One more quarter and I’ll have to get a job and support myself.

Listen to me dear Reader, if you have a medical professional who won’t listen to you or thinks your complaint is in your head (duh) or is in some way not treating you with the dignity and respect that your insurance dollars demand of them… stand up and say something! You do not always need to be nice. Trust me on this one.

I learned long ago to hide much of my mental crappiness that was going on in my skull. I was super high functioning. I had kids to raise. I can play the “I’m fine, I’m a great” parent game.

But you know what? Turns out that didn’t help the “me” of today. The “me” of today STILL needs something for anxiety. Go ahead moron. Yes, you Jamie, you have ignored my pleas for something to do for me what all the hundreds of hours of counseling have been unable to do… relieve my over the top anxiety.

I’ve asked this woman for something for anxiety since the first time I saw her. You know what she did? She started lowering my Clonazapam (spelling). Every time I’ve seen her, she reduces it. “It is just one less pill. You’ll be okay.” [bitch]

I went home with 10 pills for 30 days.

She increased my Ritalin dosage and made it extended length. I didn’t ask for that. What? You want me to calm down so we can finish our 20 minutes on time? Have you dosed me so that I’ll be a good woman and let you get done with me?

Well guess what? The shits hitting this fan.

Can any of you relate? Have you felt unheard and improperly treated? Guess what? You are NOT ALONE. Not by a screaming momma long shot.

I have IBSd. I had to talk to my counselor from home. Since I was in my own I felt FREE to explain again about my anxiety and graduation and jobs and money and acting out in class because I simply cannot contain the mountain of anxiety spilling … over into my phone call.

For an hour I yelled about Jamie to my poor counselor. I accused her of having her own agenda and it didn’t include my mental health. I’m done. She either treats my anxiety when I see her next week or –

Or I will hand deliver a letter I’ve been writing about our times together to the facility director. I’m done.

I’ve worked my hardest, trying to keep hold of myself while my wild mood swings tried to prevent me from my goal – getting a college degree at 55.

This, this Jamie, she can’t seem to hear, see, understand, empathize or give a rats ass whether I self-destruct because my anxiety has paralyzed me again. I sit on the sofa and I cry because I’m terrified I’ll fail. So I don’t start. Then the panick sets in as I realize I can’t write the paper.

In the name of the oath that we have been lead to believe that those in the medical profession must swear to, treat me for my illness.

I cannot imagine going through the graduation ceremony in the Tacoma Dome with my freaking anxiety not treated.

I cannot imagine the day after graduation when I need to be looking for a job, but because Jamie didn’t treat my well documented illness I am instead sitting in the back yard vegetable garden pretending to being weeding. The problem with this scenario is that I have arthritis, and if I have sat in the garden without anyone home to help me up… I’m not going to getup. It would mean that I’d given up. It would mean that I’d be punishing myself for continuing to be the Bipolar failure that I’ve always been. (How I feel.)

And Jamie? Still with me? You could have prevented me from losing all the ground I’d worked so damn hard all these years to reach. And why? For what? From here it just seems you’re stupid. Some medical “professionals” are stupid you know. I’ve even taken my counselor with me on two occasions to verify what I tell her.

I’m done.

I’m saying Hell No! That’s enough of this irresponsible crap. You expect those of us with mental health issues to behave? Then treat us right. Hear us when we call for help. If we bring backup pay special attention. I’m trying to get my son to go with me. He’s a psychology major.

To all of you struggling to work with your own Jamie’s, you stand fast. Do not let them push you around. They’re there to serve your medical needs. Document what you talk about and when. Keep a clear record so if you need a new med provider you can state your case and prove that they aren’t listening.

One reminder though. If you’re really messed up you may not be thinking straight. No worries. You just take a family member or someone who you can trust with you.

You’re not alone.

Oh, and if you happen to be a Jamie, what’s your damn excuse?

Insidious Black Box

I apologize for the length of this post. Please consider reading the entire post. It’s very important. Your life could depend upon it. (Robin)

Emotionmasks insane faces

I take two medications that I considered to have a Black Box warning. They both depress breathing. Together they can stop my breathing altogether… There are other dangers.

I have chronic pain with Bipolar Disorder and Generalized Anxiety. I am prescribed both Oxycodone and Clonazepam by two different providers. They both know that I take both medications.

I see a pain management specialist for my pain. I have for some time now. To be treated there, I have had to sign a contract that governs my behavior with regards to taking pain medications, I have to take a pee test every time I go in and they count my pills every time as well.

My med provider handles my Clonazepam prescription for anxiety. I suffer from extreme anxiety. Sometimes I feel like my brain is going to explode. Recently, this woman, who is the 4th or 5th provider I’ve had since I started going to this clinic, told me that I’m more likely to kill myself because of anxiety rather than depression. I was always told that a depressed person was more likely to commit suicide when they started to feel better. When they started feeling better, they finally would have the energy to follow through with their suicidal inclinations. Apparently, there is more to it than that.

My counselor and every med provider I’ve had is intimately aware of my massive anxiety and my inability to get it under control. We’ve tried all the counseling type of solutions including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (talk therapy), mindfulness and other techniques. I’ve not had success with any of them.

My med provider is content for me to only take Lamotrigine, which is primarily to treat my Bipolar Disorder depression symptoms, and not to take anything other than Clonazepam for anxiety. From talking to her, it appears that this is primarily to treat the depressive symptoms that I experience. I have not been able to get any of the med providers who have treated me to give me anything for anxiety other than Clonazepam.

She, my med provider, told me at our second meeting, that people with anxiety are more likely to commit suicide than people with depression. Since I suffer primarily from anxiety, you would think someone would have warned me of this. I understand now why I feel so self-destructive while I’m exploding with anxiety.

She has told me that her goal is to get me off the Clonazepam completely. Now that I’m taking my runaway anxiety and the real chance I will kill myself because of it more seriously, I’m also taking the mix of these two medications seriously. I always have, but my frantic response to my anxiety has created a situation where I’m so afraid of what might happen if I stop taking the drug for anxiety.

I’ve always felt like I’m most insane when my anxiety is at its peak.

I understand that long-term opioid use for chronic pain is not the most effective way to treat it. I’ve wanted to find a different solution for a long time. My pain management provider doesn’t offer other alternatives than pain medications.

I normally don’t want to die. I’ve always had urges that are normally short in duration towards it, but I haven’t had times when I sit there with my bottle of Oxycodone ready to take it all. But, I could.

I’ve never told any of my mental health caregivers that I have suicidal thoughts. I know that my community does not have good facilities to treat acute mental health emergencies. I don’t want to become one of those people who is shuffled into a hospital emergency room with a guard sitting outside my little room. That’s what they do. I have first-hand knowledge of this.

So what’s the answer? Do I chance dying in my sleep? Or do I chance ending my life while I’m awake? Both are real dangers.

I’ve decided to deal with my feelings of self-destruction now. With the danger of the two medications and my new understanding the relationship between anxiety and suicide, I have promised my family that I will talk to my counselor on Wednesday when I see him. I will admit that I think about suicide. That’s a huge step for me.

I’m afraid. Admitting how I’ve been feeling for years is like admitting that I can’t control the one area of dealing with my mental health that I always felt I could say I didn’t have a problem with. I’ll finally be admitting I have no control over my depression or my anxiety in relationship to staying alive.

As I say, I don’t want to die. When my anxiety runs away I cannot always control myself. I can become violent and destructive. I break down and cannot function. I become paralyzed yet also hysterical.

Yesterday I talked to my mother and all three of my kids and admitted the truth to them. My youngest who is a psych major at the same university that I attend (so is her partner) said she had been wondering if that was a problem for me. They all agree that they would rather I call them than I call a suicide line. I’ll talk to my therapist about that.

I have tried to learn to practice mindfulness several times in the past. I never fully committed to it. Mindfulness was just part of the learning experience in one of my classes I just finished. It’s time for me to review the materials I have about it, I have lots. I need to try to learn how to harness it’s potential in earnest this time. My life depends upon it.

I have a particular fear: I’m terrified of my anxiety. I know what it does to me. I sometimes feel the insidious devil of insanity creeping through my mind trying to take over, and it literally shreds my mind.

If you have any Black Box warnings for medication yourself, please take it seriously. Now that I am self-aware of my true situation I’m ready to find a way to deal with my symptoms.

