Going off of medication?

I want to talk about medicine for a bit today.  Not that I have ANY qualifications as to the effectiveness or any information regarding them other than my own experience.  Please, if you have any questions or issues with your medication, talk to your pharmacist or doctor about it.

My side effects recently have been more intense than they usually are.  I don’t know why or how this is, but it’s what I’m noticing.  I have to take my thirty thousand pills right when I wake up.  If I happen to forget them, around noon or so, I start to get withdrawal symptoms.  I feel an immediate flu-like state.  I get the cold sweats, woozy, dizzy and sick to my stomach.  It’s absolutely horrid.  I don’t know which meds make me so sick, but it really sucks.  I now have a single day pill box that I keep filled in my purse, just in case I forget (which happens more than I want to admit.)  A couple weeks ago I forgot and got sick and immediately started to have the thoughts that I wanted to wean myself off of all my medicine.  I hate the fact that I HAVE to take them and am now dependent on them.  It makes me feel…dependent.  After a bit though, of course I admitted that I need them.  I remember what I’m like when I’m off of them and it’s a terrible place to be.  It would ruin my marriage as well as myself since I get so dang depressed.  It’s really bad news bears.

So, speaking of side effects.  My current ones are getting weird and more noticeable.  When I take my meds in the morning, about 20 minutes later I get INTENSE dry mouth.  No amount of water or coffee keeps my mouth wet.  It’s not the worst thing in the world, it’s just super annoying.  Another thing I’m getting now, is when I get to work, it’s hard to make my eyeballs focus.  I go out of focus and see double.  My glasses or contacts don’t help it either.  It’s like my eyes are tired and can’t go where they’re supposed to.  My most annoying and worst side effect is my night sweats.  I get cold at night, so I can’t sleep without a blanket.  But with the blanket on, I sweat so much, my sheets are soaked and I’m miserable.  It wakes me up in the middle of the night.  I now have 3 waterproof mattress covers to be sure I don’t ruin my nice new bed.  It’s horrible.  I can’t cuddle with Connor.  When my cat comes to cuddle and lay on me, I get even sweatier right there.  I hate it so much.  The only way I can figure out how to lessen it is to wear pants and a long sleeve shirt.  I guess that way I get more protection and the clothes get wet as opposed to my bed.  It’s so frustrating, I miss cuddling, as that is part of our intimacy together and a way to re-connect after being apart all day.  Of course, because of my Abilify, I still cannot sleep without help.  I have muscle relaxers that put me to sleep for about 3-4 hours, so I’m absolutely dependent on these.  I will wake up every day about 1:00 and not be able to sleep until the meds hit me again.  I can then sleep for a few more hours until I get up for work at 6.  Maybe this one is the worst, more so than sweating.  Maybe the relaxer is affecting my eye muscles and making them relax too much.   That’s an UN-educated guess that I’m going with.

My final thing I’m noticing, which may have nothing to do with my medication, is my paranoia is up.  It’s not super bad, nothing to write home about.  But I keep thinking that people are watching me.  I feel like I have a neon sign above me that flashes “bipolar, stay away.”  I’m afraid that people are following me in my car.  Every time I pass a cop, it is going to turn and follow me (that’s actually happened though).  I’m not quite sure how to handle this, other than going to therapy and having these insane thoughts challenged.

Another Rant

I need to rant again.  I saw this meme posted on one of the bipolar pages I follow, which usually posts pretty good content.  Content meant to lift and create positive vibes.  This one however, I feel is misrepresenting what bipolar is to the thousands of people who will see the image.

bipolar

“I am bipolar, change my mind.” “I changed my mind.”  Just a few simple words, but there are so many issues with them.  First off, I am not bipolar, I HAVE bipolar.  For those that have other disorders like MS, do we say they ARE multiple sclerosis?  No, we don’t.  What makes mine any different?  That it’s in my brain?  It’s still an organ and can get sick.  It’s no different than a liver or pancreas.  I am much more than my disorder, as are those that have MS.  Yes, it is a part of me, but with my medication, nobody would ever know about it.  Of course, Connor will, as he sees everything I do and is alert for changing behavior, but that is the only person.  I don’t have a neon sign above my head screaming in bright wavelengths that “I am bipolar.”  It just feels like I do to me.

The second issue I have with the picture is the view and stereotype that someone with bipolar will rapidly change their mind and can’t stick with one decision.  Their moods will flip flop on a dime and you can never tell what is going to happen.  If someone is in a mood, saying “you’re so bipolar” is so infuriating.  If someone has the shakes, we don’t say, “You’re so Parkinson’s.”  It’s ridiculous and annoying.  I have a mood disorder where I go from a deep depression for months into something that looks like a mild ADD.  I’m a somewhat “normal” feeling person that can be productive.  I can play and be silly and laugh.  This is really hard to do when I’m “down.”  This does not mean it happens every minute, day, week or month.  Most people’s bipolar swings happen a few times a year.  Not a day.  NOT A DAY.  We are not changing moment by moment, so stop treating us like we are.  Stop spreading this ridiculous stereotype.  It’s infuriating and insulting to us.

