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The first premium is withdrawn from my bank account, and I am enrolled.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 …
“We always talk about your illness”, my husband said.
I don’t know if he’s being vindictive, or honest.
I can’t help but talk about living with bipolar disorder.
I don’t care how successful, beautiful, bright, or loving I am.
The reminder that I have bipolar disorder is always with me. Always.
It’s the anxiety I feel in the morning, the depression I feel during the day, the anger and restlessness I feel in the evening.
“Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here.” –Marianne Williamson
I remember intense fear back to the seventh grade.
Stomach aches. Tight chest. Beating heart.
Thirteen years ago, I became depressed and anxious almost overnight.
My childhood was over.
Fear is the body’s natural response to danger. I have hardly ever been in real danger.
However, magnified and/or irrational fears are a serious issue for me.
This all began in middle school, but it grips me just as strongly now as it always did.
I am going to give myself credit where it’s due, though. I have actively participated in years of therapy. I have been largely compliant with my treatment and medication.
I am trying to break free of my fear.
So why can’t I?
It is frustrating to spend so much time working with professionals on how to break free of fear and anxiety, and still, at 25, I cannot get rid of the pounding chest and the psychological air of danger.
It has always been like this, too—no matter what medication regimen I am on, no matter how my life circumstances change, I always find something to fear.
I graduated from a large university a few years ago. It took me a little while to build up to a full time schedule and a job that requires advanced skill and responsibility.
I am an educated, well-liked, trusted young woman perceived to have a lot of skill (which, in my heart, I know I have).
I am respected for my abilities and maturity in an uncommon way.
I fear that everyone is wrong—surely, my employers have been misled; I should not be in a managerial, leadership position. I must have tricked them. Surely, that is it. My professional organization has got me all wrong—could I really be skilled and intuitive beyond my years? Nonsense.
Who is this jerk fighting with my happiness for the last 13 years?
My fear keeps me from having confidence and …
Yesterday, I was worrying about other people.
I was enjoying Christmas with family and friends, getting way too many gifts, being spoiled with food and hugs and love.
What about everyone else? Were they getting the love they deserved?
I was happy, secure, at one with the Holy Spirit. It was a joyous day.
Unfortunately, inevitably, the brightness started to fade.
The realization of the Christmas holiday coming to a close started to set in.
Overall, it was a good year.
Every year comes with mood swings, treatment issues, and challenges directly related to bipolar disorder.
In order to roll with the inevitable punches, you have to get creative and use your resources—and the strategy can be different for everyone.
Throughout the year, I have had many amazing things happen. It has been a year where a lot of hard work has come into fruition.
I hope I started a trend, where I will manage my weaknesses in order to utilize my strengths.
With all of the time we spend taking care of ourselves, it is easy to forget our significant others deal with a significant amount of stress due to our chronic illness.
Our romantic partners are fully exposed to our symptoms, which can include everything from irritability and anxiety to suicidal behavior and hospitalization.