Category Archives: Mental Illness

Bipolar Disorder and Stress During Crisis

I can’t give you advice that will save you from your personal struggle with Bipolar Disorder and the novel Covid-19 virus… I can’t. That’s just a fact. I can tell you all the things I’ve been doing to keep my brain turned round the right way, but I doubt that would help you either. Why won’t I? I can’t.

My struggles are uniquely mine just as yours are to you. My mind would be blown if you too had had oral surgery on March 17th only days before elective dental procedures were cancelled. (I’m in WA) Now that the work has begun we can’t put a, “hold until further notice,” sign on my mouth… despite what my kids might want to do.

Through it all, we’re in this together.

A similar situation happened to me after a December 17th – so bizarre on the timing – when over Christmas we couldn’t get a pain killer to kill the pain of my thumb joint replacement. I cried, I tried to sleep, I used every ice pack in the house… I cried some more. (December-January)

I can’t tell you how to save yourself from this particular stress. Saturday I cried because my jaw hurt so badly; they say sometimes crying helps us feel better. Not this time. My pouting face served to scrunch all my muscles and whatsits about my mouth and provoked my pain to send me headlong into a panic.

This week (March), I misplaced my chill pills (Clonazepam)… during this stressful time… when I can’t manage to control the pain in my face… and my stress… where are the chill pills?! (Ever done that?)

This panic was different than the last one. February’s panic was from having the CPAP strapped to my face and turned on. I didn’t much like having it on my face, but I swear that turning it on deflated both my lungs and shunted them down into my legs. I’m sure that’s why my thighs are so larg…big…. healthy. Heh.

Here’s the plain truth.

Ready?

Do what you can. Hold on. Duck your head when you need to. Stop thinking about the now, about how you feel right now, and think about the fact that you ARE thinking. Then stop thinking so much and go for a walk. Yes, a walk. Go!

We have a mood disorder. We’re not crazy people. We’re the worlds’ officially licensed Moody Group.

Emotions are moods. You are not losing your mind, nor am I. This is stress.

What’s happening then? I think it’s time I stopped ruminating on my current emotions and started thinking about how resilient I am. Yep. Me. I’m resilient.

I think that you might be resilient as well. Of course I don’t know you, but I don’t think that really matters. What matters is that you’re reading this. The very fact that you’re reading this demonstrates that you are resilient. You’re a survivor.

So survive.

Dig deep.

Be resilient.

You, are resilient.

Everything seems better after a nap.

Be resilient.

Bipolar Carnage – The Aftermath

Since I posted on the third, my brain has imploded. You know how it is. Imagine being on the top bunk of a three-bed bunk bed, in a tree fort, playing on the ladder against the house, running up the giant stack of bales of hay, climbing on the dirt dad just had delivered for the front lawn, you know, fun stuff, and then falling off straight away and landing on your face, the top of your head and your feet all at the same moment. Then, when you get around to it, you open your eyes only to discover that someone is standing on your face while they’re attempting to ascertain if you’re alright because you’re so dirty that they can’t tell which way your face should go. That is what my brain has been doing with all its time.

Fun.

I won’t give you a messy laundry list of my troubles because I don’t think that’s necessary. I do believe it is essential to share a couple of really critical truths that we must all remember even when the you-know-what goes sideways when it hits the fan.

  1. Life rolls along for everyone like the surface of the ocean with ups and downs all the time. Sometimes, those peaks and valleys thrash about much higher and lower for some of us. That is OKAY. We don’t need to punish ourselves for that. We’re not bad people when we become angry or depressed or talk a lot. We are not mean, we are not evil, we are not trying to hurt anyone.
  2. We often are not able to (or equipt to) deal with our emotions and situations that cause them to intensify so when they grow and grow, they eventually reach critical mass and we implode. (Which was my case this time.) What have I learned? Stop punishing myself and blaming others for not rescuing me. It happens. Stuff happens. Reset. Get rest. Recreate. Hit go and begin again. Oh, and maybe cry and scream and barfing might help too. And throw something. But only break things that are yours and don’t cost anything. Seriously.
  3. I realized some time ago that at the top end of mania is anger and then rage. Deep below that dwells depression and anger and then the rage. Why always the rage? That’s how it is for me. I’ve asked several counselors and they seem to see that as well. Have you found that too? When you’re very depressed to you rage at the world because it has abandoned you? Has your world collapsed and left you to die? Tell me. Do you feel the rage too? It’s okay to feel the rage. Would you know it if you’re feeling it? Words. Do you know the words to express it?

