The other day I received two unexpected gifts from the same person. The first was the admission that thanks to my writing, this person went on to seek mental health assistance and now treatment on their own. Secondly, in thanks for simply being me and giving them the courage to seek help, this person went to my Amazon wishlist1 and bought me the bundled ebook version of the first four books of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series, or as the rest of the world refers to it by its rightful name, Game of Thrones.
Floored by this person’s generosity, I thanked them profusely for being so kind. This person’s gentle heart and reasons for sharing with me paralleled into the increasing visibility of my journal. Daily keyword tracking shows I’m getting a lot of traffic from organic searches by those looking for answers on drug interactions, bipolarism, ADHD, and everything else related to the crazy.
This seems like a perfect time then to write a preface to the blog for if my writing my experiences can help someone else seek professional help, then I need to make sure they are clear on a few things in regards to my own experiences. This post will be in the main nav bar for easy access.
I am Bipolar I/II (depending on which doctor), with ADHD, moderate anxiety, and a side of Borderline Personality Disorder for extra flavor. While I have been diagnosed since my late teens, my most recent professional confirmation came in 2005 and 2012.
I am what is commonly referred to as high functioning, which means that while I exhibit many of the extreme symptoms of my afflictions, I have coping skills that allows me to function, more or less, with little interruption.
In December of 2012, I decided after nearly a decade of being off any kind of medicating drugs, to start the drug treatment again for bipolar and ADHD. If you are a fairly new reader, and you want to see what someone is like within the throes of bipolar, start here and go forward for a play by play look of my last year as I live blogged it all. If you want to hop around, the subjects in the right sidebar gives you the breadth of the crazy as well as my other non-crazy interests.
This journal is not a journal of bipolarism, but I do write a lot about my gifts. Please keep that in mind.
In March of 2013, I decided to stop hiding behind the journal as the only outlet on the discussion and made the conscious effort to being open about my disease.
I am drug free not because I choose to, but it is because I cannot tolerate drugs. I have been on a wide breadth of various bipolar and ADHD drugs on and off for years, all well documented on this site, and none of them work for me. I am what my medicating therapist calls, “a peculiar case.” Simply put, my brain chemistry does not allow for metabolizing of most commercial drugs for anything. For example, most SSRIs take 2-3 weeks to metabolize and for the effects to show up. In me, I metabolize the drugs within days of ingestion. This becomes problematic when addressing doses for stabilization. I also have the unfortunate luck to get all the rare side effects associated with that particular drug.
Drug interactions are typically listed on the drug’s bottle. If not, use a reliable health site such as the Mayo Clinic for more information.
If you are taking medication, take the medication as directed and do not skip a dose. Do not self-medicate unless it’s for an extremely good reason such as when Adderall makes you psychotic like it did for me.
I do not dispense individual advice nor do I recommend you seek your medical treatment from the Internets. Mental health, in particular with afflictions that have cross symptoms, can be triggered by reading others experiences. I also do not frequent forums, while some find them useful and supportive, I find they tend to trigger my anxiety.
Websites that I link in regards to mental health advocacy or support are ones either I have used or have vetted as being legit. There are a lot of schemey sites out there looking to exploit the mentally ill. Using common sense and asking yourself the usual “Who/What/Where/Why” should give you the foundation of whether or not a site is legit. Remember, if you cannot find an about page or if the person is not willing to share credentials about their expertise, keep the fuck away.
Part of managing this disease is creating a supportive network and self-soothing routine for when you go into crisis, whether that crisis is manic or depressive. Make sure your partner, parents, siblings, and close friends know that you are doing this for yourself.
Those who are bipolar tend to also be heavily anxious, so it is even more important you create an on demand self-soothing items / routines in your skill set. This can be anything from having a favorite sweater around, to reading a particular passage from a book, eating a piece of chocolate, and the list can go on. In short: Anything that gives you comfort, bring you down, and give you peace is what you’re looking for AND can be easily accessible. Additionally, when you go into overly anxious mode, also have tools to cope such as TheHusband and I sing the 12 days of Christmas – backwards. Usually I do this when I cannot take Klonopin (the one drug that does work for me) immediately for some reason or the drug is taking too long to kick in. Another routine is five things taste, touch, sense, hear, see. You do a round of each item, finding five that fit the description, and keep going until your calm down.
Almost every encyclopedic entry on bipolar will mention a mind/body connection, that one way to help alleviate the pain of the disease is to eat right, cut out caffeine, and exercise. Even mediating can be boon.
If you think you are bipolar, hie thee to your general practitioner to get a recommendation for a medicating therapist. Bipolar is nuanced enough chemically that almost all those who are gifted with disease will have varying symptoms and medication needs. This should not be treated by your GP.
In addition to a medicating shrink, make sure you have a talking shrink as well — sometimes it can be the same person. You will need someone to monitor your drugs as well as be your touchstone that this is a chemical fuck up in your brain and you’re not a terrible person.
There is no known national bipolar foundation, though some exist in on a state level. If you are unable to get to your GP and are in crisis mode, call the national suicide prevention line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). I have used similar services in my past which have gotten me to the next day.
Keep a journal of your moods, to track when you’re up, UP, UP UP and down, down, down. Also figure out your triggers and prepare for them. Like, when I get manic, I compulsively shop. Case in point: I own 250+ tshirts. Putting together a systems of checks and balances in place has helped me from spending thousands. I also know that any caffeine after 12PM means I could be up until 4AM. Keep a list. You will find some friends are toxic, some music sets off your mania, and watching a film about old people will send you into depression for days. Know your triggers and avoid them as much as possible.
And it’s okay to have a terrible day or several terrible days. You know these days will pass and in the great words of Stephen Fry, it will be sunny one day. If you can make it through one day, and then the next, it will get easier.
It does get easier.
I believe in you.
1. Yes, I do indeed have nearly 20 wishlists under the main wishlist title, neatly sorted out by categories. TheHusband thinks I’m insane and Beth thinks I’m adorable, but I did this because I needed to separate out various works based on topic. So this organizing is for my own edification, not for people to peruse at except for TheHusband who shops from the Holidays and Lisa-mas Gift Ideas Wish List to get ideas on what to get me for gifts.
This day in Lisa-Universe: