The Jitters

Bipolar disorder is a disease, and I can really feel it today. I am dis-eased. To put it simply, I’m uneasy. I’ve got too many irons in the fire, as it were. I’ve got too much going on.

I am leaving for a long trip in a week. I’m flying far and staying with my aging parents for three weeks. We’re also having a family reunion while I’m there. I am looking forward to the trip, but it does cause me anxiety. I am going to be revealing my sexual orientation to many of them for the first time. That’s enough to make anybody nervous.

At the same time, I have heard from the bureaucrats in charge of my internship placement that things are looking up. I should be meeting with the head of a mental health clinic here before I fly away. It will be a simple meeting and less than a formal interview. Still, I’m nervous about it.

My car needs some repairs. One required the mechanic to order a part, and we’ve been waiting for it to arrive for three months. The piece arrived, but the mechanic has not picked it up, and the repairs are delayed, and my mind is spinning.

I spoke to my mother about bringing an old laptop computer to give them. It would make sharing pictures infinitely easier. She agreed much to my surprise. I spent a lot of time getting it cleaned of all my old things that are unneeded. I’ve made it into a very simple-to-use machine really meant for the easiest tasks only. I got them an email account, and now, when I get there, we’ll only have to find them an Internet service provider. Hopefully, that will prove simple.

My stomach is churning. I can hear ringing in my ears. My feet want to dance under the desk. I have the jitters.

I am reminded that this, too, shall pass.

Breathe. Just keep breathing, and do one thing at a time.

Mania 3

Sigh.

Here I sit at my computer in the middle of the night when I should be sleeping.

My mind is racing.

Everything I touch is magical, and colors have meaning.

The tapping of the typing speaks to me in secret code.

I’ve been pacing through the rooms of my very small house.

I’ve overeaten.

I sat in front of the TV long enough to run from the lowest channels to the highest.

And then I paced some more.

I’ve taken my medication.

I should be sleepy.

I’m groggy, but I feel agitated.

If you go to the right side of this blog and click the word “mania” in the tag cloud, you’ll find a lot of entries about this subject.

I want to sing. Shout. Dance. But not in a healthy way. I want to flail and thrash.

I had a change in my medication recently. I’ll be calling my psychiatric prescribing nurse practitioner in the morning to ask if it could trigger mania.

I know a lot of people with bipolar disorder who actually look forward to this high, but for me, it’s devastating. I spend money I don’t have. I act out sexually in unhealthy ways. I have delusions. I talk to trees.

I’m angry and anxious.

I feel vulnerable.

I feel sick.

Mania 2

I’m manic. I’m typing very slowly, because I’m rather heavily sedated. I say rather, because I’m more sedated than I like. I took my morning medication and added the dose of Klonopin that I usually skip since it makes me feel drowsy, woozy, and zombie-like. I wrote about mania here in my entry entitled “Whee!” It’s a good description of what it’s like to be manic. I can’t write like that today, not with this combination of medication roiling my brain.

I’ve been manic now for weeks and reeling. I’ve spent money best saved to pay medical bills from staying in the hospital during the holidays for an abscessed tooth. Those bills are enormous for someone on a limited income. The spending isn’t really the issue for me. It’s the emotions attached to it. There’s a drive. The need to possess is fiery. (I’ve written about my brain being on fire here, too. I think the entry was titled “Brain on Fire” simply enough.) I remember when I was newly diagnosed I thought I needed a new sofa pillow. I went to the store for one and came home with about 20 or 30. Thankfully, I returned them all at the time.

I attended a very nice craft fair yesterday overflowing with local products and many pretty things. I wanted all the pretties. So many shiny objects called to me from their tables. I succumbed once. I bought a beautiful necklace with a leaf encased in gold. On leaving the booth, I turned to the lady, a complete stranger, and told her I loved her. I said it meaningfully. I professed my love to a stranger, and it startled me a bit.

Walking away, I realized that not only could I not control my spending, but my words were beyond me, too. My voice uttered anything the tongue thought necessary.

Once home, I knew I needed medication. I thought of hospitalization. The idea of taking all my pills flashed through my mind with the words, “What’s the use?”

My next thought was that I couldn’t kill myself, because I had too many pretty clothes to wear.

