Saturday, August 7, 2010

Four Questions

My friend asked me today to answer some questions for her for a school project and although the questions aren't completely about my illness, I thought it would be an interesting read nevertheless. Enjoy! 

1. What do you need protection from: 

-Myself, my feelings, my mind. I am my own worst enemy in every sense of the word.

-People-their cruelty, their judgments, and (often nasty) opinions on things they don't understand or don't want to understand. Even when stable, it's very easy to upset me, and people often don't realize (or don't care).

-Doctors-trying to push their own agendas and (especially) medication. For one good doctor out there (especially in psychiatrics) there's 10 bad ones.

2.  Things I'm afraid of: 

-I'm petrified of death. Not of my own, but of those I love. I think about it constantly. I know it's part of my disorder (to obsess) but it scares the hell out of me. Because I've been so close to death myself, and so has my Mom (we've both tried to commit suicide multiple times)...I know how close and easy death is. I've also lost a lot of people in my life, and each time it gets harder. I lost my Grandad when I was 9, and it was incredibly difficult. I had a chance to hug him on the day he died, but he'd had a stroke and I just couldn't. He looked like a shell of himself. I will never forgive myself for not being able to touch him. I tend to hold on too much to those I love, and I know eventually when they are gone, it will absolutely crush me. I have NO idea how I will be able to deal with it, and it scares the shit out of me.

-Driving Chris away. When we got engaged I told him all the things to expect with my disorder-being off work, snapping at him, hospital visits, med changes, etc.....but you can tell someone something all day long, it won't matter; they have to experience it. I'm petrified he will leave me because I'm too much to handle. I know he loves me, and I know he never wants to leave, but I can't help thinking that eventually it will get to a point where he can't take anymore, and that would crush me. He's such an amazing guy, he could have his pick of almost anyone, and the fact that he chose me (even with all my "problems") is amazing....but we're in this for life, and I often worry he can't handle being in this horrible roller coaster for life.

3.  What do you need to protect: 

-My marriage. It's the most precious thing to me. We work hard on it (not that it's incredibly difficult or anything, but it takes time and effort). It's everything to me, and I'd be lost without Chris.

-Those I love-my parents, my brother, my extended family. Family means the world to me. I spend as much time with them as possible, and could not live without them (this ties back to 'things I'm afraid of"). I work on my relationships with them, even though it's not always easy....because I believe family (and best friends) are always worth it.

-My health. I have to be my own health advocate. I have to research, ask others, visit the library....everything. It's up to me to know the most amount of information I can on every drug and treatment. I can't rely on doctors...they are often too busy or have their own agenda. I need to know what's best for ME.

-My sense of self/self worth/confidence-All these things are lost when I'm ill. I feel useless. When I start to feel better I need to start building up my confidence again. When you on are medications that change your thought patterns (and ultimately, you) it takes a lot of work to realize who you really are and what you really want out of life. Especially since these "miracle drugs" make you gain massive amounts of weight-which always brings down your self confidence. Feeling good and sexy is a VERY difficult thing for me. Believing that I'm a good human being and that it's WORTH it for me to be living and that I'm contributing to society is a VERY difficult thing to come to terms with when you are on life-long medication.

4.  What do you idolize: 

-Firstly (and obviously), Chris and my parents. I look up to Chris in ways I never thought I'd be able to in a husband. He teaches me something new every day. And my parents are truly the best. They raised me to be an amazing woman, and I had an fabulous childhood. Even though I went through a very difficult time in my teens, they were there every single step of the way. I honestly would not be here without them. Their support and love means everything to me.

-Not really idolizing, but I adore my alone time. I find it very difficult to recharge, especially when I'm ill, so my alone time means A LOT to me. And luckily Chris gives me as much as I need or want.

-My health. When I'm healthy, I cherish every single second of it. Most people have no idea what it's like to have an illness where you can become ill literally in a day. To the point where you can't work, can't socialize, and end up in the hospital. So everyday that I feel good and healthy, I cherish it. It's a gift to me.

