Friday, July 28, 2017

He Feels | She Feels

What happens when your spouse holds on to the positive and you just don't know how to get on board with that anymore?

I'm talking about the state of my mental health.

I'm the wife who has taken dozens of different combinations of drugs, gave talk therapy a few tries and underwent ECT, twice.

He's the husband who stood by my side when I arrived home with new prescription bottles, coaxed me to give it one more try (therapy) and backed me up when I wanted to test the ECT waters again.

You guys, he's been very supportive but I'm at my end and he wants to keep trying.

I get it. I do. He wants me to be better. To enjoy waking up each morning and face the day with a smile. To stop crying and start laughing. I want those things too. When the methods you're using to be better aren't working, it's hard to stay positive.

I used to be able to count on feeling well when October rolled around. Fall is my favorite time of the year. I also don't mind Winter when I'm home all warmed up as the snow falls outside. When Spring hits I'm usually okay until the 80 degree days arrive. Summer, though, is the worst. I can't count on any one time of the year where I'll be on the up and up. It doesn't work like that for me and I'm jealous of those who know.

My days consist of intrusive thoughts and paranoia (although, if you wonder if you're paranoid, can you really be?). I want to rush though the work day so I can get home and be in my pajamas. Some days I cook dinner and other days it's a cereal kind of night.

I can't remember the last time I wasn't depressed.

I can't remember the last time I smiled and laughed throughout an entire day.

I can't remember the last time I felt like I truly wanted to keep breathing.

When is this going to change?

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Coming Out of the {Bipolar} Closet

I've been open with everyone in my life since my bipolar diagnosis almost eight years ago. When my family and I relocated from Florida to Colorado to start over, I hid it from people who didn't already know. I thought I could erase the fact that I'm bipolar if I didn't allow the discussion to surface. It worked for a short while.

I took a job that was intense; complete with yelling and screaming from the owner every single day. Once I figured it was time to look for a new job, I wasn't doing so hot with my mentally ill self.

I secured a new job and have been here ever since, a little over two years. Nobody here knows the extent of my mental health. I've dropped little clues but what is known is that I suffer with anxiety and depression. I was even hospitalized last year and they know the reason to be a nervous breakdown.

I don't want anyone here to know. I don't want to talk about it anymore with the people who do know. I know it won't change what I am but it will change how people approach me. I've been on lock down, in my own head, because I'm ashamed. I feel like a monster for having this illness.

Educating people in person about being bipolar is hard work and there are a lot of questions and topics raised out of ignorance. It's scary when faced with it because you want to believe, in the time we live in, that people are more open to it. The stigma still exists and it's going nowhere fast.

My moods are cycling fast and right now I'm in the anger phase. I'll be mean to anyone who talks to me without really wanting that to happen. The underlying depression still exists at the same time.

My new drug has been in my system for 18 days. All it has done for me is make me tired. When I say tired, I'm not just yawning extra. I can be having a face to face conversation with you and doze off. It's embarrassing and it's scary. I'm determined to give it until my next psychiatrist appointment in two weeks. Until then there's extra coffee and caffeinated soda all around me.

Where do you stand on coming out of the bipolar closet?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Anxiety Triggers

Today started off easily enough. I got ready for work and doubled down my caffeine consumption to avoid falling asleep at work (this wasn't successful). I arrived a few minutes later than usual and there were already people here. This triggered me because I'm usually first and have a short while to get settled.

There's almost never a lot of people in my office, but of course today, many people showed up with their speakerphones at the ready. They just don't think. All that noise!

We just moved to this office and it has an open concept layout. Meaning, the conference room doesn't even have doors. Meaning, I could hear every word pouring from inside of it.

I don't like taking more anxiety meds this early in the day because it makes me mellow to the point of wanting to possibly doze off. So when my anxiety hits the first thing I do is eat. It's only 10am right now and my lunch is gone.

I can't focus. I can't sit still. I'm sweating. I feel so nervous about nothing. I want to self-harm but I'm trying to stay away from that. My mind is going and going and going but yet, it's filled with nothing important.

