Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." Genesis 9:13

Monday, August 28, 2006


There are some things going on with work that I can't discuss here. I suspect I'm being discriminated against and can't really prove it. I am more than likely going to have to change jobs to resolve things. I'm fighting hard to stay emotionally ok, so I may not be around much for a few days.

I do have a few posts in draft form, so hopefully I'll get at least something finished and posted.

More later when I figure out a way to explain without opening myself to further problems.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Good Part of Bipolar

There aren't many good things in this illness. I can, of course, get all philosophical about how it has helped me grow as a person, and it has. I'm sure I'll talk about that sometime. As much as I hate it and fight against it, bipolar really is a part of who I am and I know that. And sometimes it isn't a bad part.

But the very best part? It's the same as the very worst part: cycling. No matter how bad it gets and how much it doesn't seem like it, it is always going to change. When that happens it is always slow (although this is certainly the slowest ever) but I always get a little glimpse of some things to appreciate. Right now I am feeling true joy because tomorrow will be a week and a half of working for me and although it is hard and stressful, I am doing it. Even the day before I went back I was scared that I would know by now that I can't. Instead I'm discovering that for today I can do it. When I get sick again it may be another story, but today and tomorrow I am ok. So many things are like this. I spent most of 4 months avoiding noise. Tonight I am enjoying having the windows open listening to all the night noises. I replaced a box of tissues last night and realized that I no longer need a box in every room due to uncontrollable outburts of crying. So many things I already am taking for granted I couldn't handle every 2 weeks ago, much less 2 months ago. Three months ago I was fighting to stay out of the hospital and was not allowed to use sharp objects.

I have come so far and I need to appreciate this every minute. Thank God.


I've had an incredibly stressful day, and just as I started to relax I realized thatI forgot to pick up my prescription for a mood stabilizer (ie something I really need to take) and it is now too late to get appropriately dressed and drive back to the pharmacy for it. This is where it stinks to live in the middle of nowhere.

That pretty much completes my day. Ick.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

It's getting better????

Last week I was in bed at 6 each evening. So far this week I'm staying up to a normal bedtime and I feel good. I've made it through half my week now. I have tomorrow off.

I feel much better today because I was assertive about some things and got some changes to be made, or at least worked on. Some things are ridiculously hard. For example, my assistants don't quite seem to get that they can't dump everything on me. Both of them called off yesterday and left me doing parts of all 3 of our jobs, except that my job isn't really to do anything but paperwork right now so my job didn't get done at all. I think that will be ending. I hope that will be ending, because my ability to do this job depends on these things.

I am amazed at how slowly I'm doing things. I still seem to think slowly, and I write slowly and move slowly and after years of doing the same job I seem out of my groove on the automatic parts. Sometimes technical words don't come to me and this is highly frustrating.

But I'm doing it. I wasn't sure I could and I am. It's helping my mood heal. I think also being back WHERE I work is healing me. It helps to see that losing my ability to do what I do (ok, fine, I'm a therapist. Not the talking kind, one of the other kinds. I'm tired of trying to hide that word) still would leave me so far above where my patients are. It reminds me to be so grateful that I live now and not 40 years ago when there wasn't an effective treatment for bipolars. Many of my bipolar patients fall into that category and they are so damaged from too much ECT or thorazine or other ugly drugs that did not really help. One woman who is elderly and has been bipolar for 50 years or more suffers so badly because even now her moods are uncontrollable. She is the sweetest thing one minute, singing and hugging the pizza delivery man and dancing in the hall, and attacking someone entering the building for a meeting the next and needing 3 people to "take her down", to use the language. Sometimes I see myself in her and wish she had had the chance to benefit from my meds. Every time I see her I stop feeling sorry for myself.

