Ways I See Myself

Ways I see myself:

1. I’m a guy with Bipolar Disorder II.  I’m fairly run-of-the-mill, I have downs more than ups.  I have several hypo-manic episodes  a year, but those are usually pretty mild.  I’m just doing what I need to do to get by.  I get enough sleep, I take my medications, I go to a NAMI Peer Support group every week, I see my therapist every other week and my psychiatrist every 3 months.  I write a blog where I publish poetry and articles about Bipolar Disorder and Mental Health from my point of view.  I guess you could say that I’m on maintenance.

2. I’m a guy who lives in the past.  It’s been two and a half years since I had a psychotic episode.  It’s been one and a half years since my last ECT treatment.  I am trying to piece together my life between 2005 and 2009 because it is largely a blur to me.  I would like to know what caused my big psychotic break.  I have a suspicion that a large part of my life between 2007 and 2009 was lived in a manic state.  Most of my writing is about things that happened in the past.

3.  Again, I’m a guy with Bipolar Disorder II.  That in itself makes life harder for me to live than other people.  I fear the stigma that goes along with it, enough to keep me from doing much besides going to my doctor appointments, seeing my therapist, writing a blog, dinner, movies, shopping, all things that either center around Bipolar or don’t have anything to do with Bipolar.  I shy away from social situations.  Because of the ECT and some of the medication, I don’t always speak well, I have problems finishing sentences, I have tremor in my hands and legs.  I feel I am awkward both physically and mentally.  I am unsure about my future life.

I do know this:  Post 800

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Off My Game

I feel like I have been a little off my game for the past few days.  I hadn’t given it any thought but this evening I gave it a lot of thought.  On Tuesday, in an effort to rid myself of hallucinations, or what my psych-doc calls “Visual Illusions”, we changed some of my medication around.  It doesn’t seem like much but I went from 125mg of Nortriptyline to 150mg and from 75mg of Amitriptyline to 50mg.  Now, the way the chemistry is supposed to work out the two drugs are supposed to be almost the same.  Amitriptyline is like Nortriptyline except that it also induces sleep.  Once the sleep causing part has been processed by the liver it is chemically the same as Nortriptyline.  Given that explanation, the adjustment being made should not cause any problems.  But, as we all know, med changes of any kind can be problematic.  So, if I ever actually had any “game” in the first place, this little change may be what’s whacking me about.  Hopefully things will get better over the next few days.

Right

The only thing I can figure is that I must be doing it right.  Whatever “it” is, I see no way I can be doing it wrong.   No one has ever been in the same situations I have been in, there is nothing to compare it to.  So why do I constantly find myself wanting someone to tell me that everything is going to be alright?  If I’m doing it right there shouldn’t be any reason for reassurance.  I should just know that everything is going to be alright.

I have had things to write but, with a few exceptions, I haven’t been able to concentrate well enough to sit down and get it out in cohesive thoughts.  For starters, the past week was pretty good, we went to my sister’s house for the Christmas holiday (Northern Virginia).  We were there from Monday evening through Saturday afternoon.  They are in the process of moving out of their house so things were somewhat in disarray.  They’re trying to get packed and at the same time celebrate the holiday.  It takes a lot of energy to keep up those kinds of things.  That’s energy I just don’t have.  No matter how much coffee I drink or “5 Hour Energy’s” I consume.  Luckily, everyone involved was able to see that I wasn’t really able to participate.  I felt like a bump on a log the whole time, but I managed to keep it from affecting my mood too much.  It WAS great to be able to spend time with everyone.

I finished the third week of two separate courses of antibiotics (1 for a week, 1 for 2 weeks) last week and I guess the sinus infection is gone.  My nose is still all clogged up but the sinus headaches and other congestion is gone.  I think a combination of the medication and the infection is what sapped my energy.  I also think the antibiotic has been messing around with my psych meds.  I can’t pinpoint it, but I have been having some break through depression, like a sadness drive-by.  It doesn’t last very long but it has been pretty profound at times.  I’ll watch it closely and see if it continues.  I have an additional comment about medications.  Over the past month and a half, I have gained some weight.  I’m not sure how much but I can say that my clothes have been fitting differently. Plus, my blood sugar measurements have been all over the place and that is highly abnormal.  I have checkups with both my docs in January so we’ll get to the bottom of this.  Oh yeah, one other thing, the Lithium tremors have become more bothersome over the last week or so.  At times, it has been very tricky using the mouse or typing/selecting icons on my phone.  Also something I am keeping a close watch on.

