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My psychiatrist has left my HMO. This isn’t the first time that this has happened to me but it makes me feel uncertain. I’m on a strange med mix for bipolar II: Adderall and Seroquel. You’d think that giving an upper and a downer to someone with rapid cycling bipolar would be a bad idea, but is works for me somehow. I’m afraid that my new shrink will want to fuck with my meds, despite the fact that this combination has been working for me for about 3 years.

At my last appointment with my old shrink she commented that I could lower my Seroquel dosage. I really don’t want to do that. Everything has been fine for me with the way my dosage has been; why would I want to change that? I’m petrified of changing my meds or doses. I’ve worked hard to get to the balanced place that I’m at now. The last thing I need is to fuck that up because of a suggestion from someone who isn’t living my life.

Have any of you had a psychiatrist try to alter your meds? How did you handle it? If you agreed to do it, did it turn out well for you?

I hope everyone had a great New Year’s Eve.
-Ashes

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I’m sorry that I’ve neglected this blog. Things have been very hectic in my life, though luckily not because of my bipolar disorder. School has been kicking my ass and my family has been having drama.

Every fall and winter I end up “breaking through” my meds. Like many people with bipolar disorder, I also have Seasonal Affective Disorder. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is commonly known as the winter blues. When the days start to get shorter and darker my moods go haywire. I get extremely depressed and unmotivated. My (very unscientific) theory is that the chemical imbalances in my brain are increased by the changing of the season, which means that my meds can’t control all of my disorder.

I have a lightbox that simulates natural sunlight. All you have to do is turn on the lightbox and sit in front of it for 15-30 minutes, and it helps with the lack of sunlight that causes the mood swings from SAD. This year, however, I’ve been doing much better. I haven’t had to use my lightbox so far, which makes me very happy. Koios and my new place has a ton of windows so I think I’m getting more of the little natural light that remains than I did at our last apartment. I would recommend a lightbox to anyone, even those without SAD. Koios has mentioned that he feels better on the days that I turn it on.

That’s all that’s happening with me. Feel free to comment with other SAD treatments that have worked for you!
-Ashes

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I’m Back!

Hey all, just a quick housekeeping note. I’m back! I have the internet again so I’ll be able to post more frequently.

-Ashes

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Koios and I moved to a new apartment! This time I decided to do things differently than the other times we’ve moved because of my lack of motivation that comes with bipolar.

I used to never get anything done. I simply could gather the energy to attempt to do what needed to be done. Last time we moved, we packed everything in boxes but I never unpacked most of them. We had boxes that hadn’t been opened in 2 years! I’m so bad at moving that I have boxes in my car from when I moved out of my parents’ house. I want to be done moving so badly that I always half-ass it.

This time, I made sure that we only had 10 boxes. That way I’d have to unpack them before I could move anything else. I found that I have been more thoughtful about where I put stuff in the new place and more selective about the things to give to Goodwill.

It took more time (a lot more time, haha), but I tricked myself into working with my bipolar.

-Ashes

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While I was volunteering for my old high school, I got into a discussion with one of the teacher’s wives about starting meds and how it sapped my ability to paint. She had a novel suggestion that I thought I’d share with you guys.

She asked me how large my paintings and mixed media pieces were at the height of my ability, and I told her that they were always very large. She said that maybe I could start painting again using small canvases and work my way up to my old size.

It hit me then that the huge blank space that I was trying to fill had intimidated me to the point that I stopped trying. I’m hoping that this simple change in my art may give me my creativity back.

As I was leaving, my teacher’s wife took me aside and hugged me. She whispered in my ear that she has bipolar as well, and wished me luck. I’ve been shown the necessity of finding other bipolar survivors to bounce ideas off of once again.

Do you have other tips and tricks for people on meds who want to be creative again? Do you work in another medium and need some advice? Leave a comment!

-Ashes

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Technical Difficulties

Apparently the WordPress app on my phone hasn’t been posting my entries. How frustrating! I still don’t have the internet so I don’t know when I’ll get them up. I’m not sure if this will go through, but I just wanted to say that I’m alive and that I haven’t abandoned this blog.

I hope everyone is well. Take care of yourselves, alright?

-Ashes

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Hey all! This post is a bit off topic. I’m writing it with the hope that it will be selected for the Rheum Blog Carnival, but
I think my regular readers will find it applicable to their lives as well.

I’ve lost count of the times that I’ve been told by friends and family “You don’t need to be on those medication! They’re bad for you. You just need to exercise and eat better.” Living in a town with very liberal roots, I also get “Why haven’t you tried this herb that they collect in a secret mountain stream? You don’t need to take poisons! Have you tried a gluten-free diet? It’ll fix everything.”

—–
To everyone who tells us to stop taking medications,

Listen guys, I know you mean well. You’re trying to help me in a way that worked for you. And I’m so glad that lifestyle changes and naturalistic medicine helped you or a loved one. But listen:I am me. You haven’t lived a day in my shoes, nor would I want you to. But please understand a few things.

1. My illness isn’t my fault. Even if I ran miles everyday and only ate home-prepared organic food, I will still be sick. I know that you’re not explicitly saying that my actions and lifestyle is to blame for my illness, but that’s how it comes out. That’s what it feels like and it hurts. It makes me lose confidence in your opinion of me. It makes me not want to be open about my needs or limitations when I feel like you’ll view my illness as something I could easily change, if only I wanted to. I do want to change my illness, I wish that it would Disapparate out of my life as if it was magic. But these meds are the only thing keeping me functioning and I can’t jeopardize that.

2. Telling me to get off of my medications is akin to damning me to a life that’s almost not worth living. The negligible benefits that may come from the natural supplements or exercise and diet could take months or even years to manifest. Being off of my “evil chemicals” for that long would harm me in a way that your advice couldn’t fix. As I said before, these medications are the only things that keep me able to live my life and I can’t jeopardize that.

3. You don’t know enough about my disease and it’s effects on me to pass judgment on how I’m treating it. You don’t know what my medications actually do, and you don’t know the health risks and side-effects of these meds that you continually put down as “over-medicating” or “dangerous chemical compounds”. Every disease is different for every person unfortunate enough to have it. Your friend with the “miracle” cure? She might have a completely different subset of the disease! One size does not fit all when it comes to treatments for chronic diseases.

4. Those of us with chronic illnesses are completely aware of the effects of our medications. We know that they can cause liver failure or vision changes or high cholesterol levels. You don’t have to tell us that these medications can be dangerous because we know it already. But we have decided that those risks are worth taking to improve our lives. It’s all about quality of life for us, and sometimes it’s a trade-off. We trade possible future complications for the ability to actually live today. But we have already decided. Please respect that decision.

5. Respect. Please try to respect us. Respect our choices, respect our limitations, and respect our knowledge. We try not to talk your ear off about our illnesses, but please try to listen to what each day is like for us. We appreciate your interest in our lives and we love that you want us to feel as amazing as we can. Your friendship and concern are intensely needed and loved. Please just try to be empathetic to our illnesses.

Sincerely,
All the people living with chronic illnesses
——-

Ever since I was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder five years ago I’ve been bombarded by people who, with kind hearts, would lament that I chose medication. Now that it’s likely that I have Rheumatoid Arthritis or another autoimmune connective tissue illness, I’m sure that I’ll be bombarded with the same advice even more. It’s hard for a healthy person to understand what RA or bipolar is like. I don’t expect them to. I just wish that they would understand that we focus every day on how to manage our illnesses and live our lives. That’s what we think of from sunup to sundown: how to feel a little bit better the next day or how we’re going to change our lives to fit into the cages that the disease traps us in.

-Ashes

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