Tag Archives: crazy girlfriend

Revenge

Over the weekend I went to see The Revenant, and though I am not typically interested in dramas or anything relatively violent I am interested in stories about mountain men and stories about revenge.

I’ve been thinking a lot about revenge and why it is so interesting and even consuming, at times, to me. True that in a heightened state of emotion revenge can seem that much more gratifying, but most of these stories about revenge (or my experiences with revenge) well… they never quite end well.

The thing that interests me the most about revenge is how my own mental health has been able to completely warp this concept in different situations. For example, I started having my first full-on panic attacks in elementary school in P.E. when our teacher had us running around the track. He told us that we were not allowed to stop for any reason, not even to get a drink of water. When I asked him if I could stop to tie my shoe (which had become untied) he said no. I was supposed to keep running.

Now, this might seem totally mundane in terms of “personal threats”, but I have always been a somewhat awkward being who is able to trip on a line in the road. Having my shoe untied was a serious invitation to biff it on the track, and I was both pissed off and terrified. However, my fear quickly turned into something else as I found myself desperately wanting to trip on that shoelace, fall, and get hurt enough for some kind of punishment to befall my P.E. teacher.

It didn’t happen, but there have been many situations where my apparent inability to do anything about a perceived injustice has left me believing that the best form of revenge would be to take that revenge out on myself and subsequently whoever I meant to get revenge on would be forced to watch me withering away… potentially causing them inexplicable amounts of pain. At times I have thought that my younger self may have wandered into believing herself some kind of witch-doctor, capable of performing voo-doo. Of course, that almost never, ever worked out the way I expected it to, and while I admit the idea of hurting oneself to exact revenge on someone else seems totally ludacris there have been times where the act of revenge seems to completely outweigh the act of living. Watching any number of “revenge” themed movies will typically suggest the same.

I fought this notion a lot via the church. The act of forgiveness being the total opposite of revenge, I figured that might help me shy away from a lot of the odd, convoluted notions I had about punishing others or using myself to do so. Unfortunately, I found myself living in the opposite extreme, constantly in a state where the people around me were taking advantage of me and I would be ushering out forgiveness in a never ending revolving door of pain.

As it turns out, forgiveness without any sort of boundaries can be just as detrimental as revenge.

The road since then has been awash with many different theories and attempts to live a healthy life. I would say I have made significant progress on that front, but as a profoundly emotional individual it still swells up, from time to time, and revenge becomes something shiny and wisp-like begging me to chase after it. Even if I can withstand chasing it, it isn’t hard for my imagination to take the bait and for days, weeks, or even months I become trapped, seeking this thing out -if even only in my mind.

I am hoping that one day I will have replaced that inexplicable pull with something as simple, but as important, as acceptance. While it is something that seems distant to me now, I hope that little by little, inch by inch, it will become a more central part of my life and my future.

One day I will be able to sit with my life as it is as opposed to being haunted by the notion of what it should be.

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Is That What Color it is Supposed to Be?!?

Fall has landed. Cool crisp air here with clear skies, crunchy leaves on the sidewalk, and… oh, yes. Hypomania.

Something about fall makes me feel excitement, energetic, and purposeful.  Only, you know. Times 10.

I have pondered why this happens, and I can’t rule out the weather. The temperature finally reaches a level where I feel comfortable here in Seattle, but more than that I also wonder the message that fall brings.

Winter is coming!

We don’t get much snow here in the emerald city but it can go for months at a time without a dry day. My instinct is always to hunker down in constant pajamas, gnawing on a pot roast watching my favorite movies on a loop… and fall is the last opportunity I have to get out. To get things done. A last jolt of energy before the power plant inside me shuts off for the winter.

Naturally this means I am creating lists of lists and doing far too much.

I know the danger that hypomania precedes but it is almost a relief to have it, even if just for a little while. I am monitoring my sleep carefully to avoid this energy lifting me off the ground like a hot air balloon swiftly into full-blown mania.

