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 31, 2009

That was obvious enough

I've owned this house for 6 years. Weeks into owning it the stopper on the bathtub broke. It was one of those stoppers that is built into the tub and the little lever thing was broken before I moved in. For all these years the drain has not been very effective, so that each shower involved standing in a couple inches of water.

I've never known what was wrong. Today I cleaned hair out of the drain, just like I have plenty of other times. This time though my finger slipped a bit and hit this thing inside the drain that opened it up. That's right, the reason for the water accumulating was the drain was partly closed. All it took was pushing the little thing away.

Six years.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Things I Like

It's been a long time since I've done a post about the various things that help me keep functioning in my daily routines. This is NOT an advertisement of any sort, just things I've found that help. I'm linking to them simply because maybe someone else can be helped. Some things might have been discussed before, but I have no good way to look back.

Here we go, in no special order:

Clocky is an alarm clock that forces you to get up. It makes a hideous noise that is a bunch of randomized sounds so you can't get used to the beeping and sleep through it. It is very, very loud. And annoying, but that's good when you are highly sedated. After a period of time you select, if you've not turned Clocky off he takes off randomly on his wheels and goes until something stops him. So then you have to crawl around to find him and that definitely wakes you up. I don't use this every day simply because it is quite annoying, but I use it every time I have to be awake by a certain time, or if I'm super tired/have had to take ativan and know waking will be harder. I also travel with it because I can't really take all of my 7 standard alarms with me, and I can't take my incredibly useful sunrise/sunset clock.

The BluLite is what I use for SAD. Traditional lamps are large and require 30 minutes of exposure per day. Research shows that blue light is the effective wavelength and this little box is blue light only. It's tiny, travels easily, and only has to be used 15 minutes. It also is nice because there aren't bulbs to replace. There are a lot of little diodes and it will still work fine after some diodes don't work, so it's supposed to last about 30 years. If it really does then it is also very cheap.

Dr. Body gave me a sinus rinse bottle last year as a product sample. I cannot take any cold medication. The only one that I can theoretically take (guiafession) I was taking when I developed the Lamictal rash. Although we're 99% sure that was from Lamictal I've been told not to take the other again either, just in case. So whenever I get a cold I wind up with a sinus infection, and they tend to be bad sinus infections. I seem to be 100% likely to get at least 2 sinus infections that require antibiotics each year and often these require more than one course of antibiotics to clear up. This bottle has little packets of a salt solution that you mix up to the same salinity as tears, then squirt up your nose, through your sinuses and out the other side. It sounds terrible, I know, but it actually feels really good and it really gets a lot of nastiness out. The only caution I really have is to be sure to not forget the saline powder or it does burn badly. Not that I'd ever do such a thing.

I keep this Homedics clock in my living room. I got it for Christmas to use as an Ipod dock. Which I do, but it turns out that it has another wonderful feature: a 2 alarm feature with volume control. I find it impossible to sleep through. The first alarm is set so that I get up at 4:00 AM to take my morning meds (including a med that lets me wake up easier). The 2nd is set so that if I manage to sleep later than I should I still wake up. It really makes a big difference/ I used to sleep through the 4:00 alarm frequently and then wouldn't be able to get up later. Clocky isn't appropriate for this alarm because I need to only wake up slightly then sleep a few more hours.

My Dreamcatcher weighted blanket gives me the gift of sleep. I had some specific reason for choosing this place, although I'm not entirely sure what it was now. They are a bit more expensive, but (I think this was the kicker) they are very washable, they make any size, they make very heavy blankets for adults (it should be about 10% of your body weight; I chose to go a bit heavier than that and have now lost enough that it's about 5 lbs heavier than that formula indicates), and the fabric choices are extensive. Mine is made of a fabric that I love (this is important with sensory issues) called Minkee Dots. It's typically used for baby blankets. Back when mine was bought at least (didn't look about now) they also had free shipping which was a big factor given that it is really expensive to ship 22 lbs of blanket. The biggest problem was that since this is custom-made it takes a long time. On the plus side, I never fell asleep easily until I had a weighted blanket and now I'm even sleeping without it sometimes. Not by choice, but I can do it (ie last night I kicked it off).

The Therapy Shoppe sells all kinds of sensory wonderfulness. I just bought a bunch of things from them to try to give myself things to fidget with that do not result in ripping my own skin off. What I've learned so far is that I have a serious need for things to mess with. I took one to my appointment with Dr. Mind and during a rather intense session I did not stop using it for the whole hour-plus I was there. And I have been Band-Aid free since I got these things. I have them in the car, my purse, and often my pockets.

Crockpot/365 days of crockpotting is my favorite cooking tip. The crockpot lets me have fresh and healthy food that has actually been cooked, not just microwaved. This particular webpage is a recipe site for crockpot cooking and all the recipes are delicious and nutritious. The author has a cookbook coming out soon and I'm very excited to buy it.

Orange glasses help keep me functioning in the summer. Essentially I have the opposite of SAD in the summer: too much light makes me manic. Since I don't just do mania, I wind up with a mixed episode every June. These glasses cost about $7 and block blue light. This year I just put them on when I got to the car and wore them until it was too dark to see. Within a couple days of getting them I was sleeping at least an hour to an hour and a half more per night. That is still less than I should get but enough to keep me relatively healthy

My Diet book has helped me lose 35 lbs this year. Granted, some of that has been weaning off Depakote, but this book has made a huge difference. I had a scary blood sugar test in January which is why I chose this particular program, and it has helped me lose a lot of weight and my blood sugar is normal again. Since I'm at high risk for diabetes based on family history and taking an atypical anti-psychotic this is really important to me. I do not need to have to deal with another major illness.

Danskos are shoes that have changed my life. They are expensive but worth every penny. They are designed for people who are on their feet a lot, and in 3 weeks of use I have yet to come home with tired feet or knees. Since I have a knee that has a lot of problems, this is huge. They're a little weird looking but once you are used to them you don't care. I have the Professional Cabrio in hickory and ones that seem to be discontinued called Vanessas.

Seroquel XR is the first psychotropic that actually worked for me. Others helped some, in hefty doses and big combinations, but this drug seems to be precisely what my body lacks. I am on a small dose of it and a tiny amount of lithium and an antidepressant, and that is it for psychotropics. That is in comparison to years of 3 or 4 mood stabilizers at high doses, plus and antidepressant, plus meds for anxiety, plus meds for sleep. It's a huge change and it has given me my life back. Seroquel original helped me, but it wasn't until the XR version came out that I started becoming myself again.

Provigil also gives me my life back. I've been on it for years; it isn't until recently that I found a good balance. It always helped but now it works incredibly well, partly because I manage to wake up in time to take it when I really need the help. Essentially Provigil helps with overcoming sedation. People with bipolar need to take it with great caution and supervision, and it's somewhat controversial for bipolar patients, but I've never had problems with it. In all the time I've been on it there have been some days that it has made me a little manicky, but I just am aware of that and take a dose of ativan as soon as I feel it is needed. There's a newer version of it out now called Nuvigil that I'll be switching to sometime soon, but for now I'm very happy as is. The worst part is that this drug isn't one insurance always wants to pay for, so generally there's had to be a fight between my doctor and a reviewer with each new insurer. The fight has ranged from once my doctor just kept sending them stuff until they shut up, to a check box, to my doctor having to talk to my case manager (that I didn't know I had). Fortunately that time my case manager was a psychiatrist (imagine that, an intelligent decision by insurance) and it was easily approved. I have new insurance now so we'll see what happens.

