Quick Manic

Yesterday I had a quick manic episode. I have only been brought down by a heavy dose of medicine designed to quelch mania. It made me sleep most of the day. I don’t know whether I will be manic again or not when I come out of this haze.

I heard the frost on the trees. They were French. My spirit left my body. I drove across town writing erotic poetry in various parking lots. There was a lot of random stuff.

I exhaust myself.

Sudden Drop

I have had so many creative ideas percolating in my mind today. So much physical and digital art I want to start, fiction I want to write, poetry I want to write etc. I dropped Craig off today to go on a work trip for a couple of days and of course that’s always hard. He won’t be gone long but I miss him just the same. Nonetheless I’ve been having a really good day. This evening I went up to take a nice, long hot shower and then relax with a SodaStream soda. The grape one is the best. The grape and the orange.

Anyway I am dried off and settled in now and I just have this feeling of malaise and depression. I hate how suddenly I drop and how I drop without warning. I had so many creative plans for tonight and now I just feel like part of my spirit is missing. I’m really trying to get my verv back. The weather has been lovely and Angelica and I spent some time relaxing in the backyard. I’m considering revamping an old project that used to work on. There’s just so much I want to do and all of a sudden it feels kind of hard to breathe. I had a pretty bad panic attack last night and I’m hoping tonight goes a lot better since of course I don’t have Craig here to help me.

I think I’m going to try to push through with reading a creative magazine and see if it sparks anything in me. And I’m going to take my medication early in the hopes that it will help me. At the very least if it doesn’t help me I want to get it in my system soon enough that I’m able to get up in the morning for Angelica’s rather early occupational therapy evaluation.

This is just part of the struggle with bipolar disorder. This is not even an especially bad night. I’m relaxing. As of right now at least I’m not having a panic attack. I’ve gotten the housework done that I need to get done today. I’ve got laundry in the dryer. I took a shower. This really isn’t a bad night and technically isn’t something to complain about. But yet here I am with free time and energy and so many things I want to accomplish and I feel like a deflated balloon. Not because anything is wrong in my life or anything has happened. Just because my brain doesn’t work. With bipolar you can be brought to heights of joy that other people do not experience. You can touch the sublime. But it can also seal you off from even the simple pleasures that other people around you have. It’s a constant seesaw.

Hello Latuda

I saw a new psych doctor 50 miles away from home. The trip itself went badly. I was a nervous wreck driving that far by myself (Craig had a swing shift and couldn’t take me), and on top of that our poor babysitter was sick and I had to bring Angelica with me. I had major anxiety the whole way there, even though Craig found me a route that kept me off the highway. Staying off the highway is better for me anxiety wise.

I cried during the 1 hour drive home. By the time I pulled into the garage I was screaming so loudly that I frightened myself. It was as though I could hear hell welling up from the depths of my screams.

The actual appointment was alright. She didn’t seem up to date and I am not sure we clicked, but she gave me refill prescriptions of the drugs I am on, and since those haven’t been enough she added a second mood stabilizer. Latuda. It has been years since I was on Latuda. I really hope that in combination with my other stabilizer it makes a big difference. I love winter as a season, but winter of 18/19 has been a really hard one overall.

I am hopeful and trying to stay positive. I need this combination to work. I have also added Buspar to lower my overall anxiety levels. Lately the anxiety has been so bad that I am using Clonopin more than I would prefer. Buspar does nothing for panic attacks, so it is not a substitute for benzodiazepines. However, by lowering your overall anxiety levels it can decrease the number of times a week that you reach the point of panic.

Main stabilizer and antidepressant are the same for now.

Hopefully this spring things will be on the rise. There is so much I want and need to do.

No Longer Editor

I feel terrible about it, but a couple of weeks ago I let the lady who is the president of the UMW know that I can no longer be the editor of The Torch. I felt tremendously guilty when I sent the email, and I still do. But after really searching my heart and doing my best to use some common sense, and after talking about it to my therapist, I realized it was the right thing to do.

