I have been a bit speedy, but my asthmatic bronchitis did a good job of compensating for that. Now that I am starting to get over the bronchitis, I'm noticing some things that may or may not presage a period of hypomania...
bless me readers for i have sinned. it has been ten days since my last blog entry. in this time i have neglected to pick up my prescriptions from the pharmacy, although soon i will run out. twice i have not taken my morning venlafaxine.
(because i am out of the proper dosage and only have the 100mg pills and have a hard time getting to 70mg without feeling horribly guilty about tossing the remaining 30mg and so end up pouring the beads into my pill minder and then taking the beads without the capsule and getting some of them stuck in my teeth and wondering if that is at all effective)
i will go to the pharmacy today though, because I am about to run out of the lamotrigine, which is my mood stabilizer, and I am quite fond of having more stable moods. although lately things seem to have been stabilized at kinda crappy and anxious.
one week ago i attended a professional conference and was so anxious about it (for no particular reason) that i spent a great deal of time the morning of the conference removing discolored grout from around the bathtub. i did not use anyone's toothbrush to do so. but i did use a toothbrush holder. and my fingernails (until they started to peel back because they were too soft to do any good after soaking in the bath). and some sort of cuticle trimmer. and a metal nail file.
the daughter spend that week being sick (with horrible cough and fever on and off). i brought her to school on friday (day of conference) and she needed to be picked up shortly after I dropped her off, only i didn't get the message and spouse needed to get her on the bus which was okay.
also then at the conference i continued to be i don't know anxious and drifty and very-- isolated? or i wanted to be isolated? or i didn't want to be isolated? how can all of these things be true? at the very least i was not in a good state to be engaging with my peers in a professional setting.
i resorted to beading during several of the sessions. which i am afraid might have been quite rude but it felt necessary for some reason.
now this week my boys have been on spring break and i have been sick sick sick. not feverish, but fever-y. temperature never going much above 99.5 but feeling hot and yucky. wanted to clean my room one day and found the level of detail to the cleaning process becoming ridiculous.
how ridiculous? i not only neatened up my beading supplies and stashed them away in a new and better location-- but i spend 3 hours separating different color seed beads into the correct containers using a tweezers. until my hand cramped up and i couldn't pick the beads up anymore.
i did fill three bags with things for the goodwill. but i didn't drop them off partly because i am afraid that i will go in and buy stuff that i don't need.
i am also afraid to buy groceries or medications or really anything else at the moment.
during the sick sick sick week just past (and current) i have had such a bad cough even with inhalers and cough medicine and allergy meds and air purifiers and humidifiers that i have been getting perhaps three hours of sleep per night and my throat feels like it is bleeding and my head feels compacted into a rock of some sort. like there is no space for anything. no place for thinking and rationality and doing things that need to be done.
i have not looked at calendar or email or checked in with people except for spouse. and i did not fill in my time card. and i didn't remember to sign a check. and i just want to crawl into my bedroom and not come out (which i did for tuesday, wednesday and thursday this week and which i don't think is terribly good for me because it just makes me want to stay there more and makes me more fearful of leaving my room or my house or whatnot.)
past sunday I had my member welcome at quaker meeting.
now i am sitting at library facing the street in the quiet study area and the homeless woman next to me is going through her correspondence and organizing her life and i am trying not to fall asleep and we are both coughing so loudly that i am afraid we will be asked to leave.
i just want to sleep. and then i think things will seem better. or be better.
this is very rambly.
my first romance novel first draft is out to my first two readers who are both very busy people and they have never read anything i have written except that isn't true because one of them read a draft of my first novel which was not romantic but which was quite bleak.
so i am working on the next romance novel in the meantime because it is fun and good and the days that i sat doing nothing i was not writing. and i think i do better when i am.
these are the good things that i enjoy and i should do: tap dance, write novel, practice piano, play horn.
these are the good things that i would enjoy if i could make myself do them: spend time outside, go for walks, tea with friends.
i have 16,450 words toward my new next novel. I am assuming that it will take 70,000 to tell the story properly. so i am only almost a quarter of the way done.
and now this post is done.
I went to a NAMI informational session today (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill). My plan is to volunteer with them because I really like what they do and I think I have some skills that dovetail nicely with things they have going on.
Most likely I will join the Speakers Bureau and give anti-stigma talks to different groups. It will take a while to get trained in, but I am not in a hurry (I keep reminding myself this).
