Monthly Archives: November 2012

The Last of My Wisdom

Well, I’m entering my own personal level of hell today. I’m having my wisdom teeth removed.

I have a tooth thing. I mean, nobody likes the dentist, but my aversion has bordered on being extreme. I’ve obsessively cleaned my teeth myself for years to avoid the terror of having someone else’s hands in my mouth, and have been warned that I needed my wisdom teeth out for the last 8 years or so before finally giving in now, at the ripe age of 27.

I don’t know where the intense anxiety I have comes from. Was it the dentist as a child? (I don’t think so, I never seemed to have a problem there.) Maybe the orthodontia? (Feeling like my skull was being ripped in half was pretty unnerving.) But then there are the years of dreams about my teeth exploding, turning to sand, and falling out over and over and over again -dreams that have only receded in the last two or three years.

As terrifying as this is, I’m much less worried about the actual procedure, and I’m more worried about what comes after. Pain. Discomfort. Pain pills. All things that are triggers (for me) for bipolar activity.

It is one thing for a normal, healthy adult to experience some pain and discomfort, but when experience it, it doesn’t come alone. Suicidality. Delusional yearnings of self-injury. Irritability and hostility that could drive even the most caring person up the wall. It wont be pretty, and not because my cheeks will be swollen up like big balloons, either.

I’ve set up a number of distractions to try and help with this, but being sick last weekend was a stern reminder that pain and discomfort are dangerous territories for me to be in. Hopefully things will go much better than I expect, but if not I have a series of back up plans in case anything goes awry.

I guess that means I just need to eat a lot of ice cream. Like, a lot a lot.

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The L(ithium) Word

If bipolar disorder didn’t have enough of a stigma for those of us attached to it to have to deal with, the disorder’s leading medication for treatment, Lithium, seems to have an additional stigma all its own.

Why is this particular drug feared so intensely? And is any of that fear even warranted? I know that even for me, starting down the medication route again left me terribly nervous about the prospect of taking lithium, and I didn’t even particularly know why.

Today I’d like to take a stab at demystifying some of the stigma that surrounds bipolar drug number one; Lithium. I’m going to address five of the most common terrors I’ve heard associated with the drug, and though I’m not trying to convince anyone that lithium is a good idea, I’d like it if people stopped treating lithium like a leper. Stigma around lithium directly effects the stigma around mental health in general.

Fear #5: Lithium has too many side effects. 

Like any other psychological drug, side effects vary (not only from drug to drug, but from patient to patient as well). Side effects experienced by one person may not be experienced at all by the next person, but the idea that these side effects may occur can be very dissuading against taking any one particular drug.

Lithium has been around the longest, the most people have tried it, and anyone who has spent time in a support group or networked with someone who is interested in sharing about their personal experiences with medications they’ve taken practically everyone has an opinion about having taken lithium (or not). Negative opinions of lithium given to someone about to try some new medications for themselves will probably give them negative feelings about lithium’s potential side effects (which may not even be relevant to them) without ever even trying it for themselves.

Personally, I did not have any wild side effects from taking lithium, and all of the side effects I had have since dissipated. That doesn’t mean if you try it you wont have any, or that you will have some. Every person is different, so trying to base your own treatment off the treatment of others is (usually -that might be different if they are a blood relative) ineffective.

Lithium’s side effects are on par with most of the other psychiatric drugs out there; they exist. But side effects generally exist with any psychiatric drug. The only thing that will determine the side effects you develop is your own physiology, so there is no way to know how you will react without trying (or getting genetic testing) for yourself.

Fear #4: Lithium is only for people who are really bad off.

Lithium seems to have this stigma that only people who are really the worst off need to be taking it. At the same time, though, many people will only consider lithium as a last resort, so naturally by the time they need that resort, things will have gotten worse.

I think this fear comes from a fear of mental illness itself, and because lithium is a drug that is used specifically for psychological purposes, taking it means accepting you’ve got a psychological need to be met. In that way, it can be easy for people to say, “lithium is only for people with bipolar disorder, and I don’t really have that, I’m not that bad off, so I shouldn’t have to take it.”

Let’s think about it. Yes, lithium is used to treat bipolar disorder, but it isn’t even used to treat many of the most severe symptoms. It acts as a mood stabilizer, like lamictal or depakote. It doesn’t touch psychosis (which is what I would suggest if someone asked me what someone who is “bad off” might experience) -that is left to the world of antipsychotics (which I personally believe are much more potent and need to be monitored just as carefully, if not moreso than lithium).

