Tag Archives: mental illness

desperately seeking malakoa

I haven’t been well lately.  I felt like I had an ax chop my heart in to four efficient slices.  If you do it right, that’s the way trees come on down.  I feel nausea right now and it’s because I took my multi-vitamin without enough food.  I had goat’s cheese and cherries for breakfast.  Enough for all the tiny pills I take, but not for those big ‘ole vitamins.  I got gummi vitamin-B complexes and those got rid of most of my vomiting.  I was throwing up most mornings. (Like, five mornings a week.)  The strange thing is that it never came to me to stop taking the pills.  They were making me sick, but I still saw them as my life boat.  I never thought that I could just drop them.  If I didn’t take them I most surely would die,  and would take my daughter with me.  There are folks out there who can be bipolar and not take meds, but I am utterly convinced I will never be one of them.

My husband has said for a while that I can be awfully cruel when I’m having an episode.  I say and do things that no one should do.  I fought off that thought because I wanted to have my own life and feelings apart from being manic depressive.  Why is it it’s my illness and not just me? Can’t I be a jerk now and again.

It turns out, no.  I cannot be that kind of jerk now and again.  

Oh, I can be selfish and eat all the ice cream left in the freezer.  I can turn the radio up really high without thinking about who can hear it and I can get in fights and make plans to get the heck out of here.  But that is not what he meant.

We had a very nice fight about two, maybe three, weeks ago.  I remember very little about it.  A few days afterwards we were arguing (rather than fighting) and he replayed some of the things I said to him.

Wow.

I kind of remembered some of the topics we covered, but it was like being very drunk.  I am sort of present, but I couldn’t remember whose lap I sat on or even who I spent the evening with.  I don’t remember the beginning nor when I crossed over to the monster I become while full blown manic.  I was not an angry drunk, just a curious one.  I can’t say that I am not an angry manic depressive.  

I said things no one should ever say and at the time I meant every single word of it.  If my husband treated me the way I treated him he would be long gone, no question.

never want to do that to him or anyone else.  There are signs before I get to those places.  I start snapping at people and mad enough to plan on running away from home.  In these bizarre fantasies my daughter comes with me; I promised her I would never leave her behind and I wouldn’t.  Those plans are born of imbalanced chemicals.  My husband is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but he is good to me and good to our daughter most of the time.  He doesn’t deserve to hear the things I said.  

Just a few days ago, he said to me, “I desperately want to stay married to you.”  For the life of me I can’t figure out why.  I am (or have been – if I’ve really changed I don’t know yet.) abusive and lazy.  I do nothing around the house for days (weeks) at a time.  The list of what I do and what I am that is cruel, and wrong goes on and on and about a third of this is caused by my mental illnesses.  

 2/3 = 66%

Am I worth it?


I found the solution

It’s April. I started dieting December of 2010. I have lost about 33 pounds. If I lose four more I will qualify for Lifetime Membership, which means I met a goal weight and don’t have to pay $40 a month anymore. I’ve talked about this before, but I have quite a new new readers, so I’ll tell it again.

At 207 pounds I thought I was probably about fifteen/twenty pounds over weight. I took funny pictures of myself looking sad eyed at the camera. I was pretty fat, but not all that fat, I thought.

I lost fifteen pounds and I was excited! That calls for New Pictures! Imagine, to my astonishment, I was not only still fat, I was still very fat. The weight began to creep off and I did (most) everything right. I tracked my meals on eTools program, exercised some, and showed up to meetings. (As of press I have missed two meetings in almost 2 1/2 years.) I got down to 173. And it stayed there. Every week I was either up a pound, stayed the same, or down .2. This has gone on for months now and I’m tired of it. I know how I lose weight: Follow the Weight Watcher’s Program. I will do that, guzzle water, counting points of everything I eat and exercise.

But wait, there is more. It’s warm out and I really wanted a cold drink, like a freddo from Pete’s. I decided to save a dollar and go to McDonalds. Shamrock Shakes are here for just a little while, and I have good memories of a friend who has fallen by the wayside, and Shamrock Shakes. While I was there, I’d get a “Mini Meal” A hamburger, french friends and Diet Coke. (For the record, Diet Coke and mood disorders usually don’t mix. I popped an Ativan just to get through it.) They did not have Shamrock Shakes.

Bait your breath no longer: I managed to find another milk shake. It was good – I sucked it down. It had 2/3 of my Weight Watcher Points Plus for that day and I am pretty sure the hamburger and french fries knocked the rest of them out of the park.

Why would I do such a thing? I am so close to my goal and, when I am asked if I’d like fries with that, my answer is, low and breathy, “yes, oh yes.”

Here some of the reasons I might do such a thing:

I prefer being fat – As T so elegantly put it I want to hide under a huge mound of fat.

I don’t want to reach my goal. I’d rather have the life of gobbling whatever it is that I want, anywhere or time than I want than that of health and wellness.

