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.

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#WorldBipolarDay 2016

#WorldBipolarDay is celebrated on Vincent VanGogh’s Birthday, who is believed to have had #bipolar disorder.

stary night

This year’s #WorldBipolarDay “theme is “More Than A Diagnosis”, as we want to show the public that individuals who live with bipolar disorder are more than their diagnosis; they are capable of living full, successful lives, despite and in spite of their diagnosis.” – See more at: http://ibpf.org/wbdresources#sthash.TlZ5dveb.dpuf

I have bipolar disorder, formerly known as Manic Depression.  It is characterized by periods of extreme highs and lows that interfere with some or all aspects of a persons life.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health there are an estimated 5.7 million people 18 and over and and 750,000 children in the US affected by this disorder.

The lows include extreme depression.  Sadness most of the time, changes in sleep paterns, appetite and possibly weight. There is a feeling of worthlessness and guilt and an inability to find enjoyment.  A person often has thoughts of death or suicide.

The highs, or manic part of the cycle, include increased levels of self esteem and grandiosity.  The person seeks out pleasurable and risk taking experiences often to the point of danger, including  sexual prowess,  drug and alcohol abuse and shopping sprees.  Mania can also include sudden outburst of violent and unpredictable behavior.

Bipolar Disorder can be treated most often with mood stabilization medications and psychotherapy.

Like all illnesses following a wellness routine is essential.  Stay mindful of your moment to moment experience and recognize the signs of mood swings early.  Be sure to get enough rest, eat well, exercise, take your medications as prescribed, and develop a strong support network.  Often these steps are very hard to do, but it is essential that we take care of ourselves the best we can.

I have never hidden my diagnosis.  I know there are many people who feel they can’t share their diagnosis due to prejudice against the mentally ill.  We should all fight to stop the stigma surrounding Mental Illness.

Always remember we are #MoreThanADiagnosis.  I am a friend, wife, artist, blogger and more.  I am creative, intelligent, loving, compassionate and much more.

The people at the International Bipolar Association “…encourage people who live with bipolar disorder to remember that they can accomplish great things even though they have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and to remind them that there is a very supportive community out there for them to reach out to.”

#WorldBipolarDay, all day.

Happy Birthday Vincent!

 

 

Being Bipolar….will I ever really be stable?

Bipolar
Bipolar by SimoneBryne at deviantArt.com

Note….At this time one of my medications has stopped working, my psychiatrist has replaced it with another medication, but at this point, I am not stable.  I have recently read through the past year of my blog and my personal journals and feel I haven’t been completely stable for a long time, but I have been manageable….most of the time.  When I reference Bipolar Illness below I am referring to Bipolar I.  There are different types of Bipolar, when you think of classic Manic Depression, you normally think of Bipolar I.

This post is going to come from the heart, and will reveal things I haven’t freely talked about outside of my therapist’s office.

From all the tests, and talking, and everything else psych doctors do, my psychiatrist feels I have had Bipolar tendencies most of my life.  My first suicide attempt was at 11 years of age, but it wasn’t the first time I thought of it.  It just isn’t right for an 11-year-old to think that dying would be for the best.  I remember my sister and I had been arguing….I think…I don’t remember what it was about, or if it really even happened.  I guess that wasn’t important.  I know I silently went into my parent’s bedroom, they weren’t at home, I opened the top drawer of my father’s chest of drawers and took out his pistol.  I knew nothing about guns.  It was in a little holster thing.  I don’t think I even took it out….after all, wouldn’t a bullet go through that leather?  I put it to my head and pulled the trigger.

Nothing happened.  I tried again……Nothing.   By this time I was shaking and thought my sister might find me, I replaced the gun right where I found it, after all it didn’t do me any good.  I don’t know if the gun was empty, if the safety was on…or what.  All I know is that it didn’t do what I thought it would.  What I wanted it to.

How can an 11-year-old child be so depressed that she puts a gun to her head, and pulls the trigger?  Was I scared, yes.  But not because of the reasons you may think.  I was afraid of being caught, afraid of doing it wrong, and very afraid of who would find me and have to deal with the mess.

I didn’t tell anyone.  Not for years and years, actually, not until recently.  Since then I’ve had 3 more suicide attempts and serious thoughts and plans for others.  When I’m depressed I simply cannot believe it will ever get better.  The lady in the dark is whispering her promises that it will be better with her, and she is all I can hear.

