Category Archives: Family

Holding Steady Or Hypomania?

It has been 4 days since my last ECT treatment. I’m not scheduled for another treatment for 2 more days. And my mood will probably hold steady as it has been  more or less during the last 4 days. Yesterday I was talking with someone at church about bipolar and moods and my mood was still stable and elevated even, but I had persistent thoughts of suicide, the way I used to get when I was living alone in Chicago-land. Something about church, or about opening up to people more at church, or something, brings suicide to the forefront of my mind. It hasn’t been this obvious in months maybe? So the mood is still elevated but the thoughts are disordered and considering suicide. I know my brain is lying, as it is wont to do, so I can talk myself out of any intent to follow through on the thoughts. But I am thinking about suicide more than I want to be. The thoughts are intrusive and annoying, and I can easily talk myself out of any intent. There’s a plan, but then there’s always a plan.

My mood is elevated enough that I’ve wondered about hypomania. Energy, ideas, motivation, good cheer – it adds up to possible hypomania. The good news is that I’m not depressed. Hooray! Can this be what a stable, middling mood is for me? If so, it’s higher than I would have expected. Huh.

While I’m getting ECT treatments, I’m not supposed to make big decisions. Nevertheless, I’m thinking big thoughts about my life and how I want to spend it.  A side effect of an elevated mood, that I want to spend my life – and do things that bring me joy?

I’ve been considering the options for where to live: staying in the family house, or moving to the next town, or back to Chicago with a roommate, or even to California where my soul lives (again with a roommate). My family has stepped up to be more supportive as I go through this last hospitalization and ECT.  I’m doing well and maybe that is because I have had all this extra support and therefore I need to accept the current living situation and embrace living in community with my family as I would if I had one or more roommates. I have more discretionary spending power that I could use to fulfill my dreams of travel. And since I’m doing well, I should be able to travel which means I can check out areas to live as well.

Following the travel bug, today I signed up for RewardStock.com that keeps track of all your airline, hotel, and travel miles/points/rewards and helps you put together trips using miles and points and paying next to nothing. So I also signed up for a ton of airline and hotel reward programs, and I applied for my first credit card that earns miles. Hope I get it!

It would be nice to think that maybe I could actually live in community as I have always wanted to, and do it with family and not have ruffled feathers with my family any more (long, long story). And I could travel each year, at least one big trip, or two little trips, and even do it with my mom, too, as a good travel partner.

Other Life Decisions I’ve Been Thinking About But Not Making Final Decisions On: 1. I have a half-full storage unit I pay on each month on the off chance I move out of this family house. Maybe I can have a storage-unit/garage sale or donate the stuff if I’m staying here? 2. I’ve put $3000 into car repairs this year. It’s a 17-year-old Honda Accord and it might be time to trade it in for a car that doesn’t need repairs?

Hypomania anyone?

 

Lucky Number 13-ECT

Today I had my 13th ECT treatment. My depression continues to improve! I’ve had 3 ECT’s each week of the last several weeks. My brain is rewiring itself with the seizures, and symptoms are going away. Appetite and sleep are good now when they weren’t a couple weeks ago. Concentration is getting better, and psychomotor agitation and suicidal thoughts have dissipated. I still feel depressed or down every day, and have low energy. I think I’m about 90% better. And the gains are solid through non-ECT days too. Starting next week I’ll be having only 2 treatments each week and decreasing from there too.

Cognitively, the only side effect I’m having from ECT is some aphasia and some slowness putting thoughts together into sentences. My memory is not affected at all this time with ECT. The doctor has been careful to only do right unilateral ECT and not bilateral or bifrontal ECT which led to memory problems last time.

My family is surrounding me with help during this treatment. My brother drives my mom and I to and from the hospital downtown. My mom accompanies me through the several waiting rooms, and I’m discharged to her care. She prepares a sack-breakfast for me for after ECT. She cooks dinners too. My dad cleans up the dinner dishes and the kitchen counters for me.

My therapist asked me what I thought life would be like once these treatments are over. I don’t know if I’ll want to move, and if so, to where – back to CA for geography and culture, back to Chicago area for support system, to somewhere local to the family’s house to remain with their support. I do expect more independence: cooking, laundry, cleaning. But I am considering the benefits of staying with family, living in community.

ECT Update

I have now had 8 ECT treatments. My short-term memory is just starting to be affected, but with prompts I can remember things ok. My mood is slowly getting better, though. I’m not thinking about suicide and I don’t seem to be wallowing in depression. But I’m not enjoying activities yet. So I’ll continue with ECT three times a week for at least another week or two before we taper the treatments down to once a week or so.