Lithium is often a first choice for people who have just been diagnosed because it is not a treatment specifically for those who are in immediate need of assistance through medication. In fact, lithium takes longer than some other drugs to build up in your system, so it isn’t as effective to put someone on it who needs immediate medication and is “bad off”.

Fear #3: Lithium produces drooling zombie-like creatures that can’t think.

This really goes back to fear #5 about side effects, but I wanted to add this one specifically because it is a pretty specific concern that I feel is mostly unwarranted.

All psychiatric medications effect the brain, that is how they work. But, as I mentioned about side effects, each person is effected differently. I think this particular fear comes from the portrayal of things like psychiatric hospitals or facilities on tv or in movies. It can be easy to lump an image (of people shuffling around or drooling) with the word lithium because, again, it is one of the oldest psychiatric treatments. When people think old psychiatric treatments, it is easy to think old mental facility and barbaric psychiatric practices. 

Again, side effects for drugs vary from person to person, but what lithium isn’t is a tranquilizer, so “zombification” (in the purest sense of the word) should not occur.

Fear #2: Lithium doesn’t work. 

The short answer here is “how do you know until you’ve tried it?” After all, lithium wouldn’t be one of the oldest treatments for bipolar disorder if it didn’t show any signs of working, if that was the case they would have gotten rid of it ages ago.

For myself, though, I can see where this connection might be made, here in the Pacific Northwest Kurt Cobain is something of a household name. I don’t claim to know what went on for that musician, but the fact that he wrote a song called Lithium and also commit suicide could leave people connecting dots that maybe shouldn’t be connected.

Again, I know I’m repeating myself here but lithium works differently for different people. It might not be effective for some, but it might be really helpful for others. For as many people I’ve heard tell me they didn’t like lithium or that it didn’t work for them, I’ve had similar amounts of people tell me lithium has pretty much saved their lives.

Fear #1: Lithium is much more dangerous than other drugs. 

I think this particular fear is fueled by the fact that taking lithium requires having your blood drawn regularly for careful monitoring. You see, lithium is considered thereaputic when in a specific amount in your body, but anything more than that can be damaging through lithium toxicity.

Kidney damage can occur for some people who take lithium, and it is much more likely to occur if toxic levels of lithium are taken.

This is much less of a problem than it sounds, because the system doctors use today to introduce lithium to a patient and start increasing the dosage is combined with a series of blood draws to closely monitor the amount of lithium entering the bloodstream.

Personally, since practically every drug in the world functions best within a certain range, I wish this was a practice more widely used with other medications (because it makes me feel safer and less likely to accidentally overdose).

You may not remember, but I experienced lithium toxicity  a while back, and it was something I knew (going into it) that toxicity might occur because my doctor and I were pushing the limits of how much lithium I could take to see if it would activate the drug (make it start to work). The toxicity itself was more like being drunk than anything else, it was obvious enough to catch it without things escalating further, and everything was fine. I was shocked, though, that I had gone months being afraid of this “toxicity” and then when it finally happened, it felt little more than a nuisance.

Again, everyone is different. And for some, lithium has an effect on the thyroid so additional medication needs to be taken to compensate. Kidney damage can occur over long periods of time. I don’t think that these effects are much scarier than any other possible effect of the psychiatric medications I’ve taken, and the fact that lithium has been around a lot longer actually makes me feel better. Doctors know how lithium effects the body, they know what effects could happen several years down the line -and that is something that they don’t know about many of the other newer medications on the market today.

In conclusion…

First, I just want to re-iterate that lithium has really gotten a bad wrap. I know I was guilty of having a prejudice about lithium just as much as anyone else before I started taking it, and I was mortified to try it because of everything I’ve just talked about, those unknowns scared the bejeezus out of me. What was funny was that I should have given it a chance much sooner, because it is the medication that has produced the least amount of side effects for me.

I would try to keep an open mind, because ranking medications in terms of what you will or wont try (without any solid reasoning) could seriously hinder your chances at finding a medication that works.

And finally, I wanted to say that it is important to consider how we portray the medications we are taking to others. Labeling a drug like lithium as something that is “only for people who are bad off” puts stigma in our community that seeps out to build on the stigma outside of the mental health community as well. I just want to urge you to consider how you portray the medications you’ve tried or are taking, because it is one thing to give your decided opinion about a drug, but it is another to herald one as, “a miracle drug!” or “the worst experience I’ve had in my life, don’t ever try it!”. Our words about these drugs effect whether or not others seek help, and feel comfortable with the choices they are making. 

