This is my 500th post. It feels like it came suddenly; writing in this thing is so much part of my life now. It seems like forever ago I finally got it really started. I had set up the account and played with it 3 months before I wrote a word. And now I've had 500 posts, readers from every continent but Antartica, and I've learned a lot from what I've written.
It is absolutely perfect that I get to celebrate something huge with this post. First, to explain the title, you have to understand how much I hated grad school. It was miserable, I didn't get along with most of the professors, only one professor even seemed to think I could even do this, I even was dissuaded from doing a thesis over a research project (less strenuous) because it was "too much work". The thing was that to get a PhD you often need to have done a thesis, I loved research and the type of precision a thesis required was right up my alley, and I had won a scholarship that covered living expenses and a bit more so that for the first time in my educational history I didn't have to work. I wound up babysitting so I got out of the house, and I actually made more money that way, but that was fun. My thesis was done well before most people's research projects. Grad school was also the beginning of the long slide into bipolar. I have an email that I wrote from about this time in 2000 and I wrote about how I was feeling so "weird", depressed some days and fine others, and like things were partially propelling me forward out of control. The thing was that looking back maybe we should have seen I needed a good psychiatrist, but as happened so often then, it seemed easily explained: I was heading into my full-time clinicals which is of course scary, I was exhausted from months of thesis writing, etc. And then the psychiatrist at the college that I'd seen for 2 years died in a way that left a lot of questions, and he wasn't replaced for months. His replacement immediately thought I was bipolar and I walked out on her.
Anyway, the first semester was so hard I thought I'd fail and that would be the end of that. After that semester I did fine, sometimes really well, but there was so much unpleasantness. I had gone to a tiny Christian college and this was the polar opposite. At the college I went to we were only allowed to have men in our rooms one night/week and the door had to remain open. I was once told I had to put my feet on the floor to comply with the rules when I was merely sitting with my legs underneath me beside my boyfriend. The school I went to for OT had a grad dorm I initially lived in. I moved out after finding a man in the women's restroom in the middle of the night wearing only his underwear.
At some point during the first year and a half I made a friend a countdown book to graduation. We counted down from something like 500 days. And I mean that literally, I always knew how long until graduation day, Dec. 9, 2000. (Strangely we actually had to finish one more week of clinicals after that, so for my last week as a student my technical credentials were MS, OTS (OT student). We missed much of that week as a result of a blizzard though.
Every picture from that graduation shows the happiest I've ever been. I was so sure everything would be great now. I'd move back to my home state, find a job in one of the 2 states I called home, and study for my license. Soon I'd be done with the test and on my own. This was finally my LIFE.
We all know (unless you're just joining us) that this wasn't true. I became very symptomatic very rapidly. Trying to study for my boards induced horrible panic attacks. I'd take computer tests and fail, over and over. I soon was involved in the mess of med changes that have been tried to get me relatively stable since 2001.
In all that time I've been on and off many meds. Last month, for the first time ever, I was told that I could reduce the frequency of one of them (a more minor one) because I was doing so well. I really had no difference with that change, so as of last night I'm on an approved slight taper of my Seroquel. I have been taking 3 1/4 pills, or 650 mg. This isn't a dose commonly used, we just tried to get the lowest possible dose I was ok at because the lower I'm ok at the more wiggle room there is when things change. So, yesterday I got official permission to cut one pill into approximate 8ths, take those pieces from largest to smallest to taper off, and go back to 600. I can also try 625 if needed but the more we back off in the spring the less manic I'm likely to be in summer, and the more we can work with in the fall.
So, I made real, honest-to-goodness progress.
And I didn't have to wear a stupid hat.