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.

Taking a Moment for Myself, Even Though I Can’t Sleep

So often I start to flip the panic switch in my brain when I can’t sleep… because I believe that I KNOW that I’ll be overcome by anxiety, exhausted, irritable and so on. I’ll be angry.

That’s been the situation too many times lately. I takes time to affect change, to see what will work and what won’t.

In the meantime, I’m taking about 8 minutes to slow down, to deliberately pause and cut myself some slack. I usually find it easier to do things like this using music. I’ve been listening to “Peaceful Day” and I really enjoy it. It’s very short. It’s beautiful. It’s restive. I think you might like it. Check it out!

Peaceful Day

Stress – I Can’t Breathe

Breathe
Photo by Tom Fisk from Pexels

Life isn’t greener in the neighbors lawn.
They have a gigantic cherry tree that covers both their lawn and my driveway.

Life isn’t simple.
If it were I wouldn’t be taking my Day Timer, Google Calendar, pad of paper and Todoist with me every stupid place I go.

I have taken the ADHD workshop.
I understand my ability to schedule and understand time is next to zero.

My caretaker-companion-daughter-best buddy is leaving for a wonderland trip to China in about two weeks… for two weeks.
I know I have to be careful. I’m trying to breathe

People tend to associate Mondays with the beginning of five days of disasters.
I may be beginning to agree with this line of thought.

Without details, I ask you to trust me on this, Monday was horrible.
Tuesday started at the emergency vet with my companion (I prefer her her name, Bailey. She’s my Empathy Dog) was not showing the Vet how she’d been unable to breathe clearly just an hour ago. I have a witness! She’s still doing it, but an expensive x-ray later, they can find nothing. Could my bonkers emotions be affecting my empathy doggie (Read: Emotional Support)?
Took my mom to see Captain Marvel with Kyle (eldest son). She tried to get the tickets for Avengers at the box office, which she thought we could bypass because she bought them online through AARP. Nope. Had to go outside, pay full price and pick our seats. It was Tuesday. Discount day. OMG! Kyle was in a bad mood. Always in a bad mood after driving around and around “stupid” drivers… which he does for a living.
Then, Kyle yelled a couple times at some drunk guy in the theater to be quiet for a little longer, the movie was almost over. Okay, if I’d said something like that to that very drunk man, I’d have, well, been really, really nice about it. Kyle was in a mood, again… OMG! Such a good thing I took a chill pill. Then I had Kyle (who I call “Sunshine“) drive me – after his day of driving – all day – which he hated – home. Sigh.
Tuesday still, I think I skipped the real fun part of suddenly discovering I might have been asleep in my chair. Why else would my head snap forwards? Did it again. Headed down the hall. I just wanted to visit the little girls room. Entire body did it… twice. Yes, I know. I see the neurologist next week and I’m thrilled. I’m trying not to think about it. It seems nothing is ever simple. It is either in my head, or I need surgery. Everything seems to fall at one pole or another. OMG!

Wednesday, my day started with half a chill pill. Residual bonkers feelings from Tuesday I suppose. Breathe.
Concluded freaking out with the second half of the pill later on. Very slowly, did my physical thearapy. I regularly use this time (supposed to be twice a day, but I’ll take what I can manage) to practice breathing and relaxing my muscles.

With all this breathing I should be chalk full of oxygen. I wonder if that actually helps anything?

Thursday, today – Insert your favorite really bad word before I even begin – ___________________________________________________
11:00 Pain Mgmt guy – Jason / Missed Appt. CAR WON’T START AGAIN!!! This is the FOURTH TIME!
12:15 Waaayyy missed Pain guy appt. Waiting for eldest child (Jessica) to come home and give me a lift to next appt.
1:50 Dr. XXXXs – Orthopedic Surgeon – (I know I’m being angry and judgemental and a little bit bitter) He LEFT ME A MESSAGE after reading my MRI and said three things: torn rotator cuff, bursitis, and frayed something else. Last week when I fell, he called between patients and didn’t even consult my chart. He said he didn’t think it was a big deal and I probably didn’t need surgery. In the first message he said I probably DID need surgery. OMG! I see him today. I’m taking a witness and a recording of his first message. Yes, I’m that mad. Today, we discussed it together and decided to have him put two more shots in my shoulder… where they would actually help.
2:40 Physical thearapy on that stupid shoulder. It isn’t Gab’s fault, but it hurts like ______________ after that. Later – Yep. PT on that shoulder. She maniuplated it around so it would move the fluid around a little. Kinda hurt.
4:30 Arrived back home. Car still does not run. My keys for it were not in mailbox or taped to the door or even a note left saying, “We left your car here because it’s stupid.” I called the garage and the same young guy from the morning didn’t know anything about it. Didn’t realize they left it and took the keys. Couldn’t reach them by phone. I have no idea what’s wrong.
My car is a 2001. I’ve put $1000 into it just this year. I paid $3000 for it three years ago. I can’t afford to buy a new car! These guys have replaced just about everything. OMG! I have no words… I need a nap.

Nap didn’t happen. But, I’m happy to tell you that I only had to get two shots in my shoulder and then run over and do PT on it. Yummy. Man, I hope that the shots work.

It is bedtime. I’m finishing this up on the bench I made out of an old toy chest. Bailey is laying… um… in her box. I’ll show you a picture another time. She’s still breathing like a horse snores. I’m not sure what that sounds like, and I’m pretty sure they don’t snore (I was raised on a ranch), but if they did, this might be what it sounds like. I don’t like it one bit.

