Monthly Archives: May 2013

Hypomania Hills

Day four of my Geodon increase from 60 to 80 mg. Up until today, things were pretty lackluster apart from a wicked stomach ache that came a half an hour after taking the dose.

And then… today…

exactly what I was expecting.

During both increases from 20 to 40 mg and from 40 to 60 mg I had about a ten day period of hypomania with manic spikes. I planned this dosage increase around all of my other plans (being away from home mostly) over a weekend where I have no plans and also have a laundry list of projects with due dates fast approaching.

It is the perfect time for a hypomanic week, and after it kicked in today I haven’t been disappointed. Some of the things I did today include;

  • Finishing a weaving project I’ve  been trying to finish for 6 months
  • Finishing the machine sewing portion on another project
  • Loading, running, and unloading the dishwasher
  • Cleaning the entire kitchen
  • Doing a load of laundry
  • Putting money on the laundry card (something I never do)
  • Playing fetch with Luna
  • Cleaning up some of the camping gear
  • Watering the plants
  • Refilling the dog food bin
  • And so on.

This is more than I have been averaging doing in a week, and any downtime today has been spent primarily pacing around, trying to decide what I should focus my intense focus beam on next.

The question that seems to be stuck on repeat in my head is:

why can’t I feel this good all the time?

I don’t think I’ve felt much elevation outside of these periods of increasing the Geodon, which could mean it is “working”. The problem is that since my mania usually shows itself as a mixed state, getting rid of the hypomania and straight up mania don’t seem to be having much effect on my overall quality of life. And, I must add, I don’t feel particularly keen on getting rid of the hypomania on its own, but I consider it something I will probably have to part with in order to get rid of its bipolar counterparts.

If I had to forego feeling totally elated in exchange for never feeling depression again, I would make the trade. Unfortunately, there is no little, red, hand-wringing demon that appears when I express wanting to make this bargain so I think I am probably out of luck.

Still, I can be thankful for a little taste of hypomania. There are eight projects left on my list, and I intend to use it to my full advantage!

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Mixed Bag

I’m beginning to see a pattern in the time where I come back from being out in the “wilderness” (camping) and are thrust back into the stressful, humming electronic world that is normalcy. 

It is no wonder that I jump from a state of deep relaxation to one of being particularly on edge, lately showing this edginess with mixed states.

Yesterday’s mixed state (hyperfocus, energy, sluggishness, overwhelmed feelings, anxiety, negative thoughts, and a splash of absentminded detachment) wasn’t the be-all end-all of mixed states, but it certainly wasn’t clearly mania or depression. Maybe the conflicting feelings come from my conflicting thoughts about being home?

Living in a situation where one is trying to meet their basic needs (eating, staying warm, sleeping, amusing oneself) the way one might while camping is something I can generally excel at. It doesn’t eradicate my mood swings, but the lack of external stressors leave me in a much better place a much larger percent of the time.

Living in society though, where there are cell phones and computers and face book and thousands of people all around living in tiny apartments without speaking to one another watching so you think you can dance… well, for some reason this really doesn’t give me much of an advantage. Say what you will, but I tend to be much happier when all of the distractions have gone.

In any case, I’m walking off my bruises and the mixed situation of yesterday seems to be gone this morning, leaving only a sluggish brain fog and a wildly rumbly tummy.

Letting it Go

I often wonder what the hardest part of having bipolar disorder is. Is it the mistaken feelings? The psychosis? The depression?

Where the depression is concerned, there is one area in particular that I’ve been struggling with. I’ll be minding my own business, working on a project or reading a book or cooking something, and suddenly it is like I am hitting an invisible wall.

The wall comes out of nowhere, and I find myself unable to complete whatever task I am in the middle of.

To say that I can’t finish may not make a lot of sense, and I can’t quite figure out if this is happening physically (I have trouble physically stirring the soup, for example) or mentally (I feel like I am incapable of stirring the soup) or both.

Feeling like I can’t do something is infuriating. I like to think I am a pretty capable person (or at least I was), so every time this happens it is like a slap in the face.