All I can do is breathe through it for now.

Breathe and listen to my 90's alternative station on Pandora and hope for the best.

What are your triggers? How do you get through an anxiety attack?

Friday, July 21, 2017

Brian Schnitzler is an Asshole

I came across this tweet today and it infuriates me. There are far too many people in this world who think like Brian Schnitzler. How can we possibly end the stigma that surrounds mental illness when there will always be a Brian to get in the way?

The answer is this. We have to keep trying. We have to push forward. We cannot give into the Brians of the world. Mental illness is real. We're not making up the symptoms. We certainly don't want to pump our bodies full of prescription drugs for the fun of it. 

Whichever mental illness you're suffering from, I believe you. If you're so close to the edge that the wind could blow you off, get some help. Please. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Powering Through

I walked into his bedroom this morning to see if he wanted breakfast. He was curled up on his right side and only his small eight year old face was sticking out. I didn't have the heart to wake him. Instead I stood there watching him sleep. His long, dark eyelashes lay against his upper cheek and his breathing was steady.

This is how I start each of my days before I take off for work. I like the sense of quiet that blankets my apartment at the start of the day. All of that changes as soon as I hop in my car and head to the work.

My office is a rather quiet place too. Most of the time. On occasion, multiple coworkers come in and each thinks it's good etiquette to use speaker phone for every call. The noise rustles something within me and the panic and anxiety are set free. Deep breaths, getting up from my chair and pacing, going to the bathroom, and finally, swallowing an anti-anxiety pill are some things I do to get through it.

Dealing with panic and anxiety often leads to a headache and exhaustion. I feel like I've just run a few miles and I'm coming down from that high and just want to pass out. The rest of the day still lies before me and so I do the thing I'm best at. Faking my mood until I can call it a day.

I've become quite lazy for probably the last six months. I get no exercise and while I know that would help, I can't bring myself to get it done. The medication I take is sedating and doesn't help the situation. Shame on me.

I get into these phases where I don't want to cook even though the house is stocked with ingredients to make delicious dinners. Instead I take the family out, they'll eat cereal or I ask my husband to pick up sandwiches. I'm that exhausted.

My doctor wants to switch me to a lower dose of medication for 10 days, which to me is just stupid. I'll just be back to this level anyway and I've already been on it for a week. Honestly, it's the money. It doesn't matter how many pills are dispensed, it will always cost $50 a pop. I can't justify that.

He knows that I'm at my end. I don't want to keep trying new medications. I know that out there lies the perfect drug combination. I've been trying for 8 years to find it. It gets old, you know?

So here I am...powering through.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Medication Resistant Bipolar Depression

Lori Calabrese, MD

I was reminded this week by a friend on social media that continuing to share your story helps others. I've been hiding from all walks of life (mostly). I'm not sure if it's because I'm ashamed at where I'm at in this journey or if it's because I don't know why I would continue to share such negativity. 

I've been on a heaping handful of drugs since my last post back in December. In April, I started to feel the depression lifting and it was a nice turn of events, let me tell you. Then mid-April rolled on through and I had to get my gallbladder removed. The depression returned almost immediately after and that's where I've been since. 

I've been on this (new to me) drug for 10 days and I want nothing more than to flush it all down the toilet. Why was I chosen to be so sensitive to medication? I could handle being drowsy, but no. I'm drifting off to sleep while driving to work (I was startled awake when my car's tired rubbed against the curb) in the morning after I slept like a rock for a solid 8-9 hours. Last weekend, I slept overnight for twelve hours then went on to have a three hour nap. My point is, I could sleep 24 hours a day and still feel exhausted. 

My psychiatrist thinks I need to see a Psychopharmacologist. That's great and all but they don't accept insurance, and even if I could scrape the money together for the office visit, there would be visits to follow and medication to purchase (that could be at the high end of my insurance bracket). 

Do you deal with medication resistant Bipolar depression or are the medications you've been on too strong, even at the lowest of doses? I'd like to hear your experiences.