I'm also getting so many reminders about love. Last week when I walked into the building I felt so very strange. It was weirder than walking in there for the first time a few years ago and not knowing it was a psychiatric facility for a few hours. We have a huge lobby area with couches and tables and stuff and the patients hang out there a lot. When I walked in immediately a woman jumped up from the couch and ran over to me (and this woman has trouble walking) to give me a huge hug. Every time I've seen her she's been thrilled. This is amazing because for a long time she had an extreme paranoia about me, so much that I hid from her. It is also amazing because she is so impaired by illness and meds that I never thought she'd remember me after 4 months. Over and over I've had people so happy to see me, and often I did not think they would remember or care. I love the people I work with, and now I know I am loved back.

Anyway, I am now pushing my bedtime. I'm trying to be so strict with this because it is really nice to get off work "early". Early is in quote because my change to a 4 day full-time week means that I will be working 9 hours the other days. This is absolutely standard for me anyway, but it means that if I start late I will have to stay very late. Which just messes up my sleep cycle more and ultimately will mean disability time under the new rules.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Three Days Down

I made it through the week. I was so tired I went to bed the minute I got home on Friday, and took long naps the other two days, but since I've not exactly been a ball of energy for so long I guess that's ok.

I had an appointment with my psychiatrist today. She was really happy with how far I've come and with the fact that I'm sleeping for the first time in my life. She also told me that she's going to be changing jobs and won't be coming to the clinic I go to (to make this confusing, the clinic is in the City. She works in the BIG City. The City is an hour from Cow Pastureville; the BIG City is over 2 hours away). She is staying in the BIG City and so I can still see her (thank God, I don't think I could tolerate losing her), but the monthly visit is going to become a pain. On the other hand I'm really happy for her great opportunity, and this job will put me in the position of my doctor being someone "important". I imagine that may have benefits when it comes to getting new treatments. I just hope it doesn't change some of the more wonderful parts of being her patient.

Just so that it's been said, I'll do my very best to post but the next few weeks may not be my most vocal. I cannot believe how tired work makes me, and on top of work I have to do the basics like eat and have clean clothes and dishes and perform my daily hygiene (I really felt like giving up showers due to exhaustion this week) and go to counseling (which puts my arrival home for the day past my new bedtime) and everything else. I seem to feel much better even today so I assume this is going to pass quickly, but for the time being I have to do those things that keep me healthy first.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I Did It

I have made it through one work day. Two more and this week is over. I'm exhausted and overwhelmed, but I knew those things would happen.

It was weird being back; everyone (staff) was very understated about it, which I appreciated. I'm assuming this means that it's an unspoken awareness among the professional staff that I was dealing with some form of serious mental illness, which wouldn't have been hard to figure out the last weeks I worked. As long as it stays respectful I'm happy. I may wind up telling someone in another place I work that I had lithium toxicity, and see what happens.

It was hard to see how much has changed and how much stayed the same. One of the patients who I really enjoyed died recently and it's not quite the same without him. It never is after a death. There has been lots of room shuffling which is confusing. My paperwork has become bizarrely different and I hate it.

But it felt like I was doing something worthwhile for the first time in so long. And I felt like I was purposeful, again something I've been missing.

And tomorrow is another day....

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Why does bipolar equal evil?

I have to watch tv during the time I take my meds. The distraction helps me swallow all those pills. Tonight I watched an episode of Roseanne that I really didn't need to see. But I became fascinated and wanted to see an ending that I hoped would counter what they did.

Throughout Roseanne the husband's mother is described multiple times as having psychiatric problems and having a history of hospitalization. It sounds like depression much of the time. During the end of the show she is hospitalized in a fancy hospital that promises a cure.

On this episode she shows up in the middle of the night after being released from the hospital. From the beginning her behavior is bizarre and she is trying to kill her son. She's shown having hallucinations about his glee at committing her (which of course family members can't even do to one another). The doctor gives the usual "She'll be fine as long as she takes her meds" speech, which of course means in tvland "otherwise she'll be "psycho"". The names of her meds are listed so that anyone who knows these things realizes that she is bipolar. Through the show she becomes increasingly evil. She is shown cheeking her meds. Ultimately she makes several attempts on her son's life, then declares her intention to bury him alive.

