Tag Archives: anti-depressants

How Far Do you Go?

I deal with a lot of health care practitioners – I have a serious, incurable mental illness. (Bipolar, along with OCD and ADD). Before my diagnosis I played around with different things to help my depression – Rescue Remedy, that I became psychologically addicted to, St John’s Wort, which I never remembered to take, and therapists.

Once I was diagnosed with depression I was adamant that I would never need drugs for my illness, and if I’d just cowboy up it would go away. We were talking about a “major depressive disorder.” Years later when I received a more accurate diagnosis they admitted me to the hospital and started putting me on medications. [spoiler] Five years later I take at least eleven pills a day. [/spoiler] I see a therapist every couple of weeks and when I need it I go to group therapies. One of the groups I was a part of was called Dialectial Behavior Therapy (DBT) It is based on Buddhist teachings, although I believe it never fell in to heresy.

I think the “heresy” is where my long ole post fits in. In the groups, we studied mindfulness, learned to avoid black and white thinking and radical acceptance. These are a part of Zen Buddhism. While nothing in the class offended me, I did read a book by one of the speakers that I thought was repugnant. He repeatedly and purposefully used the Bible out of context to prove that all religious teachings espoused the same thing. It was frustrating and I am at the point I cannot take any of his teachings graciously because he so offended my faith. Now, if his messages totally turned my life around, I may not be so quick to kick him to the curb, but ultimately I believe that someone so spiritually lost is not someone I want to take spiritual advice from, even if the temptation was great. If he were a psychiatrist, though, that would be different. My psychiatrist is from the Middle East and shared with me that she meditated, but we didn’t discuss it further. It’s not appropriate, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that she is an excellent doctor. If she was handing out crystals and fliers inviting me to worship them with her, that would be different, but she’s not.

All of this medicine that I am about to take is taken by someone who eschewed aspirin. Sometimes, when I get tired of it, I think, why do I do this? And the answer is, because you are going to die if you don’t.

I do want to be healed, most of the time. Bipolar can cave in on you if you’re not very careful. I am not willing to deny Jesus to do it, though. I think there are all kinds of practitioners that can do great work but I would not be willing to set aside my beliefs or relationship with God to have it done. I’m not passive, I just don’t want to be a part of it. I want my end of the equation to ultimately glorify God. For some reason I am thinking of that old “psychic surgery” scene in the end of the Man on the Moon movie. He has incurable, un-treatable cancer and he flies around the world for a “miracle.” http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=xy53Un2AXpU (work safe) He sees that there is no miracle to be found.

I’m looking for a point to everything I just wrote. I suppose it’s this. I went far looking for help for myself. The best way for me to help myself was with medication and therapy – both decidedly “Western” although the medication more than the therapy. I also needed the body of Christ is work towards being well – that’s a Universal idea, right? I’m not ever going to be 100% well on this side of paradise, but I know that Western medication is going to push me along that path. Medication can be miraculous too, right?


Like a backpack

I’ve been carrying around dread like a backpack. It’s heavy and ugly. I can’t shed it. Nothing makes it a whole lot worse and nothing makes it better. Strike that, my 20 minute yoga practice made it better, and I should pull out the mat and do my 50 minute regime, but can’t bring myself to do it. It’s depression.

Small lost her backpack and she was in tears. If she doesn’t bring her calendar, she gets her name on the board. If she gets her name on the board, doesn’t get AAA, this certificate that comes with a special pencil or eraser indicating Achievement, Attendance and something else I don’t remember. The awards are given out once a quarter. I was very careful not to point out a great big, “Who cares?” It’s part of the magic of childhood, these little rewards are. In someways, it’s like the counting. I say to the seven year old, “Small, you need to follow my directions.” When she does not, I start counting, “1-2-3” She hates it so much, even though there is no consequence beyond being counted to. My mother says I don’t deserve a child like Small. She is right. But what is my mother ever do to deserve me? I was an excellent, hard working student, (Small is average.) I stoically moved from one house or city to another. She told me I was hard to read and I’m sure I was. What point was there in having a heart if it was just going to break? What was the point of making friends just if we would move on soon?