Working, anxiety and impulsiveness

It’s been three weeks since I’ve been back to work.  I won’t lie and say they were good or easy or even fun.  Work is work, no matter how much you adore your coworkers.  And I do adore my coworkers.  It was so nice to see them all again and give all the women big hugs.  I got to connect with my second family again (I have some really close friends there).  It also presented challenges.  What do I say when people ask what happened or where I’ve been for half a year?  How do I handle the “how are you” look with the cocked to the side head?  Are people really looking at me with wide eyes, waiting for me to blow up?  Can I do this job again?  Will it “trigger” me into another episode?  How will this all work with keeping up my housework and such to the level I was able to when I wasn’t working?

The first week, I was very excited to go to work.  I’d wake up earlier than I had to and do full hair and makeup along with actually wearing my new contacts.  I’d smile and chat and be happy to everyone.  Then I slowed down.  The second week was just “meh” and I was chugging along, re-learning all I needed to know.  The third week fell down a deep cave with no sunlight.  There was no more hair or makeup being done.  I was happy if I showered.  I showed up on time or early, but I wasn’t as thrilled to be there.  I retreated back into my “lush and atmospheric folk” Spotify playlist and tuned out from anyone and everyone.  Today I’m barely hanging in there.  I’m here, I did a lot of work, but I can’t flip my funk around.

At home, things have been less than blissful as well.  Not bad really, but right before I went back to work, Connor and I WERE blissful.  I was giggling and laughing and playing.  We’d goof off and tease each other relentlessly.  I didn’t need to have time away for myself, I was too busy every single day, but alone while busy.  I got to go meet with my knitting buddies whenever I wanted.  I could go to doctor’s appointments and not worry about getting off work.  I could meet people for lunch if I wanted.  I was free and happy to be so.  Now that’s gone.

This will not be bad in the long run.  I need this.  It’s just going to be an adjustment, and one that has sort of thrown me for a bad loop.  My anxiety is on fire, my impulsive talking and interrupting people as well as (eesh, one night) drinking has taken a hit.  My coffee intake has skyrocketed.  Sleep has been worse than it has been in a while.  The rest of my impulsivity is also full force.  THANKFULLY I haven’t done the impulsive nighttime shopping, my therapist helped me think of ways to overcome and force myself away from my debit card.  What would we do without therapists?

Does anyone have any tips for overcoming such a huge lifestyle change after not having worked for almost 6 months?  How do I get my mind back in gear and be happy again?

I had a bad day again

I’m having one of those days where I feel like I can’t do this. Not that I have a choice, but I’m really questioning my strength and ability to push through this.

My impulsivity has been super bad. I’ve gotten help from therapy on shopping impusively and have been doing well at it, even if not perfectly. But other impulsive behaviors are still there. I keep saying things without thinking. I wanted a bed frame that was the first one I saw that I liked.

I am wondering if I can do this work thing. I feel like it’s a major part of my mood dropping. I want to be able to work, but my back pain turns intense. This makes me miserable and makes me droop in pain. I can’t handle being in pain all the time, it’s almost unbearable.

Then I feel completely guilty for feeling not good enough to work. People work through so much more than I deal with. Yet here I am. I don’t know if it’s the best thing for me and I can mentally and physically do it. But I can’t fail. I have to work, have to.

I hate these moods. Even Connor knows something is up. He pointed out that we were doing wonderfully and then things went downhill really quickly over the last few days.

Sigh. I hate this.

Small Rant

A few things here have been driving me crazy recently.  I need to talk about two things to not say to someone who has a mental issue, especially bipolar, since that’s my experience.

  1.  Anything to do with my medication
  2. Treating me like a china doll that will break

Look.  I’m not dangerous.  I’m not going to blow up on you and freak out.  You don’t have to treat me like a crystal chandelier that is hanging from the ceiling on a broken chain.  Don’t watch what you say around me, don’t force positivity down my throat like it will make everything okay.  Just be normal.  I’m the same person you’ve always known.  I just know WHY I do the stupid things I do now.

Now, if I DO end up blowing up or going into a spiral, don’t tell me to adjust my medication or ask if I need to take a pill.  This is between my doctor(s) and myself.  I may forget to take my medicine in the morning sometimes, but that does not affect my mood at all.  It just makes me feel icky.  Just do me a favor.  Unless you’re Mandy or my doctor, shut up about my medicine.  It’s not your business, nor your job to monitor.