I haven’t had much hypomania the last year or so, only tiny blips of it. A few hours, maybe, at a time. Needless to say, the subsequent resulting mood has been depression, so when I started lunch yesterday and looked down to notice I hadn’t swept my kitchen floor since moving in over a year earlier, I dropped what I was doing to sweep it…

…only to realize the floor looked a little dirty under the crumbs and dog hair. Obviously I hadn’t mopped it in over a year either, and judging by the rest of the place it is debatable that it had been mopped before moving in either.

So I mopped. I mopped, and continued to mop until the floor became a color I had not encountered.

Wait, is that what color it is supposed to be?!?

At any rate, any amount of motivation is a welcome change. “Crazy Girlfriend” made a guest appearance about a week ago and I can tell you that the results were not good. Any singing or dancing I can do now on my own behalf is very seriously needed, and having the energy and motivation to complete even a few simple (much needed) tasks can hopefully help me balance out the months of inactivity.

More Rest, More… Butter?

Very quick update.

Please do not be offended if I do not answer your calls, texts, or emails in the next few days. Between the physical illness I’ve been having and intense insomnia I have stumbled into a place of extreme irritability, confusion, delusion, and paranoia.

Yesterday I shampooed my hair three times because I couldn’t figure out which bottle was which. I also snapped at my poor old granny on the phone, which is why I am instigating a period of Sarah-radio-silence until I can talk like a civilized human being to people again. Or, at least, civilized-ish.

On the upside, after some really fun biopsies of my stomach lining I do not have celiac disease (thanks doc!), I have finally slept four hours in a row (thanks benadryl!), I’ve been enjoying a John Cusack movie marathon, and I ate 1/8 teaspoon of butter this morning on an otherwise very dry bagel (weee!). This is huge progress (especially since I spent a big chunk of time earlier this week doing more vomiting) and I hope it means I will soon be able to stop putting olive oil and salt on my noodles and eating with my eyes closed pretending it is butter.

Once I get better at the not-hating-everyone bit I should hopefully be on my way to recovery on all fronts (well, that and once intestinal infection is ruled out). Usually the emotional instability part takes a bit longer to catch up, but who knows… maybe if I drink enough smoothies I’ll start to feel peppier.

Bridges; To Burn or Not To Burn

If there is one ultimate truth regarding those of us with bipolar disorder, it is this: we are emotional. Granted, humans generally are, but we are more so.

Because of this it isn’t uncommon for us to find ourselves in situations where we need to, want to, or are being forced to sever ties with not only the people around us, but the communities we find ourselves in or the jobs we hold.

I’ve burned a lot of bridges at jobs I’ve held, and even some in communities, but the bridges I’d like to focus on today are ones of friendship.

In the past, friendships were very difficult for me. As I mentioned, I’m a tad emotional, and there has been more than one occasion where I have exploded in a fiery cataclysm, denouncing all ties of friendship and loyalty.

The trouble with bipolar disorder is that I can have feelings for hate for something or someone one day, and feel reasonably loving toward them the next. Before I realized this, there were a lot of friendship bridges burnt, so I started a new methodology. That, and, I realized that my actions were hurting people… which isn’t really fun for them (and, you know, were apparently even a bit emotionally scarring). That’s not the sort of person I want to be, so I implemented the new plan.

Don’t burn the bridge.

I’m sure you’re thinking that this might sound easy but we both know that acting it out can be quite difficult. That’s why I developed a strategy to help.

Ignore the friggen’ bridge.

There have been several friends in my life that I found myself growing apart from. Sometimes that is just the way life works, people head off in different directions. After finding myself in situations where we’d both sit and awkwardly stare at our drinks without really talking for our usual social time, I could tell it was time to part ways.

And that’s when I’d start to get the itch. The bridge burning itch. The aggressive, intrusive, I’m going to call them and tell them never to talk to me again itch.

For a while the friendships in my life were neatly book-ended. There was a clear beginning and a clear end of each one (thanks, in part, to my bridge-burning). What I discovered in my adult life was that friends would sort of just start to fade away. I’d see less and less of them (and inevitably want to friend-dump them).

