I Think I’m Doing OK Now…

But I’m not totally convinced.  I seem to be on a much more level plane then I’ve been on for the last 20 some years, if not my whole life, I’m not sure.  My past before being diagnosed with Bipolar 23 years ago last week was so different.  (see “I Was A Different Person Then”).  I won’t go into all that because I did so already.  But things are different now, again, in a new way.  Earlier this year I was put on Lamictal  (Lamotrigine), a mood stabilizer, in addition to Abilify (Aripiprazole), Wellbutrin (Bupropion), Buspar  (Buspirone) and Klonopin (Clonazapam).  For the first time ever, a medication has actually changed my life.  I still spend some time in depression, but it’s mostly not that bad and I can usually overcome it with CBT  and smart thinking and action.  And I’m not too high either, tho I did try to get off 13 years of Abilify a few months ago (it makes me shake terribly and I hate it) and I had a really bad reaction, so bad I thought I was going to lose it completely.  It was the closest to real mania I’ve come in years.  So I went back on the drug and I’ve been OK since then.  (I had my Psychiatrist’s permission and support to quit, BTW).

I remember telling my counselor at the time that I was struggling with this new reality, because I didn’t know who I was anymore if I wasn’t depressed all the time.  I still feel that way, and it’s actually pushed me back into depression several times since then.  Weird.  You’d think I’d be totally at peace with this and be happy for myself.  But it’s not that easy to change a lifetime of such inbred patterns of thinking and behaving.  I Was depression in the past and it was my total life.  It was hard on me, and on the people I loved around me.  I could stop it occasionally, but not totally, and I suffered with it a lot.  It was my daily reality and it informed all my decisions and actions way too much.  I was scared all the time and afraid of being caught out as a loser.  Too much fear is paralyzing and I was often paralyzed.  I still am to some extent but not nearly so much.  I am better now.

I’m gradually learning to accept and revel in the “new” me.  I just had a counseling session with my new counselor and he asked me to do a narrative of my life – positive and negative.  I found myself listing tons of positive things about my life, but not that many negative ones.   A total surprise to me.  In the past it would have been much more tilted the other way towards extreme negativity.  When I’m depressed it’s all I can see, and it’s the same way with being OK I guess.  I Am my emotions way too much and if I’m doing well I think l’ve always done well, despite the memories of the failures and awfulness of depression. When I’m depressed it’s the opposite and it’s all I can see and feel.

Staying balanced is a real struggle for me even now.  But I can do it most of the time.  I’m amazed, but still frightened by the new me.  I still don’t know how to interact or be with people very well.  I still fall back into the old patterns of depression if I don’t keep up my guard all the time.  But I have real support in my partner Louie, and with my friends, my counselor and psychiatrist and other health care folks.  So I think maybe I can do this.  I sure do hope so, tho hope can be a trap too if you’re not careful.  Just ask a student of Buddhism.  Today is my 67th birthday and perhaps it’s the start of a new reality for me.  A truly new year of life.  I think it could be and I’m trying to believe so much that I can pull it off.  I have a lot of faith in myself these days, and it’s not based in my usual hypomania, but in reality for a change.  Plus I’m older and wiser now.  I understand myself, and life in general, much better.  Staying real and giving it time are my current mantras.  Maybe I really am doing OK now…  Time will tell.

peace,  Steve

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Opiates!!!

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I got home from the University of Washington Pain Management Clinic a little while ago. I’d been sent there by my new doctor who wanted a review of my condition so she could treat me appropriately. It was an interesting experience. We went thru the usual tests of range of motion, gait analysis, mobility of limbs, needle pricks to see if I felt the sharpness (I did) and so forth. Nothing new from this testing and no new information about what was going on with me. But I did gain some important new knowledge.

I learned that the brilliant legislators in Washington State have decreed that no one shall be allowed more than 120 mgs. of opiates a day. Period. No discussion, no rebuttal, no recourse. This is a bit of a problem for me, you see, because for the last dozen years or more I’ve  been taking close to 300 mgs of Morphine as well as 15-20mgs of Dilaudid (Hydromorphone) a day. Imagine my surprise when they told me this. I was not shocked, because I know what the climate of the country is like these days around opiates. I was expecting something, but nothing this extreme. I mean they wanted to cut me back over 1/2 of what I’ve been taking for Years! Fuck!!!