When I’m more level, or a bit manic, I cannot believe I would ever think that way.  I even have a hard time when  others are feeling suicidal.  How could that be?  I have had a number of friends reach out to me when they have felt the cold comforting hand of death reaching for them and they are so very tempted to reach out and take hold.  I often just can’t understand how they could feel that way.  They have friends, they are loved…look, they have me.  But didn’t I have friends?  Don’t I have friends?  Was I not loved?  Then why…why can I feel it would be so much better if I simply didn’t exist?  Please don’t get me wrong, I can empathize with my friends who are going through their own darkness, I talk to them and understand their feelings…or at least most of them.  But feeling suicidal is very personal, each person has their own demons.   I know I can’t understand all my friend is feeling because their demons are their demons and I can’t hear or see them.  I can only see the light on the outside, and try to help them see a little glimmer of that light, just enough to give them a bit of hope.  However, I would never judge a person who cannot find that hope….that flicker of light that they need to help them out of the darkness.

Many people think ill of those who commit suicide, and even those who have fought the battle and continue to fight.  I’ve heard how it’s the most selfish thing someone can do.  How they are doomed to everlasting hell.   I don’t think like that.  I know many people who contemplate suicide do so because they think they are such a horrible burden on the people they love.  They are trying so hard not to be selfish.  They do not want to cause those they love any more pain.  Yes, the pain from the suicide is something a loved one cannot get over, but to the person who is deeply depressed and sees this as the only way to save their loved ones…it is the most selfless act they feel they can perform.    Do I think someone who commits suicide is doomed for everlasting hell….no, personally I think they have already been living in it or they never would have committed suicide in the first place.

Suicide is not performed by people who are mentally well.  I will never judge a person until I have lived their lives while looking through their soul.  A mentally ill person does not see things the way a healthy person does.  My views on suicide are just my own.  Please do not judge me.  And please, at this time, do not argue with me….I’m not even sure I could handle a grown-up discussion of different views.  You see, I’m having trouble with my medication, and I’m not stable.  I need to release some of these feelings, but I’m not stable enough to debate them.  I promise, when things are better, I will open this discussion up again, if anyone wants me to, and we can discuss it then.

Oh, the Bipolar…..That is what I started to talk about isn’t it.  It isn’t all about the depression that takes me to the depths of my own hell.  There is that other side, the euphoria of mania.  It can be so seductive.  Many people who are Bipolar I, will often stop taking their medication because they feel numb.  No, they don’t miss the depression, but the mania….it’s like a drug.  Some of the best artist (of all kinds) have been Bipolar, or more as it was more commonly known, Manic Depressive.  When one decides to go off their medication, I don’t think they think about the depression that seeps the life out of them, they are thinking of the high they get from the mania.  Speaking from experience, it is so very hard to feel that high of creation when you are taking your medication.  I used to have sparks of inspiration and spend days in my studio, never leaving, barely sleeping….painting, and painting, and painting….I have never felt that surge of creativity since I started my medication nearly 20 years ago.  Do I miss it?  I could never express into words just how much I miss it!  I do not believe I have created a piece of artwork that stands up to anything I created before I was diagnosed.  So yes, I miss it.  But do I miss it enough to risk the rest….NO.

Bipolar doesn’t just include the extreme lows of depression and the euphoria of mania….it also includes uncontrollable anger, confusion, for some a loss of time, and a myriad of other symptoms…always to the extreme.  I used to notice when I got happy from something, it simply didn’t stop.  I didn’t just get happy, it kept growing and growing….oh it’s so hard to explain, but that’s how I felt about most of my emotions.  The emotion would start, like any normal person’s emotion would, but my emotion wouldn’t stop….it grew, to the point where I felt the emotion was no longer mine, I was the emotion.  I have huge gaps where I simply lost time.  I have no idea what happened during that time.   There have been out of control arguments, but I can’t remember anything about except the anger.

When I first started getting serious with Stuart I decided I had to be honest with him if we were going to have a real relationship.  It was very hard to tell him I have a mental illness, I am Bipolar.  Due to this, I have no idea how many men I have slept with.  He took it like the man he is, with grace and sympathy.  He held me while I cried and explained more about my illness.  How I was being treated…ect.   (He is a very good man.)

There is much more to my story, some I can never tell, because I simply do not remember it all.  Some I can tell…perhaps I should write a book.  *smiles*

Please forgive any typos, or grammar errors…or anything like that.  I started to proof-read this and needed to stop.  If I have offended anyone I apologize.  I hope I have brought a little bit of understanding about what it means to be Bipolar I.  Or what it means to be me.