Am I being irrational? Do I have the right to think this way?
Am I crazy, or just human?
I have doubted myself so much, dissected the illness so much, that I don’t know up from down.
I often can’t discern whether I am mentally sick or just going through a tough life change like anyone else.
My parents were raised in Roman Catholic families; my mother left the Church in her 30′s.
I was baptized Catholic, and even though I didn’t go through the full “process” of Catholicism, I still attended mass with my grandparents on hundreds of Sundays.
I observed Lent and was often guilt-ed using The 10 Commandments.
During my battle with mental illness, my personal relationship with God has been tumultuous. There are some years when I can’t live without talking to God daily; other years I have completely abandoned Him.
“the greatest Americans
have not been born yet
they are waiting patiently
for the past to die”
It’s fairly official…
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I too have health insurance.
The first premium is withdrawn from my bank account, and I am enrolled. I am waiting for the cards, and I can start using benefits on March 1st, 2014.
I won’t accept it as completely official until I leave a doctor’s office with that insurance card.
You know who I’m talking about—those who do not live with bipolar disorder, yet have a great deal of advice on how you should approach it.
Some of the opinions I have heard from people that don’t live with bipolar disorder include:
However, people who have real experience with bipolar, including consumers, doctors, and therapists, find it the illness extremely valid, hard to treat, and chronic and lifelong in nature.
Over time, the doses have increased, and the medication combination, or “cocktail”, has diversified.
With the increase in medication comes the inevitable increase in unpleasant side effects.
The following are my top five worst side effects from medications psychotropic medications, the type of medications I must take for the rest of my life to stay well:
I’m pretty sure lithium is the main culprit–I noticed symptoms of extreme thirst and pesky dry mouth shortly after being prescribed this “gold standard” for bipolar disorder.
Dry mouth is a side effect of many psychotropic medications.
Some of the suggestions I’ve received from clinicians include mouthwash for dry mouth and drinking an adequate amount of water.
The degree of thirst subsides a bit after the first few months, but what doesn’t subside is the milder but constant symptoms and the inability to handle too much summer heat or exercise in humid weather.
The higher the psychotropic dose, the more sensitive my stomach becomes.
After years of multiple medications, I have developed an irritable gastrointestinal tract and an increase in stomach aches.
I attribute some of my stomach issues to anxiety, but my symptoms also became worse as I climbed the ladder of more potent drugs and higher doses.
I’ve been told to eat a healthy diet, incorporate more fiber, drink a lot of water, exercise, and avoid problem foods.
I cannot take my medication “cocktail” without eating something. If I don’t eat enough, I get a terrible, burning stomach ache that I never experienced before I took psychotropic meds.
It’s side effects like this that make medication compliance difficult.
Everyone says your energy level decreases the older you get–but I am way too tired for 25.
I can’t keep up with my friends, and I need a considerable amount of sleep to function.
I can hardly stay awake past 12 hours of daily activity.
Since I decreased my medication a bit, I have noticed a spike in energy, and I think some improvement in diet and an increase in exercise would …
The type of trigger is variable, depending on the person.
In having bipolar disorder, being aware of one’s triggers can help prevent mood swings and even hospital stays.
My top five personal triggers are listed below. I have to pay attention to each of these factors in order to stay well.
I am anxious, uptight, and everything is moving too fast.
Am I manic?
Am I merely trying to adjust to the more fast-paced life I’ve recently acquired?
Should I go to the doctor, or will I get through this on my own?
Last month, you read my post about opting for online psychotherapy sessions.
My therapist abruptly moved to Virginia just before the holiday season, and we decided to try therapy via Skype.
In the last month, I received both positive and negative feedback about online counseling.
A few therapists have suggested against it, which I respect greatly.
In contrast, consumers and family members have regarded it a bit differently.
Like some of my consumer friends, who are also members of Gen Y, I do not immediately see any issues with online counseling.
Everything I do these days is via Internet.
Only recently did I become familiar with the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation.
And now, I know why. This organization was formally NARSAD.
They were originally founded in 1987, and are paramount to the progress of treatment for bipolar disorder.
One of the most important things we can do to understand bipolar disorder is research.
We need to study the brain, medications, new technologies, and ways to better track and control our symptoms.
The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation has awarded more than $300 million in over 4,000 NARSAD grants to more than 3,7000 scientists around the world.
It is mid-January, and the high temperature will peak at around 55 degrees Fahrenheit today.
This is cold for Floridians. We take advantage of the sun and warmth we experience most days of the year.
Even though Winter in Florida is a stark contrast to the snow, darkness, and bitter cold that is experienced in many parts of the United States, mood patterns would suggest that I am still affected by this season.
I have been admitted to a psychiatric hospital three times, and all three of those times, it was Winter–December, January, February.
My online mood trackers show that my depression, exhaustion, and irritability causes me more trouble in the Winter than the warmer months of the year.