I think that's enough for now. I just like finding out about different things, so I thought I'd share some of my favorites.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

My new Everest

This week I felt ready to start on my next several months worth of counseling. Every several months I decide I'm ready to handle some new topic. Then it usually takes me a few weeks to be ready to start talking. After that it's what we talk about until either I have a handle on it or I've had too much and need a break. Usually breaks are one or two weeks long, although I suppose the last one really is on-going in a way. By the time I was ready to even begin to think about what had gotten to be too much I had someone gotten a lot more comfortable with it and didn't need to talk more. So we didn't go back to it an all has been well.

Anyway, the new topic is one of the things I struggle with more than anything: trust. I have a tendency to not want to trust anyone, but then I also trust people overly much far too often. I seem to have some kind of all or nothing thing going with trust, and who is where doesn't make a ton of sense. I struggle to trust people who I have every reason to trust, but I'll blindly trust random people on the basis of they were nice to me once. I also tend to know that since I struggle to trust people that often I need to relax when I'm not trusting. There was once that still scares me and it happened 10 years ago. I was in grad school, a period of time I had very little trust in anyone. I am and especially was very afraid of men. I knew this and I knew I tended to overreact so I tried to compensate but talking myself out of overreacting. I was in a large Walmart-ish store called Meijers that is a Michigan-based and amazing place. (As far as I can tell Meijers has everything. It is what I miss most about Michigan.) I liked to go there and wander around when I needed a break from grad work. Since I didn't sleep in grad school I would wind up there late at night sometimes. One night this very creepy man started following me. At first I thought it was a coincidence, but no matter where I went there he was. And he started bumping into me repeatedly. I was scared but afraid to cause trouble. Besides I kept telling myself I was overreacting since this was a man. So instead of getting help I kept moving, into areas of the store I thought I could lose him, but which were more and more deserted. It was not until someone told me I should have been doing anything to get help and that I shouldn't have left the store without security knowing and going with me that I realized I'd forced myself to trust someone who easily could have assaulted me. Yet I get panicky if a man stands what I deem is too close to me in a line.

So I have a lot of work to do. At this stage I just want it to be Thursday so I can talk more and feel more comfortable with this project.

Friday, August 28, 2009


So I just got a nice surprise. I've now officially lost 35 lbs since January!!!

So exciting.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Some days

On top of all the other craziness of the last few days, Sunday I got an ominous sore throat. I tried to ignore it, but by yesterday evening it was clear I was sick. Sinus infection, no doubt about it. So today I went to the dr., was thoroughly checked for H1N1 (safe), and then filled a $100 antibiotic prescription. (My insurance card hasn't arrived yet so I have to pay up front).

I also talked to Dr. Body about the rather frightening situation my digestive tract finds itself in, apparently as a side effect to the increased dose of imipramine. To put this into context, I already took 5 times the usual dose of a stool softener each day, plus one vegetable laxative. Which has become 2 or 3 vegetable laxatives in the last few weeks. With no change in condition. So, I now am taking a double dose of Miralax along with all the rest, and probably will be taking something even stronger this weekend. I can't express enough how UNEXCITED I am about this. It's not something I can really avoid at this point given that things can't stay how they are, but this is a LOT of medication. In fact, I'm now taking 11 pills per day directly for bipolar and 10 pills and 2 doses of liquid medication per day for side effects/damage caused by bipolar meds. Somehow that doesn't seem right....

And then, and this is the truly amazing thing, I was driving home at dark by the time I worked late and then picked up my meds at the pharmacy. I had the cruise set at 66 and was driving along listening to a book on CD and messing with a fidget toy when I was about 10 miles from home. I passed a state highway patrolman at a point where they frequently hang out. I was passing in the left lane when I passed him, and soon after pulled over. Seconds later I could see in my rearview mirror the cop pulling into traffic. So I thought ok, he was waiting for a break in traffic and this is coincidence. I am NOT SPEEDING!!! But he kept following me pretty close and after a short time he put on his lights. So I pulled over, wondering what the heck was wrong NOW. My immediate thought was that someone he saw I had my little fidget in my hand and thought I was driving unsafely because of that. Oh no. Headlight out. Thankfully he just checked that the other worked and my high beams worked, then ran my license through the computer, and warned me. I would have cried for about 4 days had I gotten a 2nd ticket in 4 days.

So, this just isn't my week. I'm really, really anxious for weekend and some good rest. I've barely eaten in 2 days, just because I feel crappy and food doesn't appeal. Today I've had a couple granola bars, lots of water, and some sherbet. This is not a good idea......

Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!

Monday, August 24, 2009

So much for life is easy

Yesterday evening my throat got a little sore. I started pouring in vitamin C. Typically I'd use Zicam swabs immediately, but since those were pulled off the market for damaging people's sense of smell I didn't have anything I was willing to use. So I did go and get some tablets tonight but it may be too late by now. By this point I have a sore throat, drippy nose and very stuffy sinuses along with pain and pressure. So, it's safe to say I've got a sinus infection brewing. Lovely. With swine flu cold symptoms are likely to force me to the doctor very soon. I'm so excited....

And then I really blew it this morning. I always get up at 4:15 to take meds, get a drink and go back to sleep. Somehow this morning I knocked over a pie plate that was on my table. It smashed into a bunch of tiny pieces, some of which landed on my foot and gave me two somewhat nasty cuts. So I spent 15 minutes cleaning up broken glass, then cleaning up my foot, and I'm stuck wearing sneakers for several days because I can't wear my usual shoes because they'll rub on my cuts. I'm very, very fortunate I didn't have to go get stitches at that time of morning.

So I feel somewhat lousy, I think I've even got a fever, and my foot hurts. Lovely. Nothing like only getting 2 weeks to settle in before chaos erupts.

How long until weekend????

Saturday, August 22, 2009

One crummy Saturday

I had to go see Dr. Brain today. That's so routine by now it's no big deal; every 4 Saturdays I do this. It's a long trip. I knew they've been doing some weekend construction in one city (where I work) so I left a bit early. This week I had no problem with the construction, so I did an errand and then drove up to my appointment.

I'm feeling better, but I'm still anxious and distracted easily by the anxiety. I was worrying and not paying enough attention and while passing someone sped up a tad. I noticed and started to slow down about 15 seconds before I saw the cops. Two cars pretty well hidden under a bridge, using laser guns. I saw them point at me, and then I was pulled over. To make it all worse, this happened in a place that there has been construction but it is done so there are no physical signs of it except apparently the speed is still posted as lowered to 60. And at the moment I was caught I was at 75. I'd been there only momentarily, but I was there. I knew it when I saw the cop and knew immediately I'd be pulled over. So, I was 15 mph over in a construction zone, which means the fine will be doubled. And since I had an accident in December, this means I'll have enough points on my license to cause my rates to go up. I'm expecting the fine to be around $300, based on what I remember of the fee schedule I was given with the previous ticket after my accident. So, I was late for my appointment (thankfully the doctor was too and was just finishing with her prior appointment when I arrived) and have been stressed and upset all day.

