Tag Archives: psych meds

My hobby

I knew a woman who had TMJ, severe back pain and fibromyalgia. She also suffered from secondary infertility. I felt pity on her. She asked me once to accompany her on an appointment at University of San Francisco. It was about a thirty minute drive, a toll bridge and parking is a huge mess, but we went and waited. When we finally saw the doctor, she took off her shoes and pulled off her socks. She showed the doctor her ankles. One was slightly more swollen than the other. She was in no pain, not even that nameless feeling you get when things just aren’t right. Nothing.

The podiatrist did notice that she had a corn and that she had the choice of whether she wanted to remove it or to hang tight. Of course she signed up for the surgery – her hand almost quivering with excitement. She thought her intuition and God drew her to that place and that it was just wonderful that she had her convictions verified.

I could not believe she went to that effort to fix something that wasn’t broken. The amount of time and money we spent to get there was astounding.

Her hobby was going to the doctor.

I am afraid I have become like her.

Today is Friday. I started the day at the physical therapist, where Megan, Ph.D and I worked on my knee. The knee bothers me more than hurts me. There are a few other things she is working on – including my balance caused by those tumors in my foot and strength in the hips. Thank you, Dr. Megan.

Monday is the day I see my psychiatrist. She adjusts my psychiatric medication and helps with my regime – she loves yoga and likes meditation. If you have religious objections to them that you would like to see addressed, please comment and I can tell you why I think that is cool for me, or any other Christian, to practice them.

Tuesday is Weight Watchers. No doctors there. But I quit eating milk and my face has cleared up. Wonder if all along a milk allergy caused the mess that was my skin. I saw a dermatologist and he gave me two tubes of goo for my face.

Wednesday we visited the marriage counselor, LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) with a Ph.D in Psychology. She is very small and I recognized her because her office is in the same building as my beloved Dr. G (He moved to San Diego.)

Thursday I went to my talk-therapy therapist. The psychologist is arrestingly smart. She earned her Ph.D from University of North Dakota. I talked about my foot problems and how the doctor (A podiatry degree is separate from a MD – but still a doctor.) told me there was nothing he could do. I reluctantly agreed to get a second opinion. But are there enough days in a week to accommodate another doctor?

It’s not a hobby. It’s just what my life is right now, I keep telling myself. It’s not forever, but maybe it’s not. When I was young the family doctor didn’t know my brother had a sister. He managed to get every single childhood illness that is not vaccinated against and some that were. I didn’t. I never broke a bone or needed anti-biotics. Now, I am quite sure he hasn’t been to the doctor for years, while I haven’t been to the doctor in hours. It’s not a contest and being free of bodily disease is not a moral issue. I do my best not to be sick: I wash my hands and brush my teeth and try not to be overweight. Even if I do those things I will always be sick – I will always a close, personal relationship with my pharmacist and the pharmacist techs. (Ah! The pharmacist is a doctor, too!)

Edited to add: I didn’t mention the teeth doctors: Dentist, endodontist and orthodontist.


Not working

Last night my medicines didn’t work.

This morning I wasn’t allowed to to work.

I have not been around because mid-morning I’m back to work. 9-12:30. I like my job very much. I don’t love it, but I do love the little boy who God has entrusted me with. (I’m a behavior therapist for autistic two year-olds.) I write mid-morning. The house is empty, and cool because we’ve trapped the night air into our house. Chores are not done because chores are a mid-afternoon thing; I don’t mind a cluttered house. Friends are usually busy. The time is all mine.

Yesterday I ate five cookies for breakfast. It set the tone for the rest of the day. I didn’t feel good, and I ate more junk. It was like I told Weight Watchers to go poop on itself. I feel like I’ve gained weight and I deserve to. I was scattered and kept repeating myself. I made pumpkin enchiladas that were not good. (I am a good cook, usually). I went to bed at seven. My scrambled egg brains were not good for anything. Mrs Medication (me) is disillusioned with the meds I am on. I won’t go off Abilify (takes away racing thoughts) or my ADD meds (a stimulant that enhances the marital bed). Vitamin B Complex is here to stay as well (I don’t lose my car in the rain or anytime else.) I am open to adjusting or adding or dropping the rest but that is probably never going to happen. (I take a lot of meds, rapid cycling bipolar does that to a girl.)

My husband wants me to call my doctor. I called to see if I could bump up my appointment, but the receptionist said she didn’t have anything Friday. (Pdoc only works at my office Mondays and Fridays.) Frustrating.

