Bipolar as an adjective

A Bipolar journey is one of extremes, one of differences, emotions, opposites.  To me, in my eyes it is a spectrum.  The spectrum of someone with Bipolar Disorder can be so vast that many times I feel like no two of us are alike.

Yet I know we are alike.  We have similarities. We follow similar patterns.  We do similar things.  But at the same time we are different.  We do things at different levels, different planes.

Bipolar Disorder consists of so much, it is complex in design.  It is not just the adjective that today’s society has made it out to be.  It is not the the descriptive word often used in every day speech to describe someone who has a mood swing caused my something small or a remark that made someone angry.  It is not just “oh he/she is so bipolar”.  It is not just a snappy mood, or getting angry, or teenage rebellion.

For me, it is many different things at many different times.  It is flying, soaring like a bird, free.  Yet is is Chaos and frustration, destruction and despair.

How can it be all of these things, good and bad, you ask?

Anyone diagnosed with Bipolar disorder understands what I mean when I say that.  You know what it is like to feel all of those things at different times and sometimes even at the same time.

I can describe my mania with good and bad words.  I can explain the euphoric feelings of the “good” mania and then in the same breath I can describe the chaos enriched mixtures of the “bad” mania.

I can explain how in a mania or hypomania induced state I was able to go weeks on as little as 20 hours  of sleep.  How I took my cupboard doors off all of my cupboards (I have a very very large kitchen), repainted inside and out, put all new hinges on them, re hung them and changed the color of the doors, and scrubbed the knobs then then replaced everything into my cupboards in 2 days or less, when I had never done anything like that before.

I can tell you I spent hours in a mania writing some of the best writing I have ever created.

I can tell you how I made raised garden beds and planted carrots, peas, beans, potatoes, and pumpkins and I wanted to raise chickens.

I can tell you that during mania I cannot stay still.  I clean, I cook and I move around my house doing things at alarming rates.

But I can also tell you that I had to keep shaking my leg and moving my hands just to sit to eat, just to check email, just to write. Because I had to move.

I can tell you that I drove around for hours to keep my kids from seeing how bad the mania was getting, even when I truly should not have been driving.  That a friend drove around with me for hours in order to try to keep me focused enough to be able to drive.  In order to keep me in check so to speak.

I can tell you I talked so fast that my husband and closest friends were unable to understand me.  That I jumped all over the place in my conversation that my conversation was not even able to be followed.

I can tell you that I couldn’t read a book because I couldn’t understand what I was reading…but I could research raising chickens for hours on end, or whatever else I was fixated on during that particular mania.

I can tell you that what starts as the fun life of the party mania always turns into more damaging mania.

The one where the paranoia creeps in, where people on cell phones, even complete strangers are out to get me, they are being devious and are plotting something against me.

The one where those two people sitting at the coffee shop table, whom I do not even know and are sharing a laugh over a memory are really (but of course only in my mind) laughing at me.  Making fun of me.

I can tell you about the heightened senses.  About the times when colors and lights are super vivid.  When my eyes hurt because everything around me is over sharp, over focused.  Or about the times when everything is loud, even the thoughts inside my head sound like thunder.  I can tell you about the times I am so perceptive I can almost feel the earth turning.

And those…..they are just the bits and pieces of the mania.  Just the tip of an iceberg.

I can also tell you about the depression.  Not just a passing sadness, but the deep dark hell hole of despair that I am unable to dig myself out of.

I can tell you about the times I want to go to sleep and never wake up, even though I didn’t want to actually die.

I can tell you about the times I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror because I hated, loathed and despised the person looking back.

I can tell you about the times I held blades or hot lighters to my skin just to feel.  Just to get a release.  About the times I pulled my hair or scratched my arms and legs while hiding because I needed to feel but I was unable to cut or burn at that particular moment in time.

I can tell you about the times I sat contemplating suicide.  Just seconds away from downing more meds than I even care to mention, or slicing a knife across my wrists, or jumping in front of a moving transport truck.

I can tell you about the actual suicide attempt, about the hospital stays when the mania or depression gets too bad.

I can tell you about the countless medications I have taken to try to tame the Bipolar Beast. 

I can tell you about the times I don’t want to get out of bed and the times I don’t want to even get into bed.  About the times I don’t want anyone to touch me and about the times I need someone to hold me tight, to hold me together because I am falling apart.

And these are just some of the things I can tell you.

There are mixed states and manias, depressions, medication changes, hospitalizations, complications to medications (scary ones), times I drink alcohol just to feel, times the anxiety is so bad I feel like I am dying and the times I actually feel crazy.

But even though all of these things are a part of me, a part of my disorder…..they are not all of me.   I am so much more.

I have periods of “normal” mood, no mania, no depression. Periods where I work and become a functional part of society.

For me Bipolar Disorder is a spectrum with extreme mania on one end and extreme depression on the other.  But in the middle of the two are milder forms of the mania, hypomania, milder forms of depression, mixed episodes and of course the “normal” periods.