Then I talked to her about my depression. Which is much improved, but I'm stressed about it because I'm on the highest amount of my antidepressant I can possibly tolerate, and I'm now on a big dose of fish oil too, so there is no more increasing easy stuff. She wants me on less AD as soon as possible, but it may not happen for months simply because if I'm not ready to back off in 4 weeks it will probably be spring before I can, thanks to SAD. I have tried one more bump up on the this AD, to the biggest amount she will allow me to take, and I was manic in a few hours. So this is it for imipramine. It is the only AD that has worked this well this long; I think I've taken it for 4 years now. I've been on many, many antidepressants. I don't do well on them, but I'm also one of the occasional bipolar patients who seems to need one. Imipramine has been wonderful, and it was a last ditch effort when it was tried, not likely to do much since nothing else had. (Remeron worked well for me but ultimately contributed to hypertension). The only ones I've not been on are MAOIs, a few other tricylics that aren't much different from what I'm on, Lexapro and Cymbalta. Lexapro is out because it's an SSRI and those have made me manic with a 100% rate. Cymbalta must not be a really good option because we didn't even discuss it. Which leaves me really one option: Emsam. Emsam has been out a few years. It's an antidepressant patch. It's also an MAOI. Those drugs have the distinct disadvantage of interacting with certain foods or meds to cause dangerous hypertension. Emsam at the lowest dose has no restrictions. All other doses have limitations. For me that wouldn't be a ton; the biggest would be soy, which I do eat a decent amount of but could live without. Aged cheese is the only other biggie, and I don't eat a ton of that. I could live with the other options. So why worry, right? One "small" problem. If there were another oral drug I could try I would be able to taper off imipramine while starting the new one. It wouldn't be likely to disrupt my life much. In contrast, all other antidepressants must be out of your body for a week before starting Emsam. That is a very scary prospect. I honestly think I'd ask to be hospitalized for that week. Partly because it keeps me safe during what might be a hard time, partly because it easily excuses me from work to get through it. I need to not worry about something that isn't happening now, but this is hard. The one thing that is hardest for me in this whole illness is the knowledge of how few options there are when things change. I've simply been through most of them. It's a little better knowing that Seroquel worked when there were almost no options for a main medication left, and it wasn't very likely to work. And of course things just aren't that dire now. I just really needed to get that little bit of news when I wasn't totally upset by spending a huge portion of my paycheck on not paying attention to what I was doing.

Then I went out of my way to go to an outlet mall to buy shirts. I need more than 5, which is what I have right now. Total waste of time. I wound up with some underwear and socks and 2 pairs of socks for Christmas gifts. So getting home took about 4 hours longer than it needed to.

I am now tired and grouchy and upset. And even more anxious.


Friday, August 21, 2009

No Cheer Here

(Ok a little. My depression is getting better practically by the hour. Last night I fell asleep BEFORE 10, on purpose and before my meds had any chance to kick in. That's huge. In fact it might be a first. Ever. It also seems to be a sign that I'm possibly going to be even better than I was before this last month. I read last night that fish oil can be really good for people with bipolar. Wish that had sunk in before, since I read that somewhere I've been many times before.)

But this seems to be my week for reflection on sexual abuse. And today I am angry. I just read about a woman who sexually assaulted an infant. Which goes right into my life experience; the things that happened to me started at about age 9 months. Which is another story. But anyway, this woman was sentenced. To 5 years in prison. For assaulting a BABY.

Somehow this is one of those times the law seems wrong. I think there's a lot of crimes against children that should have a greater sentence for the victim being a child. There were quite a few crimes committed by men in my family, against both me and others. Not a nice family. These were big deal crimes. One of the molesters (who didn't molest me) was arrested and actually got off on a plea bargain with probation. I went to school with one of his victims. That child deserved my relative to have been in prison for more than a few days. Another one of them did something that is too specific to state. We'll just say that there was a major cover-up by a group of people who are entrusted with caring for children. If justice had been done his prison sentence would have been about 2 years. And what he did was, really, really, really wrong.

This is a crazy world. Big news, I know.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


During my visit with Dr. Mind tonight, a blissfully relaxed meeting as I'm finally feeling better and seem to be leaving the danger zone I was headed for, it began to storm hard. He finally sent me home a couple minutes early because the storm was becoming dangerous. I had to wait a few minutes before I could leave, then I had about a 5 minute drive to the interstate. My drive from that point on is about 50 minutes, and the entire way home there was at least one rainbow. Most of the time there were two. And for a 15 mile stretch the one rainbow reached all the way across the sky in one big arc, and then 2 halves rose up outside but faded before arcing across the sky. It was incredible. I love seeing rainbows and enjoying their message of hope. And it is rather odd, but 99% of the time if I see one it is on the way to or from seeing Dr. Mind, which is always a time I need to relax.

I'm actually so relaxed now that I'm pretty much going to eat supper (haven't been home long), take my meds and go to sleep, even though it is only 8:30. I have the power to decide when I sleep for the first time in a very, very long time (maybe ever) and I'm loving it. Because actually being sleepy is quite possibly the best feeling I have ever had. I've been tired for years but sleepy is so new. I like it. (OK, so I guess I hadn't talked about that. I don't know the cause, I don't know if it the routine of the new job, if it is me pressuring myself to wake up, if it's being off Depakote and having had plenty of time to really clear it, or if it's the fish oil I started a couple weeks ago, but all of a sudden I'm getting sleepy around 10:30 or so. I put on my relaxation tape and when it ends I am asleep. I have NEVER had this happen before. I have never had the simple choice of when I sleep. This is the most exciting thing......I don't know or care why, just that I love it.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

New Perspective

I've been listening to a book on Cd during my commute that has made me think a lot. I probably have absolutely no business listening to this one and Dr. Mind would yell for about oh, 3 or 4 hours if he knew. Especially when I've been depressed and am still fighting it (although I do believe it's improving).

The book is The Pact by Jodi Piccoult. I really like her books usually. This one is too close to home. I'm going to explain the plot, so if you want to read this book, you might want to stop right now.

******************************SPOILER BEYOND THIS LINE***************************

The book, very summarized since it is 15 CDs long (probably lots of pages), is about a 17 year old girl who is in love with the boy next door. Their parents were best friends and the kids were sort of raised with the expectation they'd fall in love. When they were fairly young (11?) they were playing truth or dare and the girl was dared to go into the men's room. Which she did and she was molested. This then led her to have a great deal of trouble with the physical aspects of her later relationship. Ultimately she has sex with her boyfriend because she thinks she's supposed to. She spend a lot of time struggling. Then she finds out she is pregnant. She tries to have an abortion, but panics when the male doctor attempts an exam. So she decides to kill herself. The boyfriend knows, is even with her when she does it, even brought the gun, thinking apparently until the end he could stop her. He's stupid, he's 17, he doesn't tell an adult. He was tried for murder. I had to find out the ending to stand the book; I read online spoilers so I know he gets off. I don't know how yet exactly; I still have 4 CDs to go.

I can't tell you how hard this book has been for me to hear. It hits too close to home: sexual abuse, so many of the same feelings I've had, and way too much thinking/talking about suicide. I have almost stopped quite a few times. I really haven't had such a hard time with a book in a very long time. This though is different because something rather good came from it.

Please do not take this personally. I am not saying I am better than anyone. This disclaimer is thanks to anonymous and that person's taking the last time I wrote something about my experiences versus someone else's. I totally understand that one incident of sexual trauma is devastating. I honestly don't even know if there is much difference, other than the exposure I had to scary things was greater.


The sexual abuse I lived through was intense, had 2 different people doing bad things, and lasted pretty much my whole childhood. This was something I dealt with nearly daily for many years. I do not have one memory of my grandfather until he was dying that isn't linked to trauma. I just now realized that, in fact.

I have many, many issues because of what happened to me. I know they are somewhat normal and that they were made worse by the years I was too sick to deal with them. At this point I've decided that at least for now I just don't care enough to work on them. Unless I change my mind I'm probably choosing to be alone in my life as far as relationships, but I'm really ok with that. I just feel like I have struggled to do ok in life as it is, and I continue to struggle. I know that I could work on that stuff and be ok. But I do not want to. It's exhausting to think about so much work, and truthfully I'm happy now. Trying to sort through that stuff would make me not happy, for a long time. And I don't know that the outcome would be worth it. Trust is so incredibly hard for me. Which I have every right to feel. It takes everything I've got to trust a friend. It takes even more for me to trust people who touch me; there are so few people allowed to do that. My choices are not normal. I know that. But I also know how deeply damaged that part of me is.