I don’t like the idea of not being able to do what I want to do. I know it shouldn’t, but it often makes me feel lazy and worthless… as if staying busy is the point of life that I simply can’t seem to achieve.

I know that is part of the reason I’m not working. People want their tasks finished. Heck, want tasks finished, but there are times where I can do little more than prop myself up in front of the television and remain there for hours. Or get in bed and sleep to try and pass the time.

During the worst of these times of mental catatonia, Corey has proven to be an enormous amount of help. Not only because he willingly finishes “the soup” for me, but also because he has said something to me that I’d never heard in my life.

It is ok not to finish, you don’t have to do everything.

As the sort of person who likes to do everything, it had honestly never occurred to me that not doing everything was a viable option. It is also reassuring to know that not being able to do everything doesn’t mean I am lazy or worthless, just that sometimes I need to do less.

Taking Care of Yourself

I’m sure those of you who have been on an airplane before are familiar with the steps to take in case of an emergency.

Put the oxygen mask on yourself before putting it on others.

It is my experience that people would usually rather focus on others than turn the eye inward on the self because it is easier to do so. I mean, who really wants to face all those feelings from the past, or scrutinize their own behaviors when it is much easier to scrutinize others?

Honestly, this bothers me a lot, and I see it all the time; people who are worried about others before taking care of themselves.

I realize that not all people are taught to take care of themselves, but like any other skill it can be learned. I also realize that with bipolar disorder, there can be times when it is very difficult to take care of yourself, but if you focus on taking care of yourself when you are well, some of that often trickles down into the more difficult times.

Here are a few things to focus on that will help keep the focus on you.

Eat (healthy). I know a good number of people who will just stop eating altogether because of hypomania, anxiety, (or simple carelessness). Taking care of yourself means feeding your body, and feeding your body the food that it needs to feel healthy and good is one of the most important steps in taking care of yourself.

Communicate with others. Talking about yourself and your experiences helps you learn about yourself and problem solve when you feel stuck or unsure about a decision. Having someone in your life you can talk intimately with about some of the more sensitive subjects in your life can help you move past them. You could talk with a close friend, a trustworthy relative, a support group, or a therapist to help you understand your life and your actions. Once you understand how you operate, it is much easier to care for your emotional health.

Pay attention to your body. Have times when you can push yourself physically with exercise, but also allow yourself time to relax each day. Both elements are key to feeling healthy, and knowing when your body is able to exercise and when you better take it easy is an important part of taking care of yourself.

Help yourself succeed. Taking the initiative to refill your medication before it completely runs out, or making sure your fridge is full of more than just ramen noodles will help you in the long run. Sometimes that might mean doing an hour of work in exchange for a few hours of relaxing when you don’t feel like doing anything, but having the tools around that can help you succeed in taking care of yourself can help immensely and keep your streak of taking care of yourself intact.

Keep the focus on you. It is difficult to work or interact with others or take care of anyone else if you aren’t taking care of yourself, and by putting that emergency oxygen mask on you before putting it on others you can be more attentive and potentially more stable.

So On And So Forth

I thought I would take a minute to let you know that I had my endoscopic procedure. The doctor’s didn’t find anything, which is good (though slightly frustrating since I am still in quite a bit of pain).

This is depression, day 11.

What that means for me is the combination of a total sapping of motivation, a permanent frown I can’t shake off, feeling like I might cry at any second, and small flurries of hopelessness.

Actually, this is considerably better than many depressive episodes I’ve had before, so lets focus on that. No long crying spells so far, no stomping off into the bedroom, and at this point I haven’t had any suicidality. Considering, I would say that this a pretty mild episode so far, and I’m hoping that if it lasts, it at least stays that way.

I have been trying like crazy (for something like three weeks) to see my therapist. The last minute endoscopy cancelled my latest appointment, and each time I try to make a new one we have to go at least a week out. I had been going every other week, but next week (when I do see her) I am considering just locking down a time and having her block it out so nobody else can take it. Ever. It’ll be her permanent Sarah slot. Yes.

