Did an art show on Saturday where there were probably hundreds of people. I did not talk to all hundreds of them, but enough. It felt like hundreds. And inevitably, predictably, there is the crash after the crowds. That big groups and lots of activity are Not Good For Me.
So on Sunday, I had ZERO PATIENCE FOR ANYONE. I didn't even go to Quaker meeting because sitting in silence with people was still too much. And people would want to say hi afterwards. Or shake hands. And that is such a human thing. Ugh.
I had reached PEAK IRRITATION by Sunday afternoon. Everything that everyone said or did set me off. I decided to drive around looking for advent candles. I don't even really know what advent is. I just know that there are candles involved and it was the second Sunday of advent and I was supposed to burn 2 candles but I just had the one. And I couldn't find the advent candle wreath holder thing.
And then I ended up at Target wandering the aisles looking for tapers and candle holders. Where there were a lot of people. I made Spouse do all the running around and taking care of the children all weekend. So he was exhausted. And I just had no patience for anything.
My observation window is open now... which means at work I am looking forward to being formally observed. Ordinarily this causes great stress. And I am greatly stressed, but more worried really about next week when my co-teacher is having back surgery.
I have decided to take a break from art shows. I haven't been beading at the frenzied pace I used to, so it's not like I have giant stock of new materials. So people who have been to the shows before have seen that, done that... and I don't really enjoy the process of connecting with other artists and talking about my process. I just wanna do the art part.
Might try actually to get my stuff in at some boutiques. It's a better place for it. It just means that I will have to shop my stuff around.
This morning I felt the anhedonia side of Depressed. I was clay-faced and didn't much care. Wondered if this was part of the course-correction from the too loud/too bright/too frenetic energy of the art show.
I need things to be boring. Same. Quiet. Predictable.
Which is funny because none of those words really apply to me. I just need them in my surroundings. Probably because I am not same, quiet, predictable and boring. Sometimes boring. Perhaps when predictable.
One of my students asked me to proofread a hip-hop piece he wrote. Which is really, really funny. Because I was his ESL teacher he figured I could
Tried telling people I was ok today even though that wasn’t technically true.
It’s a mantra. You know, a lie you tell yourself in the hopes that it’s true.
Better to keep repeating in my head I’m okay I’m okay I’m okay to the rhythm of my boot heels clip clipping on the poured cement floors.
Better than thinking I’m so stressed I’m so stressed I’m so stressed and I don’t know even why really. I’m okay has a better meter. Anyway.
My hair needs to be more blue.
My bird needs its wings clipped.
I have an art show on Saturday.
My coteacher/workplace accommodation is having back surgery soon.
There are 2 pumpkin pies cooling in the kitchen that Spouse made when everyone else was asleep.
I am on 300 mg lamotrigine
Unpleasant interaction with a student today. Not even my student. Not even that unpleasant really. The word bogus was used. Not by me. Really the whole thing rather trivial.
Then I had trouble letting go. Or something. The interaction went away but the feeling didn’t.
And now student has been asked to apologized so the thing is still not done and I have to think about how one receives an apology.
I want to apologize. Sorry if you felt I was disrespectful when I asked you to leave. Sorry if I didn’t make it clear what our class rules are. Sorry you were rude.
This is why I am conflict avoiding. Conflict makes me sick.
Then a parent meeting for elder boy swimming and I don’t know any parents and don’t really have any openings for new people in my life right now.
So I sat in a far corner and listened. And wondered if coach could tell from my behavior which swimmer is mine.
Home standing in the kitchen in my stockinged feet forgetting what I am doing... not moving because I don’t have any slippers on.
Face felt kinda clay-faced earlier in day which likely primed me for poor recovery from conflict.
I feel like I want to cry. Not for any reason or because I’m sad. Just because. Like it would be a good plan. Like it would relax something in my clay face.
Elderboy and younger boy are singing a song about the quadratic equation.
I will I’ll start taking 300 mg lamotrigine today. Only that.
There is a study on use of TMS on bipolar depression st the Mayo Clinic. I won’t go. It must be hard to get enough people for studies. Too far. Too much time. Too scary.
Everyone has heard of Depression. Because it sucks. And you've been there. And its a hole that you can maybe climb out of yourself or maybe with a hand up or maybe not depending on how deep and pervasive and chemical or situational... and hereditary. Still. We all know it. Familiar.
Everyone has heard of Mania. Because of celebrities and movies and sensationalization. The idea of endless energy and hallucinations and megalomania. Psychotic symptoms. Fascinating. Exotic. Unreal. But in reality far less exotic and much more nuanced than the tabloids would have you believe. Still we have heard of mania. And can recognize its more extreme expressions.
