Huh?

That is my general response to most things these days.  To say things are overwhelming is quite the understatement, even for someone with my background.  With the therapy piece in place, everything else fell apart.  I’ve been trying to update this blog, but my cognitive abilities are being thwarted a bit by rogue medication dosages.  More specifically, I’ve had to drop my Lamictal dosage from 400 mg/day to 100 mg/day, and Cognitive Chaos has ensued.

In all honesty, I’m not thinking clearly enough to write a coherent detailed blog post.  Currently, I have a therapist in place, no psychiatrist, and a prescription that should have run out already.  I’m maintaining with great effort, but my work is really suffering.  Starting to worry about losing my job, even, but hoping things get sorted before then.  My processing speed is very, very slow, and I forget things quickly.  I feel like my IQ has gone negative.

All of that said, we’re just waiting to hear back from a variety of doctors to see who can and will help.  Until then, the word of the day is simply ‘maintain.’

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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.

Pining for the Single Life

And by that, I mean life before I knew about the others in my head.  It was simpler then.  [Sad movie theme interrupted by sarcastic chuckle.]  Things are a bit interesting here at the moment.  Not bad interesting.  Just different and a bit overwhelming.  Although there have been more than a few upsets in my life these past few years, I can state whole-heartedly that I am *not* a fan of drama.  I just have a way of finding myself in odd situations, sometimes caused by silly actions on my behalf and sometimes caused by actions out of my control.  (I felt attacked recently by a dear friend in terms of the attracting drama bit, so I’m stating my case here.)  Anyway, times is interesting.

After last month’s bipolar panic, I was actually happy to see the psychiatrist on Monday.  Very, very little came of that meeting, though.  We’re keeping the meds as they are, using the Zyprexa as needed, and attempting to ward off the weight gain. The shrink was concerned because the therapist had not seen any signs of manic behaviour in me.  I tried to explain, and the shrink finally understood, that I can feel absolutely miserable to the very core and appear perfectly fine.  Even my best friend and brother-of-choice, the two people who I’ve given almost complete access to my mind, have trouble ‘reading’ me.  Upon reviewing her trusty DSM-IV and reading criteria aloud, the shrink noted that I had had a classic mixed episode.  At least I’m normal in some regard.  She also read some of the therapist’s comments to me, alerting me to the fact that the therapist writes out quite a bit more information than she admitted.    That conversation will be had tomorrow.

But back to today.  The overwhelm is just increasing. One of my teenaged alters recently made a life-changing mistake, and I’m trying to work on how to adapt life based on her mistake.  I know I am responsible for the actions of my others, but that doesn’t always combat the fact that they *can* and sometimes *d0* act independently of me.  I think that’s true for all systems, regardless of how centralised and balanced they appear.   My internal teen’s mistake, in combination with fallout from the mixed episode, has me overwhelmed completely.  The inability to study productively due to bipolar fog led to my failing a test (see previous post), which led to a very low grade in the course, which led to my panicking about my grades and career and future plans and so on…  Now that the mood stuff is relatively stable, I’ve got this other minor issue to deal with thanks to my lovely internal teen.  We have an exam on Thursday, which I need at least a B on in order to bring my grade up, and all I can do is stare at the textbook and contemplate dealing with my insider’s gift.  Which leads to worries about my grades and career and future plans and so on…

Ah, to be blissfully singular again.

Madness

Let’s take DID out of the picture for a minute.  Now, let’s take out SRA.  (I know, I know).  At this time, bipolar disorder is what’s getting at me.  I have never *felt* bipolar, really, until this semester.  Now, it’s making itself the centre of my life.  It is disrupting my sleep, wrecking my concentration, and sending me from horrible depression to rapid, incomprehensible thoughts all in a day.  And this has been going on for nearly two weeks, on and off.  It’s been building.  It was at least nice enough not to happen all it once.  Tonight is the first time it clicked with me that those pesky neurotransmitters might be fighting with one another again.

