Preface

Thomas of Cantimpré, Liber de natura rerum, France ca. 1290. Via Valenciennes, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 320, fol. 72r
Thomas of Cantimpré, Liber de natura rerum, France ca. 1290.
Via Valenciennes, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 320, fol. 72r

Dear Internet,
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.
x0x0,
Lisa

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:

what jail is like

Bipolar skull by Taiyo85 on Deviantart
Bipolar skull by Taiyo85 on Deviantart

Dear Internet,
As the kids say, I’m full of all sorts of feels today.
In addition to the sexual harassment shenanigans going on, I received an invite from my mother this weekend to dinner at her place for Thanksgiving with the words, “It is time to forgive and forget. Sincerely apologize” scribbled on the card. There is a metric fuck ton on that topic I need to write in regards to our estrangement, but not today.
No, today we’re going to skip talking about my pussy and boobs and my mother issues and talk about my brain.
Tonight I had a fairly final appointment with my medicating shrink, Dr. H.  I’ve been Lithium free, bipolar and ADHD drug free actually, for nearly a month and feeling pretty damn good about the whole thing. In a lot of ways, I feel like I moved over the hurdle of the mess that had become my life, sought help and while the drugs did not work, found some kind of manageable world that I can exist in the moment and not think of what could/may/potentially happen in the future.
Being bipolar is a fucked up diagnosis. You’re either vilified as being a fucking lunatic and you’re expected, thanks to the media, to accept the condition they present to the masses or treated as the ultimate muse who can spin spiderwebs of creativity at the drop of a hat.
I’ve stopped watching Homeland because I got tired of them treating Carrie’s bipolar as this alternate superhero trait and presenting that anyone with bipolar can go on a sexy times bender, complete with smooth jazz, which warrants a good reason for her demise. Another particularly interesting insight they like to allude to is at ANY TIME Carrie can go bat shit insane! And poof! She’s carted off to the psych ward and given ECT.  Against her will.
(I have made TheHusband promise, no matter how bad it ever gets in the future, he will not allow them to give me ECT. Not in a fucking million years. No.)
Life doesn’t work that way, especially when you’re chemically imbalanced. Not by a long shot. When my mother tried to commit suicide a decade ago, getting her checked in to a psych ward was fucking paper work galore – because isn’t it always? The endless amounts of paperwork when your mother has OD’d on insulin is kind of astounding and makes concrete two things I hope to do in life: Not go to jail or get checked into a psych ward.
(They also had Carrie eating Lithium like its candy and IT WILL REACT THIS VERY SECOND. Lithium takes weeks to get to a medicating level and then you have to take into account the blood work involved and the cannots that could dampen the drugs effectiveness. Lithium, when it works, is a miracle drug if you’re willing to give up alcohol, pain relievers, your sex drive, and are prepared for the amped anxiety and ADHD like symptoms to name a few lovely sideeffects.)
I also get twitchy reading these stories about people who do major things in their life — lose a million pounds, conquered a major disease, overcame their illnesses. We’re only given these tiny snapshots of their insular world in these pieces and golden road after golden road on how much better their life now is! Which is fine, but it’s so hard to relate to someone when they gloss over the details and give up this facade of a mirror under the guise of “I get you.” No, you don’t get me. This is why being crazy is well crazy. Every diagnosis may have a blanket term, but how individually we are under that diagnosis varies as widely as the color spectrum.
TheHusband will tell you living with me while going on and off the drugs, was a goddamned nightmare. What Lisa was he going to end up today? Was I going to put clothes on and go to work or would I call in sick because the thought of getting out of bed was too much to fucking bear? Would I refuse to eat for random reasons or cry for hours because of images of baby elephants triggered that particular spell on that particular day? And I haven’t gotten into the mania yet which transfers, sometimes for me, into excessive shopping and long periods of not sleeping. I’m talking days of going on a few hours of sleep and lots of caffeine.
Sometimes, both at the same time.
Being crazy is ugly. You lose friends who can’t handle the mood swings; you lose jobs, lovers, your sense of self-worth, your dignity, your grace. One minute you’re high on the world and the next, you want to burn it all to the ground and salt the earth. Sometimes the highs last for a really good long period, when the world seems that much sharper, in focus and BOOM! Without warning, it flips and you’re huddled in week old clothing why you can’t bother to get up to shower.  You can track my entire adult career in education, jobs, and relationships on where exactly on the spectrum I was for my mania or depression.
Being crazy is lonely. People turn away from you, friends wander off, lovers break up with you, you have no real outlet to say, “This is me. This is who I am. There are going to be some really amazing days and some really awful days, but if you hang on, it’ll be okay.” Because you have, in a sense, said this before at the last break-up, the last phone call, the last email to someone. They’ve heard this story before — just get some help, they will tell you. Get some help, put your world back together. But what if, like in my case, the help that is supposed to set you free actually imprisons you? I cannot physically take the drugs for my disease. I have tried numerous times and each drug cocktail has shaved off days, weeks, months, sometimes years of time that I will never get back from all the lost time of experimentation. Now what? There is no handbook for this sort of thing, how am I supposed to put my world together if my world is so fragile, the smallest of changes can send it shattering into a million pieces?
Being crazy is exhausting. Whether from the drugs or the pure, raw sheer strength of keeping yourself together during the hour, day, or even the minute. The constant on guard of your feelings, emotions to make sure they don’t explode over everyone you meet.
Today I am neither ugly, lonely, or exhausted. Today has been a good day, as was yesterday and as I hope tomorrow is. Being free is knowing I have done everything under my control to keep this disease in check, to as prepared as much as I can for when the next wave hits, and hope that it will all be over soon.
I end this with a quote from one of my favorite philosophers:

There’s no point to any of this. It’s all just a… a random lottery of meaningless tragedy and a series of near escapes. So I take pleasure in the details. You know… a Quarter-Pounder with cheese, those are good, the sky about ten minutes before it starts to rain, the moment where your laughter become a cackle… and I, I sit back and I smoke my Camel Straights and I ride my own melt. Troy Dyer

x0x0,
Lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2011

Of broken bricks and forgotten combs

 

My view of the ocean from the Monterey Marriott.

Dear Internet,
Despite all the scrupulous packing (and re-packing) and organizing, I discovered upon my arrival in Monterrey I had forgotten a comb. Now granted my hair is short and doesn’t really need a good brushing, but as the gods willed, if you forget something that may not have been that big of deal now it becomes a massive big deal later. Thankfully I was able to make my way to Walgreens before my world collapsed from 3″ strands of hair not being properly sorted out, which could have proved disasterous.
I’m in Monterrey, sitting in a Starbucks around the corner from my hotel on my one day off this week. Tomorrow kicks off the conference in full gear, and I wanted this day to be one of me time and relaxation as I knew as the week wore on, the conference would wear me down. While my energy levels have reappeared since I came off the lithium, I’m more conscious of personal space and needing to escape into my own world for awhile before any major social interactions are going to occur, even more importantly when there are large groups of people I do not know.
I arrived in Monterey after a very full day of traveling, which started at 8AM EDT and ended at 5PM PDT, which mainly included my hopscotching my way around the US.  As I was checking in and getting sorted, I ran into one the panelists who will be presenting with me, and his partner, both whom graciously invited me out to dinner.  After the hopscotching around various airports, I was delighted to get a chance to get a bit of a stretch around the area before heading to bed. We had dinner on the wharf and I was so determined to have my bit of vodka and Guinness, which I made happen, before anything else occurred. By the time the evening wore down, combined with jet lag, travel lag, and other wordly lags, I was hoping to fall asleep when I got back to the hotel and make it a fairly early night.
But nothing is ever really that easy as the fates again decided I had not sacrificed the correct amount of virgins to satiate them as not only was I not able to fall asleep at a reasonable hour, I was wide eye awake starting at 7AM local time despite the alcohol consumed the night before and coupled with jet lag meant I was running on 5-6 hours of sleep.
I laid in bed most of the morning, pondering what I was going to do for the day while watching terrible reality television that I seem to only care about when I’m not at home. I caught  an episode of SECRET PRINCES, which turned out to be the pilot of the second season. Later, I gleefully regaled my breakfast companions the background stories of four unlucky in love royals who came to America, Austin specifically, to find love while undercover from their true identities. The whole show is a bit daft, of course, but there is some kind of glee about these bumbling fish out of water experiences that I can view like Margaret Mead, except all virtual and not with binoculars in the grass.
The rest of the day has been lazy, walking around the downtown core and grabbing coffee to keep the energy going. The weather, and as one must always talk about the weather when travelling, turned for the worse, I ended up back in the hotel earlier than anticipated because sitting in a coffee shop with my back against the drafty window is neither noble or smart and the outcast seemed to huddle on rain for the rest of the day. It was like I had never left home.
I decided to use the rest of my time to work on personal and work projects, only to discover my charging brick for my MacBook Air is dead, which explained why some of my other devices were not charged this morning when I grabbed them on the go. Here I thought the problem was with the room outlets but that is turned out to not be the case. Even with next day shipping, I missed the window to get a new brick to me via Amazon tomorrow as it won’t show up until Tuesday and I’m leaving ungodly early (4:30AM) Thrusday morning fot the airport.  Thankfully I brought along my iPad, so the laptop will only get used in extreme emergancies while I mainlined everything else elsewhere.
I had some cause of worry for this trip, not of the conference or the people I was going to see, but the worry of my own behavior the further I get from my last dose of lithium. The same week I was first drug free, I was hit with PMS enough to cripple me and the mood swings enough to remind of all the 100s of reasons I wanted to be on mood stablizing drugs. Once that was over, and my inner world was smooth again, I’m finding myself feeling much more of myself than ever before.
I am desperate to not let this be a manic episode stemming from coming off the drugs, but it’s difficult when I’m only sleeping on 4-6 hours a night, I don’t get catch up sleep when I can sleep in, and I seem to exist on zoom the entire day with very little caffeine. The crash will come, there is almost always the certainy with that, but I’m praying to whatever will listen to not let it be so terrible that it is crippling and more importantly, I can have the forsight to be self-aware of it as it happens. It seems like a lot to ask, but if the drugs are not helping then I need something to guide me through the uncharted spaces to get me back on track again.
x0x0,
Lisa
 

