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}

The Aftermath of Latuda & Despair

solar flareThe Latuda that was destroying me is gone now, though it has left a lasting mark that lives on within me. It no longer provides mood stabilization for my overloaded brain. The good that it may have done is far outweighed by the damage that it has left behind. Often, I cannot speak for long before I lose the ability to be understood. My speech becomes silenced and my face jerks and spasms as though in pain. Large muscle groups jerk and move without my involvement. It all devastates me. I feel locked inside my body, my brain unable to freely communicate even with those who are closest to me.

I’ve recently come out of a period of not feeling anything but anxiety. My actions indicated that I was depressed, but I didn’t exactly feel depressed. Recently, that has changed.

Last week I crashed. I felt the old familiar feelings and thought things that hadn’t consumed me for some time. I looked at all my pills (I have many) and considered how easy it would be to stop. Just to stop.

But, I didn’t touch them. I called my children and I reached out for help. My girls both came to me and loved me… they helped put away those feelings of purposelessness and thoughts that I have no reason to live.

Why have I not taken all my pills? I have no purpose, no reason to burden those around me. You see, I want to have a purpose. I want my life to matter. While I currently feel I have nothing to offer the world… I think, if I don’t give in to the depression that loves me without reservation, that it might be possible to find that singular purpose that is meant for me.

I suffer from Bipolar Disorder Type 1 with rapid cycling and mixed states. Perhaps I am able to find this ever so small spark of desire to find my purpose because in my manic delusional state sometimes I have delusions of grandeur. Who knows, maybe my periodic delusions will give me my missing purpose. I hope so.

I need a reason to carry on. For now, the love of those who care for me is what I am holding on to. I have to wonder… how long it will be before even that is not enough.

At this moment, I don’t want to die, but I am encompassed by a cloak of useless despair.

I desire purpose. I want inspiration. I resisted the urge to give in and bring this fight to an end. Intellectually, I want my end to be celebrated with the acknowledgment of a fulfillment of purpose and leave an honorable legacy that says my life meant something, that I lived with purpose and left a remarkable mark on my world.

I don’t want to be an unnumbered footmark in the annals of the world, but I can’t seem to master what my brain chemistry is doing to me.

Now, it’s time to start my two-hour ritual of preparing to sleep. Maybe I’ll get lucky and I’ll have a temporary respite and I’ll sleep an emotion free night.

Uniquely Bipolar Me

[I’m putting this in “I” language, but I mean you too.]

For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.
TS Eliot,  Bipolar Disorder

Simply put we don’t really know what causes bipolar, but current science guesses that Bipolar Disorder is caused by a chemical, a biological imbalance in my brain. Every person has a unique brain, but my bipolar brain came with some even more unusual stuff going on. I don’t have a “normal” brain. My brain has been kissed by the divine. (Wouldn’t that be cool!)

There has never been anyone like me and there never will be again. I are uniquely unique. I am special and have extra possibilities to achieve great things. (Delusions of grandeur? I don’t think so. If you google “famous people with bipolar disorder” you will be surprised by the number of people who had/have it.)  All the struggles I have gone through to get to this point have been different than the ones most people go through because of my bipolar. I am a different person than I would be than if I didn’t have bipolar. There is nothing I can do to change this. I will always have a special brain.

All the struggles I have gone through to get to this point have been extraordinary. I can’t help consider it now I wonder what I would be like and how my life would be different if I had not had this disability. But, that’s not how things worked out for me. There is really no point in wishing for a “better” life than I have. That might actually trigger an episode. I’d rather not do that. I have enough stresses in my life right now, I don’t need to add to the list.

My struggles have made me who I am today and now that I’m here I choose to go forward and live my best life. What does that mean and how do I do it? I’m going to spend some time over the next little while exploring these things and share with you my journey as I go through it.

Moving forward is pretty easy to spell out. I must not pretend that I’m normal while I’m in a pretty semi-stable state. I must try to grow and become a better person… to mature, while I have control over my emotional faculties. I am spending time preparing ways to deal with myself when I have an episode. I don’t want to get caught without a plan to fall back on. I know that may sound ridiculous, how can I prepare how to deal with an episode when every single one is different and while in one I generally can’t control my emotions? That’s a good question. I’ll tell you about it next time.  ;0)

I read books on self-improvement and try to learn new things that will help me in my personal and professional life. I try to connect with people who I would avoid when I’m depressed. And I try really hard to relax and have fun!

References:
Causes of bipolar
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bipolar-disorder/basics/causes/con-20027544
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml
http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/public/bipolardisorder/causes.cfm

 

Bipolar – Delusions of Grandeur

Delusions of Grandeur.

Ever heard that my friend? Consider this….

Talent and ability yet untapped.

Be well till next time,

Robin