Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wish for Wednesday

That one day someone will say, "You know, me too."

Monday, September 22, 2014

The other day I had an epiphany. It had something to do with meds… and feeling out of it… it had something to do with wondering if I made the right decision to have a go without meds and if I need to go back on them… and how that thought was a crutch... could be a crutch… and that proves it was a crutch. I get scared, so I want my meds… because I don’t let myself deal with this myself. I need to do this OFF of meds so that I know that I can do this on meds.

I need to be off meds so that I can find out that I can do most of this off of meds so that I can do this with them, too. I need to develop the skills concurrent with the meds… so that I know I’m ok… so that I’m not a time bomb - won't feel like a timebomb - because I know how I’ll handle it… and that I can handle it… and it won’t stop the crazy. Nothing can stop the little things that will always bother me or the how of how I see things.

Let me back up a bit.

After some discussion with some close friends and my boyfriend, I went off meds once school ended in early May to try something out. I let people around me in on it so that they could help monitor me and my behavior, letting me know if I got too bad, or even calling me out if I slide too far one way or the other.

First of all, I wanted to get back in touch with what's wrong - try to feel it and figure it out... likely see if I can figure out triggers, and how it progresses, to how to stem the flow of the thoughts that might send me into depression or a tailspin. Some is for the sake of my writing (that sounds kind of hokey to me) since I feel I have to get back to the true feeling and experience of it, not make it just something remembered and botching the truth of it.

On TV or movies, one only ever sees the worst of it... and it's not always that way - usually it's subtle. I feel that it's much like the issue I had with telling my mom about being sexually molested when I was 7 (I told her when I was 9). What is shown is soo much bigger than what I experienced that I had a hard time recognizing what they showed on TV in me. The after school specials and "very special episode of..."s usually showed kids who were truly traumatized from their sexual abuse and I always thought about how awful that must be for them. What had happened with my mom's best friend's son (he was 16 or so at the time I was 7) was definitely less than that. He got grabby and did some exploring, but I wouldn't say it was traumatizing. I mean, I'm sure there are issues from it, and I've certainly talked about it with therapists, but I was not having behavioral issues, or wetting the bed, or anything like that.

I've gone off track a bit here...

Back to what this has to do with the bipolar. I want to write about an experience that's subtle, at least for the most part... and I have to remember how these things start... and that they usually come from nowhere and build. It's tough!

There's also the part of my... experiment... that has to do with making sure that I have my skills and that I can also learn to pinpoint what's coming on - be it triggers or how to tell if I'm a little off. I had a year off of meds when I first moved to KY because of lack of insurance and I feel like I was very good about using everything I had to make sure I was ok, especially since it was a tough year. My support group was not with me, for the most part. I had 2 people here that I could trust, so it was...scary. I was also newly officially separated from my ex of 10 years... with a pending divorce, at that! I mean, it was perfect for a meltdown and I had only been officially diagnosed for a little over a year! Still, I got through the year gloriously! I used all of my skills and the people around me for help.

However, I found that once I went on meds again and was with a therapist... I got worse. Well, not bad, but I wasn't as good as coping with things on my own, or paying attention to triggers and what went on in my head. It's like I got lazy and expected to let the meds do more. Well, that's my theory anyway. Also, I've been questioning adding medication since the psychiatrist I saw here was pushing to put me on lithium, which seemed excessive. Plus, she always wanted to add something if I had a bad day or if things were just a bit off and I didn't feel like anyone was really working with me to work out what was going on, like my therapists in Portland and California used to. It didn't and doesn't feel right to me.

So I wanted to focus on skills... and in order to do so I wanted to do it while I was in control of things and with a great network of people that can call me out and have learned what to watch for. I want to make sure I get this... and understand it, and with that learn about what happens to me and how to help it.

Woman on a park bench in Central Park, New York, 1957. Photo by Yale Joel 
It scares me, not being on medication. Not because I feel out of control and not because I know that I'll go out of control. I don't. I don't know that. What if I can control it mostly, or maybe even keep it to minimum medication with the help of understanding my problem? I feel like I've become afraid of myself because I was told that I have to have medication, if not it would all go very badly. It's like... being the incredible hulk. It's not that I hate medication, and I do believe that it's very handy and necessary... I just... don't know that it's the only answer. I want more insight, not just medication. However, because I've had it drilled into me that medication is and always will be necessary, it's really scary to be without it... but in that scared-of-the-monster-under-the-bed kind of way. When you're a kid you're convinced it's there and you keep waiting for it to pop out.