I wake up at 5:15am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for ECT and get a ride with my brother to the hospital which is in downtown Dallas near his workplace. My mom goes with me as you need to be released into an adult’s care after ECT. We wait in the hospital’s lobby for a couple hours before ECT and then an hour or so afterwards too until my brother comes to pick us up. Then I relax for the rest of the day to let my body come down from the seizure. I’m grateful my family is supporting me through this treatment and I don’t have to go through this alone.

Today I was stuck 4 times to get an I.V. started. It’s the first time it took more than one stick. Ouch!! The only other problem I’m having with ECT is lightheadedness upon standing. Could be the ECT or the anesthesia. It started after the 4th ECT and isn’t getting better.

 

Anxiety Schmanxiety

My anxiety from the last week’s venture into too much socializing never went away. It’s worse right now as I’m in the middle of a med change as well. Sigh. It’s my life with bipolar to always be in a med change. And mood switches. Both of which lead to increased anxiety. No wonder I’m always anxious. I’m so much more anxious right now. My thoughts are jumbled too. Racing, but jumbled too. My prn only works to a small degree. Sigh.

My therapist wants me to relax. I told him I don’t know how. I’ve always been on edge, even as a child. Always oriented to the next thing, never resting on my laurels. Maybe for a few minutes, but always focused on what the next hurdle or life event would be. That’s what I’m doing now. I’m over anticipating a manic August. I get them every other year or so, and this is a manic year, if all goes according to history. I’m scared shitless. I could just as easily stabilize with the new meds and be fine. Or I could go off the deep end with delusions and lying and risky behavior. Both are probable in my mind. I’m doing way too much future-telling whether a stable one or a manic one. And don’t forget I could go against type and end up depressed. My moods do what they will. I have no control over them. The only constant is anxiety through it all.

Anxiety Schmanxiety. I just looked at a new apartment complex near my family’s house. A first floor one-bedroom is ridiculous! It’s more expensive than the luxury apartments a mile away. But I really won’t know how much I have to spend until I know what if anything I owe in taxes for 2018, and therefore, what I need to set aside in 2019. Anxiety schmanxiety. So my mom recommended we wait until after Christmas season and then see where everything stands. Tax season would start and then I would know more. So I guess I’m in my family’s house for the long haul at this point. I guess that’s ok. Not what I expected, but I guess what I need. That time frame gives me time to get into cooking more for myself and getting back into healthy routines. I haven’t worked out this week. Just haven’t felt up to it. But I need that structure.

Please let me know if my posts make sense together, or if just each paragraph makes sense, or if even each paragraph seems scattered. My therapist and I were analyzing artwork that was indicative of a jumbled mind. I want to know if my writing is jumbled too. I feel it is.

Reflections #12

Almost there! Just today and tomorrow in the quest to see what I’m thinking in this either very full, racing brain, or a very-empty-until-I-put-in-a-prompt brain.

My mood is still stable, thank goodness. I’m loving my new cocktail! I’m actually happy most of the time. I’m pretty sure that one of my meds is overkill though. I hope the next psychiatrist nixes it.

I drove on a lot of unfamiliar roads today to get my parents’ cat to an imaging center for a radioactive thyroid scan. The scan is a precursor to next week’s radioactive treatment to cure hyperthyroidism. He doesn’t take the medicine well, chasing him all over just to rub his ear for 10 seconds, twice a day, even with a reward of fresh baked chicken each time. So my family is paying a lot to get the treatment. He’s old at 14, but in ok health. Might have an inflamed bowel that is causing his vomiting instead of the thyroid. Treatment for that??? You guessed it! Daily medicine. Sigh. I hate being recruited to help grab him, since my family can’t give my cat another hoot. And that cat doesn’t like me anyway.

I finally called again at the refugee agency where I want to volunteer. I had to leave another message. I hope this time I get a call back.

I did some art therapy today. This time it was a picture of my inner and outer life. My inner life is full of desire and want – a busy life, meaningful activities, a relationship. My outer life is like calm waters – a calm demeanor, the appearance of nothing going on – compared to the large, rough waves of my inner life. I think it’s an accurate depiction. How do you draw desire though? I tried.

I finished Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World And Me. Very excellent book. So much about how black people’s bodies are so vulnerable because of people who like to think of themselves as white’s culture that is built on the bodies of black Americans – ghettos, redlined housing districts, police brutality, just to name a few. I knew about this, and Coates explained in a clear way. This racist’s eyes are more open again. How can I help change the culture?

The Handmaid’s Tale is also finished, with a good cliffhanger at the end. I won’t spoil the ending in case you are watching it. The last episode dropped today, and now there won’t be any until when? Anybody know? Is it a summer series?