Saved by a gay gene. Ha!

I took the right doses of my medication last night, and I’ve done that this morning. It’s a sunny day today. I believe I’ll put on some nice clothes and go read in the park. I’m lying. I won’t go to the park, but it sounds nice. I will put on nice clothes, but I’ll stay home. With my sedated head, I don’t trust my driving. Perhaps I’ll sit in the sunny yard. That sounds like a goal that can be accomplished. It sounds attainable.

Stopping One and Starting Another

I had to stop the lamotrigine. It has some potentially fatal side effects, and I noticed the symptom of one of those within the first week of taking it. I called my prescribing nurse practitioner, and she agreed that I should stop it immediately. She then asked me how my mood was, and I lied saying I was fine. I lied.

I called her back this morning and took responsibility for my words and told her the truth. I’m still manic. I’ve lost my appetite completely. I’m sleeping very little. My mind is racing a mile a minute. I find it difficult to concentrate on anything. Taking care of myself has gone right out the window. I’m still spending money I shouldn’t.

I wanted to buy two shirts off eBay today, but luckily, the phone rang and I forgot about one until the auction was over. I let the other one pass as I engulfed myself in a project. Getting easily distracted can have benefits.

The nurse is prescribing a different mood stabilizer that has fewer side effects. I’ll start that as soon as I can rip myself away from all the distractions I have at home and can go to the store to pick it up.

Ah, euphoria. How I wish you didn’t feel so good and would simply leave me alone.

I Suffer from Bipolar Disorder Type 1

This is what the Mayo Clinic has to say about bipolar 1:

Bipolar 1 disorder. Mood swings with bipolar 1 cause significant difficulty in your job, school or relationships. Manic episodes can be severe and dangerous.

On their website, the Mayo Clinic lists the following symptoms for a manic phase of bipolar disorder:

  • Euphoria
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Poor judgment
  • Rapid speech
  • Racing thoughts
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Agitation or irritation
  • Increased physical activity
  • Risky behavior
  • Spending sprees or unwise financial choices
  • Increased drive to perform or achieve goals
  • Increased sex drive
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Easily distracted
  • Careless or dangerous use of drugs or alcohol
  • Frequent absences from work or school
  • Delusions or a break from reality (psychosis)
  • Poor performance at work or school

For depressive episodes, they list the following:

  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Guilt
  • Sleep problems
  • Low appetite or increased appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of interest in activities once considered enjoyable
  • Problems concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Chronic pain without a known cause
  • Frequent absences from work or school
  • Poor performance at work or school

Another sign of the disorder is

  • Psychosis. Severe episodes of either mania or depression may result in psychosis, a detachment from reality. Symptoms of psychosis may include false but strongly held beliefs (delusions) and hearing or seeing things that aren’t there (hallucinations).

I have all these symptoms at one time or another. Thankfully, they don’t come all at once, but they do come. My doctors tell me at times I am psychotic. In other words, I have a break with reality.

In other places on this blog, I have gone into great detail about my personal struggle with this disease. Please, explore and read. The disease is real and devastating. I live on disability payments from the government. The process to receive that distinction is long and arduous often requiring two or three attempts. I won on the first try. Even the government noted the severity of my case.

This blog is my safe place. I will not defend myself here. All comments in which my status or my experience are belittled will continue to be deleted. If you think mental illness is not real, go somewhere else. Leave this blog.

This blog is also meant to be a resource of others with mental illness. I want them to know they are not alone. Others experience the horrors of delusions. I once thought I could cure AIDS with eight apples and a plastic water bottle. I only had to breathe on the apples and write magic words on the bottle, and a person with terminal AIDS would be cured. It took six months of concerted effort to convince myself that delusion was false.

I have hallucinations. I hear voices that are not there, telling me secrets or just speaking gibberish. I have seen people who were not present.

The euphoria of mania is luscious. I am invincible at those times. I have a cracked tooth from trying to walk through a wall; another delusion.

The rapid speech baffles those around me.

The racing thoughts are scary. My mind careens out of control and often the only thought I can cling to is death.

My risky behavior has put me in places where I could lose my physical health, my freedom, and my home.

