Thursday, October 21, 2010

Overwhelming Feeling

Overwhelming feeling  
Overwhelming feeling
Just don't feel that I can make it  
No idea how much longer I can take it
Overwhelming feeling  
Overwhelming feeling  

All by myself playing with a knife  
Toying with the idea of taking my life 

Overwhelming feeing  
Overwhelming feeling 

For oh so long I'd been digging a hole  
Now all the soil's covering my soul

Overwhelming feeling  
Overwhelming feeling 

Was feeling so good, feeling so high  
Now so down I only can sigh 

Overwhelming feeling  
Overwhelming feeling  

My mind, my me changes all the time  
How can I take it, I can't find the line 

Overwhelming feeling  
Overwhelming feeling  
Overwhelming feeling ... 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Oops, Don't Stop Those Meds

So. A week ago Friday I went in to see my trusted Doc. I couldn't wait to tell him how well I was doing. And I was doing really well. Had been for a solid two weeks. He welcomed the news.

Then we went over the results of my latest blood tests. Everything was good. Everything was normal. Except one. There was one hormone that was much higher than it should be and that was a side effect of Risperidone, one of my first line of defense meds against the Polar Bears. So we decided, since I'd been feeling so "normal", so good, to stop the Risperidone. My main medication, Lithium, should be able to handle things, he figured.

So that's what I did, I stopped the Risperidone.

Saturday was fine, another normal day.

Sunday I felt a little off, a little glum, more impatient, some paranoid thoughts began to creep in. Sleep that night was broken with many odd dreams. For hours I tossed and turned.

Monday I felt really off. Totally negative, impatient, irritable. I couldn't understand the contrast to what I'd been feeling. I got even more down because of that. At some point I realized what it must be - the meds. That night I took Risperidone again.

It wasn't in time.

I think I've described how manic episodes take over one's mind; runaway ideas, imagines, visions and so on racing through with little power to control them. Depressive episodes can be the same, though the thoughts and images are negative and there's not the same energy. Then there are the mixed episodes; the full on power of mania but not fun creative thoughts, instead very, very negative thoughts.

Somewhere back in the beginning, in describing why I first admitted myself to hospital, I believe I described my problem with suicidal thoughts. This is the danger for me and this is what returned Monday night and through Tuesday. 

I was thinking on the way to work one morning this past week how to describe this episode of suicidal thoughts. As for the intensity level, they're not your garden variety "woe as me, things are going really bad, I don't want to go on" type thoughts. I've had those thoughts lots during some dark days in the past and those are to these suicidal thoughts as Bud Light is to 80 proof rum, like children's aspirin to pure morphine. Just not in the same league. These were incredibly intense, graphic and powerful. Negative thoughts, again super intense, played as background music. It's just a really wild mental ride, especially when it comes on so out of the blue and on the heels of feeling so frickin' good the previous few weeks or so.  

And virtually uncontrollable. All those little 'coping mechanisms' and stuff you're supposed to use to "re-focus" negative thoughts and stuff? Bowls those over like a twenty pound bowling ball smashing though pins made of crystal. The thoughts of methods, scenes, instruments and so on come so fast and furious and vividly, like creative thoughts do in a 'good' manic episode. Just unstoppable. Relentless. And the suicidal thoughts are just as appealing as the 'good' creative thoughts. I want them. I welcome them.

But part of me recognizes the danger. I know I can't go out in a state like that or talk to anyone. I have to stay away from everything. I don't even want to go into the kitchen. All I can do is stay in my room with the lights out and try to block things out as much as possible. But through all that there's one thing and one thing only that's effective - focusing on my guardian angel. Somewhere in this violent tempest of suicidal thoughts and negative thoughts there's this tiny little voice, this tiny shred of reason that remembers her. And all I could do was repeat over and over to just hang in until her sixteenth birthday. To put all plans on hold until at least then. It took ... I don't know how long to get things settled down, I have no sense of time when this is happening. But I did it, just by focusing on that one thing, on my guardian angel.  

It's really taxing though. Coming down off an episode like that is like ... hell, I don't know. I felt tired for days after.

Wednesday the Risperidone started kicking in again and by Thursday I felt fine. Friday I was back to happy and singing out loud and all those signs of being in top spirits.

So from shiny-happy, walking on sunshine one Friday to deepening darkness and not-wanting-to-live-another-day on Tuesday and back to shiny-happy, walking on sunshine on Friday again ... man, that's a wild ride even by my standards. Phew!

So. The meds. Be really, really careful with the meds.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Bears in Hibernation

There is a normal. I'd forgotten what it felt like, I'd forgotten how it felt not to be in one chemically driven state or another, I'd forgotten what it felt like not to feel myself defined by how something  - something wrong in my brain - was making me feel.

There are various levels of depressed states. There are various levels of manic states. And there are the dreaded mixed states. Mixed in there could be "normal" but in the swirling chaos of the other states coming and going and crossing over, "normal" gets lost and barely registers on one's consciousness.

The last four years have been particularly intense as far as changing states goes and greatly distanced "normal" from my memory. It was something that I thought I'd have to completely redefine and relearn, a task that both excited me and daunted me. There were times I didn't think I could do it.

But lo and behold, something has arrived. It feels familiar. I have to reach back a long way to find a point of comparison, but it's there; something I feel as normal. Not down, not up, and certainly not mixed.

It's hard to put a finger on exactly what turned the corner. Pharmaceutical help is playing a big role for sure. My dosage was increased a few weeks ago and that's helping greatly in the overall balance of brain chemicals. I've been doing my "homework"; stuff I give myself to do to work on my mental outlook. I take "happy pills", various vitamin complexes that have been shown to help boost moods naturally and safely. Something that's very important for sufferers of Bipolar Disorder is regularity of schedule. I returned to work a few weeks ago so I'm sure the routine of work has helped as well. Of great importance is the incredible support I've received from a very wonderful group of people I have the privilege of knowing through an online community. I could NOT have done this without them.

Whatever the case, it's all added up to a state of feeling really good. I feel optimistic. Not the grandiose, devil may care optimistic of mania (something I'm far too familiar with and which got me in considerable trouble the last few years), but the kind of optimism I can recall from non-ill times years ago. I'm feeling more mellow and less irritable. My mind isn't plagued by racing thoughts and negative thoughts. Instead, I feel a more natural, progressive train of thoughts happening.

Overall, I just feel great. As good as I've felt, I was thinking, in about four and half years, maybe longer.

Now the trick is to hold this feeling, this state, this mood, and try to keep working on making it the 'base me' again. And it IS work. Little things, daily things, but work nonetheless. For Bipolar Disorder never leaves. Ever. There will be relapses. That is just the nature of the illness and not anything one can control. It's not something that pharmaceuticals can fully control. So it's important to work on this state of "normality" as much as possible. To more fully make it me. To more fully define it. To find things that make it more real. To find touchstones that can help me return to it when I suffer serious relapses.

But mostly ... well, mostly I just want to enjoy it. After the four most recent years of mind-bending intensely chaotic internal struggles and the much longer period of constantly up and down mental states, I am glad to see the Bipolar Bears go into hibernation.

So while it is important to know what got me to this place of feeling great, I don't want to think about it too much. I just want for a while to enjoy the simple pleasure of feeling normal.