My Story – A Summary

Hi! I’m Deb, and I blog at http://SuddenlyBipolar.com

I am an ordained Presbyterian minister. I like to think of myself as a Mental Health Advocate as my current calling, since I can’t pastor a church anymore because of how my Bipolar Type 1 manifests. I also have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which just exacerbates the Bipolar.

I’m a lover of movies, books, politics and sociology. I’d like to do a PhD in Sociology if my brain will let me. It’s hard to read, so we’ll see what’s in store for me in the next few years.

I recently moved back in with family to get extra support. Even with a strong support system, it wasn’t enough to keep me from being lonely where my thoughts and feelings would take over to make me suicidal and bouncing in and out of the hospital over 30 times in the last 7 years.

I was diagnosed in September 2010 after falling from a manic high (August being a common time for mania for me) into a suicidal depression, my first and definitely not my last. Among my therapist, psychiatrist and me, we figured out I had my first depressive episode at 13 when I had major back surgery for scoliosis. Manic delusions may have started as early as 9, however. I had hallucinations in 2 psychotic episodes my first year in college at age 17, a common time for bipolar to raise its ugly head.

I spent my young and middle adult years in primarily hypomania, some mania and fewer depressions. I had a vibrant spirituality that people thought was a gift, but was really mania. Oh, well.

As I said, I was diagnosed in 2010, a year into my first solo pastorate after years as an associate pastor or youth director. I loved and was good at my job. It’s been a huge loss and sore spot that I can’t pastor anymore. Over the next 7 years I had amazing care from my psychiatrists and therapists, and a strong support system. But I still bounced in and out of a psychiatric hospital over 30 times, for as few as 3 days, and as much as 2 months. I saw the darkest days, despite love and support. I’m still looking for the right medication cocktail after Years of trying. Every time I went into the hospital we tried something new or tweaked something. And my psychiatrist outside did too, though she was more conservative.

Finally, I spent 3 months at my family’s home relearning how to care for myself (cooking, cleaning, exercise) and getting concentrated support and love. Eventually, together, we concluded that I should move to Texas from Chicago-land to continue support, be around people, and at least temporarily live in community. I hope to live a mile away soon and still get the benefit of daily support but independent living again.

I’ve been with my family for two months now and we are slowly making our way into community. I don’t feel settled. I miss my old support system. I sobbed leaving my main psychiatrist. I’ve been in a day program and inpatient for a few days. But I’m looking forward now to beginning a new life with meaningful activities.

Early in my diagnosed life, I accepted the bipolar as something I would have to manage for the rest of my life. The bipolar and anxiety are just a part of me, though sometimes taking care of them seems to overwhelm me. I remind myself they are just a part of me. I have routines and schedules. I advocate for myself with providers, and I talk with my support system regularly, sometimes (ok, most of the time) daily. I use coping skills like Radical Acceptance, Mindfulness, Thought Defusion, and Committed Action toward My Values (from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy). I also use Dialectical Behavioral Therapy skills such as Mindfulness, Emotion Regulation, and Distress Tolerance. I also volunteer at various places, though it’s hard and I have a hard time holding even one for longer than a couple months. Maybe I haven’t found the right place for my passion yet.

I am open about my struggles and triumphs on social media. I educate about and offer resources on bipolar on social media (such as my page on Facebook, Suddenly Bipolar). Advocating for others seems as important as advocating for myself. My blog is one way I do that by sharing my thoughts, feelings and journey. People tell me that reading about these things is helpful, and I’m glad. But really it’s my journal. 🙂

I hope to meet you in the blogosphere or on Facebook or Twitter. Together we can end the stigma and support one another. Find your voice!

Cross posted on MyLoudBipolarWhispers.com as part of the “There’s Glory in Sharing Your Story” campaign.

Not Settled In

I still feel like a stranger in what is supposed to be my home. It’s been 2 months. But I was here for a total of 4.5 months before that in large and small spurts. I guess I always knew I was going “home.”

And now I feel stuck emotionally. It’s not my place. I have a bedroom and bathroom to call my space. All other space belongs to someone else even if they welcome me into it. It’s still not mine. And I can’t watch my shows except on the tv in my room. I guess that’s good. At least there’s a way to record them and watch them.

I feel segregated off in my room. I tried to use the kitchen last night and this morning, and I was an imposter who somehow was in the way.

I’m an imposter segregated in my tiny space in this gargantuan house. Even that room feels like a borrow though. It’s not my space.

I’m not sure how to make any of it my space. I don’t have art or pictures to put up. I’m always in someone’s way or space.

This sucks. And I’m not ready financially or emotionally to move out. Not that I’m getting much support these days.