End rant.

Panic attacks back at work

“How are you doing?”  “oh, I’m doing well enough, thank you.”  Today was my second day back to work.  It did not go nearly as well as my first day.  I had my first (few) panic attacks in the afternoon.  My 3 avid readers will likely want to know what happened.

My first day back happened to be a snow day where the physical office was closed.  Everyone worked remotely so I was alone in the quiet and dark office.  It was the perfect way to slide into the office inconspicuously and begin getting everything unlocked and set back up.   When I first walked into the office and got to my cube, it was like I was stepping back in time.  The day before my accident I had just started to decorate for Halloween.  I had things scattered around my desk (like my notepads) from when I got out of my meeting and threw it on my desk and hurried home.  I had dead plants and dead flowers someone had gotten me.  One of my friends had printed out some affirmation statements (I am strong and courageous, things like that) and scattered and hid them all over the place.  That nearly made me cry, it was so thoughtful.  (Thank you Crispy!).

My first order of business was taking all my Halloween down and cleaning up everything.  Then I had to tackle getting in and going through emails.  Fun fact, after half a year, you can’t remember ANYTHING of passwords or where things are!   I got to use my entire morning going through 3000 emails.  That was interesting.  I then spent the later half of the day trying to get various systems unlocked.  I then moved on to looking through our information and re-familiarizing myself with everything.  I didn’t have to talk to anyone, see anyone or do anything.  Just get re-acclimated.  It was pretty great.

Today, was not as easy.  I spent the morning with one of my favorite coworkers who walked me through one of our processes again.  Not much has changed and I surprised myself with how much information and technical details I remembered.  Not too shabby Kayleigh.  You go girl.  Step 1, check.  I then moved on to doing our “entry level” process to get used to moving through and getting things done.  That wasn’t so bad either.  Because it wasn’t too much of a challenge, my brain started spinning and spinning.  I was wondering why people weren’t talking to me.  Why was I not getting messages saying hello?  I’ve been gone half a year, have I been forgotten after 5 years?  How do I step back into this?  Everything and nothing has changed.  I have no place there anymore.  I am not needed, they were able to survive without me for that long.  Who am I kidding to expect to come back and get work back and enjoy my job again?  What happens if I freak out again and do something stupid like drive off the road?  How do I make sure I take care of my own mental health, but still doing well at my job?  I’m not sure I know how to do both, my mental health always took the backseat.  I was depressed ALL.THE.TIME.  Not just a little depressed; no showers, no productivity, on and on.  I was miserable.  I can’t do that again, I won’t.

So now, I have to learn how to do both.  I have to learn how to balance my health and my career.  People who have bipolar do it every day.  I have to do it as well.  All it will take is some forgiveness and accepting of myself, as well as a lot of patience from my boss and coworkers.  Most of whom I don’t think know what really happened, I just disappeared for half a year and popped back up.  I guess I’m a magic show now.  For my next trick, I’ll stick out an entire day of work without a panic attack or tears!

 

Back to work after Bipolar

I go back to work on Monday.  This will be the first day working in 5 months.  I can’t believe it’s been that long.  I think because I’ve been so worried about it in the past month, I’ve not done much productive like I did the first 4 months of leave.  I haven’t done big projects like I had been doing.  I haven’t been writing like I was, even though it’s been bubbling to come out.  I don’t know what to do with myself most of the time.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m glad to see the people at work.  It will be nice to have structure to my days again.  I’m glad to feel of use again.  But man I’ll miss being home and being able to have the freedom to do little things like knitting group during the day.  I have no ability to go to physical therapy twice a week anymore.  I can’t take care of my house like I have been.  Or, I can, but I’ll go crazy again being manic and trying to fit everything in my day.  I don’t know how “normal” people do it all.

Well, I wanted this to be a beautiful post with flowering language and something that people want to read.  It has instead turned into a “train of thoughts” post.  How will I focus on writing when I will not have energy to do anything anymore?  My poor book is still stuck at 25 pages.  I can’t get myself to do it.  And that breaks my heart.  I had 5 months that I could have spent writing my book and I blew it.  Granted, I blew it on an average of 10 hours of therapy and 4 hours of physical therapy and countless other doctor’s visits.  But I didn’t spend down time writing, I blew it in myriad other ways.

I will miss this time alone.  I will yearn to be home with my dogs all day.  I will miss cuddling with them in the morning between 7:00 and 9:30 when I get up.  I will miss time to crochet and go to groups.  I will long for time to spend imagining my hairbrained ideas and not following through with them.   My desire for work overrides these things, but it’s amazing how comfortable it is being home.  I never thought I’d like the lack of structure.  I’d always imagined I’d be bored and not productive or want to ever do anything.