Depression. The big black dog. I have got to get off (or reduce) my mood stabilizers. I think they are the fault of my memory lost. I’m not trying to get off them completely, in face there is some sort of credibility in taking Lithium. Not so much in Lamictal. Lithium’s kind of old fashioned and it’s powerful. It’s kind of like eating fubu (not the clothing line.) It’s potentially dangerous, even deadly. I was afraid of it for a long time. It is the kind of drug you can kill yourself with, if that’s your thing. A social worker at the hospital assured me that my lithium levels were so low I’d not have to deal with toxicity, which had long been a fear of mine and the reason I never took it when I was offered it. He also listed a gaggle of rich people and celebrities that can afford anything but take lithium. I’ve told you that bipolar is no respecter of persons. You get very poor folks in the hospital, and middle class and billionaires all obediently taking their pills and learning the opinions of the hospital staff on how to manage their lives. Some of us need that information more than others. I, for one, need that information more than others.

I don’t know what I’m going to do about the way I feel. I read a book I have read 1,000 times, which usually comforts me. I made some deliberately soupy fudge and ate that. I took my meds, including my happiness inducing B-complex gummis. I’m drinking water. I ate breakfast. I’m roasting a turkey.

I took an Ativan to calm down. There were other things I could do to settle my thoughts. Avitan is barely working. In the hospital I told them it was no more calming than drinking a glass of ice water, and I believe that true to an extent. In the hospital, though, you go to a lot of group therapy and it doesn’t matter if you sit there like a zombie or not. I try not to. I’ve been told a few times by other inmates that I don’t seem to belong there among the patients. The first woman to tell me that was a forty-fifty year old bipolar veteran – she said she’d never seen someone like me. The second was a blind woman who I was escorting around the place because the staff was overworked. Granted she couldn’t see, but it still felt good to be of help and to seem like I was not too wacky. Honestly? It’s not too bad that I am bipolar, but I love that I “pass” as a mentally uninteresting person. Many disabled people do not have such a privilege. One time I couldn’t get my car to start and the taxi driver asked me what I did at the hospital. In retrospect, he probably wouldn’t have asked any patient what they were in for. Still I was happy. I don’t want to walk around looking stoned anymore. The same medicine that made me look so haunted was the same one that made me fat. I’m not (so) fat anymore and I definitely look less stoned.

Fun fact: I’ve traveled the world and seen a lot of things through a taxi-driver’s window, but I had never met a taxi-driver’s whose native language was English. I told him that and he ignored it. I’ll bet he gets that all the time.

I am going to have to drive for forty-five minutes to get my pills refilled today. It’s a necessary pain in the neck. If I want to be able to look ordinary, I have got to take my pills and vitamins. If I were really committed I would be doing my yoga, meditating and drinking more water. The thing is, those things are close to impossible when I am depressed. I know it will make me feel better, but I can’t believe I will ever be better. When that hope speaks to me in a way I can listen, I will. Now they are just memories of a time when I was okay. I will be again, soon. I know this because I can remember past experiences when I seemed to snap out of it. I can do that, it’s not too difficult to wait. In the mean time, I’ve got to sort my pills.


It Doesn’t Mean, “Just Don’t Want To” (PG)

Lethargy. It’s not really boredom. I’ve been bored, once, and this is not like that. I was twelve months pregnant, two weeks overdue, and naked except a very large football t-shirt given me by a friend. It was enlightening in a way. “Huh” I thought, “this is what people are talking about.”

Lethargy is different. It’s something I just can’t bring myself to do anything about. With boredom I had nothing in mind, but with lethargy there are long lists of ideas and I have the wherewithal to do none of them. A large pile of pills sit to my right and I can’t bring myself to eat something so I can take them. I was ampped last night so I took a Xanax to fall asleep. That usually wrecks the next day, so I’m not exactly sure why I did it. I don’t like to do it, Xanax is addictive and I can tell you my theory why.