Why does mental illness in families have to be portrayed this way? I realize I take this personally, but this just isn't that funny. Or it could be funny without including the portrayl of bipolar or schizophrenia.

Probably 200 of the approximately 300 patients I work with have significant mental illness (ie, bipolar, schizophrenia, personality disorders, or very severe depression). Most have bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. And there are a few of them who are not really people you want to hang out with. But they are a tiny minority and there are a tiny minority of any group of people I don't want to spend time with. Mental illness does not make people bad. It does not make people do evil things. The nature of mankind leads to these things.

So why do I feel so bad?

I'm Scared

I am so afraid to try to work again. I'm afraid because I've never really done anything before that I knew it was so likely I could fail. I succeeded academically without much effort at all until college. I had some hard classes in college that made me question my abilities, but after I learned that Bs weren't bad I was fine. I breezed through graduate school, and although I had panic attacks and terrible anxiety before my board exams I knew I would pass. And I did. This time though, there's no promise. There really isn't a way to get by just on intelligence. Hard work with help, but if the right circumstances kick in hard work won't matter. So this is all new.

Consequently I am anxious about everything. Does my new haircut look stupid? Answer: It's so slightly different that almost nobody would notice. What if I oversleep? Answer: I've been getting up fine for a while now. Plus I work flex hours so I CAN'T oversleep. What if they expect too much? Answer: I'll talk to them, but I think they have some idea now.

This is ridiculous. I'm going to drown my sorrows in laundry. Please think, pray, cross digits or whatever you choose to do for me tomorrow.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The end is in sight

I got my all-clear to go back to work today. So Wednesday morning I will put on something besides shorts, grab a cooler full of water bottles, and brave my new world. I'm terrified. It helps that the psychologist admitted that even now may be a little early to go back so at least that feeling is validated. I think I'm ready, but I am also terrified. It's so odd that I'm going to do the exact job I've had for two years, and have been doing somewhere for nearly 6 years, and yet I know that it has to be different enough to make all my experience feel irrelevant.

This kind of thing has always made me feel like I have achieved some landmark and conquered a part of my illness. This time I feel much more cautious and afraid. I found out what the severe parts of my illness can do, and the experience has left me much less trusting of my ability to control the illness myself, or to fight off as much as I used to think I could.

On the other hand, I get to go to work! I get to see friends, meet both of my new assistants, and best of all see my patients! I cannot wait. In a few weeks I'll be back to actually helping people, and there is little that feels so good.

Now I just have to survive tomorrow and the waiting.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Shhhhhh! Sleeeeeeeeeeeeping........

I am very hesitant to whisper this to myself, much less announce it to the internet, but in the last few weeks the last gigantic issue I was having has resolved itself, and in fact I have improved far over my baseline. I'm referring to sleep. I'm doing it. Not too much and not too little. And waking. I'm doing that not too much and not too little either. This is very strange for me, I haven't done this well with sleep in so many years I can't remember. I, Just Me, am waking up at 7 am routinely and falling asleep by midnight or 1 am. I've needed the occasional nap, but mostly I've been awake and as long as I stay busy I don't fall asleep. Boredom leads to napping, but that won't be an issue much longer as I start work this week.

It's partly the meds, I finally found a balance of mood stabilizers, antidepressants, Ativan, and prayer at night that is counterbalanced well by an odd dose of Provigil, which is a stimulant really used to treat narcolepsy that I use to wake up from the hefty doses of sedation. It's appearing that odd doses may be my new ticket; I'm taking oddball doses of 4/5 meds (cutting them into 3/4 of the tablet, taking 2 different dose pills to get a very precise dose) and it works much better.