Let’s not forget, I didn’t want to be that person. I don’t want to be that person. Instead of burning the bridge, I work very hard to ignore it. I let it fade away until it seems to be gone, and in one situation I was even rewarded for this. A few years later my friend came back into my life and our friendship was suddenly better than it had been before.

This hasn’t happened with the others, but that one successful re-friendship has taught me that people learn and grow at different speeds. Sometimes when we aren’t synced up, we lose touch and part ways, but that isn’t a good reason to cut off all ties with that person forever. They could always have a life event that brings them closer to you than ever somewhere down the line!

On top of that, I’ve learned that what I say (and don’t say) to other people is really important to me. It’s true that some people have pushed my buttons on purpose, or given me the ol’ friendship backstab move, but that probably isn’t a good reason to unleash the raging, fiery cataclysmic beast that dwells inside of me. As it turns out, when people hurt me, I am often capable of hurting them ten fold. After all, I never do anything half-assed.

Jumping Back In With Both Feet

I have been working on a couple more thoughtful posts, but things have been so disrupted by the medications my psychiatrist gave me to try last week that writing has not been particularly realistic.

I guess the number one combatant there is against intense anxiety is a class of medications called benzodiazepines which contains things like Valium, Xanax, Ativan, and Klonapin.

To tell the truth, though very effective for many people, “benzos” scare me a bit. They have an addictive quality that means they are not only one of the most commonly abused prescription medications, but also that it can be easy to develop a physical dependance that results in withdrawals without them.

Again, some people are really helped by this class of drugs and if you are prescribed them and take them in the way your doctor intends, there may not be a problem.

That is where things start to get tricky, because for many people with a co-morbid diagnosis of anxiety with something like bipolar disorder, benzos might be prescribed in a long-term sort of fashion, as opposed to being a short-term solution.

And I’ve known for a long time that this is not something I’ve wanted to consider as a long-term solution.

As much as I’ve known that, I’ve willingly given them a try on three separate occasions.

The first one I’ve tried was Valium, and I tried it twice and stopped taking it because it didn’t seem to be effective. It was effective, however, when injected intravenously at my somewhat cataclysmic emergency room visit a year ago (when I had the mother of all panic attacks and hyperventilated, putting me into a state where I couldn’t seem to move my arms or legs). Obviously, it is unrealistic to expect to be running around shooting up Valium, so that was kind of the end of that.

Next, while hospitalized the last time, I was given Klonapin… and within a 30 minute window (though I believe it took even less time than that) I had a panic attack for no apparent reason whatsoever. The conclusion was that the anti-anxiety medication Klonapin had actually had the opposite effect as intended.

Alright, so before going on vacation at the beginning of this month, my doctor gave me Lorazipam (generic for Ativan). He told me to take it as-needed, and when things escalated at work I gained the nerve to take one, expecting some kind of feeling of release or relaxation. Instead, nothing seemed to happen. I tried it two or three more times on separate occasions (maybe I was doing something wrong? Did I need to channel inner peace or something at the same time?) but it was the same each time, nothing appeared to happen.

At my appointment last week with my psychiatrist I brought this up to him and he suggested I begin taking it once in the morning and once in the evening to help with my symptoms of anxiety.

So, that’s what I tried.

The first two times I took it I just became very, very dizzy. The room spun, I was nauseated, and that’s it.

By the third dose (the end of the second day) it felt as if a wave of awfulness (agitation, depressive mood, and extreme hopelessness) crashed over me within an hour or two of taking it.

But, wanting to give things a real shot and just to be sure, I continued and took it in the morning the third day as well.

And by day three, things (which were pretty bad depression-wise but seemed to be slowly improving) got suddenly much worse. Again, thunder-clouds rolled over me within an hour or two of taking it, and I was flung into an agitated mixed state with a level of hostility which made me genuinely consider the possibility of hospitalization again.