Xanax is, among other things, muscle relaxer. It is strange because if you take it, you get a mildly buzzed, sleepy feeling. I have fallen asleep in a really fun church service and have not been able to sit through movies – I’ve had to lay down, under the influence of Xanax. I’m adjusted some to it, but here is the problem with that: Let’s say my anxiety is really high. I take a Xanax. I feel better for a few hours. Problem is that when the Xanax wears off, I feel just as stressed as when I took my first pill, if not moreso. It would have been a better idea to go for a long walk, or do relaxation inducing yoga. An addict is an addict, and the same lists A.A. gives with ideas and possibilities, could be used for the Xanax user.

Mornings are slow for me anyway. I usually get Small ready for school and sometimes I even get dressed. (Drawstring pants are serviceable for any occasion.) I walk her to school. I write for a few hours and talk to or other friends. After I get Small for lunch I come home and do house things. I’m making those cards you are asking about, and I will post them once I have a few to view. One half of the couple likes things austere (in a nice way) and the other is Southern. I think I’m going to make half of them simply and the other half ghastly. (Okay, not ghastly, but with lots of embellishment – sometimes I like things like that, too.)

Must find something to put in the belly. Do you like the word “belly” or “tummy” better?


“Wouldn’t You Like to be Popular?” (G)

Small was seven yesterday and she already wants to be eight.  She’s one of the youngest people in the class and thinks their age gives them authority.  She is a month older than one of her friends and a year older than another and she lords it over them.  She is always the one in charge, she makes the decisions and they execute them.

Is she always going to be like that?

I sure hope she’s not bipolar.  Bipolar gives you weeks of being on top of the world followed by weeks of crashing in to the ground.  Your friends who loved your energy and love of life often abandon you.  It’s not that they don’t like you anymore.  They probably didn’t really like you in the first place.  For someone who enjoys people and wants to be around them, this could be detrimental.  When she is at the top, she’d be at the top.   When she would be depressed, no matter how much she struggles  she won’t  be able to snap out of it.   She does care about what other people think, and psych-hospitals are the joke to end all jokes and she would probably be shunned.   I don’t know if she’d be able to be on top ever again.

Does it seem like I’m obsessed with my daughter’s future popularity?  I guess I am, because I see that being around people and having BFFs feed her spirit.  I have real friends, now, like T and L.  They cook for me and invite me over.  I have a feeling they aren’t talking about me behind my back, or if they are, it is not picking me apart, or finding fault with me.  My friends in high school weren’t that real.  I had mauditmo but she lived very far away.  Other didn’t even notice they were trampling my body in to the ground.  None of us were knowledgeable enough about anything to notice I had something serious going on. I have the twisted idea that, if Small is at least moderately popular she will have more friends, and among those friends she will have good friends.  I should find some former homecoming queens (are there any “former” homecoming queens or is it something like in the Marines, “Once a Marine, always a Marine”?”) and ask about their friendships and relationship.  Or football quarterbacks.  (Can I think of any other stereotypes?  I never even knew our school had a quarterback.)

It occurs to me, in a flash, that punitive parenting would destroy my daughter.  I don’t think it’s good for any kid, but a kid like Small could be crushed.  I raised my voice to my husband earlier this week.  They both were shocked, but Small was spooked.  It reminds me it is good that I don’t yell.  I don’t want her to get used to being yelled at or at hearing yelling.  Same thing goes for corporal punishments, from slapping hands to spankings.  I got ticked at her when she was almost two years old for grabbing at something.  I smacked her hand and she laughed and smacked me back.   It was silly.  It put the whole thing in perspective.  I said I was sorry, but she had dropped it before I could.  I can hear dissenting voices – I should have hit her harder.  I should have been doing it more consistently. I can’t expect punishment to work if I don’t make it hurt.  What?  Why?   As Small says, “That doesn’t even make sense.”

It also doesn’t make sense I was able to fly below the radar.  Although I had obvious symptoms, I was not diagnosed or treated for any mental illness until I was in late twenties.  I struggled  alone, fighting to do the very best I could.  I didn’t have the luxury of any kind of support team or the counseling I desperately needed.  When I was first diagnosed I used to joke that, although  was sick for over a decade, I didn’t get “caught” until much later Most people get diagnosed in their late teens/early twenties.  I managed to plow through those times with sheer willpower, fighting against my body and mind and was chronically suicidal.  Maybe you could have met me and I’d look fine, maybe you would be insightful enough to tell.