Friday – I have nothing on my calendar.
Ideas: Going for a hike before I find myself in a body cast with just a straw to drink through and one eye open to watch TV (quality time). Mouth covered. It will rain. We have raincoats. This is Washinton.

  • Reading / Writing – All day with breaks for playing with Bailey and eating.
  • Watching a movie that both Jessica and I agree upon.
  • Oh yes! She wants to make a quick day drive to Mt. Rainier!

We are going to attempt a drive up to the first popular on the mountain from our corner of the park. We’ll be heading for an area called Longmire.
Breathe. We’d take Bailey with us normally, but she hasn’t been in the car this long yet. I don’t think she’d care, but the National Park Service doesn’t allow dogs in the parks. Well, here is what they say at Rainier.

Saturday – Please, no one touch me or talk to me. I’m done.

Sunday – Sigh, it is almost Monday again. I don’t care. Bailey and I are going to the pet store to support the pet adoption program.

So did I survive this week? Today? Well, it is now 5:00 p.m. When I can manage to slow down a bit, I’ll take a nap in my chair in the living room. Before that, I contacted one of my people and she was able to come to me and help me out. She got me out and off meeting the rest of my appointments. I got those rotten shots. Now, we’re home. She’s reading. That alone helps me calm down. I love my people (Kyle and Jessica in this case). My mom and I talked about it on the phone. That was very supportive too. That’s what I needed today, support. People who love without qualification. Finally, that’s part of my family. It’s been a long time coming.

My Friend, make your plan(s), go over them with the people in your life who are willing to commit to help you out. Make sure they understand it’s serious. It isn’t like you have a paper cut and need a bandaid. No. You need them. You need one of YOUR PEOPLE. Make sure they understand that.

Bipolar – Verbal Dump

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I have Bipolar Disorder and ADHD. I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder over twenty years ago. At least, that’s about when my brain says it remembers it happening – I’m super reliable when it comes to the passing of time. Umm, no way! Don’t let me tell you otherwise. I was diagnosed as having ADHD only a few years ago.

The other day my mom told me she’d had a major breakthrough in her thinking about ADHD. Apparently, she’d talked to her realtor and she had told him that I have it. I know she shares stuff about my brain (problems) to people in the town/city we live in and with Rhett (the fellow I just mentioned who sells property) who lives in another one.

That’s two.

Back to the breakdown.

I know my mom loves me. She expresses it in a sort of micro-managing way, but she loves me nonetheless.

I’d hate to have had a child like me. How did she not accidentally roll over me in the family car? I would have had a daycare person come take me away. A nanny. Anyway, Rhett told her that he has ADHD too. {Deep sigh coming from my side of the conversation.}

You know how we can look up literally ANYTHING online? I really don’t think she understands that she can Google Bipolar Disorder and ADHD and not have to rely upon the information she can glean from a single person. There are many fantastic sites to visit that contains a lot of very good information on both BD and ADHD.

But, you know what, the idea that she can talk to someone about me, without asking me first, and telling him my very personal business is just bad.

My mom thinks of Rhett as another son. (I have a brother.) She knows more about him than she does about me. Sometimes I discover I have feelings of resentment and anger toward the nice guy. I don’t like feeling that way.

I guess accepting and understanding something about Bipolar Disorder have to continue to wait.

I believe, that if she understood a little about Bipolar Disorder and how I present, we would get along better. We might even want to spend more time together. Maybe she’d trust me more. Forgive me more. I admit, there is much I want to be forgiven for. I think she’s better at letting things go than I am so maybe she doesn’t need to be able to forgive me once she understands I don’t really control myself sometimes.

My experience with Bipolar Disorder is that about 80% of the time I’m manic. All the time I’ve been alive, I’ve been either straight up manic, or in a mixed state featuring the bits that tend to “intensify” my emotions. I’m confused, being depressed while manic.

My most blatantly obvious symptom… I never, ever stop talking. When the rare moment does happen, my friends ask me if I’m okay. I think that even Bailey notices. (Bailey is my support dog. She’s wonderful.)

Bailey is my emergency brake. When I’m frustrated, angry or yelling, she finds me and sits directly facing me, very close, toes to paws, and with her beautiful sad brown eyes and waits for the noise to stop. Honestly, she won’t budge even if I tell her I need to pee. No mercy from my faithful pup.

My chart at the mental health place I go to says that I say I think I’m smarter than they are. My current counselor asked me if I really believe that. Without a pause, I said, “YES.” I reminded him of how they let my stress / anger / mania / and anxiety cause all the suffering I experienced while I was going to school. over the last year, my symptoms intensified, and I broke.

Have you heard the axiom do no harm or through inaction to cause harm?

So, the reality is that they watched and did not intervene. They listened and didn’t reach out to catch me while I fell and fell farther and farther down. If you think about it like that, like what role they played in my unwilling self-destruction, then YES, I think they’re morons and I really am so much smarter than they are. My counselor asked me if I thought I was smarter than he was. I grinned and told him, “that remains to be seen.”

Delusional? Grandiose thoughts? Delusions of grandeur? Or brilliant or very smart? And who’s to judge which is which?

ADHD, Bipolar… Let’s figure it out. I promise I’ll own it.

You have just been exposed to an often irritating and yet integral bit of my brain in all its glory. It’s what I call, “a verbal dump.” My kids prefer saying I barf words. Wait, maybe it was that I vomit words. Well, in any case, it’s not great.

Please write to me or leave a comment. I love hearing from you.

Be well,

Robin / Un-niche-able Me

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}