The casualties so far have been work and school.  I’ve missed more work hours than I could afford simply because I’ve either not been able to quiet my mind enough to focus or have been too depressed to even consider getting the job done.  Right now, for example, I should be working.  Instead, I’m staring straight ahead, mindless, and typing sentences way too many minutes apart.

At school, I just failed a test.  It’s the second test I’ve ever failed throughout my academic career.  The first happened the day after my mother was diagnosed with lymphoma.  This one happened in the midst of my mind walking itself politely off the deep end.  Now I’m not quite sure what to do.  I’m allowing things to snowball.  Catastrophising with the elite.  It went like this:  I’ve missed too many work hours, but there is financial aid money tucked away for things like this.  But I failed that test.  Does that mean I can’t finish the programme?  Can I work nearly full time and attend a very intensive school programme full time as well?  If not, how will I get a career?  Master’s degrees are useless right now without further certifications.  How can I move forward?  What do I need to do to pull out of this rut?  Have I got *time* to pull out of this rut, and so on ad nauseam.

I feel like Alice going down the rabbit hole.  The world is descending into my madness.  Last night, I thought I was being followed whilst driving home from my best friend’s house.  I actually swerved off the road briefly trying to get away from the person who I thought was following me.  Then, I passed a policeman and thought he might know something about me and would come after me, as well.  In the moment, these things seem so real.  Absolutely no one can convince me that they aren’t happening.  Today, though, I see how out of touch I was.

Meds are a real problem.  The atypical antipsychotics affect my blood pressure and heart really very, very badly.  The bp gets dangerously low; the pulse gets dangerously high.  Abilify made me have a seizure, and Geodon nearly gave me heart attack.  I can stand Seroquel, but even at 200 mg, it makes me sleep for 12 hours and still drops my blood pressure.  I take the absolute maximum dose of Lamictal, which has probably literally been a life saver for me.  Something isn’t working, though.  I realise that meds won’t stop every instance of mania, depression, or mixed episodes for those of us with Bipolar I Disorder, but I’d like to find something to at least take the edge off severe episodes whilst still allowing me to breathe and retain a heart rate.  The psychiatrist is frustrated, I’m frustrated, and the therapist says the issue is just a chemical response to trauma.

Let’s place DID and SRA back into it and give a technical term– the internal kids say it’s icky.  I can’t argue with that.

All Mixed Up

I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder in late 2005.  At the time, I was out of my tiny little mind.  I was convinced that the groundskeeper at my best friend’s apartment building was working in cahoots with a four year old boy to lock me into a storage building and kill me.  All these years later, I can look back on that and almost laugh.  Almost.  At the time, I *did* think my life was in danger.  It’s scary to know that your mind can get that out of stride, so when it started happening this week, I got a bit panicked.

Friday was awful.  I was irritable, angry, and scared that my best friend was going to walk out of my life, something I was certain of.  Saturday was better.  Nothing around me could go fast enough, and my thoughts were coming at warp speed.  I had to work to keep the nervous laughter from spilling over and making me look like a fool.  I think I managed to keep things out of sight, though.

And then there was Sunday.  I slept maybe five minutes Saturday night, none at all on Sunday, and no more than a few minutes Monday.  All in all, I’d slept about a half hour between Saturday night and Tuesday morning.  Mind you I wasn’t the least bit tired.  Mania will do that.  They say some people enjoy being manic for that very reason, but I hate it.  It is frightening when your brain is moving at warp speed.  You can’t keep a thought long enough to process it, but you can’t stop the thoughts coming.  For me, the thoughts aren’t of beauty and happiness.  They’re typically about death and frequently bring images of decaying bodies.  Yay, me.  Actually, as I write this it occurs to me that I’d had hallucinations most of the week.  Definitely something to tell the shrink.

