Thursday, July 31, 2008
Last year I celebrated my mother's 60th birthday by having a major break. I started disability on her birthday. I don't remember that month as I was sleeping from Seroquel or not sleeping from symptoms. I doubt I even got her a present except for a severely manic me, and really that's NOT fun.
This year I wanted to do something special. What I really wanted was to do a mother's ring, but that just wouldn't have been pretty as our birthstones don't match well. Even playing around with added diamonds or other stones nothing makes them pretty. So I finally decided to commission someone through Etsy to make a charm bracelet with sea glass charms for each child. It also has tiny charms of sea creatures she has happy associations with.
I could tell the person I commissioned really got it, but I finally just saw it and it is so, so perfect. I cannot wait until mid-September.
Obviously my mother doesn't know about this blog. But just in case she'd wander into it, I won't link to the designer until the thing has been given to her. However, I can't say enough how much I love it. I'm never going to manage to contain myself for 6 weeks.
So all that stopped for a long time. Then recently it's crept back in. I realize this is a testament that my co-workers don't see me that way, but I want respect for my issues. Today we had a meeting where it just was clear I'm going to get uncomfortable soon.
The thing is that I call myself and various things crazy all the time and I'm fine with that. I totally have a double standard, and since not everyone knows I'm mentally ill, expecting them to be respectful of certain things I don't respect (political correctness basically), it's ridiculous to even have expectations.
We need a more perfect world.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
I've been through every flavor out there. And this last one has been pretty good. Until today. Which typically means it's over and the pattern starts again.
The dentist said I didn't have to use toothpaste, but I can't walk around with bad breath all the time (unless that's ok with you, the general public?).
What a yicky way to start what will be an insanely hot day by all accounts (and because I'm chained to my desk, but that's another story).
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Today I learned things. Here they are:
1)If one has hand tremors, one should be careful when placing a straw in a styrofoam cup. Otherise one will puncture said cup and leak pop throughout one's car.
2)If a task is going to raise panic and it takes hours just to sort out what needs to be done, don't count the steps to completion.
3)Never trust people to do things which will prevent you from doing extra work but not them.
4)Freaking out doesn't win friends.
5)Nothing helps a constipated belly for long.
6)Don't make lists when really tired.
7)People who use high beams as weapons should be punished by living in the land of my pupils for a week or two.
8)Slidy, maladjusted glasses that look cute and have great correction can still make one CRAZY.
Friday, July 25, 2008
So I found out this week that various people at work feel I've not been particularly approachable. And truthfully I can see their perspectives. On the other hand, in each case I think my perspective is also reasonable, assuming that they were responding to the situations I think they were.
I like the people I work with. However, it's a situation where they are co-workers, not likely to be my closest friends. I simply have very little in common with most of them. I feel like I have little in common with most people. I probably need to address this with Dr. Mind....
I'm also not sure the disputes I've had are really that meaningful. Disputes will happen. Aside from one thing that is more of a clinical thing, I don't care about any of it enough to think it is a big deal. In 2 instances I was frustrated during conversations, but in one case I felt that another therapist had made me look extremely stupid in front of a patient and family (and whoever else was present), plus she had taken over treatment that was on my plan of care (they can't duplicate). Another one might have been fine if it wasn't approached with a tone of voice that made me feel defensive. I even knew I felt defensive, but I couldn't help it. And that person just should have had someone else handle it if she was uncomfortable.
I also am on the "bad productivity" list. Not good. Same old story though. Although this month there's a lot of crap I've been doing that isn't necessarily my job (long story). And I've had vacation and been sick, adding up to a lot of not-goodness. I've also spent forever trying to track patients dates as I was told I HAD to do by a corporate person, and now I'm told that since she was fired I don't have to, I can go back to delegating, and my boss had no idea I was struggling through that.