Part of me wants to go down to Olympia and break the legs of every (probably Republican) legislator who voted for this draconian measure and leave them in pain forever while they beg for some relief. After all, that’s what I’ll be doing pretty soon – begging for relief – as soon as they drop me down to the 120 mgs. I’m now allowed. Sigh. I have what’s called Chronic Intractable Pain, so called because it’s constant, severe, disabling, and causes detectable changes in your heart rate, blood pressure, etc, and if it’s not treated it ends in death. Yep, a fun diagnosis for sure. I’m lovin’ it myself… I can function, but I’m always in pain and if I do much of anything it spikes so that I have to take some dilaudid for breakthrough pain. It helps a lot but it doesn’t make it go away completely.

I’d changed docs from the one I’d been seeing for 13 years because he stopped prescribing opiates. He never asked me to pee in a cup during that whole time because he trusted me not to mess with my meds, and I never have. Why would I? It’s Stupid! But the new doc at the UW clinic requires me to do that so that they can see if I’m honest. I am, and soon they’ll learn that, if they can keep treating me that is. I dunno if they will or not. Most doctors won’t touch me with the proverbial 10 foot pole. I sure hope the UW helps me or else I’ll be so sick I’ll be in the hospital for withdrawal symptoms. I mean 300 mgs a day is a Lot of morphine, let alone the dilaudid.

I understand that people are freaked out by the rising epidemic of opiate deaths due to mis-used pain medication. I feel badly about this. After all, addiction is a disease, and maybe they can’t help themselves. But a part of me is furious at them and at the politicians who seek to make headlines with new laws to keep people like me from getting the medicine they need to live a good life. Before I got the opiates I was a mess – I fit the portrait of Chronic Intractable Pain I described above. I spent a lot of time resting and I didn’t do a lot because I hurt too much. I still hurt, even with the meds. What will I do without my usual dose? I’m freaking out here!

No, I’m not – yet. I’m trying to stay calm. After all it’s only been a few months that I’ve felt relatively stable with my Bipolar Disorder. I’m not out of the woods yet and I still get suicidal and all, but I’m doing better than I have in ages. So imagine what this will do to my mood. Pain and mood are inextricably intertwined and if I hurt I often get depressed, and vice versa. It’s a vicious circle and I’m trapped in it for life. I’m not playing victim here – it’s just my reality. I do my best to live with it and I do pretty well, now – but what about 6 months from now? Where will I be then?

I hate that because some people overdose on opiates and die that the country is overreacting so severely as to limit what pain patients truly need to be OK. Obviously none of these politicians lives with severe chronic pain. If they did maybe they’d have some compassion for us. I’m angry at them and at the ones who abuse the opiates I need for survival, thus keeping them from me. The old rotten apple syndrome for sure. I never get”high” from these meds. I’m just in less pain is all. So for them to take my medicine away because some people do get high is totally unjust and wrong. Just because a few people screw it up for the rest of us is no excuse for this travesty. I’ll be writing my  congressperson soon, you can bet on it. Not that it’ll  do any good, but maybe I’ll feel like I’m doing something to change things that are so wrong. It’s an overwhelming feeling to be in this position.

I’m 65 now, and I’ve been living with chronic pain since I was 25. That’s a long time to live in pain. I hate it. But I have a good life because of the opiates that keep me functional and not in so much pain. I can live my life as I choose to. Maybe I don’t deserve to, I dunno. But that’s my depression talking. I do deserve to be OK and not suffer so much. We All deserve that. But the politicians who want to control our every breath don’t give a shit, and they make the laws so I have obey them. I’ll go along, because I HAVE NO CHOICE!! Such is life, eh?

Pissed off royally,

Steve

Rebirth

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It’s been almost two years since I wrote a blog post here. It seems both shorter and longer than that. I just re-read some of my posts and comments from the past and saw that in one comment I said I was just about to start with a new Psychiatrist. I did that, and man, has it made a difference! I was with my old one for about 12 years and in that time she almost never actually started a conversation with me. She was OK mostly, but she was an old school therapist and had the attitude that her silence was helpful. I didn’t find it that way and I finally got tired of it and quit seeing her. I’m so glad I did.