we were all waving flags

Street words on the side of a church delivery door.
Street words on the side of a church delivery door.

Dear Internet,
This morning I cried because I couldn’t put on a pair of shoes.
The inability to put shoes on is not an uncommon thing, but it is a frustrating one. Over a year since my first surgery and six months after the second, I still unable to fit anything beyond flip-flops or Chucks on my feet, with the occasional foray into a ballet flat. This is made even more difficult as my right foot post-surgery is now an 11.5W while my left is a 10.5B.
I’ve been piecing out my shoe wardrobe to keeping only what fits or I absolutely positively love rather than keep everything. While I was never really a heel girl, even the ones I own and loved are almost useless to me at this point and into the pile they go. A recently purchased and rather expensive pair of flats I got at 75% off, talked into buying them via a beloved shoe courtier who silkily promised they most assuredly would fit, turned out to be a “thank fuck I did not buy these at full price” mistake. Several wearings indoors per their instruction and then the eventual public airing of the shoe found they were, after an hour or two, almost unbearable. How a pair of flats could cause so much issue with my feet is beyond me. I do not blame the shoe courtier for the pressure because they do fit at slip-on and comfortably so at that; I blame my feet for their rebeling at being fashionable.
My current obsession is finding a pair of dress boots that are flat heeled (more due to height than comfort) and can accommodate my tennis calves and odd feet. Boxes have been arriving from various vendors for me to try on — funny how I never thought of the shipping of shoes from Zappos and the like to Throbbing Manor to be similar to the receiving of gifts from my subjects but there you are — and again, the frustration at mismarking and advertising of wrong sizes and widths is causing more stress. Last winter, after the first surgery, TheHusband counted I had purchased and returned a dozen pairs of everyday boots before finally finding a pair by happenstance at the mall.
The crying this morning was not simply over the fact my shoes don’t fit, but more about this bottom of this often never ending and seemingly black oil pit I find myself in. Yes, it sucks I couldn’t wear my walking shoes to go on a walk and had to opt for flip-flops, but it’s not the end of the world. Yet to me, it was and also rather symbolic of everything going on in my life.
As I continue the tapering down of Lithium, in fact today is the first day I’ve been Lithium free, my moods have started shifting like a radiograph, even more rapidly in the last week. I started bawling yesterday reading Facebook and then proceeded to go into a several hour depression that quickly, and shockingly, emptied me of life. The black clouds descend so quickly and with such force, I felt powerless. TheHusband spent a couple of hours walking me through my feelings, which continue to be a catalog of everything I feel are to be truths:

  • Nobody loves me
  • Everybody hates me
  • I will never be happy
  • Everyone leaves me
  • I will not amount to anything
  • I will have never accomplished X,Y,Z
  • I will never have the kind of life as seen by X,Y,Z
  • I am too old
  • I am too young

