I Would Like A Break, Please and Thank You

This is just a short post to update you on my health. I went to my doctor today and was formally diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I’ve been battling the symptoms for some time, and I can’t even begin to tell you how many tests and appointments I went through until we could definitively name it as fibromyalgia. This means I am now bipolar II with major depressive disorder, chronic migraine and fibromyalgia.

Considering how bad my depression has been of late, I am honestly handling the diagnosis well. I pretty much knew that was going to be the  diagnosis, so I was prepared. I’m glad we can now begin the task of getting me back to feeling good. I’m still really tired, physically and mentally. So much has been going on and I really need to focus on self care and not worrying about things beyond my control.

I’m incredibly grateful for the people I’ve “met” through the WordPress/online community. You have all become a part of my support system. Take Care!

Goodbye Aquarius

An addendum of sorts to my previous post. I’d been doing quite well on risperdal until recently, and the doctor is switching me to another medication. I’m oddly sad about leaving the risperdal behind. It’s like the scene in Apollo 13, where they are going back into the shuttle after having been in the other part of the ship for so long and Tom Hanks looks back and releases it and says “Goodbye Aquarius. You served us well.” Yeah… it’s like that.


Goodbye Risperdal. You served me well.

A Wrench in the Works

I was diagnosed bipolar nearly two years ago. In the time since then, I have carefully crafted a routine to follow to keep my mood swings to a minimum. My psychiatrist and I changed up my medicines a couple of times, but I’d been on the same doses/drugs for nearly a year now. Things weren’t ideal, I still had a lot of depression and a few mixed episodes, but for the most part, I was doing pretty well. As any of you who regularly read my blog know, I’ve been in a pretty bad depression for months. I’m isolating, skipping showers (good thing no one can smell me) and wallowing. I hurt and the aches and pains just won’t stop and I can’t sleep. My migraines are also pretty bad right now, nothing seems to be working for them. In short, I’m miserable. Flat out miserable. But I figured my bipolar was “OK” because I hadn’t had any bad swings into mania for some time.

But honestly, when I look at posts and tweets from the last few months, you can see hypomania and aggression in them. You can sense the self loathing rising up. I was (and am) continuing to go to my therapist as regularly as my finances will allow and during therapy, I managed to be positive and really focus on using the tools I learned to improve my situation. And then there would be the post therapy letdown. I always feel better after talking to my therapist, she has a great personality and I am very comfortable tackling any subject with her. But I’d always end up feeling even more down in the dumps after a session. I would think I’d feel at least kind of hopeful afterward. It finally occurred to me that even in therapy,  I was guarded. I was afraid of my therapist judging me or saying something I didn’t like. Newsflash:that’s not what therapy is about. You are going to hear things you don’t like, but it’s necessary to move on.

I was lucky in that I was able to get an appointment with my psychiatrist (he works in the same practice as my therapist) however, it was a bad day. I had a headache, I called off of work again, the traffic was bad. I walked into the waiting room in a bad mood, and having to sit next to someone who reeked of cigarettes was making my headache worse. To top it off, my psychiatrist was running a half hour late, which seems to happen every time I see him. By the time I got in to his office and sat down, I was ready to blow. The first thing he said was that I seemed agitated and he apologized for being late. I didn’t blow up at him, but I did admit I wanted to yell. I went on to tell him about how poorly I had been doing, about my inability to make myself go to work, about the aches and pains, all of it. In short, I finally properly communicated in a therapy setting. He suggested changing up my medicines, which I figured would happen. Because I work with medicines daily, I know the medicines and their side effects. I was shooting down suggestions left and right…”no, that will give me diabetes” “no, that’s for REALLY messed up people, I don’t want that”. We finally were able to agree on a few more meds and to discontinue my risperdal. I have mixed feelings about that, I feel like the risperdal was a help, but it clearly isn’t doing the trick any more. But another part of me says “heyyy they took you off the antipsychotic, that’s good, right?”

Sorry, I’m going off the rails here.

I find myself really upset about the medication changes. Like, unreasonably upset. I went in taking two meds for bipolar, two meds for my migraines and a vitamin. So 5 medicines daily. I am now taking two for bipolar, one for anxiety/sleep, two for my migraines, one for my fibromyalgia-like pain and my vitamin. 7 medicines daily. That’s depressing. My grandparents take less medicine than that. I also have to change the times I take some of them, which means altering my every day routine. I know the important part is to focus on the new routine, to know that these medications are here to help me. I know I’m truly not upset about the medications, I am upset with myself, with my faulty brain, my whacked out nerves.

After my psychiatrist I went to the grocery store (so not a good idea) and I promptly had a meltdown, complete with sweating, hyperventilating, rapid heartbeat, the whole 9 yards. It was all I could do to get home. It was Lisa and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

There were positives, I suppose. I got a new pill container to fit everything and I bought myself Valentine’s Day candy. Sad when a new pill container is a treat. I might trick it out with washi tape or something.