My new Psychiatrist is also a woman but she’s much younger and more in touch with the current thinking on Bipolar and meds and what to do about it all. I’ve got new diagnoses – Bipolar Type I (I’d been Type II for years, supposedly), PTSD and Dysthymia. Of course the DSM says you can’t be dx’d with both BP and Dysthymia, but who cares? They both fit me, as does the PTSD, tho I’m no soldier and my traumas are of a different type and order than combat shock. But they still haunt me and cause me significant distress.

I don’t want to talk about distress today tho. I want to talk about the fact that I’m actually in much better shape than I was 2 years ago when I started this new regimen. It’s taken some time, and some of that was awful. I tried new meds that landed me on the floor with horrific reactions. I often get that when I try new drugs. They usually make me crazy because I get too high a dose. As happened some of time until I got thru to her that I needed to start Real slow. So we started me on 75 mgs of Wellbutrin along with my Abilify, Klonopin, Buspar and Ritalin. We “very” slowly took me up to 450 and things never got crazy at all. In fact they even got better.

Wellbutrin is often known as the “Happy, Horny, Skinny” pill. Well, none of that has been that true for me, unfortunately. I could stand to lose a couple of pounds and my libido could definitely use some tickling since my Prostate cancer several years ago. But what I really wanted was the Happy part. In a way I’ve gotten that, and I’m not so suicidal so much these days. It’s still a threat but not too often and I can usually get out of it in time. I talk to Louie and he tells me I’m OK, and that he loves me, and boy does that help. He’s my personal savior at those times and I rely on him a lot to help keep me OK.

But mostly I have to do it myself, as do we all. I’ve learned so much in the last 20 some years since I was first diagnosed. My life is so much simpler than it has ever been. I live a quiet life with Louie in our home and garden, with a few friends and family to keep me socialized, along with some volunteer work. I have my rituals, like walking in the garden every morning to say Hi to the plants and get some blood flowing in my limbs and brain. (See my blog “Gardening in Greenwood” for more on the Gardens…) I also do some exercises and keep a good book on hand for when I can’t stop the negative thinking and need to go into some other person’s head for awhile. It works, when I can get myself to do it…

I still beat myself up too much but I keep trying to quit that. I use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy a lot to stop those thoughts that get away from me and start to ruin my day. It can happen so damn fast it floors me. So not everything is all rosy and perfect. It never will be and I know that. It’s a circular journey with BP and it alway comes around again despite whatever you do it seems. But still it’s not so bad when it comes screaming down the line at me now. I have chemicals in my brain that help offset the noise and fury. I guess they actually help, tho it’s been so long in coming I half don’t believe it. I’ve tried Soooo many drugs…

I’ve also realized that being happy might not be the best goal I can have for myself after all. I find contentment and peace far superior these days. It’s not that I’m unhappy that much, tho I am sometimes. But I look at life a bit differently now and try my best to stay in the present with my feelings and emotions and I think my Emotional IQ has gone up a few points over this last bit of time. I’ve always done a lot of education with myself on my illnesses and that’s been a great help to me. But being less invested in being happy all the time has allowed me to rest a bit in simple calmness.

I’m not usually that calm – who is when they have BP? But I try to stay chill, and it’s working often enough that I feel like I may actually be in some sort of recovery. I kind of feel uncomfortable saying that because of that mostly constant feeling of impending doom I still have, but I’ll risk it here and see how it goes. I know I can pass most of the time despite my illnesses and that’s good, for the most part. Sometimes I wish people could see what’s going on with me, but that doesn’t happen unless I lose it, and I try not to do that so it’s still hidden. That’s why I called this blog Naked Nerves of course. I may be better, but my next post may say what hell life is, because those nerves are still naked…. even in Rebirth.

And so it goes,

Steve

Bipolar Takes Another Life

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I’m totally devastated right now. I just got a call from my favorite cousin telling me that his wife had just taken her own life this morning. She was 67 and had suffered with Bipolar Disorder for many many years and tried to kill herself several times before. Always they were able to save her before, but not this time.

