Tag Archives: healing

You were lucky, says the pharmacist to me.

Pills are always a bone of contention for the taker and just about everyone else. My brilliant book will be called, “Sorting My Pills”, which is about the wrestlings of a mentally ill person and her treatments, family and everyone else in the world. I like to tease my dad about the number of pills I take and prescriptions that are a part of my life. He is uncomfortable with the joke, so I tell it to him every chance I get.

Inderal is a heart/cholesterol medicine. As you can guess, it lowers the heart rate. It also has the side effect of causing the shaking, caused by Lithium, to go away. It has anti-anxiety properties. I thought I was supposed to take the little blue tablets three times a day. I frequently forgot the midday dose, but ultimately got that taken care of by taking it at 11, when Small eats lunch. I went off it when I developed Serotonin syndrome about a year ago. As of December 16 – fourteen days ago – it was re-prescribed.

Yesterday evening I checked the pills I was about to take. I do a cursory pill counting glance every night, but for some reason zeroed in on the yellow tabled I had been gulping on morning and evenings for the last two weeks. I just followed the instructions without considering what they were. (This is not like me – usually I do a lot of research and have much discussion with my doctors before I add a drug to my regime.) I find a cool website that identifies pills and find out I was taking two sixty mgs of Propranolol. I didn’t know what it was so I go on the chat with a Walgreens Pharmacist. It turned out it was the trade name for Enderal. I was already taking Enderal. In fact, I was taking it almost three times a day, at 20 mgs a slug. Somehow the prescriptions overlapped. Let’s do some math here. 60 x 2 = 120. 20 x 3 = 60. I was taking 180 mgs, an abundance, of a drug that slowed heartbeat. I typed to the pharmacist such, “I am lucky.” She answered to me, the medical facade dropped, “You are lucky.”

I haven’t really cried yet. I have worked on processing this – I could have killed myself without the intention. It hasn’t scared me, yet. I looked at my child and my spouse with more shock than sadness. When I am seriously depressed I look at them and feel so sad and sorry they will have to go on without me. This sort of death is more of a spectacle. It honestly never occurred to me I could accidentally hurt myself. These drugs are safe, right? So long as a I follow their instructions, everything will be fine, right?

Not so much. I’m not sure how to prevent this from happening again. I have so many daily prescriptions, so many different prescriptions it’s hard to keep up with it all. This is true for the mental patient I am and for anyone who is emotionally connected to their illness. I don’t know if people who take statins have the kind of relationship with medicine that I do, maybe they do. If they don’t they can detachedly open a bottle and swallow a pill or two. They don’t need to think or resent their pills. They keep them alive longer than they would, and that’s that. I would do better if I was more detached. I don’t hate taking pills – I know they extend my life and my health, but there is still something emotional going on here. If i wasn’t would I be in the situation I was last night?


Can’t we all just get along?

When I hear a woman say, “I just don’t get along with other women,” I instantly realize this a woman with serious issues.

There are seven billion people on earth. Slightly more than 3.5 of them are women. This means, after all the women in the world, you have a problem with all of them?

The last time I heard a woman say that I told her something like that. She didn’t like it, of course. I am still glad I said it. She told a client of hers the same thing and the client responded, “Well, of course you don’t get along with women, women are difficult to get along with.” Shortly after that her client was asked to leave the business permanently. Good thing her philosophies were the one the woman chose to adhere to. Are we all that blind?

I’m well today, thank you for asking. I did a twenty minute yoga practice, went to church and drank caffeine. This evening I will also do yoga and meditate using sacredspace.ie A wonderful site put together by the Irish Jesuits. I feel better, I’m not perfectly whole, yet, but that is something we can hope for only on the other side of heaven.


May Cause Memory Loss (some harsh language)

I am so googling sick of psychiatric medication. Yes, it has saved my life 1,000,000 times. Yes, I would have to be institutionalized if not for it. Yes, I am so fortunate that I have the insurance and money to pay for all of this. All that to say it blows, it sucks and it is all together weenified that I have to be on it.

The most frustrating thing is the memory loss. It goes hand and hand with word recall. I can’t remember enough Spanish words to even have a real conversation. I can’t remember things you tell me, things I’ve just bought or things I ate. I don’t remember all the steps in my night time regime. I can’t remember your name even if I’ve been introduced to you three times. I don’t remember entire conversations. I wake up in the middle of the night because I wonder if I’ve taken my medicine. Medicine: I hate you.

