Genetic Test for Medication

When I first started seeing my new psychiatrist she asked me if I’d had genetic testing to determine which medications would work best for me, I hadn’t, so she asked if I was interested. Of course I was interested! I was then given 2 swabs to rub on the inside of my cheeks and off they went to the lab at GeneSight, within a few days the results were back.

You can read a lot more about GeneSight and see an example of what an actual test looks like on their site. To see a detailed example of  test results click here. It will take you to a pdf. I was going to show you some of mine but mine are black and white copies and aren’t nearly as pretty as the actual test results, and mine has over 9 pages of information. (I think some is repeated to give more in-depth information about it, but golly, that’s a lot of information.) I will however talk about some of my results.

Sample of one page of a GeneSight report.

After receiving my results we started going though it all to see what medication therapies would be best for me. It was very surprising to me how many medications I’ve been on in the past that were listed in the “Significant Gene-Drug Interaction” category. I also found out that this test really didn’t show which drugs I would have severe side effects to. For example, all antipsychotics. There are a few that are listed as “Use As Directed” that caused me severe Akathesia (the need to constantly move) and muscle twitching, which can become permanent.

We went through all of the medications on the list for Antipsychotics, Antidepressants, Mood Stabilizers, Anxiolytics and Hypnotics, Opiods and Non-Opiods. I’m not really sure why I was tested for opioids and non-opiods but I will be taking that to the hospital the next time I have surgery. (hopefully that’s never)

I’ve been told I’m a complicated case. I’ve tried a lot of medications in the past, some worked for a while and stopped and some never worked. We started going through one that worked for a while first. Lithium. When we tried Lithium I started to show toxic signs before I got to a therapeutic dose. We tried Depakote, I felt better and got to a therapeutic dose but it caused so many side effects that I couldn’t take it. (my stomach hurt so much and caused me to have severe retching, it was most painful, and this went on while I was on antibiotics so I blamed it on the wrong drug for a long time, finally we figured out what the culprit was and I had to stop it.) So then we tried Vraylar, an Antipsychotic, almost immediately I started having symptoms of akathesia. It wasn’t as bad as it was with Latuda, but it was starting, so I was put on a drug to help control them. It did but I still had this constant hum that made me feel like it was going to start all the time and I was still a little manic. You may remember the post about me talking all the time. I saw my psychiatrist during that time and could not stop talking during that visit, it was most disturbing to me. I can’t even remember what she did to change my medication at that time, I believe she added another medication. I know at one time I was on five drugs from this one person….or was it six? I’m still on a ton, but I’m tapering off 2 so that will make it less and one of those should also take over a medication for a condition I’m being treated for by another physician, so that will take away 3 drugs all together. Score.

I’m sure I’ve completely confused you. It confuses me!

Let’s see if I can make a little more sense than I have been….yes I seriously doubt it too, but bear with me. The last visit I had, I took that gene test and was ready. I told her what I had taken before that seemed to work for a long time, Topamax, all by itself, but we got to such a high dose I has severe cognitive issues, so I’d like to add it to the Lamotrigine I’m already on, both of these are mood stabilizers, that way I don’t have to have such a high does of Topamax and shouldn’t get to the point that I have cognition problems. (I was over 400mg before now I will be at 200mg, much more doable I think) Topamax can also help my migraines and my Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertention, so that’s a great thing.

I’m also seeing another psychiatrist on the 28th for a second opinion. I’m not thrilled by how this has been handled, all the drugs just pushed on me, and at one point when I was at my worst and asked what to do if I was in crisis, I did not feel it was taken seriously. I was told to go to a certain hospital, but was not given the information. How is someone who is in the throws of a severe mixed mania episode supposed to remember what psychiatric hospital this woman spoke of to find out how to get there, and I was not in the frame of mind to ask her to write it down. I was a complete mess at the time. It’s times like that that patients really rely on their health care professionals, and too often they fail to live up to what is needed.

I’m still a lucky one. I have insurance and can actually go to a psychiatrist and get help, there are countless others out there who can’t. We often tell people to reach out when they are in pain, but if they can’t pay for help, they are simply turned away. This country treats their citizens like garbage. If it’s unsightly, throw it away.

Please support mental health facilities who treat those who can’t afford care, there are so many people who are homeless because they have no where to go for treatment. Take time to be kind.

Have you tried GeneSight? Would you if you haven’t? Do you think it’s beneficial?

I do think it’s a great place to start. It’s telling me if certain drugs metabolize faster or slower than they should, and well all kinds of things. Be sure to read more at their website if your interested.

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My Doctor Treats Me Different – Mental Health Stigma

image by pixabay.com

For the first time since my diagnosis in 1996 I’ve felt that I’ve been treated completely differently because of my mental illness. Perhaps it was because I mostly stable for so long and my few people have ever seen me have an episode, but this came from my doctor.