Tuesday I'm meeting with my assistants and manager for what I hope will not only be a chance to tell them to talk to me if they are upset because I may easily be having a bad day and not know it and if they say something I'll fix it, but also just a way to make my life a little easier. I hope.
Not the worst meeting ever, but not the easiest either. Hate this kind of thing. Hate bipolar.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
The last few months I have felt horribly tired. However, there were plenty of good reasons and nobody was worried, even me. I've been working very hard with Dr. Mind on very emotional stuff and it was draining. It had been a long time since I had vacation. I was depressed/mixed. And my thyroid med was in need of adjustment. Plus I'm on enough sedation to make most people spend their lives in bed, yet I'm up and running 14 hours/day.
It never occurred to me that my meds could be causing it since I've been on all of them a long time. Obviously they make me tired, but that shouldn't drastically increase unless something else causes it.
A couple weeks ago I got a deal on Zyrtec at Sam's Club. I have been taking generic all summer. I've been on Zyrtec through the allergy season for years, but my meds have changed a good bit in the last year. One of those changes was that I started taking atarax (hydroxyzine) for anxiety. It is an anti-histamine, related to benadryl, and I discovered it worked well for me when I had the lamictal rash last spring.
I knew I was taking 2 anti-histamines, but I still even had allergy symptoms, so I figured it didn't matter. The doctors thought it was fine. And then I got the name brand bottle. On the back it said not to use if you are sensisitive to hydroxyzine. I thought hmmm, wonder if this turns into hydroxyzine, causing me to be taking a big dose of it rather than the small one we intend. I tried to look it up, but ran into problems wherever I tried. I also backed off taking it at night and felt better immediately.
Saturday that was the first thing I asked my doctor. She looked it up and I was correct. Zyrtec turns into hydroxyzine, and then the part of hydroxyzine that makes it anxiety reducing is eliminated, leaving Zyrtec less sedating and not calming, but still increasing sedation when combined with Atarax.
So, my public service announcement: Be careful what you combine and ask lots of questions. Nobody ever thought about this being why I was so tired. After all, it's just Zyrtec, right?
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Once upon a time I had the most wonderful best friend on earth. We became friends through a club in college and when roommate time came I asked her to live with me the next year. The first day we were together we realized this was something special. We had so much fun, and it was often fun with fairly odd stuff. We were both fans of the on-going joke, and had several which went on for years. She stuck tight through my early manias (merely annoying), and through a few severe depressions (very challenging to handle, especially the 3 months I got up as rarely as possible and was too depressed to even braid my hair as per usual). She stayed up with me while I cried for hours the night my little brother was born, and then she sat with me and made me watch stupid movies she collected from friends everywhere while he was in the NICU fighting for his life. She made me learn to say I love you, something not at all easy for me. I then moved to Michigan, which is not close to home, for grad school, and our friendship seemed to even grow in that. Long-distance was hard, but we visited as much as possible and once IM'ing became the thing to do we did that every week. We even did Bible studies over IM.
This was the friend who I could talk to about anything. Even with my extensive years in therapy most of the things that occurred in my childhood have only been told to one person. My current therapist knows some, and seems to have a fairly good understanding of how bad things were, but I think he would be the first to say he assumes. She didn't know everything, but she knew a lot. In many ways I trusted her with my life. In fact, during my most suicidal period in college she handed out my pills to me one per night. There was nothing we didn't discuss. There was little we couldn't intuit about one another. One summer at camp I got involved with a ladies man. I didn't see it, everyone else did. I got hurt. She could see it coming just from letters.
After grad school though, things quickly started to change. I moved to about 2 hours from her. For a while we got together often and still had a lot of fun. But my disease was moving out of control. I was having huge panic attacks and I was miserable nearly all the time. Each time I started to get better and have hope the meds were ok I'd be let back down, and each time it got harder. I started to have a lot more negative outlook as I entered 2 solid years of severe, untreatable depression.
