All Mixed Up

I’ve been cycling.  As a matter of fact, I’m still on the downswing.  It started with hypomania that I didn’t even recognise.  My therapist pointed it out to me.  This went on for roughly two weeks (which is why I haven’t posted).  My thoughts raced madly, and I wanted everyone to shut it so I could keep talking.  *Nothing* moved fast enough.

From there, the mixed state set in.  The latest DSM did away with mixed episodes.  The disorder, on the other hand, did not.  This is the dangerous stage for me.  All the despair and suicidal ideation of depression with all the energy of mania.  I had racing dark thoughts.  I didn’t want to talk anymore because I didn’t want anyone to get in my head.  My paranoia shot up.  *Everything* was dangerous.

Now I’ve fallen in to a light depression.  It’s inconvenient and uncomfortable, but I feel I can cope with it safely.  If not, I’ll definitely phone up my therapist.  This completes my cycle, though. A couple of weeks of mania, followed by a week or so mixed, followed by sometimes months of depression.  Here’s hoping this stage passes as quickly and as easily as possible.

Advertisements

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.

That Bipolar Thing

Lately, bipolar disorder is reminding me that it has, in fact, got a place in the chemistry of my mind.  I work very carefully to manage the disorder.  I take my meds correctly (with a few exceptions that we all seem to have), I keep appointments with my psychiatrist and therapist, and I am diligent about monitoring my symptoms.  Lately, however, I’ve been riding through a chaotic storm of bipolar swings.

It started with irritability and restlessness that I didn’t put together as precursors.  Last weekend, things started getting particularly interesting.  The world stopped moving at the right pace; it was far too slow.  Things started magnifying to the point that the entire world and everything in my life was a trigger.  I just wanted to cover my head and pretend that nothing other than soft, plain dark colours existed.  Evil voices kept telling me of horrible things I had done or would do, none of which were true.  Things continued to decline from there, and by Thursday, I wanted to dissect the veins in my forearm to get out the shiny things in my blood that I knew would protect me.

Throughout this, I missed work which means financial problems abound.  It’s left me feeling selfish, lazy, and more than a touch mad.  Things are still big and mean and scary, in that the slightest thought of negativity gets magnified to the point that it seems a personal crisis.  I’m not willing to spend a cent, simply because I feel undeserving of anything because of missing work.  I don’t have the energy, really, to do anything anyway.  I feel like staring in to space for the next few decades just to avoid anything that might send my mind back down the path of horrible scenarios and hallucinations.

Things have fallen apart, due completely to bipolar disorder this time.  I feel incapable of do anything productive, as I feel like a complete waste of space and oxygen.  My mind, when it does become lucid, takes so much time to process information.  I fluctuate quickly between the depths of despair and the terror of psychosis.  *Everything* is a trigger these days.  Ironically, I have no idea of what actually triggered the bipolar symptoms, but I don’t remember purchasing a ticket for this particular ride.

Descending in to Madness

Things are bad.  Very bad indeed.  I’m having miserable luck which would almost be tolerable if I were not also having mood issues and psychosis.  The food problems returned a few weeks ago, and they’ve hung about to some extent.  They’re better, in that I’m not doing the binge/purge thing on a daily basis, but they’re still in place.  I have a feeling they might be in place for a while.  This feels like it did when I was first diagnosed at aged 19.  I know, logically, that this is very damaging to mind and body, but I can’t quite fend off the behaviour.  Which probably led to the next bit.

The weekend before last, I started getting extremely paranoid.  This is never a good sign.  By that Saturday night, I was incredibly stressed.  By that Sunday, I was suicidal.  Staying alive was quite honestly a fight.  I was awake most of that night debating whether to stay alive and fighting with a very strong urge to swallow every pill in my side table.  The thought was ‘what if my only hope is just to hope it doesn’t get worse.  The SRA component means it never will get better.’  I still feel like that, but I’m trying to ignore it.  My mind flirts with suicide, but I don’t feel a critical danger.  Last week I set the plan and wrote the letters.  This week, I’m just overwhelmed and aware that I could very easily slip back in to that suicidal mindset.

This weekend, the psychosis started.  It started whilst I was driving, and I thought I might have an accident.  A dead woman with solid white eyes and wet, stringy black hair leaned between my best friend and I.  Eventually, her eyes turned dark, and worms started crawling out of her mouth.  I told this to my best friend and said I hoped she didn’t stay once he left.  Next I knew, the hallucination gave me a sardonic smile and nodded her head yes.  On my one hour drive home, I could hear the voice of the dead woman sitting in the car behind me.  Only when I phoned a dear friend did the voice stop.  I don’t typically hold phone conversations whilst driving, but that night it was a choice between trying to drive whilst minding an hallucination or talking with a friend to drown out the voice and (partially) the image.