P.S.  The title of the entry comes from the 80s flick, “Can’t Buy Me Love.”


Almost

The only time I almost killed myself it was an accident. I had been diagnosed a few months and the psychiatrist decided I needed to go down and eventually go off one of my medicines. Problem was that was my first effective medicine. It stopped the racing thoughts, the visions of violence and it added no sorrow with it. He wanted me to go off it and I couldn’t. Like a dangerous lover I wouldn’t detach.

I went in for my menagerie of tables, capsules and horse pills and added a few of the newly forbidden pills just for good measure.

Within minutes I could hardly think, focus my eyes or breathe without opening my mouth. Soon after that I walked in around in a stupor. I took long naps. My husband pushed me to do things like take our child to swim lessons, where I was required to get in to the water with the baby, and go to sing alongs. I didn’t want to, but I know he thought it would snap me out of the catatonic state, but it didn’t work. At all. Times like that he becomes paternalistic. I know it bothers my friends and family but if they saw what goes on. Usually his precepts are right, (Even if I ignore them) but in this situation, he was wrong.

When B and I went to the shrink and as soon as the the doc saw me he was distressed. I told him what I did and he told me I was emotionally attached to the drug. He wanted me to go to the hospital, but I wouldn’t. (I’m not against hospitals, but I feel they are for very ill folks, and I did not recognize myself as one.) He finally told B to make me rest, that meant no work, no chores and no childcare.

Although I didn’t recognize it then, I am extremely lucky I didn’t put myself in to a coma, or worse. I knew better than to adjust my medications. Or did I? I don’t remember. I may have thought I knew better than the doctor, after all, it was my brain. Problem is, I didn’t have a cazillion years of medical school and decades of experience treating bipolar. He might know a tad bit more about bipolar than me.

This is the same doctor that hooked me up with Stanford Medical Center where I saw the utmost expert on bipolar in the United States. He really didn’t help. (And, in his report, he called me “overweight”. Shut up, Po Wang) After that my regular shrink arranged for me to go to the Women’s Wellness Clinic, which essentially works with women whose depression is related to her reproductive system. That was not me. (However, I have to add that psychotropic medicines all but banished PMS symptoms from my body.)

The suggested no useful changes, said I was on the right track and spanked my butt on the way out. I felt like there was no hope. I would gaze at people that did not want to be gazed out. Inanimate objects were more understanding. I was so zonked I would drool, so much that I often had to wipe it off the table. I am not kidding.

Two years later. I was dissatisfied with the hew doctor who when I told him of my elaborate suicide plan, said he was concerned and wanted to see me two weeks later.) Feeling that this doctor had no true concern with my health and well-being, I found someone new that took my insurance and within days I walked in to a small practice in a suburb of a slightly bigger town and met a tiny Pakistan-born and educated psychiatrist. She took one look at me and said she could tell I was on psych meds. She prescribed a drug that all but took away the side effects. Within a few weeks, she also diagnosed me with ADD and OCD. I stopped drooling and staring out into space and started being okay.

I added some vitamins (can’t tell you which, I’m not the doctor.) and things have been better. Not perfect. I have breakthroughs and sometimes sleep too much. I have one day a month I overeat, but I’m not overweight any more. I’m being much more careful. I must take my pills on time – even an hour off can put me out of balance. I don’t take drugs not prescribed to me, am careful with OTC drugs and if I add a vitamin I check with my doctor.

I know meds are not the only answer. But, although I have a list of things that have worked for me before and work for me now I believe I will always see medication at the top of this list, including my vitamin supplements. Other things on the list include Bible study and prayer, therapy, writing this blog, making junk food a treat rather than a way of life, yoga, other exercises. It’s an holistic treatment plan that is potentially dangerous only if I deviate from it. I don’t do all of them every day (hello, Cheetos) but they are as important as anything else I do.