At that time she had her first child. At first we did fine. But then I had a suicidal period. I didn't attempt anything, and it certainly wasn't my first, but it was the first that scared me enough to make even me realize something was severely wrong. I got on lithium ASAP and started seeing a Christian counselor. I'd been so afraid of counseling because of past bad experiences, but it turned out that the Christian part made it so I wouldn't have to be told to do things I didn't believe in, which had made me run from previous therapists.
I won't lie. The next few months I was awful. Lithium alone made me cycle very clearly. I would be nice, then furious, then sobbing within moments. I didn't care about anything or anyone. Everyone who is anyone in my life thought I'd be in the hospital within days and really I should have been. I didn't have insurance for mental health stays. I started having paranoia. I'd had it before, but that had always seemed related to my abusive past and difficulty trusting people. Now friends would be sick and I'd be completely convinced they would die. People were doing things to make my life hard. My co-workers were talking about me (ok, so they were). I was horribly agitated and couldn't be expected to do anything involving sitting still or being quiet. Little things caused me to cry for hours or days. There was a rare day I didn't cry.
Our friendship started to change. She pulled back noticeably. There was a week when I had been told I was to be prepared to be admitted one week later. I didn't say much to her that week. I couldn't. I couldn't explain what I was going through. I did, however, talk to another friend who is a psychologist. He, obviously, had slightly more understanding and it was a trust thing; I felt so close to the breaking point that if she had argued one single thing that had been said to me or that I felt I might have made that actual real suicide attempt that I've avoided despite my very high risk. I had told her prior to this that she could always ask the other friend for information, and I had tried to get her information to make it so she could understand what I was going through. I offered books, talking to the mutual friend with or without me, coming to therapy with me, or seeing a different therapist in a different practice together at my expense to try to help her understand what I couldn't understand myself. She refused all of these.
Over the next few months we had a number of disagreements. I started to feel everything I did was wrong. Once she visited and called a few hours after leaving angry that my kitten had scratched her baby. Apparently we'd turned our backs because my kitten had lost all his whiskers and I found them on the floor where she dropped them. That cat has been skittish since. And a scratch won't do anything but teach a baby a lesson they need to learn: respect animals.
During the first few months after I was diagnosed, things were very rough. I was nearly hospitalized many times, and mostly it was my crummy insurance that kept me out. I was fighting to make myself continue with my therapist despite therapy being really hard. I was enrolled in a clinical trial and seeing the psychiatrist and having an extensive evaluation every 2 weeks, requiring frequent trips an hour each way from home. When I finally started to get better my doctors started a program of matter-of-fact training about what I faced. Sometimes it was really hard as I learned some of the ways I had to safeguard my wellness. I was taught things I needed to be more assertive about at work, with family, etc. I was taught to not be so demanding of myself that I made myself worse. I was also taught how to use the ADA, something which my friend felt was wrong. She even went so far as to be angry that I didn't reveal my illness at an interview for another job.
The further my illness progressed and I tried to handle all the changes that come with knowing you will be chronically ill, that there is not a treatment that is likely to work for you with great success, my reactions were all over the place. There were, of course, many things nobody would predict. There were also things that were certain. I always had assumed I would have children. Now I knew I absolutely couldn't. In fact, I not only knew that, but I had to take birth control pills to help reduce PMS affecting my cycling, even though I certainly wasn't having any relationships. She had no idea how much it hurt to see her with her child. I was angry and tired and frustrated with the medications taking over my body--ever gain 60 lbs in 6 months while consuming a healthy diet? I was nauseated and vomiting and my hair was falling out in clumps.
At the same time, she was changing. It's taken me 6 years to fully recognize this and know that the guilt was not all me. Her religious beliefs were becoming more centered around Satan and laying on of hands, and a lot of things I have no experience with and was not comfortable with. Her husband was a pastor and had access to private information about mutual acquaintances/friends. He would tell her and she'd tell me. At the time I never realized what a huge violation that was for everyone. I can only imagine what random people knew about me, and at that time I was not telling anyone about my illness. Those that read this are used to the very relaxed Just Me about telling. Back then it was TOP SECRET.