In addition I'm on a lot less lithium than ever before. My level is around an average level now instead of the high level I've always needed. Therefore I am finally not having to pee every 2 hours. I'm consistently sleeping for 5 solid hours and that is a precious, precious thing.

The psychologist made me rearrange my furniture to cause a change to trick my brain into not going into my old routine of getting wound up at bedtime. I do not agree with him that this is a major factor because I slept well the last 3 nights before I did it, but it does help.

The major factor to me is a weighted blanket. This is exactly what it sounds like. We use them at work and they are used also in schools with kids with ADHD. The theory is that the pressure is calming. I've seen them work like magic so I decided to try it. It was somewhat expensive by the time I bought the special blanket, the weights, and paid to ship all that (it's heavy). But it was worth every cent. Those 9 lbs. seem to not only be calming, since the day I got the blanket I have totally stopped sleeping violently. Naturally that was costing me a lot of sleep, so this helps me feel much better.

Anyway, someone should do a study on bipolars and weighted blankets.....Just not me! ('cause I'm SLEEPING! And controlling my projects!)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Inside the Quiet Room

Today was really, really strange. I've spoken before about how I've spent what seems like half of the time I've been on leave at the psychologist's, and I've probably mentioned that I was working on some things that were extremely difficult. But I've purposefully stayed away from specifics for several reasons. The first is to maintain my privacy and sense of security that those conversations are totally private. Another is that I don't really know how to explain aside from saying that when I was diagnosed I focused so hard on finding treatment and adjusting my thinking to try to have a positive attitude about my illness that I never let myself deal with a lot of the anger and sadness and loss. All that had built up over the years so that I could no longer ignore it. And it turned out that for much of what I faced, the hardest part was facing that I can't make those things better. I cannot push myself to have more energy, and I cannot push the parts of my brain that don't operate properly to fix themselves. That hasn't been easy for me to accept.

I only discovered the final reason today. This blog is the only place in my whole life where I publicly say "I'm Just Me and I'm bipolar and I have some ugly symptoms, I do weird things to cope, and either you accept that or you can leave". As may be obvious, otherwise I pretty much hide. I tell close co-workers a little bit. For all the years I've been diagnosed and the years before that when I should have been, I've spent most of my time pushing very, very hard to seem absolutely normal. Over the last year or so this has worked less and less well, but I've never done anything else so I've continued. Ultimately it got me in trouble because I refused to say that I couldn't do something because I knew that if I did not have bipolar disorder I would be able to do it. Therefore I used up every ounce of energy I had, and kept working long past when a sensible person would have said no more. So I have spent a lot of this summer fighting with the fact that I'm sick and this means I can't do everything I want to, or even need to, do and that I have to quit fighting this.

So today I was sitting there curled up in my chair as per usual talking about returning to work in SIX DAYS and how I was scared that I would not be able to seem ok. I thought that "ok" was a reasonable place to aim for (it's less than normal, after all), but the psychologist told me that's not it. He told me I'm not ok in terms of being able to do the same things everyone else does, and I need to focus on doing what I can do, not on what some standard I'm setting is. Or something like that. But I reacted much like he had slapped me; I was really startled by this concept put quite that bluntly. I have no idea how to not push as hard as I can; it's not just my coping technique, it's my personality.

And then, to make it harder although I know he had absolutely no idea, in the last few minutes of the hour we were talking about the last few requirements I have to meet to go back to work with my company and disability insurance, and I said the psychiatrist had told me before her vacation that the last second approval is up to the psychologist. (I really should give these people some names, huh?) Anyway, he tried to say something nice and it scared me to death. He told me that right now I'm the best he's ever seen me. Now, I haven't seen him for all that long, maybe 6 months, but at the beginning I thought I was doing relatively ok, even though I was having some issues that at that point were thought to be physical and not related to bipolar. So saying that probably is with the additional knoledge that everything at that time was bipolar-related, but I think he also is telling me what I know deep inside, that I was pretty manic even then. But I also know that now is still far from top-notch, and if this is the best in 6 months, meaning really the best in about a year, then it's been even worse than I thought.