This has been the same laundry list since I could remember keeping track of all of my demons.
TheHusband got me calmed and by bedtime I felt relatively able to sleep with peace. This morning however, when I woke, the black cloud was back and circling with a vengeance. Since we woke at mid-morning, the sun had been up for several hours and our bedroom was bathed in light which was even more depressing.  This blinding happiness depressed me more as the idea of staying shut in all day while the day glowed like the summer. Toss up: Stay indoors and become more depressed because everyone is seemingly having some kind of life, the world looks shiny and new OR go outside, even against your will, to at least experience what it feels like. Which will hurt more?
TheHusband made the executive decision we were going to walk Wednesday and then talk a walk ourselves. Chop-chop, wash your face, put on a sports bra and let’s go. He tempted me with treats from a local bakery conveniently located around the corner from our house if we did at least a quick jaunt around the neighborhood. Instead, we found ourselves roaming farther and longer, and the quick jaunt turned into a four mile walk in flip-flops, which ended with breakfast at a local place and some Gerbera daisies for the dining room.
We made half-heartedly plans for the afternoon, but found ourselves hiding in our offices while I read and wrote and TheHusband played video games. I was also opposed to the idea of having to put on pants for some reason, but that is not a black cloud thing, that is more of a sensibilities thing. Because, well, pants.
On occasion there will be days where I’ll get a glimpse of happiness, where I know that even at the darkest hour there will be a snap and things will become stable again. That as is before, as in the future, and as is the now, I will climb out of this slick pit of despair and change something. It’s hard to remember the positive in your life, when you’ve gotten so used to the idea that happiness is fleeting. HOW DARE YOU NORMAL PEOPLE HAVE HAPPY LIVES? Which is why I cry at Facebook. And stalk some people’s lives online because I find it so fucking hard to believe someone could legitimately be happy. SURELY, they must be faking it. Or projecting it. Or something. The world is unreal, ergo, what I am seeing is also unreal.
It’s hard to remember not everyone is like me, that feelings are felt and gone so fast, their tail is often the only reminder they are there. It’s hard to remember often what I’m seeing in other people is really a projection or a sum of their life, I don’t know everything going on in their world. All I do know, their happiness reinforces my lack of having any. It’s hard to remember a trigger by something sending me into a spiral, should not be reinforced by swimming in that sea.
And even harder to remember, no matter how prickly I may be, I am not unloved.

x0x0,
Lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2003

two pints of lager and a packet of crisps

Dear Internet,
Randomly discovered today this week is Mental Health Awareness Week. I’m not sure if I had found out sooner if I would have done something to celebrate, you know, other than going off of Lithium. So we’ll just chalk it up to it’s the thought that counts.
Hello there.
I’m coming down from my last dosage of Lithium and the last few weeks have been kind of an emotional nightmare. Keeping it all together has been much more exhausting than I would have figured and I’m attempting to save all of my energy when I head to California at the end of the month for Internet Librarian conference, of which I’m on a panel. Professional development for the fucking win! The cost of the trip is bordering on staggering as flights are more expensive (GRR is a large but not really airport. Monterey is the same.) then if I had flown out of a metro area. The conference and pre-conference times start from the weekend until the middle of the week, which jacks the flight price higher. So then, of course, I have to have more days at the hotel (5 nights, 6 days). Now I’m whinging about money and time, which wasn’t my intent.
I just hope I’m somewhat back to normal by then. By back to normal I mean not what I’m feeling right now.
At first the way I would describe myself is sharp, like a knife. Anything coming close to me will get poked. My physical boundary space is highly protected. I shut down how I feel emotionally, about anything really, unless provoked. Being provoked could range from someone outwardly doing something to me to someone annoying me enough in some capacity I snap and give them a what for. Or, more often then not, I’ll just choose to ignore them. It’s much easier online, and as expected, in person is much more difficult.
As one would expect, it’s quite lonely here.
Some days I grasp at the straws of which I proclaim, silently mostly, I AM Lisa Motherfucking Rabey! I have done great things! Before turning into a sobbing mess a few minutes later. Those brief seconds are the sign I know not is all but over. I’ll keep taking those flashes, no matter how minute.
One of the small steps I did to help with, well, everything was getting rid of using our bedroom (and bed) as my personal office space. The tired laptop hobbling along I’ve been using as my desktop has finally bit the dust and I just decided to dock my Air.  Moving all of my electronics out and also forcing me to sit up and use a desk should start the mental separation of tranquility and solace (bedroom) and pew pew of the digital world (physical office).
I should move my DS3 as well but you never know when you have to check turnip prices in Animal Crossing.
x0x0,
Lisa
 

This day in Lisa-Universe in:

la princesa de los Ingenios

Dear Internet,
It’s the 272nd day of the year or the end of September, whichever is easier to remember. As I quipped to TheHusband today, my favorite time of year for it’s one of the few months we’re not running our boiler or the central air, ergo the electric and gas bills are down.
And here I bet you thought I was all seriousness and no fun.
I’ve been purposely withdrawing from a semblance of social life as I meter down on the Lithium. I’m currently taking 900mg a day (I started out at 1500mg), and have found that this particular dose is working well for me. At the advice of Dr. H., who suggested if I found a level that worked for me to stay there so I’m heeding his request.
Most of the problematic side-effects from the higher doses have gone, which has been a tremendous amount of relief. As I don’t know how I am going to respond on the lower doses, I thought it best to curtail anything I don’t need to be actively involved in. This includes but was not limited to withdrawing my volunteer work with a few local comic cons happening this fall, my application for a part-time job at a new local comic book store, a few classes I was going to take, sponsored by Grand Rapids recreational department, and a few more things.
If my absence around town before was due to mobility, before that to some sort of depression, this time for a fairly sensible reason: my mental health. Some of the scariest moments this year was going on a new ADHD drug and having it take over my life. When I sampled Adderall and Focalin, I was living in emotional hell and the strain of being “normal” for everyday things took its toll.
I became a sketch of a person who only seemed to exist in novels or on a television show.
This is always the part that never seems to get discussed: the ramifications of going on/off controlled substances and how if done wrong, can fuck with your life in many serious ways. This is the reason why I write about because I want others to know they are not the only ones going through this particular hell. I also noted to my small support circle of those who also were gifted with being Bipolar my tactics and plan and they also agreed what I was doing was sensible.
This entire year has been exhausting. And I feel incredibly vulnerable, tender, and weary of the world at large.
My session with my talking therapist, Dr. P., have been ramping up pretty well. A year into our therapy and I’m finally revealing more about the inner core of me than before. I’m realising more so than ever talk therapy may be one of the few drugs I have left in my arsenal and I don’t want to waste it on discussing stupid things. I need to get rid of the burned husks and lay it bare.
I’m still solidly working on my archives, bouncing through different back-ups to add back in here at EPbaB. TheHusband often reminds me the back-ups I pulled from former SQL tables, still chock full of injected code, can easily be cleaned up by him. I then explained there is something Zen in the grabbing the data I need and cleaning it up myself. It can be so automatic but at the same time, soothing. There is sense of accomplishment to the act his fancy scripts cannot give me.
I’ve been spending a lot of time in 2003, mainly working through the entries where I found my high school sweetheart when I moved back to GR and what happened after. In 2008, he would track me down to my place of work to try to rekindle something, and follow up with the same move in 2011.
Reliving that extremely short period of 2003 has been much more painful than I would have imagined even a decade removed. I was so absolute and sure about our relationship even though he failed me over and over again. I was smart enough in 2008 and again in 2011 to recognize the bridge he was trying to sell me was never, ever going to materialize. It also didn’t help matters after 2011 connection, I found out he was still living with his girlfriend of many years and has a long rap sheet for various offenses. Politically, we’re so far apart it’s laughable and his various social media streams indicate he’s one step away from writing a manifesto while solitary living on the mountain.
In 1989 we were not an ocean apart. By 2003, no matter how much our hearts begged to be joined, our differences outweighed us. By 2008, I had no idea who this man calling on me was for he was not the man I had fallen in love with 20 years prior. By 2011, I was just tired of the ping ponging and the lies.
It is like a bullet has been dodged multiple times. The 17 year old me weeps for the death of someone she had loved, who had died many, many years ago and instead now sees just the shell of a person she used to know.
But it is finding those lost moments of time, which are ripe in their honesty and candor, so appealing as I go through my archives. They remind me I would not be here today without these events happening, the decisions and sometimes the regrets I have chosen. My personal history may not have world changing moments, but there is a richness to the layers of my struggles, pain, and happiness that helped define me as a person and charted the course of my life.
And it helps to remind me, as I come off the drugs, all of that is inside of me. That life, no matter how monochrome it may feel, can always randomly burst into technicolor.
x0x0,
Lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe in:

My history’s mysteries, curios, and future delightfulments

Dear Internet,
I’m so terribly glad the week has ended.
It began the previous week when a fire at work started out as a slow ember. By Monday, it blew up gorgeous blaze that only I could fix and spent all of my waking time working on the problem through the course of the week.
Monday eve I saw my medicating doctor, whom I’ve partially fired. He agreed to start downgrading me from the lithium, which is going to take about a month or so to happen. He’ll still be my klonopin dealer, thank fuck, but my involvement in the world of chemical imbibement is going to be gone.
Tuesday saw the advent of my period, who’s new thing is to play a game of “Heavy, heavy, normal, light, YOU ARE GOING TO BLEED TO DEATH!!!!!” pattern by the end of its cycle. Tuesday also was the day of my EEG, which after the procedure I had the energy of slug and slept for most of the day.
I taught all day Wednesday and Friday.
Thursday was the day all faculty had to have their projected performance evals done and turned in. Mine was not so. When I was at work, not teaching, not on the reference desk, I was trouble shooting the aforementioned gorgeous blaze that the final data collection submitted to IT was closing in on half a dozen pages of notes and results, which was submitted on Thursday.
Friday morning an email from my dean on why my eval was not completed and he wants to see me ASAP. My response was a copy of the six page ticket I opened with IT and an explanation of what I had been doing for the past week and half. I promised to finish the eval this weekend, but of course! The online system we use for such things, running on Oracle, is dead in the water. Oh, how bittersweet! Monday’s early appointment with my dean should be loads of fun.
TheHusband and I spent a good portion fo the weekend cleaning – it’s that time of year you know. People get overly excited for decorative gourd season and the onsalught of pumpkin spice latte whatever. Me? I dream about cleaning. We divided up the work over two floors and two days, and if we’re honest, we probably didn’t work as hard or get as much done as we had planned. But we’re okay with that, as we plan on pecking at it during the week
I burned through a lot of appointments this week and some commitments that I have set up for this upcoming week are going to be curtailed. I’ve decided to start reigning in on some things for the moment, only temporarily, as I wean off the drugs. If anything has been learned of the lesson of my drug life, the lack of any kind of emotional planning for what is going to happen is naught. Yes, I get it – you can’t control when the crazy comes but it would be nice to at least have an inkling. Thus, I’m clearing everything off the decks while I detox.
During the downtime this weekend, I worked a lot on the archives the site, hanging out mostly in 2010 – 11, which was not as interesting as 2003 or 2008, but there is a lot there for me to process. I also updated a few projects that were found such as Book List and To:Be Project, both which will remain current.
I get a hankering to look at the archives as work continues because seeing some of those years fill in makes me happy. I don’t only feel like I’m doing something here, completing a task, but I feel like I’m making art.
x0x0,
Lisa