The person I met with to talk about volunteer opportunities told me that he is living with bipolar.
The first speaker at our informational session was a father who lost his 33-year old son to bipolar disorder.
The second speaker was a woman who has been living with bipolar disorder for 40 years. She mentioned what I am coming to realize: that successfully managing bipolar does not mean living symptom free. But it does mean that she recognizes when she is starting to spiral off one way or another (or a friend or family member notices) and she can get back on track sooner.
Seemed like a message (in a quaker-y kind of a way).
I had a meeting at work and one of my co-workers (who totally rocks) stopped me as I was telling about all the cool new things I want to try with my class. "That sounds like a lot of new relationships to manage..."
I can't remember exactly what she said, but the gist of it was that I should take care that my mania doesn't start ruling the roost as I get excited about new stuff. She is smart. (Have I mentioned how much I love my coworkers? Seriously.)
Last night I did not get to sleep until 2 am.
Now I feel like a zombie.
I did get to take a nap in the morning from 9:30-10:30, which was nice.
But now I feel truly sapped.
Grateful Crap: dish washers
meds (70mg venlafaxine, 450mg bupropion, 200mg lamotrigine)
saw the sunshine (perhaps the six months of winter will be over soon?)
I got pretty good at noticing the signs of my Depressive mood episodes before things got really bad. I have not gotten so good at noticing signs of hypomanic mood episodes because it has been less than a year since I labeled these bursts of frenetic/irritable energy "hypomanic."
I used to just kind of rejoice that I was no longer completely bereft of energy and could finally get things done. Only the energy wouldn't last and even if it did, my mood went clear past happy and energized to single-minded and IRRITABLE.
Today I was zonked out-- totally bone-meltingly tired. I wanted to take a nap in the public library while waiting for my daughter. But I'm pretty sure they don't like that. Managed to snag a nap in which I was DEEPLY asleep this afternoon.
But I had no ability to deal with anyone else's emotional crap.
Daughter screamed in the car for twenty minutes because she didn't have a stuffed animal to play with. 12yo stomped around being angry and he and I were quietly yelly at one another over some trivial issue.
I called Spouse to mediate because I couldn't see my way clear... did not know if I was being unreasonable. The verdict? We were both overreacting. Which is true. (But I still think I was right.)
This was followed immediately by 9yo having complete nuclear meltdown because his homework was too hard.
If I were Understanding Parent, I might have given him a hug until he calmed down. I might have asked him what was wrong. I might have asked if he wanted to have a cup of tea...
But I was Cynical Impatient Parent, and I knew that whatever I did would just make the situation worse. So I yelled at him to go outside or to his room until he calmed down.
The escalated into the throwing of things at a closed door (not on my part).
(probably not-important background information)
Last night due to a planning fail we popped a bunch of popcorn and had that and some fruit and some cheese for dinner. This was fine. But I still felt not good about the whole thing.
After not dealing with everyone else's emotional crap, I set about making dinner. Which I decided was going to be this very involved cook-at-the-table Chinese hot-pot meal involving noodles, corn, sweet potato, beets, snow peas, carrots, onion, mushrooms, tofu, spinach and cabbage.
Which I sliced thin with a mandolin and then arranged the vegetables with great attention to detail. I rearranged them several times actually, because I didn't like the look of the purple snow peas against the bright orange of the sweet potatoes. And I couldn't tell if the carrots wanted to lay around like the peas or if they really preferred to be upright with the mushrooms.
Any mention (positive or negative) about what I was doing or what I had done seemed loaded with hidden meaning. Also, it became clear to me that I was doing this ridiculously involved meal as a penance for popcorn the night before.
Spouse asked if I was fine and I said yes very quickly, but mostly because I was irritated that he was asking me things and I had to pull pots out of the cupboard and nothing was turning out the way I wanted and for god's sake WHY DOES THAT FOUR YEAR OLD KEEP COMING IN HERE TO SHOW ME THINGS? (Which I did not say. But in the absence of Spouse I am pretty sure that my requests for her to leave the kitchen while I was preparing dinner would have escalated into petty meanness.
Not surprisingly, Spouse did not buy the whole "I'm fine" crap and helped me slow down a bit.
That was a little mini aha moment for me. That the zizzing brain stuff on Saturday and the speedy/irritated dinner prep tonight (combined with low tolerance for people I love) can be precursors of a hypomanic mood episode OR if I recognize the early symptoms I can take some preventive measures to help limit the duration of or fallout from hypomanic crap.