On the way home today, I kept trying to thing of ways to get the head exploding feeling out of my head. It’s like embers in my head. I understand how people use guns to ameliorate this situation, but I won’t do it. It’s more like a fantasy or meek suggestion than any real suicidal thoughts. One of the driving reasons I have never actually tried to die by suicide is because I fear for the person that might find my body. One time in my life I had an elaborate plan which involved going to a hospital where they were used to finding people dead. I never did it, as badly as I wanted to. I won’t get in to the rest of my plan. Descriptions of suicidal intentions just spur on already sick people and dramatize the situation. Suicide is murder. It’s not the result of selfishness. It’s an act of desperation. That does not give us permission to do it. I include you in the “us”. Don’t. Do. It.

I’ve noticed tugging on my face to be a sign I need an Ativan. So I took one. I also need to exercise but I won’t until B gets home. He wishes I would do it during the day but so far that’s not worked out. I feel like I have things to do. Sometimes the thing is to watch my favorite (and only) tv show, “America’s Top Model”. I am not proud of the fact that I love it.

I took the Ativan and now I feel like my blood is burning. Is this what happens when you mix Ativan with Ten Calorie Dr Pepper? My life is so weird some times.

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?

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.

What are you even reading?

I had a diaryland blog years and years ago.  It was fun.   I had a few friends who I knew just through diaryland and a few I knew in real life.  I started the blog when I found out my grandma had cancer, and ended it when she died.  Although I didn’t plan it that way, I’ve never thought of it as a coincidence.  I needed it.   I had one friend who wrote in her blog that I said exactly what she needed to hear, when she needed to hear it.  This is especially interesting because she was an avowed atheist and I wrote a lot about God.  I guess the other stuff was compelling enough she felt some kind of connection with me, and I with her.

I’m a sucker for complements.  I wish I wasn’t, but I am.  In college I took a class led by a MacArthur Fellowship recipient, Ishmael Reed.  We had to apply for the class.  I thought we’d have the creme de la creme of poets, after all it was an excellent University with a large population of writers and poets.  I was excited to be a part of this workshop and couldn’t believe I even got in.

Well.  Most of the poems were horrible.  I hate to say it, but it’s true.  They were either predictable, trite, or just bad poetry.  There were two very good writers, M and G.  M wrote gorgeous, original work and G knew more about words than anyone I have ever met.  Everyone else’s work was a disaster.  However, since we had about a dozen students dedicating themselves to train wreck, there was always support and encouragement.  The teacher began each discussion with, “That’s a good poem.”  Even if it wasn’t, and it almost always wasn’t.

Here is the embarrassing thing.  I’d sit in my chair making fun of their work in my mind.  (I was a less gracious woman then.)  Then it would be time for my poem.  I paid attention and lapped their compliments and comments like a shih tzu hound.  I wrote them all down and read them later.  Sometimes Ishmael would write his own comments and I, fourteen years later, still have those papers.  I just knew that, even though every other comment directed to the majority of the writers in the room was stupid and wrong, the ones about my poems were genuine and helpful.  It was a very strange time in my life.

After the class was over a handful of us went to see a play Ishmael had written.  There was a question and answer session afterwards and we stayed.  Afterwards Ishmael said to me, in front of most everyone, “You’re a good writer, one of the best.”

If he thought I was “one of the best,” there had to be something there.  He addressed his statement to me, not any of my classmates.   I was the good writer.  He saw something in me that was special.  I told my bff at the time and he said, “But you already knew that.”  I didn’t.  I wasn’t insecure, I knew my writing was good, at least good compared to the hapless students in the class, but I didn’t really know what anyone else thought of it.

His compliment was clearly important, and would be to any young poet.  It makes sense to roll it around in my head to cheer myself on, but it’s not always those kinds of things that perk me up and give me the strength to write.  I loved Ishmael and loved hearing things from him, but I’ve needed more, little tidbits more, to pull me along for the last fourteen years.  I would like to say that it was all I needed to propel me in to better work, but rather it hugged me and made me feel cozy.  I got some sort of security knowing that my work really was good, and I was on my way towards important.

The bipolar dude wrote in his blog, “So, I was reading this incredibly well written post on a blog (thanks Malakoa!!) about not using real names while blogging about these kinds of topics.”  This has kept me going for the last month. If anyone calls to ask how I’m doing, I’ll tell them about what he wrote.  I think it’s exciting to be recognized by my peers.  Sometimes people care, others don’t, but I care.  I want people to read what I have written and think about it.  I want them to be both enlightened and healed by what I have to say.  Maybe they can avoid some of the wounds I’ve incurred.

