Medication

The Hospital Chronicles – Part 1

I am not a Specialized Psychiatrist

I am suicidal but I don’t want to die. Quite the opposite. I want to live a full and productive life. So I was admitted into a psychiatric hospital for a week. I’ve had my medication adjusted, an addition to my diagnosis and received some invaluable therapy. This is a documentation of all that I learned.

I look back on the past 12 months since my last hospitalisation and reaslise all I’ve been doing is a stop-drop-and-roll from one crisis to the next with no real stability inbetween. If its not triggers, then its been life events that have embedded me in the rolling cycles of bipolar. From hypomania into the trenches of suicidal ideation, depression, insomnia, agitation. Roaming through a cluttered mind of twisted paths that lead no where. Circling and recycling the symptoms until I feel like I’m going insane.

My doc wanted me in hospital in March, then September, and then in early December. Each time I refused. I’m hard-headed. I want to do things myself. I don’t like asking for help. In my head I think its weak, but in my heart I know its needed; that asking for help is actually a brave step. Eventually I got to a point where I was just too tired. Too tired to try anymore strategies, skill sets, motivation, coaching, rewarding, routine, writing notes, keeping reminders, setting timers. Tired of forcing myself through life. So I made the decision to phone my doc and hand the control over to him. I had to accept that he’s the professional, not me. And I needed professional help.

I always like to think I know my own mind and body, so I know what’s best for me. But sometimes I don’t. Especially when I’m unstable. If I had listened to my doc in March, and not tried to micro-manage my health, perhaps I would not have spent such a long time suffering. I’ve lost a lot of time in the name of stubbornness, don’t make the same mistake as me.

 

 

 

 

 

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I admit I have to be hospitalized

I’ve admitted myself into hospital after two weeks of insomnia and chasing my tail in mixed episodes. Loud and laughing then switching to tears. I swear to god if I have to cry one more time…. if I have to have one more sleepless night….. if I have to become fixated on Mr Google’s access to information one more time….. I’m gonna go nuts!

So here I am, back where I was last year. This time without visits from Lover… bittersweet…. but a good thing because he’s a big part of the reason why I’m back. I’ve seen my doc and he’s added to and increased my meds. Our goal is to knock me out. He’s also treating my sciatica pain. Having no sleep means my body hasn’t been resting and recuperating from the day and my pain is beyond screaming at this point. I can barely put weight on my right foot.

A big part of me doesn’t want to go to sleep even though I’m tired. My brain is moving so fast, so many things I want to do. My energy feels endless. I feel electrified. Alive. But I switch, so quickly, and I’m heartbroken and desolate. So I know I need to press the reset button to stop this cycle; to get any quality of life moving forward into the new year. At least here I know, I will have no choice but to be sleeping peacefully.

Good news! I’m normal

I had an intense session with my doc yesterday. Turns out I couldn’t have ECT because I have sciatica and the doc said even though a muscle relaxant is administered , there is “quite a lot of thrashing about”!! WTF? Had no idea it was that intense. I turned down hospitalization because the session was so productive with no massive change in my meds, so I didn’t see the necessity.

He sat with me for almost 2 hours, well into much of what I presume to have been his lunchtime. And he didn’t even charge me. I’ve said it before, he is one-of-a kind, a true healer. In a nutshell, right now, I’m not nuts! I’ve just been through an awful amount of shit for a very long time and my emotions have taken a beating. And since bipolar symptoms are rooted in one’s emotions, you could say there’s been an emotional overload and I’m short-circuiting…… and he said….

………….THAT’S NORMAL

There is a difference between being in a reactionary state because of life experiences, and being sick with bipolar. What I am experiencing right now is the result of being fucked up for a very long time, and the resulting upheaval of making changes. The fact that its knocked me to the degree that it has is normal because that’s how someone with bipolar will naturally react. Natural is normal and normal is relative. I can have bipolar yet be normal at the same time.

What a life changing revelation! My life is not doomed. This will pass. I will be free. There is possibility, not pointlessness. My circumstances will change. My solution need not be death….. just time. I’m sad because Life is an asshole, not because there’s something wrong with me. Which all means that I am going to be okay.

A lot went down in this session. I plan to process it all by blogging it out. Its going to be an emotional process, but no one said healing is painless. I never fail to be amazed by the power of words – kind/cruel; heal/break. No voltage, no medication. Someone with specialised knowledge took extra time to talk, advise, encourage, validate, explain, reassure. Words and kindness were my medicine.

Side effect? Or symptom of something more dangerous

(still no internet, I wrote this over the weekend)

It was my 6 month follow-up with my doc since starting Lamotrigine. I’ve noticed an overall improvement in my mood, but have also taken note of some unusual side effects. I listed off those I could remember because I had written them down but forgotten to bring the list.