Since we moved to Tucson 8 months ago I had to get a new PCP (Primary Care Physician), I initially wasn’t sure about her, she seemed a little too friendly, and one of the first things she said was that she wouldn’t write a prescription for diazipam. (I didn’t ask, I’d get that from my ENT anyway), but I gave her a chance. I admit I went in there not expecting much so I felt that’s what I got. The second visit was much better. Every time I’ve seen her she hugged me, until I told her about my mixed mania episode. Now things are different.

I saw her on Friday for back pain. I felt like she dismissed things I said. I tried to talk about the back pain and she asked what I wanted to do about it. I said, “fix it”. “How do you want to do that?” I jokingly said, “I want you to fix it.” and I laughted. She said, “I can’t do that”, in a very abrupt way. She immediately said she would refer me to PT. I tried to say that I wasn’t sure it was muscular, I was concerned it may be arthritis. “No. You need PT”. She normally talks well so I can understand and is friendly, on Friday I had to turn my cochlear implants DOWN because she was so LOUD. She didn’t even want to look at my back, when I said where it was, she said she thought it was my lower back….”well bitch if you had asked you’d know!”, I thought to myself. She touched me and said, “I expected it to be tighter”, in a much lower voice to my husband. I tried to tell her that it feels different, but she dismissed me. I needed to go to PT. Fine, I’ll go to PT and I’ll find a new PCP! (you’d think she thought I was seeking drugs but I’m allergic to opioids, and she knows that, so WTF? I just wanted a discussion and maybe an xray)

I may have made the grave mistake of telling her about my episode, but when my drug list started to change, that would be a pretty obvious clue things were changing. I also mentioned I had back pain as a side effect from akathesia due to a side effect form Latuda 2 years prior, I should not have said that…..WAIT!……………

What am I saying?? I should have been able to say all of that!! My general doctor should be able to be aware of my mental health issues and not start treating me like I’m not able to think for myself.

I will be firing her soon and I will make sure that she and the office know why I am doing so. This is crazy, I’m not!

Psych 101.2

I saw my psychiatrist today, it was an interesting visit. I am feeling much better than I was. No more rage, but Stuart did admit I’ve been talking more, which was quite obvious in her office. I just talked so much and so fast it was crazy. I seemed to have been extremely happy and just couldn’t control it. I was thrilled that she was finally speaking up and I could hear her. She was even trying to slow down. She is normally very soft spoken and talks very fast with a Russian accent which makes it impossible for me to read her lips well. If I can’t hear her better, I’m lost. Stuart normally has to take the lead in my visits. Today I got the giggles, and when we got outside I busted out laughing. I thought it very funny that I was bouncing off the walls in her office. The whole thing seems very surreal.

It is now obvious that I am still having a manic episode, but it’s much better than it was. The main symptoms have been the extreme talkativeness, sleeping very little, and doing more than I’m really physically able, and today uncontrollable giggles. My Fitbit says that I’ve been getting at least twice as many steps per day than I normally do. I’m thrilled about that and hope I can keep it up; however, completely reorganizing my house and cleaning like crazy, that is taking a bit out of me, but I’d really like to finish. Oh, and I’m forgetting things, someone can tell me something or I can tell someone something then I can’t remember the conversation…that’s weird.

She asked me if this was normal for me when I have an episode. I told her I haven’t had a severe episode in almost 30 years, or more! This is new territory for me. I have had a couple of depressive episodes when my medication needed to be adjusted, but I could always tell myself that I knew it would end, and that got me through it until I could get my medication leveled out. True mania hasn’t hit me in a very long time. To be honest, when I had manic episodes before I was stable I would paint like crazy (often days at a time), lose time (meaning time would pass and I didn’t remember I didn’t realize it, or remember what I did during it), spend a lot of money (I once bought a Jeep on a manic swing), do very risky things (like drive to DC and meet with someone I’d only talked with on the phone) and be very promiscuous. Now, I’m not doing all of that, I did always talk a lot though. After I was diagnosed talking a lot was a sign to me that I was a bit manic, but nothing like I’ve been the past few months.

I’m grateful that we have found medication that seems to be working, it just needs to be adjusted. I hate that it’s taking more meds than I’d like to take, I’m hoping after I get stable for a while we can work on getting me off a couple. Today she increased the main med, took away something, and added another to help me sleep, hopefully. I’m having to take another drug to stop the akathesia that started with the new mediation, it’s an anti-psychotic and I’ve had trouble with those in the past, but this is a newer one that is less likely to cause this problem. Yeah, right. The drug that stops the akathesia is normally a blood pressure medication, weird huh?

So we’ve solved the riddle of why I’ve been talking so dang much. I can now stop telling myself to just “Shut the F up!”

so how’s your day been?

**photo of self manipulated with PhotoLab app. Sole ownership belongs to me.

Stop Talking!!

I can’t stop talking. I talk on the time!

I’m driving myself crazy and I’m sure I’m driving Stuart crazy.