Maybe not.  I’ve noticed folks with bipolar are stubborn.  We want to do what we want to do.  We’ll decide we’re going to go on medication, what medication we will take and not, and add other things such as vitamins or supplements as we feel is appropriate.  We’ll wear what we want.  (Remembering a 5’3’, 215 pound woman in a pair of knee-high, spike heeled pleather boots, black mini-skirt, a Raiders sweatshirt and her hair slicked down all over. She thought she looked fabulous, and ladies, if you have manic episodes and you

think you haven’t dressed in an outfit just as charming sexy as that, you are probably

kidding yourself. We eat what we want, and sometimes that means macrobiotic and

sometimes it means only M&Ms for a week. We can’t be told what to do, because then

we won’t do it. Sometimes a book about bipolar will change our minds about what is

“right” and we change our behavior. Sometimes it’s some sort of worship or reading

of holy texts (A lot of times this scares health care providers,

so I keep it on the down low.) Sometimes we’ll start yoga, but we absolutely

must be the ones to decide for ourselves. Perhaps we can make the changes other

people want to see in us but we’re unable to invest. While we’re low, everybody is

out of luck, you’re back to doing exactly what has been your decision all along.

Friends and family may feel betrayed, but we’re usually doing the best we can do

to take care of ourselves. Despite other‘s input, or past experience, we feel that

we know what works for us, and that does not include other’s values.

So while the statistics show I will probably not change anyone’s life or ideas, 
I hope that I can.  
More than that I think it’s possible to feel a relief when sharing with other 
chronically ill people, it might help with understanding what the mentally ill 
people in their lives go through most everyday.  It’s not always we can hear it
 when someone says I love you, or when some one calls your work “exceptional”.  
When I can hear it, I tuck it in a safe that I store in a safe place where 
there is always room for more.

The Parents

The other day my good friend, CH, asked me how my parents reacted to my manic-depression diagnosis. Excellent question, and I know some of you have already heard a part of this story. Nevertheless, here is the answer:

After the psychiatrist confirmed my psychologist’s diagnosis, I wanted to use his phone to call my dad. The doctor wouldn’t let me to privacy reasons, so I drove around until I found a pay phone. (I didn’t believe in cell phones.) I called my dad at work. “Daddy, I have bipolar.” He responded, “This is J. W.” I told him again. I started to cry. I asked him to call my mom. The whole time I was on the phone there was this guy in a dark red truck ogling me. When I got off the phone he asked if he could give me a ride. I almost spit on him, but all I did was give him a dirty look. I knew even then I wouldn’t ever forget him.

My parents rushed home from work, threw some clothing in the car and drove to my house three hours away. By that time I was in the hospital. My eighteen month old was with B. I had secured breastfeeding rights for her, so my parents brought her every morning and every night to nurse. My dad would cry the whole time we were together. I kissed him and tried to soothe him but I couldn’t really do it. I was the cause for his grief. So long as I stayed in the hospital, I could not assuage it.

I think a lot of my dad’s sorrow came from guilt about his family of origin. My uncle had schizophrenia. He died in a mental health facility for disabled veterans. Their mother probably had some sort of mental illness as well. My dad had escaped it, but I hadn’t. I learned later my father was also afraid because of the other patients. Many of them were fresh after a suicide attempt, so they were drugged even further out of their minds. Perhaps I was not as sparkly as I was when I came in, but I wasn’t suicidal any more. At least not that suicidal.

He talked to my therapist once and asked her how did it get so far without him knowing? That question is one I have asked myself many times. Why didn’t they figure it out? I knew I was different than everyone else at a very young age. (We’re talking early elementary school). I started asking for counseling in the seventh grade but my mom told me I didn’t need it. My parents must have thought that I was just quirky and slightly crazy. My severe mood swings were dismissed as part of my personality. I was great fun high, and was mean, spiteful and unthankful when I was low.

My mom is usually more emotionally reserved than my dad, and this instance was no different. She likes to take care of things, and she did. Not only was she caring for my toddler daughter, but she did things like scrub the carpet to get the sizeable stains out of it. She brought me my new clothes to wear in the hospital. (I had gone on a shopping spree the Friday before. I bought a vacuum and about about $1,000 of clothes. In retrospect she had the option of returning them, they still had their tags and I had a receipt. She didn’t, so I got to look cute while most everyone else looked like hell.)

I will always be thankful for them for coming to see me every morning and every night and bringing Small. My thankfulness extendes to their attitude: They were excited to see me and wanted to be there. There was no resentment that the visits were inconvenient or too long. They wanted to stay as long as they could to spend time with me and to let me spend time with their granddaughter.