I hate myself and am going to let my body know it through a steady diet of junk.

I’m afraid of being thin or attractive.

I don’t want to succeed at this or anything else. Keep me plain, chubby, unaccomplished. It’s easier this way. Except for it’s not easier. I could have popped in to Trader Joe’s and got any of their deli lunches. It would have taken about the same time as it did for me to go through two drive-thru menus. Being destructive is a chore with physics on its side. Being constructive needs creativity and planning. I am creative. Sometimes it is difficult to put this creativity in motion. It’s like words that catch my ear and sound beautiful. It’s like a just right jar of red paint – on clearance. Maybe if I saw my body as an act of art I would take better care of it.

I want a tattoo that says, “TOSKA” except for in Cyrillic. I won’t get one. He says they are too expensive and that it would be even more expensive when I decided I didn’t want it anymore. He won’t get one either.

“Toska – noun /ˈtō-skə/ – Russian word roughly translated as sadness, melancholia, lugubriousness.

“No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody of something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom.”
― Vladimir Nabokov


the day I deserve

I am off kilter. Last night my husband and I watched Sherlock over the internet. If you have any sense you will find it and watch it yourself. I thought about it all last night and woke up this morning with him in my brain. I feel frightened. I’m attributing it to the scary British tv show, not to anything real…

But I’m anxious, no matter what caused it, I still am anxious and I need to do whatever it takes to get out of it so it doesn’t become depression, and depression doesn’t lead to death. The last time I was depressed my seven year old asked me, “Do you feel like you don’t deserve anything?”

I thought about it for a minute. “Yes, yes I do.” That really is a part of all the moods I travel through. You can call it self-pity. I don’t care what you call it, actually. For me, those feelings come and bad things happen. No chemically balanced person can say that.

“You deserve ME!” She told me with out stretched arms. A perfectly acceptable time for a hug. I deserve her.

I asked her if she ever felt that way. Her answer was a simple “no”. This child has so much self esteem it is, as her North Dakotan aunt would say, “disgusting.” She is confident. She is happy about 80% of the time. She will pretend to be sad, some of the time, but I have never seen her pretend to be happy. Maybe it comes naturally to her and maybe we’ve built it in to her. Either way, the feeling I don’t deserve anything is mostly gone for me today. It’s just the fear without discernible cause that is getting to me today.


Bells Might Ring

A lot of my friends are getting divorced, or want a divorce. It seems kinda funny to me, but I’ve heard this story before. Most of us marry in our twenties. A lot of us divorce in our thirties/early forties. Some of us want to remarry, and divorce with the hope they will find someone better, others swear they will never marry again.

My therapist is about six feet tall and has a Ph.D. She has been married five times and told me that her husband of many years is almost perfect. She says that moving out to California was a challenge before because of her liabilities, namely the height and education. I don’t know if Californians are less intimidating here in California or what, but she met her husband that day she moved here. Good for her. She is a smart cookie and I like her much more than I thought I would.

She rarely works with bipolar patients, but that is okay. She said that I do quite well. Many of her patients lie on the couch and watch t.v. all the day. I do creative, productive things and have relationships. I liked that she said that. I wonder if it is a disguise or what. My illness doesn’t spread over everything I do. There are days I am totally in control, and there are others where I run up a $350 bill on art supplies. Last week I had really bad cycling. I had minutes where I said, “What is bipolar, anyway? I don’t have it, I feel great.” By the time I parked my car I was ready to die. That went on about three days. It was thrilling and disappointing. I wasn’t sure if it what would happen. There was no living in the present. I like that idea, living in the present can be wonderful so some people, but when one is suicidal, there is nothing to comfort yourself in that moment. To live with a mood disorder means living in the next moment, and knowing that the moment will change.

More about that later.


Still Reeling

If you don’t know me, I’m boring you, but if you don’t know me, I don’t think you’re reading this blog.  

I went to the psychiatrist today.  (A psychiatrist is a MD who prescribes medication.)  She was shocked and horrified by my Inderal overdose.  “We would both be in trouble,” she said, and spent the rest of our appointment reeling.  This was serious stuff.  “It just wasn’t your time,” she said.  I had done a very dangerous thing.  I have mostly stayed cool about this stuff, but, to be honest, hearing from the doctor herself that it might have been the real end is oddly thrilling.  It’s like setting things up for a suicide attempt, some thing I’ve only almost one once.  It’s titillating.  There is so much grief and pain that comes before an attempt.  I didn’t have those feelings about taking all those pills.  It’s only now, in retrospect, almost a week later, that I’m really allowing myself to have any feelings about it.  I regret to say it’s kind of exciting.  I wish it was just that I felt relieved.  I don’t, not yet.  Maybe when I get my mind wrapped around it I’ll have another experience.

My husband says that I didn’t die, or get very sick, so there is nothing to say or do about it.  I could make myself think about this, or even believe it, but I don’t have that kind of maturity.  Not yet.  


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?


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?