During the day I talk to KIki (our dog) a lot. I think she likes, but how would I know? Lately I’ve been trying to figure out why I talk so much and how I can stop. I’m trying hard to notice and stay silent, but I tell Stuart everything that’s going on even if it’s not the slightest bit important. For example, just now I showed him a pdf that was a page that listed everything that is recyclable here, and told him I printed it and taped it by the bin. That was good, he’s been looking for that, I should have just stopped there. Then I started pointing out that the page had a blue background because our recycling bins are blue and it says to “Use the Blue”, I went on to say, however, the one I printed out is not blue because our printer only prints in black and white. All of this transpired while he was trying to read. How he gets any reading done I have no idea.

That is just a tiny example.

If I’m not talking I’m often slightly moving my lips because I’m actually talking in my head, but unlike most people I feel the need to say it out loud. A couple of months ago this actually got worse because of the mania, and I really noticed it then. I talked more and very, very fast. Now I’m back to my normal speech, but I’m really noticing how much I TALK! When did this start? I haven’t always been like this. What on earth prompted it?

Well I have a few theories.

When I first started losing my hearing I realized that I would often talk over people, I realized then it was for two reasons. One I couldn’t hear everything they said so I often didn’t realized they were still talking. (I wasn’t very good at reading lips, or even noticing that they were still moving….duh). I made a conscious effort to get better at that and I think I have. When I’m with others, like going to breakfast every Sunday with Stuart’s father, I don’t talk over anyone. I try very hard to understand what is being said and add to the conversation when appropriate. (hand patting back, I got that at least).

Another theory is, when I first got sick and for a long time after that, Stuart worked from home. Even at his last job he worked from home a lot. Here, he is gone all day, I’m alone and basically have no contact with people; especially when I’m having a flare and can’t drive or get out at all. I’m often texting, but that’s different. (I probably do that too much too) So when Stuart gets home he is bombarded with everything I’ve been thinking all day and everything that is happening since he’s been home. I have noticed when I’ve been in silence for hours and I suddenly see someone, like when Stuart gets home from work, I can’t understand much at all. His voice sounds all garbled and tinny. That’s just weird to me. I normally have the TV on all day trying to hear something so I’m not hit by that, but even with that noise going I still get bombarded by this garbled speech when I first see someone. Is that one reason I talk? So I won’t hear that?

I used to get so mad at him because he didn’t hear what I said. He would be watching a show or reading and just not hear, after all, he didn’t know if it was important or not. How could he, I talked all the dang time. Recently we made a pact that if we need the other to pay attention, we would let them know and ask them to stop what they are doing and pay attention., but other than that, I could just ramble, if he hears it, that’s okay, if not, no worries. I really want to stop talking so much.

In Buddhist teaching we find that talking all the time or for too long is a form of selfishness, while being easy to talk to shows respect, generosity, and courtesy toward others. Buddha saw being easy to talk to as an expression of love (Sn.143*). Listening is a virtue, not talking all the time.

So how to I stop this constant chatter? First I think I should meditate more, I’ve lost that practice along the way, not that I ever did it much. Practicing to sit still in silence has to be good for this person who can’t be silent. I know I won’t be able to silence the chattering monkey mind for a very long time, but if I can just keep my mouth shut for a while, that would be a big step forward. Perhaps I can remember the Buddha’s teaching each time I start to ramble. I shall also try hard to listen more, how can I be listening if I can’t stop talking. Of course there aren’t many people around for me to listen to, and often when I try I can’t understand what they say anyway…..part of the problem huh? I have noticed when I’ve been in silence for hours and I suddenly see someone, like when Stuart gets home from work, I can’t understand much at all. His voice sounds all garbled and tinny. That’s just weird to me. I normally have the TV on all day trying to hear something so I’m not hit by that, but even when that noise going I still get bombarded by this garbled speech when I first see someone. Is that one reason I talk? So I won’t hear that?

If all else fails, I can always tape my mouth shut…that will teach me!

**Everyone should read the comment by Kara, it is a wonderful contribution to this post. Don’t wait, go there now!

*Sutta Nipāta, ed. D. Andersen, H. Smith, PTS London 1913

New look and a Mini Me, Update

I hope everyone had a magical holiday season. I hope you didn’t kill anyone. I know I wanted to a few times. Luckily it ended when it did.

I’ve started a new look to my blog, I will probably change the photo soon, but I wanted a better font and line spacing, especially with the new way WordPress is making me format post now.

Thought I’d give you all a little health update since I left things kind of up in the air. My infections seem to be all gone, or at least almost all gone, no worries about that anymore! Yay! But my tests showed that I have an obstruction in my kidneys. Yes, I said, “kidneys” plural. I don’t know what is going on. I had an urgent referral to a nephrologist, but they seemed to not think it was urgent since I don’t have an appointment until January 7th. I have been told that if there is a change in my symptoms to get the ER immediately. Okay, I can do that. I’m thinking this was caused by inflammation from the infections and it will clear up, possibly on its own? (one can hope) Maybe that’s why they weren’t worried about getting me in there sooner? I did have a pretty severe pain yesterday, I decided to drink something other than water and very weak decaffeinated tea and my kidneys screamed in response, so did my bladder. Maybe it’s not just inflammation?

