Mood Instability

For the past couple of weeks I have been on edge. High anxiety, stress, feeling over stimulated, overreacting to things, mood fluctuations. I am tired and hyped up and short tempered and withdrawn all at once. I have had a couple of days, and sometimes a few hours a day, where I feel fine. The rest of the time not so much.

I hope I bounce back on this medication. I hope it still works. I was doing great until that horribly stressful end of my trip back to Virginia. Since then, I have been unsettled.

Tomorrow I have to take Angelica to Vacation Bible School by myself and pick her up by myself. Same thing on Friday. Craig is starting his rotation again and will be on day shift. Bringing her to Vacation Bible School really shouldn’t be a big deal, but I dread the noise and the throngs and all the kids running around and the music playing. I wish I could take a Klonopin before we go, but I can’t drive like that obviously.

Lately I have been so frazzled that I crawl into bed at around 8 and I just kind of shut down. Some days I do better than others. I have been able to go to the grocery store, although I got uncomfortable, and I have been able to hang out with a friend. I have also been homeschooling Angelica. So I have had enough stability to get some stuff done and have a little bit of fun too. So this is definitely not the worst I’ve ever been . But periodically I just crack. All of a sudden I take a dive into depression or I get really irritated for no reason  or I get so over-stimulated I start shutting down.

I’m trying to make the most of the time when I am doing well to do housework or to paint. Painting makes me feel better, and of course house work is necessary. And truthfully housework can even make me feel better when I am able to do some. I don’t do as much as I should, but what I do makes me feel accomplished.

I am trying to keep learning, cleaning, reading, writing, homeschooling, and painting. I’m trying to make sure that life goes on and that I am accomplishing something. But underneath things are not so good.

Television

Since coming back from Virginia I have had a terrible time dealing with TV. At my parents house the TV is almost always running and usually pretty loud. My mom helped me by moving my chair out from under the TV so that I didn’t have it blaring directly behind my head. That definitely made a difference. But the constant TV is still leaving me with this uncomfortable feeling every time the TV is on at my house. I keep leaving the room to find someplace quiet. Of course this isn’t really fair to everyone else who lives here. Both my husband and my daughter like watching shows. I definitely don’t begrudge them that. I just don’t want to be in the same room as the running television. But me leaving makes them feel like they can’t watch TV, which is not what I want. It’s just overstimulating. And I can’t hear myself think so that I can write or read or create anything or even just enjoy some quiet.

I have a love-hate relationship with television. There are some shows that I really like, but even then I don’t like to watch them all the time. Overall I actually hate television. I’ve gotten better at watching movies. I went through a period of time where movies were too stimulating and I didn’t even like to go see them in the theater, but I improved. The TV has some really interesting documentaries that I like and some very artistic shows that I enjoy, but yet truthfully for me it is just a big box of noise and speed and anxiety. I secretly hate the TV. I tried to spend some time by myself when I was at my parents house. A lot of that is just that since I am bipolar and I have anxiety I need some time to myself in general. I cannot function if I am being social 24/7. But part of why I went back to the room I was staying in was just to get away from that TV. Everyone else has a right to watch as much TV as they want. I just can’t stand to listen to it.

I am diving deeper into art and writing. I still have all these great books to read, and I have begun with a book of persona poetry. And of course the book about homemaking that I have been writing about.

I got up early this morning and went for a drive. I like to do that, to just get out and put on some music I like and enjoy some space.

I am trying to get rid of my social exhaustion but so far I have not been very successful. I enjoy being back in my little nest with my little family, but I just don’t really want to talk that much. I keep to myself with my books or magazines or paints. I blog because for some reason I seem to be able to pour thoughts out on the page better than I can to another person. I have some friends that I would like to get together with but I just don’t seem to have it in me right now.

Truthfully I wish I could take a separate trip. All alone in a quiet little room with books to read and paints to use and a pen for writing. Just absolute silence except for the rare occasion I want to play some music. No TV. No interruptions. No conversation. Just me alone.

Introverted and Tired

The past couple of weeks have been hectic. I visited my parents for two weeks in Virginia. Some of the trip was very nice.

Travel was extremely stressful. The trip home was especially bad. I had an anxiety attack in the middle of the Dallas Airport. Luckily there was someone else there, another Christian, who helped me and kept me company and prayed for me and helped me get through the day. Our second flight had been canceled and that’s what set off my anxiety attack. Luckily the airport staff got me on the next flight out, but that was delayed because there was some sort of problem with the plane and they had to fix a part. We got home late and I was completely threadbare by the time we did, but I was just grateful to have gotten home.

