Bipolar Disorder

Double Whammy

Stock-Boxing-Gloves.jpgAt times, we must deal with several changes all at once.  In my case I was due for a “recharge” of hormones and had a change to my medication within a few days of one another.

The debilitating anxiety that I was experiencing, triggered my Psychiatrist to eliminate the Wellbutrin that I was taking every morning.  In addition, we increased the Lithium dose that I take in the evening.  This change took place the end of last week.  On Monday, I received a renewal of my hormone replacement therapy (HRT).  This “recharge” as I like to call it, we injected two estrogen pellets and one testosterone pellet.  It was a higher dosage than we have done in the past, as it was made very clear that I suffer when my levels are too low.  I suffer from depression and major anxiety if my estrogen is too low, and other less than desirable side effects when the testosterone drops.

So far, I have noticed that an increase in Lithium has seemed to cause an increase in dry skin, especially on my hands.  It’s as if my hands are made of crocodile skin, they are dry and flaky, course enough that they could sand a course surface.

The most notable side effects that I have been experiencing is dull, pounding headaches that last much of the day.  Taking over the counter pain killers are doing nothing to combat the symptoms.  I also have been dealing with nausea that is wrecking my world.  I’ve never been pregnant, but I believe, from the research I have done, that I am experiencing symptoms that are similar to morning sickness.  An increase in my appetite, is driving me to feel like I am eating non-stop and therefore triggering eating disorder thoughts.  The related weight gain, is not helping with the anorexia demons that have come and gone in my life over the last some fifteen years.

I find it to be quite frustrating not knowing what change is causing which side effect.  Is it the Lithium that is causing the headaches and nausea, or is that from the hormones?  Is the weight gain and appetite increase from the Lithium, or the hormones?  I have spent an immense amount time trying to pin point what is going on and I am just lost.

I uttered the words that should never come out of my mouth last night… I said, “I think I will stop taking my meds!”  I know that this is not a rational thought, and it is not something I acted on, but I am so incredibly tired of feeling like crap every day.  Mind you, I don’t feel horrible everyday all day, yesterday I have a few hours of relief and I was able to spend quality time with my son and we had a blast.  But, more time than naught is spent with me feeling like a nail is being drilled into my skull and the fear that I may heave my supper.

I see my Psychiatrist again in a week and plan to report all that I have been experiencing.  I will maintain the mindset that this too shall pass and that I will persevere and overcome this obstacle.  As this is the way I have always approached my mental health issues.

For the others that may be going through a challenging time right now, don’t give up.  Focus on the positives in each moment of your day, every day.  Know that what you are experiencing will pass, in time.  And always remember to keep your doctor advised of all the things that you are encountering so they have all the information and are better able to assist you.

Stock-Boxing-Gloves.jpg

Bipolar Disorder

Salt in my Shaker: Lithium

salt-shaker-on-tableLithium is derived from the Greek word lithos which stands for stone.  We pronounce it as LITH-ee-em.  It is part of the group Alkali Metal on the periodic table of elements and holds the the atomic number three while bearing the symbol of “Li”.  Drugs.com defines Lithium as being a “component that affects the flow of sodium through nerve and muscle cells in the body.”   It started to be used in the field of psychiatry in 1949.  Lithium is used to treat the manic episodes of bipolar disorder, by preventing or lessening the intensity of manic episodes.

When I saw my doctor on Friday, we determined that increasing my Lithium would provide benefits to the anxiety that I was experiencing.  I was to start with an additional 150 mg that night, and remove the Wellbutrin that I usually take in the morning.  I was fine with the prescribed change, but worried about how it would affect me.  My body can be quite sensitive to medication and I usually experience numerous effects as my body is getting used to the change.

Per www.drugs.com, the following are common lithium side effects:

  • drowsiness;
  • tremors in your hands;
  • dry mouth, increased thirst or urination;
  • nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach pain;
  • changes in your skin or hair;
  • cold feeling or discoloration in your fingers or toes;
  • feeling uneasy; or
  • impotence, loss of interest in sex.

Less Common Side effects include:

  • Confusion, poor memory, or lack of awareness
  • fainting
  • fast or slow heartbeat
  • frequent urination
  • increased thirst
  • irregular pulse
  • stiffness of the arms or legs
  • troubled breathing (especially during hard work or exercise)
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • weight gain

 

It is day three/four (third night, fourth day) and the nausea that I have had since Saturday is still lingering and getting worse after each time that I eat.  I am exhausted, regardless of the amount of sleep that I had the night prior.  Sunday afternoon after lunch I slept for three hours and still managed to sleep all night that evening.  The shaking in my right arm has increased, but thankfully it is only present when I am tired.  My head is pounding and I can’t think.  It took me 30 minutes this morning to remember a password for a site that I log into every few days.

I already have a problem with excessive hair loss from the last time we increased my Lithium, so I am hoping that does not get worse, or I may need to go all Britney Spears circa 2007 and shave my head.  It’s too early to tell if I will suffer from weight gain, but that seems to be something that I am more prone too as my past has shown me.

Driving this morning was not as bad, I left a little bit later so there would be less traffic on the road.  My heart did not speed up each time I saw a red brake light and I did not freak out when a car pulled up beside me.  I was listening to the newest Taylor Swift album, Revolution, so perhaps that was the key to my success, but most likely it was the effects of the Lithium increase.

Time will tell how this change in medication, the increase in Lithium and decrease in Wellbutrin, will affect me.  I am optimistically hoping that good changes will come.  That I will not sink into a depression from the lack of the Wellbutrin like I did the last time that we removed it, and that I will not gain weight as I did when we first started the treatment two years ago.