And those are two things I want to be sure that I am promoting.

Talk About Restlessness…

So, for years I have experienced something that I haven’t been able to name.

Corey put a good label on it one day when he asked if I was feeling agitated, and though I wasn’t sure of the exact definition of the word agitated, it seemed to fit. It didn’t seem like the best description of what I was feeling, but it was better than no word at all.

This type of restlessness or agitation is one of the symptoms triggered from time to time for me that really makes my skin crawl. It is overwhelmingly uncomfortable, as if my body is screaming out in pain all over, and the only thing that seems to help is by constantly shifting my weight, and flexing as many muscles as I possibly can.

Well, come to find out, there’s a proper name for that.

Word of the day:

Akathisia. [ak′əthē′zhə]

“Agitated or restless movement, usually affecting the legs and accompanied by a sense of discomfort.”

I realize this definition from medical-dictionary.com doesn’t have much more to offer than what I’ve already said, so how about another one from the same place saying;

“Antsiness Neurology Motor restlessness ranging from a feeling of inner disquiet to inability to sit still or lie quietly, accompanied by a sensation of muscular quivering, and an urge to be in constant motion, a common extrapyramidal effect of neuroleptics/antipsychotics.”

The reason I found this word, akathisia, at all was after doing a search on Geodon (an antipsychotic) and it popping up all over the place. Apparently it can be a side effect of many neuroleptics or antipsychotics, but personally I have only experienced it without the “help” of these types of drugs.

I had a particularly hard time with it as a child and teenager, I couldn’t sleep very well because I was constantly feeling restless and like my legs (in particular) were hurting if I didn’t move them around in bed. I’ve found that stretching or rapidly pointing my toes in various directions, in that situation, helped to some degree, so that is what I do now and it seems to help me get to sleep faster.

More recently in my adult life, however, and in my teen years after bipolar symptoms started to show themselves, the feeling has been more widespread. I’ve had pain up and down my body that felt like little bolts of lightening, or feeling like each of my muscles had been strained after a long workout and kept tightening and releasing on their own.

The feeling of akathisia (for me) comes mostly at night, and more often in manic or mixed states (mixed being the primary time it pops up). It has also been a factor in situations where I have been unbelievably anxious, and about a year ago I made something of a breakthrough when I had my ER trip after a massive anxiety attack that rendered me feeling somewhat paralyzed and twitchy. The twitchiness reminded me of other instances of akathisia, so I drew a firm conclusion that it can be related to anxiety for me.

I have also known several people who had a seeming inability to stand or sit still, and would either rock back and forth, or march in pace, or just be constantly on the move. Apparently that is also akathisia, and can range anywhere from doing this on a constant basis, to only when other people are around, to fairly frequently (like me) to not at all. Like anything else, this is a symptom with a range of severity.

To be honest, sometimes I don’t pursue learning words like this one because I become worried I will get too wrapped up in the medical jargon sorts of terms that make it difficult for most people to understand what the heck I am trying to say. This one, however, seemed like a good one, since it is something I have experienced for so long and never had a real name to call it until now.

I find myself curious, now that I have a name for this symptom’s ugly face, has anyone else experienced akathisia? And if you have, in what way has it manifested itself for you? Has it ever seemed directly correlated with a medication you’ve taken, or was it triggered by something else?

A BD Note

Tomorrow is my 27th birthday, and I am left reflecting on my life and all that wonderfully serious gobbledigook that comes with the territory.

I had several things to say, but I’m finding myself at a total loss for words now. The geodon (which appeared to be working) is now apparently not, and the rolling waves of depression are being followed with steep energy drains  lasting 2-3 hours where I can’t stay awake to save my life. Needless to say, my judgement is a little clouded this morning, but it is likely things will pick up by this afternoon.

 

 

Celebrities; Coming Out or Outed?

Lately, the influx of news on celebrities with bipolar disorder has been exploding. 

Doing a google news search of the word “bipolar” leads to sloughs of articles like this one claiming to have news on handfuls of everyone from hollywood celebrities to athletes, and even folks working in politics who have bipolar disorder.

Now, I have some real mixed feelings about all of this, because I’ve often considered these articles a place for little more than gossip. The word gossip, to me, suggests sharing information that might not be true, and information that isn’t consented by those who are being talked about.