Now I have returned to my quiet house facing the mountains, and I am retreating back to my quiet life of books. When I got home I had many new packages of books waiting for me. I was ordering books while I was at my parents house, and I ordered some before I even left that just hadn’t arrived before I was out the door.

I live so much inside my own head. My passion for books is only burning brighter as I get older. Ever since the day I learned to read I have been obsessed with books, but as an adult I am absolutely immersed in them. As an introvert and a bibliophile I am one of those people who just needs a lot of time to themselves to decompress and be quiet and alone. And there is nothing I like better when I am alone than to get intimate with the corporeal and spiritual realities of a good book. A book with artistic language and fascinating imagery can thrill me for hours. I’ve been enjoying some time to myself for the past couple of hours. Craig and I went on a date today, but when we got home he was really tired because he worked last night, so he went to bed and is still sleeping. Our babysitter is here, so I am free to study great books and let my mind ignite.

I know this is only my second day back but I still feel so tired. I don’t think I want to travel alone again for a long time. Next time we travel Craig will be going with us. I will wait until he can come. I am just mentally and physically exhausted. I’m in this really weird state where I’m starting to be creative again, and I’m beginning to do my tasks as a homemaker again, but I find myself feeling worn down. I want to take a rest, but my mind won’t. At this point I am not even sure what rest would look like for me. Diving into books allows me to access myself almost as fully as writing does. At the same time all the ideas and images can run me ragged. I think I need the books and the time to read and write. I am just coming down from an anxiety attack. Sometimes after I have an anxiety attack I am tired and quiet for a few days. Maybe reading and writing and homemaking will help bring me back to normal.

Vindicated

I have been on Depakote, with very few small breaks, for 8 years. The day I was put on it it made me tired. And on the rare occasion I was off Depakote I was often on something else have at least moderately sedating. But Depakote was always the worst. I have been sleeping in till 10 or 11 almost constantly for years. I would miss half the weekend with my family and miss out on going to church because I could not wake up. I would set all kinds of alarms. I would ask my husband to help me whenever he could. Everyone kept telling me that I needed to change my body clock, that I needed to get up early whether I was ready or not, that it was lazy not to be awake by 8, that I needed to start going to bed earlier, and all sorts of other advice or criticisms. But the thing is I tried to change my body clock. I went to bed between 8 and 9. When my husband would force me to get up while I was still that tired (usually at my request the night before) I would end up too exhausted to move all day and I would have a mood swing. And no matter how many days I did that my body still wanted to sleep and sleep.

Past a certain point I privately began to wonder if people were right. Maybe I was just lazy. I didn’t know anybody who laid in bed as much as I did. Everyone else got up in the morning. Not at noon. Some people get up for their jobs, some people to do activities with their kids which I was missing out on, and even the people who periodically sleep in as late as I was sleeping in were capable of getting up earlier and being functional people, especially when they needed to do something. For me it didn’t matter what I needed to do it was a nightmare to get up in the morning. But I seriously wondered if maybe I was lazy. I wondered if it was a character flaw.

Over the past week I have been vindicated. The doctors pulled me off Depakote. Initially that wasn’t good because I went manic, but since then the other drugs they have put me on have kicked in and they are much less sedating while still keeping me stable. I’ve been getting up naturally between 4:50 and 7 every morning without setting any kind of alarm. I get up and I spend time with my family or I do work around the house or I get ready for church. I spend a full busy day doing stuff and enjoying my life. I am not laying around in bed, and I feel great. I really hope this continues and that these drugs work as long as possible. But even if these burn out, as almost everything I have ever taken has, I have learned that I will refuse to go on Depakote again. I will never ever take that drug again. It’s heavy stabilizer and it prevents Mania, but that’s not worth what it does to you. You miss half your life sleeping.

I am just enjoying being awake so much! And it feels so good to know that it really was the medication and not something morally wrong with me. I felt so bad. I think a lot of people don’t realize just how strong some of these medications are and how many different bad side effects they can have. And sleeping all day is not even the worst thing that can happen to you. But long-term it’s a pretty serious consequence of the medication because sleeping 12 to 15 hours a day is no way to live. I will never go back to that again.

Mental Hospital Outpatient Program

After a couple of days of suicidal ideation and overdosing on anxiety drugs, I ended up in a psychiatric outpatient program which I still need to go to next week.

So as I wrote about last time I wasn’t feeling well on Easter and it continued to get worse. I went into the psychiatric nurse practitioner on Tuesday to ask her to please put me on some new medication because what I was on wasn’t working. Instead she told me that she would not write me any prescriptions, that she did not feel comfortable dealing with my case basically, and that I had to go to a psychiatric outpatient program. She didn’t even send me off with any meds to tie me over. I didn’t even have a babysitter to go to the program because my regular babysitter isn’t available early in the morning most days because she is a student. Needless to say I will not be going back to this nurse.