-Travelling. Something I love to do (especially to Holguin) and always gives me something to look forwards to. No matter where we're going (even if it's just a camping trip up north) I look forward to it for weeks. It breaks up the monotony of life.

-I secretly idolize people who can deal with the disorders I have without medication. I would love to be able to do that, but it just doesn't work for me (I've tried). I'm happy for people who can use yoga, mediation, sleep schedules, and whatever else works for them. I would love to be able to be off these mind-altering drugs....who knows what the long-term damage will be? And I'd LOVE to skip all these horrible side effects. But for now, these medications work for me, and I'm happy with them. I don't agree with throwing medications at everyone for whatever ailment they have; but sometimes, we have to use the technology and scientific research available to us. But I do idolize people who are able to do it by themselves.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Quick Update and article I found-8 Common Questions about Bipolar

  Hello everyone, 

It's been quite a while since I've posted, but I really don't have anything new to say. I'm still waiting for my appointment with the kidney specialist (in July). I'm on the same medications (Abilify and Carbamazepine) which are taking the edge off, but aren't totally stabilizing. I have my good days and my bad days (both physically and mentally) so I'm just trying to get through the days right now. Overall I've been feeling better; I've been getting out almost everyday for walks or to hang out with family or friends. On my bad days though, I don't get off the couch. But I'm trying to think positively! :)

However, I've been talking about my illness a lot recently (I've met a lot of new people) and I found the article below, and thought it may be helpful to explain my illness to those who don't know/don't understand. I'm going to put my own thoughts in brackets. I'll post again after I've seen the specialist and (hopefully) know what direction we're going in. 

Hope you all are well.
8 Common Bipolar Questions Answered

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Catching up-it's been too long.

This is going to be a long post. When I started this blog, I was hoping for some closure, and to be able to share my experiences with everyone. I didn't count on getting so physically ill; I decided being physically ill isn't what this blog is about so I haven't written anything in a while. But I realized yesterday, that the mind and body are so closely connected, it seems a shame not to write just because I have "other stuff" going on. So here's the update as to now:

I still have an extreme amount of Edema. I have three doctors who all feel different things are causing it (imagine how much fun that is!). I saw my Internist (a doctor that takes care of everything inside you, basically) last Wednesday and he was totally useless. He's blaming my edema on my medication-which is impossible. I came off my Lithium and Valproic Acid months ago (against the better judgment of my psychiatrist, but he agreed to try), and sure enough it didn't change anything. My Internist is telling me to be patient and that this will go away on it's own in a few months; it's already been going on since September. I don't know who to trust and what to think anymore. I'm going to ask my family doctor for a specialist in a bigger hospital (in Toronto for example). I'm hoping they'll be able to find something. It's so painful to walk that I can't even walk across the mall and back. My skin has been stretched so much that it hurts to touch it. Not fun.

Now that's the update for the physical stuff. After I came off the Lithium and Valproic Acid (which was HELL) I was put onto heavy duty water pills, which means I can't go back onto them. I've been put on Abilify, a brand new drug. So far, I'm not impressed, but I've only been on it for about a total of 3 weeks. Right now I'm in a total mixed state. For those of you who don't know....I have all the "bad" things of being manic-unbelievable amounts of energy, nervousness, anxiety, unable to sleep or listen (similar to ADD), spending money....basically everything I do is impulsive and I don't care what the consequences are. BUT, I don't have any of the "good" symptoms-no euphoria, happiness.....I've never felt like this. Normally when I'm manic, the whole world looks brighter, everything looks sweeter; everyone is nicer. Right now, everything is dark and miserable, but I have all this extra energy and anxiety. I cry at everything and ANYTHING. And all the time. Things set me off, and I don't even know what they are. So my psychiatrist doubled my Abilify yesterday and decreased my Wellbutrin (which can cause mania) by half. Hopefully that will help, but right now I feel like jumping out of my skin. It's awful. I don't even care about the physical problems now; I need to get back on track mentally or I'm not going to make it through this. I see my psychiatrist on Monday, and if this isn't working I'll go back onto Lithium (thank god!).