I realize that’s only a couple things to think about, but this isn’t a book and a couple things to think about is plenty when your brain is Bipolar. Just considering the idea that I’ve been blaming myself for the way my illness makes me feel has been a bizarre thing to think about. I mean… what the heck am I supposed to do with that? If I were a public speaker, I’d wave at the screen behind me and say something wise like, “Now let’s unpack that…” Sure. I’ll have to think about it longer. That’s the best I can do. I’m still picking my face up.

Wait! I had two very specific moments that set me off into Never Never Land and I was trying to do the same thing both times. It was that CPAP thing. I don’t like things covering my face, blah, blah, so on and so forth…. I just couldn’t do it. I literally ripped it off my face and became hysterical. The first time (I practiced watching TV trying to get used to it) I managed a panicked 20 minutes. The second time I made my kids try it first (they didn’t mind it) and I lasted something like 0 minutes before I ripped it off with the same hysterical glee as the first time. Nope. Not gonna happen. “And I am unanimous in my decision.” (See Are You Being Served, A British comedy show that I think is sooooo funny. You can find it on Amazon Prime via BritBox)

I’m up because my kidneys are suffering a bit from the medication I take for my RA. I can’t take Advil or anything like that because it makes it worse. So, in my infinite wisdom, to get rid of the headache I was giving myself because I was getting myself all wound up, again, I took some Excedrine Migraine (has caffeine) because I really didn’t want to throw up. That’s what that particular sort of headache does to me. The headache goes away, but I’d like to bang my head until I’m asleep before that happens. I mean, we have five or so ice packs and I’ll have them all up and down my back, neck, and head and the headache will still be there. Then heat, gentle stretching, gentle exercise, moving around, walking, etc. Uhhhh. Anyway… (Thinking Carol Burnett at the end of her show… wow, brain, slllooooowww down!!!) (See Taylor Swift’s new song, “You Need To Calm Down.”) Holy cow Batman!!! Someone, take my laptop away!!!

Remember me? Manic … uh …. Mommy??? Lol That’s a Hard Stop. Hard NO. Full Stop. (Did I get any of those right?)

Good morning people. I’ll be sharing the playlist I made to help myself stay afloat during my “time” (honestly, what DO you call it?) with you tomorrow. I think I finally have it the way I want to share it. I’m picky you know. Sometimes. Here, I’m talking with you. Conversation. Not so pucky… picky. ;0) Anyway, I’ll put the link up here tomorrow. It’s already publish under my name on YouTube. (shhh… so is a bunch of junk playlists…) I bet you can’t figure out which one it is.

I promise, it will be here later today… I really should learn not to say things like that.

When Christmas is Gone

Just when I thought no one understood, I saw my dog and kitten sleeping like this.

The kitten had her girl bits taken out and it’s really been hard on her. Bailey, true to her nature, is taking care of Savvy just like she does me.

Instead of asking “where are my people? Who’s going to rescue me?” I’m going to reach out to others more, and be one of their people.

Opioid Dependence and Mental Illness

Pile of pills

I’m not an addict. I’m not! I’m mentally ill. I have Bipolar Disorder. I also suffer from chronic pain in my lower back.

My primary care doctor (PC… PCD? Uhh… let’s go with MD) had been prescribing me oxycodone for the server and persistent (chronic) pain that I’ve had for years. After being active and doing something super strenuous like gardening for 15 minutes I think I’m dying. I’m exaggerating of course, but when I work as hard as Atlas does while holding up the world my eyes leak, I whimper and sit down. Sometimes I end up laying on the floor. The floor is such a very bad idea. If I straighten my legs my whimpering becomes desperate and I realize I’m crying. If I forget myself and straighten my legs I’m done. I can’t move. The pain paralyzes me.

I’m NOT an addict.

When I can think again, I try to find my phone. If I can’t find it right away I feel the panic rising and it triggers thoughts and emotions I thought I’d had under control.

