Learning What Mental Illness Looks Like on Me

During the last few months I’ve begun to realize how I wear my illnesses.

What I mean is that I’ve always been pretty aware of what’s been going on in my head, but I have never looked at myself from the outside – in.

Because of this new awareness and the sense of warning and alarm that’s come with it, I’m going to post what I was originally going to post tomorrow. I’ve made so many changes and worked on it so long that what was supposed to be a simple thing has tied my brain in knots.

I can “see” these imaginary knots in my head. That’s just fine. What you might see when you read the finished post will probably be different than I intended.

I don’t want you to read any of my posts and be turned off by it because it sounds like I’m unhinged. I might be, but I don’t usually want people to know about that. I like to think that I’ll give you some kind of warning if that happens.

I’m lear.ning what I might seem to be saying to someone when I hear myself say something I think is completely innocent but turns out to be something horrible.

So, when I’ve slept, had some exercise, eaten and warmed up my brain I’ll try to talk about what’s on my mind right now.

Yeah. Clean out the memory cache. Power down for the night.

It’s time to stop myself from doing anything else, but go to sleep.

Goodnight friends

Robin

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

Un-niche-able – the Next Day

tday_across_honey_streetI have an announcement to make. I’m going to be 56 for a few more months…. or is it 55? Well anyway, I have ADHD and am a manic bipolar individual so let me think on it for a bit okay? Sigh. It’s late and I’m tired and the dog wants to know why in the world I haven’t taken her out yet! Sorry baby. That’s the dog baby. Um, her name is actually Bailey. Uhh. Slow down! That’s the manic bit – obsessing on one thing and going on and on.

[And this would be a big change in the conversation.]  You know sometimes things become clear, oh so clear… and then their bellies bust right out of those tight pants and they know how convoluted they are. [What??] I mean honestly… I spent almost two hours tonight preparing some documents everso carefully. I was so sure that anyone who could use a crayon could follow it… or I thought so.

I was supposed to be studying. I really want to finish this course! I’m learning so much. But, nope. It’s been hours and I still haven’t started. It very much annoys me. Oh and the documents I’ve been making so “clear” were for my Mom. No pressure. No expectations that I can’t possibly meet. Actually, I’m not sure she has any expectations of me other than the negative ones. The expectations that all end in failure.

I’m un-niche-able. I’m sorry. No one’s going to suffocate me in expectations of failure anymore. This is my un-niche and I’m keeping it!

I spent all this time getting it set up for her so that we wouldn’t have any conflict, as we always do when it comes to going over this stuff. I thought I’d made it so clear this time. She could just print it all and follow along with the notes that were even colorfully numbered. I even put the name of each file right in the text of the email so she could see where everything came from.

It was all very clear. Just read the email first, as requested, print it, then open and print all the pdfs that were attached. Simple? Not on your life.

I’m sorry if I sound rather like a petulant child, but I kind of feel like one. Huh. There has to be another way.

And this brings me to what I’m ruminating on tonight.

Why are people so uninterested in learning about each other?

At T-Day, I tried to explain to a family member (who will have a psych degree this summer) about how I was diagnosed with ADHD about two years ago, but besides giving me medication they haven’t taught me anything about the illness or how it might interplay with Bipolar Disorder. It seems to me that the ADHD mixed with my ever-present manic-ness would be kind of interesting.

Fascinating stuff. Right? For a psych major? UUUUUuuuummmmmmMMMM NOPE! Not on your bloody life. Talk about a snub and a dismissal. OMG! I totally forgot she’s royalty. EEeerrrttt! Stop right now! I guess I shouldn’t go down that road. Insults from childhood are coming to mind. Ick.

So what’s the deal? As I am finally embracing my un-niche-able-ness I’m getting pretty excited. When I’m excited, as you might guess, I want to “share the good news” with at least someone… if it can’t be with everyone. I was brave and I settled on just one someone. I hoped it was a safe someone. I miss judged. Next time, I’ll think longer on who I trust with my soft underbelly. Get my drift?

You already spotted the Un-Niche all over my face right? Yep. It was the royalty.

Dang. How do I slow this bus down a bit?

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.

Bipolar – Days Racing Up, Down, Up, Sideways Right, then Left… It Never seems to End.

There will always be days that start well.
After they go along for a while…
Then the ground begins to frighten me.

train_crash_for_blog_imagedddddd(It says, “Somedays, This is how we feel…..””

I find that this is very true. At least it is true for me.

Is it ever true for you?

Today started out slow and exhausted. I was up almost all night with restless legs. It eventually became so horrible… that I cried in frustration and pain. I think I slept an hour. I was so tired. my goodnesss. Sleeping right nwooo dddkkk,,,,,,,,,,,,,

<I keep falling asleep. Sorry if this all comes out weird and confused… well.. that’s what you get. LOL. Pardon my language but this is crap””””””’>

There were other good things that happened throughout the day, but this was the best I think. I had a business meeting at a resturant! Isn’t that awesome!? I’m publishing a second edition of a book that I published 27 years ago. I’m so proud of how I wrote it, and the amazing artwork. But, it is time to update it and publish it in different editions and to update it as well.

I’m very excited because my meeting was an amazing. The woman I met with completely understood what I wanted to do and she caught the project and my passion for it really fast.

Then I got home, and stepped on the kitten, again. Sigh….

I’ve had enough of my day. So, I’m going to sleep. I usually do a lot of my work at night. I’m too tired.

I wanted to give you a look at this train photograph and share with you that I feel like I’m on fire and out of control.

Control. That’s hard to achieve when I’m being full on manic, have my ADHD surfing around everything I can possibly think of and somehow finding more, ever more, to add to the intense way I zoom. And finally, there is my always and every seemingly anxiety.

Anxiety – ADHD – Bipolar MANIA. Oh exploding stars that’s enough! Insomenia from restless legs. Oh I keep falling asleep and my fingers press the keys on my laptop and the strangest things get typed up.

I’m going to sleep now. aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Oh rere… ug. Whee are my fingers supposed too bee on the deyboard? I think I’m sleeep. Yes. dd

Nite my friends,

Robin