What I find so amazing from this book though is that what the girl experiences is much like what I've experienced in my minimal relationships. The only time someone tried to kiss me I only sort of knew it was coming, it was very, very dark (we were in the woods at 11:00 at night with only one flashlight which was turned off), and I panicked and punched him. Hard. Again, I know this is a normal enough although extreme reaction, but since what I experienced was more extreme reactions make sense.

But what I finally get is something I've fought about with Dr. Mind for years now. He frequently tells me I'm strong and that I've survived a lot that I didn't have to make it through. My reaction has always been that I survive because I have no other real choice. I could kill myself, but otherwise I have to do this. But this book? This girl had one time that she was molested. It was no worse than any routine day of my childhood (my grandfather babysat me. I was with him a lot). And her reactions were so much like mine.

It's a novel. It's not real. But it was written by someone who very clearly researched what this person would likely go through. And the character has the same issues I do, despite not having had the years of abuse I lived through. I finally realized that even if I know that I'm making decisions that mean that no, I probably won't live a totally normal life in the relationship area, I did well. I've handled something awful as well as can be expected, and as well as others who haven't had so much happen. I'm ok. I'm doing well given my circumstances, better than expected even.

And that is a very peaceful feeling, despite the stress that this story has caused. (Not to mention I've listened without a panic attack and that's huge!)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My sad, sad day

Relative to most things, this isn't bad. Nonetheless, it's not been my day.

I woke up the morning and reached for my glasses, only to find they were broken. Badly. Beyond repair. The only spares I have are 2 or 3 prescriptions old. I wore them inside and prescription sunglasses for driving. My eyes are very, very tired.

I called my eye doctor to order new ones. The old ones were covered by warranty. This was good. I was very happy. I then went to Lenscrafters after work and spent a seeming fortune on a spare pair that actually lets me see. I like them, they'll be fine for a few weeks, but I didn't get the progressive lens or various other features I need for comfort routinely (my pupils are huge because I was born with large pupils and my meds dilate them further; they are so large I get dilated exams without dilation drops). I went for as cheap as possible. Yet I suspect I way overpaid, but I had no choice because I needed comfort ASAP. Then I got home and the eye doctor's office had called, and they discontinued my exact frame and so they ordered it in the only remaining color, brown. Mine were blue. I loved my blue glasses. I spent the whole day today thinking about how at least soon I'll have my blue ones back. Well, I won't. And if I don't like the brown I still have to use them at least for a while because the spares will make my eyes sore. I can do this for a while, not forever. My eyes are so, so tired right now.

And then I had the worst dinner ever. My local mall is small, and the food court is severely lacking in edible food. There is literally nothing that I'm willing to eat. So I went to the Chinese buffet. I've been there before and didn't like it, but could find a food or two I'd eat. It's been probably 3 years since I was there. It has become DISGUSTING. Most of the food was cold and very, very greasy. They seem to have given up on Chinese food, and now it's at least 50-50 really nasty and strange combinations of American food and Chinese food, probably more American than Chinese. Literally the Chicken and Broccoli is beside the pizza and meatballs in spaghetti sauce (no spaghetti visible). The garlic bread is beside the egg rolls. Random foods are spicy without warning. Pepper steak has never been spicy anywhere else I've had it. Nor has chicken and broccoli. I had one bite of this cold (shouldn't have been) chunk of some kind of fish in what I thought was white sauce but was really a cream sauce, with hot pepper flakes. It did not go together. The buffet's crowning glory though is a dish called Steak in A-1 Sauce. As it sounds, it is chunks of beef too cheap to be called steak of any sort, swimming in about half a gallon of A-1. I skiped that.

So, for supper I had a bunch of bites of nasty things, one unidentifiable cookie, a couple of mushy pieces of banana in strawberry pie filling, 2 crab rangoons, a few bites of various veggies swimming in Italian dressing (until I couldn't choke more down), and some chocolate pudding. And for that they charged $2 more than posted at the entry, plus a drink. Plus a tip, for the very weird staff that pretty much stared at you while you ate.

Can we say unfulfilling day???

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Just a Thought

So I'm fairly sure that my neighbors are climbing the outside of my house. Or something similiar. There are very weird noises. I'm about to be grouchy. Why do they never make noise when I'm not sleepy???????


Well, I found my relaxation tape. I tried to find a blank tape and instead found the So I don't have to make a new one, and I can start using it. One thing. I don't know for sure I can. There's one thing wrong with that tape. My cat Eli loved it. I have no real clue why. Eli was terrified of men. Eli was terrified of everyone but me. But whenever I played that tape Eli would rub against me, rub against the tape player, purr, and then cuddle with me while the thing played. It's probably 15 minutes long and he never missed a chance. I guess he liked Dr. Mind's voice. I lost the thing about a year ago. (It was in with some DVDs, who knows why). Eli died in December. I wanted so much to be able to play it for him while he was so sick. And I couldn't find it.

I'm going to try. But I don't think a tape that makes me more sad is going to help. Which means I may have to make a new one anyway. Which wouldn't be the end of the world in one way; the tape I have now was made during a very, very hard time. It came about when I went to see Dr. Mind one day 3 years ago and was crying before he entered the room and proceeded to cry until he made me close my eyes and go through a relaxation thing. I'd always refused before, because in the past closing my eyes with someone else around made me do anything but relax. That day I was in no shape to argue, and if he had told me to hold my breath for 30 minutes I would have tried it. Instead I did what I was told and it helped. In fact I relaxed enough that I fell asleep for the first time in literally days that afternoon and slept for about 3 hours. So a few days later I brought in the tape recorder and we made the tape. Which then means that the tape is kind of a reminder of a scary time. Except that it also is really good because I was so vulnerable then and we wound up with a good tape because when he asked for places I had relaxed and loved I was unfiltered. But, and this is a big but, at the end about 10 seconds before he stopped a motorcycle very loudly went past the office. Which means that at the end of each play I have to listen to the motorcycle. And if you've ever read this blog, you know I HATE loud noises.

So I'll try it for a few days. We'll see. We may be making a new one after that.

I ordered a bunch of sensory integration stuff for myself. I hope it comes fast, and I hope it really, really works. I can't stand this whole sitting still thing, but I don't want to do anything either. So instead I fidget and stress and frankly that is starting to cause so much pain from tight muscles and grinding my teeth and ripping the skin off my fingers. It's really fun around here.

Today was tough

So for one thing I have actually been awake since 4:12 Am, when my med alarm went off. I slept 9 hours starting at 7 or so (accidentally), and I just ran out of sleepy. Except I'm still tired, and I am far too scared to go to sleep early tonight. Then, it is hotter than fire, and I'm not tolerating that all that well. I've go the a/c down low so I can have my weighted blanket on to help stay calm.

I spent my time with Dr. Mind crying. I don't think I had cried since the day this all started, but I sure did today and I would have continued for a long time if I didn't have to drive so far. That's the downside to driving so far for therapy; I don't cry without help. Crying is a relief sometimes. But I can't cry and drive, so crying with Dr. Mind doesn't always let me get everything out. I needed to talk, so badly. I honestly think I could have talked for another 3 hours. I certainly have talked plenty on this blog, but otherwise I have only told one friend about what happened. If I could explain I would but I can't and I am embarrassed. I've not talked to anyone in person about this except my family and Dr. Mind and Dr. Brain. So having him away for a week and then being 3 days later before I had my appt., it's been HARD.