Life has been very stressful recently. We had a close family friend pass away, and his funeral was one of the most beautiful but difficult things I've ever experienced (and I've been to too many funerals). That sent me for a spin. And then we've been under a lot of stress financially. Chris is completely underpaid at his job; and is super stressed, so he's looking for another job, which makes ME stressed. My disability doesn't bring in enough money to live on; not even close. That's the horrible thing about being Bipolar-any sort of stress (doesn't even have to be your own) rubs off on you......and completely affects your moods. Basically things are very difficult right now. I wish I could be more positive, but when I created this blog, I promised myself I'd be honest; and this is how I feel right now. I feel alone and empty, even though I'm surrounded by people who love me.

I'm tired of fighting.

I can't even think about going back to work for months; I have to get stable onto my meds, and then go through 20 weeks of intense CBT. Which I don't mind (I'm not fit to work anyways).....but I feel as if I have nothing to look forward to. Life is just grey right clouds but without any silver linings. The only things keeping me going are Chris, my friends and family-they are my life savers, literally. I couldn't ask for a better husband-he comes home from work stressed, yet always comes home with a smile and is always ready to take care of me.

The next step may be going into the hospital, so if I disappear for a while, that's where I've gone. I've been listening to a lot of music recently to try and clear my mind and constant racing thoughts. One in particular that speaks to me is the new(ish) Hugh Dillon song (who I happen to love, haha). Here are the lyrics:

My mistakes

"If you count all my mistakes
I would have to walk away
I just could not take another yesterday
I've not the strength to fade away
Now if I admit defeat
Tell me what then will that mean
Will I cease to be or will I be redeemed
Or will it be the end of me

And you ought to know by now
To get out from under that cloud
That took all my power
And it's the only thing that counts
Well I smile as I stand here today
With all the mistakes I've made
Now in my darkest night
They're the brightest stars in the sky

If you count all my mistakes
I would have to walk away
I just could not take another yesterday
I've not the strength to fade away
Fade away

And you ought to know by now
To get out from under that cloud
That took all my power
And it's the only thing that counts
Well I smile as I stand here today
With all the mistakes I've made
Now in my darkest night
They're the brightest stars in the sky

If you count all my mistakes
I would have to walk away
I just could not take another yesterday
I've not the strength to fade away"

I find I can relate a lot to this song, even though he's singing about being addicted to drugs. It usually gives me the strength to get through the day. I just want to be "normal" a "normal" life.....holding down a job, being able to do what I want when I want. It's just all so frustrating. I could take being mentally ill; I know how to handle that. But now I'm mentally and physically sick, and it's too much. I feel so out of control.

Sorry to end on such a negative note, but that's all I can write today.
I hope everyone is doing well.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Some of my favourite quotes on mental illness....enjoy them!

I look at other people and I think, “He lives without meds. She does. What is wrong with me? Am I so biochemically screwed up, so neurotic, so narcissistically self-absorbed that every hour is an obstacle course for me?” I don’t know, but this can’t continue. I feel like I am dying. A slow torturous death. And the worst thing is that I’m taking other people along for the ride. But I swear, I don’t know how to do it differently. –ditto

I should come with a consumer warning, like the labels that say “Handle with care” or “May be hazardous to your health.” I am unfit for human consumption. I struggle to articulate how awful and isolating this feels, but I can’t find the words. –ditto

Sometimes, I get so consumed by depression that it is hard to believe that the whole world doesn’t stop and suffer with me. –ditto

We all fear at some point that “our” world and “the” world are hopelessly estranged. Psychosis is the fulfillment of that fear. –Michael Greenberg, Hurry Down Sunshine

Mad, adj.: affected with a high degree of intellectual independence, not conforming to standards of thought, speech, and action derived by the conformants from the study of themselves; at odds with the majority; in short, unusual. It is noteworthy that persons are pronounced mad by officials destitute of evidence that they themselves are sane … –Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

People often write me and ask how I keep my wood floors so clean when I live with a child and a dog, and my answer is that I use a technique called Suffering From a Mental Illness. –Heather Armstrong, on