Mostly this: SLOW DOWN!!!!
Writing this I am not hypomanic. But with very little provocation I am sure that I could be.
P.S. I made 12yo hold an eraser while he was eating with a spoon this morning so he would hold the utensil properly. This day was just filled with little moments that made me wonder how much of my eccentric behavior can be explained away by my mental illness. Maybe not much. Because I am pretty sure I have always been an eccentric old woman living in a younger person's body.
I feel the need... the need to bead.
Clearly there will be no taking myself seriously for the rest of the night so I may as well just sign off.
Grateful Crap: Spouse. Have I mentioned that I am quite fond of him?
took meds (although realized that I should not think about how I swallow pills while swallowing)
70mg venlafaxine, 450mg bupropion, 200mg lamotrigine
ate lots of vegetables
looked at to do list and checked things off
I do not now, nor will I ever, work at an automobile dealership. (for background on what happened to the car, reference "Adventures my car has"
This was perhaps the longest day I have experienced in some time. It stretched on forever and wouldn't end. For all I know it is still not done. Maybe I will forever wait for tomorrow to come and it never will. Back to the argument between the 4yo and the 9yo about whether or not it is always today.
This was a very difficult day for me. I lived through it and bounced back okay, but I was on the edge of frenetic from 1:30 on.
I went on my own to the dealership to see if we could find a car. We chose a dealership first and then made them find us a used car to suit. Because we love them.
The guy who helped me was incredibly nice and personable and made me feel at home, but he was also SUPER SPEEDY (like me after teaching) and it was apparently contagious. I didn't feel speedy, but I did feel shaky and zizzing with an uncomfortable amount of nervous energy.
I needed to do something while waiting... I brought my beading, but I forgot to bring thread. So I unraveled some thread from my purse so that I could bead a bracelet. (Bet you didn't see that one coming!) And it really helped me to calm down and focus.
See, if your hands are shaking you can't get the beads on the needle. I had to deliberately calm myself in order to get anything done. So that was good. I ran out of thread about the same time I needed to go get Spouse to sign paperwork.
We found a car (little white Kia Soul) that is very cute (we named it the "Flying Unicorn" since the daughter has put on every wish list for some time that she wants a real flying unicorn that we can all ride...) and just needed to sign a large stack of forms.
Zizzing zizzing zizzing.
Then realizing that No Matter What I was going to be late for the dress rehearsal for the band concert. And that I was unable to call anyone because I didn't have their numbers in my phone. Which is a super lame excuse. So now I have zizzing brain AND anxiety over lateness and disappointing the same people that I disappointed for the last concert (when I missed a gajillion rehearsals)
Concerts tend to make me a bit wired.
So the weird frenetic zizzing brain energy thing really didn't stop ALL DAY LONG and it made me feel really shaky and crappy.
But now it is Sunday - and I have a new car - and I went to Quaker meeting, and visited family, and talked with a friend and caught up on blog posts and... I don't feel crappy like I did yesterday AND I didn't swing into a Depression thing either. Go me.
Grateful Crap: The Flying Unicorn
talked with a friend
Okay, I have been kind of head-spiningly busy in the past week. Here is the recap (mostly so I can remember) These dates don't quite come out even. So the time thing is not really solid at the moment.
Tuesday March 2
Went to an all-staff meeting where I was convinced that Something Terrible was going to happen. And even when all of the fairly benign announcements were made, I was pretty sure that there was Something Terrible hidden in the subtext.
So I talked to the big boss about some of my baseless concerns (that I would lose my job due to lack of seniority) and he responded very directly by saying, "You have nothing to worry about."
Writing this now makes me giggle. Because at the time I knew that he meant I didn't need to worry about losing my job. But now it looks like he thinks I don't have anything to worry me! Clearly, he does not read my blog. As we know, I am capable of worrying about ANYTHING.
Wednesday March 3
Last day at SPC before spring break. Was interviewed by a student who needed to interview someone with a disability. Bipolar disorder qualified me. Super not happy that it takes time to recover from swings one direction or another. Regaining equilibrium should just fix things.
Brought 12yo to see someone recommended by the OFP. I made sure to let him know that the reason I thought he should talk to her is so he could get some ideas for how to handle the fact that he has to live with his parents who drive him up the flippen' wall. Wanted to erase any idea that he is a problem that needs to be fixed. We are clearly the problem. And there is no fixing us, so he better learn some good coping mechanisms.