Knowing that a successful celebrity is experiencing similar symptoms as us can really run home that mental illness can affect anyone, and in a sense I believe these articles are beginning to help people become more familiar with illnesses like bipolar disorder -which helps lessen the stigma for all of us.

But, I can’t help but wonder how detrimental it can be to those who are in the public eye and facing bipolar disorder. Can you imagine if one of these newspapers or websites printed an article about you having bipolar disorder before you were ready to talk about it with anyone outside of your family or friends? What if someone told your co-workers, the people at your gym, and essentially the entire nation about the state of your mental health without asking you about it first?

These folks are essentially being outed, and once everyone knows (or even believes) that you have something like bipolar disorder, there isn’t really any way to go backwards and let it remain a private matter.

Can you think of any other situations where people have been weeded out, and then thrust into the public eye? How about the McCarthy era? Or even homosexuality, as it became more prominent and accepted in our society? Personally, I just see this as extreme bullying.

I realize that I am someone who is out, I tell people both privately and publicly about my experiences with bipolar disorder, but my real point here is that I made the decision on my own. It is one thing to feel strong enough and ready to take on what people might throw back at you for being open about mental illness, and another matter completely to have someone pull the rug out from under you and do it without your consent or before you are ready.

As I said, I think being able to look up to celebrities or our own personal heros (mine being Carrie Fisher who has been out about having bipolar disorder for quite some time) is important, and a wonderful growing addition to help America understand that mental illness may not mean we are unsuccessful, or hard to work with, or… well, evil or anything. But, it is important that people are ready to deal with the waves of questions, and the uncertainty that may come with being open about mental illness, and being pushed into that arena too soon can be extremely detrimental to what might be an already unstable situation.

The next time you see an article or a news segment on someone like a previous teen star who has recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I hope you will consider the notion that the information may not have been something they expected to share. In that sense, celebrities are just like everyone else.

Though it is my own personal dream that people can talk openly about mental illness in any situation, with anyone, and feel comfortable doing it, I think it is important to realize that some people aren’t comfortable yet. And if celebrities are the ones paving the way for this dream to be realized, I think it is important to understand that it may not have been entirely willingly.

I would say that what most would consider the “sacrifice” of losing my-life-where-I-was-hiding-having-bipolar-disorder in exchange for one where my mental health is an open topic for conversation doesn’t feel like a sacrifice anymore.

In fact, I’ve found that the water is much warmer, the fish are much friendlier, and the ocean current isn’t as strong as it was when I was trying to swim it alone.

In conclusion, I do not plan to pass on any celebrity gossip, only accounts on mental health that are being put forward by the person in question themselves. I want to encourage people to be open about what they think and feel and believe, but I believe that can happen without bullying anyone into doing it or talking behind anyone’s back. I believe being open can inspire others, and that inspiration wont need any pushing or gossip because it’ll do the work for us. 

I do hope the other bloggers here on wordpress will consider making a similar pledge.

The Last Two Months; Reality vs. Fiction

Yesterday was supposed to be my “return to work” day after taking a leave of absence when I had that bad episode of depression (or, well, it started out as a mixed bag) that lasted all through October, but I didn’t go.

Fear not, there is no need to panic! When I met with my psychiatrist last week to get my final “return to work” documents, I sent them and my request for accommodations to my HR department.

The final decision my therapist and psychiatrist helped me make was that, since this job involves commuting a fair distance (we’re talking 3-4 hours total per day) and the level of my stress shot through the roof trying to add that on top of my 40 hours per week, it is much more realistic to expect me to work around 40 hours, instead of the 60 (counting the commute) I had been working.

So, I sent a request to change my status to part time (instead of full-time) because I am only able to work there three days a week. I told them I was willing to negotiate if we could work something out in terms of working from home, but commuting that far three days a week seems like a much more realistic goal to me.

I was promptly called and told not to return to work, because my position is going to be reviewed to determine if the accommodations can happen for me and the position I’m working in.

In the meantime, I am feeling quite a bit better so really, I’ve been twiddling my thumbs a little bit, getting some extra writing time in, and going to that suicide prevention workshop I mentioned yesterday.

The waiting to hear what my destiny will be feels uncomfortable, but not unbearable. If they approve my request I will still have a really interesting job, and if they don’t, I expect to apply for unemployment (and will be able to because of the route I’ve taken with this). If both my employer and I come to an impasse about the accommodations, I will be unemployed but not fired, if that makes any sense. I am really happy that even though it is inconvenient, I am taking the time to request accommodations because it is important to me that if I return, my co-workers understand the severity of what I am dealing with.