I couldn’t stop the tears as he described the circumstances of finding her face down in their swimming pool when he got up today. He’s been in very bad shape himself from the weight of caring for her for all these years and getting sicker himself as it went along. He couldn’t talk much but he knew how much I loved her and how it would affect me so he called me.

This is so sad to me I can barely write about it but I feel it might help me if I do so I’m going to. I loved this woman so much. She was so funny and articulate and bright. She was the best school administrator in her district for many years before she retired because of the bipolar disorder. She was a dynamo and a jokester par excellence. She was the light of his world and a good friend to me too.

We were born on the exact same day only she was 4 years older than I am. 11/11 for us both. We used to spend a lot of time together when I lived in CA but I haven’t seen them as much since then. They were here for a short visit a couple three years ago but she got sick when they were here and had to cancel the trip. We saw them two years ago when we went to CA to see relatives of mine.

I was shocked to see how she had deteriorated even then. She always had a hard time figuring out which meds were the right ones for her to take. It’s a cruel irony to learn that the antipsychotic that has pretty much saved me from mania was the one that eventually killed her. It scares me so much. Not just for the drug but for what I might do to myself someday.

See I spend a lot of time wishing I was dead. I wish I didn’t have to say that but it’s just true. I have suicidal ideation frequently and it makes life hard and difficult. I Know I can’t kill myself because of what it would do to my partner Louie and to my remaining family and friends. I’ve decided not to do it ever. But I don’t trust my mind and so I’m scared.

This could so easily be me we’re talking about, or maybe it could be you too if you suffer from depression or Bipolar disorder. It’s a cruel disease and we tend to forget that 15% or more of people with it end up killing themselves. It’s a life threatening illness tho it’s still considered a stigma to talk about it and try to heal those of us who have it. I hate it right now with a vengeance…

It could too easily be Louie making calls to my family to tell them that I couldn’t stand the pain any longer, as my cousin couldn’t do, and that I’ve ended it. My own experience when I did try to kill myself was instructive to me. It showed me that when you reach the end of your resources to endure the pain you believe you have no choice but to end your life. That’s what happened to me. I couldn’t bear it any longer.

I’m  lucky I did pills then and the docs pumped my stomach and gave saline and got rid of the drugs. I thought I’d been clever, even calling the Poison control center in my town so to make sure that the pills I took would  kill me.( I said it was about my roommate…. sick..) But it didn’t work and I’m so glad at this point. I didn’t think of others at all  but I don’t blame myself. I was doing my best. It just wasn’t good enough.

So it must have been for her. She reached the point where she’d tried to kill herself several times before this and was in so much distress and confusion from the wrong antipsychotic that she wasn’t thinking right anymore. I haven’t been able to talk to her in some time because she couldn’t handle the phone, so I don’t know where she was at at the end, tho I can guess. I know it too well myself.

I don’t know what else to say. I’m drained of energy and feel like a wet dish rag from the crying and sadness I feel. It’s hard to imagine I’ll never see her again. She always made me laugh and was one of the closest people in my family to me even tho we weren’t really related except for marriage. She was Family to me and my family is one short today. We’ll all miss her dearly and mourn her forever.

Grieving for the loss of a dear friend,

Steve

Inside a Hypo-Manic Episode

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“No I’m not just upset. I’m way beyond that. I’m truly enraged. I can’t stop my heart from racing and my pulse is pounding. I feel like I want to kill someone, anyone, but especially myself. I want to blow the whole world away. I feel way too much energy in me right now and I can’t sit still.

My brain is boiling and my eyes burn. My head feels like it’s about to explode and the energetic spasms in my body are thru the roof. I have to do something really quickly to stop this or I’ll do something I’ll regret later I’m sure and I don’t want to do that. But I feel so lost and disoriented and out of control. I Hate this shit.”

That was me yesterday when things were really bad. I couldn’t even write about it because I was too irrational. I wasn’t making any sense and I knew it and I had to take action, as I describe below, to keep myself from doing harm to myself or others, or just plain trash my belongings. And I still feel it today too, damnit. Why do I feel this way? It really doesn’t matter. What matters to me is How I feel.

