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Posts Tagged ‘change’

I am happy. For the first time in ages I actually feel happy. My mind is clearer, sharper. I’m not elated—not hypomanic. It’s like my mind has had a great weight lifted off of it and the fuzziness has diminished.   And the tremor when I write is gone. My beautiful handwriting is back.

I had a medication reduction. My psychiatrist agreed to decrease one of my meds 3 months ago by 5 mg. I found little relief so six days ago he agreed to reduce it by 5 mg more. That’s 10 mg total. It’s a powerful antipsychotic and you don’t need much to get results. I originally was on 20 mg. I couldn’t think clearly, had memory issues, fuzzy thinking and had a tremor in my hand when writing. Cooking was a major task because of having to multitask. Cooking dinner was a little easier today. God heard and answered my prayers.

It’s only been 6 days and I’ve had such good results. I’m wondering what another week will bring. Perhaps my mind will become even clearer. I can feel happiness again and that’s great. My emotions had been blunted for a very long time. I’m still holding a steady normal mood level so far. I just need to maintain it if I want to continue to enjoy these wonderful results.

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There is a great debate, and yes, even shouting, about the issue of medications vs. no medications for treating mental illnesses. And I am addressing bipolar in particular since that is what I am most familiar with.

I have an acquaintance who has tried the no medications s route by using the holistic methods touted by many and yet she is still suffering.   Early in my treatment, I convinced my doctor that I wanted to go med free because I had reached a point of stability and I was afraid of these powerful drugs and what they can do to our bodies over time. Of course, the rapid cycles started again in spite of having great coping skills and I went back to my psychiatrist for help. The drugs are what had helped slowed my cycles down enough to cope well, and those particular drugs never quite worked the same as before I had stopped them. I had messed up with my meds.

That led to an interesting conversation with my psychiatrist and a great revelation to me.  It was one that I had difficulty accepting.  My argument was the meds cause weight gain, increase the risk of diabetes, cardiac problems and a host of other problems besides the side effects associated with them.  I told him that I’ve already begun to have problems, pre-diabetes for one, and would most likely die younger never reaching truly old age.

My psychiatrist’s response was that I was suffering without my meds.  My cycles sped back up to ultra rapid cycling making coping and life difficult.  There is a high risk of suicide with my deepest depressions; it’s in my gene pool which is a great concern.  He stated that it’s a matter of choice as to whether I want a better quality of life or life with suffering, both of which have an impact not just on me, but on my family too—one positive and one negative. He led me to the conclusion that sometimes we have to give up quantity for quality, and quality is a better choice in this case.

I chose quality and haven’t looked back.  I’ll do all I can to live as healthy a life as possible and I’ll enjoy my family and friends while relieving them of any worry about my overall well being.  Life has been far better for all of us this way.

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Well, here we are, fairly settled into our home.  Much of the painting and decorating is done and it finally feels like it is truly ours.  There’s a peace here now, finally.

A few weeks after we arrived here, there was little peace.  Then, on March 2oth, I had an appointment with a new psychiatrist (Pdoc).  I gave him all my records from my Pdoc in NY.  He reviewed them, interviewed me and told me flat out that I don’t have cyclothymia or major depression.  I have Bipolar Disorder coupled with anxiety.   I was blown away but everything he said made sense.  To prove it to me, he had me keep a chart of my daily mood swings following the directions on the chart’s scale.  What a revelation!   I didn’t realize how unstable my moods were.  My poor husband is a saint for loving me this way.

Until now, I have been very embarrassed about this whole Bipolar diagnosis.  It’s a mental illness.  Moods can swing from very high (manic) where one’s judgement can be impaired, all the way down to extremely deep depression where one may become a danger to him/herself.  I’ve been on both sides of the normal line, but the side I’ve experienced the most is the downside.  The worst was the deep depression.  Thank God it’s only been a few times.

I was angry about the diagnosis because I had always been more than capable and fiercely independent.  I could run rings around coworkers in every job I had.  This is not lofty Bipolar thinking on my part–I have job evaluations to prove it.   But about a year before our move, something started happening that was sapping my strength, my memory, and my ability to work at the intensity and pace that I was accustomed to.

