Sheesh. Somebody PLEASE shoot me if I ever forget my meds again…….no wonder I was such a hot mess yesterday. I didn’t realize it until late last night when Will asked me, seemingly out of the blue, if I’d taken my pills that morning. Of course, my immediate reaction was “Why? Am I acting weird or something?” And of course, he knew perfectly well I hadn’t taken them because he monitors me at random times, and they were still sitting in the pill box in the downstairs bathroom at 10 PM.
It doesn’t happen very often, although I have forgotten the morning meds on weekends several times in the past few weeks…..apparently my usual self-discipline leaves something to be desired on Saturdays and Sundays. I’m not sure why that is, but I’m going to have to figure it out because it is completely unacceptable to miss a dose at 7 AM and feel like all hell is breaking loose by lunchtime.
I suspect I’m forgetting because I’ve had to sleep in the recliner upstairs for three weeks due to the lingering effects of my bout with bronchitis, and the daytime pills live downstairs. It’s not a problem during the week because I HAVE to go down there each morning to pick out fresh clothes and do my little foo-foo things, but if I’m not going anywhere I tend to let myself go and not bother with the social graces of changing clothes or doing more than running a brush through my hair. Sometimes Will brings the pill box up to me and all is well, but it’s NOT his responsibility to remember them for me and if I forget, things are very likely to turn nasty on me.
It pisstifies me that this is so. (Pisstify = pissed + mystified.) It simply does not make sense to me that missing ONE tiny bit of antidepressant and ONE dose of mood stabilizer can play hell with my brain chemistry. Yet this morning I took them as usual and I’m fine. I don’t know why this illness keeps me on such a short leash, but it’s clear that it does and the only way to avoid the consequences of missing meds is to be 100% perfect in taking them.
That’s hard to do, even when one is as motivated to stay healthy (and is as well supervised) as I am. The best I’ve ever done was a three-month period where I never missed a single pill; not coincidentally, I was stable for much of that time. Obviously, as a medical professional, I know that the meds don’t work as well if they’re not taken regularly; as a patient, I don’t have ANY wiggle room and that befuddles me.
So now Will says he’s going back to reminding me every day and night, which is a setback for both of us because he didn’t have to for quite a while. But with spring coming on and all the unsettledness in my life, it’s a dangerous time for me to be erratic about medication. I’ve already had a few hiccups in recent weeks, so I REALLY need to get my shit together.
Thank you, Constant Reader, for coming along on this long strange trip of mine. That’s really what this blog is, a chronicle of my life with bipolar disorder, and I appreciate it that you listen when I’m actually preaching to myself, and offer your support at those times when I’m feeling lost. I may be on a short leash, but at least I have companionship on the journey.
Ever have one of those days which makes you question whether or not you can actually rely on your own impressions?
Well, imagine EVERY day being like that, and you’ve got an idea of what millions of mentally ill people live with. It’s as if the world is full of passive-aggressiveness, which is a mind-fuck of epic proportions that can drive us to the point where we can’t trust ourselves to separate what’s real and true from what isn’t. Sometimes it gets so bad that we become suspicious of everything and everyone—especially their motives—and we take absolutely everything personally, even though on an intellectual plane we know our response to this manufactured stress is irrational.
Some call this behavior ‘paranoid’; others call it ‘delusional’. But whatever it’s called, it makes life really, really uncomfortable. No one WANTS to think the people in their lives are trying to make them crazy, but evidence seems to be everywhere: the son who remembers every birthday, anniversary, and special day in his father’s life, but doesn’t even bother with a phone call on Mother’s Day. (For three years running.) The co-worker who spends her lunch hour visiting all of the other workers in their cubicles, except you. (And speaking of which, there are two women from the other office who were surveyors at the facility where I lost my shit, and I know they remember me. I also share Dr. A’s hunch that they were told on the follow-up visit why I wasn’t there anymore.)