I then overdosed on anxiety drugs to calm down, and when Craig came home he took me over to the mental hospital to do the admissions process for the outpatient program. I started Wednesday morning and the doctor is changing my drugs to two drugs I have been on before. But they might still work because sometimes when drugs burn out and quit working for me if I wait awhile and give it some time they work again. One is a stabilizer and one is an anti-psychotic. There’s a lot of group therapy. I only go to the half day program so I only have to stay until noon. But in that time there’s two hours of group therapy. The first day I didn’t talk.

Then something happened the night before the second day. Instead of being depressed I swung the other way and went manic. It was not my most severe manic attack but I only got one hour of sleep, was hearing and perceiving things incorrectly, and I had poor impulse control. And the afternoon after the second day of therapy I ended up spending about $400 on crystal.

On Friday I was only hypomanic but I actually talked during the group therapy. Both sessions. It was useful. I am glad I got to go that day. The only reason I got to go on Friday was because my next door neighbor was kind enough to watch Angelica for me. Otherwise I would not have been able to go. My regular babysitter Grace has class all day Fridays and the other lady that I had hired as an emergency hire quit on me.

I am supposed to be in the outpatient program every day this coming week. I am not sure when they will discharge me. I have mixed feelings. On one hand sometimes it can get really stifling just sitting there and I get Restless or agitated and have to get up and walk around. And it also leaves me tired because I have to get up earlier than I normally do, although that’s probably a good thing. At the same time once I get out of the program my days are kind of empty. I used to spend most of my free days, both on days I had Angelica and on days I had the babysitter, hanging out with my mom and visiting with my dad. Now I’m too far away and the days are just a blank canvas. At least the day program gets me around people and gets me out of the house.

 

Easter of Failure, Manitou Cliff Dwellings

Easter did not go well. I struggled to wake up, and then when I did wake for Angelica to do her Easter egg hunt and find her Easter basket, I was low and anxious. I was low last week too and called the psychiatric nurse but she never called back.

Then we tried an Easter Mass and the incense dried out my eyes and the crowds bothered me, and even though it was a gorgeous church with panoramic views of the mountains and prairie, I felt stifled and in pain. We left early and by the time we reached the car I felt like slitting my wrists. I didn’t, though. What I did do was take extra clonopin and just numb my brain out for the rest of the day and into Monday.

I have held out for awhile now being normal (except for rocking back and forth when my anxiety is bad) and doing normal things. We went to the Manitou Cliff Dwellings a few days ago and it was great. I drive. I take trash out. I read. I am living and documenting life and staying out of the hospital. But beneath it all is a flowing stream of depression. I cry at the laundry because I can’t fathom dealing with all the stuff. For every one time I meet up with a neighbor to talk or have a playdate, there are five more times I could have but I didn’t because I couldn’t socialize. I am in this really weird place where half the time I am ok (not great, but fine) and the other half of the time I am dropping so low I need new drugs or even the hospital. Right now I am doubling up on my antidepressant while I wait for the nurse to see me tomorrow. I am cycling too quickly.

I was definitely at my worst on Easter though.   This move has been traumatic. I miss my family. I have no support network in Colorado. Back home I could have called my Mom and she would have come and helped with whatever I needed and kept me company. Dad could have gone to a movie with me. Linda would have come over and I could have talked to her.  Other friends were just a phone call away. Here Craig goes to work and I am on my own. I have a part time babysitter, but she is a kid. I can’t talk to her. I have good neighbors here, but I don’t know them well enough to call or text when I am having a bad day.

The only thing that lifts my spirits is how beautiful it is here. Mountain and prairie both sing hymns to my soul. That and how much I love my house. Craig has made it a very happy little nest for me. Now if I could just balance out and enjoy it.

Sweet Cravings

I am absolutely starving for a new volume of poetry that will blow my soul open. I need some poetic C4. I’ve been asleep lately, and only some fresh imagery and sensuousness can wake me. Alliteration allows me to think in music. Synesthesia strokes my senses.

I have been writing a little bit the past couple of days, but I still feel a tremendous pressure in the back of my head from all the images that are stuck behind my mental block. I’ve been able to birth a few good lines, but mostly I am blocked. It is as though there is a dam in my mind and the poetry is leaking through at a trickle, when what I need is a flood.

Science fiction and horror are starting to call my name, so I think I will read through some of the volumes I bought but haven’t read yet of horror and scifi. I  am renewing my interest in microfiction too.