If you see a red flag, run

Down With The Red Flag
Liberal Unionist poster, circa 1905-1910. Courtesy of The Commons, Flickr.

Dear Internet,
Dr. H. has become pushy, for him at least, on what drugs I am and am not taking. I should not fault him too much, because interaction could mean death. But he’s been pretty insistent my Metformin script is causing the havoc with me as of late, and I have to say, he may potentially have a point. I was pulled off of Metformin, after being on it for years, last winter when my GP and I were attempting to figure out if I was diabetic or not when I was going through all my ankle surgery woes. I use Metformin for my PCOD, but since it’s original intent is for pre-diabetics and diabetics not on insulin, it made sense to pull me off of it to make sure my blood work was not throwing up false negatives.
This, of course, all starts before Dr. H. and I start meeting and I’m off of Metformin for months. I think I finally went on it back in March when I got the all clear from the orthopedic surgeon on my ankle and my GP that I was not diabetic. Hurrah!  Shortly after I start taking Metformin again, it was around that time when the sleepiness and other bi-product of lithium would appear and then disappear a few days later.
Since my sleepiness has been ebbing and flowing the last few days, I decided to do an experiment of my own by taking myself off the Metformin and see what happens. Oddly the day I stop taking it is the day I start my period, and I hope ultimately this doesn’t end up as a choice: regular, pain free periods OR less crazy.
Dr. H. wants me to start Wellbutrin this week as he’s also pretty convinced this will save my soul, thus once I’ll get my prescription filled, the regime will be:

  • 500mg Lithium, 3x a day
  • 1 mg of Klonopin, night (during day as needed)
  • Wellbutrin, morning
  • Daily vitamin, morning
  • Glucosamine Chondroitin, morning
  • Metformin, morning (On hold)

I’m ending the Glucosamine Chondroitin as it doesn’t seem to do anything for me anymore. I need to do more research into the vitamin shenanigans before giving that up completely. I’d like to get myself off as many drugs as possible in the end. Too much evidence is showing me a healthy diet and serious exercise regime is much more therapeutic rather than dosing me up with chemicals. Except for Klonopin, as that is the savior to everything.
In so far as exercise, TheHusband and I walked two miles yesterday and today I  did entertain the idea of rowing, so there is that.
I’m not terribly sure if it is because I stopped the Metformin today OR if my period started, but what I do know my sleepiness is not as terrible as the day has progressed as it has been for the last few weeks. This morning I still had coffee and later, a 12 oz Red Bull, but I felt like I kept my shit together while I worked and I did drink a lot of water, which later supplemented with a bottle of coke. Maybe my caffeine intake is spiked and I need to adjust that more? I did stop drinking caffeine when I was on the legal meth for my ADHD and didn’t really miss it. I’ve also done routes of stopping caffeine after say noon to help me sleep better.
Right now this is not so much as planning as it is talking out loud to myself. Like I said, the boring bits of every day life but one I would like to track with gusto.
Dr. H’s idea behind the Klonopin is if I take it at night, every night, then a lot of the stress and other triggers that seem to randomly come and go will be squashed. If I can sleep a full night’s sleep, deeply, without fretting then I own’t be tired in the morning, and if I’m not tired then I’m not mainlining caffeine of of a hooker’s ass, and well, you get the picture. The number that is counting up after my name in all these recent posts is the number of nights I’ve taken Klonopin before bed, so that I could keep track in some form.
After a week of this inhaling of my wonder drug at night, and still feeling like death warmed over on a daily basis, Dr. P. suggested I take Klonopin earlier in the evening, say between 6-7PM so that the entire life of the drug would have cycled through before morning. The reason why this is important is because by taking it at my usual time (9-10PM or so), by the time I get up in the morning, the drug has such a long half-life, it would still be feeling the zombie effects come morning.
Makes a lot of sense.
Even with all of the Klonopin inhaling, I am still having panic attacks. Nothing to the extent like they used to be, but they are still there. One popped up an said hello today at around lunch time, so I popped half a Klonopin and did some breathing exercises to exorcise that demon. No one has time for that shit!
My social feeds have been abuzz about Night Vale, the podcast that is eating up the airwaves. Told in the format of community updates of the small desert town of Night Vale, it is the most delightful podcast. The show has been on for over a year now and one of the lovely things about finding out about something long after it has started is that you can gorge on the episodes. I would highly suggest you checking this out.
Finally, after weeks of trying to make this happen, TheHusband and I were able to make homemade pizza for dinner tonight and I did not die! As I’m allergic to cow milk and I can tolerate sheep and goat milk, how would I fare with buffalo milk? Namely, buffalo mozzarella?
Apparently, in all of Grand Rapids, the locations to get true buffalo mozzarella are minute. Once we found a place, I grabbed some gluten free crust for me and made a wheat based crust TheHusband. Below is the gluten free version.
http://instagram.com/p/csNwGivJDP
The taste? Not bad. I like thin crusts so that worked out well, the cheese didn’t spread as much as I had hoped, but as we bought only a single container, we weren’t sure how much would last for pizza. TheHusband made the sauce, which was sweet just as I liked it. Overall, probably the best version of pizza I’ve had since being diagnosed with my allergy and the ability to at least get gooey cheese was orgasmic. We will be making this again.
x0x0,
Lisa (Day #13)