If there are ever any times I doubt the manic part of my bipolar diagnosis it’s when I stay depressed for so long I think that part of me has gone away. It takes times like this to realign myself with my full nature to recognize that the manic part of me is still alive and well, unfortunately.

I usually stay well below the midline with my moods. I’m usually depressed or on the verge of it. It’s my default state of being. But now and then something happens to me that makes me so angry, irritable and enraged that I explode and lose it entirely. That’s when I recognize the mania that I embody as well as the depression.

Now is when I feel the Manic-depressive aspects of this damn illness. I can stop these feelings better than I can the depression because I have drugs to help me with mania and I don’t with depression. Still, I got so angry and enraged yesterday that I thought I was going to do something really bad to myself or something else. I really felt like destroying everything.

So I took a dose of my anti-psychotic and a dose of an anti-anxiety medicine and in time they calmed me down to the point of being almost comatose. I could barely move after awhile and had to lie down on the couch to decompress and just rest I was so wiped out from the drugs. But that’s a better place to be than destruction.

Technically I’m only supposed to feel Hypo-mania, not True mania, because I was originally diagnosed as Bipolar II, which doesn’t include getting truly manic, just a bit below that, which is called Hypo-mania. That’s mostly true for me in my life. But hypo-mania is just as dangerous as mania if you don’t control it. It can still kill you or make you do things you’d rather not do.

It may not last too long but it lasts long enough to totally degrade my thinking and make my life a living hell. And it’s not so easy on my partner either. He tries to help me but I get so shut down that I refuse all offers of help or suggestions of assistance. I get totally locked up in myself and I can’t move or act constructively.

This is very different from depression. When I’m depressed I feel like I deserve to just die and that’s it. I feel hopeless, discouraged, in despair, and all the rest of the stories any of you who suffer from depression know all too well. But I can see how I’m being and ask for help and receive it. I can change my moods.

Mania is very different for me. I generally lose most of my self awareness. I was barely able to hold on long enough to take drugs yesterday and if I hadn’t done that I’d have been lost for sure. I can see how when I have true mania I totally lose myself in it and can’t begin to act even as well as I did yesterday. You can’t tell you’re messed up is the thing. You think you’re normal. But you’re not…

I’d love to have a handle on these extreme mood swings I have. I guess I do have many of them if I look back at my earlier posts and see that I’ve talked about how to change your moods and thoughts many times. But right now it’s all bullshit to me and none of it is real. I’m just a mess and I feel like I’ll always be one so why bother living.

Shit, I guess I’m starting to slip back into depression even as I write this. Wow. How can I go from being so high to so low in just a few minutes?!! This is called Rapid Cycling and it’s common for a small percentage of those of us who have Bipolar disorder. It’s when we flip from one state to the other several times in a year, or in my case, in a month, a week or a day even. It happens Fast.

I also suffer from having Mixed States where I’m both too high and too low at the same time. I guess that’s what’s going on now because I feel both in my system. It’s like my whole body is flooded with chemicals that make me feel weird and out of it. Slow and draggy but hyper and antsy all at once. It’s not the drugs, it’s the Manic-Depression at work in me. It’s bio-chemical after all so why shouldn’t’ I feel it that way?

So now I’m totally screwed. I feel too hyper to sit and rest and too depressed to do anything about it. A classic state of mind for a mixed state and one I’m all too familiar with. But the fact that I’m shifting does mean that sometime soon I’ll be back to myself and be able to change this mood of mine. I’ve learned that when I feel too powerless with it all I just have to wait it out, like a bad drug trip, and it’ll change in time.

I just hope that I make it thru that time and don’t do something really stupid in the interim. I can tell I’m still on the edge with it all. I’ve even thought of deleting this whole blog because I feel so isolated in it so often. Why do I bother I wonder? No one cares… sigh. Wait! This is depressive thinking I can tell and I have to stop it. Now!

It’s amazing to me how much writing out this stuff can help me. It may not be interesting to you but it’s Real and it’s a glimpse of what I go thru on a daily or weekly basis. I do this dance a lot and it’s a hard one for all of us who have this Disorder. If you have it I suspect you’ll recognize my journey here. If not maybe you’ll understand more about what it’s like to go thru it.