And actually, to be frank, I believe things to be much more severe than I had really expected.

Now that I’m taking geodon, one of the benefits (it seems) is that all of the rubbish that has been taking up space in my brain has started to be sorted. Junk is being thrown out, boxes are being uncovered that I haven’t seen in ages, and new, important connections are being made. It is kind of like… someone has turned on a light-switch in there, and all of the cockroaches have gone running.

The unfortunate part about this is that many of these new connections have been somewhat disturbing. Almost like playing a game of connect-the-dots and when I’m done connecting them, there is a picture of a monster looking back at me.

At first I chalked this up to hypomania, but now that has worn off and I just feel level-headed and competent. So why are those monsters still looking at me?

It has come to my attention (and this might sound a little confusing, so bare with me for a second) that there seem to be a lot of clues suggesting that at the beginning of last month, the problems I was having with my manager at work were actually fictional. Fictional in the sense that, for the most part, I don’t think she intended the vast majority of the things I accused her of doing, and many of them (like trying to sabotage me) were in my mind alone. 

You’re probably thinking that is a little far fetched, and if I could truly describe to you the nature of the epiphany I had when I realized this, how many pieces of information suddenly came together to form an entirely new perspective in a matter of moments, it might be a little more clear. Unfortunately, how can I best describe the process of the brain thinking? Or reflecting on many moments when, all combined, look like the image of a monster instead of a bunch of dots.

The sensation of reaching this conclusion was so unnerving that I had a sudden hysterical moment right in the middle of the day, because it feels very much like many of my biggest fears are being realized.

Ok. So I had some kind of weird, psychotic break. Big deal, right? I mean, they didn’t even fire for acting so ludicrous and suddenly becoming completely paranoid that an employee was trying to undermine me, so it isn’t like I caused anyone harm or damaged anything, which is good.

The trouble, though, is knowing how very serious that whole situation was, and I had no idea whatsoever. I mean, being completely unable to distinguish reality from fiction has some pretty intense effects on the human psyche, let alone realizing all of this suddenly in the matter of about 30 seconds.

The monster, the picture that those dots created, it was me the whole time, and I didn’t realize it. I can’t help but feel inclined to notice all of the other times, now, in my life where this was probably the case, and all of those instances create a much darker picture of bipolar disorder than the one I had somehow attached myself to in my head.

I thought I had things relatively under control. 

The truth is that I don’t. And what’s more, I can see now that my symptoms have been accelerating in severity. I knew they were, but I had no idea things were this bad. (As in, bad enough to create an upheaval at work because of my own paranoia.)

Through the last couple weeks the Geodon seems to be holding up pretty well, I’m thinking clearly, I have been alert (even if too alert at times) and there haven’t been any mood swings that didn’t appear to be triggered by something I can readily identify. Isn’t it funny how feeling a bit better is acting as a sudden reminder of how bad things have been getting?

Anyway, I think what I’m saying is that I feel a lot less likely to freak out about all of this information.

Still, it is unnerving knowing that I have had trouble distinguishing between reality and fiction, and I can’t help but be a little edgy.

Is it happening now? Is this real?

Well I hope so, I just typed out 1090 something words, so if not I might be a little irked!

So, again. Things are more severe than I had anticipated, and discovering that made me genuinely concerned about all of the paperwork I had just sent off about work. Does this change my potential ability to work? With the new medication doing its thing, I really don’t know. Unfortunately I am just going to have to wait and see what happens next.

The Intense Delayed Response

I would say that if there has been anything in my life that has protected me from the potential criticism of people (for having bipolar disorder), or from feeling shame about my wild emotional reactions, the delayed response would be the key.

In times of having an overwhelming response, this response might occur immediately. Other times (and more often for me) the whistle on my emotional kettle starts wailing, but instead of exploding right there, the kettle is moved to the back burner. It may sit, looking completely docile until company leaves, and then it resumes the process of “exploding”.

Because of this, I spent a long time hiding the fact that I had bipolar disorder, and though the people who knew me best were not surprised by such a notion, those that were my acquaintances often seriously doubted this diagnosis. After all, they had never seen any of these emotional “explosions” -so how could they exist?

Even when I was younger and undiagnosed, I hoped someone would approach me about my behavior. Unfortunately, most of the time (like at school) I could hold it together relatively well (for a while), and things wouldn’t come back and hit me until getting home. Not openly exploding in front of others felt almost like a curse, in that regard, because nobody seemed to believe that I was having any problems with my mood.