We had a very quiet Christmas. We had breakfast with Stuart’s father, and we watched holiday movies all day. I ate entirely too much the past couple of days. It’s obvious there is something going on there. I simply can’t stop eating. Either this new medication is making me crave all kinds of crap, or I’m not dealing with things as well as I think I am. Maybe it’s a little of both? All I know is that if I’m not eating, I’m thinking about the next thing to eat. (if I’m honest, I know I’m not dealing with everything well, I still have this underlying anger that wants to break through often. My husband has the patience of Gandhi. I don’t know if I would put up with me for this long. He says it really hasn’t been that long, it feels like a life time to me.)

We ended up canceling our rescheduled Christmas dinner too. That has been hard on me. Not really that we had to cancel, but that it is going to be very hard to plan it now. and the decorations would have made it very festive, what am I going to do with that empty spot in my corner where the tree was? We moved the furniture and now there is nothing to put there. hmmm. Luckily I like minimalism. We decided we just shouldn’t try to do all of that when we don’t know how I’ll be feeling. So I’m waiting until after I see the kidney doctor before rescheduling. We decided to make this dinner much more laid back though, spaghetti with salad and bread (all gluten free of course). Everyone was all on board with this too, amazing! Most of the time I’m hit with…so and so won’t eat that…it’s hard when you ask and ask what people can and can’t eat and then when you make plans you hear that it’s not right. This might be the last dinner I plan. I now understand why they all go out to eat so much.

There is still so much drama here that it makes my head spin. I’ve just been lying low and keeping to myself. Stuart worries that I need to be more social. Maybe when I feel better, but right now, as long as we get out for a little bit once a week, I’m good, just curled up in my chair with heat on my abdomen and/or back, I’m good to go for now. I’m worried about him, he’s been awfully depressed lately. I think this move took a lot more out of him than he wants to admit too, and he’s worried about me…darnit.

Well, it’s getting late and I find myself rambling so I’ll close for now. I do find myself rambling much more lately, can’t stop talking, a sure sign that I’m still dealing with mania, but I don’t like this new medication. It has too many side effects and too many things that can go wrong. I hope there is another option. I see that doctor late January, she took a lot of time off for the holidays and I had to cancel my last appointment right before she went on vacation because of the kidney stuff. I really need to see her though, we called and I’m on the wait list, hopefully an appointment will come available. We also asked for orders to get my blood drawn, since you are supposed to do that within the first month of being on this medication to make sure your live is okay. Got that yesterday, will be having it drawn tomorrow.

How’s everyone out there? I’m looking forward to having some of these things resolved soon so I can start the new year on a healthier note. I does seem that I either go out of a year feeling like crap or start a new year feeling like crap. Within the first hour of this year I had a cluster headache (and every day since) that’s a sure way to start the year off with a dud. 😉 I’m sure that it will only go up from here.

I will just stop and be thankful for all the support and love I have.

and just breathe.

A Really Long Update

water droplet on sage leaf

I’ve been saying that I’m “working on a post” for a while now, but I haven’t.  I’m not sure why.  I haven’t been too busy.  I think I’ve just been avoiding talking about things.

My bipolar episode has lasted much longer than I ever anticipated.  I’ve been stable for over 20 years and suddenly I had this awful episode that left me feeling like I didn’t deserve the life I’ve built for myself. I knew if things didn’t change soon, I wouldn’t be able to carry on.  After trying to get my medication working and failing, we decided to go back old school, I’m on Lithium again.  This is the first drug I was put on when I was first diagnosed.  It worked for a very long time, but it damaged my thyroid and we decided to try something else.  Fortunately, at the time, I responded well to the alternative medication.  Since the damage to my thyroid as already happened, there is really no reason for me not to take it, and fortunately, it works really fast.  After being on it for about a week I could tell a huge difference.  I’m still having that low hum that makes me feel like I’m going to explode at any moment.  But I don’t explode, I might get angry, but I don’t have the rage I was experiencing. I just increased my dose, so I’m hopeful that anger hum will diminish soon.

