Crawling Out

I spent most of September in the haze of mania and depression, sometimes mixing the two.  In fact, a great deal of the month is a blur.  What stands out clearly is the fear, darkness, and complete overwhelm that followed me through rapid cycling and a meds change.  Now, thankfully, I’m pulling out.  I still feel somewhat timid and afraid, worried that the next step will take me back down *that* path.  I’m also very easily triggered right now and trying to be careful in those terms.  It’s hard when the world is filled with such bad news, though.  I’m grasping at straws, albeit with more ease, at the moment and crawling out one more time.  Hopefully, that means I’ll blog with more regularity again.  Thanks to my devoted readers who keep coming back, even when there’s very little to see.

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Monsters Under the Bed

Last night was an exercise in psychosis.  I have a recurring hallucination– a man in a long khaki coat stands in the corner and demands my blood.  He tells me there are dead people under my bed who, at his command, will rise up and drag me under with them.  When this is happening, it is so very real to me.  I’ve sliced up my arms and gathered blood on the knife to bring to him.  I’ve rubbed the blood on my pillows, walls, blankets, et c all to appease him.  Once I’ve offered my blood, he disappears.  The fear does not.

The hallucination was a bit different last night.  The man wasn’t there, but I was keenly aware of the dead people under my bed.  For the first time, two of them came out from under the bed to find me.  One literally flew at me and grabbed me round the neck.  I felt the pressure as he tried to strangle me, and I quite literally choked.  Once I got free of him, another body slid up from under the bed.  It slithered over the side of the mattress and covered me.  I felt the weight on my chest, the chill of the dead hand, and the inability to move even slightly.  I tried reminding myself that this wasn’t real, but, in the moment, it *is* real to me.  As real as the laptop on which I’m typing this post.  Fortunately, I have a very understanding neighbour who doesn’t mind when I arrive in the middle of the night to escape hallucinations.  Safe and warm in her house, I finally fell asleep for an hour or so.

Hopefully, this will stop once the risperidone gets evened out in my body.  The food issues have been disturbing my metabolism, I know.  The psychiatrist tells me he thinks the meds will stop any psychosis.  He says the hallucinations and delusions might well be tied to complex PTSD, rather than to bipolar disorder.  If that’s the case, the antipsychotic combined with the mood stabiliser should provide the proper amount of sedation to calm my anxiety and clear my thought processes.  Mental illness can be a difficult battle sometimes, but the only choice is to do the best you can to move forward.  Here’s hoping this treatment plan actually works for me.

Bipolar Disorder Sucks

to use an American phrase that sometimes says it perfectly.

I’m having trouble.  Today, I’m hypo-manic but rapid cycling all the same.  I can’t slow down my thoughts, which are racing from intense anger to deep sadness.  My hands are literally shaking from the energy, and I can’t deal with even the slightest of changes without going right in to a tizzy.  Good thing my routine is staying stable, she says sarcastically.

I just started a new work schedule.  I like my job and will always be grateful to have a paycheck.  However, the merge of our company and another has a great deal of my job mixed.  I do *not* like working for the other department.  We had very little training and are constantly being told by the director of that programme that we are horrible at our jobs, my coworkers and me.  I’d be much better if they’d bloody train me as opposed to giving me a twenty page model and telling me to read it.  Not helpful.

A major change like that affects my ability to tolerate small changes well.  My best friend is going on a well-deserved holiday.  In years past, I would have assumed he’d go away, realise he could do so much better than me, and walk straight out of my life when he returned home.  Now, I know with absolute certainty that things will carry on as normal once he returns.

The schedule shifts, though.  We miss a weekend together, and this time our Friday night will be cut an hour short.  Neither of those are big changes, but with the bipolar symptoms raising and the issues with work, the small changes become a big deal.  One of my insiders feels that our visiting with my best friend on Friday nights keeps him awake beyond his comfort level.  No matter how often we assure her otherwise, she holds the belief.  She’s taking this leaving an hour earlier bit as proof.

I’d phone the shrink, but she would immediately put me in the crisis unit.  She told me she would do that the next time I got unstable because the symptoms shift so quickly.  Unfortunately, that means I’m not willing to phone her this early.  I’ve started Zyprexa– the prn med– and am hoping I caught things early enough that there won’t be a progression.  I’m not hallucinating, which is a great sign.  In retrospect (as usual), I see symptoms that I should have picked up on earlier, but I’ve definitely started Zyprexa earlier than I did during the debacle over the summer.

I really hate bipolar disorder and the way it affects my life.  My job suffers, my friends are affected, and my general health gets bunged up.  I think a change in meds is necessary, as well as a commitment on my behalf to keep a more regular schedule.  Anti-psychotics are awful in terms of side effects and long-term risks.  If taking the Zyprexa keeps me from becoming truly psychotic, though, the risks will just have to be taken.