Yesterday (Tuesday) was awful.  I have an early class on Tuedays and made a relative fool of myself there.  My partner barely got a word in edgeways, as I couldn’t stop chattering, nor could I stop the peals of nervous laughter bubbling over.  On my 37-mile drive back, I felt like crying the entire time. Monday night I heard a helicopter and swore the people in it were coming for me. Deep depression following a way-too-high energy level, with a bit of psychosis mixed in. It sounds like a sort of psychiatric cocktail.

Today is a bit better, but I’m still feeling shakey.  I slept three hours last night, which is a *definite* improvement.  I’ve had no signs of psychosis today, either.  The depression is stronger, but to be honest, I’d rather deal with that than mania.  Mania scares me, especially when it’s accompanied by depression.  Depression alone is easier for me to deal with. Last night I was terrified. Fortunately, my best friend was there to text me a bit as I got ready for work and tried to calm down. Yet another tribute to what an amazing friend and person he is. The shrink is out until Thursday, and I actually couldn’t get anyone from the main clinic to phone back. Good thing this hasn’t been serious.

I am going to phone up tomorrow and see if I can get an appointment with the shrink soon. My next scheduled appointment isn’t until May, and I don’t want to put things off until then. It’s very unusual for me to phone the clinic in general, so they know things are more than a bit odd when I do. Right now I’m taking 200 mg. of Lamictal twice a day. There was talk of adding Depakote, as the atypical anti-psychotics and I do *not* get along. One caused a seizure; the other two caused dangerously low blood pressures and heart palpitations. I’d rather be crazy than dead.

DID vs. Psychosis

Psych meds are a tricky subject, especially when you’re dealing with the ‘rare but serious’ DID issue.  I just finished a month-long course of prednisone for a physical issue, and the side effects from that made me think about psych meds.  Prednisone causes bloating, sweats, joint pain, and this lovely thing they call moon face in which your face literally rounds off like a moon.  Fun.  Unfortunately, that particular med is what helps when the physical issues I have creep up.  Prednisone rant over– I’m past that now.

My official psych diagnosis is bipolar I disorder.  I presented with what the shrink termed severe paranoia and extreme mania.  Bipolar or schizophrenia seem to be the going socially-accepted diagnoses for people who actually have DID, and I truly doubt their comorbidity.  My mood swings, anxiety, paranoia, et c. certainly *look* like bipolar mania and depression sometimes, but they look like different people internally.  That’s it– tell the voices in my head they’re merely chemical imbalances.  *That* would be interesting.

Based on all of that, I cycled through various atypical anti-psychotics with horrible side effects before landing on Seroquel which only had minorly horrible side effects.  I’ll agree that the Seroquel was probably necessary until I got back into reality, but now I don’t see the point in taking it.  In fact, I’ve only taken it three times this year.  While the side effects certainly aren’t as bad for me as they were with the other anti-psychotics, Seroquel still causes my heart to race and *really* drops my blood pressure.  Yeah, I’ll take my chances on being crazy with a functioning heart.  I’ve discussed this with the shrink, but she insists that Seroquel is necessary as a maintenance drug along with Lamictal (which really does help) because of my level of paranoia.  I hear voices, you know.

So here’s my question– how do you distinguish between ‘normal’ DID stuff and actual psychosis?  Based on my SRA background, I don’t doubt in the least that some of my hallucinations come from outside the realm of DID.  Neither do I doubt that some of my fear really could be paranoia.  I’m willing to bet, though, that the largest majority of it comes from DID and just trauma in general.

I’m able to recognise the voices of my internal folk, and when I hear a new person, it’s reasonably easy to tell that this is part of me.  Still, sometimes I get those voices that are distinctively Not Me, and they aren’t typically suggesting I take time to do something pleasant.  It’s probably due in part to a handy SRA technique called complex poly-fragmentation that causes alters and/or fragments to be so separate from the overall system that they seem part of an entirely different person in a physical sense.  That’s really hard to explain.  But, on the other hand, it could just be psychosis at that point.  I truly don’t know.

Merely being out of my tiny little mind would certainly be easier to conceptualise, but where’s the fun in that?