 

My main medications:

Chronic Pain – Oxycodone / Nucynta

Anxiety / PTSD – Clonazepam / Benzodiazepines

Bipolar Disorder / Depression – Lamotrigine

 

Oxycodone – Warnings

“To make sure this medicine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • a history of drug abuse, alcohol addiction, or mental illness
  • if you use a sedative like Valium (diazepam, alprazolam, lorazepam, Ativan, Klonopin, Restoril, Tranxene, Versed, Xanax, and others)”

https://www.drugs.com/oxycodone.html

Clonazepam – Warnings

Risks from Concomitant Use with Opioids
Use of benzodiazepines, including Clonazepam, and opioids may result in profound sedation, respiratory depression, coma, and death. Because of these risks, reserve concomitant prescribing of benzodiazepines and opioids for use in patients for whom alternative treatment options are inadequate.

Observational studies have demonstrated that concomitant use of opioid analgesics and benzodiazepines increases the risk of drug-related mortality compared to use of opioids alone. If a decision is made to prescribe Clonazepam concomitantly with opioids, prescribe the lowest effective dosages and minimum durations of concomitant use, and follow patients closely for signs and symptoms of respiratory depression and sedation.
(The above Warning is taken from: https://www.drugs.com/pro/clonazepam.html)
Concomitant: (synonyms: attendant, accompanying, associated, related, connected)

Lamotrigine – Warnings

To make sure lamotrigine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • A history of depression or suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Some people have thoughts about suicide while taking this medicine. Your doctor will need to check your progress at regular visits. Your family or other caregivers should also be alert to changes in your mood or symptoms.

https://www.drugs.com/mtm/lamotrigine.html

Nucynta – Side Effects for Health Care Professionals

Psychiatric – Common (1% to 10%): Insomnia, confusion, abnormal dreams, anxiety, depression, irritability, nervousness, drug withdrawal syndrome, restlessness, sleep disorder, hallucination, depressed mood.
https://www.drugs.com/sfx/nucynta-side-effects.html

 

Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines may be used in the treatment of anxiety, panic disorder, seizures, or sleep disorders.
https://www.drugs.com/drug-class/benzodiazepines.html

 

Trying to Listen to My Counselor

I saw my counselor this week. She’s been giving me things to do during the weeks I’m not seeing her. Honestly, I usually forget what to do as soon as I leave. If she gives me a handout I know she’s going to ask me about it the next time I see her. So, I save the handouts to remind me and look at them the day before I see her again. It doesn’t sound like I have a lot of confidence or enthusiasm where she’s concerned does it? I’ve actually asked myself that. Why am I going to see her if I’m not following through with what she’s trying to teach me?

I do try to engage and be present while we’re talking. She hears me say more than I think I’m saying and then she addresses it right them. That’s a good thing, I think. She consistently talks to me about the same things. I think… I can’t remember. That’s the trouble with counseling, I can’t remember what we talked about so while at the time I feel like I’m learning how to change my behavior or how I’m thinking about something for the better it doesn’t last. It’s like a chill pill. You take it and feel great, but when it wears off, it’s just gone.

An epiphany. I remember things when I have an epiphany. Unfortunately, epiphanies don’t usually happen when I’m working with my counselor. Truth be told, they don’t appear often at all.

When I’m getting ready to write my latest blog post I start looking for inspiration, something that I can write about that will encourage and maybe make things better for my reader. What I really need is that elusive epiphany.

I’m sad. I’m sad because I don’t know how to create an epiphany.

Bipolar – TV

tvI want to believe that although I have Bipolar Disorder, depression, GAD, PTSD, ADHD and so on I can still be successful.

I want to live an active and full life. Much of the time I convince myself that I can’t do that. I look at my situation and I conclude that if I haven’t started living by this time in my life, that maybe I won’t ever have the life that I want. It’s tempting to fail myself and believe that.

One of the reasons that I sit static in my living room and don’t try to actively change my life is that I watch TV all the time. It is on all the time. I used to listen to music. Now it’s just the TV. As long as I have that continuous stream entering my brain I don’t use it for anything else. It’s so easy to be a spectator.

During school I finally admitted to myself that I was having a hard time doing my homework because it was on all the time. As much as I’d like to think that I can focus effectively on other things while the it is on, it isn’t true.