The biggest problem is that I am frightened by my depression. I need just what he did today, except maybe more constantly: a reminder that this is nothing like what I've been through before. Being depressed isn't fun, but this is mild compared to the past. But it's hard not to panic. I know I'm in a pretty good place right now, relatively, but I've been too sick for too long to have yet achieved calm about any and all potential episodes. While this IS an episode it does not mean that I'm going to lose everything I gained. I just need to hire someone to tell me that about 16 times/day. I need reassurance and am getting it almost nowhere. Which is mainly my fault, but there's just so little to say. "I got fired. No clue why. I've got a new job now though. And yes, that's the 2nd time in a year. No, apparently I'm not very good at what I do." Etc. Maybe it's true, maybe not, but it's a little harder to defend, and if I weren't in a profession that is desperate to hire I'd not have a job in my field anymore.

I used to have a relaxation tape Dr. Mind made for/with me. SOmehow it got lost. We're making a new one this week. I wish I'd thought of it today. I just feel so sad. And I've not done anything today and I really needed to. I have so much cleaning and laundry to do and I'm just not up to to it. Nor was I all the time I was off. Which is not good.

I just want this to go away. It's been 4 weeks. I've got a new job that I like so far. I should be able to relax. Instead I just feel sad. All the time.

My dinner is done and I don't know any good way to end here. So I guess that's it.

One week down, butt kicked

I always find the first week of any job exhausting. Never fails. This time though I felt it less and while my sleep adjusted some from the lack of that my recent depression has meant, it only adjusted by an hour or two. (Two or even three is ideal, two happened once). Friday I got home around 6 and started checking email, google reader, etc. And then I woke up and it was 4 AM and my med alarm was going off. I didn't even wake up when my cat knocked over the trash because it/they were "starving". No meds, no supper, nothing. I'm eating granola bars now at 4:30 AM and going back to sleep. Impressive as I had only eaten a few cookies, a frozen vegetarian lunch (ie no protein), and an ice cream cone all day. Glad I got that little "one week down" reward for myself.

Anyway, back to sleep I go. Today I have an appt with Dr. Mind and then I'm relaxing. Can't wait.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


So I've been at this new job 4 days. And oddly enough I keep running into people I used to work with. So far, 3. One of them I worked with way back at my first job. I recognized her immediately, although I couldn't quite place her. I still can't. I am not sure what floor she worked on there and she was there 20-some years so asking her won't define it as I'm sure she worked everywhere at some time. I THINK I remember, and it would make sense as it was an area I didn't work in all that much and I do remember specific people who were on some floor all the time. Clearly I knew her well enough to remember her instantly 6 years later. There's also a patient I haven't seen yet, but I'm pretty certain I also know her from another place. If it's her I remember her husband much more, but I have no way to be sure until I see her, and even then I won't be sure.

Otherwise, I had a crazy day that was controlled by a palm pilot and which has drained me. I can't tell you how tired I am right now and I wouldn't be except that it was totally crazy. I'm bribing myself with these healthier oatmeal cookies I made the other night that I initially didn't like but which improved after being sealed in a bag for a day if I can make it a few more minutes with these things on my feet that I HOPE really do treat hammertoe. I'm developing it on both feet and I'm trying to curtail it as I do not want foot surgery. Under any circumstances, in fact.

So, for now, good night.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

This made me cry

I don't know if I've ever said this before, don't know why I would have, but when I chose OT and when I was a student I envisioned a very different career for myself. My first love was working with children with developmental disabilities and this is what I intended to do. Then things changed and life intervened and here I am. So I maintain an interest in this area. Which is why reading about Eunice Kennedy Shriver made me curious for the first time about her sister Rosemary, considered the inspiration for the Special Olympics.

I started reading because I was curious what condition she had that led to her lobotomy. What I found horrified me. To fully understand, read this. Then do a google search. It is awful. (Disclaimer: all of this is based on expert's speculation, along with various quotes from Rose Kennedy and the dr. who did the surgery. Given this stuff did come from the internet there's no way to prove it is true or not. Turns out the Kennedy family can evoke a lot of hostility.)

Essentially the situation is this: Rosemary Kennedy was able to read and write eloquently and solve multiplication problems of several digits numbers. Which is more than I can do sometimes (I stink at math). At least one doctor (psychiatrist?) said that her IQ would have had to be around 90 to do what she is known to have done. The point is made that this is not an abnormally low IQ, not an IQ associated with mental retardation, but that in a family full of extremely intelligent and competitive people she would have appeared slow.

Apparently her lobotomy was done at age 23 after she became to have violent mood swings that involved lashing out at others. As the story goes apparently her father arranged to have the surgery done secretly while her mother was across the country and without her mother's knowledge. I read that her mother wrote in her book that she was in agreement but later recanted that after her husband was incapacitated following a stroke. There are also indications that her father then institutionalized her (following the lobotomy she was unable to do any self-care or speak more than her own name) far away to hide her from the rest of the world and her siblings and mother. Her mother is said to have seen her only after her father was unable to control the situation.

Nobody heard much about Rosemary, but her condition came out during the FBI background checks for one of the families' political races. I don't remember who, although it wasn't JFK or Bobby. The family said she was developmentally disabled but someone else indicated the problem was mental illness.

In that time a developmental disability was more socially acceptable than mental illness. Mental illness was not really treatable. Lithium didn't come along until 1973. I don't remember when the first antipsychotics came along, but I do not think it was before 1941 when the lobotomy was done.

The doctor who did the procedure has only consented to one interview about it. He said that the diagnosis was mental illness. I read the point several times that lobotomies were not done for developmental disabilities, and while I don't know if that is true, I do know that if that truly was Rosemary's diagnosis she was the first to have that procedure. She was only the 60th patient to have a lobotomy, which does mean that her father may not have known exactly how damaging the procedure was.

What makes me so sad though is when you read the descriptions of her behavior it sounds very much like bipolar disorder. The age of onset is right, the behaviors are right, and as pointed out in several places, growing up in a high pressure family when you aren't set to be the best at everything is extremely stressful. I read several places about her having some form of depression, possibly "agitated depression". The thing is that "agitated depression" is an old diagnosis. I read about it a long time ago after someone described my untreated bipolar as such. However that person was really just NOT saying what he really thought, which was that I had bipolar. From what I remember reading back then, the former "agitated depression" is today's bipolar II.

I cried because I know how out of control I've been in the past. Thankfully this is an age of medications and psychological treatments. I've never thought quite so clearly about a treatment that ends the illness by taking away everything. I can see myself living 60 years ago and how such a drastic measure might have appealed to those who had to care for me.

I know there are people who feel that the meds for bipolar take away who they are. I've even felt that to some extent at times, although generally I felt it was the illness that took away "me". However, in contrast to what people like Rosemary lived through, I'd go back and take the worst meds I've ever been on all over again. All at once even.

It's so odd how you can know things intellectually but then just reading about a person who experienced those things who gain a whole new perspective. It's why I love the internet.


I can't come up with a title. Sue me, I'm tired.

My new job is great. I really like it. On the other hand I really liked the last job, so I'm not about to make any determinations for a nice, long time. The best part by far is the drive. 50 minutes there, a bit more home because of traffic. So, so nice after twice that for so long. Also, my assistant knows what she is doing. This makes it sooooooo much less stressful.

I've been there around 8 both mornings. Tomorrow I'm going later so I can get my mail. (Post office isn't open until then). I've been home by 6 both nights, and one of those nights I did 3 extensive errands. Yesterday was a bit hard because for some reason I missed one pill in my pillbox, and it was the wake-up one. So I was up at 5:15, but very tired all day. Today was a lot easier with the pill.

The best thing is not eating supper with my PM meds at 9:15. Or later. I'm making a healthy-ish oatmeal cookie recipe right now. I NEVER would have been able to do that previously. I might have managed brownies from a box or something like that, but this was with measuring and ingredients and 2 sheets worth so that there is time involved. It's nice.