Even the bill collectors are conspiring to ruin my life and make sure I spend the rest of it in a cramped apartment in a bad section of town, just so they can extract their pound of flesh. A LOT of pounds, actually…….between medical bills, some back taxes, and student loans, Will and I are close to $100K in debt. There’s no way that we’ll ever make even a dent in that, and we know we’re close to having to file bankruptcy. Again.
The first two times, I spent us into bankruptcy court; this time, it’s no one’s fault, but I’m still embarrassed to approach our attorney with yet another request to file. And it doesn’t look like we’re even close to the end of the medical spending, even with good insurance, so I’m not sure how beneficial it would be to file now. So the bills continue to wash over us like a flood of garbage (which is where most of them wind up) and the phone messages are becoming more frequent and insistent, while all I want to do is tell ‘em to take a number and get in line behind everyone else who wants a piece of me…..if I could screw up enough courage to call them back, that is.
I’ve NEVER been good with the telephone, as I mentioned some time back; it’s one of those bipolar “thangs” I’ve had to fight all my life. I’d much rather text, e-mail, or even talk to someone in person. The phone is an instrument of torture for folks in bad financial straits anyway, and if I don’t recognize a number, I’ll let the sucker ring and go straight to voice mail. I’ve had too many collections people threaten, badger, and humiliate me into payment “plans” that I couldn’t afford, so I’m not gonna make it easy for those damned sharks. It’s not that I’m unwilling to pay what I owe……I just can’t see myself becoming destitute so they can earn their commission.
And by the way: just because I’m a teensy bit paranoid does NOT mean they’re not out to get me. So there.
I swear, some days it’s just not worth chewing through the restraints.
It all started with the hour I spent this morning arguing with my cell phone carrier over unauthorized charges on my bill. My husband, sister and I are all still on the family plan she started some five years ago, for which we used to share the cost; now that she’s in an assisted living facility and all her money goes toward her care, I pay the entire phone bill. So I’ve gotten pretty assertive about questioning all these little extra charges……only now, they’ve hit me with new ones and activation fees for a new number that evidently none of us asked for.
Suffice it to say that I am frustrated. Not only with AT&T, but just overall. There is a lot of uncertainty floating around in my little corner of the universe these days, and I’m so OVER it. I’m sick of limping around my broken toe (yeah, it’s busted all right, there’s a hard knot sticking up over the base of the toe that I still can barely touch, even after 3 1/2 weeks). I’m sick of winter. I’m sick of money (especially the lack thereof) and the bills that just keep piling up because everything involved in Will’s cancer diagnosis and treatment happened before we got health insurance again. I’m sick of worrying about whether or not this job is going to work out, and of feeling completely non-productive even though no one expects me to perform as yet.
Yes, sports fans, I’m irritable and restless, and if truth be told, downright cranky. Or as my kids used to call it, “in a mood”. Not that there aren’t good reasons for it; lately it seems that absolutely EVERYTHING I want is just out of my reach, and that is crazymaking. I can see things like job and financial security…..remission for the cancer……mental stability. I can even touch them if I stretch my hand out far enough. But maddeningly, they continue to elude my grasp, and sometimes I just want to give up even trying.
Heh. I guess that’s what I get for giving up sweets for Lent. Nothing like doughnut withdrawal to shake things up. I know how to soothe my ruffled feathers without resorting to food, but I’ve been out of practice since that three-and-a-half stint on Zyprexa last fall (to say nothing of the fact that I needed it for over a third of February as well). That’s part of the reason I decided to use these 40 days (actually, I think it’s closer to 45)—not only to make a sacrifice for the Lord, but to jump-start a somewhat healthier life.