Today my mom had surgery on her toe. Thankfully it went well and she is out of the hospital and at home resting comfortably. I wasn’t able to go to the surgery because my poor babysitter is sick with the flu, but my thoughts are with her. I  was going to take Angelica with me to visit Mom at her house after the surgery, but Mom was tired (turns out she had to be sedated in addition to her local anesthesia) and needed to sleep undisturbed. I will go over tomorrow to keep her company and see if she needs anything. She can walk on her heel, but she cannot drive so if she needs to go anywhere she has to have help.

Today I have washed dishes, loaded laundry, emptied trash, washed and refilled our Soda Stream bottles, supervised Angelica cleaning her room, and I am feeling utterly uninspired to do anything else. I don’t have to do a major cleaning because the cleaning lady is coming tomorrow, but I should at least sweep. I might read a good homemaking blog to give me that little boost needed to do the boring but Holy work of house cleaning.

Lately my brain has been trying to climb upward toward hypomania. I had to cut back on mood stabilizer because it was making me too tired (one of the reasons I always have low energy) and I think it is causing me to swing a little. But so far instead of feeling super good and creative I just get suddenly irritable and angry at no one in particular and for no good reason. I will suddenly be overwhelmed by a desire to yell (that I don’t give in to) or to be alone.

Rising like this has made me miss my good hypomanias. I don’t miss mania, but hypomania can be fun if you don’t do anything too stupid and get in trouble. I become keenly creative and highly energetic. Colors actually look brighter. All my senses awaken. I can see connections between things that I normally can’t. I really hope if I do swing high into hypomania I get one of the exciting ones, not one of the angry ones. No hypomania is good for you, but at least I get something out of the ones that feel good. It doesn’t get scary until you are thinking so fast you can’t remember your thoughts.

Depression and Anxiety

I had a hard weekend. Saturday it was difficult to get and stay out of bed. Sunday was slightly better, as I was able to go out to lunch with my husband and daughter, but I still struggled with depression and anxiety all day. I haven’t been doing well since I was in the hospital, but the situation became more acute this weekend.

Now I am taking double doses of Prozac and waiting for my new antidepressant to arrive. This past summer I was on Prozac but asked to switch to something else because I felt like it was burning out. I wanted to switch to trintellix but initially balked at the price because it’s not fully covered by insurance, so I went on Zoloft instead. For me taking Zoloft is a lot like eating Skittles.

So when I realized last week that the Zoloft just wasn’t going to kick in and do anything I called my doctor back and requested a prescription for the trintellix. But to save money I’m getting it through Express Scripts Pharmacy and they are taking forever to fill it. They got the order last Wednesday and it is now Monday and they still haven’t filled my order so nothing’s even in the mail yet. So I’m just hanging out with my old Prozac, since it’s better than Zoloft, and waiting.

Everything feels like it takes so much energy when I am like this. Getting out of bed, brushing my teeth and my hair, driving, housework… The list goes on.

Gratitude, Meds, Creativity

My mood dropped a lot last night. I didn’t even finish my hot bath.  I have been uneven lately. I think my antidepressant is starting to burn out. To ward off any deep plunges, I did take double the dose a couple of times last week and that raised me up. But as soon as I stopped taking double I dropped again (yesterday). My antidepressants periodically burn out on me and I have to switch to something different. I am going to ask when I see my psychiatrist on Wednesday. Until then I will be taking double doses to keep myself going and functional and creative. Last night I asked Craig to wake me up before he went to work this morning just long enough for me to take my antidepressants early so that they would kick in by the time it was time for me to get up. The plan worked so I intend to try again. Maybe this can help keep my mood stable and help me wake up earlier in the morning. When antidepressant kicks in it energizes me. So it may be that by taking it at 6 something in the morning I’ll be awake by 8 or 9.

To help boost my mood, and because it is always a good practice, I want to list some things I am grateful for.

1. My mother and father. I am so glad they are in my life. They are wonderful parents and grandparents.

2. My sister. She is a good sister and a great aunt to Angelica.

3. Taco Bell. What can I say? I like their cheese quesadillas.

4. That I live in Hampton Roads where the Mexican restaurants have that white dip.

5. My library. It is a privilege and a pleasure to own a library full of books.

6. My cute yellow cottage. My house is perfect for me and my family. Perfect look, perfect size, perfect design, and for my husband, the perfect location.

7. Plus size stores. Plus size clothing options are still limited, but I know that there is a lot more available today than what there used to be.