In any event I hope it’s useful to someone out there. It’s been good for me to talk about it and I’m grateful for this forum to speak the things that we live with and how we are in the world. I’m Bipolar and I accept that. It’s an OK way to be much of the time, even tho it’s hell other times. In fact sometimes it really rocks so remember that too. I’ll write about that part when I’m really OK sometime, maybe. We’ll see, eh?

No longer enraged but still Hypo-manic…

Steve

Types of Bipolar Disorder

I think most people don’t know much about Bipolar Disorder, let alone that there may be variant themes and different sorts of the disease. The usual concept, I believe, is of a person who loses control of themselves and commits acts that are in stark contrast to what society thinks is acceptable or “normal” behaviour and often must be hospitalized in order to help them and keep them segregated from society. This is what is typically called Bipolar I the one most people think of when they do it at all. It’s the lurid story in the headlines that gets the attention of the media and usually involves something illegal or immoral and truly frightening. This is far from the truth. Most people with Bipolar of any sort are regular people who have a severe illness but may be your friends and neighbors. So give us a chance.

There are many ways in which to have a Bipolar Disorder and there are many people who are now considering the concept of a Spectrum of Illnesses that make up Bipolar and they’re not all so shocking, but are all devastating. In the upcoming Diagnostic and Statistical Manual V I believe that some attention will be paid to this spectrum  and things will shake out a bit differently than the usual. As it stands you can usually be diagnosed with either Bipolar I or Bipolar  II and there are some possibilities of Bipolar NOS, or Not Otherwise Specified or perhaps Cyclothymia, a sort of the illness that is more focused on depression than manias, as I understand it. But the new thinkers also allow for blends of these disorders and find that not all of us fit neatly into a single category of one or the other.

I myself was first diagnosed with Bipolar II with Rapid Cycling and Mixed States. Now this is somewhat odd because in order to have Mixed States you have to have a situation where you are both Manic and depressed at the same time, something with which I am most familiar. However the DSM says that this means I must be Bipolar I, a designation that some psychiatrists have also given me. I was also diagnosed with Bipolar NOS at a hospital that didn’t know what to do with me. But I think I fit best with Bipolar II. Some people refer to us as the “less serious ” form of Bipolar or as “Soft Bipolar “, a position I take strong issue with. Any illness that totally turns lives upside down is anything but Soft or Lesser than another one that is so similar.

The difference seems to be in the matter of Manias. I have indeed had periods where if I had been “caught out” in my manias, I would have been hospitalized and given a diagnosis of Bipolar I. But I’ve never been caught, so I’ve been given the one of Bipolar II instead, because that could be seen by the attending Psychiatrist who saw me.  When I tried to kill myself in 1980 they just called it depression and didn’t even keep me in the hospital for the requisite 3 days. Sheesh! I’ve been lucky I guess, or have I? If it’s so iffy why the big differences?

Because what I do have is what’s called Hypomania, where you are flying just below the radar of Mania. That’s why I feel accepting of the Bipolar II as my diagnosis. I haven’t flown too high to get caught. Though I’ve crashed often and hard at times. Before the Mixed State Episode where I finally crashed for good in 1995 I would find that I was frequently intensely creative and sometimes brilliant, and I’m not trying to blow my horn, just facing facts that others have told me about. I’d have tons of energy and still am highly sexual and feel like I can move the world and accomplish anything I set out to do and often I have. I’ve created a number of businesses and venues that have been very successful, tho I’ve never done well at making money because I’ve worked for community service organizations mostly and they don’t pay well I’m afraid. But that’s been my choice and I don’t regret it. I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve had these opportunities and in many ways am a  typical entrepreneur. All this could be true of someone with Bipolar I as well tho and I’m trying to show some differences. I guess it’s that I’ve chosen to be hospitalized and never forced into it by lack of control. I’ve had just the right luck and situations to stay below that radar I talked about.

But there are other factors in Bipolar II that we suffer from differently than Bipolar I. Mostly we have much more severe and frequent depressions than Bipolar I and that’s where I really  find my niche. I slide down into suicidal ideation and depression at the drop of a hat. The rapid cycling I was talking about earlier means that I cycle from hypo/mania to depression in the blink of an eye at times and can do nothing to stop it. So I suffer the degradations of severe depression and have come close to dying and have been hospitalized because of it. I have lost many of my friends too because of it and it’s ruined my life in many ways and I am lucky to be alive now and writing this blog to you.