But Euthymia sounds mythical. Like the bright side of the world in a dystopian young adult novel. Leave your drudgery behind and cross under the river of skulls through the secret tunnel that leads you to the land of Euthymia. And it feels mythic. And no one has ever heard of it. Because it's maybe all a lie.
Euthymia is the magical Stable Mood State in which you are not Depressed or Hypomanic or Manic. You just are. Free to be happy or sad or angry or any of the other many colored emotions. But you aren't stuck in some stoopid bipolar state. Again the Dystopian novel. The Bipolar State of Hypomania. I could be the head of state. Ha.
Not to be confused with Euthemia who was a nymph struck down by Artemis's arrows after she no longer worshiped the goddess. I guess she was taken down to Hades by Persephone while still alive. Where presumably she was no longer euthymic.
I think I have had large stretches of euthymia. Really. But not lately. Not since probably long before I decided to stop being Depressed when I started this blog in May of 2013.
But there were long stretches of Depression I know. On and off medication.
I did have at least one crying jag while teaching prior to 2002. No kids yet. No antidepressants since 1990. My teacher friends sent me home. Debating about whether they should call Spouse. Or if one of them should go home with me. But there didn't really seem any danger. Just that I couldn't stop crying. I went home.
It was after that incident that I called to get back on anti-depressants. I remember the feeling of holding the phone in my hand and which way I was facing. It was my friend's room at school. I called after the kids left for the day. And I talked to the OFP to see if she could recommend a good Adult Therapist who could help me with my Depression.
And she said that I had responded so well to medication before that it was possible I just needed to get back on meds.
The first time I was on them it was of relatively (ridiculously) short duration. It is possible that I was only on antidepressants for a month during my senior year of high school.
I remember that I ran out while in China because I forgot to refill my prescription. And I wisely halved my pills and tapered down my dosage and was Just Fine for a long time. I think. Kind of. Anyway I was not debilitatingly Depressed anymore. I could think. And smile. And record long-term memories.
In college I went to see a therapist a few times when it seemed like maybe my Depression symptoms were coming back. Or maybe it was because I was using some eating disorder tricks to deal with my anxiety. Or maybe it's because a friend told me she was suicidal. I don't remember. I just remember that I didn't connect with her very much and when I tried to explain things I always felt like I was doing it wrong.
And it was my friends then who got me through things. I have amazing friends. I know how to pick them, you see. And even if they might not feel like they are that close to me, they... are. They just are. And when I am stressed but not too down I can remember conversations and interactions and little life-saving moments given to me by these friends. And they are still here for me.
When I am Down, truly Down, they could all be lined up true to life in my living room to tell me how awesome I am and I would just call down curses on their heads. And call them liars. And charlatans. And fools.
When I am Up, I would whirl through these gathered friends and laugh with them and make plans to do a thousand things and forget that I made the plans because I had already been sucked into another thousand things and then I couldn't see them at all because some infinitesimal speck of nonsense suddenly consumed me. Something unimportant in the grand scheme of things but to me Utterly Crucial and Must Be Done Now. By Me. NOW NOW NOW.
When I was Depressed before children I thought about running away. Or running off with someone. Someone who wasn't Spouse. Idle thoughts. Because I was in pain and these were drastic changes that might change things. But these were not real thoughts and I knew that. They are the same as my intoxication thoughts now. I know these choices would bring more pain in the end. Better to just stay in the mess I'm in than borrow more trouble.
Do I have patience for you when you can’t find your homework after trailing your backpack
klunk klunk klunk
along the snowing path
then collapse into angry tantrum kicking feet crying with your jaw sticking out at me... and can’t find the damn pencil sharpener...
When all I can think over and over is
cat out of the box
cat out of the box
cat out of the box
since ever your brother told me about the friendly cat who only comes out of its cozy box for meals and to use the loo
and I recognized myself
so when I can’t be in my box cocooned in a silk duvet from China my mom brought back... heavy in a lavender Pima cotton cover
and instead I drive around to bus stop and snack stop and piano lesson stop and Spouse stop (because necessary) and piano stop again and swim practice stop and dinner stop...
when I just want to stop
and curl into myself
and be warm
cat out of the box
it has no patience for your human emotions.
Seventh day back to only mood stabilizers. No antidepressants. Just this off-label anti-seizure medication.
Only big change I can see is I’m able to sleep better. Escitalopram and me don’t mix. Glad to see it gone.
I looked back over posts from the past year and I seem to have been in a Depressed Mood State for some time.
Playing around with different meds and dosages and combinations of lamotrigine, escitalopram, lurasidone and bupropion.
But it doesn’t seem like those worked really. I seem to be sometimes less Down. But never really Not Down.
I don’t think it’s just that I miss hypomania. Which I do. Mightily.
I feel like my hypomanic self is my true self. And I miss me.
