Manic episodes are hard. Sure, people can have high positive energy and get a lot done, but the body and mind can only handle so much. When episodes continue on for weeks and months, the pressure can build and become intolerable. This is especially true when the energy you feel is negative, rather than positive. You’re irritable and you feel like you’re trapped in your own skin and you’re itching to get out. It’s times like these when it’s especially important to make sure your medication is on track. A month ago, after I had been suffering from mania for weeks already, my psychiatrist prescribed Rexulti as an experiment to see if it would help treat my manic episode. I’ve been tracking my progress through this blog. Welcome to part three.
A little aside: I’ve been catching up on the new season of NPR’s podcast Invisibilia that covers a variety of topics on psychology and sociology. If you’re not listening, you should. It’s brilliance. In their episode Emotions: Part Two they talk to an anthropologist who came across what he considered a new emotion he had only witnessed in a tribe in the Philippines. This emotion is called liget.
In one instance the anthropologist witnessed this emotion being played out in a man who was boundlessly energetic and productive. In the second instance it came out in mourning the death of one of their own who passed too soon. The people became chaotic and full of rage. The anthropologist could not commingle the two experiences in words that could be described in English except to say “high voltage.”
After listening to this episode, I tweeted to the hosts of Invisibilia that I thought I knew what this emotion was, that in my experience with bipolar I had felt it many times. Now, in the midst of a manic episode, I feel like I finally have a word to describe how I’ve been feeling. Liget.
Some days I am pumped and ready to go. I go to the gym, clean the house and get projects done that have been sitting for weeks and months ready to finish. Then I turn a corner and suddenly I’m angry and want to lash out. I’ve had panic attacks that stem from overstimulation.
Despite being on Rexulti for a month, this is still how I feel. I had a period of a little over a week when I felt a reprieve. It was bliss. I felt like myself. Then, slowly, over the next few days my symptoms kept creeping back to how I had felt in the beginning. Plus I’m gaining weight.
This is not to say that the Rexulti is not working. I am on a very low dose. Increasing it may ease my symptoms again. But it may not. I may have to try something else. After all, Rexulti is not approved to treat bipolar disorder, only schizophrenia and as an adjunct to antidepressants in major depressive disorder. Perhaps it’s not meant to be.
I see my psychiatrist again in a week. I will bring up what I’ve talked about in my posts concerning this new medication. She may recommend increasing the Rexulti or she may make another change altogether. I trust her to make the best, most informed decision for my care. In the meantime, I will at least have some solace in having a word to describe how I’m feeling: liget.
Image credit: Clara Jordan