The same has been true at work, only there I’ve considered this delay a godsend. Being able to keep it together the majority of the time only to go home and have the acts of the entire day effect me all at once left me feeling like my job was less at risk, but the fact that everything hit at once meant mood-swings that would shake me to the very core.

And then there is the third situation where this has been an issue. In times of trauma or anxiety or discomfort, the kettle still gets put on the back burner. It might be a situation where I desperately need to let my reaction out immediately, after being harassed, or after a panic attack, or after a particularly harsh conversation. It almost feels like everything is fine at first, there is no need to talk about what happened to let anything out because it often doesn’t feel like there is anything there. I can’t hear the kettle, I don’t know it is boiling, so when I get home and it blows up in my face, things are ten times worse.

Is this something that other people with bipolar disorder face?

Is it a result of years of stuffing my feelings away without letting them out, now I automatically stuff them away even though I feel inclined to deal with them immediately?

Or is this an issue something else? Namely anxiety? Perhaps this is happening because of anxiety being the prevailing mood or feeling in the moment when I expect a response, and it isn’t until it dissipates (or triggers a response?) that the emotional response can occur?

I don’t know.

This came up though with the Suicide Prevention Workshop I attended the last two days.

First off, I have learned that the Geodon I am taking now is helping raise my mood in a general sense, but it is not effecting how I respond to stress and anxiety.

After the first day of the workshop (which, it hadn’t occured to me that talking about suicide for two days straight would be depressing -I was definitely wrong) I was extremely overwhelmed. I got home and it was just as I had described, there was an explosion of intense emotional reactions.

Obviously the topic of suicide can be upsetting, but I felt like anxiety (mostly around being in a classroom-type setting) was what was really prevailing.

With bipolar disorder, it often seems like my emotions sit right below the surface of my being, ready to make an appearance at any moment. Going into this workshop, I considered the notion of what it means (and what it takes) to be a healthcare professional (as I was the only one there who wasn’t). I admit there have been times in my life, in the more recent years, that I’ve considered the possibility of going back to school to be a social worker or a therapist… but I wasn’t sure about my ability to realistically interact with intense emotional content with someone (like suicidality) without being affected myself.

If the first day was any indication, I was affected. I came home and flopped on the bed, face in the sheets, and just cried. 

In the workshop, I had felt awkward, I had felt overwhelmed, and now that I was home, I felt discouraged. Most of the content felt like it was over my head (as someone who isn’t a healthcare worker) and my anxiety had been so high that the reaction once I got home knocked me off my feet.

I decided not to go to the second day of the training, and I wrote the following:

“Unless something that stabalizes my mood or relieves my axiety pops up, I would never realistically be able to break into the world of the health care professional but will more likely be set only in the role of consumer instead, as things have been for as long as I can practically remember.”

I even impulsively emailed one of the workshop trainers, saying I didn’t think I could complete the second day.

And then… I didn’t sleep.

At 2 am I checked my email and she had emailed me back. She said she “understood but really hoped I would reconsider and be there.”

By 4 am I had decided I was going to finish the workshop. I felt better, and I really did want to know how things were all going to come together.

So I went. And I went knowing that when I got home last night, I would probably feel like shit. I would probably cry, my head would feel overflowing with information and like it was a sponge that needed to be wrung out, and I was right. 

But, last night the crying lasted less time. I felt more like exhaustion than despair, and after 30 minutes of pretending I couldn’t move my arms or legs and laying with my face in a pillow, I stood up and helped cook dinner.

And it was done.

I still no longer feel compelled to be a therapist (or, at least, I am a bit more wary of the notion now); and if anything I really appreciate the role I have now. Unless a miracle drug suddenly cures bipolar disorder, I will always play the role of the “consumer”. That doesn’t mean, though, that I can’t talk to all of you about it like I have been, or support the actions of others like I have been, or that I can’t use the suicide prevention training that I have just received.

I feel good about doing what I’m doing now, and now that I am certified in suicide prevention, I feel much more prepared for those emails you send me in crisis, and even those messages you send me when you’re not.

I’m not a therapist, but I am someone who has probably felt how you’ve felt… and I know how scary, and how hopeless life can feel sometimes.

I truly believe with all of my being that there needs to be a place where these feelings can be expressed safely, and you can know that if you need to talk about it, you can always reach me at host@thebipolarcuriousblog.com