It’s hard to turn off the TV. It’s my companion. Right now, remarkably, it’s off. I’m listening to classical music on my phone. I’m trying very hard not to watch one of the many shows I have DVR’d. I’m practicing having it off so when school starts next week I’ll be more likely to switch it off while I’m doing homework. I’m sure that I’ll have an easier time doing the work if the TV isn’t invading my brain.

It also keeps me from dealing with myself. I can ignore the fact that I’m not dealing with my ongoing anxiety because I’m occupied with the TV.

I need to have quiet time so I can think. I don’t think well while the TV is on. Heck, I don’t think much at all when it’s on.

I’m finding that I’m having a hard time with this post. It feels disjointed and awkward. Maybe that’s because my companion is silent and I can really hear what I’m thinking. Maybe. I’ve been thinking about having the TV off for some time now. I’m impressed with myself that it is off. There is so much more interesting and important stuff for me to feed my brain with than TV. I’m not saying TV is bad. I’m just saying that when it is the only thing going on in my head it’s a problem.

A man (I can’t recall who) wrote that he used to go into a room every day with a pen and paper and shut himself inside and just think. He didn’t see people; he didn’t read anything. He just thought. I remember when I first read that I thought it was an amazing idea. I practiced it for a while, then, I went back to filling my brain with static.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I know I wouldn’t be able to keep them so I don’t make them. However, right now seems like a good time to change my behavior. I’ve pinpointed a problem: I don’t think. I listen to the TV.

Napoleon Hill (1883-1970) wrote: “What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” I’ve always liked that quote. Thinking… that’s a problem. My medications help a lot. Counseling has helped too. My counselor has helped me identify problem thinking and correct it. (Napoleon Hill quotes)

What’s next? Well, my brain is full of what I put into it or what I allow to be put into it. I allow someone else to put their content in it the whole time the TV is on, which is most of the time I’m awake.

The solution seems easy doesn’t it? Turn the TV off. Easy.

Right now… the TV isn’t off.

I’ve learned a lot. Time to change. I should turn it off. I should–

Bipolar – Being There for My Kids and Real Anxiety

We did something amazing today, something we haven’t done in a very long time, my three kids and I all made dinner and ate it together around our family dining room table. We did it alone, without their girlfriends and significant others. It was nice. It was unfiltered. It was honest.

My son and our cars were some of the topics of conversation. My car is doing really well, solid, for being over 200,000 miles. My son, wants out of his relationship with his live in girlfriend. She (girlfriend), is not doing as well as my car.

She’s a bit on the mad side and I do mean both mad-angry and mad-bonkers. He’s concerned she might do something to him if he breaks up with her. I hate to see him going through that fear, that pain. I was in a similar situation myself many years ago and things did not go well. Today the digital actions of the other person would be illegal. I don’t think this girl has the resources or the wherewithal to try to make his life hell like I experienced.

I must tell you one thing I think is particularly amusing that she does every week. I thought I was being nice when I was moving and going through my cookbooks, when I let her pick some out to take for her own. I shouldn’t have let her have the one on Herbs. It goes through all the major cooking herbs and talks about how they are used. So, being the incredibly wise girl that she is, she is going through the book and making a dish around one herb at a time.

Unfortunately, she isn’t a cook. She sees her herb of the day and then Googles it and picks the top recipe and decides to make it for dinner. For example, they had mint the other day. The recipe called for dry mint in a certain amount. She sent my son to the store for fresh mint. Then she added the fresh mint to the recipe in the same amount that it called for as DRY. Yeah. He’s been getting sick a lot. She also has no concept of cleanliness in the kitchen and uses knives and forks for raw meat and other foods at the same time without washing them. It’s no wonder he’s losing weight. It’s a wonder he’s alive. Her lack of common sense with cleanliness in the kitchen really troubles me.

Without going into the grimy details let me say that he’s smart enough to know that he’s made a mistake and that he needs to disengage himself from her asap. I’m gratified that he knows I meant it when I said any of my three kids could home if they ever need to. I don’t have any fear that he’s scared to live with me. There was a time when that might have been true.

My anxiety is going up and down but is mostly manageable especially now that I’ve seen my med provider Sara and she’s standing with me. She sees the stress the pain management doctor is putting me through and is concerned about the affect it is having on me.

I’m feeling supported tonight. I reached out to a friend tonight that I haven’t talked to in a while and she was there and open to chatting even though she’s feeling lousy. It feels good to be able to do stuff with people. I still have homework to do tomorrow, but I’ll do that tomorrow. That, and watch the Seahawks!

My well of anxiety is still open and active, but I’ve taken steps to try to control it. For the short term it seems to be working. It isn’t a forever fix, but at least I made it through the first week of classes and am almost ready for the second week. (I attend school at one of the University of Washington campuses.)

I made a major accomplishment this first week of classes: I went to two movies and had the kids over to dinner which are all time consuming activities. Last year I couldn’t have done that. It isn’t that I’m not afraid I won’t have things done on time or good enough, it’s just that I have to listen to my family when they remind me of what my GPA is and that people work full-time and go to school full-time and spend less time studying than I do. Okay, it’s that and meditative music all night. Well, that and my doctor sanctioned chill pills. I can take them when I need one and not feel guilty.

It makes a whole huge difference to have the support and two-way trust with my doctor. I tell her the truth about how I’m doing and what I’m taking and she doesn’t abandon me and tell me to just talk it out with my counselor. Sometimes counseling and medications have to go hand in hand. At least, that’s what I’ve found is true. All areas of my life have to work in concert to make me function.

I picked one thing at a time and as fast as I could I got the pieces working for me. I failed a lot and still have a lot of setbacks, but right now, I feel 60% pretty good. I’ll take that all day.

I started trying to deal with the extreme anxiety by talking with my counselor who immediately went to find my med provider knowing it would take more than thinking to help me. Then I listened to meditative music and “talk downs” I found on YouTube. I searched for something like “meditation sleep music”. Try it. I recommend it. Now I listen to “Soundscapes” on my local cable provider all night. And I’m exercising every few days, playing with my dog and training her and keeping up with my house cleaning chores.

Monday I have classes and then seen the pain management doctor… that worries me. Ok, now I’m needing to chill again. I’m so silly.

Bipolar – Anxiety Rising

(Sept. 04) I’ve been sitting here trying to think of how to begin writing this and I’ve been getting nowhere. School is coming and I’m stressed out about that.

I have tremendous back pain and I go to a pain management doctor for my pain medication. The doctor that I’ve been seeing for like two years has stopped working in pain management and has opened a family practice. She was great. She really worked with me and worked to manage my pain knowing that I have Bipolar Disorder, PTSD, GAD, ADHD and so on. She was the one who prescribed my chill pill (medication anxiety) that I started taking during the school year last year when I had an anxiety meltdown.

The new pain management doctor started out by accusing me of selling my oxycodone and refused to refill my chill pill. I had a prescription of Oxycodone at the pharmacy to pick up which she didn’t take into account. I didn’t do anything wrong. I don’t like her. I don’t trust her with my health. My next visit to her she accused me of breaking my pain management contract by not bringing in the second pain medication I’m on. I was never told to bring the bottle in with me. Oxycodone yes, the other stuff, no.

My back has been bothering me.

My facial tick is back. It comes with anxiety like snow falls in the mountains… when the cold and precipitation is sufficient, the snow comes. Actually the vicious tick came with my beginning to take Gabapentin gain instead of Lyrica (Gabapentin can also be used for anxiety as well as for FM, which is why I tried taking it again).

FAST FORWARD TO TODAY Sept 28

I’ve been taking my chill pill daily. I survived my first day of classes because of the pill. I usually wake up in a cold sweat whenever anything remotely stressful is going to happen during the day. Like, for instance, going back to school.

Anxiety is such a huge part of my being right now that although I’ve lived in my new house for about two months I haven’t been to the grocery store by myself even once. I needed to buy some poetry books from the bookstore about 20 minutes from my house and instead of just going and getting them I called my eldest daughter and bribed her (I’d buy her a book if she’d come with me) to come with me. I just find it stressful to do things alone. I do not have a rational reason. I’ve done all the thinking and reasoning about my anxiety that my counselor and I have come up with and the anxiety does nothing but get worse.

I stopped taking the Gabapentin and the facial tick immediately started going away. When I’m stressed it comes back. I hope it isn’t permanent.

I see my med. Provider (the gal who manages my mental health medications) Sara in the morning. I’m asking her for something to treat the sever anxiety on a long term basis. The chill pill is great but it’s for a crisis and not meant for long-term consumption.

I get so wigged out about things that earlier tonight I already mapped out in my head the route that I would take to get to see Sara and then called my daughter to make sure that I could get to the grocery store from where I was coming from. I’m planning on going to get some milk on my way home in the morning. I need to do it on my own. I think if I have the chill pill I can.

It’s amazing. I wish I could take it all the time. I’ve been having to use it to go to sleep at night. When I don’t take it I’m awake until after 2 or 3 in the morning. Then I wake up sweating. I’ve even resorted to listening to relaxing meditative music/waves on YouTube all night. I found a channel on my TV provider to listen to that works as well called Soundscapes.

The struggle I’m having with anxiety is so severe that I’ve not been willing to blog and that makes me sad. My counselor has put forth the idea that perhaps my mania is manifesting as anxiety and that It’s really part of my Bipolar Disorder. I sort of hope that’s the case. If it is, I’m confident we can deal with it.

Why haven’t I been in to see my med. Provider sooner? She’s been booked. It’s been over a month since I last saw her. I’ve talked to her on the phone and my counselor talked to her on my behalf too.

Hopefully tomorrow I can communicate clearly how absolutely painful this anxiety is. My counselor is supposed to go to that meeting with me. I hope she can actually make it. It would give Sara a clearer picture of what’s going on with me.

Now, I’m going to listen to Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” then I’m going to go to bed. I might read for a few minutes. Maybe one or two. Seriously, that’s as long as I’ll read.

I have high expectations for my visit with Sara and Rebecca (my counselor) in the morning. We got this. I have to believe, we got this.

Bipolar – Tried and Tested

A few weeks ago I flew from Seattle, WA to Tampa, FL to meet up with my daughter who just got out of the Air Force and needed someone to drive with her and her cats from Tampa to Seattle. It took us 11 days driving and 10 nights in hotels to get home. Considering my anxiety issues and susceptibility to fall victim to depression and mania of my bipolar condition, I expected to have problems. I expected to have anxiety driving and staying overnight in strange places. I expected to react to my daughter’s anxieties regarding leaving the military and changing her whole life around impacting me.

I took my meds. I got enough sleep at night. I ate and drank enough to keep my body functioning at a healthy level. I didn’t get a lot of exercise unless you count the times we stopped to sightsee at places like Mount Rushmore, the Badlands and Yellowstone.

It was somewhat stressful having to do everything around the cats. We couldn’t just leave them in the car and go sightseeing. They’d die. To see Yellowstone, we stayed in a hotel for two nights so we could leave the cats in the air conditioned room for the day.  Unfortunately, the closest Best Western (where we stayed so we could get points and rewards) was in Idaho Falls over an hour and a half away. My daughter is a lightweight and could only drive about two hours before she was too tired to drive so I did almost all the driving. I expected that to stress me out.

Being hypomanic has some advantages, like being able to drive for hours and hours and staying alert.

My daughter is staying with me for a few days while her apartment gets prepared. Her cats are staying there. Her stuff should be here Friday. The military shipped all her stuff up here for her. It’s nice to have her here. I wasn’t looking forward to being with her 24/7 and then suddenly not being with her. She’s a comfort to me and she’s also my best friend. I think the trip drew us closer together. That’s cool.

I’m trying to get back into unpacking my things from my move and I’m finding it hard. I don’t know where to put things. I’m trying for at least a box a day which seems like it’s not enough.

Now that I’m home my back has started hurting again. I wake up stiff and in pain, and after sitting on the sofa for a while the same thing happens. I’m finding that stressful. I have a brand new mattress.

I see my counselor tomorrow. She’s new to me. I’ve seen her twice I think. I don’t like the whole process of being evaluated and the counselor making a plan to make me better. I don’t want to go at all, but I have to, to be able to get my meds. Maybe she can help me with my anxiety problems. They seem to be the biggest issues I have right now.

Life is returning to its new normal which is strange and different and I’m trying not to be depressed.