Bipolar – Success

I’ve had a vision stuck in the farthest recesses of my mind that I wanted to graduate from UWT since I was in high school over 35 years ago. I’ve been going to the University of Washington Tacoma for the last three years. Each year my troubled mind kicked and screamed in what seemed like unending sparks burning deeper and more cruelly each quarter. The extremes that my moods spanned mania, anxiety and depression still terrify me like tangible echoes that have not yet faded. But then I’ve not even been graduated for a week yet. I’ve been told I should, that I must stop being so hard on myself. I’ve made the Dean’s List nearly every quarter.

What does all this mean to me? It means that I’m still the same person. I have the same kinds of difficulties. And I can achieve more than I can achieve far more than I imagined possible only 5 years ago.

I ended my journey rough and in a sort of shock. I backed out to handle the stress that passed beyond my endurance.

But… I’d like to share some images of my fanciful trip through my personal looking glass with you. Let’s begin with the end, and then I’ll show you where it all happened (except for panicking at home every day). Please watch my slideshow with me.

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Bipolar – I Think You Should Take Fewer Pills

I’m going to notify my counselor that I must be rid of my med provider as soon as it can be arranged. I’ve told Arthur, my counselor, that I don’t feel that Jamie (med provider) is working in my best interest. My next appointment with her she started right off by confronting me about what I’d told Arthur. I confessed thit it was true.

It got me no where.

She says that I’m on too many pills and she doesn’t want to add anymore. Apparently, this is her rational for not giving me medication that might actually have helped me.

I’ve been practically begging for something for my anxiety that only get’ s increasingly more consuming with each passing day

This whole school year has been like a nightmare.

She doesn’t want to give me more pills? Bull!! It is not her choice to decide whether what other doctors prescribe me for illnesses she knows even less about than I do.

She has repeatedly used this as an excuse not to give me something that could prevented me from my brake down. I have high cholesterol, my thyroid is out of whack, I have chronic horrible lower back pain, I have FM, RA, OA, a facial tick (probably stress related), PTSD, and have recently been diagnosed with IBS-d. It’s a crap load of stuff, but they have all been dealt with by someone more intelligent than she is.

I’ve asked each and every visit for something to help with the burning anxiety. She refuses. She gives me fewer chill pills.

Does she think I like taking a handful of pills twice a day? Moron.

I’ve finally had a breakdown. I blame her. In December I confessed I’d been having thoughts of harming myself. I’d hidden that for years, but at that point it was too much, and I confessed it.

She did nothing.

If I can’t trust my med provider to guard my mental wellbeing, than who will? There aren’t many options here.

I’ve started to shake, Twitter, and twitch again. I’m graduating today. My anxiety that mixes like a charm with my mania and depression making my constant mixed state even more confusing and painful. It’s too much to handle anymore.

I’m firing her. She truly doesn’t have my best interests in mind. I don’t need one of my medical professionals contributing to my madness. That’s just sick.

When It Gets Real – Bipolar

Two days ago, I was notified on my phone that a comment had been made on a post I had originally made on this blog (REDUX) over a year ago. I try to always reply to any comment left on my blogs no matter how long ago the original post was, and to do so as quickly as I can. I believe that when a Reader goes to the trouble of commenting, that we have entered into a conversation and that to be polite, I should reply. It’s the polite thing to do in conversation, right? And, I’m honestly interested in what Readers have to say.

The person implied that they had read the post. Cool…um, not cool. This is what the person said: “This gives me no hope and makes me want to die even more.”

I immediately stopped what I was doing and read the original post. It was heavy. I’ve never hidden the dark days from you. I’ve also never hidden when the dark days change to grey, and then to blue and sunny.

I want you to know that I struggle. Sometimes I struggle every day. Sometimes my heart is full of light and I feel peaceful.

I am linking that original post Original post. I’ve gone back and put some things in bold/italics. I’ve not changed anything else. I did try to reply to the person as quickly as I could in an effort to reach them. I don’t know if they read my reply.

Please feel free to read it. You’re welcome to comment on it here. I stand by what I wrote. It is all a part of who I am and what I struggle with. Bipolar Disorder is not like some diseases that go into remission or go completely away. I will always have it. I will always search for ways to live better with it and to faithfully and consistently practice the things that help me.

Am I better than I was when I wrote that post? I don’t really know. I’m different. My life is different. My world is different.

I just bit the tip of my tongue. That’s different.

Everything is relevant and always in flux. It is what we do in the darkest of times, in the best of times, in every single moment of time that is what makes the difference in whether I live, or I die.

Today, just like yesterday, I choose to continue the fight. I choose to live.

That’s all I can do. For myself. But I can ask that of you too.

Choose this day… to live.

Bipolar: It Is Very Difficult to Know

A lot of the time I hesitate to post because I don’t know what you, my reader, expects to read. I struggle with this every day. I could tell you about my day, but that’s so boring – dull! I could stick to only write about myself and what I’ve learned about Bipolar, but I really feel strongly that this kind of important thing deserves a website of its own so that people in pain or who are looking for answers can go to that site and find answers and acceptance right away. So, I’m developing a website to do just that.