This last time I thought I was managing my mania and depression (mixed state, rapid cycling) pretty well. I haven’t bought piles and piles of books on ducks or Oprah or how to be an astronaut. Honestly, I really haven’t. But please, don’t ask me what I’m thinking about. Also, I’ve been able to get out of bed AND wake-up in the morning and even go for walks. My depression skips through the dandelions with the mania comingling into a mixed state, which is always confusing.

I’m not an addict.

After many months of giving me a legal way to get my the Oxycodone I take for pain legally, and for free. The label on the bottle says I’m to take the little unassuming pills three times a day. They are 20 mg. Currently, I’ve convinced the assistant fellow at the pain clinic to reduce my Oxycodone to 20 mg twice a day.

I’m not an addict.

I’m mentally ill. I have Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, chronic pain, and other stuff.

I was referred to a pain chronic clinic… ah… chronic pain clinic, where my Oxycodone prescription was reissued. A five-minute verbal probe, that’s what it took for the doctor to determine whether or not I needed the narcotic. We didn’t talk about Bipolar Disorder or any potential interactions the Oxycodone might have with drugs that are meant to manage my wild emotions or tame my fantastic panic attacks. I’m not certain she has any record of my current medications. She asked questions, and I quickly tailored my answers to fit what I thought she was waiting to hear. She made a few notes on a paper as small as her palm. I wondered if she was actually making notes that she could refer to later. She thought for a few seconds and then wrote the prescription. I sighed in relief.

I’m not an addict.

A while later, like over a year or maybe two, I’m still taking the narcotic. The clinic has new owners and staff. They no longer asked me questions. Sometimes they required a urine test. Then, they stopped asking me anything at all. We spent my appointment chatting. I started asking if we could please try to figure out what was causing the pain and try to deal with it by correcting the problem. I wanted the pain to stop.

They didn’t listen. They wrote the prescription without hesitation.

I’m telling you, I’m not an addict.

My mental health drug dispenser began paying attention after I updated her about my drugs and included Oxycodone in the list. She stopped talking about whether or not my meds were working to stabilize my moods and started talking about “Black box” warnings.

She had my attention. I started to panic.

At the time I had over five medical people prescribing medications. They didn’t know what the other office prescribed me. They relied on me to tell them the truth. I didn’t have to tell anyone I was taking Oxycodone. That got me thinking.

I’m not an addict.

Later…

I’m still asking the medical folks to figure out the cause of my chronic lower back pain. I’m still not getting results. I’m getting way too much Oxycodone every bloody month.

Because I can, I’ve been researching my of collages of illnesses, disorders, and psychological malfunctions.

Ah ha! Black box warning. Do NOT take anti-anxiety medication (benzine’s) – death may result.

Oxycodone 20 mg

I recently saw Dr. T, my very superior knee surgeon. He saw the condition of my spine when he was looking at the x-rays of my hips. He was making certain that my persistent knee pain, post second replacement, wasn’t being caused by anything running amock in my hips. He was eliminating any possible cause of my knee pain before he even considering using surgery to further correct the inept effort Dr. B made the initial knee replacement. Dr. B successfully replaced my knee, but that’s where the project ended.

It sucked. My leg from the knee down, well, it kind of turned the wrong way.

Dr. T corrected the first replacement. He tried to minimize the damage his surgery could do while trying not to blow up my entire joint… okay, the joint that was already gone.

Dr. T showed me the x-rays he’d just had taken and explained where and why he left Dr. B’s “efforts,” while replacing the replacement. A month ago we tried a shot to relieve the pain and keep from having to have surgery again.

Nope. I’ve had no relief from the pain. In fact, my brain was overjoyed and thought that my knee was doing awesome. Holy cow! I should NOT have knelt down like that! Looks like surgery is probably what our next conversation will be about. I’ll need to be on pain medication again…. I intend to be off Oxycodine ASAP. I would really like to have some kind of painkiller to take after surgery – assuming I have it. Always be prepared! Sigh…

I’m not an addict.

After my constant complaining about my back pain that happens every time, I do regular human type activities involving the lower back. I’ve finally had x-rays of my back taken. Holy heck. Next stop is at a spine doctor.