Gonna try to not shut myself in room prior to dinner. Quarantined. Also taking break from FB. Reach me by messenger or text.
Coteacher was amused by my need to reshuffle deck of UNO cards Right Now.
“I know you... just don’t get depressed. I don’t know what to do then.”
You and me both.
Here's what is supposed to have happened... I was supposed to have taken 1/2 dose of escitalopram for 4 days starting 5 days ago. Instead I just stopped at the same time that I stopped the lurasidone.
What I did correctly: stop lurasidone and up the amount of my lamotrigine from 200-250 mg. This will go on for 14 days total before progressing to 300mg lamotrigine. The literature says that doses above 200 don't get you anything more than the 200 does, but Psych NP has found differently in her practice depending on the person and how they metabolize/react with the drug.
I have been on higher doses before. I have put myself on higher doses before. I don't remember if it worked. I know Psych NP has notes on all this stuff. But the notes are long and complicated and I don't have copies of them. Maybe I should ask for copies of them. I can, right?
Today I started crying into my ears... okay I started crying while lying down and I thought it would be fun to see if I could aim the teardrops at my ears. It only worked on one side, which was deeply disappointing.
This prompted Spouse to ask if I had followed the directions on my medication change. Which he had reminded me to write down immediately after my appointment AND to set up an alert on my phone AND appropriately fill pill minder.
Now that I just have the one drug I'm not doing the pill minder... but I did set the calendar alert for when I start the 300 mg. (December 2 I think. It's a Tuesday.) And I do have the instructions written on a scrap of paper inside a paper bag holding additional samples of lurasidone that I am saving for a rainy day next to the surplus cutting boards and dried fruit.
Why was I crying? That's probably why Spouse asked about the meds. It was because he pointed out that we need to do a better job of checking in with elderboy with respect to staying on top of his homework. Which made me want to hide under my bed (which I can't because there is no under). Instead I pulled the covers up over my head.
Elderboy went to a friend's house and they have a cat that is very friendly but basically just lives in a box with a little hole cut out. It comes out to eat and use the litterbox, but other than that it is cocooned away in its cozy cardboard shell.
That's what I feel like. I hole up in my room and surround myself in darkness. And come out only for necessities. And work.
I imagined today as people came in to Quaker meeting that in Quakerspeak we all carry the Light Within. For the theists they talk about "that of god" within everyone. We'll go with light for this metaphor.
So it is important, because of this, that we worship in community because we all only have a bit of light and when we come together we can share and it gets brighter. But then I imagined too-large meetings or too-big crowd and thought of being blinded.
NOT THAT MUCH LIGHT!
And imagine that in my dark room there is just a little flicker. And it's all the light I think I can handle. But it probably isn't. Just that my eyes are used to the darkness so any increase in light seems blinding.
A Friend wants me to remind her to talk to me about her son going off meds. I'll try. I ran out after meeting today without talking to anyone. Because I was crabby...
Two people's phones made noises during worship, which is a huge pet peeve of mine.
And there was someone sitting next to me with heavily scented Tibetan prayer beads which were activating my asthma. And we are supposed to have a "scent free" meetinghouse. But I'm too Minnesotan to know how to address the issue. I like this person and she will likely sit by me again next time.
Spouse mentioned that he came across some quiz that could tell where you were from based on your answer to this question: What would you do if someone stepped on your foot.
Funny because I was thinking to myself, "If only I could have an asthma attack that would clear up the issue quite nicely..." but I didn't. So now I will have to shove her. *sigh*
I need help. (Like how a buried the lead here?)
Having been largely uninvolved in my life for the past many weeks/months... everything is a disaster and I am overwhelmed at trying to figure out where to start. So the temptation is just not to start. (And while amazing, Spouse can't possibly keep up with the chaos provided by the children and mostly me.)
So, I need help.
What help do I need? People who will come to my house some times between 4:00 and 5:30 and sit and drink tea so I will do things. They don't need to help sort or declutter or clean. They just need to be present so that I can't go back in my box.
They just need to provide a little light.
I have been thinking a lot about medication these days. Largely because I have switched medications several times this fall. Partly because I have been combing through the archives to determine my medication history.
Partly because I was contacted by a friend who is doing a blog and podcast about his experiences going off meds for his bipolar disorder and asked if he could read my post Drug Addict on his podcast. I said yes.
And oh, the lure of zero meds is so... alluring. I found references to so many times that I had a mental health crises that was brought on by medications.
(Imma use the brand names here since that's what more people know. Usually I don't advertise for the drug companies, but I'll make an exception here.)
-nearly drowning due to rage induced by reaction to Celexa
-first manic episode due to being on high doses of Effexor
-nearly driving off a bridge due to reaction of reducing Effexor
-sleep disturbances caused by Lexapro (resulting in zombie afternoons and WIDE AWAKE 3:00 am)
And then later when Wellbutrin was not helping with my Depression well enough, I let them put me back on Effexor! Which in retrospect I cannot believe. As far as I am concerned is the Medicine of Death.