This demon finally had a name and is incurable and I was mad as h***!  The Pdoc did say we would work together to get it under control–that was hopeful.  The downside was that it has gone untreated in me for about 40 yrs and had just recently gone totally out of control–multiple full cycles in 1 day.  Because of how intense my cycles were, he said there is a good chance we may never get it under full control but he and I would work as a team to do the best we could.  At least he was honest.  He has kept his promise and we’re making progress–SLOW, but it’s progress.

My mood crashed on Oct. 1 this year.  I mean bottomed out so that I didn’t want to stick around anymore.  Hubby & I knew I needed help badly.  Pdoc told him to take me to the hospital.

It was the strangest experience I ever had.  I always had visions that a psych hospital was a scary place and full of weird, strange people, thanks to old TV movies and even some not so old movies.  The folks there were, for the most part, caring.  They made sure no one was cold & got you a cotton blanket if you were.  One poor fellow would start to nod out over his dinner plate.  Any one of us would catch him and wake him up before he drowned in his soup or potatoes.  Yes, all of them had mental issues, most less severe so you’d never know if you worked with them.

So what’s the point of this.  I spent 1 week with  these folks and I have to say it is the best thing that ever happened to me.  I am one of them and we are just like anyone else, just people looking to get our medical issues under control so we can go on with our daily lives.  One of us could be your neighbor and you would never know it.

I discovered that I’m still a whole person, I just have a condition called Bipolar Disorder.  I’m not ashamed of it anymore.  I  can talk about it now.  I am healing, slowly, but it’s happening.  Now I want to get on and serve others.

Did I mention NAMI?  It’s the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.  They have chapters all over the country.  My chapter has support meetings for people with mental illness as well as support meetings for family members.  What a blessing this NAMI group has been for me and also my hubby.  We’ve learned a lot there.  I’m hoping that perhaps I’d be allowed to serve there.

Time will tell where God will put me.

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It’s morning here and I should be getting ready for work and I don’t want to go.  I had a good sleep but I feel tired.  There are thunderstorms heading this way so I could blame it on the weather but I know that’s not the whole truth.  I’m tired of fighting the fight to get up each day and try to stay positive, to try not to be argumentative, to try to stay focused on each task before me.  I’m tired of people interrupting me all day long during my workday asking questions about how to do their work when they keep taking me away from doing my own.  I’m tired of working in an office known for not getting things done in a timely fashion and my suggestions to streamline getting kicked out the door.  You either cut down on unecessary details that eat up huge blocks of time or nothing gets better.  Well, the powers that be keep adding details which make my job harder.  I’ve got 6-1/2 more months to go but I don’t know if I’ll make it there alive.  I’m really down and all the positive thinking I try to do changes nothing.  My doc says its the meds change and it will take time, that I need to monitor my thoughts and not look back.  He says that it won’t be easy–it will be very hard.  Well, he’s right about that.  I need help and I don’t know where to get it or if anyone can help.  Depression stinks.

I’m sorry for a sad post, but this is my reality.  I do still wish you sunny days.

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Today has been a wonderful day. For the first time in ages, I woke up feeling fairly rested, energetic and ready to meet the day. I was looking forward to making a really nice breakfast for my spouse. I was able to multi-task, washing dishes and cleaning up at the same time I was cooking! I went shopping for some new casual clothes in fresh, happy colors. When I got home, we had lunch and went for an hour walk at a local preserve. I found joy in the scent of the pine trees, the just-blooming mountain laurel and the feel of various kinds of wet moss. I could actually feel the working of my muscles again. I felt so GOOD today!

I haven’t been able to feel deep emotion, feel the muscles in my body or to do the ordinary things in daily life at a normal pace for about a year or more. My body felt like lead and my brain (mind) was totally numb. For the last year, I have lived in the present moment, unable to think a day forward or backward. It got so bad that one month ago, I couldn’t remember details of conversations I had or tasks that I had done only a half hour before. I was just existing in the present moment. It was a frightening experience.

I thank God for my doctor who figured out that the medicine I was prescribed prior to being referred to him was probably the bulk of my problem. He took me off of it and started me on a new one. The transition was awful but totally worth it to feel so wonderful today. I hope I will stay this way most of my days. Finally, relief and joy. I am starting to anticipate a bright future.

Wishing everyone bright days, Journey

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Rev. Shane L. Bishop

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