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.

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.

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?