My father-in-law showed me a handful of pills and joked that I probably couldn’t wait until I was his age. I just laughed. I take one more pill than my eighty year old father-in-law. I am thirty-five.

I have been searching for help with this memory thing for, oh, I can’t remember how long. I get obsessed with it on and off. At first I thought it was too much Lamictal. Doc didn’t agree. Lithium? Nope, levels too low. My latest theory is that Cogentin, which works to get rid of extra-pyramidal symptoms, (it takes away that ghostly face folks on psychotophics get) if we upped it, maybe the memory might come back. I’ll ask her. She’ll say, no that’s it and you are prone to “Serotonin Syndrome” so we can’t up anything right now. From B’s description on the phone late last week, she decided I have “Serotonin Syndrome.” Long time readers will remember this can kill you. They responded by taking my Zoloft from once every other day to once every three days. I responded by becoming weepy on day two and inconsolable by day three. It blows. There are good things about bipolar, and there are other entries and webpages dedicated to that. This is not the place to look right now.

The problem with medication is that it is all rumor. While some of the drugs have really helped me, they won’t do the same thing for others. One might be effective for two people, but one of them also becomes impotent and the other hears voices. It’s frustrating. The idea that I might live the rest of my life forever without any sort of executive function is disheartening, at best. It’s messed up as medium and absolutely f-ed up at the bottom. I’m drifting between the middle and the end. I’m not the “I’m going to go off all my meds because they obviously aren’t working,” type. I cooperate with my care team. I take my meds. I lose weight. I exercise a few times a week. I do the right things, but my body won’t follow. Just co-operate, damn it! Be well! Let me live the life I strive to live! I’ll be bipolar, that’s not the thing, but I want to live and remember what I’ve lived through.

It all sucks, though. It blows. Whatever mild swear word you can think of, that describes these feelings. I want to be better.

Be careful. Drugs can cause restlessness, memory loss, weight gain, shaking, failure to achieve orgasm.

Avoid getting overheated. Do not drink alcohol at all, under no circumstances. Do not become pregnant. Remain hydrated. Do not share your medication with anyone. Do not tell people you are sick or how you are sick. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every f-ing day.

The symptoms of mania are: elevated mood, pressured speech, shopping sprees, sexual activities which go against your own morality, grandiosity (I think I am so gorgeous every man is checking me out – even though I’m pushing 300 pounds, or I think I have the ability to solve the problem of National Debt.) All this stuff sounds like fun, right? Well, you’re not allowed to have any fun. Remember that night you and your best friend stayed up until two talking and laughing and drinking wine? No more of those. Remember when you fell in love at first sight? Don’t do that or tell anyone about it – It means you’re on the verge of adultery.

A minute ago I wrote the word, “manana” instead of “maestra”. (That is, “morning” instead of “teacher.”)

I was told by a good friend that I “never” sound bitter. I would guess tonight I do. I want my memory back. I want the shakes to stop and I don’t want to die of Serotonin Syndrome. But this is my life, the rest of my life, if I want to live it. And right now, It blows.


New Title, do ya like it? Also, letting stuff go.

Having a medium tough time but learning a lot about myself so that makes me really happy.

My friend, D, calls obsessing, “pit-bulling”. It’s when you bit yourself in to something and hold on with a locked jaw. Sounds pretty perfect, doesn’t it? You don’t have to have an alphabet of diagnosis to obsess over something, do you?

Well, for me it was a minor art supply that I lent to a friend with the understanding that she’d replace it. I’d asked her a few times about it and she always made excuses. It honestly wasn’t a big deal to me in someways, but in others it was. It seemed like she really wanted to give it back. I saw the item in the craft store and pmed her about it. She kind of went crazy, listing all the things she’d done for me and given to me and how could I possibly want that back? I wanted to talk in person but she wouldn’t do it. After all that she said she wanted to drop it.

Of course I couldn’t do that. I had to consider what she said, and I was going to do it without obsessing on it. I talked to my husband and he told me I was more of a taker than a giver. I talked to my mom and she basically said the same thing. She pointed out how her poor (as in financially poor) great aunt and uncle always brought a gift to them whenever they were invited over or whenever my parents did anything nice for them, which is frequently. I didn’t have the funds to buy things for other people, but I had the means to do good by them.