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2012, 2012, 2003

One Who Guesses Right

Portrait of an articulated skeleton on a bentwood chair
Portrait of an articulated skeleton on a bentwood chair, circa 1900. Courtesy of The Commons, Flickr.

Dear Internet,
The 12th Doctor was announced today.  I’m not sure how I feel about the selection but as I said on Twitter, it’s not so much they went with a white male but the beeb, the show, Moffat – they have this AMAZING opportunity to take the show into new direction, pushing boundaries and make the show worth a damn! But no. Moffat on why no female Doctor, “It didn’t feel right to me, right now. I didn’t feel enough people wanted it.”
That has got to be one of the most cowardly statements ever published.  Will I stop watching? More than likely not.
Today was a good day! TheHusband and I got up early, there was no leaping from the bed but early it was, and made some serious head way into the great weeding with the before illustrated below:
The great weeding has begun!
The great weeding has begun!

After two hours and stuffing to the gills a 96 gallon yard waste container, our yard looks exactly the same! Well, not exactly – the weeds between the bricks in the walk are gone. So there is something. TheHusband and I keep going back and forth on how to take care of this mess, knowing really if we spent a few a hours a day working on it, it would be fantastic. And knowing who we are, it’s not probably not going to happen.
But we continue to be optimistic.
After cleaning ourselves up, we headed over to antique row, which is a series of antique stores located in the old warehouse district south of downtown. This area, along with other blighted spots, are getting their own gentrification so now instead of it being a sketchy area to park and shop in, the streets are getting nicer and better shops are moving in.. The row has now doubled to contain six distinct antique and speciality stores, such as one store that specializes in Mid-Century Modern and another that does specializes in reclaimed materials. Reclaimed from what, we’re not sure, but it looked too high falutin for us.
Our needs were pretty simple: Look for Fiestaware, furniture, and a few other odds and ends we need for the cabin. We might as well been shooting for the moon. Several weeks ago, we lucked out when we found Fiesta plates at a local thrift store near our cabin for $1 a piece. At every antique store we visited this weekend, they were selling between $10-30 a piece. Now I know some of this stuff is worth the price, but selling contemporary pieces for vintage prices is a fucking dick move! We saw this in a lot of things we picked up, items that were retro made to emulate vintage looks but priced as of original. I Instagramed some choice pieces but overall, our time at the antique row was a bust.
I also feel like I’ve combed through most of the thrift stores and antique markets in our areas and either we’re not getting the right days or I’m missing something. It’s become pretty frustrating.
We ended our pretty busy day out with dinner at one of our favorite restaurants and we both tried something new. The evening was wrapped up with True Blood and some other mindless television before crashing.
So mood – how was my mood. For the most part of the last few weeks, my mood has been pretty steady even and the Klonopin at night has helped taken the edge off. But the edge is still there and sometimes I can feel it like a serrated knife against my chest.
I am so fucking tired. Of being tired. Sometimes I feel like all I do in inhale enough caffeine to keep me functioning for the moment and then I inhale some more. I feel like it’s a lost cause and I want to get off of Lithium so badly but I’m more afraid of the ramifications of going off the drug cold turkey.
x0x0,
Lisa (Day #11)

