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Posts Tagged ‘bipolar’

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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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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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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[TRIGGER WARNING]
My favorite class this quarter has been Sociology 101, hands down. Studying how groups of people think the way they do and how a singular person works within the enormity of society fires up my brain.

This week, however, was incredibly difficult. We were studying social integration and suicide. For those non-Soc people out there, social integration is the degree that an individual feels connected and accepted in the many social groups they have. It’s a sociological fact that those who aren’t as socially integrated are more likely to commit suicide. Durkheim, the second father of sociology, found that men, Protestants, and the unmarried are at more risk of suicide than women, Catholics and spouses. To my knowledge sociologists don’t take into account mental illness when looking at the suicide rates, but I’m only halfway through the course.

When we were talking about rates and numbers, I was okay with the topic. It was abstract, far away, unaffected. My professor then brought up gender and the manner of suicide. Women who had attempted suicide reported that the reason that they slit their wrists or overdosed rather than a more violent way was because 1. they worried about what they would look like after death and 2. because they didn’t want to make a mess for someone else to clean up.

That’s when I almost lost it and started bawling in class. The two times I tried to kill myself I ODed on my psych meds because I didn’t want my mom to have to clean up bits of brain or blood from the bathroom. I didn’t give a shit about what I looked like; I just didn’t want to be a burden to whoever had to deal with my shitty actions.

My professor pointed out that gender socialization was at work even in the minds of people who, by most logic, were completely gone rationally. Women are socialized to care about their appearances and worry about cleaning responsibility. I don’t know how I feel about this. My reasons for my method of attempted suicide still seem so personal that I have a hard time reconciling it with society as a whole. I don’t doubt that my socialization had something to do with my choices outside of this one act, but my decision to take my life seems so huge to me. I can’t make it fit in the small boxes of sociology.

Obviously I think that sociology is still awesome and everything. I love this subject. But something about trying to take something so so personal to me and make sense of it within sociology is hard for me.

-Ashes

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A lot of people are confused about hypomania and it’s easy to see why. Bipolar means having extreme highs and lows, so how does “kinda sorta mania” fit into the disorder?

Hypomania is a symptom of bipolar II, one of the variants of the bipolar umbrella. We get all the horrible depression that bipolar I sufferers have, but we get a cheap half-assed version of the mania.

To me, the difference between mania and hypomania is the level of awareness I have while in a hypomanic state. From what I’ve read, people in mania mode don’t realize that their mania is driving their actions during the mania episode before they’re diagnosed. My hypomania makes me do things I wouldn’t regularly do (or wouldn’t do to excess), but I knew before my diagnosis that it wasntme making those decisions. I could also resist the call of hypomania at times rather than being chained by it.

Hypomania would give me the impulse and motivation to do things like clean, create a piece of art, hang out with acquaintances, spend tons of money I didn’t have or find something self-destructive to occupy my time. It is an amazing feeling, but it comes at a price. The lows weren’t worth the hypomania for me.

-Ashes

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When Bipolar Strikes

Looking back, I can see the signs of bipolar even at age 6 or 7. It wasn’t very obvious then but now my past screams “This one is going to be nuts!” I’ve kept handwritten journals since around that age and reading through them hurts me. It hurts to see how much pain I was in at times. It hurts to see just how much I enjoyed my mini-hypomania even before I hit puberty.

My bipolar didn’t really surface until I hit high school. My mood shifts became more pronounced, I had more sorta-paranoid thoughts, I was more depressed than ever before. But I learned how to hide these things. Although I didn’t realize that I had bipolar, I knew that these feelings were abnormal– something to be hidden out of shame and fear.

When my dad left for Iraq in early ’05 is when my bipolar came out in full-force. I couldn’t function in school and I couldn’t face the confusing mix of wild highs and crushing lows without smoking pot many times a day. I stopped being able to hide my bipolar emotions. I couldn’t handle what my life was becoming.

I think the stress of my dad being in Baghdad started the bipolar chain, but if my homelife was stable besides my dad not being there I don’t think I would have spiraled down so fast. I became a mother to my brother and the responsible pet-owner, the housekeeper and my mom’s emotional babysitter. I think that change in responsibilities threw my bipolar path into overdrive.

What about you? Can you pinpoint when you’re bipolar first reared its head?

-Ashes

(Written on phone, please excuse typos and wrong autocompletes)

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