Since I knew this had been brought on by the medication, I opted to just curl up in a ball and try to wait things out. By the evening the hostility had vanished, but I was quickly flung into a much deeper depression than I have experienced for at least the last year.

Needless to say, I don’t expect to try any more benzodiazepines… just one more thing my body does not react well to. At least now I know.

And, for those of you just joining us, I am not entirely surprised by the reaction I had. I have reacted poorly to nearly every medication I have tried so far, with the exception of lithium and very low doses of Zyprexa (which made me seemingly gain 40 lbs in a day) or Risperidone (which seriously zombifies me). The reaction I have had isn’t typical with what people experience with medications like Lorazipam, so this isn’t meant to be a cautionary tale. I do, however, believe people need to take caution when trying new medications and know their bodies so if something out of the ordinary does occur, you have the power to do something about it before things potentially get worse.

So, the search continues.

Or, well, starts up again and then continues after the break I had been taking from pumping my body full of one random drug after the next while I was working. I guess, realistically, since I am not working this is probably a good time to pick things up again.

In a nutshell, that is where I have been… my mood seems to be a bit better today (after 13 hours of sleep) and I am on day three of trying Geodon. So far nothing out of the ordinary has happened, so I’m a bit hopeful.

Reverse Vulcan & Evaporation

I know there was a time a few months ago back when I started this blog where I was unsure of whether I was more likely to have bipolar type 1 or bipolar type 2.

To be fair, I don’t think any doctors were really comfortable pinning either one on me (because my symptoms are certainly outside the “norm” in regard to these two types), and my conclusion was that I am probably a type 2 with some extra fun things, cyclothymic cycling (several mood changes in a day) for example, sprinkled on top for good measure.

BUT, after the last few weeks I feel pretty darn comfortable saying that I probably actually fall into the category of type 1.

It can be extremely hard to judge when I spent almost a year in severe depression, and I don’t think my [current] psychiatrist knew quite what to make of it either. When you are working with someone who isn’t exhibiting any manic symptoms (apart from when he gave me an antidepressant very briefly), how would you know?

My hunch (though it is a little more than that now) is that if one of these three things doesn’t sweep me into the type one category, the inclusivity of all three of them certainly does.

1. psychosis
2. mixed episodes
3. the manic episode from a week or two ago, which was both severe and roughly 10 days long.

So there we have it, I guess. Ta da! 

Obviously I am not a doctor, and there can be subtle nuances to this sort of thing, but after the last few weeks I’ve had some time to really soak in the little trip I took to the land of mania and back.

And honestly, I have a lot of trouble looking backwards through time to recall certain feelings and events, so if I can document them as they’re happening I know that this has happened at least once. Namely, this time. There may have been others, but my memory is so foggy I really couldn’t say where or when or what happened.

It wasn’t quite like when the werewolf episode showed itself, because to some degree it felt like an old, familiar… friend, let’s say. My experience this time around dragged me through a whole spectrum of oddness, and though some portions were familiar… there were certainly places I don’t recall ever going before.

I’ve been encouraged to name them, to quantify these states and feelings -which I don’t mind because that’s what I enjoy doing anyway. I like getting to know them (for the most part), it can be a lot like opening doors at random in my brain and seeing what is hanging out behind them.

I find mania to be confusing, because when depression happens… it is depression. All of the symptoms (for me anyway) seem to stack on top of one another so it is pretty easy for me to discern how bad it is. Mania, on the other hand, seems so random. The symptoms I have don’t always seem to overlap from one moment to the next, and an episode can feel severe, be right next to another episode that seems equally as severe, but they are in two totally different ballparks.

My argument to my therapist was that if I just experienced the same thing over and over again, it would be a lot easier to pinpoint, a lot easier to quantify, and a lot easier to describe. Instead, mania is tricky. For me, it has a LOT of different faces and if I’m not careful, it can disguise itself well enough to slip past my radar.

The saving grace there is energy, because if my energy level is pretty high I usually know something is amiss. I know there is a shady character skulking around somewhere ready to clamp on to me at the first opportunity and wreak havoc.