This day in Lisa-Universe in:

Exposition Universelle

Paris Exposition: map, Paris, France, 1900. Courtesy of The Commons, Flickr.
Dear Internet,
I’ve been writing this in my head for days and yet here I am circling the aggressive blinking cursor with trepidation. It begins back when Dr. H upped my lithium dose to 1500mg a day (Two pills in the morning, one in the mid afternoon, last two at night). He soothes that things will change within a week once the drug metabolizes.
And he’s right, it does.
The world clicks into focus a bit better and I do not feel the crushing tiredness that plagued me through most of June. But perhaps it is too soon to tell or it is too late to tell. For the relief is short lived and I’m back to finding myself at a cross-roads, again, with what I need to do.
Or what I want to do.
At my most recent appointment with Dr. H., one where it had been sometime since we had seen each other due to schedule conflicts, my lithium levels were still in the therapeutic range. But all of the symptoms I recounted then in our session in June still exist., the biggest culprit is lethargy.
Lethargy, in any form or from anywhere, is a cruel bitch of a mistress. In my head, I am writing short stories! I am getting projects done! I am curing cancer! In reality, I feel so drained and physiologically exhausted I find myself taking short cuts to save time such as stop washing my hair daily, stop wearing make-up, and pushing off as much as I can to another day.
It’s a relief when daily chores are done because I can curl up in my bedroom and do nothing until I fall asleep, usually to some Britishism. I’m not reading, still. I’ve touched nothing in terms of projects or hobbies.
The days I am home alone in Grand Rapids, when TheHusband is  up at Throbbing Cabin, I don’t cook dinner, I graze. I am exhausted walking six blocks to get hot dogs.  There are five bag of treats of some sort on the counter, the fridge is full of easy to eat food like hummus and pre-made salads. I have lots and lots of liquids on hand, because sometimes I can’t even be bothered to eat, but I can be bothered to drink.
I medicate my tiredness with Sugar Free Red Bull, starting in the morning and then administrating as needed through the course of the day. Sometimes there is coffee, other times, Coke. Before I could not drink caffeine past early afternoon hour, as a rule, because it would amp me to all hours of the night. Now, I can’t seem to live without it.
There are times I’ve been so exhausted I’ve taken 3-4 hour naps and then still went to bed at a decent hour and slept for at least 8 hours.  Then woke up as if I had barely slept at all.
Dr. H’s argument to me is that I’m not taking my Klonopin at night, as I should, to help me fall asleep  and sleep deeply and as such, it’s fucking with the rest of my day. Is there some truth to this? Maybe. I’m running out of drugged options here and I’m grasping at straws. I want to have some semblance of life, not a shell of a life viewed through opaque windows.
So here’s the deal: Dr. H. AND Dr. P. have asked me, for months if I’m truthful, to track my moods and experiences, at least daily summary of what’s going on to better serve me and thus them. I haven’t been doing that. My reconstruction at my sessions are faulty at best, which makes for sketchy advice. I am an unreliable narrator.
I have decided, then, after this last session with Dr. H. that I needed to make a change. I needed to change – not me waiting for change, but I needed to change. For months I’ve been darkly hinting like a punk Cassandra that a big THING was going to happen. So maybe part of my lethargy is the waiting for a THING that can finally kickstart into gear.
I miss so much from a life that is just beginning to bloom. So I need to change and I need to figure out how to make these changes to make a real impact and not superficial. It needs to count.
Dr. H. said a week of taking Klonopin at bedtime should help shake out the symptoms from the lithium. It hasn’t. But as I don’t have a clear, written record of what is and is not working, I don’t feel as if I have the evidence to show that it’s not working. Oh, I feel mellow, but my tiredness and energy levels are still in the gutter.
So I’m going to start slow and I’m going to start week by week. The first week, starting with this entry, is to write every day, even if it is only 250 words, how I feel that day. It doesn’t have to a treatise on the condition of  modern man, but it does need to be a record of what I’m doing. I may include how much I sleep. What I ate. What I saw.
Each week, I’ll add in something new. I want to start rowing again, to take a yoga class, to swim in a pool. I want to put my Fitbit to work for me instead of just acting like a post-modern adornment on my wrist. I want to cook. And adventure. And a million other things. Friends that are bipolar say exercise helps them immensely, writing helps immensely, talk therapy helps immensely. Remember a decade ago when you were used as a chemist experiment and for a year you felt miserable?
Slow. One thing. At a time. A week.
Then the choice will be easy to make.
x0x0,
Lisa (Day #7)

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2012, 2011, 2003, 2003