The depression is akin to being a the bottom of a black pit so deep that not even a pinprick of light shines through. I have sat on the side of the tub with a utility knife ready to commit suicide and was saved only by the chance ringing of the phone. I have been hospitalized twice for suicide attempts.

I have experienced everything in the list for depression.

It is demeaning that I am having to defend myself on this blog. Walk in my shoes. Spend a minute inside my head. If you can stand the horror, then I will count myself less a person.

I feel alone.

Whee!

I’m a little bit manic. How are you? Fine, you say. Good. I’m glad to hear it. I’m going to win the lottery today. Yes, I am. I’ll start by buying a house with enormous closets to fill with beautiful clothes. I think I’ll eat another cinnamon roll. Ooo! I’ll go to the French bakery in town and buy their fresh croissants. I’ll eat those smeared with real butter and the most expensive strawberry jam I can find in town. It’s time to drive to the top of a mountain and do a dance. I’ll bring down the rain. Yes, I’ll do a rain dance, and then I’ll take off my clothes and dance in the rain. I’ll race down the mountain burning up my brakes and buy a new Audi when I get to the bottom. Purple. I’ll paint the walls purple with a green stripe about 3 or 4 feet up from the floor, and if paint drips on the carpet, well, never mind, it’s just a rental and the clouds in the sky are telling me stories about Native Americans of long ago and their secrets are whispering in my ears just below the point of hearing, while I pace around my little house and watch the trees outside swaying with the wind, and my curtains blow with the wind, and the mailman will be here soon with my invitation to the White House dinner all because of my birthday; then there’s ice cream to eat, and pots of boiling water to prepare for the spaghetti dinner that I’ve forgotten to invite anyone to and the table will be set just right, move the pumpkin now, but be careful, we’ll carve it into a jack-o-lantern soon and set it out to frighten away the ghouls and ghosts. Spell check is the best invention ever. There.

Yes.

There.

That’s my manic mind. That’s today.

It’s time for a pill and sleep and then a call to the psychiatrist and then a therapy session with the psychologist.

It’s also time for a good cry. If only I could. I wish I could.

Hold me.

Mania

I saw my case worker and my therapist today. That’s a lot for this bipolar person to handle. Whew. Two appointments in one day. Plus, I called and rescheduled an appointment for my regular doctor. I was busy, busy, busy.

My case worker is an excellent advocate and all around great guy. We had an in-depth discussion about some of my recent risky behavior. I made a commitment with him to call when I felt myself moving toward acting in unhealthy ways. We talked about my childhood and the–I hate to use the word but for lack of a better one I will–programming I endured. We talked about my medication. We talked about alcoholism and the twelve steps. It was a really good preliminary discussion to have before I went to see my psychologist.

My psychologist is even better. She is insightful and knows how to draw things out of me in helpful ways that I may not want to fully face. We started talking about some of the good things that happened during the holidays, but we cut quickly to the heart of why I was there. Her assessment of the situation was a bit different from my case worker’s. She thinks I’m in a manic phase, and to really get down to brass tacks, she pulled out her frayed copy of the DSM-IV. It lists six or seven symptoms a person has to exhibit to be considered manic. I have five of them: decreased need for sleep, talkativeness, racing thoughts, risky behavior, and spending sprees.

I’ve even experienced manic eating the past few days. I allowed myself to run out of chocolate. That’s right. For two days, there was no chocolate in the house! During that time, I found myself eating anything I could with sugar in it. I binged on cookies. Unfortunately, they were not chocolate chip. I even thought about eating sugar straight out of the bag. It was unbearable. I rectified the situation and bought chocolate yesterday, plain Hershey’s, and my blood pressure immediately came down. It only took a few bites to fix me. I didn’t even have to eat the whole bar. Still, the behavior to look at was the obsession over not having chocolate in the house.

In the attitude of a winner with bipolar, I practiced some affirmations with my therapist: I love and fully accept everything about myself, I am a snazzy dresser, I have people who love me deeply, I have a nice place to live, and I have in the past felt like a real winner over bipolar. I worded the last one in that way, because I have felt broken and despondent recently, but there have been times in the past when I have felt like a winner.

I had a lot to think about today, and I have a lot to talk to my prescribing nurse tomorrow.

Busy. Busy. Busy.