As much as I hate to let them down, the reality is that I am a rapid cycler. Anyone who is bipolar experiences ups and downs that can make functioning and staying committed to a monthly job like that difficult. As rapidly as I cycle I don’t even have a way to predict whether I will be manic, hypomanic, okay, mildly depressed, or severely depressed when the 4th week of the month comes. And I sure as hell never knoe how the anxiety will be. That sounds ludicrous and maybe it is but that’s how my life is. They need someone reliable. Almost every month of the year they have a meeting on the 4th Friday. They need someone to get the issue out a couple of days after that.

Last spring I signed up to do the job. They were looking for volunteers and had it in the church program one Sunday morning. At the time I was on a medication combination that actually worked for me. It was the only time in my life that I was on a med combination that truly worked. A med combination that kept me fully stable. And it didn’t just leave me feeling okay and functional, not that I’m ungrateful for the days that I feel okay and functional, but it left me feeling truly good. Truly good and truly normal. I had hopes, as did my psych doctor, that we had found the magic combination and that this was it. So I volunteered for the job. It was in line with my skill set and interests oh, and I had been looking for a way to serve in the church.

A few months later my hopes were dashed. Don’t you love a good cliche? But I digress. The medicine wore off and I had to start trying new combinations that put me back where I was. I was beyond frustrated, and now I had a monthly responsibility to collect every article and edit it, format in publisher, get a master printed of each page, and then go down to the church and make over 200 copies and put them through the folder. None of that is necessarily difficult work or work that I am not happy to do. But to do the part with Publisher you have to have patience and focus and really throw your mind into it. As badly as I was doing at the end of January I couldn’t pull that off. Craig had to do the publisher work for me. I had been trying to do it and I was botching it like crazy. I was leaving things out and not correcting mistakes Etc. My anxiety was taller than me. I was supposed to at least go up to the church and take care of running the copies and getting them folded and ready to mail. Craig ended up doing that by himself as well. He was super nice about it and offered to do it, but I was in the kind of condition where getting myself across town to church and taking care of all that and dealing with the machines and everything else just wasn’t going to happen.

That’s when I really realized that I had a dilemma. Craig did not sign up to do the job first of all. He never minded helping me or complained about it, but he is not the one who made the commitment. And although this was the first time that I was completely unable to do the issue myself oh, there have been a few months just out of the time I have been doing this where I would have struggled to do the job myself. Where I really needed him to go to the church with me and help do it. Or to check me in Publisher or something like that. Until now that’s always been okay. He’s happy to help. So when I needed help he was there and the issue got done. And on the months that I didn’t need help, obviously the issue got done. But the only reason Craig has been able to help me with this it’s because he has an unusual work schedule that cycles and usually he has a little time off on Tuesday or Wednesday to get it run. Soon, possibly very soon, he will be transitioning to a new position at work and will be working a five-day-a-week job during the day. If I am too frazzled or depressed or anything else to get the issue out, there simply won’t be an issue. The mailers will try to get in touch with me or the president will and I simply won’t have anything to tell them or anything to give them. I will be on my own.

The hard thing is that I really feel bad quitting, and I don’t know when they’re going to be able to find someone else. I let them know what the very beginning of the month so hopefully they can find somebody in time. I offered to train the next person. And to give them any materials I have as well as the files. This is just a commitment I can’t keep. Reliability is important. It’s not that I will never have a month where I would be perfectly able to take care of the editing and printing of the monthly letter. There are certainly going to be months where I would certainly be able to get that done. The problem is there will also be months where I am not able to do it, and I don’t know which month is going to be what. Even now as we sit in the middle of February I debate emailing the president to let her know that if she hasn’t found anybody I can do the February issue. But I know that I do not have Craigs help at the end of February, and right now I’m really up in the air. Today I was great. I had some anxiety and had to take klonopin while I was out on my Valentine’s Day date with Craig, but I was still able to stay out all day on a date and then go grocery shopping at the commissary and I did just fine. If I had needed to run the newsletter today I could have done it. By myself from beginning to end. No problem. But I have no idea what I’m going to look like on February 25th or 26th. Not a clue. I am seeing a new psych doctor this week. I’ll see how it goes. Hopefully they aren’t useless. But as of right now I’m on a medication combination that is a really mixed bag. I definitely have times I’m doing pretty okay. The past week has not been awful minus the dental pain that I started out with. But overall for the past couple of weeks it’s been kind of crazy, and I’m coming off the month of January which was extremely difficult. Right now I’m trying not to go hypomanic. My brain is fighting sleep and sometimes my head is going too fast. I am just as likely to be full-blown manic or severely depressed at the very end of February as I am to be okay. So even as I sit here with my email open wondering if I should write the lady and let her know that I’ll at least tie them over for this month, I hesitate. It’s bad enough that I am having to back out on the job. It would be worse to offer to float them for a month and then back out of that. And with Craig’s schedule he definitely cannot help me this month.