In February 2003, the same the Columbia fell apart, she called and asked/told me she was coming to see me that evening. She arrived bearing a letter that turned my life upside down. It was long, and she'd been writing for months. Many statements she attributed to me were taken out of context. She made a lot of assumptions about how I was handling my relationship with God, something she was deciding based mainly on my inability to go to church. Like most public places, church is overwhelming and has been for years. One of my goals is to try church a few times this year. I'm finally almost ready--5 1/2 years later. There were judgments about my counselor and about my relationship with another friend. And the crowning glory was the announcement that she had spoken to 8 people in her church, most of who knew me at least on some level, and had them vote on whether I was behaving as a Christian. I lost.
Today I would have thrown her out of my apartment. Back then I sobbed and accepted it all as truth. I had no confidence in myself. I hated all these things my illness had done to/taken from me, and it had to be that I wasn't trying hard enough. She was a pastor's wife, a leader in her church, a church I liked a lot. If she said what I was doing was not possibly having a relationship with God then I believed that.
My reaction was bad. I cried literally for days. I had to be off work. I was probably the most suicidal ever. I lied to avoid hospitalization, the doctor knew it, and instead I did the "prevention plan" routine. Yet I still thought she was right. Within a few weeks I was back to cheerily answering, sounding like she wanted me to. When I confronted her about how dare she say those things with absolutely no guidance to someone who was severely depressed and had repeatedly fought being suicidal in recent months, her answer was that she knew it was a risk, but it was one she had to take. She risked my life, my best friend risked my life, because she had decided my disease was one of sin.
It took months for me to get strong enough to really deal with it. Finally, 7 or 8 months later, I told her I wanted a break from our friendship, which by then was a crummy experience anyway. I think she just couldn't actually be the one to end it because that would look bad for her. I used those months to write a good-bye letter. It took a long time to send, but with support from others I did send it. It included a simple request: Never contact me. She has respected that, although I imagine she won't should she randomly find this someday.
For the next 5 years I have shied away from friends. I have dreaded getting close to someone and then getting hurt. I have a few friends, but nothing like a traditional friendship. It is of course complicated by the fact that it is extremely hard to have a social life when you have noise and often movement sensitivity. I often can't go many places, although that's changing now.
So, way back in January, Dr. Mind and I had a number of difficult discussions about trust. Essentially I learned that I was at a point where I could continue coasting for a little bit, but if I want to be better there are issues I have to deal with, and to do so means having to trust him and Dr. Brain. From prior conversations Dr. Mind has said he thinks that given enough time and work he can help me function even without having him babysitting (not his term) me all the time. He seems to have a plan for how to do this. I'm glad, because I don't seem to move forward if I'm picking topics. First, we all did some collaboration to get my anxiety as controlled as it has ever been. Then we somehow dove into conversations that required me to trust Dr. Mind more each week. There were lots of tears as I talked about how alone I have been for the last 5 1/2 years, how many friendships I've destroyed, even one that started in kindergarten and ended when newly bipolar Just Me couldn't handle her friend's wedding invitation. Eventually we got to the letter.
I'm not even sure how long we have been going through that thing. Several weeks initially, then there were a few weeks I avoided it, then more weeks. Ultimately a week or two ago I agreed that I would re-read it and shred it if I was done. When I read it I realized we had discussed all of it, mostly without my even knowing (which was much less painful). It went through the shredder on Tuesday.
I can't really describe how proud of myself I am and how happy. I finally believe that yes, I did change and certainly I changed in ways that weren't good. I did things that were wrong. I have things I have to re-learn about other people. I also have to work on believing in myself more, trusting that I am allowed to be at my own level. I am starting to even begin to be ready to talk about my faith issues, which are rather complicated due to years of believing I was lost to God or something according to my friend, knowing that wasn't what my God said, yet coping with cognition which limits me to children's Bibles.
