anorexia, Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

Side Effect: Weight Gain

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It’s been a week since we made further changes to my medication.  Increased the Vraylar (mood stabilizer) and stopped the use of the Wellbutrin (anti-depressant).  I am neither manic nor depressed, so I suppose I am in the sweet spot.  I feel a bit subdued though, not as happy as I had been in the weeks prior to today, but also not as mellow as I was three weeks ago when I was dealing with the depression.  This could be a happy medium, although, I would like to have just a little bit more sunshine in me, to be honest, but beggars cannot be choosers.

Speaking of beggars, one thing that has increased is my weight.  And this is always a very touchy topic for me.  Struggling off and on with Anorexia for the past 18 years leaves the subject of weight gain to be a big taboo topic.  I know that in time, as we age, most people gain weight.  I also know that different medications affect a person’s weight in diverse ways.  I know that I am not defined by what I weigh or what I look like.  I also know that my mental health is far more important than the number on the scale and what size clothes I wear on my body.

With all that being said, I am still struggling.  Over the last month, I have gained five pounds.  Which is not THAT bad, but considering that I have been much heavier in the last year, a gain of five pounds hits my fear center and I start to fret over whether I am going to gain back all the weight I lost previously.  And this scares the crap out of me.  I was finally getting used to my body, embracing where I had some curves and accepting the number that smiled back at me from the scale.

I tell my brain that I am fine, that I am beautifully, wonderfully and fearfully made.  That an extra five pounds will not be the end of the world.  I do believe that underneath the surface, is the issue that this weight gain is not within my control.  That this weight gain happened as a result of medication that I don’t want to take for a disorder that I don’t want to have.  All things that are not within my control.  And let me tell you, I like to be in control.  I like to know what is going to happen and when and by whom.  And when I don’t, I get super agitated.  So, having a mental illness that is defined by the variance between poles, makes being a person who likes to be in control, a touchy subject.

I go back to what I have learned from years and years of therapy: control what’s within your control.  I think on what IS within my control?

  • The way I mentally handle this weight gain.
  • How much I exercise and what I put in my body.
  • Ensuring I get adequate sleep
  • Resisting the temptation to weigh myself daily

There’s several things that I CAN do in this situation.  By changing my mindset and focusing on what I do have, instead of what I don’t have, this whole situation takes a different path.

  • Focus on how my mental health has improved since making this medication change
  • I have a healthy immune system and have not fallen ill despite all the various sicknesses that have been plaguing the masses
  • I am a role model to my daughter and want her to be body confident and have a positive body image, and she can learn this by me leading by example

I have always hoped that one day I would not be so incredibly critical of what I look like and how much I weigh.  As I have gotten older, I am doing a better job, but I still have room for improvement.  However, I will give myself credit for being rational and not stopping my medication due to the weight gain, and instead of turning back to a deadly eating disorder, I am responding with a rational mind.

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit:

https://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/weight-gain-side-effects-that-affect-your-health.html

endometriosis, Uncategorized

It’s Back!!!!

triptank_108_obgyn_02_640x360I am sitting in the waiting room “playing” on my iPhone.  I take notice of the people who are sitting around me.  An elderly woman walks from the reception desk and drags her left leg slightly behind her.  She sits down with a thud.  Adjacent to me is a younger couple, realistically probably my age.  It is a man, husband perhaps, wife, a four-year-old little girl and probably a 15-month-old little boy.  The mom looks tired.  When she stands up to return her paperwork I notice a bulge in her abdomen.  As, I begin to look back down at my phone, the door opens, and a very happy woman walks through the doorway followed by what looks to be her very happy husband, who’s pushing a child, probably two, in a stroller.

If you have not guessed, I spent my morning at the OB/GYN.  I have spent an abundance of time here, to the point where most of the staff knows my face and greets me by my first name.  I’ve been coming to this doctor for nearly nine years now, and sadly, I have an appointment every two to three months.

Every time I am in the office, I interface with someone who is just finding out that they are pregnant, clearly pregnant or attending their postpartum appointment.  Today was no exception.  And today, just like many times before, my heart aches and breaks.  The fact that I never conceived a child and the reality that I never will ever, hurts, like a slow, hot, deep slice into my pale, freckled skin.