I have Bipolar Disorder Type 1 with mixed states. I also entertain much of the rest of the alphabet. I could drone on and on and try to… well, I think you know where that was going.

Basically I’m a normal 55 year single mom of three who is interesting and has a good sense of humor. I have some compelling stuff following me around that makes me complicated, but who doesn’t? Surely everyone has experienced the strange things accompanying Bipolar, anxiety, depression, ADHD, PTSD, FM, OA, etc.

I have a Japanese Fighting fish like all your neighbors do and speaking of neighbors, also just like you, I politely file noise complaints regarding one nice household whenever my TV starts to loudly rattle. Seriously.

I’m so normal I could bore you silly. Although… did I mention my eldest daughter will be moving in with me in a few months? (Honestly, it’s for the best. I need the support and we can both use help with housing expenses.)

In fact things are sooo boring that I’m going to need to graduate from college with another bachelors degree and I’m going to have two sons and a daughter instead of what has been the standard at my house with two daughters and a son.

See? Boring.

I am first and foremost a woman who deals with an incurable illness and will continue to do so until I die. Well, and perhaps afterward too. I mean, who really knows?

If you don’t mind too much, I’m going to write about all of these things. I might even add in the bits where one of my family members believes that God has them on this earth for only one reason and that is to save his children and to draw them back to Him because they are lost.

Maybe I’ll recount some of my experiences growing upon a ranch as a teen who presented with Bipolar at a very young age and how well that went over with my undiagnosed Bipolar father. Maybe I’ll include fun times at the church I was attending that was into casting out demons. Yeah. Fun times.

Have I mentioned I went to Bible College searching for God? I wanted so desperately for Him to take away the pain I felt that was crushing me from within every day. No? Bipolar, prayer, and demonic possession… seems like there’s a story in there, somewhere.

What’s on your mind? Should I throw caution to the wind and open up a bit more? It all, and I do mean all, ties directly back into this sickness, this life long illness I struggle with. It is all infused with, you know it, Bipolar.

I don’t believe it is a disorder. I believe it’s a disease, an illness and should be treated with the respect it deserves… that we deserve.

Talk to me my Readers. Tell me what you think. Do you have questions? I can’t guarantee I’ll answer, but I’ll read all of them. 🤔

Be well.

Robin

Bipolar Mixing Ahead

I’m feeling manic and depressed and distressed and full of anxiety. I hate these feelings. I’m coasting along, knowing these are the better days and I should not waste them. The plan… I have a plan. I have part of a plan.

And my cat is kneading the edge of my blanket that’s sticking out from under my head. OMG! He purrs SO LOUD! – I digress…

I haven’t looked at Facebook for weeks. I want to connect with old friends, but I’m afraid. (This bit is what triggered me) A while back I finally found a friend I’d lost long ago. This friend is doing well. In fact, when I ask how things are going I’m always told that things are perfect. Couldn’t be better. Married the love of their life. I guess I’m happy that things are so perfect for this friend. But I’m not, and it has nothing to do with this stinking sudden mixed episode I’m currently enjoying.

I watched the whole speech given by the student about all the loss and pain that murder by gun has brought us recently. Emma González speech

Then I read about a friend’s dad that went scary nuts at the hospital, and about another friend (about 25 years old) whose grandfather just molested her. You know how family members are often in denial? Grandma denied it and she ended up in jail. I don’t have the details and I don’t care about them because details are not what I’m so freaked out about.

Another friend is excited to not have needed pain meds today and is looking forward to doing chores and growing her eyebrows back in. Then I saw an honestly beautiful painting a dear friend just finished of three burrows… I think it was the burrows that got me.

My mixed state is just like our worlds today. I say “worlds” because we each live in our own little spheres, our worlds. None of them are like another.

There is nothing I can do to influence any of these people’s lives right now. But I’ve been working on influencing mine. I’ve been expressing to you what I’m thinking and feeling right now.

I feel my emotions smoothing out, the peaks aren’t so drastic.

Have you ever tried to listen to music or waterfalls or rain and soft music at night to help you get sleepy? I have. I’ve tried dozens of sounds. I’ve found something that I didn’t even know existed while chasing rabbits on YouTube. It’s a train going down tracks, at a constant speed, with no whistles, no horns, just the steady and almost hypnotic sound of a traveling train.

Wow, thanks for walking with me through that. If the circumstances had been different, well, I’d rather not go there.

I’d like to get my perfect friend to more than tell me we all have our own journeys
we must live. That’s crap. If you have a friend you know is in pain, and you have training in that field and you don’t reach out…. shame….

Shame on me.

Things to do ASAP: call Karen, email Marcella, email School the email, get pic of Bailey, myself and my daughter Jessica with the Easter bunny, clean hardwood floors, throw ball for Bailey on obstacle course, use elliptical, write, do class time in online classes on mindfulness and short story writing… today. If I can get my butt out of bed when the alarm goes off and don’t watch TV I have a good chance of getting it all done. If not, some will roll over into Monday.