I know I feel better when I don’t eat much sugar; besides, I’m apt to be more physically active when I don’t feel weighted down by a load of cake or cookies. Like I said the other day, I’ve got that old familiar urge to go outside and work in the soil…..trouble is, I’ve gained back some of the weight I lost, and I feel thick and heavy. But when I eat decently, I have more energy and my attitude is better. Not that my version of a “healthy” diet is what the Food Police really mean by healthy—I still enjoy my meats and my salad dressings and my coffee, and by gosh I’m going to have those things. I refuse to give up EVERYTHING that makes life worth living. But between the two extremes, there exists a happy medium. (My job: find it!)
I know I’ll get over all this, although right now, the ice cream is calling my name and I want to throw things, scream profanities from the rooftops, or sit down and cry. Maybe all three at once. FML.
It was 63 degrees today. The sun was out for part of that time, the breeze was soft and almost warm as it kissed my rain-frizzled hair, and over the sounds of traffic I thought I could hear birds chirping as I munched my tuna sandwich. I almost didn’t even need a sweater.
Spring may still be a little over two weeks away, but signs of it are stirring all over, including on the inside. I want to dig in the dirt. My appetite is going away and I’m sick of junk food. I can hardly wait for Daylight Saving Time to begin this weekend. And I’m not sleeping well even though I’m sticking to the script.
Yeah……oh, shit is right.
I get it every year, this spring-fever thing. Only I’ve learned to recognize it for what it really is, and warning bells are going off even as I lose myself in pleasant imaginings of the blooming flowers and warm twilights to come. All winter long I dream of sunny spring and summer days, and the intoxicating aromas of roses and watermelon and grilled steaks. Even now, with more rain to come in the days ahead, I’m ready to stash all the dull, dark clothes far back into the closet and bring out my bright turquoises and yellows. I want short sleeves and gauzy skirts and a tan.
And then I wonder for the 457th time how a perfectly innocent time of year can be so seductive, and yet hold so much danger for the poor schmuck who just happens to have bipolar disorder.
I’m not manic. Not even hypo, even though I was bordering on it as recently as a week ago. I don’t feel like I could jog the 40 miles home like I do when I’m in that state. (Broken toes don’t allow for much jogging, anyway. Neither does being too-many-hundred pounds and badly out of shape. Besides, I hate jogging.) I’m still fighting my asthma and I’m not healthy enough yet to actually go outside and start prepping my flowerbeds.
But I have the feeling that it wouldn’t take very much to turn the tide. I’m not sure if I can describe what the sensation is like; it’s almost as if your head is slightly abuzz, and the rest of your body is thrumming with anticipation—of what you don’t know, but it’s something you can hardly wait for, even as your logical brain says “oh, no you don’t either!!” It’s like Christmas and your birthday and all the days you’ve ever looked forward to in your whole life rolled into one glorious event, and you can hardly breathe for the excitement.
Ever wonder why people like being manic? There’s your answer.
Thankfully, the practical side of me is still in control and it knows that spring fever or no, I can’t have an episode of any kind right now. I’m at a crucial point in my training where things could either go well or suck rocks—not a good time to have to deal with this pesky illness. So I will turn the salsa music off, resist the temptation to have both the heater and the fan on to simulate a night in the tropics (um, yeah……I do that sometimes), and take my meds no later than 9 PM so I can at least wind down a bit before I attempt to sleep.
Wake me when it’s May, will you?
Sometimes I feel sorry for my kids, particularly the two who aren’t firmly attached to any one significant other right now. Actually, the one I REALLY feel sorry for is the new love interest they bring home to meet a family in which—as my younger daughter so delicately puts it—there are some ‘irregularities’. Actually, what she told her new boyfriend was that her dad’s got cancer, her mom is bipolar, one sibling’s doing well, one brother is doing God-knows-what, and the other brother is married to a fella. Nope, nothing to see here, move along please.
Which reminds me that this Friday marks the two-year anniversary of my diagnosis. During that initial evaluation, the consultant psychiatrist whom I’ve come to call Dr. Awesomesauce asked me a pointed question about whether there might have been any mental illness in my family of origin. Fiercely loyal to a fault even though almost all of them are long gone, I remember denying it, and rather vigorously at that: ours was a GOOD family. We were upstanding citizens who paid our bills and voted Republican. We had no skeletons rattling around in our closets, and if you didn’t believe it, all you had to do was ask us.