Today I was at the doctor to evaluate the source of the abdomen pain on my right side.  I had an ultrasound to determine if there was a mass, as just back in May I had a mass just shy of 5 CM that seemed to pop up out of no where and then before I knew it (less than two weeks from the discovery) I was having my, well, I think my seventh (?) surgeries (I’ve lost count, to be honest) to remove endometriosis from various parts of my abdominal cavity.  I was looking at the screen in the ultrasound room and wondering what it feels like to see the baby that you created on that monitor.  What emotions does a person feel?  When I look at the screen, I am looking for masses, since I have been down this road before.  Unlike with a pregnancy, I am hoping to see nothing, rather than something.  Nothing is good news.

Today, there was nothing but some movement in the bowels (yup, I am full of shit, apparently!).  But, when I consulted with my doctor it was determined that the endometriosis had returned to the area where the mass had been removed just nine months prior.  We did not discuss surgery, it is not severe enough yet.  It was speculated that because of the HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) that this was aggravating the endometriosis and causing a flare.  I have been on the hormones for two years now, following a hysterectomy that was performed in December 2014 due to endometriosis and my history of pain related to the condition.  Endometriosis thrives off estrogen, but I need the estrogen to maintain some sort of peace within my body, both physically and mentally.

I read an article from NCBI and it stated, “For women with endometriosis, hysterectomy is often viewed as a permanent solution to their chronic pelvic pain. For many women, this is the case. However, there will be a small number of women who will experience a recurrence of their symptoms after “definitive” surgery. Women who choose to keep one or both ovaries or start HRT after oophorectomy are at higher risk for recurrence, although the benefits of ovarian conservation or HRT in younger women likely outweigh the risk of disease recurrence.”

So, today I felt numb.  Another appointment where I find out that another part of me is not working as it should.  Another hurdle to overcome.  Another problem that can not be fixed.  I was thinking, “What the hell?”, “Why me?”, “Why is there always something wrong with me?”  And I focused on that for more hours that I should have.  I wasted the morning feeling sorry for myself.

The truths are this:

  1. I am strong, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
  2. I have been through worse and will power through this.
  3. I know my body and know when something is off, and I have the resources available to access care for all my numerous health conditions.
  4. I have a supportive network that consist of family, friends and co-workers.
  5. Much like in the past, I will get through this and will emerge stronger than at the onset.

 

There are things that are not within our control.  However, we are in control of how we handle what comes about.  It is within our control what we allow ourselves to think and how long we dwell on the surprises that pop up out of the blue.  This too shall pass (my new favorite saying) and the sun will come out tomorrow, in some shape or capacity, bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there’ll be sun!

 

 

Resources used for this post:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4286861/

 

Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

Today is a New Day

IMG_1204Due to the mild winter that this region is having, I was able to go hiking again this morning.  Although I like to sleep in, I have been pushing myself to get up an hour earlier, so I can get out of the house and fit in some hiking before heading off to work.

Yesterday, I also went hiking, but the experience was very different from today.  Due to the mania, yesterday my brain was flooded with thoughts and my body burned with energy.  For portions of the hike, I ran, and I ran like someone was chasing me.  For those that don’t know me, I am no runner, not my thing, even if someone was chasing me, I would probably walk.  But I was brimming with so much fire, I felt like I had to do something to burn off the energy.  Although I was listening to music, I was thinking about all sorts of grandiose matters:  Shopping, painting, part time jobs, transitioning to being a full time student, increasing my hours at work, should I cut my hair, should I have bangs, what color should I dye my hair next…  It was relentless and was incredibly, incredibly distracting.

But today, well today was different.  There was not the feeling of hummingbirds welling up inside of me.  There was a calm in my body.  I was not shaking like a small dog.  I had some peace.  Mind you, I am a little hungover from an increase in the Vraylar, but it was not too terrible, just a bit tired, but not exhausted.  The morning was overcast with some amounts of rain sprinkles.  The cloud cover was ominous, a little scary and amazing.  Very few people were on the trail and I prefer this, I am not all about interacting with people while hiking.  It’s my alone time.  And today it was just that.  I was alone, on the hike, in my mind and in my body.  It was such a gift.  I thought about all the things that I was thankful for and how I was blessed.