Given the second and third paragraphs, I don’t think I’m doing everything right.  If I was, I wouldn’t be complaining as much as I am.  I guess I still have work to do.  I’m afraid it is going to be a constant thing in my life.  Just here, working on getting it right.

I Am In Remission

Some time over the past two weeks, a long time friend commented on one of my posts.  I had said that I was level and have been for some. She said that she was glad that I was in remission.  Remission…  It wasn’t until this evening as I was driving  home that I really thought about this.  Is it possible for BPD to be in remission?  Now that I have been diagnosed, I know that the diagnosis is right for me.  But before that, my treatments were hit and miss.  It wasn’t until half way through ECT that I really started to see the light.  There have been a few stumbles both up and down but it feels like my psychiatrist and I have found a good combination of medications.  I haven’t had an extended bout of mania or depression for at least six months.  If that is remission then I guess I’m in it.

Here’s where I question that.  Most of the BPD blogs I follow talk about it being very unpredictable.  They say it can rear its ugly head at any point in time, whether it is well controlled or not.  Since well controlled is where I am right now, how likely am I to relapse?  More importantly, how much faith can I put on being in remission? Can I relax?  I would go on with that train of thought but I know what all the answers would be… No.  I have to remain vigilant.  I have to keep taking my medication and keep seeing my docs and therapist as scheduled.  I have to keep doing the things, like writing on this blog, that keep me level.

Largely used in the Cancer community, remission is defined as: the state of absence of disease activity in patients known to have a chronic illness that cannot be cured. Since BPD is chronic illness that has no known cure, I suppose the use of that term is appropriate for us in the BPD community as well.  But is it right for me?

I don’t want to take anything away from those out there that are battling cancer, who have been in remission and are now fighting again, or are in remission and have been there for a while.  I, myself, am a cancer survivor.  My battle had lasted 3 months when I was pronounced cancer free.  I guess you could say that I am in remission and have been for 10 years.  I guess it all depends upon the type of cancer it is/was and what the prognosis is/was.  As for me, I have a full body scan every year and every clear scan is another year in remission.

Since I am already in remission (have I said that word enough?) I guess it is OK to add another one to the pot.  As long as I understand there are actions I must take in both instances to keep myself there.  As well as certain things I have to look out for and talk to my doctors about in both circumstances.

Hi, I’m Gavin and I am in Remission.

Garbage – Medication

When I was going through some books in the “basement” today I found a ticket stub for a Garbage show I went to on May 1, 2002 at the NORVA in Norfolk, VA.  I only remember parts of that show, I’m sure I attended with someone (Probably Jim and/or Tara).  The thing I remember most about this show is that Garbage had a very penetrating sound.  The NORVA is not a big concert hall.  It holds something like 1400-1500 general admission.  So what I mean about penetrating is that the music and Shirley Manson’s vocals were very visceral.  Their sound was set up to move through you and out the back wall while at the same time feeling very close with the band.  I remember feeling that it was an awesome show to have seen in such an intimate venue.  Especially from a band that is no stranger to playing stadiums.  By the way, the book where I found the ticket stub was “How Long Till My Soul Gets It Right – 100 Doorways on the Journey to Happiness” by Robert M. Alter with Jane M. Alter.

Here’s a song from “Version 2.0” that still has a lot of meaning for me now:

“Medication”

I don’t need an education
I learnt all I need from you
They’ve got me on some medication
My point of balance was askew
It keeps my temperature from rising
My blood is pumping through my veins

Somebody get me out of here
I’m tearing at myself
Nobody gives a damn about me or anybody else

I wear myself out in the morning
You’re asleep when I get home
Please don’t call me self defending
You know it cuts me to the bone
And it’s really not surprising
I hold a force I can’t contain

Somebody get me out of here
I’m tearing at myself
Nobody gives a damn about me or anybody else

And still you call me co-dependent
Somehow you lay the blame on me
And still you call me co-dependent
Somehow you lay the blame on me

Somebody get me out of here
I’m tearing at myself
I’ve got to make a point these days
To extricate myself

Somebody get me out of here
I’m tearing at myself
Nobody gives a damn about me or anybody else

And still you call me co-dependent
Somehow you lay the blame on me
And still you call me co-dependent

Somehow you lay the blame on me
Somehow you lay the blame on me
Somehow you lay the blame on me