I feel sad. I genuinely wanted to help. I hope that the time I was able to give was useful. But I feel like since I know I’ve reached a point where I’m not reliable it’s better to tell them sooner rather than later that it isn’t going to work. I am so afraid that they’ll need an issue to go out and I won’t be able to do it. And then there’s the issue where if I am able to get through it and do a good issue, at what cost? Sometimes you have those in-between stages. If you’re bipolar or have anxiety, or probably if you have most other serious mental illnesses, you might know what I mean. Those times were you really aren’t doing well but you can do just enough to get by. You don’t have enough energy and strength for the whole day and to do everything, but you can prioritize and do the big things and that’s what counts. The problem is I have a young child to take care of and to educate. If I’m having a week where I am having to prioritize that much and can only get a couple of things done, I need to save the energy for Angelica and forgetting her and I to our respective appointments. I don’t have anything left to give. If I put out an issue when I’m doing badly I’m not going to have enough left over to do what I need to do at home. That might sound utterly stupid but I have found it to be true over the years. I’ve only got so much life or gumption or potential on any given day. I have to choose what to do with it. I have to be very careful in how I choose to spend my time and what I do with my energy. It’s not that there aren’t a lot of things and people that I care about. I just can’t do it all. So if I’m in one of those time periods where my brain is really squeezed tight, and I go ahead and do an issue and really struggle with it but I pull it off, I’m going to come home with no energy for Angelica. If she needs to go to an appointment she might be out of luck. My anxiety will be too high and I won’t be able to get her across town. If we haven’t done school yet for the day we probably won’t get to it. I’ll need to sit in a corner and just close my eyes for a while. My energy will be shot for the rest of the day. So basically my months are divided into three groups for the fourth week of the month. There will be times where I am perfectly okay and able to do an issue. There will be other times where I am able to do an issue but I will have to shortchange my family to do it. And then there will be times I can’t do it at all. That won’t work. They need someone they can count on.

If you have never heard of it, look up Spoon Theory and mental illness. I don’t think it’s a perfect analogy but it’s pretty interesting and it is useful. I only have so many spoons each day. And sometimes the end of the month might roll around and I might not have any spoons left. Sometimes you do end up with zero spoons.

Guilt hurts. I truly feel sorrowful and regretful. The UMW Torch is something I care about and under better circumstances there is no way I would quit. I have just learned that my mental health issues make me unable to make Big, regular commitments like that. And as much as I hated to send that email on the first telling the president that I wouldn’t be doing it anymore and needed to pass the torch to someone else, I’d rather tell her a month in advance that I can’t do it than send her an email hours before the issue should be run to tell her that it might not happen or that it’s going to happen way too late. There’s a very small window of time that you have to get that issue out. There’s really not much flexibility. I think I did the right thing. I hope I did the right thing.

Constant Sleep

Thanks to an overly high level of Serotonin I have not been able to sleep much for the past couple of weeks. Since I have gradually weaned myself off that high level I’m having the opposite problem. I am just exhausted. Today I took Angelica to tutoring by myself while Craig slept in in preparation for his swing shift and then staying up late for his first mid of the cycle, which is tomorrow. When we got home from tutoring we ate lunch together. Craig was awake and he had picked up Little Caesars, which is my favorite. I like the bread sticks with buffalo ranch dip. And immediately after that I just crashed. I laid down for about three hours this afternoon. I was in the living room where anybody could get at me if they needed me. Our new sofa is extremely comfortable to sleep on so I was happy there. But I was just out of it for 3 hours. And all I did was take Angelica to tutoring.

I have tried to get a little bit done around the house tonight while Craig is working. When I woke up I took a shower, which I needed. When I am doing poorly it is hard to take showers. But I got showered and I took out some recycling and I set up the house so that the Roomba could go around and clean. I also ran some laundry. Angelica and I did some school before bed since I was sleeping for much of the afternoon.