Not Surprised

I missed most of my shift yesterday.  I was so tired and overwhelmed that work seemed relatively impossible.  Today, my brain is still too overwhelmed to make sense of essays and articles.  I just want to sleep for hours and hours.  When I do sleep, though, it isn’t restful and I wake up as exhausted as when I went to bed.  These symptoms led to the repeated realisation that I have Bipolar I Disorder.  Even though I take my meds every day and see the shrink and therapist regularly, I sometimes forget to pinpoint symptoms as part of the disorder.

I’m not surprised by having bipolar disorder.  I’m just surprised that the depression isn’t more serious.  I’ve been dealing with great amounts of stress.  The house flooded, taking a large amount of my stuff with it.  Mother’s Day came and went, which was also a treat.  Middle Littles, namely Willow, continue to carry on about our not being good enough for my best friend.  Being both an empath and someone with way too many people in her mind, I’m not even sure whose emotions I feel these days.  I *do* know, however, that bipolar disorder is serious and is severely dampening my productivity at the moment.  The good news is  my psychiatrist knows May is a difficult time for me, so she scheduled appointments in April and May.  I see her Thursday.

This is what frustrates me about bipolar disorder.  When I’m not having symptoms, I work hard to keep my mental and physical health in check.  When the symptoms start, though, my hard work seems to be worthless.  The increased appetite, fatigue, and overwhelm that accompany depression chip away at the work I do on physical health; the madness of mania disturbs my sense of reality and meshes the psychotic with the norm so well that I have trouble distinguishing the two.  I take a horrendous amount of Lamictal and would probably be dead without it.  During episodes, we add Zyprexa.  As anyone who has ever taken an antipsychotic can attest, those buggers wreak havoc on physical health, as well.

In short, I’m depressed.  It’s not a serious keep-me-away-from-sharp-objects-depression.  It’s just a sense of overwhelm that darkens everything and takes away from my ability to interact with the world.  If it continues to affect my job in the way it has this year, I’ll have to do something more official.  I don’t mean filing for disability or anything like that.  Just talking to HR maybe.  *That* should be fun.  I’m worried about money, though, and losing the ability to work due to a complete inability to stay awake for more than a few hours at a time is not helping me.  Bipolar disorder is definitely ‘interesting.’  Hopefully, on Thursday, we can stop this depressive episode before it trickles down to the darker levels.  Sometimes I feel at the mercy of the disorder, but maybe this time will bring me a win.

Atypical Anti-psychotics…

…scare me.  Following my psychiatrist’s recommendation, I took the lowest dose of Zyprexa for the first time on Saturday morning.  It took almost twelve hours before I felt semi-normal again.  The rapid-cycling bit does not make me happy.  It disrupts my life and makes me feel out of control.  As I’ve written before, though, this class of meds does not set well with me.  Abilify gave me a seizure, Geodon sent me to hospital, Seroquel (and the others, actually) dropped my blood pressure to dangerous levels.  Fortunately, Zyprexa hasn’t lowered my blood pressure.  It apparently has resurrection properties as well, because this morning, I feel like a zombie.  I’m definitely not rapid-cycling.  I recognise this nothingness, and it scares me.

My mother took the old anti-psychotics –Haldol and Risperdal– and they turned her into a lack of person.  She quite literally drooled.  Yes, my sometimes violent mother was definitely not violent on those meds, but she was really nothing at all.  She barely spoke.  I don’t want to be like that.   I don’t want to be an out-of-control manic, a suicidal depressive, *or* a zombie.  I want to find a middle ground, and Western medicine might not be able to provide that.  I’ll try the Zyprexa for two weeks as promised, but my goal for this week is to work out the meditation techniques I’ve largely stopped using.  Meditation is extremely powerful, and I need to start using that again as another tool towards helping myself physically and mentally.

Lithium, Anyone?

I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder in late 2005 and went through several meds after that.  Abilify led to a seizure, Seroquel came with severe low blood pressure (hypotension), and Geodon gave me what the doctor in emergency referred to as symptoms of heroin withdrawal.  The atypical antipsychotics and I do not get on well with each other.  However, if you’ve read this post, you know my shrink *loves* Seroquel, which is apparently her go-to drug for bipolar.  I refuse to take it, so my best friend and I often joke that I can triple the dose if she likes.  Three times a dose of nothing is still nothing.  🙂

Said shrink and I are likely to have another meds conversation soon.  Last month was awful in terms of bipolar crap.  I started the month with a light depression, but about halfway through, I got rather suicidal.  The depression was horrible, but my thoughts were racing.  I was depressed out of my mind with more energy and less sleep than any one person should ever have.  I think that’s called a lovely little mixed episode.

I do not enjoy mania.  My ‘euphoric’ highs tend to turn rather disturbing in the end.  Fortunately, I don’t deal with mania often.  That makes more time for depression (dark humour).

Has anyone found success on meds for bipolar depression?  I know it’s a real bugger to treat, but I also know having near-constant depression isn’t acceptable, even if it’s typically light depression.  The shrink mentioned lithium and Depakote last summer.  There’s also a new med called Cymbyax that is, I think, the first to specifically target bipolar depression.  It’s a combination of Prozac and Zyprexa.  Not sure about the antipsychotic, especially as the dosage of it couldn’t be adjusted separately from that of the antidepressant.

What are your experiences?