I am sure the woman with all her (valid) accusations is gossiping about me up and down the block. Maybe I deserve it, but maybe I don’t. Just “dropping” things means not talking about them anymore, right?

I could think that there is no joy in this, but I would be wrong. I have learned I need to give more. It can’t always be about me and the almost astonishing gifts I have been given by friends with little else in return. It’s a chance to change myself. When I am able, that is not sick, I will make a dish for the pot-luck, and find a way to bless other people materially. I neglected to do that. It’s easy for me not to do so because I either count myself doing enough. (I host parties, right? I listen to your whining, right? (Not yours, the people I am talking about don’t read this blog.) But I also take without hesitation. My husband was really disturbed at the amount of “freebies” I accept. I honestly assume that, if people give to me, they are glad to and don’t expect anything in return. In the rare chances I usually give with that attitude. I guess that I don’t do that enough. No, I agree that I don’t do that enough. I want to be giving, I really do. I have so many good examples, like my friend T, my fabulous sixty-something friend who would gladly give me the cashmere sweater off her back if she thought I wanted it. Even the friend who kinda exploded on me is a giving person.

That I can change myself before I alienate, or wear out any other friends is a cause of great joy. I feel lighter, and although I haven’t done anything yet, I feel like I am better because of what she said. It doesn’t matter if I felt like she was being petty (I was being petty, for the record) or even manipulative, I need to change, I will. It’s part of my Wonderfully Fabulous Journey.


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.


Believing in the One

For many, many years I worked in youth ministry at an Evangelical Christian Church. Please don’t stop reading – I’m not going to walk you through the Four Spiritual Laws (I have a problem with them anyway.) I’m not going to offer a free Bible if you subscribe. I’m just going to talk about dating, courtship and marriage. Just that.

In our group we discouraged dating in High School. It was a time to be “on fire” for God and to focus on His relationship with us and ours with Him. We should study, have a lot of fun, and do our best to remain pure in every single way. We saw kids who were strong in their faith felled by relationships. I would say to the girls, and I believed it then and believe it now, that the question we should ask is not, “How far can we go physically?” but rather, “How far can I go to be a blessing to God?” I don’t know if anyone ever listened to me, but it’s a good question. I should ask myself that more often.

I heard a lot of stupid things about marriage and dating at that time. One of the kids once told me that relationships were like a pyramid with God at the top. The two of you are on the edge, and the closer they get to the top the closer they get. I didn’t buy that for a second, and I told her so. The unmarried members of the staff were far more Godly and could be committed to God because of their singleness.

I read some books. A lot of them focused on saving the entirety of yourself for your one true soul mate. I wanted (still do) for the to wait for marriage to have a physical relationship, but I don’t think there is a call to wait for that soul mate. I saw relationships continue a lot longer than they should have because they believed since they were both Christians they wouldn’t have been brought together if they weren’t perfect for each other. I’ve also seen young people stay in physical relationships because they believe to be “married in the eyes of God.” They weren’t. (If there is a call for me to write more about this here, or to dash out an email I will). But that’s the danger of one of the “soul mate” designs.

Here is another reason why: Say some kids decide they like each other. They decide to be in an exclusive relationship. The do not have sex of any kind. (This is actually pretty funny to me – do you think you’re fooling God by “just” having oral sex or “just” groping one another?) The couple does share a lot of things with their girlfriend or boyfriend but the relationship doesn’t work out. Not only are they broken-hearted they feel like they’ve dishonored and misunderstood God. They thought that this relationship was going to be their last, but it wasn’t. Their faith in God’s leading takes a blow and guilt sets in. They feel that they did something very wrong.

I think it’s not necessarily true. After I become a Christian, I learned it was possible to love God through a relationship that didn’t ultimately end in marriage. We shared a lot of our lives together and I believe he saw us on a marriage track. I didn’t feel the same, but after a short time, we were able to be good friends. We didn’t belong together and the reality was both of us knew it. He came a long way to attend our wedding.

Some people argue that a heart that is never broken is no way to begin a relationship. I don’t know if I agree or not. In Genesis, the Bible says, “And Isaac brought Rebekah into his mother Sarah’s tent, and she became his wife. He loved her deeply, and she was a special comfort to him after the death of his mother.” We can be there for each other, renew our souls and teach us trust. I’m not recommending serial dating, I don’t think that’s healthy either, but there are many rules that we taught that aren’t necessary true or Biblical.