Some of you may remember that I made a list of the sorts of qualities I’ve seen magnified in people who are experiencing manic symptoms (myself included) so I’ll jot down a couple of those for each of the states below.

  • I’ve talked to some extent about Werewolf which, thankfully, didn’t make an appearance this last week. These episodes usually involve psychosis for me, and I have the overwhelming urge to 1. be in nature, and 2. expel energy. If I can do both at the same time, brilliant. The werewolf brings something of the hippie/the bohemian to the table, because I have the overwhelming urge to shed my possessions and live in nature.
  • I’ve also spent some time talking at length about Crazy Girlfriend. These are the sorts of irritable, agitated, angry (to say the least) mixed/manic episodes I have. Somehow, the goal in this state becomes to destroy everything awesome, which is incredibly frustrating. I am typically a fan of awesomeness, so destroying it is not usually on the to-do list. I’d say this incorporates a little bit of the dictator and perhaps Joan of Arc a little bit? A strong female warrior type character with the brain of an evil villain, for sure.
  • I haven’t brought Reverse Vulcan to the table yet, but when this happened last week I was surprised because I seemed to make the same sort of series of bad decisions as the last time I recall feeling that way. A Reverse Vulcan episode happens when logic seems to only lead to the illogical. So if logic dictates something will be a bad idea, it will look like the most brilliant idea ever. For me, this phenomenon is centered primarily around social situations, and I feel so much more outgoing, bold, and optimistic than usual that for some reason it feels like nothing could possibly go wrong. I would say this is something akin to the thrill seeker and the comedian or social butterfly combined.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Reverse Vulcan doesn’t seem that bad, right? Confidence? Sociality? More like Awesome Vulcan! No. You’re forgetting the part where logic works backwards, and because of this, I have found myself in some really seriously awkward (and potentially dangerous) situations because they seemed like a good idea at the time. Example? Well last week I had to be escorted down from the top of the space needle when I suddenly realized I was having dinner at the top with 3 near strangers, one of which was an ex-con who just finished spending 16 years in prison. The reverse vulcan goggles came off, and I had a panic attack and was stumbling around a rotating restaurant (because my table wasn’t where I left it) trying to figure out where my purse was so I could get out.

I told you so.

  • As alarming as that last one was, this one was more-so because I don’t actively recall ever having this happen to me before. It was as if my sense of self Evaporated. My physical symptoms were pretty extreme, and it felt very much as if I was floating around. My attention span was minute and focused on the tiniest of things, all purpose and time had vanished. As I floated around, it was like being caught on the wind, a smell directed me one direction, a vague idea another, and I might as well have been a cloud.

Now, like I said, this is a new one for me… so unlike what I normally experience, I don’t think there were specific parts of my self that were magnified. It was more like they were simply gone, with the exception of one small string tied to a lamppost keeping me from floating away altogether.

Is this new territory? Something more extreme than what I have experienced before? Or is it simply a new kind of episode? A new mask mania was wearing that day? At this point, I genuinely don’t know.

What I do know is that I have an appointment with my psychiatrist this morning, and I am already certain my therapist has called him to express her concern. A whole new can of worms is opened now that I’ve been talking to two medical professionals who are now talking to each other, so all I can do at this point is show up and see what the verdict is.

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Most people with bipolar disorder are familiar with the concept of hypomania. It is those fun periods where you have more energy, feel great, the creative juices are flowing, and taking on the world seems like a simple task.

Less commonly known is that hypomania has two faces. Euphoric hypomania (which is the “fun” state described above) and the much more ugly, dysphoric hypomania.

I’ve been hitting a brick wall when it comes to describing the concept of dysphoric hypomania, beyond the fact that it is something of a mixed state. The concept seems simple enough -notably a combination of manic or hypomanic symptoms as well as depressive symptoms, but I’ve been at a loss when it comes to describing what it looks like and how it feels.

