One thing I’ve come to appreciate throughout these past few weeks is the stability I’ve had since my psychiatrist last increased the antipsychotic medication I take to suppress mania. Even though I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster during the catastrophic events following Will’s ER visit a month ago, it’s only emotional……these ups and downs are nothing more than a typical reaction to extremely stressful circumstances.
To the average person, it must be like “So what? Anyone would react that way.” To the bipolar person who’s struggled with mood stability for years, however, it’s nothing short of miraculous.
This must be what “normal” is like, except I have to swallow a rather impressive number of pills twice daily to achieve it. Every now and then I’ll feel a stirring down deep that threatens to disturb the holy calm, but these are becoming fewer and farther between, and they’re getting weaker as well.
Last night when I was lying in bed trying to go to sleep (it was a warm full moon night, what can I say?), I visualized this phenomenon as a sea of lava bubbling underneath a shield that prevents it from erupting and destroying everything in its path. Every now and then there’ll be a volcanic “burp” of sorts that allows a tiny amount of the molten liquid to escape, but the shield immediately subdues the attempt and seals itself back over, becoming even stronger than before.
This shield, of course, is made up of medications and therapy. And I don’t imagine I need to spell out what the lava represents.
I can’t believe what a difference this particular medication has made in my life. I did have some breakthrough mania when summer came on, but after turning the AP up another notch, I’ve settled down remarkably and gone through all the emotional upheaval of Will’s cancer diagnosis without experiencing bipolar symptoms. Even when things were seemingly at their worst and I found myself spending literally hours crying in the bathroom, I knew beyond a doubt that I really wasn’t going crazy.
But of course, there always has to be ONE fly in the ointment: I was supposed to try reducing my AP dose once I got stable. Granted, these are extraordinary circumstances and my p-doc did say I didn’t have to decrease it if I wasn’t comfortable doing so; but at our last session he gave me the rationale for keeping the dose as low as possible, and I agreed. I’d like to not have to be on an AP at all, but since that doesn’t seem to be in the cards, I don’t stress over it much anymore.
EVERYTHING has been better since that last uptick in the dosage. My road rage has essentially disappeared. I’m able to avoid getting annoyed with people by reminding myself that maybe they’re just having a bad day, rather than they are bleeping bleeps who got in my way on purpose. I can rationalize instead of reacting instantaneously. I am gentler and less abrupt, even when I’m stressed and/or in a hurry. Even the intrusive thoughts have largely become a thing of the past.
OK, I am having some fine tremors that I didn’t have before I went on the AP, although there don’t seem to be any other problems other than some minor drooling that’s only noticeable to me. But there’s still a LOT of wiggle room—I’m at only half the maximum daily dose of this particular medication—and what my p-doc really wants is to have room to adjust it upwards if I were ever to become severely manic (like THAT would ever happen, haha).
Bottom line: I’m not changing the dose until my next appointment in early September. I’m not going to jeopardize my relative serenity by messing around with my meds on my own, even though I have some discretion with this one. But since it’s the one that’s pulled everything else together, I’d be an idiot to try fixing what isn’t broken.
In the meantime, that lava continues to simmer beneath the protective layer of meds…..an ever-present threat, but one that I’m happy to FINALLY be able to say is controlled at last.
At least for now. 😉