Because I am not just made up of the adjective Bipolar that people like to use.  Bipolar disorder is so much more.  So the next time you say “I am so Bipolar”  or “She is so Bipolar” perhaps you should take a moment to read some information on what real Bipolar disorder is all about, because I am fairly certain you won’t use it as an adjective after that.

Tide

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When all the world goes out like the tide, and you feel like you are standing alone watching and waiting for the water to reach you again, to cleanse you.  That is the moment when I feel most alone.  Knowing the tide will eventually ebb and flow again, but standing there and waiting. 

Zoloft Crazy?

That moment when…

the depression is so bad you feel like you have failed everyone and everything and as much as you want to go to sleep and not wake up you have to keep on breathing.

Such was me a few weeks ago, me before coming off the Zoloft.

The Zoloft that made life worst.  The Zoloft that made me feel crazy.  The Zoloft that made me want to harm myself.  The Zoloft that made me put the breaks on while driving because I thought someone was crossing the road and when I blinked no one was there (among other stories), The Zoloft that made me dream dreams that I thought were real, absolute. The Zoloft that did not mix well with alcohol.  The Zoloft that did not let me sleep but yet made me feel like I wanted to go to sleep and not wake up. The Zoloft that made me paranoid.  The Zoloft that changed me.

Now I am off the Zoloft, and in just a couple of weeks I already feel a ton better, not ‘normal me’ better, but not Zoloft crazy.

Back one one of my old faithful medications, Tegertol.

Started med.

Finally built up the nerve to take the first of the Zoloft last night. (Feb 6th) Every since my bad reaction to Lithium I am nervous taking new medications.  Even stuff I have taken before makes me a little nervous.

I have only slept for an hour.

I am getting my kids off to school and going to “try” to sleep.

I feel quite a bit of nausea and my body tingles.  But nothing major.

Will update again soon.

Bipolar Whispers In the Dark

*This is how I have felt the past couple of days, with a gnawing depression in the mornings and early afternoons, and a more strange flat state in the late afternoon, evening and night, with the tingle of hypomania just under the surface.*

Both sides of my Bipolar are whispering at the same time.  Calling from the distance, one gently calling from the dark side, being seductively alluring while a more frantic call comes from the vivid manic side of my mind.

The dark side boasts long naps under the warm covers with self loathing.  A struggle from somewhere deep inside, self hate, low self esteem, tears and sadness.  While the mania screams projects and research, insomnia and excitement.

But for now, I am stuck on an island, staving off both sides with a metaphorical sword.

My OCD is getting worst

So my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) has gotten worst.  I know it has.  Within myself I can feel it.  The little things I do.  The little things I say.  I try to hide it, but sometimes, sometimes it surfaces at a rate that even I cannot control.

Like even numbers.  The night before yesterday, My husband put two ice cubes in my glass.  It was 2 but it wasn’t 2.  It was 1 whole one and 2 half pieces.  So the dilemma that played out inside my head was do I add one ice cube making it 4 pieces but 3 ice cubes, or do I keep the 2 ice cubes with 3 pieces.

Sounds so absolutely stupid as I sit here writing this.  But it bugged me so much I did not know weather to laugh, or cry, and was almost in a panic.  My kids and husband was getting a bit of a laugh out of the situation.

Finally my 13 year old daughter, grabs a spoon, fishes out the two half pieces, throws them in the sink, and adds 1 whole ice cube to my glass, making it 2 whole ice cubes.

Crisis averted.

Then there are the crows.  I cross them off.  I cannot stop myself.  I am driving, or walking or sitting or anything, if I see 1 crow I cross it off with my fingers, if I see 10 I have to cross all 10 off, one at a time.  If they are standing on the side of the road I almost panic because I am afraid they will go in front of my car and I will hit them.  I am not sure how I would handle that situation, I know what I feel like will happen, so I cross them off, in a panic.

I recently had to take someone to another community and was trying to cross them off without that person noticing, it was causing so much anxiety and discomfort.  I would go to cross them off like I normally would, sorta stop my arm movement half way there, try to discretely cross them off, then I would pull my hand back and touch the side of my face.  After about 4 – 6 times of doing this, I gave up and just crossed them off like I normally would.  The person never even asked why.  And I was thankful.

Then there are the car lights.  If a car is driving towards me and they have one light blown in their headlights I have to touch the roof of my car.  Have to.  Absolutely have to.  I know how dumb this sounds.  I cannot stop myself.

I have to do these things, I have to do what my mind tells me.  I have no choice in the matter.  If I do not do these things I know something will happen.  Something bad.  Something wrong.  Something terrible.  But I do not know exactly what.

I count when doing so many things.  6.  6 is my number.  I am washing my hands I make certain movements 6 times, I wipe them 6 times each hand.  I brush my teeth, 6 movements, then 6 movements, then move to the next spot, 6 movements, then 6 movements, etc etc etc.

Even numbers, but 6…..6 is my favorite.

1 is okay….but everything after 1 has to be even.