I’ve heard words like irritable and agitated used a lot in conjunction with the description of this state, and it occurred to me that these words seem to be descriptors that come from viewing this state from the outside. They fit what I experience to some extent, but they don’t paint a very accurate picture of the sorts of thoughts and compulsions that come with this dangerous territory.

Thankfully (HA) I have the opportunity to experience this thing, this group of what people consider “conflicting” symptoms on a rotating basis, and my episodes are of such a nature that if I’m lucky, it’ll happen for a couple of hours, or half a day, and be gone. That isn’t always the case, but when I’m lucky my symptoms occur in bite-sized chunks that I am beginning to be able to wrap my head around.

So when crazy girlfriend made an appearance last night, I wanted to grab the opportunity to get some genuine descriptions about what was going on.

For those of you who don’t know, crazy girlfriend is my pet name for this blurred, extreme version of myself that is just how she sounds. She exhibits the traits of what you (or I, anyway) would expect from someone who is a “crazy girlfriend”. She is irrational and rather dangerous, moreso than I expected when I had her jot down this list of what was going on in that dysphoric hypomanic state last night.

I’m going to leave this laundry list of symptoms pretty much as it was written last night.

Crazy Girlfriend:

  • There is noise. Insane noise. A high-pitched whine or ringing that becomes present over all other noise at this time. Sometimes it is a whooshing, but it is always unpleasant.
  • I want to throw fits. Serious throwing-things, yelling, stomping on the floor, even just laying on the ground flailing my arms and legs around. A full-on childish fit. 
  • Crushing souls. I want to be a bully, I want to push people around. Be rude, break hearts, disappoint on purpose, screw over, and destroy the dreams of everyone. I want to instigate cruel and unusual punishment.
  • I want to destroy everything good in my life. Rip apart relationships, trash everything I own, blow all of the money I have, and fuck up my job. Because I want to and it feels good.
  • This is usually when self-harm seems like a grand idea. Combine the desire for destruction with the urge to throw crazy fits and that is where the concept of self-harm is usually birthed for me.
  • I become suspicious of everyone, and feel distanced from others because of my current point of view not lining up with theirs. There is paranoia, believing my boss doesn’t like me anymore, believing my boyfriend doesn’t like me anymore. It can get bad enough that I think they are trying to hurt me or get me fired.
  • There is anger. Amazing amounts of anger. And cruelty. And malevolence. I might even go so far as to call it malignity.
  • In addition to the anger, there is the feeling that all actions are pointless, which borders on some kind of sadness. Good or bad, it doesn’t matter, because the future doesn’t matter and does not exist. Only the present exists, immediacy and self-centered destruction. There are no consequences in this place, only mayhem.

It is like being that kid that stomps on another kid’s lego castle.

If there was ever such thing as an evil twin, this person would be mine. These feelings and compulsions can be completely engulfing, and I find that I can no longer relate to my usual self, to the point where I feel like someone else entirely.

This group of feelings is the reason biggest reason I never want to have children.  I become the most heinous, terrible person and this place has compelled me to do a lot of just plain awful things. I can’t even tell you what I’ve done, I don’t know that I feel willing to commit any of those atrocities to the permanence of the interwebs.

So that is crazy girlfriend in a nutshell.

However, I just wanted to add that this is not the only combination of symptoms I have in something that is a potential “mixed state”. There are other versions I experience from time to time, including one where I feel very much like I’m crawling out of my skin and the feeling is so intense I can barely sit still. The only time the awkward pain is pushed to the back of my mind is when I’m moving, so I wind up writhing my way around my apartment. The sensation is so extreme and unpleasant I can easily say that it is my least favorite state to be in, period.

For me, depression is agonizing… but usually I’m not in nearly the amount of risk I am in while experiencing a mixed episode. At any given time, the worst parts of depression are paired with the worst parts of mania or hypomania, and the result is an intensely uncomfortable and unruly character. The feelings themselves feel like cruel and unusual punishment, and the result is that I tend to turn around and dole that out to others.

So call that irritability if you want, but it feels like a whole lot more to me.