Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Full-Time Time Warp

I’m really sorry I haven’t been able to reply to any of your comments lately, but I have been reading them.

There was a recent study that seemed to confirm that people with depression experience time more slowly than those that are healthy (of course, I can’t find the link now but when I do I will add it), which is something I have experienced myself.

Right now, however, I am in a different sort of time warp where things are generally happening much too quickly. This has happened to be before when working a full time job, and the feeling of being flung forward through time has a lot to do with the intense anxiety and stress I’ve been feeling.

The overwhelming notion that there simply isn’t enough time sends me into something of a panic, and though I initially accused myself of just overreacting to not being home as much, dedicating 60 hours per week to work has meant, very literally, that there hasn’t been enough time to get the things done that I need to.

The feeling of being bogged down by an endless list of tasks is somewhat unbearable, not to mention overwhelming, but when I think of being overwhelmed my mind immediately returns to depression. Feeling overwhelmed has been a pretty solid first sign, or at least a pretty significant indicator that my next move will be one of panic.

As I’ve been thinking about all this, I thought back to the notion of time moving more slowly while depressed. Could time moving more quickly be tied to that depression too, or is there something of bipolar disorder specifically in this thought?

Regardless, I am finding myself much like a Kurt Vonnegut character, zooming through chunks of time and being held up by others. Perception, I think, is something of a bitch.

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Between a Rock and a Pill That May Cause Hair Loss

With the fairly recent mixed manic episode I had at work, my psychiatrist is pretty concerned.

I’m not surprised, -or, well, actually I was a little surprised when he prescribed me Lorazepam (especially after having such a terrible reaction to Klonapin), and when he swiveled his char around and said,

“ok, we seriously need to get you on something to deal with the mania now that you’re having it. The choices are these:

  • Depakote, which can cause weight gain and may potentially make your hair fall out, or
  • Tegretol, which will lower your sodium level and render your hormonal birth control useless.”

Well doc, don’t make them look so appealing! You’ll make it too difficult to decide!

Yep. So these are the last two drugs left, as far as I know, that I haven’t tried. At least, the ones I haven’t tried that my doctor thinks have minutely more than a snowball’s chance in hell of working for me, and are readily available.

I told him I wanted to wait until he comes back from his vacation to decide, which puts me in the middle of October. I can’t discern whether that is a good plan or a bad one, because October is usually significantly more elevated than the summer months.

At this point, I can’t quite decide whether the idea of self-inflicted misery due to ridiculous side effects is better or worse than the notion of potentially losing my job in a fit of fiery manic passion in the unforeseen future.

(Actually, I am much more likely to just become so agitated and paranoid that I crack under the stress and quit. At least, that is what my track record has proven to look like so far.)

I know. I jest, albeit cynically, but I do expect to go through with trying at least one more drug.

Who knows? Maybe I’d look cute slightly balder.

“Bipolar Disorder” or Typical Human Behavior?

I’ve been seeing a recurring theme lately.

I told someone I’ve known for a while (but who has somehow escaped the knowledge of what has really gone down the last year or two) that I have bipolar disorder.

She asked me, “ok, so what does that mean?”

“Mood swings,” I said, “overreactions to things, stuff like that.”

I may have been much too general because her response made me pause for a moment,

“Isn’t that everyone?”

Rather than go on a long rant trying to explain further, I laughed.

Likewise, I was recently at my third visit with my new therapist and she was analyzing one of the horrible days I had last week with an abrupt mixed manic episode at work where I had to leave early.

“You were in a bad mood because you were still sick, which anyone can do,” she started, “you were frustrated with your boss about how you were being treated, you were anxious about coming back to work after having been sick for the last few days,” she grinned wildly, “are any of these things that anyone else (bipolar diagnosis aside) might experience?”

Frankly, this long speech pissed me off because, though I hope to have a therapist who can tell it like it is, I’d rather them do it in a nurturing, enlightening way rather than a smarmy, shit-eating-grin sort of way. After taking so long to come to terms with the notion of having bipolar disorder, having your “support person” question it really drives me bananas. 

“Which part,” I asked, “of the following is also typical of ‘normal’ human behavior? You forget, I do not presume to know what is typical and what isn’t, as the only experience I have to base my conclusions on is my own. But having paranoia that leaves one simply terrified of their co-workers, is that typical? How about having the overwhelming urge to attack and/or destroy the people around me? Maybe overwhelming feelings of suicidally that crop up in that situation -surely that is ‘normal’ as well?”