I also wanted to mention that Monday I am seeing my psychiatrist again (I practically feel like I’ve been seeing him more than my therapist but I’ll take what I can get). After the recent psychotic episode I had I’ve decided to go ahead and increase the Geodon, despite knowing it will not be fun (due to side effects) for at least a few weeks. I also wont bore you with the details, but since I am receiving the Geodon from the manufacturer for free there are several hoops I have to jump through before I can increase my dosage so I wont be able to walk about of the Psych office and increase immediately.

I’m going out of town to Eastern Washington this weekend and I am hopeful the trip doesn’t end the way my last weekend trip did (with psychosis). I will have good company and some interesting things to see out the window, which helps, but my luggage will primarily contain half a dozen bottles of whatever medications are in my bathroom right now (including the emergency antipsychotics) just in case. It makes my bags considerably more rattly, but I might be able to use that to my advantage since we’ll be heading into family baby territory.

Blog for Mental Health 2013

I’ve had a few people alert me now (thanks!) to the Blog for Mental Health 2013 campaign, and since blogging for mental health is already something I believe in (and do on a semi-regular basis) I thought I would make a mention of this campaign briefly.

I pledge my commitment to the Blog For Mental Health 2013 Project.  I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others.  By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health.  I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.

I have Bipolar Disorder type 1 as well as Generalized Anxiety Disorder and have struggled on and off for over ten years living with the symptoms of mental illness. I think it is important to be as open and honest as possible about what we experience and feel, not only to alleviate stigma but also to help others learn about themselves and grow as much as we do by sharing our stories.  Being able to be ourselves means less stress, less anxiety, and less bullying. Less hardship all around really!

Rather than pass this pledge on to five blogs, I’d prefer to take the route of saying that I urge each and every one of you to take the pledge if you blog about mental illness. Put it out there! Put into writing what you feel and why you feel it. Pass it on to others, and help tear down some walls.

Anxiety Begets Anxiety

Yesterday I was in the office of a G.I. specialist, as my stomach has been hurting quite a lot lately. You see, I’m an eater. A foodie. So… it is an odd occurrence for me to have to try and convince myself to eat something. Lately it has been so painful in the moments after eating that my desire for food has shut down.

<enter G.I. specialist>

She said she wanted me to do an endoscopy (where they put a rod with a camera down your throat to look at your stomach) to which I replied in a favorable way.

They put you out for that, right?

I couldn’t imagine them not.

Well it is scheduled for tomorrow, and as I read through the mound of paperwork they gave me about the procedure (which contains a lot of instructions but not a lot of actual information) my heart skipped a beat.

Semiconscious sedation.

My pulse quickened, my throat constricted, and someone threw another log on the fire in my stomach.

All night all I could imagine was having a panic attack right in the middle of the procedure while that thing was down my throat.

Heck, I practically had a panic attack yesterday morning from getting an ultrasound of my stomach.

I don’t seem to have any say in when these things happen, all I can do is some deep breathing and closing of the eyes (and can you do deep breathing with a scope down your throat?).

This morning, still panicky, I called the doctor’s office to see if I could switch to full sedation. The receptionist said I could, but I could no longer have the procedure tomorrow.

And here is my dilemma. The more time that passes between now and the procedure, the more anxious and panicky I will be. If we had done it yesterday, I was cool as a cucumber, practically sedated on my own, but the notion of anticipation doesn’t bode well for me.

At this point I am waiting to see who will win out. The anxiety about the procedure itself, or the anxiety around waiting for the procedure to happen. I know either way it is going to be wildly uncomfortable, and I am waiting to speak to the nurse to get more details about the procedure before I make my final decision.

Of course, there is more to it as well. I need a chaperone because of the sedation, and getting that straightened out has really been the hardest part. Having to schedule a new appointment all over again would undo the work I did yesterday, and my chaperone wouldn’t be for sure. Without a chaperone, they will cancel the appointment when I arrive.

It’s an edgy morning. I’d better force-feed myself some breakfast.