Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Middle Road

Just a quick note to mark this place in time:  I've reached the blessed state of -- balance -- ; I'm not depressed or bouncing off the walls or cutting myself or wishing to die:  It's The Middle Road.

I finally found a doctor to prescribe my Depakote:  my primary care physician.  I'm in a very good place right now.  No side effects (knock on wood) and life is going well. 

I can't ask for anything more.

Just to be clear, and as a note to my future self:  I need my medication.  If I stop taking my medication, everything falls apart.      

Saturday, May 11, 2013

I'm Trying

I feel like absolute, total, fucking shit.  My moods are swinging from one extreme to the other, and it is exhausting to maintain and not kick in somebody's car or smash myself in the face or cry for no reason or race around like a lunatic. 

I'm trying, so very hard.  I'm trying. 

No flourish of words.  I just want peace and rest for my body and brain. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

We Must Do Better

I met with my therapist today to discuss a new psych doctor for med management.  After an hour of discussion and catching up, she referred me to someone who came highly recommended.  Unfortunately, that individual is no longer accepting referrals so we're back to square one.

There is an extreme shortage of mental health professionals in this country.  We have to do better in this regard.  I vowed never to preach, proselytize, or otherwise proclaim any sort of authority on anything when I began this blog.  My only intention was to create an outlet for my diagnosis and to record my ongoing struggles/successes along the way.  That said, I think it is safe to state that we - mental health patients - are underserved in this country.  Our prisons are full of underserved mental health patients.  Our hospital emergency rooms and acute psych centers are overrun.  When presented with an individual in crisis, law enforcement personnel either charge the individual with a crime, or bring them to the nearest emergency room for a psych eval.

We must do better.  It should not be so hard to find care.  It should not be so hard to afford the medications that we all need in order to carry out daily tasks of living.  If we ask for help, help should be there. 

It is not.  

Monday, April 15, 2013

The More Things Change

I recall a conversation with my therapist last year during which I asked,

"Am I really bipolar?  Couldn't this just be a time of crisis?  Some sort of fleeting thing?"

Her answer surprised me.  I expected her to agree with me and say that I was right - this was just a temporary thing and everything would be fine.  However she said no such thing.  She chuckled and said,

"You have a biochemical disorder - bipolar disorder.  YOU are not bipolar.  You are you.  You just happen to have a challenge not unlike a diabetic; you manage the condition but it is not who you are."

That wasn't what I was asking.  I truly wanted to know if this shit was for real because every now and then I felt normal.  Calm.  The voices in my head were relaxed and the screaming silenced.  I did not believe my diagnosis during those neutral times.

It has been several months since my last post and a lot has happened during my absence.  I got a job - a very good job.  I stopped seeing my therapist soon after due to issues of scheduling.  I settled in at work and spent my days navigating a steep learning curve. 

I stopped seeing my psych doctor right after the new year - January 2nd, to be exact.  I forgot about an appointment.  I was so busy at my new job, so worried that someone would find out about my illness, that I was jumping through hoops to impress right out of the gate.  I figured out that I missed the appointment when I received a bill in the mail for $200 for the missed appointment, and a note that this amount was my responsibility and not covered by my insurance.  No reminder call prior to the appointment, no inquiry regarding my health with the invoice - just an impersonal, face-slapping bill.  I cut all ties on the spot.

That put me in a difficult situation.  I never cared for my psych doctor, but I needed him for ongoing prescriptions.  Our appointments were ten minutes at most and it was clear that he had to relearn who I was with each visit.  He often confused me with other people which left it up to me to explain what medications I was taking, at what dosages, etc.  I found that dangerous given the types and amounts of medications we were dealing with at that time. 

So I was without a psych doc for meds, which meant that refills were impossible.  The only reason why I was even able to see this doctor was because my therapist pulled a favor to get me in faster than the usual 3-4 month wait.  With the realization that I would be without medication in less than a month, I made the decision to titrate down and off of my medications. 

Dangerous?  Yes.  Stupid?  Yes.  Unfortunately I felt completely alone and vulnerable so it was the only choice. 

I brought my levels of Depakote and all other medications down very slowly.  I experienced no side effects whatsoever.  Everything seemed fine, only I wasn't really fine.  I'm not really fine. 

Depakote was a fucking bitch of a medication.  It was better than Lithium and Risperidone, but not by much.  It did nothing to help me lose the monumental weight gain from Lithium and Risperidone.  It was not without side effects, but it DID level out my moods.  I was never super happy or sad - just living in the middle.

I have been without any sort of mood stabilizer for a couple of months now and things are starting to get scary.  The intrusive thoughts are back.  The deep sadness, self-harm, explosive anger, mania, screaming inner voices - all are back. 

I am doing my best to manage this on my own (regular sleep schedule, proper nutrition, supplements, etc.), but I know that I will need help.  Soon.

So that conversation with my therapist regarding my disbelief that I am, in fact, bipolar, runs through my mind.  I no longer doubt my diagnosis.  It's a shame that I had to fall through the cracks to finally accept it as fact.