First off, I would like to say thank you to all of you who had such kind words to say about my last post. I appreciate all of you. -Kat
I’ve been sick for five days.
What first seemed like allergies turned into the common cold.
I don’t get sick very often. I forgot how defeating something like a cold can be.
I was nearly useless at work on Friday. All weekend, I’ve either been in bed or half-asleep, wanting to get back into bed.
Besides the physical symptoms, my depression and irritability kicks up a notch during a bout with a cold or flu.
My bipolar is amplified.
Here in Florida, the weather is nearly perfect. The flowers, insects, and snakes (!) have already sprung.
Others are not so lucky. This week, my family members in western New York had a severe snow storm, and more snow is expected throughout the United States.
Although we didn’t feel it as much here, Winter 2013-2014 was bitter for most.
We were the only state in the lower 48 that didn’t get snow this year. However, we still noticed the colder temperatures and the inclement weather that created cloudy skies for days.
In Florida, we definitely notice when it is dark for more than 24 hours.
As I mentioned in a recent post, I just got health insurance.
I’ve managed my medication with the same Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) for years.
Lately I’ve become discouraged with her fast-paced office and unwillingness to budge on my disagreements with treatment.
“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The first premium is withdrawn from my bank account, and I am enrolled.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.
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.
“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 …
As a teenager, I fought my mother and the medication.
In my 20’s, it is hard to keep up with the large doses my doctor prescribes me.
I have been incredibly stable and happy for a long time—for the most part. Because I have occasional mood swings, my doctor wants to see evidence of stability for an even more extended period before she will consider reducing the 10 pills I take each day.
I feel trapped. I don’t want to take them, but she wants me to. I respect her opinion, but I can’t do this.
And so, I confess. I am on my own doses—and I have been, for a couple of months now.
I have a lot of medication in my cupboard because I haven’t been taking the “correct” amount.
Now, I don’t have to go back to the doctor for a while. I don’t have to argue with her and tell her what I’ve been doing, at least for another month or two.
She will catch me.
Parents-to-be tell their story of how they tried for years to get pregnant to no avail, and now, finally, they are adopting a child.
This is the story I always hear: A couple cannot have children physically, so they adopt.
Is adoption an option for women with bipolar disorder?
A mother was discussing her suspicion that her teenage son has autism spectrum disorder.
“My relative, who is a school counselor, told me to avoid a diagnosis.”
The school counselor’s opinion is simple—if he is not diagnosed, he will not be limited in life.
It really got me thinking.
How true is that statement?
There are, generally speaking, two camps—one that believes a diagnosis will drive treatment and overall wellness, and another that believes that a diagnosis hinders opportunity.