He listened to me carefully with his listening face (a frowning brow and squinting eyes) and said “Hmmmm, I think you are being poisoned”. Say wha?? Poisoned? By who? How? I’m a recluse! I don’t know anyone who would have access to poison me. Then he followed that comment up with “….and it seems you may be showing signs of early renal failure….” WHAT.THE.FUCK. In Leslie’s words – what the everlasting fuck!! Apparently its my trusty side-kick, Lithium that’s to blame. I was in denial. Renal denial! I tried to throw Lamotrigine under the bus, but being a Specialised Psychiatrist and all, he won the argument. Lithium. The one drug that was my magic cure, my elixir against the evils of bipolar. I’m disgusted. After all the rejection I’ve gone through of late, now Lithium is rejecting me too. Unacceptable.

So I ran screaming to the pathology labs upstairs where I was, as always, butchered by someone who hates their job. An anxious wait followed for the results. I coaxed my kidneys through this crisis with a high water intake and very little sleep ‘cos I kept having to get up to pee. Results came in. Great news – kidneys are fine. Bad news – a high level of Lithium toxicity. It seems it is I that is rejecting Lithium. Sorry old pal, it was good while it lasted. The plan – reduce Lithium by half and increase the Lamotrigine to whatever I dunno my attention span only lasts 3 seconds. I’ll have to read the prescription again…. and then I’ll forget and have to read it again ….. and then I’ll forget and have to read it again but will have forgotten where I put it ….and then …. you know the drill right?

The moral of this story is that although you may believe something is just a side effect (from Lamotrigine), it could very well be a symptom of something a lot more severe. Don’t bury your head in the sand like I did. Be honest with yourself, be true to yourself and contact your doc. Sometimes, they really do know best.

If you’re interested to know what my symptoms of Lithium toxicity were, here is what I remember telling him:
-confusion and memory loss so bad it was affecting my ability to do my job. I call it stoooopid, but it had a fancy name – a decline in cognitive ability
-bad hand tremor. Paying cash at the grocery store and scattering the money everywhere; can’t open car door/front door first, second even third time round ‘cos keep dropping the keys; can no longer write anything even close to legible; can’t text, fingers don’t land where they’re supposed to; can’t chop onions without causing grievous bodily harm
-vision become significantly worse
-a noticable increase in anxiety, like ITS A TEN – RED ALERT – WHERE’S THE BROWN PAPER BAG! directly after taking evening meds, of which Lithium was one. I kept thinking it was the move or a side effect from Lamotrigine
-lost of balance (my adventurous yoga spill which caused sciatica)
-very dark urine for, like, months – I know this is a dangerous one, but I chose to do the ostrich thing. The thought of having to go through another round of ‘try-this try-that’ sickened me so I wanted to ignore the problem. But now I have to do the ‘try-this try-that’ anyway, so the joke’s on me.
-and then a symptom only he could pick up…. a mask-like face, a dead face void of expression. And I thought to myself “juuust great, not only am I fat and bipolar, but I’m also stoooopid and have no expression. Beautiful Life, just beautiful!”

Tired of lying

I’m a liar and I’m tired of lying.

I’m tired of pretending. I’m tired of wearing a mask that has to change shape with individual people and then changes again for varying circumstances.

I’m tired of saying I’m fine when I’m not. I’m tired of being judged for simply being born as me. I’m tired of pleasing and feeling like a dog performing tricks for treats and approval. I’m tired of trying so hard yet always falling short of expectations – always, always, always. I’m tired of saying ‘I’m sorry’ when it’s beyond my control.

I’m tired of being met by silence when an emotion slips out. I’m blatantly ignored, my emotions unvalidated and no one offers support or comfort. Instead the collective eye-rolling causes a Pacific Ocean hurricane as they label me ‘oversentive’ and ‘what a drama queen’…… I’m tired of my emotions treated as imaginary, being ignored and brushed under the rug – if they don’t see them by default they don’t exist. For them. But not for me. Oh they’re very real to me. So, if you can’t handle my emotions isn’t that your problem, and not mine?

I’m tired of intolerance.  I’m tired of being taken to task for my reactions, motivations and reasoning because they’re different to ordinary folk. BUT YOOOOHOOOO! I AM DIFFERENT. My brain is different to your brain. I was born into this genetic illness. An illness that is legally classified as a disability but to ordinary folk I am a hypochondriac with a wild imagination. I’ve found ordinary folk all too ready to say ‘nooooo, you shouldn’t feel like that’ or ‘nooooo, you’re being silly now’

I’m tired of people trying to change who I naturally am. I’m angry, furious, indignant. But still I take another pill to subdue the ‘undesirable’ parts of me to ease the discomfort of those around me. And I carry on sitting in my private pain, drugged, apologising and doing tricks like a dog to please.