I am tired though. Not sure what else to say. It's a good tired though.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Killing me slowly

So I start my new job tomorrow. I have not been this nervous about a first day since my first job. This is a different type of job and while I think this is a good thing that will work well for me, but at the same time it is new and different. Which is scary. It may be that this is for 6 months and then I take a permanent slot. However at this point I want to do this for a full year. I need the money, to be frank. On the other hand the health insurance is not so great. And my dentist is out of network. And I will continue to see him anyway because I trust him. I'm going to be running on way too much steam. I'm so anxious. I am not settling down very well.

I started fish oil supplements today. I'm still fighting off depression, and I can't increase my antidepressant any further. I tried and one dose made me know mania would come with more. I'm therefore maxed out on what I take and I'm still fighting with the symptoms. Thankfully Dr. Brain is going to be back from vacation this week and I will be able to see if she's got any ideas. I hope the fish oil helps and I don't need anything else, but I think that's a strong possibility. At least this time I seem to have found fish oil that doesn't cause the horrid aftertaste, which is what happened the last time I tried it.

I feel bad. My mom needs a new tv. We spent the day canning many, many green beans, with breaks to tv shop. She found what she wanted and was about to order it when I happened to look at her water heater from a weird angle and noticed it was leaking. The TV is on hold. I'm glad that I saw the leak and it's better this way, but I also hate giving a reason to not do something she wants/peripherally needs.

I can't wait for 4 pm tomorrow. Then this will get a lot less stressful. A LOT.

Here goes nothing, although I'd not be surprised to find myself back here. The cats don't listen all that well.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Finding the slug

I spent much of today snapping green beans. My mother and I decided to can and freeze as much produce as possible this year, hoping to save money and eat healthier. We have a garden, which she planted and does the maintenance on, and I help harvest. And our garden had a bumper crop of green beans.

I love the preparation phase of canning/freezing. I find something satisfying in shelling peas, snapping beans, etc. Since I'm not able to be outside in the heat to do the care part (although I've helped pick a few times this year in the late evening) I try to do a lot of the part I can and like to do. I find time flies watching a movie or DVD of a favorite show and snapping. In fact it's a great thing because it gives me enough to do that I can watch more than usual.

I had 2 full buckets of beans today. Probably 10-15 lbs. I did one bucket, took a break, and did the other. The 2nd bucket had more beans (smaller, different variety) than the 1st. When I was about 3/4 of the way through I pulled up a bean with something on it. No biggie, probably a leaf or dirt. When I went to brush it off it was a slug. Just a tiny one, but a bit of a surprise nonetheless. I took it outside and released it, although I'm sure it is much less happy in my empty front flower bed than it the bountiful garden.

I was thinking about this, and realized it is symbolic. One of my many problems, which Dr. Mind reminds me of very, very often, is that I have two trust settings. One is distrust. The other is trusting way too much, which inevitably results in my getting hurt. In other words, I go from thinking there is a rattlesnake in the bucket of beans to thinking slugs don't exist. When in reality, it's pretty likely that a slug or other critter can be mixed into all that green goodness.

That's what I did with the last job I lost. One of the things that has been so hard is that the 1st job I lost I knew perfectly well for about a month that I was going to be fired eventually. They were trying as hard as they could to fire me. I also had gone from liking that job to really not liking it quite a while before. This last job, I truly thought things were great. I thought I was doing a good job and that people liked me. Granted, that wasn't helped by having received no negative feedback in a long time, but I made myself believe things were great, aside from some ethical problems with my assistants that I was working on. But things weren't great. I was getting no support on what was a fairly major issue, for one thing. I had even been thinking that if someone didn't show major support in the next week or so that I would leave.

The thing is, I don't think I really did anything wrong. They refused to give me a reason. They also never posted the position. That was a very busy job and there is no way they would not have posted it immediately. So that means they had hired someone before I was let go. Also, they didn't contest my unemployment claim. It's in their best interests to do so, so obviously they felt they didn't have a valid argument. Looking back, I did not see the signs that were there. There was one day that I answered the phone and it was for the manager. She told me that she'd take in the office and she had to lock the door for the conversation. I thought she was talking to someone at the nursing home by the same name as her boss. I am now pretty sure that conversation was the end for me. There also were answers to questions I asked that made little sense. And the whole no-support-for-major-ethical-issue thing. Also, I knew that coverage had been set up for that weekend that was different than any other time before. I thought this was random, but did not ask myself why. I never thought things would go that route. And the major reason why is that my supervisor had always seemed very straightforward and so I trusted that she wouldn't ever lie. She lied to me. A lot. I'm trying to forgive that, but it is so hard.

In fact, as pathetic as this is, that last day when I discovered the not-local manager was there I actually thought "wow, I don't have to worry about getting fired today. Finally." 7 hours later I'd packed up my desk and was trying to not cry until I was away from the building.

So I've made myself a promise. I will not be over-sensitive with this new job. I also will not ignore myself if I feel something is off. And this time I will be more aware of the slugs in life.

I think I know what Dr. Mind and I will be working on, for the next good long time.


So I've had a lot of time to think this last few weeks. That's especially true this week because I wasn't job hunting, I was waiting (and waiting and waiting) for my clearance. (Which finally is through and I start Monday. Yay!).

This blog has been on of the things that has kept me afloat through this time. Once again. But this time more than any before, all of you helped. This isn't a heavily read blog. I realized that there's no way to actually know how many people read it because of google reader, etc. I just now jumped on the technologically aware bandwagon and signed up, and I didn't know that I didn't get a hit when you read in a reader unless you actually click onto my page. But I have watched on sitemeter and this entire time people have come back and read, people who hadn't shown up before, or who had shown up rarely. And some commented, some didn't. One person vehemently disagreed and also made me think a lot about what I write and who I'm really writing for (the answer is me; this whole thing is for me to have a place to think aloud as I go through my somewhat unusual approach to life. I am not just referring to my illness there; sadly far too many of us are on the mental illness path, but there are lots of ways my life is just far from the average. And I'm fine with that, except that it makes for a lack of connections.) Realizing that, I also discovered that while I don't enjoy ugly comments, I also don't care because the point here is that I'm stumbling through life and I write about my stumbling.

More than that though, I realized that you all mean a lot in this often-unconnected-to-you directly way. You've listened, and that has made this all a whole lot easier than it might have been. I'm a lot more self-conscious that this blog may appear (ie I told one close friend the Jehovah Witness story but that will be all the real-life people who know it, yet I have a lot less trouble sharing it here.), and I've not even told most of my friends what happened. They probably wonder why on earth I've not been in touch for weeks; well, it's because I have just not wanted to talk about it. At the same time, I'm compelled to talk. And the timing here was awful; Dr. Mind has been away 2 weeks out of the 3 since this happened, although I did see him one of those weeks with an emergency appointment. Dr. Brain also has been away for a week or so. Which has left me alone with trying to sort through emotions. Which then means I write a lot here. And while I love comments, even those who never say anything but just show up on my sitemeter, knowing that there was someone who knew what I was thinking/feeling, has really, really helped. I have this problem I've worked on a lot with Dr. Mind, but which I obviously have yet to come close to mastering: I crave social connections. Yet I very rarely actually form them. This blog is a nice intermediate place where I'm just not afraid of talking to "you". After all, from this end you look a lot like a blank screen and some buttons.