I don’t think the new med combination I am on is the right one. It’s better than what I was on since that completely burnt out, but I don’t think I am where I should be. I am making incremental improvements, but everything feels so overwhelming and tiring that sometimes it’s one step forward and two steps back. The housework feels insurmountable.

Craig ended up running the newsletter for UMW by himself. I stayed home and slept off anxiety meds. I intended to go and do my job. Craig was going to be accompanying me to offer support. But my anxiety was so high that breathing was difficult. Craig told me to stay home. I feel so guilty that he did it himself.

The literary magazine that I do online is suffering from my mental state. I published no one until yesterday, and I couldn’t focus when I did. I ended up having a huge typo in a title. I have submissions to go through in the inbox that I just haven’t been clear headed enough to read. I don’t read submissions unless I am sharp enough to appreciate them. I haven’t been. Perhaps Craig will look things over. He is also editor. I just can’t wake up.

Agony

Bipolar problems have really amped up this month. It has been difficult to function. I have spent a lot of time in too much pain to function. The agony in my head has been so punishing. I get a few good hours here and there – sometimes even a decent afternoon. Not great, but decent. I make the most I can with the time I am given.

I am switching psych doctors. The one I have been seeing these past several months only works one day a week, a fact I did not know. When things got really bad for me she wasn’t in the office. A few days later when she came back to the office she was too busy to help me, and would not call in a prescription for anything. Another week went by before I could see her. She has put me on a different stabilizer, and I’ve switched antidepressants as well. I am still recovering from a mild case of serotonin syndrome from the last one. The sleep deprivation and sensations it caused made an already difficult time worse.

The new drug regimen is helping a little, but it is still too soon to call anything a success. I have been able to do a couple of basic things. I am not in too much pain right now. I don’t know how many hours that will last. I’m tired.

When The Psych Dr Won’t Help

I had a horrible week last week. My mood began to plunge badly. I called my Psychiatry office to see if they could prescribe me anything to hold me over until my appointment scheduled for two weeks from now. They said that they couldn’t do that. I finally went in for help. I went up to the office and asked if anybody could help me, even the back up doctor I saw before. I said I really wasn’t doing well. Then the girl at the front desk, and you can’t make this crap up, looked at me and said, “Well you look well put together so you’re fine.”

I kid you not. They have someone that ignorant and condescending working in a psychiatry office now. She’s a new girl. I’m going to be taking this up with the practice manager. I was doing pretty badly and I really needed help. She told me I looked fine, and then sent me away with nothing after giving me a lecture about how they have to do things the correct way, as she called it, and couldn’t give me any meds without me seeing my practitioner. Well, I know the correct way to jump off an overpass so would she rather I have done that? And it was a whole bunch of crap to be honest. I’ve been seeing psychiatrists for about 10 years now. If you’re a new patient, then yeah they can’t help you until they’ve seen you. But when they’ve been seeing you for a while and know about what you’ve been on and know your history, it is not uncommon at all if you call with a really bad problem for them to either get you in ASAP or if they can’t get you in maybe the next day, they call in something for you to get started on and see if it helps you. While my request was undoubtedly a pain in the ass for everybody involved, it was not uncommon or unheard of and I am not the only psych patient to make such requests. It’s pretty much the norm.

Finally I got a call from the nursing assistant saying that my provider would see me a week before my regular appointment by seeing me over her lunch break. That’s still left me with more than a week of medication that wasn’t working. I started off depressed and then for several days I was suicidal and could not function. And I was just left like that. The only reason I have perked up and become more productive in the middle of this week is because I have been doubling up on both my stabilizer and antidepressant. They don’t always like it when you mess with your drug dosages on your own, but the fact is they wouldn’t help me and I couldn’t get through another week in the terrible state that I was in. I couldn’t do it. It was absolutely beyond me. So until I see my practitioner next Monday I am doing what I can to keep myself functional and able to live a good life. Or at least able to live. Today was actually a pretty good day. I don’t know what tomorrow holds.