That is the good news. I’m leaving out all the rage episodes, the night I was actively seeking for a treatment center to commit myself because I was very afraid I was going to harm myself or someone else, the anger I felt toward my psychiatrist because I can’t hear a word she says and I have to have my husband in there to help me.  At this last appointment I was so distraught by everything I couldn’t really talk at all, he had to tell her everything.  Before we left I asked where I should go if I were in crisis, she asked if I felt suicidal, I told her how I had been feeling, she simply told me which facility I should go to, but I didn’t feel like she took me seriously.  Perhaps I’m being overly sensitive and she understands that hubby will be here to monitor me and see me through this trying time. It’s very hard to get to know a doctor when you are in the throws of a  (disphoric mania) mixed stated bipolar episode.   Yes, I did say, mixed state.  I’ve only talked about the rage here, but I’ve been bouncing around from extreme anger, severe depression, and wanting to jump my husband’s bones….all in the same day. Sound a little crazy?  Yep, I felt that way too.  Thankfully, it’s calming down and I’m feeling more like myself.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for my health.  The vertigo, migraines, and hypoglycemia have had me pretty sick, most of the time. Last Saturday we went out to breakfast with my father-in-law, shortly after getting our food the world started to spin.  I lowered my head, took my meds,  and told them to continue.  I was sure it was going to be a quick attack and I’d be okay in just a little bit.  I might not be able to eat, but I could take it with me.  I was wrong. The spinning got worse and I was afraid I was going to vomit right therein the middle of the restaurant.  I got Stuart to get me a throw up bag from my purse and I clutched it tight.  I told him it was BAD, REALLY BAD, and I needed to go home.  I motioned for him to get the food to go.  Hey, I wanted my pancake!  I really didn’t think about how hard it would be for me to walk out.  I couldn’t focus and I felt like my body was moving in ways that my brain really wasn’t telling it to.  The sensation of  being moved from forces that no one else sees is very disturbing. I used to think I had gotten to the point that I was okay with all of this, but I really,really hate it.  I knew my feet weren’t going straight, I kept trying to compensate, that seemed to make it worse.  I clutched on to Stuart for dear life.  It was absolutely mortifying.  The only thing that would have made it worse,is if I had thrown up too.  I will say,my brain seems to deal with the episodes better than it used to, I rarely throw up anymore.  Of course, I did get a Phenergan in me at the very first sign of the attack, and as soon as we got outside Iused my vape pen that’s 4:1 CBD:THC just a little and it calmed my stomach right down.  I also never feel the psychoactive effects with this ratio.  Itis still illegal to use medicinals in public, under normal circumstances I’d never do it, but we were away from other people, and since people use those cigarette vape pens, no one knows what I’m doing. But as I said, normally, I’d never use that in public.  I thought about using an infused candy or tincture, but they simply don’t start working fast enough to help stop vomiting.  But I digress….  This was the first time my father-in-law has seen this, that was hard, but I’m relieved he does understand some of what I go through before he moves in with us.  He also handled it with grace and was very helpful to Stuart.  Not that I really noticed at the time.

I’ve had a lot of challenged with my balance this past month.  Kinda regretting buy a car, but even if I can’t drive it, it’s nice to have a convertible in the family.  I am very disappointed that I can’t drive though, having that feeling of independence was nice.  I was still having vertigo occasionally, but it didn’t last long, it was mild in intensity, and I always had signals that twas about to happen, so I wasn’t afraid to drive.  That all changed.  I accept it, but it makes me sad.

I found a new ENT and I really like his so far.  He admitted that I’ve had all the treatments that he could recommend, yep, I’ve had it all really.  He did say he could give me steroids to try to help with this flare, but since I had Avascular Necrosis that they think was caused by steroid use, I don’t use them if at all possible.  He understood.  He suggested trying Benedryl everyday because it’s a vestibular suppressant.  I never knew that.  I tried it for over a week and didn’t get the results we’d hoped for. So I asked if I could take diazepam for a week or two to try to calm itdown and he said yes.  Also, the Audiologist there called and said she isn’t as experienced working with my brand of cochlear implants so they are having the Advanced Bionics specialist come in to do the adjustment to my CI’s (mapping).  I was so very impressed with that.

I’m also working on getting a new migraine specialist, I really don’t like the guy I’ve been seeing. So cross your fingers I like the new lady.

I’ve done something that I’m afraid I may have a very hard time pulling off.  We had planned to be in our house by now and we planned to host Christmas there.  Well….I decided we still needed to do it, but man is it going to be a lot of work.  I’ve invited the whole family, and one friend. That’s 6 adults and 2 children.. 

But this is the first Christmas that Stuart’s step-mother will not be home.  I feel it’s important for his father to be surrounded by all of his family for a Christmas celebration.  We are having it on the 22nd so Dad can spend Christmas day with his wife. We have been thinking about joining them, but it’s a busy time at the home, and her daughter and her significant other will be there.  So, I think it will be good to go have dinner with her between Christmas and Thanksgiving.

I’ve been trying to make cookies, the kind you decorate all pretty with royal icing.  I decided they were WAY too sweet with the icing, since it is just a sugar cookie, so I’ve been trying to make the icing less sweet.  Problem is, as I have been working on a new recipe I have to keep tasting it.  This stuff is super sweet…cloyingly sweet.  So twice now, I’ve had a hypoglycemic crash.  Feeling dizzy, light headed, sick to my stomach….ok so none of that is new….cold sweats, shakes, stomach cramps….I even threw up.   Yep, blood sugar drop.  Now I’m not even sure I ever want to decorate cookies.  My back always hurts when I do it anyway.