When I saw Dr. Mind this week he asked why I'd decided it was ok to shred the letter. I knew it was ok when I saw there was no more feeling of "slap in the face with all the things wrong with me". But I knew it was the absolute right thing on Wednesday. One of my often abrasive patients was teasing me, and had been all day. She and I have a great relationship, which is rare for her. Finally I hugged her and told her I loved her. She didn't hesitate a beat before she said she loved me too. And when I heard that, I believed it. It's been a long time since I believed that when someone said it, even though I do know that there are people in my life who love me. It's just been a loaded word.
Finally I know why. Other people can love me, just as I am. It doesn't just have to be one person, it doesn't have to be limited to my mother, it doesn't have to be love only in one way, and it doesn't have to be "because I'm supposed to, she is sick after all".
I no longer believe that this one person's love was greater than all others. I am free.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Apparently all the prayers that my "situation" at work be handled ok were answered. We must remember God works in mysterious ways. I had a weird morning anyway. I was trying to drink a 20 oz. bottle of pop on the way to work, and I had my other bottles ready to go on a hot day. I kept feeling like the pop was making me sick. Then I started feeling sick, and within minutes was throwing up out the car door. I was only a few miles from my mom (or work, but I can't go there with puky germs). So I came to my mom's, and am waiting for the nausea to decrease. I was exposed to this about a week ago, so I guess it's just one of those really fun things. I was due; this is part of healthcare and I've not had it for a good 18 months.
I still have the situation coming Monday, but hopefully parties will have cooled off by then. Now back to seeing if I can eat toast. I felt hungry so I made it, but the smell isn't very appealing. Ick.
| EMAILING FOR THE GREATER GOOD|
Plus it's supposed to be very hot. Again. My hair has become totally uncontrollable this week. It is growing back finally after I lost a good bit last year as my depakote level reached the sky high point that works for me. I've had to use specialized shampoos and treatments and for the last few months my stylist has said the hair was coming back in. In the last month my bangs would not stay put. I've got very curly hair, I know how to control it. Nothing was working. Finally I figured out that I have grown out those new hairs to about 2 inches (about 1/2-3/4 inch with curl) and it is "fluffing" everything else out. So I have to now add a whole step to the hair thing. Unfortunately with this humidity it isn't worth much.
Anyway, speaking of the scary hair, it's time for the application of the gel (stage 6/10 in the daily taming process).
I'm back to being in a good place. I like it here.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
I'm going to have to be more careful to time a few days off now and then.
Friday, July 11, 2008
However, I made some planning errors. I felt bad leaving for vacation with my assistants having low caseloads so I busted my butt trying to get some patients. Tuesday (my last day) I worked almost 15 hours and did a record number of evals, plus some treatments. I got home around 3:30, unhappy because I was starved (first I tried chicken from Walmart-yuck, then late-night 24 hour McDonalds where I wound up with breakfast which I did not want) and tired. I slept all day Wednesday, a good bit yesterday and a good bit today. So, nothing is getting done but I need the rest.
Plus I found out Monday that my thyroid continues to be messed up. I got more medicine and will need bloodwork in 6 weeks. I knew it was, I can sort of separate that tired from my usual tired. But it will take a bit for the meds to work, so I feel justified resting a lot.
I guess that I'm finally learning to relax about fatigue interfering with my plans.
Sunday, July 06, 2008
I spent Saturday away from home to avoid fireworks and a generally noisy tiny town. I came home tonight to find my neighbors having a loud party, complete with music that feels like it is invading my head and a bonfire that is making my fully sealed up house smell like smoke and now I have a headache. Figures.
