It is currently 101 degrees outside, and probably about 98 here in the house with no air-conditioning. It is literally too hot to think, as I sit here at the computer in front of a fan turned up on Power Ranger and a bottle of water on the desk. I’ve got it positioned where it won’t drown ALL my electronics, but as clumsy as I am I have to take extra care not to open it until I’ve backed my chair away and have put the laptop on the desk. To make double sure I’m safe, I then turn to the side where the only objects I can douse are the floor and the dogs, who are lying under my chair where they think the coolest air is.
I love summer. I love warmth and sun and breezes. I DON’T love this, however, and what’s worse is there’s no real relief in sight for another several days. It’s supposed to be the same tomorrow and then we get a gradual cool-down into the lower 90s by the middle of next week; after that, temps are expected to be in the low to mid-80s like it’s supposed to be at this time of year. To say the least, I can hardly wait…I’m not a big fan of hot nights and choppy sleep.
Speaking of sleep, mine has gotten pretty wonky over the past few weeks, and I think it has something to do with the reduction in Geodon. I’m not worried about it yet—I have absolutely NO signs of mania or depression—it’s just unpleasant when I can’t get to sleep before 1 in the morning or wake up before 9. I also have trouble staying asleep, waking up multiple times a night. The heat, of course, does nothing to enhance slumber, but this has been going on for quite a while. I see Dr. Awesomesauce next week and will report this development, but I don’t think we’ll change anything because I’m still really stable and there is no need to fix what’s not broken.
In the meantime, I’m just going to keep sitting in front of the fan, drinking water and dreaming of the move to my son’s house next month, where they have AC in the summer and heat in the winter and I don’t have to pay for it. Good times!
This is an excellent piece by someone I know from another bipolar forum. Read it and see why we’re so angry some of the time. Thanks!
Originally posted on Bipolar First Bipolar Together:
It occurred to me that I might sound angry in some of these posts. I can imagine that most of you would understand that anger but that someone from the outside might remark on it in some way. They might think an angry tone to be undue, unnecessary. Perhaps too extreme. Perhaps they may even think in their head “see those Bipolar people are so unhinged, always over the top.”
But I’m not going to apologize for it.
Why WOULDN’T I be angry?
Sometimes anger is a good motivator. Especially if it is a JUSTIFIED anger.
Perhaps more accurate words would be indignation or outrage.
Because there is no hostility in my anger. It is mostly outrage.
I find it outrageous that there are people trying so hard to get help and the system is working against them.
I find it outrageous that people in crisis are made…
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Even though I’m doing well and have absolutely NO symptoms, I thought I’d throw in something educational for the folks with good intentions but who are clueless as to what those of us with bipolar go through. Here are a few of the things I wish people knew about the illness.
1. We didn’t ask for this.
And who ever would? This disorder isn’t glamorous or sexy; it’s ugly and cruel and nasty, and no one on earth would choose to be discriminated against because of it. Yes, it has its “fun” times when everything seems possible and the world is our oyster, but those are far outnumbered by the soul-killing depressions and the irritable manias. There is nothing quite like locking yourself in your own bathroom for three hours, terrified that you’ll harm yourself because you know where the gun is and where the pills are. Does that sound like something a person would choose?
2. With few exceptions, we are more of a danger to ourselves than others. I hate it when there’s a mass killing someplace and automatically the media presumes that the offender was mentally ill. How many times have we heard “he was bipolar/depressed/schizophrenic and off his meds”? Why does it never occur to them that MI isn’t always present in these cases? Sometimes people commit evil acts just because they felt like it. But according to political correctness, we can’t go around making value judgments and calling people evil, So we call them mentally ill.instead.
And the one that gets me the worst:
3. If we could just “snap out of it”, believe me, we would.
Again, who would choose to be so depressed that life has become a burden and ending it all looks like a much better alternative? Being exhorted to “snap out of it” or “count your blessings” does absolutely NOTHING for the sufferer; in fact, it’s apt to make things even worse. Guilt is not a good motivator!