Oh…other challenges this week.  I had my physical on Monday.  All my numbers were good!  Even my triglycerides, they have only been normal one other time in my life. Shockers!   However, I was having a slight pain in my kidney area and asked if she’d check my urine.  I’m so glad I did!  By the next day I was in severe pain, still am if I’m honest, and the nurse called and said that I have a UTI.  HAHAHA I found that amusing because I really had no idea when I asked for the test.  My back has been hurting so I thought it was just that, it was obvious the next day that is wasn’t.  So now I’m taking antibiotics…eww.  Can you imagine how much worse it would have gotten if I had needed to go back to the doctor for a test?  Phew!  that was lucky.

I also got a pneumonia vaccine, I had to have one when I got my cochlear implants, and I was supposed to get a booster in a few years, I’m about a year late, but I got it done. (it is supposed to reduce the chance of meningitis)   1% of the people who get this vaccine have a reaction to it.  Yes, I am that special!  The injection site swelled up and turned read.  It measured about 3” in diameter, and it was so painful.  If I moved my arm a very sharp pain would shoot through, not as if the muscle was sore, a very sharp pain.  I couldn’t lie on that side for over 3 days.  Finally it is feeling almost back to normal.   Golly, that was an experience.

There I think I’ve caught you up on all things Wendy for now.

I hope you are having a joyful holiday season.  Try not to overdo, as you can see I probably am…..big dummy.  😊

*photo, “Water Droplet on Sage Leaf” taken by W. Holcombe.  Please do not use without permission.  All rights reserved

Unsteadily Unstable

For the past month or so I’ve been filled with an inner rage and desperation that has been screaming for help.  I was hearing all the anger, fear, and sadness, but I couldn’t hear the call for help.  This week I finally heard it.  I finally understand that I haven’t been just reacting poorly to the stress in my life, or having mood swings because of a hormones, no, I’ve been having a bipolar episode.  I still know my moods aren’t where they should be, but it’s better than it was, and I will be seeing my doctor about it very soon.

I have so many things I want to say, I don’t know where to start.  hmmmm.

I have been reading about bipolar symptoms, specifically rage, and saw many things that are too familiar.  The rage can be set off by the smallest of things, often something I would never even consider getting mad about on a normal day.  The anger starts and builds quickly to a full blown rage!  After all the screaming and throwing things, and who knows what else, is over I feel better for about 2 minutes then I suddenly think, “Oh my god, What have I just done?”  Bipolar rage if often associated with mania,  but can also manifest during depression.  For me if the rage is from a manic episode I blow up fast and furious, but it burns out as quick as it started, leaving only the guilt and hurt behind.  When the rage comes during a depression episode I will have a huge blow up and it will go down, but he anger is still there, and I will blow up again, or I just stay angry for a long time.  The rage inside wanting to break through the surface.  So rage during mania is like a short burst, the rage during depression is a short burst followed by underlying anger and possibly another burst or two.  Both can cause everlasting damage, but the later is much harder for me to deal with.  When the anger doesn’t just go away after a rage episode I start to think it’s not caused by my mood disorder I’m just a bitch, and I start getting angry at myself.  So much anger, that is so hard for me.  I’m not normally an angry person.

Sometimes I will get angry about something, but I don’t let it get to me, just slough it off – at least I thought I did.  Often when the rage hits it’s after I’ve had a few things happen that have caused me to get mad, but I didn’t feel like it was a big deal, I thought I was just letting it go.  It seems to me that it will often be a little thing that sets it off, but it’s like the last straw kind of thing, all those little things I have gotten mad about suddenly rise to the surface and that one little event that made me blow up was fueled by all those other small flames.

Rage can damage even the closest relationships.  It can cause trouble at work, with your family, friends, authorities….rage can really mess up your life.  I’m so very lucky that my husband understands that my rage may seem focused on him, but it really has nothing to do with him.  Sometimes it does spark conversations and we fix all those little things that built up, but honestly the rage is never deserved. Even though he knows all this, it is still very, very hard on him.  When I get to the breaking point I often leave.  I will pack a bag and set off.  I have no idea where I’m going, and I just get madder because I feel I have no where to go.  When I leave like that it hurts and scares Stuart so much.  During this last episode I made him cry.  My husband does not cry often.

I was mostly stable for over 20 years, but over the last few years I’ve had more than one break through episode.  I’ve needed to change medications too many times.  I’m afraid we are going to get to the point where nothing works.  In addition to Bipolar I disorder, I also have generalized anxiety disorder.  Trying to find medications that treat both and I can tolerate has been a challenge.  I’m hoping the gene test I did will help with that.  I can  definitely say, that the new medication she put me on is not working, we have to find something else.

For over a month now I’ve been dealing with severe anger mixed with depression and anxiety.  I have also been getting tickled over the stupidest stuff and laugh until it hurts, but that doesn’t last long and I return to the negative moods quickly.

