Sick, sick, sick.

endometriosis, major depression, medication, rapid-cycle bipolar disorder, self-harm

As I write this, I am having a little bit of an episode. I got up at three in the afternoon, cleaned my tattoo, took my meds, took my morphine (to ward off the crippling pelvic pain I have every single day, will have for the foreseeable future), ate breakfast, read a book, couldn’t get dressed, dealt with racing thoughts for a few minutes, crippling anxiety because I am home alone until my husband returns from class at 4:00, cried, took an Ativan, stabbed myself in the arm with a fork because of the intense guilt I was feeling at the time.

This is my “normal.”

My sleep patterns are completely fucked at the moment because I’m working 7–2 (third shift) three days a week. I haven’t weighed myself in months, but the last time I was at the doctor (a week after I started dancing), I’d lost seven pounds. My appetite is, by turns, ravenous and nonexistent.

I’m seeing my psychiatrist on Wednesday morning, provided I can drag myself out of bed at that ungodly hour, and then I will tell him that my meds are not enough, never enough. I have one mg tablets of Ativan and am only supposed to take one to two per day, though I can handle much, much more. 150 of Effexor, which I am not even supposed to take because with bipolar (even type two), antidepressants can make you fucking crazy, and 200 of Lamictal. My moods have been more stable, but my default state is still numb and detached. I don’t often swing to hypomania (well, more than once or twice a day, and even then I don’t want to accept that it’s hypomania—I am just not depressed), though the crippling bouts of intense depression hit so many times each day, I can’t even keep track of them. They range from twenty minutes to several hours in duration, and then I’m back to flat.

I can’t get disability because I am technically still able to work, I am too young, I don’t think my doctors will sign off on it. I’m afraid to ask. I should probably ask at my next appointment, just to see, just to confirm that I’m not sick enough to actually get the help I need to take some time off and focus on recovering.

The thought is profoundly depressing.

Obviously, I’m not doing that well these days, though I’m keeping my shit togetheras they say. What keeps me going is the knowledge that eventually this will break and I won’t have to deal with my rapid-cycle bullshit anymore, that I’ll have some reprieve from all this madness.

I feel like a fence post today.

major depression, ptsd, rapid-cycle bipolar disorder, stigma

My current episode of depersonalization/derealization has been going on for well over a year, as I’ve mentioned before, but it’s particularly bad today. I slept way too late, until 2:00 this afternoon, and woke up feeling very disoriented and detached. I sat on the couch for close to an hour, staring out the window…it felt like five minutes. I wasn’t even thinking about anything; my mind was essentially blank.

I wish I knew of a better way to describe what the detachment feels like. I usually tell people that it’s like being in a dreamlike state, and sometimes say it’s like being incredibly stoned (if the person in question has dabbled). D. sat on the floor next to me this evening while I had a smoke, and as I described how I was feeling, I was making a fist with my free hand.

I didn’t even notice the bloody furrows my nails had left behind until I went to wash my hands about ten minutes later. I didn’t feel my hand clenching up. I didn’t feel any pain.

Today, my mind is about a thousand miles away from my body. It’s usually not this bad; I’m not sure what’s triggering it, though I suspect it’s the oversleeping. But at the same time, I can’t really help that—I’m going through a nasty depressive cycle (which, given the fact that my bipolar is rapid-cycling, should be over soon—that’s the silver lining to all of this) and tend to be especially somnolent during these phases.

I have therapy tomorrow at five. I tutor on Tuesday night, have another doctor appointment on Wednesday, and work Thursday through Saturday. I’m hoping I’ll make some decent money this weekend, now that I know how to handle my shit at work. I feel bad for not being able to work a regular full-time nine-to-five, but the combination of mental illnesses I have can be pretty debilitating. It’s hard to keep a forty-hour work week when you regularly bottom out at two P.M. and feel like if you don’t go home and bury yourself in a mountain of blankets, you’ll finally snap and do yourself in.

I hate living like this.

It’s been a full week since my last suicidal thought.

a cure for what ails you, major depression, rapid-cycle bipolar disorder, self-harm, stigma, suicidal ideation, three hopeful thoughts

I can’t say I’ve been happy, but I haven’t really been super-depressed, either. I feel content and more at peace; for now, things are pretty quiet inside my head. There have been a few instances of the “dark core” piping up, but I’ve been able to shut the nasty automatic thoughts down with an efficiency I’ve never experienced before.