Thus proving that I can never again be Superwoman.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Where are you coming from?

Today has been a rather odd day here at Master of Irony, as I have had over 4 times my usual volume of hits. And I haven't posted in 2 days thanks to a mouth that resembles chopped liver, so I don't think this is due to anything I've said. I mean, I'd love it if all of you were coming because of my I'm feeling better party, but that doesn't seem to be it. And you all are coming with the same search term.

So what's up? I'm starting to feel like there's a porn connection coming out of my site or something. :)

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Same Post

Anxious, anxious, anxious.....

This post is going to just repeat itself for the next 10 days. Returning to work is upon me. I am scared silly. I feel like there is so much to get done before I return, and I'm trying to remember that things are not done because I've been sick, not that I wasted my vacation or something, and I'll get them done over time.

My psychologist has been on vacation for about a week. I've done really well at not having the usual appointments, but the last few days I've felt the anxiety increase, I think because I'm just ready for reassurance that this can be done and is being done in a controlled way. I'm very ready to see him tomorrow.

I just want to have a chance to try out denial a bit longer. I had so long, a year or so, that even though I cycled I thought I had achieved a safe balance. Now I know that wasn't so true, and I have to look at my real illness. And the only way to see it is going to be to try out working. And for now waiting to do that is probably harder than the first days will be.

I'm scared because I have been tired the last couple days. The night I was up because of not having power was not good for me. It makes me scared. It's hard to remember that for years I've had days I was tired and I managed, and now I'll manage even better because I'll have more days off.

Mainly though I'm scared I'll fail....And I don't even know what failing is, since I know that I can't really decide to do this or not do it. My body will dictate what happens and that's not failure. But somehow it seems that if I make mistakes like I did last winter and spring that I will be failing myself and the people who have supported me.

10 more days and the post will probably say "I did it! It was great!"....


Word verification has now been turned on as the comment spammers have found me and I don't feel like dealing with it. I apologize for the annoyance; I know that I get pretty frustrated with that myself sometimes, but I don't want to deal with the junk.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Good thing I don't believe in omens

So, yesterday I went to the regular doctor for a thyroid check-up. He told me he's not completely sure what to do because my labs are deviating from normal (no! not me!) patterns of thyroid issues. So he was ordering a more specific test and continuing the low dose of thyroid medication I've been taking. He sent me home with a refill script and plans to figure out if this really needs treatment or not based on the new test results.

When I started the medication it was called in. I thought the nurse had told me the dose was 25 mcg, but when the pharmacy gave me 100 mcg I assumed I had misunderstood. I was very sick at that time and also had been sleeping a sedated sleep when she called. So I never questioned it. When the doctor gave me a script for 25 mcg yesterday I thought I had remembered the dose I was taking wrong. I checked the bottle at home and lo and behold I was taking 100 mcg for the last month. I called and talked to him and the pharmacy screwed up. Which means thanks to them it's going to be pretty hard to figure out if I actually need thyroid medicine or if my thyroid is recovering from my lithium toxicity on its own. I also may now be hyperthyroid which is the LAST thing I need since it shares symptoms with mania.

The worst part is that this is the second time this pharmacy screwed up my dose. This is a big national chain, but not the sharpest branch. I only continued to go there because the next place is so far from home, and because at least the people there know my name (which is good when you're on so many meds). The first time I picked up a refill of Depakote and when I opened the bottle that night it was immediately obvious they had given me the wrong dose because the pills were the wrong color. I called them the next day and they refused to correct the error, telling me that I took that dosage (um sure, I have a lot of trouble telling the difference between grey and hot pink pills). So I left a message for my psychiatrist that she needed to call them (this was on a Sunday and I thought I'd be medication-less until Monday), who wound up calling them and forcefully talking them into staying open until I could get there to pick up the correct pills.

