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!

Bipolar –  Insane Behavior – Torture and Shootings

Often times when there is a mass shooting someone will say that a mentally ill person is responsible for the crime. I guess they don’t consider that many people they know may be mentally ill. After all, mental illness doesn’t come only in its most sever forms like one might imaging something like schizophrenia to be. Many times it manifests as depression or anxiety or some other “common” disorder. The following list is an extremely abbreviated list of mental disorders.

  • Alcohol/Substance Abuse
  • Alcohol/Substance Dependence
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Adult Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD/ADD)
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Depression
  • Eating Disorders
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Panic Disorder
  • Postpartum Depression
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Schizophrenia Education Guide
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder
  • Social Anxiety Phobia

I started this post in response to the kidnapping and torturing of the “challenged” young man by the four black people. I heard someone say “they must be mentally ill” and I took acceptation to that. The list of mental disorders I’ve given applies to a lot of people possibly even including the people who claim that the four black people must be mentally ill. For example, depression, anxiety, postpartum depression, PTSD, and substance abuse.

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of discussion of whether or not there is evil in the world. There is evil in the world. It is very likely that these four people are evil and not mentally ill. It is not likely that four people with mental illness would band together and commit such heinous crimes.

Since I started this post this morning there has been a mass shooting at the Fort Lauderdale airport. Already one newscaster has mused that the shooter has been captured and that he may be mentally ill.

Seriously? Why doesn’t the media posit that these kinds of crimes can be committed by evil people and not necessarily by people with mental disorders?

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–