Category Archives: Diagnosis

June at the Hospital

Well, I ended up in the hospital again after not making to my next dr appointment. And then 4 days after that discharge I ended up going in for suicidal and homicidal thoughts – something I’ve never experienced before. I had gone to NAMI’s Living Room where you are screened by a counselor, then talk with a peer specialist, then get screened again by a counselor. All of which ended up with an ambulance ride and then waiting for a transfer from the ER to my psych hospital.

Sigh.

At least that hospitalization was mercifully short – 3 days. There was a treatment team meeting about me and to be honest, I don’t think anything important came out of it. They think I’m too comfortable at the hospital and they want to make things uncomfortable to help my treatment. And they want no big med changes. And pointed out that the longer I am at the hospital, the more likely I am to get sicker. It’s not like I WANT to be at the hospital. Just that it’s a safe place when I’m not feeling safe.

In addition, while I was in my first June hospitalization I had extensive psych testing done, which came back yesterday. I talked with my psychiatrist about it yesterday and we agreed it was bunk. We know what we’re dealing with since we’ve been working with it for 5 years together now.

Sigh.

I’m still re-entering the real world from the long hospitalization, as well as the shorter ones. I’ve got people I’m checking in with, tasks to do each day. I’m taking it slow and giving myself lots of credit. I’m actually doing pretty well with this plan. Slowly I’ll add back in the gym and starting in my plan to talk about mental health in churches. But no rushing. Got to get back in the swing of things, gently.

Short Hospitalization

Bipolar Disorder is a biological brain disease that often has environmental triggers. I ended up in the hospital for suicidal plans and intent again this week, though only for a few days (yay! a short one!). My psychiatrist thinks the anxiety I was holding about my mom’s breast cancer surgery a few weeks ago had a chance to come out as well as the fear, and that destabilized my mood. Sounds about right to me.

Even though I was doing pretty well, pretty stable, two weeks ago I started feeling suicidal again due to the environmental trigger. I am grateful for a short time in the hospital, yet worry that I will end up in again as has often happened after short hospitalizations.

Bipolar sucks.

I have to say that having an environmental trigger took the stigma and shame away from a hospitalization for me. Usually I feel embarrassed to be back in the hospital, even though the staff is generous and welcoming. But this felt like a tune-up instead of a personal failure. But I guess that’s a whole other post, that shame of being in the hospital for the twenty-somethingth time.

When Do You Tell Someone You Have Bipolar?

I’ve recently re-entered the dating world after a divorce last summer and then an unstable mood fall. So I gave myself until after Valentine’s Day to be stable and then start online dating. I could have started earlier, but I didn’t want to be perceived as THAT girl looking for a V-Day date. ūüôā

The question arises, since I still live with symptoms, when to tell a date that I’m bipolar. It’s kind of a big part of my life since I don’t work because of it. It’s hard to answer the “What do you do?” question that comes up in online chatting, and even in your profile. I say I’m a professional volunteer and mental health advocate.

When I was volunteering at a few places I could still say brain disorder and I could call off if I wasn’t feeling well. I could tell them I’m on disability.

Now, I don’t necessarily want to tell dates that I’m on disability or have bipolar, even though they structure my days. It’s a lot to process and a lot to take on as a¬†potential¬†partner. I like to think I’m a lot more than bipolar and being on disability and should have more to talk about. So the question remains, when do I tell people? It is still a big part of who I am, and the main reason I’m a mental health blogger and advocate. All the good literature and blogs say you tell when you feel comfortable telling. That’s not the most helpful advice.

Six Months Free!

Friday marked six months since being in a hospital or residential/restricted unit. Six months! I can’t say I’ve learned a lot, but I can say I survived. And sometimes that’s the best we get. I still suffer with suicidal thoughts and desires, some days worse than others. My mood still fluctuates with the moon and season changes, and usually just because. I can’t say I’m better. I have bipolar. And good days are all we get. Sometimes they stretch to weeks and months. And that is what I am celebrating. The last six months full of holidays, death, divorce and daily suicidal thinking didn’t send me to the hospital. It’s the longest stretch I’ve gone since diagnosis 5 years ago.

So, while everyone around me celebrates, I’m going to sit here in a corner with a wry smile, glad that I made it, and try not to be overcome by suicidal thoughts and anxiety. After all, I still have two cats who won’t get along and a divorce to settle (hopefully tomorrow). Stress is bad for bipolar. It can trigger an episode or mood shift and I really don’t know if I could stay out of the hospital if that happened right now. As I said, people around me are celebrating, but I still have a looming hospitalization hanging over my head, bigger than that shoe that everyone waits to drop. I’m not at all convinced that I can make it another six months. But the next section begins with one step at a time. And right now, I need to reach out to my network because the anxiety and thoughts are strong and I want to make it through my court date tomorrow before I collapse. Which could happen. Just saying. Just because I made it six months – and I give myself credit for that – doesn’t mean that I won’t fall down again when things are too much.

World Bipolar Day 2015

bipolar dayMarch 30, 2015

I’m a functioning bipolar person. I have had horrendous mood swings, rapid cycling of my moods, deep suicidal depressions and psychotic manias. I’ve had my meds changed multiple times, med washes (going completely off meds to start a new regimen), and ECT¬†(Electroconvulsive Therapy). I’ve gone through several full day and partial day outpatient programs. I’ve been in the psychiatric hospital 25 times in 4 1/2 years. I’ve been to residential therapy for a month.

But today I function well, with routines and schedules, meds and therapy, and a strong support system of people who love me. I volunteer 4 places. I go out with friends, and I spend time at home with my cats.¬†I’m on disability for the bipolar disorder because I still have significant problems with memory and concentration, which I see in hobbies such as reading and knitting, as well as in volunteer tasks.