I was and am horrified by the girl at the front desk. And the weekend that ensued was an absolute nightmare. For me and for my husband. I was doing really badly. And to think that no one would help me is really upsetting. I am a Rapid Cycling Bipolar 1. Bipolar 1 means that you can go psychotically Manic and that you have as many manic episodes as you do depressed episodes. Rapid or ultradian cycling means that your mood changes much more quickly. For some people who are bipolar depression comes on gradually. They don’t get up one day without the will power to live anymore when they were okay the day before. It comes on more gradually, and although they certainly shouldn’t be blown off either they don’t tend to drop off the deep end in the blink of an eye. I’m a rapid cycler. I can go from good to bad very quickly and from bad to worse even quicker. For me, and for other patients who are in the same situation as me, it is not okay to say gee just wait another week and a half and we will get to you. That’s unacceptable. That’s a lot of days to commit suicide between now and then. I was definitely discouraged because I realized how alone I can be when I drop or if I go too manic. My doctor back home was really on top of things and if I called her with a problem she would either get me in right away, or she would call something in to help me. She would give me something to get through the night so to speak. She did not leave me hanging day after day, and her wonderful desk staff Bruce would never say something so stupid or condescending as what the desk staff had to say at this office here. Bruce was smart, compassionate, and kind.

Previously, I have liked my provider. She’s personable and she’s a good listener. But I have no way of making sure that my severe mood swings match up with a hole in her schedule. And her lack of availability and her rigidity really scare me. Right now taking those double doses of stabilizer and antidepressant are holding me up enough to do okay. I actually even had a good day today. But the truth is these drugs are wearing out badly and I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be able to string that along. On top of that I found out that my provider is only working one day a week now, although she is considering working two days a week. So she will have very little availability to make regular appointments, and on top of that I really don’t have a hope of help. She could have called in a prescription without being in the office, so her short working hours are not entirely to blame for her not helping me. But even if she was willing to get me in quicker to help me the reality is the woman works one day a week now apparently. So it’s going to be a week of waiting at least before I see her. I hate to give up a provider, and every time you switch to someone new it’s scary. But that’s just not enough availability.

My Bunny

Almost every time my husband deploys, I adopt another family member. Last time Craig deployed, I adopted Parsnip. Craig is on a shore tour right now, so he hasn’t deployed in awhile, thank God. He only has to go away for a few days at a time. But on his last deployment, I drove from Moyock, NC to Newport News, VA to adopt baby Parsnip.

This morning Parsnip jumped up on the library sofa and went to Craig’s uniform. He was debating between snuggling on it and nibbling it. Then he saw me. He decided to hop off the sofa.

Parsnip is my little friend. It is a always so wonderful to wake up, go down stairs, and set Parsnip free. He is my little emotional support animal. Nothing totally spares me from my Bipolar symptoms. But before I hit the bottom of depression or the top of mania, my more mild symptoms can be partially alleviated by Parsnip’s company.

Hurricane Bipolar Decimated Me This Weekend

Bipolar came barreling through this weekend. It has been bad, worse than I want to write in any detail right now. I have had a hard, nonfunctional weekend. Craig has stepped in to take care of everything. I am so blessed to have him in my life.

Crazy how when you have Bipolar Disorder things change so quickly – at least if you are an ultradian like me. I rang in the New Year feeling fantastic. I was happy, excited about 2019, creative, and content. Then I just fell as though I was pushed off an overpass. Every single car driving underneath has run me over this weekend. Living has been a struggle. I am grateful that I am at least able to write about it right now. Writing sometimes helps me heal a little.

Praying this ends soon. In the meantime I’m going to do my best to do at least one thing to clean the house today, and to do one thing that is creative even if I can only do it for a minute or two. Anything so that when I lay my head down tonight I can feel that this day was at least somewhat worthwhile. I have to get something done. It’s just hard to get off the sofa and move.

Trying to Raise My Mood

Now is the time to put my new planner to the test. I was doing pretty well this morning. We did homeschool lessons, I painted with Angelica, I did housework Etc. I was productive and really enjoying myself. Then I started my afternoon low. Now I’m trying to come back. I feel like my soul slipped out between my fingers. I’m staring at the TV. It’s one of my favorite shows. I still feel like a piece of myself has been rended in a shredder. Somehow I need to get off the sofa.