May 9, 2015

Detailed description of bipolar disorder...

...using the overused metaphor of a roller coaster, for those of you who have no idea what it's really like (or those of you that do and want a piquant version of bipolar disorder). Fasten your seat belts...

This can happen in any order, this just happens to be how it happens to me, sometimes all in one day and more than once that same day. I'm under the impression that I'm not the norm, although there probably isn't one anyway. I am 57 years old, and I cannot remember life being any different, at any time.
  
Just vividly imagine this is happening to you while you read the following:

You climb on the ride, enjoying the bumps and plunges, because neither of them are something unbearable-stability. Soon, however, the climb up the to the highest point begins - ramping up to hypermania/euphoria. Abruptly, the little car stops at the very apex of the ride, and the person to your right stands up and gives you a shove. You then plummet down into a pit of quicksand - despair. To keep yourself from being overwhelmed and sucked deeper into the quicksand you kick, scream, and drag yourself out by your ragged fingernails - agitated mania. You finally pull yourself out of the pit, only to lie next to it for awhile exhausted and unable to function - depression. Then, without any conscious input of your own, you are compelled to climb back onto the roller coaster. Not because it was fun, not because you enjoyed the thrill, but because you have no choice.

*Please note, as far as I know, most people do not have both agitated mania and hypermania. I'm one of those that do. If you'd like to prove me wrong, feel free to do so in the comments below.

There are a multitude of combinations of these moods, and changes can happen over a long period of time or in any order (as I mentioned above). I have been told that it is one of the most difficult mental illnesses to treat. In the approximately 30 years that I and my psychs have been searching for the perfect cocktail (combination of psych medications), nothing that has worked has lasted, and most things have never worked at all. I'm one of those people who are listed under "The following side effects are very rare..." (lactation? really?); and quite often I have the opposite reaction to the basics (i.e. lithium, the "gold standard" mood stabilizer, makes me manic; drugs that are supposed to be "uppers" put me to sleep and vice versa). I became SSRI resistant, causing the psych I was seeing at the time to throw his hands up and actually say "I don't know how to help you." He then first had me undergo ECT (never again), and when that only made me worse he put me on an ancient anti-depressant, an MAOI (actual quote: "Why didn't I think of this before?"), which I am now in the long process of tritrating off so I can try the next greatest new psych drug (I wish I had a sarcasm font). 

I am now at the point in my life where I can understand all those with whom I've been arguing about the merits of taking medication. I do not advocate going off one's medications, I have just become very tired of the non-stop "let's try this and see what happens." Before I started the unending perfect med search, in college I lived upstairs from a young chemist (an actually degreed person), who would like to experiment at home. That was the first place I constantly heard the aforementioned sentence, "let's try this and see what happens," which was just as effective as what I'm going through now. It's amazing I'm still alive...but then that's amazing for a whole slew of reasons...other stories for other times.

I hope you enjoyed your ride. If you have any questions, comments, corrections, or would like to describe your bipolar disorder in a simplistic or ridiculous manner, I would love to hear from you in my comments section.


If you would like more professional clarity on some of the terms I used, please visit Types of Bipolar Disorder-Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. If you are now totally confused, ask a question below and I'll try to find the answer. Even though I've lived it, I don't always understand it.



March 25, 2015

Is my blog simply narcissistic?

I've been thinking about this quite a bit lately. For about the last six months, things have been horrible for me. I've endured severe depression, bizarre med changes, and a thwarted suicide attempt (thank you to my husband for finding me in time). Finally, coming out of hell, I've started examining my life (bad idea), trying to change bad habits (good idea), trying to be more productive and less of a procrastinator. I've lost 13 of the 40 pounds I gained, and still on my way down. I'm trying to figure out where to fit in exercise, spirituality, and my never-ending-longer-than-I'm-tall to-do list. I miss bread baking, but haven't been able to feel inspired enough to get back to that yet. Mostly I need to get out of my habit of hiding from the world and doing nothing, to doing the things I love again. Or maybe those things aren't my "passion" any more. Too much self-reflection, not enough "just get off your ass and do something."

I know that there are some people that actually read and find my blog important, I know who you are, I don't need comments to tell me how valuable a contribution to the mental health/illness world I am. Lately it seems more of a narcissistic thing to me. I mean, as far as I know, the majority of people in the MI world do not read my blog, which I started with grand delusions of making a difference to a large amount of people all over the world (see Definition 1.1 below).

As defined the the Oxford Dictionary:
1. Excessive interest in or admiration of oneself and one’s physical appearance.
1.1 Psychology Extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration, as characterizing a personality type.
1.2 Psychoanalysis Self-centredness arising from failure to distinguish the self from external objects, either in very young babies or as a feature of mental disorder.

Am I wasting my time, your time? Should I just be journaling instead of thinking that the world is interested in my brain vomit? (rhetorical questions, no answers necessary). There are many blog posts and psychiatric articles about this subject, but the one I like best is "Blogging is Narcissistic (Except When It’s Not)" by Tom McFarlin.  
"Ultimately, my point is that for those of you who are blogging to keep at it and keep sharing. The majority of us love to see what it is that you’re working on, and we love to get into the conversation when possible.
But know that blogging can be as narcissistic as you make it. Don’t listen to whatever anyone else is saying. Write on – whatever it’s about – as we, or someone, do want to hear what you have to share."
Others state that in a non-clinical way (as opposed to NPD) bloggers may be narcissistic, but we may also truly believe we make a difference to at least one person. I know from comments on and off my blog, that I do affect at least four people. My stats tell me many more read my posts, but just don't comment. I wish I could climb into their brains and know what they're thinking...this is bullshit, wow I can really relate to this, or I never thought of it that way.

I used to feel bad if I didn't blog on a regular basis about interesting facts about bipolar disorder, mental health, or domestic violence. One of those feelings I put on myself, I have many of those shouldisms left over from my past life as a controlled zombie.

For now I think I'll simply accept the fact that I do matter to some, but allow myself to continue being sporadic and random. One will either read it or won't, I cannot control that. I can, however, control how I feel about it. Perhaps I'll go back to believing what I say matters, but it doesn't matter how often I say it.

Normally, I'd say "I welcome your comments," but in this case I will reiterate that I don't need confirmation of my importance from those of you that I know read my blog. It embarrasses me, and that's not the purpose of this post.


 

February 19, 2015

Stolen



for almost 8 months
my body tried to destroy her
I fought to save her
with modern medicine

centuries ago
my body would have won

would it have been better?
for her
for me
for them

dangerous birth
problems for the next 20+ years
different diagnoses
different doctors
different psychiatrists
different therapists
different medications
nobody knew why
nobody knew what
nobody had answers that worked

anger
guilt
frustration
sadness

stolen from me
as if she were pulled
from my arms
when she was born