The online personal information provided by my medical organization includes this: Opioid Dependence.

My chronic pain clinic instructs me to continue taking the Oxycodone. I haven’t been able to identify any specific relief from the pain in a long time. I have never felt any “fun” results from taking it. It has never made me feel sleepy.

I have found that taking Oxycodone at bedtime with the medication I take for Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) helps me to get to sleep and not wake up in agony caused by the RLS.

Am I an addict?

“Taking opioids over a long period of time produces dependence, such that when people stop taking the drug, they have physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal (such as muscle cramping, diarrhea, and anxiety). Dependence is not the same thing as addiction; although everyone who takes opioids for an extended period will become dependent, only a small percentage also experience the compulsive, continuing need for the drug that characterizes addiction.”*

I’m mentally ill. In my opinion taking any medication, especially one that alters my brain chemistry (opioids do this), should be thought about and discussed with other medical personnel who are also responsible for my continued living – and to live my best life.

Am I an addict?

No.

I have Opioid Dependence.

Dependence. I can live with that, but look, let’s get rid of that too. Okay?

{I have Bipolar Disorder. I’m a little manic now. I’m using it to write and post while I can. So, for now, I will post often because tomorrow, I may be depressed and unable to say what’s on my mind. I may not have anything on my mind.}

* https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/opioid-addiction

Waking Up Depressed

The sun was up and shining on the wrong side of the house as usual. The sun only ever warmed the living room and kitchen side from sun up to sun down. I swung my legs off the bed began the inevitable. I got dressed and put on my shoes and socks. Bailey studied me lazily. I knew she wouldn’t get out of bed unless she knew I was going to take her outside to do her business.

I sighed, irritated that I’d woken up late. My inner perfectionist was already at work, and I was worse for it. I should have already taken Bailey out and fed her and everyone else. I mentally smacked myself for my indiscretions.

After doing the morning chores, I sat down, and I thought I was attempting to complete an online class that I hoped would move me towards earning an income.

An income. I haven’t had one of those since before I was married, not since 1988. 1988. That’s so long ago.

I feel like a failure again. Always a failure. I took a breath, trying to calm myself, and felt depression flow into my chest. It’s a crappy way to start the day.

Struggling, I remembered I’d fed all the animals, now it was time to take care of myself. I got my pill container and flipped open the lid for today. Dumping them in my hands my heart sunk lower. It looks like I’m an addict. My hands shook as I took my meds. At least today, I remembered them.

I eventually went outside to do some trimming in the garden. It wasn’t raining yet, and the sun was out. My beautiful Bailey was out with me. Oh my god we’re both so fat! I’ve been trying to help us both lose weight, but…well, we’re still working on it. Great. I feel like crap again.

My daughter came home a few hours later. My glum mood had moved on, and I encouraged (read: told) her to come out and work with me. I felt good and my head, my emotions, felt clear, maybe even happy.

The question I have to ask myself is this: What the hell did I do to change from feeling crazy-eyes depressed to happy and joyful? That’s exactly the right question. And can I do it again?

I believe that my poopoo mood changed and lifted me higher because I “acted” like I was happy. I played with the animals. I did some of the work for my online class. I took Bailey for a walk. (When I take her out I use an app that maps our trip and counts the miles and such. If I think we’ve done well, I take a screenshot and send it to my kids and my Mom.

Then I sat my hiney down and did my class. That really felt good.

Now that I’m recalling how bad I felt this morning, I’m beginning to feel like I’m grieving. I think I’m grieving for myself, for all the time I’ve lost standing in the clouds, not functioning like a normal person at all. Maybe I wasted my life. I’m supposed to have all these mental illnesses, but why can’t they cure them or at the very least enable me to act normal.

Normal. That’s a fat laugh.

Uhg! I’m tired. Figuring all this out and, exercising and learning to understand myself… yikes. Maybe I’ll go barf now. What’s tomorrow going to be like? Huh, maybe it will be the way I choose to make it. Chose to make it a good day and it will be a good day? On the other hand… maybe I’ll need to stay in bed. Need. What will I need?

Tomorrow, I think I’ll take more of an active role in my day and use the S.M.A.R.T.