I think the rage has also been triggered by the return of my vertigo.  I’m back to having attacks multiple times a day.  I do think many of them are caused by migraine instead of Meniere’s because with some attacks I’ve been having aura right before it starts.  The fear has been real.  Not just the fear that it is coming back, I’m actually starting to accept that I am having a relapse, but I know the is a possibility for a remission.  However, I fear for my safety.  I’ve fallen 3 times in the past 2 weeks.  I’m back to using my walker in the house and sometimes when we go out.  (often when we go out I can use a shopping cart, or Stuart’s arm to steady me enough that I can get by for a bit)  For the most part I’ve been confined to the house, without the ability to do much of anything except watch TV.  I did sit outside once this week, but I had vertigo outside without anyone home, I had a very difficult time getting back inside.  I don’t think I’ll be going outside when I’m home alone any time soon.  I did ask my landlord yesterday if he would be a backup for me if I fell and needed someone and Stuart couldn’t get home, gratefully he said he would.  Of course, he also might not be available, but I’m relieved to know there is someone can call if I need it.

I think that’s enough for today.

I’ll leave you with a few photos I took yesterday of the flowers around my yard.  I miss seeing the leaves change colors, but I’m seeing a different beauty in the desert.  (most of these are Lantanas, technically a weed from Mexico.  It is very pretty and drought resistant. You will find them all over the area.  I’m thrilled to see this gorgeous native plant almost everywhere I go)

 

I don’t mean to….(fighting depression)

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I don’t mean to stay away.

I don’t mean to make you worry.

I walk around in a daze lately, and can’t see through the fog.

I feel like I’m lost in the dark and the only lights I see are from the flames of hell.

I can’t tell  you why.

There is no real reason.

Sometimes I feel like I’m a pawn in someone else’s game.  I can see two demons hunched over a game board, we are the pieces they move.  We have no control over how the game is played; we can only hope they play fairly, but we all know that demons never play fair.

How can I feel so level headed and focused at one point and so out of control and totally depressed at the next.  What changed?

Sometimes the answer is “nothing”.  Other times, the answer is more complicated, but the thing is, it’s really not about what has happened on the outside, it’s all about what’s going on on the inside.

Right now I could actually write a huge list of things that have changed in my life, but none of them explain the extreme changes in my emotional state.

I’m not “letting things get to me”, nor am I “too sensitive”.  I’m falling apart from the inside out, and it has nothing to do with anything I am doing to myself.

Damn! Does that sound as stupid to any of you as it does to me?

I get so pissed off when someone tells me that they wish I didn’t let things get to me so much, or that they wish I wasn’t so sensitive….yeah well…yadayadayada.  I guess, it is all on me, isn’t it?  But then again…is it?  If it were up to me I sure wouldn’t allow things to “get to me”, and I wouldn’t be overly “sensitive”.  Heck, if it were up to me I’d be pretty friggin’ stoic sometimes, but I’m not, I simply can’t be like that.  I feel things, very deeply sometimes, I actually envy people who can “bury it” or “put walls up”, I can’t do that.  I’ve tried, oh how I’ve tried.  I really do envy those people…..sometimes…like now…not always.

Lately, all I want to do is eat, sleep, and cry.   In reality I’m not sleeping enough, but I’m spending a lot of time trying to; I’m eating too much, the weight gain proves it, and I’m either crying or pissed most of the time!  But I’m trying really, really hard not to be like that.  Heck, I don’t even know why I’m crying, and I sure can’t tell you what I’m so mad about.  Here’s the kicker, something will happen that doesn’t bother me at all and then the exact same thing can happen again and suddenly I’m so pissed I can’t think straight, or I’m crying so hard I can’t see.  What changed there?  So…is that all on me?  or is it out of my control?   More importantly, is this something that is just happening because of outside circumstances and will blow over, or does my medication need to be adjusted?  Honestly, I have no clue.  (I think it’s probably the later, or maybe a little bit of both?

Even with all I know about mental illness, (from my experiences with bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression) I still feel like it’s my fault.  I never feel like that about another person’s battles with mental illness, why do I hold myself to a different standard?  Is it simply because I’m often told, “I wish you didn’t let things get to you so much”, or is it because I think this is a part of me that I should be able to control.  I don’t have a lot in my life that I feel I have control over, surely I can control how I react to things.  Isn’t that what I’ve been practicing mindfulness for?  Simply accepting the way things are and not wishing it to be different.  Well honey, I do wish it were different right now, but I am trying hard to accept that it just is the way it is, and I know for certain that things will change.  Nothing stays the same, everything changes, I can always take solace in this, unless I’m deep in depression, then I think, “Yes, things change, it could get so much worse!”  Aaahhhh….No!  I can’t get caught in the future trap!  You know that trap, the one in your mind that predicts a future…good or bad, watch out! it’s a trap!  Chances are that the future you prophesied will not turn out the way your mind told you it would; staying in the present is the only way to really deal with life’s challenges, it’s it?  I KNOW these things.  Why then, is it so very hard?

I will try to take it moment by moment and be kind to myself.

I’ll try not to stay away.

I don’t want you to worry.