I’ve been thinking about this the last few days and it makes me think about what a few people have said to me, regarding jumping to the conclusion after receiving a diagnosis that any subsequent activity is linked to that diagnosis.

For example, someone with bipolar disorder grieving over a loss assuming they are having a depressive episode associated with bipolar disorder.

Or, (and I expect this is what that therapist meant to say, though she did so in a terrible way) becoming legitimately angry about something but calling it a manic episode.

At first, part of me got concerned that this is something I might be doing too. Am I attributing the regular moods of life with bipolar disorder? Do I lump all of my emotions into one category?

The conclusion I came to is no.

The whole concept behind bipolar disorder (as I see it anyway) is that people experience a wide range of emotions. Up to a point, these emotions are totally normal, everyday occurrences for people. Becoming furious is not singularly a bipolar experience.

But, there is a point where these emotions can do a number of different things that are what relate them to the notion of bipolar disorder.

1. The emotion could be a response to something that has happened (like a normal reaction) but is not a proportional response -either in magnitude or duration. 

i.e, wanting to kill the co-worker who borrowed your pen without asking, or being depressed for a week because you know you bought stamps but can’t find them in your house.

2. The emotion could be occurring independently of outside events. 

i.e, walking down the street and then bursting into tears for no apparent reason.

3. The emotional response could include abnormal sorts of elements.

i.e, delusions, hallucinations, suicidally, homicidality, etc.

When sitting down and looking at it, these were the things that stood out to me as defining factors of what makes my emotional responses different than those of (what I’ve heard) is the typical human response.

The fact that I have these sorts of responses doesn’t mean I am somehow being controlled by something called bipolar disorder. In fact, the reality is the opposite. Bipolar disorder is merely a description of what I have already been experiencing.

And, unfortunately for me, these incidences happen fairly frequently.

I feel pretty confident that I am able to discern an “episode” (meaning, an occurrence of one or more of those elements -I don’t usually require a specific duration of my symptoms to personally identify these elements, even though I recognize that most doctors do) after the amount of mood charting I’ve been doing, and I find it pretty straightforward when there is a big difference between feeling bummed out about something and feeling depressed and suicidal.

I think it can be common, though, for people with bipolar disorder to either begin tagging all negative emotion as bipolar disorder and expecting that to be something that can be simply eradicated. It can be easy for me, sometimes, to forget that it is normal to feel a bit of misery every once in a while, or loneliness, or anger. As long as it isn’t the killer sort, I consider it a welcome change.

Postpartum Depression May Lead to Shorter Kids

I don’t have a lot of time for a summary today, but I thought this article was interesting. There may be a link between postpartum depression and the height of children, and the research doesn’t conclude either way but I’d be curious to know if that link continues to adulthood.

You can find the article here, enjoy!

Mania in Dreams

I’ve talked recently about looking at what my subconsciousness is doing to get a better idea of where my mood is at.

Well, I’ve been having some sporadic manic symptoms lately (namely highly increased energy for short periods, racing thoughts, and motivational bursts) but I’ve just experienced something I don’t recall ever experiencing before.

I’ve had what I would consider the equivalent of racing thoughts in dream form. 

The experience was just as odd as it sounds, it was very much like rapidly switching fragments of dreams that weren’t fully realized.

In my dreams, there is usually some kind of theme, or plot, or goal, but these fragments had none of those elements. It was as if the channel kept changing before things could really get going,

two kickoffs from the ground of a flying dream

my dog meeting another dog and wanting to play

seeing a band of nudists performing 1/3 of a song

inviting several people to go bowling

cleaning a grill in a fictional diner I worked at

etc.

The list goes on and on.

I’ve always been able to remember my dreams pretty vividly, but I can’t remember a time when my lack of focus was so apparent in a dream! 

Has anyone else experienced racing thoughts in dream form, or a lack of focus in dreams while experiencing lack of focus elsewhere?

Just curious.

Pain; A Precursor to Something Worse

Well, it finally happened, and much sooner than I had anticipated, actually.

I was delivered a cupcake at work, filled with rage, hostility, and aggression, topped with sprinkles of paranoia and terror.

No sooner had I realized the cupcake was poisoned when I also realized this mixed episode was looking to be a doozy, something that warranted immediate self-ejection from work and removal from the proximity of my co-workers who were lined up, totally unaware, like cannon fodder.

Last week I was greeted with the flu, and spent my entire labor day holiday weekend laying on the couch “resting” to get better. My mood had taken a drastic hit into depression land, but by the time Tuesday came along things were much improved.