Not that I'm saying that medication is imaginary/all in my head... just that... I want more than that, I guess. I want more than a blind belief that meds are the answer. I've a sneaking suspicion that it's both meds and skills, but really, I just wanted to know, you know? I also want to know how they work... what they do, and I feel like people are never really told. I'm ok with accepting the meds on faith when first diagnosed to get things right again - that is the time to simply act and get things back to normal. Shouldn't we - I - learn more about my condition and how to live with it now that it's a done diagnosis?

So... that's where I'm coming from on this meds business. When I will go back on them, I'm not sure.

Why I haven't told you has to do with being told that I always have to be on meds; I feel like a five-year-old that's snuck out of bed to sneak a twinkie. Would I have gotten the twinkie if I had asked for it... maybe... but no one was around to ask, so... there's that, too. Also, I constantly question when I should start up again and how. At this point, I think it's something that I would like to discuss further with Dr. R at the University of Cincinnati's division of bipolar research, whom I started talking to a month ago, and Dr. B, my general doctor.

It's something I felt I had to do in order to know more. I know it's risky, and many will frown upon it, but I felt I had to explore this, and I feel I'm going about it pretty safely.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Graphic Perspective

I saw this on my Twitter feed. 

"Look closely," was all the tweet said.

I found its subtlety, impactful - its way of getting the message across, lovely.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Let me tell you what I know about having an episode or how a breakdown begins... at least from my experience.

You see, it's not how you'd think, and it's not like what you see on TV.

They start small, for one... a lot smaller than you could imagine. It's like the smallest of bad moods just sticks... like cobwebs. You could be having a fine day, maybe even what looks like it could be a great day, and then! Something happens. Or someone says something. Instantly you take offence, or it makes you sad, or just.. meh!... and you start to question everything. 

You wonder, did someone just trip me... or merely take off the rose colored glasses??? Was I the fool or the fooled??

Then you wonder who you were kidding anyway, and you look around and see - or think you see - everyone looking at you as if in pity, or jeering at you... or looking disgusted. And it builds - all the negative thoughts, all the sadness - it just grows... unless you stop it, and you can. It's not easy, might take a herculean effort, but you can. not easy, might take a herculean effort, but you can.

If I could put it to music, it would start small. Subito piano... A small questioning melody... a piccolo asking, "Why???" Then, new sounds would add on, perhaps a blaring horn, something mean and rattle-y, or a wailing violin somewhere in the background. All slightly discordant, just ever so slightly... off. But always building. 

The kettle drums only ever come in after the crescendo, if it actually gets to that point and the music is allowed to build up that much. It just doesn't always get there and the kettle drums are such a nuisance to bring along, anyway. I mean, they're kind of cumbersome. 

The first time I heard Arvo Pärt's Tabula Rasa, I thought, here is a man who gets it! He knows. That the ballet company was using it for a dance piece was really quite great for me, making dance class even more therapeutic. Here, I could channel allllll of that... and just release it; music come to life, a manifestation of my emotions and moods. Then you just... let it all go

The music builds and diminishes, whimpers then wails, slows down... to speed up - all at its own pace.

The ongoing cycle makes it often feel like it's going to continue forever, makes it difficult for one to see anything outside of that loop. Oh, it might get better... but that turn will come 'round again, and then!... it's all falling down.

The thought makes it difficult to get out of the loop, makes it difficult to stop the spiral down towards the depths of despair. It hurts! ... and it hurts oh-so-much. It hurts because you've been here before, and you know it'll come again... and you really, really, really hate it here.

Which is the reality?, you wonder. Am I delusional in thinking that it could ever be any better - is actually better at times? Or is this actually it?

So you try to reach out, and maybe you do... but somehow it's wrong and they don't understand, or you say it sharply, or... really you didn't mean it - you're just wanting some help... and... you've failed. And you don't know how to say you're sorry and you don't know how to take it all back because really all that you needed was some understanding, the human touch and you kinda botched it.
All you'd really like to say now is, help me, but you don't seem to know how.

You wonder, What do I do now?

All of this has been going on in your head this whole time... and nothing much has really happened, not that anyone can see. If you tried to explain it to anyone, they wouldn't exactly know - or get - how you went from 0 to 100 in 1 second flat. It's miniscule, but it's there... and it's big... HUGE!

And that's where you are.

You can't do that on television, you can't show how it all builds up from nothing...

but I know.  

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Dear blog,

I'm sorry I've been too wrapped up in things to update. August was ridiculous and busy... and September has jumped in with school and its own craziness! I promise I will remedy this soon, especially seeing as I have a few posts already waiting in the wings.

In the meantime, I leave you with this pic that a friend sent me as something to think about.

Yours... truly,

*also I'd like to leave you with this song that's been in my head and is kind of tied to the title of this post. It's a pretty good song, maybe you know the rest...