Sorta stable

I saw my psychiatrist today. It’s been 8 weeks since I started Lamotrigine, with its slow increase to the therapeutic level. Its gone well. I’ve levelled out, my sleeping pattern has stabilized (sort of) and my recent hypomanic episode didn’t end in disaster.

He asked if I was having any side effects and I had my list at the ready:

1. Memory has deteriorated – hence the written list. He thought that was funny. I told him he’s lucky I have a damaged memory ‘cos I’ll soon forget that he laughed at me. Then we both had a good chuckle. Sometimes all you really can do is laugh at yourself.

2. My sense of balance is seriously questionable. I told him about my back injury. He didn’t laugh at that.

3. My vision has deteriorated. I can no longer drive at night. But then who can see in the dark anyway, right?

4. I have a tick in my right eye. If you think I’m winking at you, you’re mistaken. There is no attraction between the grocery clerk and I, its only a side effect presenting in the most awkward of circumstances.

5. An increased thirst. My horrible thirst has increased to a desperate thirst. When I talk my top lip gets stuck to my upper teeth. Lemme tell you, at this point, I do not look pretty…..

I kinda look like this when talking with my dry mouth.  Embarrassing

I kinda look like this when talking with my dry mouth. Embarrassing

He started making some noises about changing my meds. I stopped him and told him I could live with all of the above. If things get worse he’ll be the first to know. Then I told him about my home sweet home and we enthusiastically swapped decorating ideas for the next half an hour (decor ideas brainstorming session generously sponsored by my medical aid)

A good time was had by all.

 

A pain in the ass

You may have noticed I’ve been absent for a bit. Well I did myself an injury.

I was being all proactive and self caring ‘n shit. I was, ohmygod yes I was indeed…… exercising. Doing yoga to be precise. And, courtesy of a lamotribine side effect (balance loss), I fell over. I’ve compressed 3 discs in my lower back and have pinched the sciatic nerve so my entire right leg is just useless. I’m in quite a bit of pain. Oh holy hell!!! I’m in a lot of pain. It particularly hurts to sit and to walk or stand. So I’ve been unable to blog. I am having physio. I was taking anti-inflammatories ‘cos that’s what you have to do. But I’m not supposed to take anti-inflammatories with lithium. But I’ve been throwing caution to the wind because of the pain and immobility. But lithium will have the last say and I’m now paying the price. Everytime I swallow diclofinac I get an immediate bladder infection. Oh joy, it just keeps getting better and better.

So the moral of the story is… NEVER. EVER. EXERCISE!!! Don’t do it! Just say NO! Anyway, that’s the reason for my absence. I am missing you all and will be around again as soon as I can sit on my ass. And don’t forget children, stay away from exercise!

Another pill

the slow incline of another pill that makes me ill
in all sorts of ways it misbehaves
but the end goal is relief
at least that’s the belief
so every night I swallow and by morning still feel hollow
and wallow in nausea and pain
there’s not yet been any gain from this magical pharmaceutical
my symptoms remain unmoveable
to have hope seems delusional
but still I drink that pill that makes me ill
and chase hope like an unending rope
to at last be free from this misery
that is me

Lamotragine

lamotragine’s new on the scene
a slow incline’ll hopefully mean
goodbye to thoughts of suicide
and wanting desperately to die

the weakness
and the bleakness
that’s become my life’s existence
will gain some distance
will stop being a nuisance
and this depression sickness
that has put me to the test
can finally be put to rest

I can only hope
for now, let loose the rope choked around my throat
I can only hope

I blame therapy

therapy 3

Well that was quite the shit-fit I threw yesterday. Sooo embarassed. Was going to delete my account *gasp* But didn’t. At last, a small piece of reason prevails.

I blame the therapy on Thursday. How many therapists does it take to change a light bulb? One, but the light bulb must want to change. It dug up all sorts of ugly. By my outburst I’m willing to bet, issues of abandonment (noooooo!) and issues of self-worth (ya think?)

My homework is to tell her ‘what made me tick as a child’? Not what made my happy. What made me tick. I don’t understand the real difference. But being as a psychologist is a person who will tell you what everybody already knows, in a language nobody can understand, I guess I’ll just have to figure it out. I see her again on Thursday. She’s actually quite nice.

Doctor,” said the receptionist over the phone, “there’s a patient here who thinks he’s invisible.”
Well tell him I can’t see him right now”

therapy 1

I’m off Trazodone. Don’t nobody ever mention that filthy unmentionable to me again. And I took 50mg Espiride and a Rivotril this morning. I am just dandy. You see! Back with a bite of sarcasm. It definitely is a side effect of Espiride. But sarcasm means I’m beginning to fire on all cylinders again, kinda, so no complaints here.

therapy 2