I think Bipolar II is also sneakier than Bipolar I. It’s not as obvious and we have symptoms that are more elusive and that are hard to pin down, like anxiety and nervousness and panic attacks and agoraphobia and feelings of impending doom and the like. Subtle stuff sometimes. Lots of very subtle stuff. It’s a hard disease to live with and harder still to survive with. Not everyone even believes it’s real, including a lot of doctors. They fob us off as simply depressive, and deny our symptoms whereas a full blown mania is pretty hard to ignore. So we get the short end of the stick.

I should also mention that many many people with Bipolar of all types Don’t have the intense creativity that has marked so much of my time with it. Many of us suffer with lives that are mostly filled with distress and never have the bright shining times of hypomanic intensity that allows us to rise beyond the suffering and I don’t mean to forget them or how they live. I’ve heard people in support groups who suffer like this and they dislike people like me to characterize the illness as so wonderful at times. It’s simply Not true for them and I’m not meaning to imply otherwise.  Sorry if this was too top heavy with lightness. It’s not meant to be.

But there’s a lot we can do to deal with it and I’ve covered that in an earlier post on Surviving Bipolar Disorder. I originally combined the two but decided it was too long and unwieldly  so I split it apart. I hope this makes more sense to you now. Please realize that I am simply a person who suffers from this difficult disease and not a medical professional. I write about what I’ve learned in my time with this illness. And it’s valid I think for what I know. But others may have different stories and I’d love to hear them if you will share. Please feel free to contact me with what you have to say about this and let me know if I’ve educated you about this awful disease or gone astray. It needs more attention and we need to come out of the closet about it and that’s what I’m trying to do. I hope it helps someone somewhere.

In a Mixed State at present,

Steve

Surviving Bipolar Disorder

Some of this may seem obvious to you but this is what I’ve learned over the last 17 years  of my diagnosis and 62 years of living with Bipolar Disorder in total. In order to survive with this disorder it is necessary to first of all simply accept it and to admit to yourself that you are not in control of yourself. This is a hard thing for most of us to do. It’s been very challenging to me but I’ve had to do it. You also have to ask for help and that’s another hard one. And I’ve done all that. Some say that I have to take medications and tho I don’t know if that’s always true I won’t be the one to say stop taking your meds if you’re taking them and I do take mine and they help.

I was scared I’d lose my creativity by taking an anti-psychotic and anti-depressants (tho I  really Can’t take them because they make me so sick it’s awful and a sign of Bipolar that most people don’t know – we can’t handle anti-depressants. It’s a hallmark of the disorder that they often stimulate us into mania. It’s true..) but that hasn’t been true and I’m as creative today as I’ve ever been. Just take a look at my Gardening Website on here and see what I’m doing with that creativity these days. And these blogs too I think. I haven’t lost it at all and I’m not scared of my meds anymore, well not much anyway… they Do have side effects but I won’t go there now.  So I say take the meds and don’t freak out…. They can really help you survive.

But mostly you survive by being Real and true to yourself and who you really are I think. You take  good care of yourself and look at your life and you realize your limitations and your strengths and you focus on both of them. You don’t have to do some things that are out of synch with your true character that will cause you distress. You may still take chances and risks, risk taking is another hallmark of the disorder. But you take the risks you can handle. You fight the battles you have a chance of winning not the ones you will surely lose just because you think you can still do anything. You can’t, dear. You just can’t.

You  give it time and don’t push the proverbial river. Things happen at the rate they do and it’s silly to try to make them happen out of their own nature. That includes dealing with people and socially difficult people especially. Let them be who they are and you’ll find that you can handle them a lot better. The only want to be themselves just like you do and not allowing them the opportunity can cost you a great deal. I don’t mean that you allow yourself to be trod upon. You must stand up for yourself, with doctors in particular or others who have power over your life, like social security workers for instance.

