The other day I was thinking about my odyssey through the three years since I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and it occurred to me to wonder how I managed the first 53 years of my life without medication. And why, despite taking them regularly, I still have mood episodes—one serious enough to land me in the hospital.
What did I do before this diagnosis and all these drugs came into my life? For one thing, I worked full time and made a decent living. I lived in a nice house in a nice neighborhood, grew vegetables in the dirt and hosted the big holidays. In short, I was a responsible adult living the American Dream, and if I was often restless and agitated or bouncing off the walls, it just meant I was working too hard.
Enter the bipolar DX and meds with names like Zyprexa and Klonopin, which I sometimes suspect of making me wackier than I already am. Surely it can’t be mere coincidence that my mood cycles seem to be more frequent…..hell, maybe the crazy pills are to blame and I need to stop them to see if I can get back to my old normal.
And then…..I remember what my old normal was like.
I used to rage and scream about even the most trivial things. I used to be paranoid about being spied on. I used to be scared of almost everything. I also used to be so mercurial that my family never knew which version of me would come home on a given night.
None of that happens anymore. The crazy pills stay. ‘Nuff said.
Why is it that the years pass so quickly when you’re older? When I was a kid, it seemed like it took forever to get to Christmas or birthdays or anything else I anticipated with enthusiasm; now I turn around twice and the occasion is here.
Such is the case with my 56th birthday, which I celebrated two days ago. I feel like I just turned 50, and now I’m on the shady side of 55, looking straight ahead and seeing 60 in the not-too-distant future.
But those ruminations can wait for another day. Birthdays are for celebrating life, and this year I’ve got a lot to celebrate because I’m HERE. And that’s the best birthday gift of all.
I swear, sometimes I wonder what the hell Dr. Awesomesauce is smoking when we have our sessions. This was a particularly positive visit, not only because not only did Will and I find a place to live and get settled in, but I’m well and, for the most part, reasonably content. OK, maybe I was a little effusive in my comments on our improved circumstances, but in the context of escaping homelessness, I thought it entirely appropriate.
So I went to check my online chart for any new remarks a couple of days later, and what did I see as the reason for the encounter? Manic behavior. MANIC BEHAVIOR??! What the F? I haven’t even been hypomanic since last spring. Where on earth did he get the idea that I was even a tiny bit manic?
At any rate, we’re not changing the magic med formula until the summer, because winter sucks and spring is when I tend to go totally ape shit. It would be great to reduce the medication burden somewhat, but I’m not holding my breath for it. No bipolar can plan that far out because we don’t know how we’re going to feel in six DAYS, let alone six months.
So it seemed odd for Dr. A to mention “manic behavior” in his summary when all I was doing was sharing my joy at the turnabout in my fortunes. He even advised me that he’d leave me on my increased dose of Celexa until summer as long as I didn’t buy another neon toucan shirt. And if I did, I’d damned well better call him.
Oh well. Maybe he saw something I didn’t, which tends to be the case with me and mania. But I don’t feel at all manic, and even better, I’m not depressed any more. It’s about time!
We are finally moved out into our new dwelling place. I can’t write much because the internet is not working and I’m typing on my phone. But I wanted to let my readers know that I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth. Thanks for continuing to follow me. Love you all!
This is my last entry from Command Central, as Will and I are moving tomorrow and will be off the grid for a few days or so.
Looking around at the house where so much of our lives happened, I’m sad but also relieved in a way—relieved to be out from under it and all the stress living here has created over the past eight months. We don’t have to worry about how to make our $1200/month rent, or how to pay the $400 electric bills we ran up because the house is old and drafty and we were perpetually cold (well, I was anyway). We also don’t have to worry about keeping it clean, a task that became increasingly difficult as our kids, who helped around the house at least some of the time, grew up and moved out.
I’m going to miss it, of course. This is a beautiful setting, and I know we’re going to feel terribly cramped in the beginning because we’ve had so much room to spread out. But then, almost anything would seem cramped after living for 12 years on 2 1/2 acres in a four-bedroom, three-bath house, so we’re prepared to be a bit claustrophobic for a while.
Even so, I also have an odd sense of safety in moving into a much smaller space. It’s kind of like I felt when I was in the hospital: yes, it involves being somewhat confined, but I also don’t have to stress about trying to live a life that finally became too big for me to handle. Maybe it’s the increase in my antidepressant, and maybe it’s just the fact that with a new year come new beginnings, but I feel optimistic for the first time in I don’t remember how long.
Only time will tell if this is the right move or not. I have my misgivings about living with other people, particularly ones I don’t know well, but it sure beats the streets or the shelter. It’s not like we had any more attractive options, after all. As it is, all we have to pay is the rent—utilities are included—and contribute some food, which is not difficult when we get three-plus hundred dollars’ worth of food stamps every month. We can stay warm and dry, we have a lovely bathroom, and we have full run of the house and yard, except for the upstairs where the house’s owner lives. That’s OK—after a dozen years of dealing with stairs, I’m just as happy not to have to anymore.
And so my next adventure begins. Being 95% of the way out of my depression, I’m actually looking forward to what this new life has in store for Will and me. I’ll see you when we get settled. Happy New Year!
Like many writers, I’ve decided to indulge in the annual tradition of reminiscing about the year gone past and anticipating the arrival of a new one. It seems the older I get, the faster go the years, and 2014 was no exception.
It has not been a good year, to say the least. It began with so many hopes and dreams, all of which were shattered when my surveyor job didn’t work out. I never did land another job, and Will and I found ourselves deep in poverty after my unemployment benefits ran out. We even had to apply for food stamps and Medicaid. I finally filed for disability after Dr. Awesomesauce talked about it in session a few months back. Multiple med adjustments have been necessary, and it seems like Zyprexa will be a constant companion for many months (or years) to come.
In the meantime, the stress continued to build until I had a complete breakdown at the end of October, which resulted in my first hospital admission. It turned out that my accursed illness had worsened to the point that I was re-diagnosed bipolar 1, and that was the end of any doubts I might have had left about whether or not I had the disorder. I’m still battling a bit of depression, but Dr. A bumped up my antidepressant yesterday and hopefully that will be the end of it. (I have to give him major credit for doing it while he’s on vacation.)
Now, I’m not naïve enough to believe that the simple flip of a calendar page means that everything will be great from now on. I’ve learned that we carry our baggage with us into each New Year, and that things don’t change unless we do. The past three years have been variations on a theme of BAD and I don’t see a miraculous change in the forecast for this one. But we have a new home where we can make a fresh start, Will is still relatively healthy, and I’m getting better. We’re going to be nice and warm this winter, and I’ll have a place to plant flowers come spring. It’s the best we could have hoped for under the circumstances; while it won’t be easy living with other people again, we’ll make it work.
So ends a year filled with all sorts of unhappy moments, but one which also taught me a good deal about what I have to do to take care of myself. (This is easier than you’d think: all I have to do is refer to the forgiveness letter I wrote while I was inpatient.) It’s a work in progress, as am I…..but aren’t we all?
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 17,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
I just wanted to share this report with all my readers, and to say THANK YOU! for reading bpnurse. Hope to see you here in 2015 as another new year arrives (hopefully this one won’t be quite as eventful, though). You all are the best!