I had bought meat for a casserole I wanted to make to have for this week since I know I'll have limited meals. I didn't notice the 4 hour cook time in a slow oven. So the thing will actually be done at 12:09 AM. I also had to change the proportions a bit, and when I opened an extra can of tomatoes to add more sauce I didn't realize the can was dented and so I had to waste the actual tomatoes and just use juice.
And I lost my remote for the tv in my bedroom, the one vital to pill-taking. I think I may have thrown it away accidentally, along with a slipper (long story). I've been a bit distracted lately.....I bought a universal remote but it doesn't seem to work with my tv, which is a bizarre off-brand from a Black Friday sale years ago. My guess is that the chances of finding a new remote may not be great.
And Sarah, you sent your fruit flies to my house. You may come and get them at your convenience, although certainly within the next day would be appreciated.
Friday, July 04, 2008
This year was cold and it rained most of the day. I got back to town about 8:30 from my mom's and realized I could go to the festival. It was cool and I had enough energy for a quick pass through. It wasn't much. I got an Italian sausage, the first I'd ever had which was ok. I would have bought a shirt but nobody was watching the booth. There were shirts sitting there, but nobody to pay and I didn't want to just leave my money on the table.
It took about 20 minutes to see it all. Now I'm trying to handle fireworks from the neighbors. I'm doing ok. Not fabulous, but I'm not jumping with every boom and I'm not crying.
Another sign of the miracle in my life.
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
I think I know what happened. I finally realized that the last treatment I'd seen in the gym was of this woman who keeps her room so hot it's hard to find a roommate who will tolerate it. My guess is the therapist turned the heat up to appease her and then forgot.
So, from now on I guess I'll be checking the units for where they are set before I start doing anything. I just hope I didn't do anything too goofy; I was kind of confused towards the end Monday.
Best news though: I work today, tomorrow is off, work Friday long enough to see a few patients, work a partial day Saturday to cover yesterday and hopefully get paperwork caught up in silence, work Monday and Tuesday and then am off until the following Tuesday. Yippee.....
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Mainly I am very, very angry. I hope it was an accident. I don't understand HOW it could be though. Why would anyone turn the heat up to around 90 degrees when it is essentially July? It was 70 degrees and very humid today; it was not cold. And patients generally are ok with the A/C on in the mid-seventies, or at worst with just regular air. They don't demand full-blown heat from both machines.
I know there was a patient upset about being cold today, but I don't think she could have gotten into position to do this without someone noticing. Of course I suppose she could have said she was just increasing it a little.
Regardless, it made me sick. And angry. And tired........I really want to sleep but am too nauseated.....
I spent a lot of today with white noise on. I really paid little attention to co-workers or what was going on. I didn't start treating until late afternoon, aside from putting a brace on someone and doing the pre-treat for that earlier.
I finally treated in the gym late this evening. I needed to be there, but it was the worst mistake of my life. Nursing homes are always hot and humid. They keep the air-conditioners on enough to take the edge off, but they rarely are actually comfortable for young people. This one is the best I have ever worked in, mainly because we have total control of our office temp. The office was arranged specifically so the air blows on me, and the other person closest is like me and is happy with it blowing cold. Plus we're the ones most in the office.
When I was in the gym I was very hot and started feeling very sick. I kept making myself think about other things because I know that my co-workers never do crazy things with the 2 units in the gym and that the gym is nearly always pretty much the exact temperature of the rest of the building, barring our office. When I started feeling light-headed I finally decided that I HAD to turn the air up.
Imagine my shock when the first unit was blowing full blast, on maximum heat. I turned it down and checked the 2nd. Again, full blast, maximum heat. That one claimed that 85 was the high end; I don't know how accurate that is. Regardless, it was extremely hot and it was not good for me at all. I'm still feeling confused and tired and weird. Hydration is only helping somewhat.
I know there's an explanation. I can't wait to find it. I stayed in there in heat that felt really wrong to me because I got confused when I got so hot. Heaven only knows what my patient was thinking.
I'm so frustrated.....