And yes, I do sometimes do exactly what I say not to do. I set my bar too bloody high. Yep. I do that… sometimes.

(Written last night at midnight)

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

 

Anxiety Storm

They always ask me if I’m depressed.

I’ve got Bipolar Type 1 and I cycle super rapidly, what do you think?

No, really, are you depressed?

Let me tell you the truth, I hope you hear me say it this one time because I’ve had enough.

Go ahead.

My anxiety, my stress – if that’s what you need to call it – is at 7 of 10. 10 is call the morgue. My adrenaline has been full on since I can first remember. Fight or flight…. or both.

Yes, that fight or flight reflex can be triggered.

Listen to me. All the time. It’s all the time. Stop asking me if I’m depressed because the answer will always be yes. What you should be concerned about is my anxiety. I’m more likely to have the top of my head exploded from that than I am from depression.

You know, you’d be surprised at how often that’s the case.

Shit.

Checking-In

pargola eclipse

Under my pergola during the eclipse, 2017.

I didn’t realize today was Sunday until my dear mother texted me and reminded me that the Seahawks were playing. Sunday. How did we get from the horrors of Thursday, past the delightful day hiking on Mt. Rainier on Friday… to Sunday?

(Thursday I spent 4 hours in the Denturist’s chair. It was terrible. The worst was when he oozed goo down my throat and didn’t know it. I hurled and hurled until up came a wad of latex looking stuff. Then, another large piece… then, a third. The teaching Professor said it sounded like I was being given the heimlich. I was. Only I was giving it to myself. It was a nightmare. I haven’t been able to sleep because I keep feeling the goo going down my throat and sitting just beyond the reach of my fingers… I keep eating to try to make the feeling go away. It isn’t working.)

Now Sunday is ending. I got up early and walked my dog before the fall rains started. Literally, today was the first rain in days and days. It has ushered in the fall. The temperature has lowered in one week and the air is crisp.

I enjoy the cool clean air, but I will miss the sun. The sun helped me fight my depression. I’m hoping to spend time outside during the cloudy months under my covered pergola nestled in a warm coat.

Right now, I’m feeling sad, as though I’ve wasted my day. I spent quite a lot of time getting to know how to use Dish and Alexa. Dish doesn’t display the time like the Xfinity box did so I had no idea how long I’d been fussing around. I’ll need to get a little digital clock.

I’m feeling sad, fearful and anxious. One and a half weeks and my classes at the University of Washington will resume. I can’t control my emotions regarding it.

At this moment, Alexa is playing me some relaxing classical music. I’m thankful for that.

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.

Bipolar depression: Sad or mad?

When you’re watching for emerging symptoms of bipolar depression, make sure “irritability” is on the list. You’re just as likely to be unusually crabby, intolerant, and easily annoyed during a depressive episode as to be apathetic or despondent.

More research has been done on irritability in major depressive disorder than in bipolar disorder, but results from both groups indicate that from 40 percent to 60 percent report depressive episodes marked by irritability.

“Irritable depression” (that’s a description, not a diagnostic term) is associated with more severe depressive episodes, more frequently recurring episodes, and co-existing anxiety.

A study published in the International Journal of Bipolar Disorders in December 2016 found that participants with irritable depression also tend to take longer to recover from an episode and had more “unfavorable illness characteristics,” such as higher rates of substance use and more suicidality.

All of which means it’s even more important to take preventive measures when your irritability meter ticks upward.

bp Magazine’s columnist and blogger, Julie Fast uses the terms “weepy depression” and “angry depression” to describe the different ways she can experience bipolar downshifts. Weepy depression comes with what you might call stereotypical symptoms: feeling sad and hopeless, crying a lot, shutting down socially, becoming physically lethargic and

having trouble concentrating.

With angry depression, she writes, you feel “pissed off at everyone and everything. Kittens and puppies make you mad.” You focus on the negative, finding “garbage in the gutter when there is a rainbow in the sky.”

[THIS WAS THE CONTENT OF bp’s NEWSLETTER DATED 2/16/17. You can find bp magazine’s presence at: http://www.bphope.com/ ]

I’ve passed this along to you because I suffer from angry depression and have since I was very young. It defined me for most of my life. Today, it is one of the leading indicators that alerts me to how I’m doing. For example, if I’ve been doing reasonably well and suddenly I’m bitchy with my mom for no reason, I’d better take a look at myself and see if I’m sliding down the sheer walls of the well of depression. For me, it might also indicate that I’m manic. I don’t think it only happens to me when I’m depressed. If I’m unreasonably angry and I’m aware of it, I can examine myself and see where things are going wrong. When I’m in the midst of an episode it can be hard to recognize that things are going badly. Sometimes the anger is a wake-up call alerting me that something is amiss. Sometimes I become aware of that anger by seeing what it does to those I love.