Category Archives: Hospitals

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.

 

Things Are Looking Up

17 days in the hospital, 3 ECT, 1 new med, 3 meds stopped, and 1 med in a different form. Its been a busy time in here!  So far my responsiveness is better and brighter, as is my affect. My mood is a little higher than when I got here, and suicidal thoughts are more academic with less intent. Although, death is still appealing to me. It’s all progress, and I’ll take it! Best guess is that I’ll go home on Monday after ECT #5. Friday was a possibility but we’ll have a better sense of whether the treatments are working if there is sustained remission with the extra day over the weekend. And I’d like to be thinking about suicide less before going home since going home will increase anxiety which will increase suicidal thinking (how it works for me at least).

I’ve read 4 books so far and am a third of the way through a 5th. Watching tv a lot, since there are only 2 groups a day plus meals to occupy our time. Played some games, talked to people too. Such is life in a psych unit.

Early ECT

On Friday I had the first ECT in this series. It went smoothly with only the expected horrible all-over aches for two days now. I have the next three this week, Mon,Wed, Fri. When I am adjusted to the treatments AND I am no longer suicidal, I can move on into outpatient ECT treatments. Logistics for that is a bigger issue than it should be. Sigh. Family. Sigh.

I did not take on ECT lightly. I know I could lose more memories and cognitive function. But I can’t live with suicidal thoughts Every.Fucking.Day. I can’t live in the depths of despair Every Day. Medications are not and have not worked to keep me stable. Hospitals have lifted me out. Time with family has held a fall at bay. I have been told that ECT changes lives. I’m trying to have hope that it will change mine.

See, there’s a contradiction. Hope that it will change my life presupposes that I want to live. I don’t want to live suicidally depressed or cycling rapidly into and out of it. AND I have little hope at all that ANything can work. So death is my best option out of this quandary of hades’ making.

Want to know why I am still in the hospital then?

New Hospital…and ECT Again

I have been staring into the abyss for two weeks. I have been very close to suicide, even in the hospital, where I am right now. I didn’t get to take my Chicago vacation because I was in a New And Good hospital. Excellent doctors and staff, comfy bed, decent food.

And still I struggle with life and death. It is deeply agonizing. Good doctors have taken me off three of my meds and added one. Med changes are miserable but usually necessary. One thing to discern is whether my suicidal visions are from depression or OCD, reopening an old argument. I want the death, but the visions come unbidden. So the argument remains.

With only a little persuasion, I have agreed to a full course of ECT – 12-20 sessions, three days a week. Yes, I have had bad experiences such as long-term memory loss and cognitive loss. I’m at the end of meds I can I can try. I’ve been told I’ve taken enough that I have a 5-10 percent chance of Any working at this point. I never did a full series of ECT before so I don’t know if it will work. I’m going risk further memory and cognitive issues because sometimes I want to live.

I need your love and support. I’m very alone at the edge of the abyss.

Hospitals and Failure

From my last post you know I was in the hospital – yet again. I think I am up to 35 hospitalizations in almost 8 years. I lost count once the number slipped over 30.

While in the hospital with severe depression this time, I noticed I was beating up on myself for (1) being depressed – again, and (2) being in the hospital – again. I believed each of these things meant I had failed, and therefore I was a bad person.

I brought this thinking pattern up to my therapist. I knew the conclusion was false, but I felt it to be true. I have been very judgmental about myself.

One of the questions my therapist asked me was whether I was taking care of myself before this hospitalization. I said I was. He pointed out that I was taking my meds, and I was keeping appointments with him and my psychiatrist. I agreed I was doing everything I could to feel better. Then I didn’t fail, he said. I had a reaction to a medication prescribed to me, and I still kept my appointment with him and went to the ER when told to do so. Apparently in Texas, there is no law about being detained by a professional if you are a danger to yourself or others. So I could have left at any time.

But I got help. I was taking care of myself and showing myself compassion, instead of judgment. I’m not very good at that usually. As I left my therapist said he doesn’t know any failures. I’ve been holding on to that.

Reaction to a Medication

Psych meds are no joke. Just when you think “This might be the pill that saves me,” that same pill threatens your life.

I was put on a brand new antipsychotic on a Thursday night. Within half an hour I was feeling more depressed. I woke up the next morning heavily depressed and thinking constantly of suicide, with a very specific plan.

I still went to my therapist appointment that day. I told him what I feeling and asked him to talk me out of going to the hospital. He asked what I wanted to do. God I hate that question! My therapists and doctors always ask me that. As though I can tell if this will be the time I’ll act on the feelings.

He said he knew I was going to the hospital when I wouldn’t even crack a smile at a corny joke. He had seen my flat affect (stony, not-moving face and not showing emotion or animation). He saw the psycho-motor retardation (little movement in the face and body due to a psychological issue such as depression).

He surmised all of my symptoms – including the suicidality – was from the one dose of the antipsychotic.

I called my family to come take me to the ER of the hospital with a psych unit that was recommended. This was instead of getting a police escort to drive myself.

I was in the ER for 6 hours while waiting for the antiquated Texas system to place me somewhere. Days later I found out the psych unit at that hospital has its own assessment office! Wouldn’t have taken so long!

The doctor I saw inpatient concurred with therapist that I reacted to the antipsychotic med. Of course I didn’t take any other doses. He increased one med and added a new kind of antidepressant.

Five days into the hospitalization and I was free to go! I was feeling back to my normal self and almost – wait for it – happy! I haven’t felt happy and optimistic without an irritable hypomania since, well, since my last manic episode. But this almost happiness wasn’t a chemical defect. It was me. I found me!

I’ve been home for 4 days, and my mood is feeling “off” today. I guess depressed. Just woke up this way. I’ll take what I got of happy, and I’ll ride this depression out. I don’t feel stuck. I still have my usual suicidal thoughts, but they are fleeting and I have no intent. As I said, I’ll ride this depression out. I might find happy again. Who knows?

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.