I feel like I won’t have a place in my team anymore.  They’ve had so much time to bond and work without me, what will I do there now?  They don’t need my work now, they’ve gone so long without it.  They’ve likely taught themselves everything that I previously brought to the table.  I will have been replaced.  And that’s what they should have done.  But now I’m coming back, I have to carve out my place again.  And that’s utterly terrifying.

I don’t even care

How long do down spells last when you’re on two antipsychotics and bipolar 2? I feel like I’ve been down for weeks now. I’m definitely not as down as I used to be; my depression depth has lessened. I’m still struggling with daily self care and doing anything but staying in bed and crocheting random squares. I can’t even care enough to make something useful.

I feel like every thing I do right now is such a huge effort. I have to force myself to leave the house, by joining a crochet/knitting group. I have one group therapy left, I have one more regular therapy appointment left and one more physical therapy appointment left.

I’m on the edge of a precipice and terrified of the jump back into my old life. I can see how I used to be and I’m terrified of going back. It’s driving me down in fear and loathing of my self and progress. Had I not learned so much on my recent journey to wellness, I’d likely jump right in the deep end. Now I’ve got my little swimmers on and want my daddy to catch me in the shallow end. I don’t know if I can do this.

In addition, I’m having dreams that I’m waking up actually crying. I have to cuddle with Connor for a minute because my brain is still in the dream and I can’t break myself lose from it.

This is hard. And excuse typos, I couldn’t even get the energy to go into my laptop and type; I am just using the app on my phone that I obsessively look at how many views I get a day and get knocked down that there are 3.

Intensive Outpatient Therapy

I was recently asked what it was about my group therapy that I loved so much and that I believed was the most helpful in group work.  That is a problematic answer for me, as there was such a huge benefit for me in so many different areas.  It took me from a shy, anxious, depressed and newly diagnosed wreck into a relatively stable and (dare I say it?) happy person.  Of course, it wasn’t all group, I did a lot of work myself, but I wouldn’t have known what work to do had I not gone.

I am in general a chatty person and don’t have issues making friends.  I do however have a hard time getting really close to people and opening up entirely.  I know that I am very naïve and only look at the good side of people, so I tend to not let myself get too close until I can see the true person, or finally see the negative in them that will harm me.  In group therapy, you’re encouraged to be completely open about things you would never tell strangers in a million years.  It taught me rapidly not to be trusting of everyone, but not to be afraid either.  I’m still my introverted self who needs to recharge alone, but when I’m out in public, I’m not quite as terrified to interact with people.  I’m not as ashamed and worried about what they will think of me.

In the beginning when you are admitted to what’s technically called “intensive outpatient therapy” you begin going 9 hours a week.  3 days of 3 hours.  That’s a LOT of time in a room with strangers and it was very intimidating.  It’s absolutely shocking how fast you get comfortable with doing it and disclosing your secrets and fears to these people.  There are people from all walks of life and different stages going through completely dissimilar issues.  Some I’d gone through and could offer suggestions to the others.  A lot of times people would be able to help me through things.  One thing that I see as bad and good, is they tease me about being a natural leader.  I will chime in and “take over” often and I will usually start the conversation because I know nobody else wants to.  Why wait, just get it over with, I have nothing to be afraid of now. Now I know my natural “bossy-ness” is a blessing and a curse.  I did not know I had that skill however, and would never have believed anyone who told me otherwise.

There is something about being in a room with the same 6 people for so long and getting to know them so deeply that what they say to you really does rock you to your core.  You believe them, and you know they mean it well.  It also helps yourself to be able to reach out and care for and guide other people through traumatic issues and bad days.  Being able to say that someone came into group in a terrible mood, and yet we walked out together laughing is quite a feat and happens most every day.

For most people, I believe the guided learning would be the best and most helpful.  Our therapists will pick a subject and teach us about it.  I have every worksheet we’ve ever done and will keep them to look at forever when I’m having either a hypomanic or depressive episode.  They’ve taught me so much on assertiveness, confidence, anxiety calming, and just countless other skills.  Because I have my psychology degree, I thought I knew a teeny bit about therapy and such.  Turns out, I know nothing (thanks Dunning-Kruger effect!).  Without these amazing therapists taking the theories I know and helping apply them to ourselves and our own problems, I would not have learned skills that I’m going to be using for the rest of my life.  Without them, I would still be a scared, timid, self-deprecating hot mess.  I’m grateful every day for the woman who suggested I go to group.  It has essentially saved my life.   It also isn’t a bad thing to have a set-aside time to color for a few hours.
🙂