I shared with my friend about my positives for today including that I evaluated my credits remaining and I will be able to graduate by May of 2019.  I have been in and out of college for nearing 16 years.  Starting and stopping so many times I lost count due to mental illness.  So, finally getting my Bachelors degree is kind of a huge deal to me.  After I shared, she said “that’s all?” and this made me go into thinking mode… after I got to the top of the mountain I was climbing, I had a list and I sent her a text with the following:

“I didn’t run out of gas on the way here.  I live in a place where the sun shines nearly every-day.  I have medication that can help bring me down off a manic high so I don’t have to suffer.  I have an incredible support group including family, friends, doctors and co-workers.  I am stubborn.  I have drive and perseverance.  I’m forever looking to improve myself for the better.”

When I was young, my mom shared the Bible verse Philippians 4:8 (NIV) that states: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

And this is what I do.  Everyday.  It is a new day.  A day that has provided me with clarity and peace, a little grogginess and just a tad bit of zombieness, but it’s a glorious day and I am blessed.

Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

Zero to Sixty

IMG_1182After removing Wellbutrin from my cocktail of medications due to the debilitating anxiety I was suffering with, about a week in, I started to feel the throws of depression starting to suck me under.  It was a little bit more than gradual, a little sluggish, then harder to concentrate, and then it took everything in me to do the littlest tasks.  I reached out for help as soon as I realized this was more than just a few bad days.  I will admit that I was quite frustrated that although I had received relief from the anxiety that now I was dealing with depression.  I was like, “really?”

After speaking with my doctor, we decided to bring back the Wellbutrin and hope that the increase in Lithium that was implemented previously will combat the anxiety and prevent it from coming back.

Within just a few days, the sun broke through the clouds and the birds started chirping.  However, there’s a catch (there’s always a catch, it seems) … I went from down to a little up, to rocket launching Elon Musk’s car in space.  And that’s when I said, “oh shit!”  I tried to convince myself that it was just from having coffee, or the anticipation for the Girl’s Night In I was hosting, but after I cleaned (I mean cleaned) nearly my whole house within just a few hours, I knew that it was more than a little caffeine high.  I had gone from zero to sixty, depression to mania.  And that’s when I nearly cried.

My house is spotless, which is a rarity, just ask my mother.  I had a phenomenal gathering at my house where I was able to teach my friends how to decorate cupcakes with all the gadgets that I own.  And then we painted, we painted for hours… I cranked out I think four pieces of art, all that I like, which is not the norm.  I could’ve kept painting or decorating cupcakes, but it was getting late and I ran out of cake and frosting.  Nearing midnight, I was sitting on the couch and I was so wide awake deep in my bones.  There was excitement that was dancing within me.  My mind was in overdrive.

With assistance of a sleep aid, I did get a full night’s sleep.  And woke to attend a hot yoga class.  It did not totally kick my bum, but it was close.  I forced myself post class to listen to a guided meditation, or seven, in attempts to get the humming birds to go away.  Hummingbirds is the way I describe the mania that I experience.  Hummingbirds are constantly moving and fluttering their little tiny wings, always jetting here and there, constantly busy, and alas that is what I am like when manic.

The meditation did not work.  I finally put away two months’ worth of clean clothes, reorganized my bathroom cabinets and did all the laundry for our family of five.  I am attending another yoga class this evening and will probably run errands to prepare for making supper.  Sitting still is posing to be a problem.

I am currently sitting outside watching my cats lounge in the warm sun, while listening to soft classical music fill the air and I feel refreshed.  I also feel like I am going to run around the yard in about 30 seconds and hope that no one sees me because I MUST move.

I see my doctor tomorrow and I am quite interested to see what the next plan of action will be.

So yeah, this is Bipolar, this is what it is.  I am along for this ride, the ups and the downs and all the in between.  This is my life.  It is the only one I have, so I make the best of it.  It’s not always ideal, but it I embrace it.  I focus on what is within my control and the positives that are in my life.

Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

The Year 2016

healthynewyear_456pxTwo years ago, many events occurred that changed the lives of many.  Per the website On This Day (www.onthisday.com), the following events occurred:

  • Mar 20
    • Barack Obama becomes the first US President to visit Cuba since 1928, arriving for a 2-day tour
  • Apr 22
    • Paris Agreement on climate change signed in New York binding 195 nations to an increase in the global average temperature to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C
  • Jun 23
    • United Kingdom votes to leave the European Union in their “Brexit” referendum
  • Nov 8
    • Republican Donald Trump is elected President of the United States of America, defeating democrat Hillary Clinton, who received 2.9 million more votes

Quite frankly, I don’t remember any of these events.  I was coming off what I now know as an extreme manic high.  An episode where I spent more money than I had on a week of elaborate celebrating of my 31st birthday.  Towards the end of the month, I crashed, and I crashed hard (I now know I was experiencing a Mixed Episode).

Daily, I’d call my mom crying.  She would ask “Bella, what is wrong?”  And sobbing I would say that I had no idea what was going on.  My head was racing with thoughts, zooming by so fast that I couldn’t concentrate.  I was either crying or yelling, wide awake or out cold, ravenous or without an appetite, full of emotions or completely numb.

I met with my psychologist the week before my birthday where I was happy, positive, excitable and chatty.  The week following my birthday I was in tears, talking about how I could not handle it and how I wanted to escape from my body.  This is when it became clear to my therapist that I was dealing with more than just anxiety.  She speculated that I was Bipolar, but not certain if it was one or two.  I pleaded with her to get me help, stating that I was done suffering and needed something else to get my brain to calm down.

By the grace of God, I was able to get an appointment to see the psychiatrist the middle of February.  It was a few weeks off, but I was on the cancellation list.  I would just have to tough this out for a few more weeks and then I would get the relief that I was so desperate to receive.  The weeks of waiting were agony.  The psychiatrist diagnosed me with Bipolar One, with a mixed episode and I started my seven-month sabbatical of medical leave.  It was the beginning of a very, very long journey.

2016 was the hardest year of my life to date.  I remember much of it, but in the same regard much of it is a blur.  Although I am struggling with anxiety currently, it does not compare to how I have struggled in the past.  Today I can sit here and look back and see how far I have come.  It has been a hard, rugged terrain that I have traversed, but I did it and I am proud of myself for all I have done.

Life is hard.  It puts us in trying positions and places and forces us to use all the strength that we have and then some that we didn’t know that we had.  When I saw Markiplier earlier this month with my son, he ended the show stating something to the effect of “If someone tells you that you can’t do something, prove them wrong.”  I think this also applies to when our brains tell us we can’t do something, that we need to tell ourselves that we CAN do it and persevere.

Press on my friends, towards the goals that you have and towards the life that you aspire to behold.

 

#bipolardisorder #mania #depression #mixedepisode #spendingspree #suicide #psychology #psychiatry #2016 #onthisday #markiplier

 

Uncategorized

The Change

Menopause-symptoms-hot-flushes-night-sweatsWinter finally arrived, and my family is now wearing heavier jackets out of the house in the morning.  Those around me are sporting sweaters and long sleeves, commenting about wintry weather and a chill in their bones.  Where I am sitting here waving air under my air pits because I am sweating like a burly, lumberjack of a man on an 120 degree day in the Arizona desert.

The past week has been a little rough.  I have been tired, unable to concentrate and not my unusual cheerful self.  I’ve been mentally preoccupied and just flat out tired.  I have not energy to go to the gym, and I just want to sit home and imbibe with a glass full of fermented grapes.  Monday night was a rough night as I was delving into issues of my past and focusing on single trees and ignoring the fact that they were part of a big forest.  As a result, I had a super meltdown, comparable of that of a two-year-old who was told to go to bed against their will.

Yesterday morning, while I was suffering from a horrible emotional hangover, it dawned on me that I may be battling more than just typical issues for a 30 something female who has a family, works, is in school, and has trauma in her past.  That this is more than Bipolar and the instability of moods… yes, boys and girls, this is MENOPAUSE… that ugly, dirty word, that describes what happens when they take all your lady bits due to their massive temper tantrums also known as Endometriosis and disposes of them in a waste container.