So thanks to each of you. Emotionally this isn't over, and more will follow for sure as I adjust to a new job, a new commute, a new type of career, a new pay cycle (I've never been paid weekly before), and most of all working 40 hours/week again. It's a lot of change all at once. So there will undoubtedly be lots of talk. And I still have a week before I see Dr. Mind, then the next week we get on my new evening appointment schedule. (Another HUGE adjustment; part of why I started working less than FT was that I wasn't getting as much out of sessions as I should have because I was so tired by 7:00. This time I set my appts for 6:00 and we'll see what happens.) Thanks for being in my life in some oddball internet way.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Oopsie (aka how to repel Jehovah's Witnesses)

So this morning I took a shower but didn't get dressed immediately because of clothes in the dryer. I was wearing a big t-shirt and underwear and listening to music fairly loudly (at least for me) in my bedroom, which is the back of my house. I noticed my cat being very alert and eventually realized someone was knocking. I tried to ignore it, knowing I am waiting for shoes that will be here via UPS, but it kept on. I thought my delivery must need a signature, so I grabbed the nearest shorts and put them on while running to the door. They were 2 sizes too big, but at least they were something. Besides, compared to the wet, completely wild curly hair and no bra, I figured anything would have to look good.

So I opened the door and it's the Jehovah Witness. I firmly told him not interested (I have had a tendency in the past to accidentally sign up for things because I used to be bad about saying no) and he gave in much, much more easily than usual. I closed the door and started to walk back to my bedroom.

That is when I glanced down and realized that my huge shorts had gotten tangled while I was running and pulling them on, and I had answered the door with my function-over-form underwear hanging out.

Betcha he won't be back...


As I said yesterday, my background check is taking forever, which has held up my starting work. Which is naturally what happened, because I was absolutely sure that this would be fast (it usually is) and that my drug screen would be what held me up, since I would have tested positive thanks to ativan (and it appears that it also tested for tricyclic antidepressants, for some reason, and I am on one of those as well). Well, that part went just fine and I didn't even have to explain anything. But the stupid background check is taking forever.

One good thing that just happened: my unemployment was approved and my 1st week's money will be in my account in the next few days. This is a very, very good thing. It also feels so very good because the claim states that their investigation shows I was discharged without just cause. It's good to know someone else agrees. Also, I'm sure that my prior employer would have fought it if they could. I'm also glad because they didn't lie to me when they said they wouldn't fight it. They lied in the same conversation, and they lied in another way, and since being lied to is very frustrating and leads to a lot of distrust, I was afraid that would be a lie as well.

Today is going to be my fun day. I'm home for the morning, then I'm going to a movie with my mom, then to a sale for a little bit. I guess this day is "vacation". Better enjoy it while I can.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

This is so stupid

Guess what I am doing? Applying for jobs. Why, you might ask, since I'm starting work in the next few days? Well, here's a lovely reason. The only way I can get unemployment is to make 2 job contacts a week. I just spoke to unemployment and this requirement remains in place even after being hired. I can't start yet due to legal requirements, so I'm sending out 2 resumes for jobs I won't be taking.

What an annoying waste of time. I can't even imagine what happens if my new employer finds out I'm posting resumes.......

Love stupid government rules.....

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Come on life, come on

I was hoping to start my new job tomorrow. Unfortunately my stupid background check is taking longer than ever before. Therefore I might get to start Friday.

Really need to get out of this house! Either that I need some new blogs to read because there of the huge list on my reader there just aren't enough updates to fill all this time. I'm used to have very little time I'm not sleeping when at home. Three weeks of "vacation" is getting boring. I also need a paycheck. I'm getting really bored with the food in this house.......

I spent a lot of today doing laundry. I somehow left a load in the washer a few days ago, and it got icky. I re-washed, then dried and it came out still smelling funny. My washer also smells musty so it's now running bleach through. Then I'll wash those clothes the 3rd time. Can't wait.

One good thing: I finally got around to getting bloodwork that was supposed to be done in about April. (Please note in my defense this was somewhat supplemental bloodwork, not my med levels or thyroid. It was, however, my kidney labs so not the best thing to wait. Don't use me an example of prompt follow-through). The results came back showing my vitamin D level was quite low. This may explain some of my fatigue and can also help with mood and concentration. It makes sense that I'd have problems with this since the sun is my enemy. So now I'm on a weekly enormous dose of Vit D for the next few months and then I'll take some dose I can't remember daily.

Like I said, boring, boring, boring......

New Rule

Anonymous, your latest comment has been deleted. I will continue to delete comments that I feel are not written with appropriate consideration given to how they are worded. Insults are no longer accepted on this blog. Disagreement is fine, but if it is not respectful I will delete.

Again, my blog, my decision. I'm sorry you don't like what I write. You are certainly not required to read it.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

It took a long time

It took a long time for me to get a comment attacking me. I know it's a normal part of blogging, and I know that it's one of the things that happens when you put your thoughts and feelings out in a very public way. It's really rather surprising that this was the first time it happened. But it did, on my last post.

I'm surprised that it bothers me. I've always known it would eventually happen. The person that introduced me to blogging gets so many that I actually enjoy reading his comments just for entertainment value sometimes.

I think what surprised me is that this happened on a post I took great care to try to see 2 sides, and then was accused of not doing so. So I guess I wanted to apologize if that didn't come across.

I also wanted to remind people though that this blog is about MY thoughts and experiences, and while it is fine to disagree, doing so without attacking me (even in a partially controlled way) is appreciated. Anyone is welcome to email me at any time if they don't like something or want to have a dialogue about what I have said. The problem with comments is that they are not particularly interactive. I can comment and hope you read my response but it really is more effective to email me so that we can discuss things. I will handle emails respectfully, and you can stay anonymous by opening a free web-based account at yahoo, hotmail, gmail, etc. I may not get the email immediately; I don't check that account every day. I will answer as soon as I can.

I never intend to hurt people. However, that's not a particularly realistic thing when it comes down to when you read this you are reading my thoughts at any given moment. Sometimes I may not express what I mean well. I'm human for one thing, and for another I'm bipolar. I write on this blog pretty frequently, but discussing feelings is still a pretty new thing for me, and on top of that bipolar makes it hard for me to communicate well sometimes. Much of what I say has been filtered through another person first.

Finally, a reminder that should be unnecessary, but which may need said from time to time: This is about me. This is about what I think and feel and experience in dealing with my own illness. I am totally honest about that; this blog is my experience with severe mental illness. It is never about putting someone else down, nor am I talking about YOU when I describe my feelings about something; I write about a general experience, even when I give an example of one encounter and how I experienced it. What I wrote yesterday? That comes down to this: I feel alone in this world because my experience of bipolar and all the struggles I've had with meds, the particular characteristics of my own illness combined with my particular co-morbities, the length of time it took for me to respond to treatment, the length of time it took for me to be diagnosed and then to be treated appropriately, and the various complicating factors I live with. My struggle is different because I am a healthcare professional and have worked for years in psych. I've lived through everything I have with a more than healthy awareness of my chances of getting better. Read through about Feb. 2007-July 2007. I went through a serious grieving process because of what I knew, which including the knowledge that my multiple bad reactions to anti-psychotics did not bode well, and my understanding of exactly how serious things were when we started talking about Clozaril as an option, and that ECT was what I wanted but which I might not qualify for. Being in the "weird" category sucked.

This blog is not about me feeling sorry for myself; I don't. I celebrate every day as the miracle that it is and I do not use the word miracle lightly. There are a few people out there who have common experiences. One reader of this blog and I share a good bit of the same experiences. But most people with bipolar have not had some of my experiences, both good and bad. And that is all I was trying to say. Nobody ever should tell anyone they know "exactly how they feel", because they just don't. I grieve that I cannot have a child. I love children, always planned to have a lot of them, and now that is not an option. My psychiatrist has made it clear it would be very bad for me. I absolutely refuse to risk passing on the strong genetic component of this (both sides of my family and on one side it's extensively present), and I refuse to ever raise a child who has to live with my illness. There's nothing wrong with being a bipolar parent, but I will not do it because I grew up with an unmedicated bipolar and it was not pleasant. I know that I may not have good control forever, and I won't expose a child to me when ill. I know the pain of being unable to have a child. But I could never go up to someone who is infertile and say I understand their pain, because my inability is a choice. Another example? I have kidney problems related to being on lithium for a very long time. It's called diabetes insipidus and as long as I take meds and have bloodwork frequently I'm ok. This is not the same as someone with renal failure. Even if I develop more kidney problems, which I might, that's not the same. It is 2 different degrees of illness.