I went home briefly, but the hallucinations continued.  Once again, the man who calls the dead people stood in my room and told me he would bring them if I didn’t give a blood sacrifice.  Once again, I cut my arm until the blood flowed down it.  Finally, I managed to escape and walked the half block or so to my friend’s house and stayed with her, watching carefully for the man and dead people because I knew they’d be angry with me for hiding.  The psychosis has passed.  The depression is still set firmly, interrupted only by hypo-manic symptoms and hypervigilance.  I have therapy on Thursday and am slightly afraid she’ll put me in a crisis unit until things calm.  The repercussions of that, given my SRA background, could be severe.   I just want to get help, though.  I’m at my final tether now.

Add to that ‘normal’ problems.  A cutback at work that will, once put in to effect, cause me to make less than I need to even pay my bills.  A crap review makes me think they might fire me soon anyway.  And, to be completely honest, I’ve missed a fair bit of work lately because the depression left me too tired to even get out of bed early in the week.  Financially, I have no idea what I’m going to do.  The Americans refer to ‘bleeding a turnip’ as the term for trying to get money from a person who has none to give.  I’m in that position right now.

So this is me: overwhelmed by even the smallest problem, on the verge of suicidal, depressed, psychotic, and hypo-manic all at once.  No idea of the path from here.

Reminders

I have the choice of being constantly active and happy or introspectively passive and sad.  Or I can go mad by ricocheting in between. ~ Sylvia Plath

 

Every now and then my wonky brain reminds me that, in spite of the myriad of other possibilities, I do have bipolar disorder.  This would be one of those times.  I feel like I’ve been sliding on a helter skelter since Saturday night.  Saturday was the top of the spiral.  My best friend and I had an *amazing* day.  Over the course of that day, I felt the somewhat manic pace of my brain bumbling about but decided it was probably just excitement.  By the end of the evening, however, my thoughts were coming so rapidly that I had to focus on small things like drawing just to be able to think at all.

Sunday started similarly.  About midday, however, the crash began.  It was one of those bumpy descents that threatened to even out, only to fall lower the next round.  By Sunday night, I was so depressed that texting my best friend seemed to take too much energy.  And I don’t miss a minute of texting him.  Not to be outdone, however, Monday brought back the helter skelter. In the bipolar vernacular, there is a debated pattern called ultradian cycling.  This is when a person cycles between euphoric highs and deep depressions over a 24-hour period.  Mental health professionals debate the existence of this pattern.  They would not debate it if they bloody felt it.

Mind you, things have settled back in to a lovely depression today.  The type that makes the sun seem darker somehow and any chance of happiness is destroyed by whatever thought it happens to bring.  Couple that with thoughts that still won’t stop racing and a variety of psychotic symptoms, and you get a semi-functional unfocused me who takes well over an hour to write a simple blog post.  I suppose that’s still loads better than not functioning at all.  Optimism at its finest (and most sarcastic).

Odd Reactions

Not too long ago, I made a decision to end my life.  It was several months in the making, as it were.  I wrote a note to my best friend, gave him a ring that I wanted him to have as a memory, went home, and took a month’s worth of psych meds.  It wasn’t that I wanted some great pain to end.  It wasn’t that I felt unloved or unwanted.  It was just that I felt it to be my time to go, to use a stupid cliche.  I felt like life was in the past and like I’d accomplished everything I needed to do.  Sometimes, I still catch myself feeling like that.  I hope that will become less in time.

The scary part, ironically, is that I wasn’t scared.  I was completely at peace with my decision.

I talked to the therapist about this yesterday.  Turns out therapists and shrinks take issue with suicide attempts.  I honestly felt sorry for the therapist.  She is very invested in me, and she said she needed a minute just to process the fact that I am alive.  She was angry that I had been lying to her all of these months.  She thought, and incorrectly, that I had been coming to therapy and saying I was fine, even though I was feeling suicidal.  However, I wasn’t always feeling suicidal.  Sometimes I felt great.  The thought was just dancing about in the back of my mind, and, in the midst of a depressive episode that followed a really bad manic episode, it popped in to the front of my mind.

Now, in this day that wasn’t supposed to be, I’m confused.  I was truly prepared to die, and I truly meant for the attempt to work.  Now, I’m not sure what to do with things.  I’m waking up every morning, doing my job, and maintaining a social life to some extent.  All the while, though, I’m wondering what I’m supposed to do with this next bit.  I don’t feel suicidal.  I do, however, feel like the feelings might return at some point.  And that, more than anything else, confuses me.

At this time, I’m safe.  Actually, I think I’m afraid of my suicidal feelings.  I’m afraid of the fact that part of me (in a non DID sense) wishes the attempt had worked.  I’m afraid that the feelings will return, and I’ll become at peace with them again.  I’m also afraid that I won’t regain the steadiness of living in this world I didn’t think I’d see again.  It’s odd, trying to readjust to life after what was a rather serious suicide attempt.  Everything feels different, but nothing at all has changed.

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.