It never occurred to me then to think of my relatives with depression and anxiety as “mentally ill”. I didn’t see the family members who popped pills and drank like fish, the grandmother who spent time in what was politely called a sanitarium following a nervous breakdown, or the mother whose moods were every bit as mercurial as my own as “mentally ill”. I also didn’t understand that being MI has nothing to do with social status, or give myself credit for having the courage to become the first in my family to be labeled as such.
Now that I’ve had a couple of years to get used to all this and logged a whole lot of hours on Dr. A’s couch, I can see not only the crazy in the mirror, but the crazy that goes back generations. Better yet, I can forgive it because I know NONE of it is anyone’s fault. We were dealt some bad genes, and some of us didn’t do much to help ourselves when John Barleycorn called our names. But like Maya Angelou said, when we knew better, we did better…..today, both my sister and I are in therapy and on medication, and while the process slips from time to time, life has improved considerably overall.
I wish the one son who’s got mental health problems would extricate his cranium from his rectal cavity and do something about them, because I spent the better part of fifty years fucking things up so HE wouldn’t have to. But I suppose we all have to learn the hard way, and with the combination of his mule-headedness and his youthful stupidity, he’s got a looooooong hard road ahead. I can’t save him from it; hell, he hasn’t even spoken to me in five months. Even blocked me on Facebook. He knows what I have to say, and he doesn’t want to hear it. End of story.
In the meantime, this bag of mixed nuts will just have to keep doing the best we can to get through life without encountering too many disasters……or scaring the bejeebus out of the poor girl or guy the kids want to bring home to meet us!
…..well, at least we had a day of it. Yesterday it was 61 degrees and the sun was peeking out between the clouds, and all of a sudden it felt like the promise of new beginnings was about to burst forth. Or some such cliché. But whatever it was, after the long, cold, evil winter we’ve had, it felt MARVELOUS.
Today things are pretty much back to normal, e.g. chilly, damp, foggy, and otherwise yucky, but as I looked around my yard this afternoon I saw signs of spring everywhere: the daffodil shoots have worked their way up through our cold, wet clay, there are new leaves forming on the rosebushes and the hydrangeas, and even the lithodora, which I’d feared had been killed off by the arctic cold and the heavy snow, is showing signs of life.
And under my mellow exterior, Manic Barbie is jumping up and down for joy and yelling “YIPPEEEE!!!”
Oh, yeah, I can feel it all right. We’re changing to Daylight Saving Time in a week, and already the prospect of longer days is making me think ahead to warm twilights and the commingled smells of new-mown grass and meat grilling on the barbecue out back. Already my fingers are itching to start digging in the dirt and getting ready for gardening season……why, I can practically taste sun-warmed tomatoes straight off the vine as I type this.
Cue Manic Barbie: “Ican’twaitIcan’twaitohPLEASEspringcomenow!!”
Actually, what I really want is summer, because springs here tend to be merely a less-chilly extension of winter—basically, dreary and wet. We do get the occasional warm spell though, and the fact that the temperature broke sixty degrees on the last day of February bodes well. Last year it was 75 on Easter Sunday, which is almost unheard-of in late March, and we went on to have a warm spring and a most pleasant, long summer. I’ve always been a warm-weather kind of girl, so I treasure every day of sun and 70+ degree temps I can possibly get.
There’s only one little fly in this particular ointment, and by now I’m sure you know what it is. It doesn’t help that I’m coming off a brief episode of hypomania and the leftover energy is still stirring itself around just under my calm surface…..all I’d need are a couple more days of sun and relative warmth, and suddenly EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE! and the world literally bursts into bright colors. That’s when the blue eyeshadow and turquoise-colored skirts come out to play, when I’m breezy and sassy and carefree…..and when the sleep hours go down and the anti-psychotic dose goes up.