Then the counting letters of words on my fingers.  I start at my pinky on my left hand, if I am spelling the word tickle, I would start the with the letter T on my pinky then move each letter to each finger.  The last letter of tickle, being the E would stop on my thumb of my right hand.  Then I have to start the word again, the T starting on my pointer finger of my right hand.  I would finish that hand and go back to my left hand pinky for the L of the word.  Continuing over and over until the last letter of the word Tickle (or whatever word I am using at the time) ends on my pinky finger of my right hand.  Only then can I stop.

I try so very hard to hide a lot of these tendencies.  But lately I find myself partaking in them more and more.  Anxiety building up, knowing how odd these things are, trying not to let anyone notice.

I listen to my mind, whatever it tells me to do, I do it.  I have had too many situations where something bad happened when I did not.  So I listen because I have learned my lesson.

I listen and I listen well.

Lithium – severe reaction

Back on May 25th of 2012 after trying various medications to try to control my Bipolar disorder and after being in a manic stage for quite some time. My doctor decided he was going to try me on Lithium.  We were to start off very slow. 150 mgs for a week and then increase to 300 mgs and then go from there once I saw him again in 2 weeks from the initial start date.   We always tend to start medications slow.  My doctor believes in treating the symptoms with the lowest amount of medications needed instead of treating numbers.

Around 9:30 -10:00 pm that night I took my 150 mg dosage.  A few minutes later a friend of mine called to see if I wanted to drop over her house.  She had a few girls in for a few drinks.  I could not drink but I went anyway for the social aspect of it.  Plus this friend had been there for me through so much and was the one who gently nudged me to get help which in turn gave me my Bipolar diagnosis and got me the help and treatment that I needed.  (If she is reading this, I am forever grateful)

We were all sitting around the table chatting. Tossing around ideas for a project and having a great time.

This is where the story gets ‘fuzzy’ for me.  Some of this story will be my actual memories while some of it will be what has been filled in for me by my friend and my husband, and even my daughter.

So I had been at my friends maybe an hour.  So that was about an hour after taking the lithium pill.  I apparently got very quiet.  I was just sitting there and stopped interacting with what was going on.  I know that I started to feel really sick.  I was unsure of what exactly the problem was.  So I stood up and decided that I was going to go home.  At this point I did not know just how ‘sick’ I was.  I had planned to get into my vehicle and drive home.  Lucky for me, my friend noticed that something was wrong.

Apparently when I got up from the table to leave I was slurring my words and was staggering across my friends kitchen towards to door to leave.  She noticed and lead me to her couch and laid me back on it.  I remember a distinct sensation of not being able to swallow.

This is where the story begins to get fuzzy….

I was told that I lost all my color, I went completely white and clammy and was sort of changing colors.  This was filled in by my friend and the other girls as well as the paramedic.

The sensation of not being able to swallow was very strange and I actually felt fear.  It felt like my body “forgot” how to swallow. After a while I was able to swallow but only if I had water in my mouth.  My daughter was there and I remember her shoving a bottle of water into my hand and saying “DRINK”, she was 10 years old and during what I am sure is one of the scariest things she has ever been involved in she was able to think clearly and talk to me.

Everything from my neck down felt tingly and felt numb like dead weight.  I felt like I had no control over my body, and that my limbs were like rubber.  I felt like I could not breathe.

My neck, back and knee started to hurt, and everything felt like it was so heavy.  I was slurring my speech which then got so bad that I was only able to give one word answers.  I had trouble understanding what people were saying and my sight was really blurry.

I must have been going in and out of it because I can vaguely remember the paramedics saying “Stay with us, are you still with us?”

Our daughter was crying to break her heart, but at the same time she was being so strong.  I was actually scared to death that I was going to die in front of her.  I did not want the scene in front of her to be the last memory she had of me.

The paramedics tested my sugar and it was 16.4.  My sugar has NEVER been above 5.4 ever in my life so that was really high for me.  My blood pressure was 179/97.

I remember being really cold and my teeth were chattering.  In the ambulance they covered me in 4 blankets and gave me oxygen.

I remember my daughter climbing into the back of the ambulance crying to give me a kiss before we left for the drive to the hospital.  Its an hour drive to the nearest hospital, we got their a lot sooner then that.

I was not able to see the doctor who prescribed them and ended up seeing an ER doctor who basically said it was side effects and to keep taking them, my body would get used to them.

My husband basically said “Hell No, they are going back to the pharmacy to be disposed of, you are not ever taking them again.”

I saw my doctor a few days later and it was decided to stop the lithium (which I already had) and we made some changes and started another medication.

To this day we do not know for sure whether it was an allergic reaction or just a random reaction that my body had to lithium. But whenever I have to see a doctor or go to a hospital and they ask if I have any allergies I always reply “Lithium”. I want it on my chart just in case something happens and I end up admitted for something and they start treating me with it and I am not able to tell them.

I am curious to know what your experiences with Lithium are.  Good or bad experiences.  Comment and let me know.