Not sure how to end this. I'm in no way saying that disagreement is not allowed. It is. Once I remember feeling I couldn't handle disagreement, so I posted that clearly. What I do not want to is to be attacked when I am only relating my experience and my thoughts about it. At a minimum, read carefully before you disagree, and then be truthful but try to be kind. I have not published many, many posts because I couldn't word them nicely. It seems fair to request the same of you.

I hope this hasn't further offended people. I needed to say it. And again, this is my page, so if I feel I need to, then I guess I can. At the same time, if I decide I don't like this, I'll immediately take it down. Which I've also done before.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Uncomfortable conversation

I've been with my extended family for the last 2 days. I saw cousins I hadn't seen in 15 years, met 6 of my cousin's children I'd never met, saw 2 again, met one cousin's significant other for the 1st time, and spent time with quite a few relatives I never even figured out who they were, just that they were related to my grandfather's sister. Of that group I only knew one, and I knew her mainly because she was my 1st grade teacher. Strangely she looks nearly exactly the same as she did 27 years ago. Of course she was actually not very young when she taught me, so maybe as a little kid I perceived her as older than she was.

It's been a lot of fun. I had the weirdest conversation tonight. A few years ago one of my cousin's signficant other was diagnosed with bipolar. I gave them a lot of information at the time, particularly about how to get a good doctor and about different meds and why certain meds were bad choices for a lot of bipolar patients. So I talked to this person on the phone several times back then, but had never met him. Tonight he was asking me about my illness. I gave the usual comment about being so thankful that my 7 years of hell were over and explained a little about the last year.

I dread this kind of conversation. I'm happy to share my story, and I'm obviously a success story in this whole bipolar thing. However, what I have been through in the last 7 years is not common. I think all bipolar patients have a rough time and I am no way trying to deny that. But what I have been through is not common. I went through over 40 meds before finding the right combination. I went through 7 years (including the time when the bipolar was out of control and I wasn't diagnosed) of pure torture. I went through every medication that was available to me but 2. I had terrible reactions, both allergic and just bad. Things made me worse instead of better. I had to be treated for tremors, hypothyroidism, kidney problems, massive hair loss, and hypertension, all from my meds. I fought tooth and nail to be able to work. I lost nearly all my friends, and at least 1 job.

Yet this person, and he's not the first, insisted that he'd been through the same thing. He has no clue. He's been through a couple of years of treatment and is doing well. He's been on a few meds, not 40-45. He's not had any severe allergies. Sure, he went through a bit of trial and error to get a combo that worked. Most of us do. But that does not mean you have any idea what I survived. Everyone's story is their own, and I respect that he has undoubtedly experienced things I haven't. But it is so very hard for me to be patient when someone thinks they can possibly have any idea what I have experienced. 7 years of some rather serious paranoia. 7 years of hurting people I care about, just because things were out of control and I couldn't make myself think appropriately. Three years ago I was told by vocational rehab that I should stop working. Neither of my doctors nor I agreed. I did cut back my hours and am only now returning to full time, but I just couldn't give up at 30 years old. I was talking of that, and he asked another dreaded question, essentially why do I bother? I could just do disability and work part-time. That question, especially coming from someone who I know is not as sick as I am (but is on disability in large part related to something else), also just frustrates me to death. I am 33 years old. If I quit working I would be 33, unable to make my mortgage payments and therefore living with my mother, and I would have nothing structured to do. Not to mention, I did not fight as hard as I could to have a relatively normal life to give that up. Will I need disability eventually? Quite likely. I don't know that I'd go back if I have another major, months of disability, episode. But as long as I can work it is so important to me that I do it. There is nothing wrong with disability, but it is not what I am choosing. I fought so hard for years and I missed most of my 20s and early 30s. I'm going to enjoy every drop of life I can now that this is possible. And I think that nobody who hasn't been as ill as I was can ever understand.

Yet I hate dividing the already messed-up world of bipolar life into 2 camps, the ones who have been really sick and the rest. I still feel bad about the fact that to me there is depression and there is BIPOLAR DISORDER, and that I find there is a huge divide between bipolar I and bipolar II. You can find lots of writing about BPII being just as painful, but having been mixed and/or psychotic I'm here to tell you that it is much better to never experience those things, no matter how crappy you feel.

Nonetheless, I guess the lesson here is always to let other people have their own experiences. I've been sicker that many/most people with bipolar. I've also had some really horrendous med experiences, experiences that go far beyond "this drug didn't work and this made me manic". I've had severe lithium toxicity. There is nothing that will ever change that, and while I respect that others had unpleasant times, I deserve the same respect in allowing that 7 years and 40some meds (plus a clinical trial and taking huge doses of meds in combinations nobody else had been on) before I started to be well puts me in an unusual category.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

I never thought I'd do this

So I just realized that I am finally in a position to do something I've wanted to do for so long. And I'm excited.

I have a very hard time keeping my house neat. I don't have the energy or time to put into it. (Remember I have a 2 hour commute even with the new job, I work full-time, and I need at least 10 hours/day sleep.) For years my mother has helped me as she can. It's a less than ideal situation.

Anyway, I'm going to have more money now. I haven't worked full-time in years, and I'll be doing that, plus I got a substantial raise. So I'm going to hire someone to help clean.

So excited!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Well, I know SOMETHING

My new employer requires a lot of stuff be done online before starting to meet accreditation standards. They told me that nearly all the OTs fail this one test, because it requires remembering things we often haven't had reason to think about since our boards. I very hesitantly took that test this afternoon and I am proud to say that I was one of the rare people to pass on the first try. It is amazing how good that was for my confidence.

I'm moving right along through the requirements. I have to send in one more set of papers via fax and I have to read the handbook and fill out another online form, but I can't get the handbook to open. So that has to wait until Monday.

I've spent today a little sick. We went out to eat at this new place last night and ordered fish sandwiches. They both were chewy and mine was a bit cold. The waitress asked about us not eating much and we showed her, not to complain, but because with it being a new place we figured the feedback was good. Well, turns out they had a new cook and when the head cook looked he told her not to charge us because the food was underdone. We'll just say my body apparently doesn't like raw fish. Surprise.

Tomorrow is my family reunion. It's a kind of weird thing; it's for my father's side of the family. My parents have been divorced for a long time and none of us have seen my father in 11 years (except my cousin who peeks in on him occasionally). Yet the reunion is at my mom's house. Obviously sides were taken in the divorce, and my father had done some truly terrible things, so it is not surprising nobody was on his side. But regardless this can be stressful because people talk about him and he's just not part of my life so it's weird. I'm also going to see cousins I haven't seen since 1994, and other distant relatives I have no memory of ever meeting. I think I have met them, but I was a toddler at the time. Well, I guess probably I also met them at my grandmother's funeral (the 1994 gathering), but that was pretty much a blur of pain. I also find this kind of thing stressful. I'm not comfortable with people, I don't handle noise well, and I'll be trapped inside all day because it's pretty much always too hot this time of year. So, hoping tomorrow passes fast. I'll enjoy seeing my cousins and my aunt. I just wish it were in a smaller group. But there isn't a small group when you have nearly my whole generation and most of the next one.

So, I'll probably not be on here tomorrow. We'll see.