Naturally, Dr. Awesomesauce watches me like a hawk around this time of year, although he felt confident enough in my ability to use my PRNs correctly that he said it was OK to go two months between appointments this time. Of course, I can always call if I do start coming off the spool, but obviously that method is best avoided as I’m not terribly reliable about that. I tend to think I’m not doing as badly as I really am, like last week when one of my best friends had to tell me, literally, to take a Pepsi break—in other words, get the hell off the Internet and go to sleep.
It would be much better if I could just get the hang of catching these things faster. I’ve done a lot better in the past year, but I still have this habit of sitting in the middle of a mood episode with my mouth hanging open, not believing I’m really having one. The thought process goes like “Oh HELL no, this is NOT happening, I am NOT manic or hypomanic or anything else. My brain’s just making it up. I’m FINE!!” or words to that effect.
In the meantime, spring is on its way, so I’d best be prepared: Garden tools cleaned and oiled? Check. Hose inspected and not needing to be replaced? Check. New pots and potting soil purchased? Check. Zyprexa prescription refilled and easily available to shut Manic Barbie the hell up? Uh-oh……
I’ve always been a problem sleeper.
My parents despaired of me even as an infant, for I could stay awake half the night and be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at six AM. I never fell asleep in the carriage like most babies, and I didn’t even take naps unless I was sick. I was a champion non-sleeper, and the fact that I was using all this extra awake time for learning didn’t seem to impress those around me except perhaps for my sister, who taught me how to read and tell time long before I went to kindergarten.
All of this changed when I was a teenager, however. Suddenly I went from being up with the chickens to a complete slug who was never seen out of bed voluntarily before noon on the weekends. I drank in sleep like thirsty people slurp water when they’ve been exercising in hot weather, and to some extent that’s still true. I am a firm believer in the restorative qualities of sleep, and if I had my druthers I’d sleep a full eight hours a night…..ideally from about 2-10 AM. Failing that, I love nothing better than to snuggle up with Will and the dog on a winter’s afternoon, and doze contentedly in the La-Z-Boy.
Alas, I am old and my zzzz’s are not what they used to be. In fact, a good night’s sleep is quite the elusive little devil, and its absence is felt deeply……especially when I’m on the cusp of a mood episode. There’s no middle ground: I either want to sleep 20 hours a day, or else it’s “who the hell needs sleep? I got things to do and people to annoy!” Not only that, my sleep tends to be fitful now, and I seldom get a full night in without waking up at least once…..and usually a lot more than that.
To say that this plays hell with my moods would be the understatement of the year. What I can’t seem to figure out is whether I get wacky because I’m not sleeping well, or whether I’m not sleeping well because I’m wacky. Either way, disturbed sleep is ALWAYS an indicator that the fecal material is about to collide with the oscillatory ventilation system, and I’m learning that I can’t let it go for more than a couple of nights.
Fortunately, I’ve become more self-aware in recent months, and am less resistive to taking my super-duper anti-crazy pill that doubles as a sleeper. It sure saved my bacon a couple of nights ago, when I was wound up tighter than a spring—again—and decided to quit messing around and take the full dose.
Two days later, I am still quite sane, and I didn’t even take the super-duper anti-crazy pill last night. But I have had a couple of decent nights of shut-eye, and I am one of the most reasonable people you’ll ever meet when I’ve slept well. I’m easygoing, not easily annoyed or argumentative, and I don’t even flip people the bird in traffic. I can even maintain that pleasant demeanor as long as I have a stable sleep pattern. But give me a night or two of broken, unrefreshing, and/or inadequate sleep, and my brain basically shits the bed. (No pun intended.)
Now it’s to bed, perchance to sleep…..and maybe if I’m lucky, I’ll still be a happy camper tomorrow.