Bipolar Disorder is an illness. It affects how a person lives his or her life, but not the essence of a person. We still have hobbies and senses of humor. Sometimes we are creative. Always we love and need to be loved, just like everyone else. Go give someone with bipolar a hug!

 

 

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A great article for this World Bipolar Day is Natasha Tracy’s Debunking of Bipolar Myths

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If you see your way clear to help me pay for the miraculous experience of ending suicidal obsessions I had at La Paloma, check out my ‚ÄúSaved My Life‚ÄĚ Go Fund Me page at¬†www.gofund.me/nlckak

Possible Beginning to My Book Suddenly Bipolar

bookDuring this 2 week hospitalization I did some writing that would make being in the hospital sound fresh instead of only based on memories. Enjoy!

 

The nurse feeds me my evening cup of “Skittles,” brightly-colored psychiatric medications, while down the hall waft sounds of a small group of patients singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” It will be Lights Out in 12 minutes. I will lie in my six-inch foam mattress bed with thoughts of ending myself racing through my slowly-sedating brain. The eerie light of the hallway won’t allow the darkness to envelope me in sleep. Nor will the shadows be chased away enough to feel safe.

“Deborah, I have meds for you!” It’s the next memory I have. The nurse calls cheerfully as she wheels the cart next to my bed for my morning “Skittles,” more brightly-colored psychiatric medications. Dutifully I swallow and offer a prayer to the bipolar gods that I’ll feel sane and confident this day. And discharge from the hospital may be only a day away instead of weeks. Slowly it dawns on me that my first waking thoughts were of offing myself instead of the usual joy I would feel that it is my birthday. My prayer now feels like a distant hope I’ll never realize.

That was the first night of my umpteenth or twenty-somethingth psychiatric hospitalization in the four years since I was diagnosed with Type I Bipolar Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and a bonus of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder because my suicidal thoughts take on obsessive tendencies. And I’m Bipolar Type I because I’ve had at least one psychotic break – two that I remember from years – eons it feels – before diagnosis, but happenings just the same, perfect emblems that Bipolar has followed me my entire adult life, and not only the last four years since diagnosis.

This is the story of being Suddenly Bipolar and of the slow coming to terms with what Bipolar and Anxiety now mean for my future and how they made sense of my past.

Come with me and explore a sudden diagnosis and its slower cousin, Acceptance. Join me on a journey toward an ever-cycling life of moods, schedules, routines, and the intense beauty of a support system that held faith for me.

Change in Moods

For those who follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you probably already know that I’ve been Manic for the last month. I’ve been running simple and complex decisions through friends’ minds because I didn’t trust myself not to **** up. I don’t like being Manic, partly because I haven’t been Manic in 4 years and did things I regret 4 years ago. And looking through my past I see things I did while I was Manic that were of varying levels of appropriate and good or bad things to do. My decision-making ability and energy levels go wacko when I’m Manic. I don’t like feeling so out-of-control!

Over this past weekend, suicidal thoughts increased suddenly and rapidly. And energy capacity dropped. And I was able to tell the difference between an easy decision (should I have diet coke with lunch?) from a hard decision that requires a lot more time and thought (should I foster kittens for a shelter? [Sadly, no. Not the right time or place.]).

I saw my psychiatrist today and we talked about the mood shift. I wouldn’t say I’m depressed, except that my concentration ability and motivation have tanked, suicidal thoughts are through the roof again, and my energy feels drastically lower. (All things that are characteristic of depression.) I did qualify that my energy might just be normal and I’m comparing it falsely with the unreal, increased energy of Mania.

The reality, she told me, particularly regarding the suicidal thoughts, is that I am doing absolutely everything right and need to ride the wave of my illness. It’s cyclical and there isn’t anything I can do to control the symptoms. I use my finely tuned coping skills (particularly from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, but also Dialectical Behavior Therapy¬†and Cognitive Behavior Therapy) regularly and often. I know when and how to use them. I know when it’s time to call people, go be around people, or get together with people. I know when to call my therapist or psychiatrist and I know when to go to the hospital. I participate regularly in group and individual therapy. There isn’t a whole lot more I can do. She reminded me that the hospital is there and entering it is not a sign of failure if I need the safety. She reminded me that I’m doing what I need to (exercise, eating and sleeping well, socializing, using my brain) and to just keep putting one foot in front of the other. She also said that I don’t tend to respond to medications to help me through the shifts, but that I wait them out and then go back to those actions listed above that make for a full life and one that is full of coping.

So, this is a mood change. Went through one in July when I suddenly went Manic. Anxiety kicked in hard and sent me to the hospital for safety until meds started bringing me back down. Now I’m cycling downward – as my tendency is for these first few weeks of September. Anxiety was high, but has gone back to normal (my normal).

body surfingI will try to use the physical sensations of body surfing that I remember from my 30 years in CA to help me ride these mood shifts. And as I keep using skills over and over and over again. I’m doing absolutely everything I can. My doctor and therapist reaffirmed that in this last week. Remember to let the wave push you but it doesn’t have to roll you.

I’ve complained on Facebook on a day when suicidal thoughts were so bad that all I was doing was using skill after skill to keep from hurting myself and to keep myself out of the hospital. On days like that (like today) it feels like a waste of time I could be doing other life-giving activities that move me toward my values (an ACT-ism that I find helpful). Body surfing feels like another pointless way to waste time that I could be doing something productive and life-giving to me, instead of using skills and surfing the mood shifts just to stay alive.

Bipolar Sucks.

In case you haven’t heard me say that in a while.