Imagine having a broken arm and being told “Everybody’s broken their arm at least once, just buck up and play through the hurt”.
Imagine having cancer and hearing “This is nothing, you should see my cousin from New York who has stage IV throat cancer and he’s still alive and working at his mechanic’s job”.
Imagine having pneumonia and your best friend says “Oh for Pete’s sake, you are such a whiner! Get out of that bed, take a shower and be a decent human being!”
I really wish mental illness were seen as a medical condition; number one because it IS, and number two because there is nowhere near the amount of stigma and judgment surrounding physical illnesses. Why is it so hard to understand that MI is a brain disorder? It is no more and no less than a disease of the body’s most important organ, which makes it a medical problem no matter how you slice it. Unfortunately, even most doctors and scientists fail to see it that way, and until they do there is little hope that society will catch on anytime soon.
Anyway, that’s the lesson for the day. I’m sure I’ll come up with more things I wish people knew about bipolar disorder—or any mental illness for that matter—but for the rest of today I’ll enjoy the great weather and the company of my husband. After all, Summer Is here!
That’s how I feel now that I’ve been on the lower dose of Geodon for several weeks now, and my brain hasn’t missed it! I’ve been stable even throughout surgery, pain, and hospitalization, which can trigger all sorts of mood changes. This bodes very well for continuing to decrease my medication burden to a point where I need less, or at least smaller doses of what I’m taking. Yippee!
I don’t want to get ahead of myself and start planning my next reduction, but it’s so tempting to try going down on the Zyprexa, which is what I’ll propose to Dr. Awesomesauce at my upcoming visit in July. Of course, I’m under no illusions that I’ll ever come off antipsychotics completely…..there are simply too many complications for a single mood stabilizer to handle. I don’t EVER want to go back to where I was before everything fully kicked in. But oh, it would be so great if I could stay where I am on fewer drugs.
I can’t get over how amazingly NORMAL I feel, and how long it’s lasting. The severe mood swings of the past few years seem like a bad dream from which I’ve finally awakened; the only thing that reminds me of them is those two pill-minders sitting on my dresser, and of course Will and I occasionally talk about how good things are now that the bipolar beast has been whipped into submission. I realize that taking the meds consistently is a good part of the reason I’m doing so well, but it’s also the fact that my life is essentially low-stress now that the basics are covered and we’re going to have a permanent roof over our heads.
I can’t tell you what a relief it is that little is expected of me other than being a decent citizen and a loving wife, mother, grandmother and so on. Paying bills and dealing with people has become much easier for me since we got back on our feet. I don’t have to beat my head against a wall trying to find work that I can do, because someone who’s above my pay grade decided there is no such thing. I’m not lazy—I worked my ass off when I had a job—but not being obliged to work when I’m so clearly unable to withstand the demands of a job is a gift.
So why ever would I want to risk upsetting the apple cart by trying to cut back on meds? Number one, because Dr. A wants to try and I’m willing to experiment now that I really am stable; and number two, because there needs to be a next level if/when my symptoms get out of hand again. He wants to be able to give me a PRN “take-down” drug if, say, my mania were to erupt during my trip, or a fast acting antidepressant if it’s almost time to go “downstairs”. As it is, I’m already maxed out on Lamictal, I’m on a moderate dose of Geodon and a mid-sized dose of Zyprexa. There’s a lot of room to go up on the Celexa, but he won’t give it to me because it throws me into mania at a therapeutic dose. And the Klonopin could stand an increase simply because I’m on the smallest dose they make.
But what I need is an ace in the hole, something I could take in the event of a major mood episode and for only as long as it takes to bring it under control. I’ve had so many crises in which either new drugs or higher doses have been introduced, and I never seem to be able to get off them once my system gets used to them. This needs to stop. And getting along without that 20 mg of Geodon is a good first step. Go me!