I got out of the hospital and resumed living, only with doctors or therapist appointments three times a week and a handful of drugs morning and night. Life was difficult. Only B saw the grueling pace I was working at. No one else could fathom it. I wanted my parents to know, and to understand, though. For a while there, if they were around when it was time, I’d sort my pills in to pill boxes in front of them. I wanted to show them how serious this illness can be. I have a lot of bottles of pills. Most recently I’ve added an anti-nausea drug because my B-100 pill makes me throw up several times a month. That brings my prescription bottles up to a grand total of seven. This is not counting the vitamins. I asked the pharmacy tech if I had more prescriptions than any other customer and she said, “for a young person, yes.” They even know me by name.

But back to my parents. My mom lives with us four days a week. I know part of the reason is that she wants to keep her eye on me. She and my dad are getting a grip on all this means. Bipolar can be fatal and I feel like, even if I have long stretches of stability, The way I see it I am always going be on the brink of a episode. A mood swing can be triggered by just about anything, it’s just a matter of how the symptoms present themselves. Sometimes I’ll be elated and deflated, up and down, in a day’s time. Sometimes I’ll sleep until 10 (we’re normally awake at 6:30). Sometimes I’ll buy everything in the mall that is my size. Sometimes no symptoms will present themselves, and my new goal is to try to at least look like I’ve got it together the way I used to when I worked full time. If I work hard I won’t do most of those things most of the time, but, aside from death, I can guarantee that no episode will be my last.

I do want to be well. I rarely miss a dose of my medicine, no matter how unpleasant it to do so. I am on a diet that helps regulate my mood and I make an effort to exercise. (Not enough of an effort, if you ask B, and he is right.) I try to do little things, like go to bed at the same time every night and follow doctor’s orders. I’ve stopped overeating, for the most part, and started dieting and losing weight. All these little things contribute to a centered life and a healthy brain. I think my parents know that I usually am doing my best and working my hardest, and they do a lot to help us along.

So there is my answer. My parents were grieved, but strong and generous in their response to finding out about my illness. It is hard to ask for more.

About being depressed and why

I’m pretty depressed.  I heard a rumor that a friend of mine was trashing my husband and our marriage to her mom, and the mom reported everything she said to my mom.  Look:  We live with her.  She knows most everything that goes on.  You’re not helping and you’re hardly hurting her perception of Mr. M.  What you’re doing is hurting me.  I can’t believe a friend would betray me in that way.  You’re an integral part of our lives.  How could you do this to us?

(I don’t think this person reads this blog.  So I’m not addressing you.)

All that might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Or not.  I was outside convincing myself to lift weights and started getting all wobbly and I was afraid I’d drop the kettlebell again.  I gave up.  I think one of the reasons I didn’t do well was because I’ve been eating mostly cookies.  They’re good:  Oatmeal with dark chocolate chips (Like that makes them healthy.  All those wacky anti-oxidants.  My cholesterol is a little bit high – maybe I should eat more of them.)  I know my body is changing but it’s covered in a two inch coat of fat and it’s going to take real dieting for it to go away.

While I was wandering around the garage, not exercising, I returned to the things I always  perseverate on.  Mr. M won’t let me waste or even spend money on my interests.  Mrs C gives out copies of Babywise (which makes her the enemy – then add all the other evil things she’s done to me.)  I start thinking of suicide.  I think of my mom talking about how horrible A.A. is because others have to forgive them when asked to made amends.  As if she has ever done anything deserving of an apology.  My skin is breaking out like crazy for no reason at all.  Or no reason I’m aware of.  My closet is full of clothes I bought when my hair was light and now it is red.  I’m glad I have a lot of black t-shirts.  I am frustrated by my daughter.

But, as I am a rapid cycler, I open the refrigerator and it’s full of food!  Wonderful – we may have no cash but we do have plenty to eat!  Hallelujah!   My friend, Ms D, is coming to see us and we’re going to have a great time.  My sister-in-law and I are getting along well and she may come down for Christmas.  The Valentine’s books are coming along well, despite my multiple mistakes (I remind myself the whole time that they don’t have to be perfect.) My husband makes me drool.

It’s up and down, and sometimes up and down at the same time.  I wish it wasn’t like this, but it is.  It’s complicated, and while there is probably a medicine that could deal with that I’m actually tired of that.  I don’t want to try something new, I want what I’m taking to work.  I think more than a dozen pills a day is enough.  I write this knowing I’ve told countless bipolar brethren to try meds and if those don’t work, try some more.  I tell them to fight for their mental health.  You know what?  I’m tired of fighting.  I know it’s possible for me to wake up tomorrow ready to be up in arms, but I am just not like that tonight.