What was I like before medication? I know I struggled with Depression, but was it this much of a struggle? I know I had bouts of hypomania, but how bad were they, really? Didn't they just get worse once I was put on anti-depressants?
The extreme productivity during and after my pregnancies (painting all the walls, redoing the floors, staying up all night to write short stories, novels and memoirs...) were all done while on anti-depressants.
I know there must have been a reason I went on the anti-depressants. So there must have been a problem.
And apparently this whole doubting thing is pretty common for Bipolar People.
But I feel like especially with Bipolar II (which is a newer diagnosis) might turn out to be fake. And they just don't know as much about it. And the medications don't work for people the same way. And they don't always work. And there might need to be different combinations.
Really it feels like my approach to treating difficult stains in clothing. Because not all stain removers work the same on different fabrics and different stains... I do some research on what is supposed to work the best for the specific stain (because research)
and then I end up just throwing everything at the problem in an attempt to get something that works. And in the end I don't know what worked because I did EVERYTHING.
On meds right now I am not doing a good job of self care that I know is important to control my bipolar symptoms. I am not exercising. I am doing an okay job of eating well, but not nearly enough fruits and veggies. I don't see my therapist. I don't get enough sleep. Or I do but at the wrong time.
So I am concerned that going off meds I would not be any more compliant in these things. And if there is any chance that going off meds would spark a mood episode... ugh.
If I were independently wealthy and didn't have a job and maybe didn't have kids and had a personal trainer who came to my home gym... and a chef... and a therapist who made house calls that were scheduled by my Personal Assistant... then I feel like I could reasonably consider going off meds.
But it is sooooo alluring. What if I am not who I am supposed to be while on medication. What if I am meant to have wider moods. What if I am just supposed to figure out how to deal with those. Fatalism.
After all, I have lived with this condition into my forties without being properly treated. If in fact this is proper treatment.
What would be nice is if I could take a brief "meds holiday" in which I could dip my toe in the waters of not being medicated at all just to see what I am like. And to see if I would be okay.
But the word is that Bipolar People can have really long stretches of being OKAY between mood episodes and so are supposed to keep on taking their medications. Which would nicely mean that my meds holiday would prove nothing.
I can see why so many Bipolar People decide that marijuana (to lessen mood swings) cocaine (to blunt depression) and alcohol (to cool mania) are preferable treatments that can just be applied as necessary for specific symptoms.
"The journal Current Psychiatry publishes that as many as 60 percent of those diagnosed with bipolar I disorder also suffer from a substance use disorder at some point in their lives." (from this)
Oh, don't worry. I haven't started yet. It is unlikely to become a problem for my rule-bound self. Remember: never been drunk, never had a drink until I was legal age, never used any sort of "recreational drugs." Because control freak. And laws. And just because.
I love meds
I hate meds
I am grateful for meds
I am indentured to meds
What if all my meds were illegal? What would I do then? Or if I couldn't afford them? Just some thoughts.
I am writing so much because I am avoiding getting ready for a craft show I am in this evening and tomorrow afternoon.
Two things: the god that I don't believe in is on speaking terms with me again. Ha. Which means that I experienced the heart-pounding, palm-sweating precursor to vocal ministry at Quaker meeting this past Sunday.
And I sang. It was kinda funny though because we are "experimenting" with the use of a microphone. Really the experiment is long over. Now it is just that we are using a microphone for vocal ministry.
Only I sing loud.
And if I hold a microphone while singing my voice gets all shaky and weird. So typically if I am going to speak I stand and wait for the microphone. And if I am going to sing I just sing.
Only this time... I stood to sing and closed my eyes and didn't realize that I was miked (except that my quiet voice seemed awfully loud) until I leaned forward a little bit and ran into a microphone.
Okay, now to the N of 1..
I didn't take my escitalopram on Sunday morning (couldn't find it at a cursory glance and hadn't filled my pill minder).
I was lethargic but not sleeping during the day. Mostly I just didn't want to do anything. Spouse has gotten wise to the fact that I should not just be shutting myself away all day. And I might have to be a grown up about the whole thing.
Also, having not taken the 10mg of escitalopram on Sunday morning, I did not wake on Monday morning until 5:15.
Is this an indication that the escitalopram is what is interfereing with my sleep?
Does this mean I should try a lower dose?
What will it mean in terms of going off the lurasidone?
Should I try taking escitalopram at night and see if it has less effect on my sleep? That seems dumb.
did not sleep excessively during the day
took my meds
10 mg escitalopram
20 mg lurasidone
200 mg lamotrigine
Quaker, teacher, parent,