This time I'm switching to the much less pharmacy 30 minutes from home. I am not pleased.

Then about 2 hours later I was aware a storm was approaching when the power went out. The full story is tedious, but I spent a long night in the dark, couldn't take meds because I rely on the tv to distract me so I don't gag and I'm not about to start the gagging routine again, was told by the power company it would be on by 3 am, and they lied (obviously no other explanation is possible). I had no food that didn't need preparation, things in the fridge were getting warmer by the hour, and it turns out that this street is really, really dark without streetlights. So I was up most of the night and awoke to find.....no electricity! Along with this I had melting ice cream, defrosted meat, etc. I had potato chips for breakfast. Ultimately I think the power was out 20 hours or more. I had to throw out everything in my refrigerator. What an incredible waste.

So I have to keep hoping this stuff is happening to make me want out of the house even more than I already do....'Cause it's working!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Getting Nervous

I go back to work 2 weeks from today. At that point I will have been home nearly 4 months, a total of 114 days. When added to the 12 days I took off earlier in the year for bipolar/psychological issues that makes nearly half the year I've not been well enough to work. Actually I can't make the firm statement I go back in 2 weeks, I go back if I am in good shape in 12 days. Nobody can promise that.

I have been working on some of things that need done before I go back, appointments and the like. I've also been practicing exerting energy. Which is not easy in this heat. But I'll be working in a hot environment. I've got plans and promises to myself about carrying a cooler of water bottles because I've been seriously lacking in that department, and on not drinking any caffeine at work. I've been making arrangements for some accomodations, and it looks like I'll be able to work a 4 day full-time schedule, at least on a trial basis. I think that will help a lot at first as right now I go well for a while then need a day of rest.

I am so excited. I love what I do. I love my patients. And I'm well enough to be bored silly at home now. I was actually begging my mother to take me somewhere with her that basically is a 4 hour car trip.

I'm also SOOOOOOOOO afraid. As I've said before I'll be learning whether I can handle this job when I return. Everyone knows this, although it is unspoken except with my treatment people. I have been so sick for so long that it's hard to believe I really was well and working for a long time. It's also hard to remember that I've worked when I was quite ill and done just fine, many months of the years I've done this. Then there's the question of whether I just have had progression of my illness that is going to affect my ability to work from now on, or if I was just that sick as a fluke because so much went wrong all at once and I refused to admit it (the more likely scenario).

It's also very hard because I've had the last 10 days when I've been feeling better and have been able to see for the first time how much easier life is on me without working. Everyone says they don't want to work, but that's not what I mean. I truly want to, I didn't commit to as much education as I did to only do this for 6 years, but I mean that I actually feel human when I can go with my body's needs a little more, when I have time and energy to cook healthy foods, when I exercise, when I do things I enjoy. Tonight I was in my backyard after dark for a while. It was the first time I've ever been in it at night and I've lived here 3 years. I couldn't even remember exactly where the switch for the porch lights are located.

I know that 10 days really isn't long to feel well, and therefore the 2 weeks I have remaining are quite reasonable (especially since even 3 weeks ago I was very, very ill) and that I'll probably be feeling even better in 2 weeks. But I'm feeling for the first time since this started a pressure(totally from myself) to get moving.

In so many ways I feel like a kid going back to school. (I even got some new clothes because some of my old ones are associated with too many bad memories). It feels a lot like going to college for the first time, when you know everything is going to change forever and it's really exciting, but you know you might not survive and just because you were good in high school you won't be in college. Frankly by this point in the summer before I went to college I was ready to walk there because I was spending 50 hours/week babysitting these boys who drug dead roadkill back to the house and picked the lock on their father's gun cabinet, and 10 hours/week babysitting 4 kids who had a reputation for being terrible kids but who were wonderful for me. College was a vacation after that.

I just hope I make it through 14 more days.