But that’s when the second wave of flu hit me, Tuesday night I writhed around as a stomach flu had snuck in while my immune defenses were down. And this one was ten times worse than the first go as far as pain and general discomfort were concerned. Interrupted sleep, nausea so intense I couldn’t even eat macaroni and cheese (which is to me as hay is to horses), and sinus headaches immune to everything I threw at them.

The fastest way I’ve discovered to launch me into a chaotic state is through physical pain. Even everyday pain like headaches or cramps are liable to turn me from bystander to bitch within an hour, and last year after my six week migraine I quickly plummeted from bad to much worse, requiring a hospital stay after experiencing that much pain.

After this week’s particularly painful flu, I made a big mistake. I went into work Friday morning. Up to that point I had been experiencing depressive symptoms with a few sporadic little mixed moments… which really should have been more of a tipoff.

It wasn’t until I was growling angrily at someone that it hit me, and I fled to the restroom. Instead of a peaceful moment where I could collect my thoughts, two women were standing right inside the door to the restroom having a seriously loud conversation. The shill echoes immediately made my ice pick headache much worse, and I used this pain as my excuse to make a run for it.

I went to work Friday because a fear (that co-workers tend to get a little frustrated when someone isn’t working as much as they are) was pressing itself upon me relentlessly. I couldn’t say how much of that fear is true, I’ve seen it in the past but the amount of paranoia that bloomed when I arrived at work Friday probably blew the whole thing far out of proportion.

Of course, now I can’t help but kick myself for not seeing the signs for a potential mixed episode in the works and staying home. After all, is it worse to not show up at all, or to make a total ass of oneself and bring the hostile to “hostile work environment”?

That’s what I thought. Not showing up at all. Or, at least, I guess I’d rather be considered a flake as opposed to the daughter of the devil, overlord of evil.

As of this moment, I couldn’t tell you how much damage I did, or what the consequences will be. I do know there were raised voices, and enough frustration in my blood to make me shake in a pretty enraged way, but I feel fairly safe in assuming the frustration was primarily mine, and things always look differently from an outside perspective. Whether that difference will be for better or worse, I don’t know.

Whispers in the Workplace

Something I’ve noticed right away after re-entering the world of the cubicle dweller is the amount of whispering.

I mean, obviously whispering is needed, otherwise everyone would practically be yelling everything to hear over one another talking, but whispering also is an important element to workplace gossip, something that I have a huge amount of disdain for.

As I have sat at my desk and heard voices around me drop from their usual volume to a whisper, there is something in that moment that triggers terror in my mind. Maybe it is something that comes with us from our early school years, I really couldn’t say, but I know that hearing that particular transition (of full volume to a whisper) is something that makes my anxiety shoot through the roof.

As disturbing as this situation has been, I don’t find it quite as disturbing as something else involving whispers.

There have been several days at work now where I’ve gotten confused. Not extremely confused, but a little, about where the realm of reality stops and fiction begins. There are times where I wouldn’t call myself psychotic, but more on the precipice of psychosis, where that edge has become blurred and I’m not quite sure at what point I’m stepping over it.

One day, for example, I was feeling quite convinced that every face I saw that day was a face I’ve seen elsewhere. Something of a Wizard of Oz feeling, like waking up and saying, “you were there! And you! And you!”. Many of the people in my office are people I’ve worked with before, so that is where that blurred line comes in. To some degree, I am sure I was recognizing people I actually knew, but I am afraid it may have just been lumping everyone in that category, at that point.

There are other things, like technology, that have played tricks on me and make me believe I am nearing a psychotic state. Sending an email that says one thing, and then getting a reply where my original email attached says something completely different. Is it me? Is it technology? Am I not remembering things happening?

It is scary sometimes, to say the least, but more frustrating than anything.

Nothing, however, brings out those psychotic sorts of feelings like people whispering does. If I ever thought to myself, “you know what would be great right now? Some paranoia,” then by all means, whisper your hearts out.

For some reason, when a lot of whispering is going on around me, I would say it almost triggers psychotic sorts of symptoms for me. I don’t know if it is because of that huge spike in anxiety I mentioned earlier, or because whispers are probably the closest thing to a human voice I’ve ever experienced in an audible hallucination, or something different entirely.

Needless to say, this whispering has been something of an issue.

And it isn’t something I could go around asking, “could you please refrain from lowering your voice?”

I am playing with the notion of using headphones periodically, but I haven’t worked out the details. I am hoping that if I can find a way of blocking out the whispering, I can potentially avoid some of these blurry, psychotic precipices.