I trust that my doctor is making the best decisions for my health and overall well-being.  I will be patient and will persevere through the less than appealing side effects as my body becomes used to the changes in my body.  I will produce nurture and love to myself through words of affirmation and focusing on the positives in each and everyday while allowing myself to be slow to any emotion when it comes to dealing with others, as who knows what battle they are fighting at this time (as they do not know the battles that I am enduring myself).  I will succumb to my stubbornness and make some much needed changes to my diet and focus on the long term benefits and not the struggle that I am enduring to eliminate certain foods from my diet.

This too shall pass…

Bipolar Disorder

Girls Night Out

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Due to the busyness of the everyday lives that we live, we don’t often take the time to socialize with our friends.  When you have children, most of your focus is spent on your offspring and we tend to neglect our own personal needs.  I believe it is incredibly healthy to set time aside to spend quality time with those that are within our support system.

Girls Night Out often holds a negative stereotype of women dressed up in seductive outfits, letting their hair down physically and metaphorically, and engaging in risky behavior due to being “kept” for an extended period.  However, this is not always the case, at least in my own personal experience.

I planned a Girls Night Out for Saturday night as my partner would be out of town and I wanted to spend time with my friends.  Yes, we did put extra effort into what we wore, and there was elaborate planning that went into the event.  However, it was not a drunken, flirting, over the top event.

The night started out with bowling and I was in heaven.  The alley blasted great tunage from the 90’s and was a clean facility with amazing and attentive staff.  Following bowling was hopping between a couple of dance clubish bars.

I am not writing to tell you about my night out, there is a catch.  I was sick most of the night which put a major damper on things.  I was nauseous and sick to my stomach.  This was not the flu that has been going around or because I had too much to drink.  This was the result of an increase in medication following my psychiatry appointment on Friday.  To combat the nearly debilitating anxiety that I have been suffering while driving, we chose to increase my Lithium.  The new dose started Friday night and I began feeling the effects of the increase on Saturday.

Being on medication effects my everyday life.  Last night it was glaringly obvious that my life is affected due to my medication and the mental illness of Bipolar Disorder.  I have had to make changes to my life as result of the diagnosis and the medication that I am on.  I have been stubborn with making some suggested changes due to my refusal to give up all the things that I love.  However, there are times when my body makes it incredibly clear that it does and doesn’t want certain things.

I must remind myself that I need to listen to my body and when necessary make changes based on what my body says.  Being a hard-headed person in general, I have lived with the mentality of I will do what I want when I want and how I want, with no regard to whether this is good for my overall wellbeing.  It is a new year and I am in a different place than I was this time last year, or even a month ago.  I can not change the fact that I have Bipolar Disorder and that I need to be on medication to maintain stability.  I do have the control over the choices that I make.  I was disappointed that I was not feeling well last night and did not have the over the top time that I was expecting to have.  But, I still had a good time, enjoyed getting dressed up and socializing with my friends.

There is room for a socially fulfilling life with Bipolar Disorder, but it may have to be adjusted and slightly massaged to meet the new “normal” of my life.  Today, I start the process of accepting this and to relent in my fighting against it.

 

Bipolar Disorder

Bootstraps

401628_700669492599_1736905561_nI bee-bop through life trying to deal with the things that come up.  I try and act like ordinary things do not bother me, that they are just no big deal, that I am able to dismiss them and move forward.  However, that is a bit of a lie.  I hold onto these things like they are earth shattering mistakes that will ruin the rest of my life.

I am stressed over the fact that I don’t feel like the servings of food last night for dinner were large enough.  That I question if the children received enough nutrients, were they deprived?  And at work, I yet again made another mistake with the accounting program and I fear that my boss will be frusturated with me, thinking I should be at a point where I am no longer making mistakes.  Then my brain goes to a communication I had with a friend.  “Is she mad at me?” comes to my head and I dwell on it.  The “I should have done this” and “should not have done that” races through my head, and guilt and insecurity fills me.  Did I happen to mention that this all occurred while I was driving?  In addition to the fears of being rear ended, side swiped and the stress that comes each time I see a red break light, I have all these thoughts crowding my brain.

I have an appointment with my psychiatrist this afternoon.  As usual, I wrote a summary document about what I have been experiencing over the last few weeks.  I provide her with this information so she can see what is going on and we can immediately get into discussing the events that have transpired, allowing more time for discussing any alterations to medication and coping mechanisms.

In addition to the normal anxiety that fills me, today I am anxious about this upcoming appointment.  Will there be a change in medication?  How will the change in doses affect my day to day activity?  Is exhaustion a side effect I can expect?  Is mania something I will need to contend with?  What about weight gain?  And, I don’t even know if we will do a change in medication, these are all what if’s, but what if’s are the story of my life it seems.

It is aggravating and somewhat depressing to know that this is Bipolar Disorder.  This is the ups and downs that are notorious of the disorder.  Is this what I can expect this point going forward.  Is maintaining stability for an extended amount of time even a possibility?  If I stay on my medication, and do what the doctors say, why am I still having issues?  Is this the best that it will get?  Do I just need to accept this as my new normal?

I practice my deep breathing.  I focus on the truths.  I trust my psychiatrist and know she will suggest only what is best for me and my condition.  I know I will get through this, don’t know exactly when, but I have always persevered and now is no exception.  These are the cards that I was dealt and I will make the best of what I have.  There is no option to fold.  I will pick myself up by my bootstraps and I will put one foot in front of the other and press on.

 

#bipolardisorder #anxiety #depression #OCD #bootstraps #psychiatrist

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