Followed up to trip to regular Doc for 12yo - who determined (after blood test requested by psych) that his vitamin D was low and he should be taking supplements.
Went to tap class - only to discover that there was no tap because my teacher was sick. So I drove to a friend's house for tea instead. I did a little soft-shoe in her kitchen.
Thursday March 4
I went to an appointment with Behavioral Psych Nurse Practitioner-- only there had been a scheduling SNAFU so I wasn't on the books. They were able to get me in for 15 minutes which was just fine. She wants to see me in one month; wants me to pay attention to any OCD-like behaviors (like my obsessive e-mail checking). This is not to diagnose me with OCD. Bipolar and OCD are buddies. They hang out together a lot.
Here is the funny part:
Spouse brought the totaled mini-van in to the body shop to be evaluated while I was at the meeting with Behavioral Psych Nurse Practitioner. There was some mix-up with the insurance company and they did not have a rental car waiting. So they needed to have one sent over at the last minute.
"Is a Fiat okay?"
Spouse is over six feet tall. He thought they were kidding. They weren't he came to pick me up in a little red car that he could almost fit into. It would fit four out of the five people in my family...
Brought 4yo to her 4 year checkup.
Last night of rehearsals for Grand Symphonic Winds before our concert.
Friday, March 5
Spent a LOT of time talking to the insurance agent handling all the details of what we needed to do to get money for our totaled minivan. This was one of those mixed-blessing things. We got more for the car being totaled than we would have for a sale or trade-in. But we weren't quite ready to get a new car. Which was very nervous-making.
Contacted by someone from NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) about how I might volunteer for them. I am scheduled to have an interview and go to an informational setting this coming Tuesday.
Grateful Crap: Getting Things Done
In bizzarro world, I was quite happy and excited to make a bunch of potentially stressful telephone calls this morning. And they all turned out great and made me feel better about getting my ducks in a row on things I have been avoiding for fricken' ever.
(including scheduling 6 different appointments with various doctors for my sundry children. I became great pals with the scheduling person at my clinic. We were on the phone for 2.5 days)
Then I managed to not fly into a downward spiral after hearing that one student might or might not have had a complaint about how the lesson was delivered by me and my co-teacher today.
ALL of the other students in the class were clearly involved. But that one student... poisoned the well for at least a short period of time. Once I convinced co-teacher that it was not necessary for us to completely change how we teach the class on the basis of one complaint... I felt a bit better.
Still, it doesn't feel very good to come out of what seemed like a really great class with the last words you hear being negative.
Now for another plot twist:
One of my former students (from my old orchestra days) is facilitating a training that I will be attending tomorrow. How cool is that? I'm not teaching any of my former students this semester (for the first time since starting at SPC I think)
Going to take meds and go to sleep.
A little shaky this morning. (felt a little venlafaxy) I will give it some time. This was day two on 2 pills. A bit loopy during class (just a tad more hypomanic than normal-- but on task and highly entertaining...)
Current meds: 70mg venlafaxine, 450mg bupropion, 200mg lamotrigine
I have been ALL about my to do list. I know it is likely to be one of those things that I start out doing and then the bloom is off the rose and I give it up. But I figure if I can be super religious about my use of the list right now, I can learn that the things I have been avoiding are really NOT SCARY.
I have been experiencing an odd lack of panic around such typically terrifying acts: checking my email, listening to voicemail messages, returning phone calls, dealing with budgeting and financial crap.
That's about all I've got to say.
I mean sure, after years of passive neglect, there is a bunch of stuff that I need to sort through and figure out. But when is that not true? Everyone will always have stuff. Stuff just is.
Okay, I am making very little sense and I am sorta sleepy.
Crossing off my list today:
scheduled plans to meet more than one friend in coming week
cleaned top shelf of refrigerator (major karma points on that one for me)
looked at my calendar
crossed stuff off my todo list
started trying to find good systems to organize my absentminded approach to grown-up stuff.
while looking at what food to order from Chinese restaurant...
4yo: what about lion meat?
me: they don’t have lion meat.
4yo: Owl meat?
4yo: They do have flesh.
4yo: What? They are covered with skin.
meds: 450mg bupropion, 200mg lamotrigine, 70mg venlafaxine
First day on 2 pills of venlafaxine instead of 3 (minus a bunch of beads)
(Let me know if I start going off the rails.)
Quaker, teacher, parent,