Monthly Archives: January 2013

Back Into the Lion’s Den

Another difficult week. After forcing myself to sit at the computer this morning, I am at a total loss for what to say. My mind is racing with the fact that I have to, after all of this, contact my last employer again for them to fill out a form for me to get food stamps.

I don’t like being at the mercy of someone else, and I particularly don’t like being at the mercy of someone who has already taken the time to show me no mercy. But, I need the paperwork filled out so that I can get food stamps, so I can use that paperwork to put my student loans on forbearance. Funny world, isn’t it?

So what do you do when those pieces of the past that are the most triggering and troubling simply wont die? Is heading into this territory over and over again supposed to heal you, or does it just create more scars?

Today I don’t have the answer, but I have a hunch. Unfortunately, until this is taken care of I’ll be able to think of little else.

Patient Assistance Programs

I thought this might be a good opportunity to voice a reminder that there are ways to get help medication costs.

In this economy, there is a lot of unemployment, a lot of financial struggle, and you can believe I’ve seen first-hand what having bipolar disorder (and trying to treat it) can do to your bank account and/or credit.

That said, I am a firm believer that if you qualify for free or reduced cost medications, it is your right to receive them.

I’ve talked a bit about patient assistance programs before, but when I finally found out last week I have been accepted into one I thought it was time for a reminder. Do you currently have low or no income? Are you struggling financially to receive your psychiatric medications? Are you living without insurance? If so, a patient assistance program may be right for you.

Patient assistance programs (they can be called other things but this is the most widespread term I’ve seen for them) are when the manufacturer of your medications realizes that not everyone can afford prescription X at $700 a bottle and allows low or no income patients (who have a current doctor and prescription) to apply to receive the medication for free.

And free is good!

Usually the application involves some forms to be filled out on your end, then your doctor filling out a portion on theirs, before sending them (sometimes with a prescription attached). After a month (sometimes six weeks) they will send medication to your doctor for you, all you have to do is pick it up. Having just done this for Geodon, I picked up 5 months worth of medication at once… which made the package one of the most expensive things I’ve touched in quite a while!

I’ve rounded up a few of the websites for a couple of the more widely used medications, but I believe there are even more than this out there. I would just do a search for “patient assistance programs” and your medication brand name to find out if a program exists.

Unfortunately, these programs do not exist for drugs like Ambien, which is a controlled substance… making the mail order portion illegal I believe.

For more information, check out:

Like Night & Day

Lately there has been a discrepancy between my moods in the daytime and at night. I don’t know if it has to do with being under the influence of ambien while trying to sleep, or if it is just part of my normal mood cycling, but I feel as if “Night Sarah” has not been a good representation of the (slightly) more on the ball Sarah which emerges during the day.

I think this is something that has been true for a very long time, but sometimes it is more apparent than others. Since getting a smartphone, for example, the discrepancy has become pretty obvious -because Night Sarah leaves tons of notes for Day Sarah, with the expectation I will read them and definitely consider them in the morning.  Having a smartphone makes this easier to do, because all Night Sarah has to do is roll over in bed and jot down a few things before rolling back over and entering that foggy headspace again.

At first I (Day Sarah) found these notes somewhat amusing. It is clear that I have a different perspective on many things than Night Sarah does, and I have disagreed with a lot of her statements. On top of that, the vast majority of these notes have been indecipherable… with the exception of a continuing series of notes saying, “write about Night Sarah.”

Here’s an example of one I got the other day.

Moving into conservation territory, scale back, phase shift into the poor space. Constant worry and stress, it is another plane of existence. Living is easy with enough, life works differently when you don’t have enough. The rules change.

Now, I think that is about the divide between being poor and having enough to live off of, but I don’t really know what it means (or what was meant by it).

I don’t think I have a personality disorder, so lets get that out of the way right now. What people don’t seem to understand, though, is that when you are dealing with moods that put you into different head spaces that make you act differently than you normally would, it often feels like being an entirely different person.

I know that many of the times I am depressed I think, say, and do things I wouldn’t normally do. On what level am I still myself at those times? How realistic is it to feel or believe I’ve become someone else?

Night Sarah is the same way. While during the day I can employ some kind of logic (not always but generally) and rationalization, Night Sarah is fantastical in thinking, believing she can understand deep thoughts I couldn’t have otherwise, and yearning eagerly to share them with others.

Maybe this is just mania? I suppose the telltale signs are there, grandiose thoughts, communication breakdown, being wildly alert, etc. Even so, this has been happening for long enough that I haven’t been able to catch it (or think much of it) until recently, making tracking go out the window. I guess that means I will have to be extra watchful to figure out what exactly is causing it, and if it is a rebound from the evening medications or a switch happening after dark.

Catching Up

This is the first day in 5 days that I have had a day with no plans, and the constant activity has been catching up with me. My mood has dropped and I am going to have to hold off on posting until later this week. Working up any motivation right now is particularly difficult, so stay tuned.

Pain Begets Problems

For the last couple years, I’ve had some fairly elusive sinus problems. This time in 2011, I had a sinus headache that lasted six weeks without relief, quickly adding to my already serious round of depression and landing me in the hospital.

I saw doctors, specialists, had CT scans, MRIs, but nobody could figure out the solution, eventually the pain stopped on its own. My neurologist uttered, “we’ll just have to see if it happens again sometime,” which isn’t a very comforting thought.

Lately the headaches are getting worse again. The pain is ramping up, more frequent and more severe. I find myself becoming desperate for relief, irritable and on the verge of trying anything and everything to make the pain go away.