Maybe not officially fired. (PG-13) (Short mention of sexuality)

Sigh. I made a mistake and have to return $78 to my former company.
I say former because I made another paperwork mistake. I keep making them. I need to get someone to check my work before I turn it in, but I decide that things will be fine and I don’t need to worry about it. I am wrong.
I think this is the ADD in me. I can’t get it right. Someday maybe I will be able to, but my guess is no, it will not. (By the way, my ADD med, Vyvanse, is $201.99 without insurance.)
Thanks to my spree, $78 is a huge amount of money for us. I can’t say that I will never shop like that again, but if I did it is out of naivete. Next time things get out of hand, I know what wil happen. I don’t carry credit cards, or (after last week) checks.  I hardly carry cash because I spend it within two days of holding it.  Money and I are not friends.  I met a woman once, at a child’s birthday party, and she told me, relevantly, that she is “not materialistic.”  I had never heard anyone say that before.  I would like to see that character trait in myself, but right now I believe God has other things he’s working on.

At least I’m not a serial adulterer. That sort of thing is irreparable. I feel a strong compulsion toward shopping and I can understand how that might feel when it comes to sexuality. The pull of the illness, combined with a natural sex drive can’t really be productive, anymore than have three pairs of brown pants can be productive. At least I can take brown pants back.  Even if sex means nothing to you, you can’t take it back.  If it means very little to the bipolar person, I can bet it means something to their partners.

“It is not too shocking a statistic then that 90% of people who are suffering from bipolar disorder go through divorce proceedings.”   Who can put up with all they have to put up with.  I met a married woman with bipolar disorder in the hospital.  She had a great husband and they had a great relationship, but she felt really guilty about the whole thing.  She said so many people were unhappy in their marriage, she couldn’t feel okay with her great marriage.  She was typically bipolar, too.  For example, she once bought a bedroom set for a ton of money when they didn’t need one.  I don’t know what she did to get in to the hospital but they don’t just let anyone in.

I can tell you more stories like the guy getting kicked out of his house by his wife, so he bought a six pack and slept in his car.  One time, after a revelatory conversation with my husband.   I really wanted to leave, but my parents were visiting us from out of town and they were asleep in my bedroom, so I couldn’t get my stuff and leave them alone with B.  I’d probably wind up with the police picking me up. This is probably not true, but I felt like I had no where else to go.  I came back, but suffered for many years because the story he made me pry from him.  Things would probably have been better if he’d told me years before, or was more open with it, but I can’t know for sure.  I thought that I probably would not have married him had I knew what happened.  (I am not going to tell the story.)

Anyway, if I were resourceful and not disabled, I would start pounding the pavement for more work, but I’m not in the highly motivated team.  I would like to start writing more, I’ll pouring so much into these blog entries and I could pour even more in to stories and novels.  Or if not more, the same.


Which nobody can deny (G)

We had her birthday party and it was really nice.  We had about three kids there for the first hour.  My husband asked me if I was anxious about it, and I wasn’t.  I was surprised.  It wasn’t  like  I was having symptoms of anxiety and was calming myself down from them.  I just wasn’t anxious; not at all.

Eventually a lot more kids got there.  They had a wonderful time in the cold pool and with the crafts.  There was pizza.  I could talk about how various people annoyed me, but why bother.  I’m only writing about the party so people don’t have to ask how it went.  It was good, maybe it was my favorite birthday she’s had.  Happy Birthday, Size Small!

***

I read some posts from January and I am struck with how differently I sound when I’m depressed.  There is no joy.  There is a lot of survival and assessment of the situation.  I don’t tell myself, “Okay, you’ve been through this before, you can do it again.”  I fear that I closely survived the last bout but may not this one.  If I can nip it in the bud, I recognize patterns, but if it gets beyond that, it is difficult to fight the illness.

I have a question for you, gentle reader:

You were given $35 to do what ever you wanted to.  Would you (a) spend it on arts and crafts supplies or (b) save it so you can get your poor dyed auburn/red hair with lots of gray and dark brown roots colored professionally?

I can’t decide.  The art supplies include embossing plates that say, “thank you” and “happy birthday” so they would help me bless others.  Having good hair is a way to bless others, too.