 

one moment at a time, I’ll get through this

 

*photo taken at Tumacacori National Park by W. Holcombe.  Please do not use without permission.  All rights reserved.

I want to be a better friend to those who are in pain.

 

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*Content warning: This post discusses suicide and depression.

A friend of mine shared this on Facebook and I had to share it with you.

Why “I love you” and “Please reach out” are the crappiest things to post after someone has died by suicide – by Deanna Zandt

I have been one of those people with good intentions who have simply said the wrong things, and for that, I’m deeply sorry.  I have been there, yet I still don’t know what to say when a friend is in their darkest moments.  I need to always remember, I didn’t want to die because I didn’t feel loved, I simply wanted the pain to stop.  It helped me to have someone sit with me, hold my hand, and simply be a witness to my pain.  It helped me to know that they would help if they could, but that they didn’t try to force this false help on me.  I know these things, but it’s very hard to do these things for someone from afar.  I can’t simply sit with someone when they are in pain if I can’t be physically with them.  Often, when I reach out to someone through texts, or messages, I don’t know what to say after that initial contact. Silence is unacceptable when you are texting.  I want them to know that I care, and I simply want to be there for them.  I know I can’t fix it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to.

I also read another article I found interesting: Depression and Suicide: Being mindful and accepting of the pain of the dark days – by Jack C. Surguy M.A. 

Jack Surguy mentions something that I found helpful for me; by accepting that everything changes I can take solace in knowing that these feelings will not last forever.  (even if they feel like they will)  When I’m am suffering I know that it will end, that is actually my mantra when my emotions are all out of wack, “this will end”.  I guess it’s a variation on “this too shall pass”, but that sounds trite to me for some reason.  I promise no matter what you are going through right now, good, bad or indifferent, it will change.

I hope you find both of these articles interesting and possibly helpful.

Right now my wrist is killing me, so I need to stop typing, but after the deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, I felt I needed to talk about this, I want to do better.  I want my friends (you) to know I love them, that I care, and that I respect their pain.  I want them to know this every day, not just times like these.

 

* photo by W. Holcombe.  A red yucca plant viewed while lying down looking at the sky.  I found it stunning.

 

yeah, I didn’t get that done…

You may recall my post back in December where I talked about my fear of gaining weight.  I felt like I was handling that better, and things were going well.  I was trying to focus on nutrition and not on weight.  I have been trying to eat more mindfully, more intentionally (appreciating the food, accepting it’s nourishment, paying attention to my hunger cues….)

I say try on all of these because I haven’t been doing a very good job recently.

I promised I’d write a post about mindful eating last week, and well….. yeah, I didn’t get that done.  I started getting very obsessed with food this week.

The fight with food is strong in this one (ha, I sound like Obi Wan..or Yoda).

I was doing well when the scale was staying the same, and even went down a little.  Yes I still want to lose that last 10 pounds.  I think I’m more anxious about my weight because  I still have not gotten to the weight I want to be at, if I can get there I think I can keep it off, but why will these last few pounds not go away?  yeah, I know there’s more to it than that, but it’s very hard to voice what I’m feeling.

I know it’s not healthy to be so obsessed with my weight, but I also feel like if I’m not very diligent I will end up back where I was.  I really don’t want that.  I feel better about myself now (no, really I do!!).  I’m more confident when I meet people.  I have more stamina…..  I know how bad I feel when I’m bigger, both physically and mentally, and this is better.  Even though I’m obsessing about weight gain, it’s better than beating myself up over being fat all the time.  Hiding my body, not wanting to wear clothes that show skin, not wanting to be intimate, avoiding looking at myself in the mirror, cringing when I’d catch sight of myself in a store window…these are not healthy things.  My fear of gaining weight is part of that.  I don’t want to feel so out of control any more.

I am seeing a therapist about this.  After a friend shared that she had been seeing a therapist through an online counseling site, and she had a very positive experience.  With all the barriers I have trying to go to see a therapist face to face, I decided to give it a try.  I’m so glad I did.

I’ve been “seeing” my new therapist for a couple of weeks now, and by golly this woman has earned her money!  I was not in a good frame of mind this past week.  Food issues, anger, racing thoughts, insomnia…..mania.  Yep, I had a manic swing.  It wasn’t as strong as it has been, and I’m pretty proud of how I handled things, but it I was not my normal self.  I’m sure my new therapist didn’t think I was handling things very well when I bombarded her with emails for 2 days, but I just had a live chat session with her and it’s all good.   (by bombarding her, I mean that I wrote her 5 emails within about 3 hours, all of which were looooong.  If she weren’t my therapist I’d be embarrassed.  Okay, I’m still embarrassed)

I’m going to close for now.  I just wanted you all to know that, I’m not dead, I will eventually write a post about eating mindfully, and I am seeing someone about these issues of mine.

 

Have you ever thought about online counseling?

Would you try it, or not?  why?

I’ll share more of my experience soon…..no, really, I promise I will.