A couple days ago I was at the dentist. I’ve apparently also contracted TMJ (as if my face didn’t already hurt enough) but upon examining me the dentist was flabbergasted by the amount of sinus pain I have been having and said I should really see a doctor, but he gave me a remedy to try for a week or two first to see if it would help.

Yesterday as the pain started coming on, I began the (dentist) recommended series of treatments. Decongestants. Sinus wash. Hot compress. Etc, etc. Then, by the afternoon, something amazing happened.

I felt better than I have felt in a very long time. Not the sort of better where hypomania is influencing my state, but the sort that means attentive, physically active, and level headed (bordering on cheerful). What was once normal. This was it.

It can be infuriating when physical pain is so overbearing it takes a toll on us emotionally -something that happens to most people, not just those with bipolar disorder. Of course, with bipolar disorder, intense pain can set off episodes and trigger cycling after periods of stability… which, of course, I know I’d rather avoid.

The trouble I think is how best to deal with pain. There are drugs that mask the pain, there are ways to lessen the pain, and sometimes there are ways to eradicate the pain at its source. What makes pain so depressing is that sometimes it seems like we can try everything (like I did in 2011) and it doesn’t abate. At other times (like this week) we can find solutions in unusual places.

So? Don’t give up hope. If you experience pain that causes episodes or cycling that you just can’t shake off, there are millions of people out there with views on things that could help. Keeping an open mind is half the battle, and heck -your dentist might be a lot more intelligent than he looks. And if you’ve been treating bipolar disorder without addressing the pain, it might be time to talk to your doctor about it. Alleviating it could also alleviate many bipolar symptoms, so why not go straight to the source?

…Don’t Torture Yourself

Lately I’ve been trying on a new way of thinking. It is kind of like trying on a new pair of shoes.

This thinking is something I borrowed from my boyfriend. I call it the don’t torture yourself school of thought.

It all started when, for one reason or another, I found him saying, “don’t torture yourself,” to me about something. In all likelihood I was probably trying to make a decision (something I am terrible at doing) and screwing up my face like one of those smilies that has an “S” for a mouth. You know. :S

The truth is, I am quite good at torturing myself. How else could I maintain a job while depressed? Or force myself to do any of the innumerable things I don’t want to do?

Like see my psychiatrist?

Or eat spaghetti sauce with onions in it?

Or make a decision without laying awake for hours at a time trying to land on what to do?

It seems like a lot of my life has been spent doing the things I ought to be doing, because I should be doing them, and not because I wanted to. Instead I filled my time with self-torture, forcing myself to do things I didn’t like because it seemed like a good idea (or because I was told it was what I should be doing).

What if all of that has only been feeding my own misery?

It is so easy for things like depression and anxiety to feed off of that self-torture, and forcing myself to be unhappy on top of being unhappy has only made those things grow quite steadily. This is, of course, a theory, but it seems pretty logical to me.

Now, I realize that this is something of a balance. If I ran around doing whatever I wanted 100% of the time, things would be all kinds of helter-skelter. However, I have a tendency to spend more time torturing myself than feeling good, and I could definitely do some work to even up the playing field a little bit.

I’ve already uttered this little phrase to myself a few times since my boyfriend brought it up, and it has already alleviated some needless torture.

So my words today are merely an echo of something wise I’ve been told;

don’t torture yourself!

Yes, I know My Insurance Has Lapsed.

Just a quick account of yesterday.

It always makes me writhe in a little bit of agony when this sort of thing happens.

Yesterday I went to the pharmacy to get my prescription filled. I’m applying for assistance from Pfizer to (potentially) receive my Geodon for free, but they haven’t answered yet, which means I needed another month’s worth of medication and I don’t have insurance.

I found a coupon online, so I emailed it to myself and traipsed into the Target pharmacy with the high hopes it would work.

The clerk began to ring me up and my heart jumped into my throat. $680. This was pre-coupon (I tried to assure myself) but I had no real way of knowing if the coupon would even work.

“I have a coupon!” I eeked out, handing my phone to the clerk. After a few minutes, another clerk said,

Well that really didn’t lower the price very much.

This was the moment I was fearing. Could I afford a (nearly) $700 medication? For one month? No, wait, not even a month… three weeks?

Crap.” I said.

“Yeah it is $280 now.” Said the second clerk.

I practically jumped for joy, half elated and half scowling because the staff was still looking at me like I was crazy for being willing to pay that much for medication.

The coupon lowered the price by more than half, but $280 is still a lot. Especially since my credit card was stolen last week, which meant using straight up savings.

As usual, I feel appalled by what people who are sick have to pay to receive treatment. I guess it is one of those things that heralds back to the days when our parents used to tell us, “you know, life isn’t fair.”

On top of that, I was a little shocked at how the pharmacy team reacted when I said I would pay that much. They looked at me with disgust when I said I didn’t have insurance, and then like I couldn’t be serious when I said I’d pay.

But what is the alternative?

I, as a knowing human being, will never willingly put myself in a situation where I am suffering medication withdrawals, period. The experience I had with it once before was so far beyond the realm of hell that I would rather chew my own wallet off in a desperate attempt to escape them. If I had to choose between having money and  being subjected to physical torture, or being poor with lesser pain, I would choose being poor a hundred times over.

In any case, I am being forced to reconsider my options (whether that be state insurance, working part time, medication research studies, or whatever)… and to really, truly hope Pfizer decides to show some mercy.