The paths are different for everyone. It goes back to everyone’s Journey. I believe in seeking counsel, but I also believe that ultimately the decision needs to be 100% up to the couple. That said, I don’t think you can be 100% sure. You can be sure about your commitment to marriage, but without some sort of doubt you can’t have faith. Marriage is a huge act of faith. What are you to know about the next five, ten or fifty years? You can’t know what will happen in one year. We were married about two and a half when I was diagnosed with bipolar illness. I’m quite sure my husband clung to the fact he told God and everyone, he married me and would stand by me “in sickness and in health….as long as we both shall live.”

I know that my husband is the “one” for me. Ya know how? Because I’m married to him. I took a huge leap and found myself in love, pleasing to God and matched up. We’ve had quite a bit of troubles sometimes, but we are still together because we told God we would and because He is welding us together. We disconnect sometimes and truly connect other times. We both promised each other, and the people that watched we get married that we would do all we could to serve and love each other. We promised God we would, too. When our pastor asked B why he was sure I was the right one, B said it was because of the sense of “peace”. It’s funny to hear a man I respect and admire ask the question I think is most silly. He has an enviable relationship with his wife and family. For him, there might have been just “one”. I’m okay with that, even though I believe it is not true of every couple.


Don’t pop your gum at a wedding.

It was about 100 degrees at Chris Jantz and Abigail Williams outdoor wedding. They had golf cart driving us from the parking lot to the wedding site and “shade worshipers” under the oak trees. The groom’s mom set up the cake, a five tiered white square cake with black ribbon. Her catering company also prepared the food. I knew it would be perfect.

We sat on chairs that had water bottles underneath the seats so no one was (that) uncomfortable. The sun glared right on the guests, but it really didn’t matter. Relatives were marched down the aisle by the appropriate groomsmen. My favorite part of any wedding, ever, was the look of surprise and joy on the groom’s face and I missed it.

The bride entered and she, of course was beautiful. Her dress was gathered around the skirt with a strapless bodice. I told her later her dress was amazing and she was one of the prettiest brides I had ever seen. It was true – but to be honest with all of you – the reason I say that is I don’t remember hearing that enough at my wedding – People told me how gorgeous my brother’s girlfriend looked about 1,000 times (she was not in the wedding), andhow my bridesmaid looked like Audrey Hepburn. There must have been some people who told me I looked pretty, but I just forgot about it. It is true every bride I see last is my favorite bride, and I make sure to tell her that.

The ceremony was beautiful too. The couple had been friends since elementary schools, and in third grade the little girl wrote on her Christmas tree ornament, “Abigail Elizabeth Jantz”. She had her eye on him for a long time.

The groom owned and ran a screen printing company (Only twenty(!) years old). As guest gifts we were given t-shirts with their Romans’ wedding verse. The food was delicious, the toasts were joyful and encouraging. Everything was wonderful and seemed to go off without a hitch.

Except. Here is when mental illness rolls in. One of the women three rows ahead of me was chewing and popping her gum. I could not believe anyone could be so tacky, who would make extra noise anywhere and be so rude at a wedding. I don’t mind gum, actually, but popping gum turns me in to a nutcase. I was trying to calm myself down, I prayed for peace for myself, I tried to relax, but I couldn’t do it. I started crying (which is okay at a wedding). I couldn’t accept myself or the situation. All I thought of was how this not so terrible woman (see, I’ve made some growth) was popping her gum and I was so upset that I couldn’t enjoy this wedding.

I took an Ativan, something I try not to do, even though I carry it and Xanax. I called B and was crying, trying to get soothed and get cared for, but my metropcs phone had been dropped enough times that it is difficult to make a real call. (Texting is okay.) The call was dropped and we couldn’t understand each other anyway.

I really try not to make things be about me that aren’t. The wedding wasn’t not about me and about poppy-girl. It was about Abigail and Chris. My craziness took over. The Ativan calmed me enough to give me some sort of relaxation and perspective, and it helped me not be so sad at what had been stolen from me.

During the bride/grooms dancing, Small got up on the tiny dance floor pretending to snap picture from all angles. I regrettably,left the camera at home. They looked wonderful together.

I wish I could have been more present, but that’s not what happened that day. I’m needing to work radical acceptance in to my life more. I don’t like it, but it’s part of the package that is my life. I’m growing in this, I’ll keep growing in this.

Abigal and Chris, best wishes.