You have to be strong and not let them get you down. Ask for help – it’s out there and can be found if you try. But it’s up to you first of all to be strong. You Must not allow them above all else to intimidate you.They can make or break your life if they choose and it hurts in letting them, so be true to yourself here as well. Sometimes this means walking away from the situation when it’s obvious you’re not going to win. But don’t back down anyway. Just walk away. There’s no shame in recognizing reality when it hits you upside the head.

So I’ve tried to give you some ideas on how to survive with Bipolar Disorder, because so many people don’t know about it. So where do you go from here? I think you just live your life, but try to do it Very Consciously.  You Must pay attention to Everything in your environment, in your relationships, in the food you eat, in the air you breathe. When somebody tries to suck your energy you have to walk away from them. And be careful who you  hang out with and who you don’t especially. Be with positive people and they’ll help you stay positive. This is all self help 101 I know, but it never hurts to hear it again and for some it may be the first time I dunno. So stay true to who you are and what you need to survive and don’t let others sway you if you know in your heart that you have to be a certain way or do or not do certain things. It’s up to you now so don’t lose it. Stay cool and you’ll make it fine and even thrive beyond surviving with Bipolar Disorder.

Be yourself. Who else can you ever really Be?

Steve

I Forgot My Pills Last Night

It seems incredible to me that just because I forgot to take my pills last night that I should suffer so much for it. But that’s what it’s like when you live with Chronic Intractable Pain coupled with Bipolar disorder with recurrent depression. Last night I got some nice feedback on my other blog site, a gardening website  and blog. I should have been elated. But my fickle depressive mind turned that into a dejected feeling and I was in a haze of misplaced rejection when I went to bed and I simply forgot my pills. I Never forget my pills you must realize. I Know it’s hell to pay if I do but still I forgot. Now I’m paying.

I’ve done what I can to ameliorate this situation. I took  my breakthru meds early today and I’ll take extra if I Have to. I have my doc’s permission to do that on occasion when I’m really hurting, and I’m really hurting today. Too much for just one silly mistake it would seem. It’s just not fair. But then Chronic Illness is never fair and I know that from years and years of living with the Invisible Illnesses of pain , depression, mania and migraines as well as arthritis and fibromyalgia. I’m kind of a mess. But usually I’m a happy guy and have a great life with a wonderful partner who loves me more than I deserve and is the light of my life. I don’t know what I’d do without him. He kindly told me I looked a little the worse for wear this morning and I almost laughed it was so gentle and kindly meant. But he was right I’m sure if how if feel is any judge.

Bu I’ve been working on my computer for awhile now to try to get my head at least into a different place, even if my body won’t cooperate yet. It’s sunny out right now in the midst of our Seattle rainy season and I should go for a walk soon and I will. I”ll have to force myself but that’s what you have to do sometimes. It takes courage to live with these conditions and I don’t lack for it but sometimes it fails me and I just want to hide somewhere in a hole and throw the covers over my head and make the world go away for awhile. I did that the first thing this morning after I’d eaten something and Taken my morning pills. I rested awhile to let myself catch up to where I was at. You have to allow yourself to rest somtimes when you have these situations and these conditions. It’s essential, rest is. I often will take naps in the afternoon to help make it thru the day and it doesn’t seem to hamper my sleep.

But I was restless last night and had a groggy morning and when I saw my nightstand and the pills I should have taken last night I had this sinking feeling in my heart and a flash of anger at myself ans then a resigned feeling and an awareness of what was wrong with me and why I felt the way i did. It’s worse when it’s your own bloody fault ya know. Oh well, no sense beating myself up is there? I do try to stay positive and had some nice Likes on my gardening post today that actually made me happy. This is good progress and I give myself credit for it. I can overcome this if i give myself the space to learn and remember that I may need some help from my partner in the future to remember to take the silly pills. I shouldn’t call them silly. They’re actually pretty heavy. Morphine is the strongest one, tho the abilfy , an antipsychotic that helps me stay somewhat stable is also missing from my system today and some other thing I really should have in my blood aren’t there in the way they should be. It’s a big deal.

But enough of this. I’ve given you a small glimpse into my life of Invisible Illness and I hope you’ll read more as I learn and post and share some things on how I stay as well as I do with these totally debilitating diseases. I do have support as I’ve said and that helps. But it’s up to to me in the end and I’m up for it.

Thanks for reading,

Steve