Is this what recovery feels like?

I’ve been getting out and taking a walk every night, at least 30 minutes at a time. Sometimes, I go out multiple times, usually when I start feeling restless and trapped in the apartment. It’s such a relief and so freeing to know that I’m not helpless, I’m not trapped. There are places I can go, things to see. I am becoming more comfortable with being alone with myself and just sitting with my thoughts—and my diagnosis.

There’s this huge misconception that people with bipolar disorder are loose cannons, that we’re violent and unpredictable. Crazy. Out of control. I’m learning that while it may happen to the best of us from time to time, it’s certainly not the norm or the default state.

I met a lovely gentleman, also bipolar, on Monday night. We took a walk to Mendota Park at dusk and sat on the rocks by the water, discussing our respective attempts to eliminate our own maps. Just being in the company of someone who knows what it’s like and being able to speak frankly about the ins and outs of this illness was incredibly healing for me, and I found myself able to really relax for the first time since my diagnosis.

There’s not much else to report right now…I have therapy tonight, my first session in three weeks, and I have plenty of things to discuss. A dear friend of mine and D’s is coming into town on Saturday and accompanying me to my tattoo session on Sunday afternoon. I can’t wait to cover up these ugly scars, to remind myself that although it’s a part of my past, it’s just a story now—it’s not happening to me anymore. The worst, for now, seems to be over.

A change in the weather

a cure for what ails you, major depression, rapid-cycle bipolar disorder, suicidal ideation, three hopeful thoughts

I was out for a walk yesterday when it hit me: I haven’t felt actually depressed since Thursday. Occasionally anxious and agitated? Sure, but mostly in response to external stressors. I’m mostly flat/content, but have had a few moments of what I think is mild happiness. The climate in my head isn’t quite sunny and 75 yet, but it’s slowly improving.

The lamictal seems to be doing its job, but I’m still living in fear of the rash. Every time I feel itchy (which happens frequently, considering how much I’ve been outside lately and my allergies to tree pollen), I freak out and pop allergy pills and repeatedly ask D. to check and make sure I’m not getting blotchy. The actual rash doesn’t scare me—it’s the prospect of having the one thing that’s finally making me feel stable stripped away from me without warning.

Being outside, going for long walks around the pond (especially when D. works nights, when I get too anxious and lonely to sit in the apartment by myself) has been incredibly therapeutic. In Middleton, there are so many places to walk to, so many things to see. It’s not a large town, but it’s a step up from Cross Plains, which was tiny, and my hometown of Dubuque, which was not exactly what one might call “pedestrian-friendly.”

How do you all feel about being in nature? Does it help your mood to just get out, even if you’re alone?

Bipolar II, sans mania.

a cure for what ails you, major depression, medication, rapid-cycle bipolar disorder, stigma

After two hours of evaluation with my new psychiatrist, I received a new and totally different diagnosis: Bipolar II with mixed episodes, no actual mania. It was something D. and I had suspected for a while and had discussed extensively, but hearing it came as a bit of a shock.

And then I felt relief. The reason I’ve been feeling so shitty for the last six years is because antidepressants can make the bipolar cycling worse (my doctor also suspects I’m rapid-cycling), not because I had treatment-resistant depression.

My mother is bipolar. My uncle, who committed suicide years ago, may have been bipolar. And my grandfather’s alcoholism (self-medicating) and fits of temper could have been attributed to the disorder as well, according to my psychiatrist. There is very much a genetic component to the disease.

The game plan is to keep the 150 mg of Effexor in place for now while I continue climbing the lamotrigine ladder to 200 mg. Then, we’ll reevaluate at the end of the month and see how things are going.

I received the news less than an hour ago and am still sort of in shock, so I’m having a really weird mixture of emotions right now. I’m not quite sure how to feel about all this, though I’m glad I’ll finally be able to receive proper treatment. And, as I’ve told myself dozens of times over the last hour, it’s not like I’m a different person because I suddenly have a different diagnosis. It’s just that everything makes more sense.

I guess this was nothing to be afraid of after all.