Now that I’m a few days removed from the whole fiasco, I feel more at ease. Yes, I’m upset about the medicines and changing my routine, but it will be old hat before long and perhaps I will feel better. Honestly, if only one migraine were taken away, it’s worth it. I hope you all are in better spirits than I am! Thank you, as always, for reading my word vomit.

Methods of Treatment

I’ve been battling migraines and bipolar disorder for most of my life. Despite this, I’ve never truly considered myself “disabled”. I mean,I can still walk, still work, still participate in activities, still contribute. But when I stop to think about the impact both of these conditions have on my life, I realize they have, at least in part, disabled me. I have no social life to speak of any longer, mostly due to my anxiety and my chronic migraines. I keep having to cancel plans, and eventually, people stop asking you to do things. Also, I can no longer perform my job at the level I am accustomed to. I no longer run or exercise regularly due to the pain. I’m at a loss right now as to where to go.

Part of the problem stems from the fact that I have been treating my bipolar disorder the same way I treat my migraines: take a pill and hope it goes away. That doesn’t exactly work for a serious mental illness. There’s a lot more work that is needed to live successfully with bipolar. Regular therapy visits are crucial, as is self care. Self care meaning setting a routine for myself, trying to exercise or at least move, getting enough sleep, removing myself from stressful situations. Yes, taking medication helps, but so does taking time to talk to a friend, getting fresh air and recognizing how far I have come instead of bemoaning how far I have yet to go.

I don’t know why it’s so hard to take our mental health as seriously as our physical health. I am sure it has to do with stigma, with accessibility. For me, I am a health care worker, I am not the patient. I push myself to work through the pain, to fight the mental fog that seems to hover around me so much of late. I brush off all the symptoms I’ve been noticing, I ignore the signs that I’m slipping. Then it all blows up in my face. I am too hard on myself and I always have been. I do not know how to stop being like this.

I feel like I am right back at the beginning, that it’s the day I was told I have bipolar disorder all over again. And again, I realize it’s because you can’t treat a migraine and bipolar the same way. You cannot push through the pain of bipolar, you cannot escape it by taking a nap, you cannot get an IV medication or put an ice pack on your head. The bipolar will still be there. You have to accept it’s permanence and seriousness. I have not yet accepted either and that is where I am failing in my treatment. I bought into the stigma around mental illness, that it’s a character flaw, rather than the biological flaw that it is. I keep thinking it’s something I can get rid of, rather than actively living with it.

So I am telling myself this: You are sick, but it’s OK. It is not your fault. You are still worthy of love, worthy of respect. You still have much to contribute, to accomplish. You are strong and you are brave. Forgive yourself and find what makes you happy.

A Day to Recharge

I did very little today, and it was great. I was kind to myself as lately I have noticed I am not caring for my chronic illnesses (bipolar and migraines) as I should be. I can’t quite put my finger on exactly what needs changed, but I will figure it out.
I notice I continue to have trouble with my bipolar diagnosis, nearly two years later. I understand this is common, but it is still troubling. So I chose to care for me today. It involved coffee and sweatpants and fuzzy socks and Netflix and naps. I got my medication planner ready for the week and sat with the heating pad on to combat depression related aches.
I am not sure where to go from here, treatment wise. I know I must accept my diagnosis before I can make any further progress. But it’s hard to change 30+ years of beating yourself up. It’s hard to change the soundtrack in your head.
But I have hope. Praise be to God, I never lost hope.

Hope you all had a great weekend.

A Mother’s Perspective

Yesterday, my mother and I had a candid conversation regarding my mental and physical health. Of late, I am struggling with just how much both my bipolar and my migraines are affecting me. I’m missing work, my finances are suffering and I find that I just don’t care. I take a couple of baby steps forward and then I get knocked back a yard. I’m trying to step up and take control, start really and truly taking care of myself, as I always should have from the start. In discussing several options as far as work and finances go with my mother, she told me what it is like for her to see me suffering:

“It’s like you and I are out hiking and suddenly it starts to rain. It’s raining so hard the ground immediately turns to mud. I make it to cover and dry land, but you slide in the mud and fall down in a ravine.I try to grab you and catch you, but you fall so fast I can’t do it. I can see you from where I am, I’m throwing a rope to you to pull you up. The harder you try to get the rope, you can’t reach it. When you do reach it, I am able to pull you up a short distance but then the mud gets too much and you fall back down. Sometimes you just stop trying and I can’t get you to move. Eventually the sun comes out again and you walk back up the hill on your own power. But while it’s raining, you are miserable and nearly unreachable.”

Needless to say, I was pretty overwhelmed by what she said, and it added to the guilt I already feel for being a less than perfect kid. But she is true in that she never stops trying to reach me, to help me. She never asks me to be perfect, she just asks me to love myself. I wish I could, but I don’t know how. I’ve been battling myself and the things within me for so long I don’t know how to stop, how to accept that I am flawed but still worthy of love. I’m figuratively becoming paralyzed by the struggle, unable to work, to eat, to treat myself well. I’m either going to quit or get fired or wind up in the psych ward. But you can be sure the first person there to help me will be my mother, as always.