8. That I got my car back Saturday from having work done on it since that lady crashed into me.

9. I am grateful to live in a time where there is so much art and music and literature readily available.

10. I am grateful to be short. I just like being petite.

Today I am at the library studying African poetry. Some countries I love. Others not as much. Overall though, I thoroughly enjoy African poetry and this Penguin volume of poetry from each country in Africa is quite educating for me. As usual, reading poetry inspires me to write poetry so I have been getting a lot of writing done. I will post that writing here, though I am not certain some of it is so good. But it feels good to create and be mentally active. Plus, I don’t want to lose any of my work and I use this blog to archive it so I need to post my poetry.

 

 

Crappy Friend, Dirty Animals

This morning (Thursday) I was a totally crappy friend. One of my friends was throwing a birthday party for another one of my friends and I slept right through it. This constant sleeping is really a problem. I feel so bad. And my friend only lives across the street so it’s not like I had some big journey to get there. I literally had to roll out of bed, throw on a dress, and walk across the street.

I am ashamed of myself. The get-together was early, being from 9 to 11, but that’s not that early. It’s not like it was a 6 a.m. breakfast or something. Craig is going to be home tomorrow and I am asking him to wake me up at 7 or 8. I must start getting up earlier. I’m just so out of it in the morning that I sleep straight through alarms. Craig has been trying to help me get up earlier but this morning he forgot. And at any rate I need to get myself to where I can wake up at a reasonable hour without any help because waking me up is not his job. It just goes to show how hard it is to wake up when I have something in the morning that I want to go do and I sleep right through it. It’s not like I was waking up to filing my taxes. I was waking up to going to a get together with friends. That’s something I look forward to. And I still slept right through it.

Today we bought a steam cleaner and went to the condo to steam clean the rooms that are carpeted. I have definitely learned a lesson in being a landlord. No dogs and no cats allowed. The room that belonged to the tenant with the dog and the cat was so much dirtier then the other tenants’ room. We were renting to a married couple and the wife’s friend. The friend had the dog and the cat and the carpet where her bed was sitting is still so nice and pristine. The rest of the carpet is just permanently darker even after steam cleaning. The carpet in the other room doesn’t look like that.

The fact is that dogs and cats, especially dogs, make houses dirty and some people that own them do not do the cleaning necessary to keep up with the animals. Dogs go in and out of the house all day and track in mud and dog poop and debris. They also lick themselves and rub on to the carpet. They are dirty animals. If you have an exceptionally clean person you may not notice that, as they will be regularly vacuuming and steam cleaning and mopping for themselves. But overall dogs make for dirty carpets.

We steam cleaned to the best of our ability and we’re going to steam clean again tomorrow. So we will be turning over clean carpets to the buyer. Having a dog in the house significantly shortened the life of the carpet though. It isn’t a big deal, but when I rent out my yellow house next year I know that I do not want to accept people with dogs or cats. No pets allowed except maybe small ones. This is also because while we were trying to show the house the girl who owned the dog kept not wanting to show the house and saying it was too hard for her because she didn’t have a place to put her dog and her dog has crate anxiety. I shouldn’t not be able to show my house because of an animal and it almost came to that more than once. It was a constant battle, even with 24 hours notice and a monthly rebate on rent for showing the house in good condition. 

I posted about this problem in a landlords group online and I got interesting responses. People who were not dog owners, and a few reasonable people that were, sided with me and said that the tenant needs to be willing to show the house with the legally mandated 24 hour notice, and that their dog is their problem. They are lucky to be allowed pets at all. We didn’t even charge a pet deposit. But all the dog lovers jumped in and said how I should be willing to pay for doggie daycare then ( I guess on top of the rental rebate I was offering for showing the house nicely, something I didn’t have to do), and that you can’t expect a dog with anxiety to stay in a crate. They even said if I have to have the unit sitting empty for a few months (because of not being able to show the condo while the tenants live there because of the dog) and pay the mortgage myself and lose thousands of dollars so that her dog and her don’t have to be inconvenienced I should be okay with that. I thought that landlording was a business  but apparently  it’s animal comfort first  and money second. It really taught me a lot about these animal lover people and I just don’t want to rent to them. Explanations to these people that someone else’s dog should not cost me potentially thousands of dollars in lost rent or a lost sale goes right over their heads. But…but…cute puppy!…..but it is scared of the crate….but it is time consuming to have someone come home and walk the dog…awww look its tail is wagging.        Don’t care.

Never again.  Having animals on my property is a privilege, not a right. If it is going to inconvenience me or cost me money I am not going to do it. Never again will I be yelled at by a tenant because I am inconveniencing a dog. If it can’t stay in a crate it can’t stay in my house. I will not have someone else’s dog become my problem.