The hormone replacement therapy that I have been receiving for the last year or so, is in the form of pellets that are inserted into the skin of my buttocks and last for a few months.  I had my first “recharge” as I like to call it, since my surgery in May a few months back.  We do not know how long my body will take to absorb all the hormones (estrogen and testosterone) so we are doing the guess and test technique.  So, when Michelle starts having hot flashes and turns into Cruella Deville the night she came to get the puppies, we can gather that she has probably used up her estrogen and needs to have her blood tested to see what the levels are.

Prior to my melt down, and just off the amount that I was sweating, I had my blood work drawn a week ago.  I could tell that I was starting to drop and wanted to try and catch it before I plummeted (not so successful, it seems).  I followed up with my doctor yesterday, calling to find out if my results were in, and when I could get recharged.  I explained that I am losing my mind and really need to get in.  They heard my desperate cries and I will be seen on Monday.  It’s still a full five days away, but the solution is in sight and I know I can hang on (I think) until my appointment.

Being young, where most of the people my age are having their first child, it is hard to be going through menopause.  However, it gives me something more that I have in common with my mom and the older ladies that attend the crafting classes that I take on Tuesday nights.

My advice to the uteruses of the world, hold onto your ovaries for as long as you can!  Speak sweet nothings to them and let them know that they are loved and cherished.  For those that are warring with your lady bits, really think good and hard over getting your junk ripped out.  No period is amazing, but the hair growth, night sweats, snoring, 10-15-pound automatic weight gain in your middle and mood swings, are not for the faint at heart.  Peace to you and your uterus.

 

#endometriosis #menopause #hotflashes #bipolardisorder #moodswings #tantrum #uterus #ovary #hysterectomy

Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

Living in the Rearview Mirror

rear-view-mirrorI commute for my job.  It’s usually between a half hour to an hour, depending on time of day and the amount of traffic.  Not a big deal, right?  Well, it really isn’t a big deal, but when you have a history of panic attacks while driving, every minute you are in the car can be agonizing.

I have this incredible fear that I am going to be in a car accident.  That someone is going to come over in my lane and force me into another car.  Or that a car will rear end me and propel me into the car that is in front of me.  I fear that I will be hurt in the imaginary accident and suffer pain, both mentally and physically.  I always have a hawk’s eye on all traffic.  Evaluating if there is a car next to me and how close they are, if there is a car behind me and their following distance.  Plus, how close I am to the car in front of me and if I feel that I could stop in time before I would hit them, say that they quickly apply their breaks.  I try and anticipate the actions of all the cars around me and have all these proposed situations mapped out in my head, just in case.  The whole art of driving to and fro is a hell filled agony,

Today I was a bit mentally distracted and was zoning out.  I was still playing the “what if” game in my head, but everything was in a fog.  Numerous times I caught and forced myself to refocus my attention.  I kept checking my rearview mirror to make sure that there were not cars in my proximity.  I was focusing a bit of attention on what was behind me and in some ways neglecting what was in front of me.  And it hit me, is this how I view life?  Am I focusing too much attention on what’s behind me that I am not paying attention to what is in front of me?

How often do we allow the events in our past to crowd our vision and keep us from clearly seeing what is in our future?  With a history of abuse, I have many fears that affect me nearly every day.  But this morning, I felt empowered to let those things go.  I thought that if I stop accessing those memories perhaps they will shrivel up and die due to lack of attention.  This seemed probable.  If I allowed the old narratives to fizzle out, my mind would be more free and able to look at what is in front of me.  If I stop hiding and avoiding the things and people that I am afraid of, it is more likely that I will be able to move forward, move into the future, hell, just be in the present.

By focusing so much on my past, it is impossible to clearly see what is ahead of me.  Spending too much time in the past, takes my eyes off the road and increases my risk that I am going to run into something and cause an injury inducing accident.  Drawing a line in the sand, so to speak, and stating that today is the first day of living in the present and no longer dwelling in the past, will free me in ways nothing in the past every has.

Are you living in your rear view mirror? Is it time that you refocus your attention on the road in front of you?

 

#abuse #past #panicattacks #anxiety #depression #bipolardisorder #fear #lettinggo #driving #caraccident