I’ve actually been home since Thursday, but I’ve been too wiped out to do much of anything except sleep. The surgery went well—they got the whole kidney stone out and I’m already healing from the surgical wound in my lower back. My pain is under good control, I’m eating a little, and I’ve been taking in lots of fluids (even though everything tastes metallic due to this antibiotic I’m on. Bleah). I’m just tired and weak, and of course I’m mad at my body for acting like it’s 90 years old. I feel like I should be up and at ’em, and I’m just not there yet.
But surgery does take a lot out of a person, and I can’t expect to snap back as quickly as I did when I was young. I just hate feeling so sluggish that it’s a Herculean effort just to go to the breakfast table. So on that note, I’ll wrap up this post because I’ve been up for over 2 hours and my bed is calling my name again. I’ll be back when I’ve got more energy. :-)
Just to let my readers know, I’ll be off the grid for a few days. I’m going into the hospital tomorrow to be admitted for the first phase of my kidney stone extraction. They’re going to open me up to put in what’s called a nephrostomy tube, through which the beast will be broken up and taken out on Wednesday morning.
To say that I am NOT looking forward to this process would be the understatement of the year. I hate going in for medical treatment when I’m healthy and feeling like crap when I come out. Kidney stone extractions of any type are unpleasant, and this one is guaranteed to be a doozy! But my attitude is that yes, I’m in for a rough few days but so far, my record of getting through rough days is 100%, and that’s a damn good percentage.
See you when I get back. :-)
Day Six of the Geodon experiment: so far, so good! My brain has not missed the 20 mg to date, and I’m feeling hopeful. One baby step at a time.
Which brings to mind the fact that I’ve been in remission for five months now, with a couple of very minor hiccups when the cherry blossoms first made their appearance back in late February. It’s been even better since my Social Security benefits began, but overall, this is the longest I’ve been stable in years. Hard to believe that only seven months ago I was suicidal and had to be hospitalized for my own safety.
So I got to thinking, maybe I really should take on some responsibilities now that I’m so much better. I talked about this in a recent post. But then several people pointed out that I’m better BECAUSE of my low-stress lifestyle, and that I might get overwhelmed again if I tried to take on too much at one time (as I am apt to do when my energy levels are higher, like they are now).
Maybe that’s why my heart beats faster and I get an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach whenever I think of taking a part-time job or getting involved with anything else that requires me to conform to a schedule not of my own choosing. I’m well now, but what about when I’m UNwell? I can’t just fake my way through episodes anymore; that’s one of the reasons I’m on disability in the first place, and why my last two major jobs went pffffffth. I’d be kidding myself if I thought I could simply ignore my bipolar and power through stressful situations without any consequences to my mental health.
Besides…..this is not a bad life. In fact, it’s a good one and I’d be crazy to want to screw it up. I can do what I want, when I want; I can take a nap when I feel like it; I can write whenever the mood strikes me. I don’t have to go out in bad weather. I don’t have to dress up, or even get dressed at all if I don’t want to (but I make myself because I don’t want to slide back into the habit of living in my pajamas). I have time to share the wisdom gained from 17 years of nursing with my colleagues on the world’s largest website for nurses. And I can see my family whenever their schedules are free because mine is ALWAYS free. I’m only limited by distance and gas money (or the lack thereof).
So I’m making a deal with myself. I will continue to be open-minded about opportunities to volunteer or do something fun that doesn’t require a commitment, and I will not beat myself up because I haven’t figured out what that is yet. I’ve been through a lot in the past couple of years and need time to fully recuperate if I can before the next series of unfortunate events arrives. (And they will come—I’m half Irish and we tend to be leery of good times because bad ones inevitably seem to follow them. Kind of like mania and depression.)
In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy this relative lack of stress and see where the wind takes me next. Summer weather is here, and the air already smells of newly-mown grass and barbecued meats. This is the life!