Men have called me mad, but the question is not yet settled whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence—whether much that is glorious—whether all that is profound—does not spring from disease of thought, from moods of mind exalted at the expense of the general intellect. –Edgar Allen Poe, “Eleanora”

I remembered the afternoon of my MRI, the way I’d seen my brain that day for what it is—an organ. A lump of tissue and cells and nerves, no less than heart or lungs or kidney, generating perception as much as the heart pumps blood or the lungs extract oxygen. How we know and feel and understand the world is made possible merely by the pulse of elctrochemical activity. If a heart could fail in its pumping, a lung in its breathing, then why not a brain in its thinking, rendering the world forever askew, like a television with bad reception? And couldn’t a brain fail as arbitrarily as any of these other parts, without regard to how fortunate your life might have been, without regard to the blessing and cosseting that, everyone was so eager to remind you, disentitled you from unhappiness? –ditto

Pain of mind is worse than pain of body. –Syrus

I bend but do not break. –Jean de la Fontaine, “The Oak and the Reed,” in Fables

I read somewhere that 77 per cent of all the mentally ill live in poverty. Actually, I’m more intrigued by the 23 per cent who are apparently doing quite well for themselves. – (?)

Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you. –Carl Jung

I will find a way out or make one. –Robert Peary

I’m a happy-go-lucky manic-depressive. It does get very deep and dark for me, and it gets scary at times when I feel I can’t pull out of it. But I don’t consider myself negative-negative. I’m positive-negative. –Tim Burton

There’s someone in my head but it’s not me. –Pink Floyd, “Brain Damage”

What does not destroy me, makes me stronger. –Friedrich Nietzsche, The Twilight of the Idols

Just because you’re paranoid
don’t mean they’re not after you.
–Nirvana, “Territorial Pissings”

Psychiatry’s a young science. Yesterday’s madman may be tomorrow’s genius. Beethoven and Van Gogh were both a bit loopy. In my view, most madmen are remarkable. They’re explorers, travelers beyond the rim of consciousness. Not surprising if they pick up a few bugs and get sick. That’s all it is, madness. Mad just means sick. If you get fluid on the lungs it’s pleurisy. If it’s fluid on the brain, it’s insanity. –Clare Boylan, Beloved Stranger

All of them [psychopharmaceuticals] affect the way in which the brain processes language. It’s not something a person uninterested in words might notice, except for maybe a bit of tip-of-the-tongue syndrome, but to me it’s obvious that my relation to language has been subtly affected. Before the long parade of drugs, words were like water—all I had to do was dip my mind and it would come up brimming with new excitements. I always thought of this ability as a “gift,” a part of my being. Now the river of words flows around me as it always has, but I write as a translator trespassing outside the boundaries of my original language, fluent but no longer a native speaker. It’s hard to explain. It feels like a new part of my brain has learned language, and the old part has atrophied. Maybe this sensation is just a physical metaphor for what the antidepressants do. I don’t know, but I’ve come to see that this death of imaginary self (along with its language) is not necessarily a hindrance to my work, though it took me years to stop trying to call my “gift” back from a grave. Its loss functions exactly as form does in poetry: if the door’s locked, try a window. –ditto

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"I have Bipolar; but Bipolar doesn't have me." -Suzy Johnston

Came across this while doing some research today. It's a booklet about the BBC documentary "The Secret Life of the Manic-Depressive" written/produced by Steven Fry. *If you haven't seen it, please look it up, it is well worth your time and effort*
I watched the documentary a while ago, but I love how this booklet describes Bipolar-both the manic and depressive sides. It also perfectly captures the struggles that families and spouses have with Bipolars. It's long; but WELL worth the time reading it.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Hey everyone

Hi all. This will be a quick post because unfortunately, I don't have a whole lot to say. I have lost quite a bit of the water weight (edema) that I was having trouble with, but being on the water pills have triggered more side effects, and my specialists are still trying to determine what exactly is wrong. A VERY frustrating process. I've still off the Lithium, which is awful, but I'm trying to take it day by day. I will continue with this blog once I'm in better health, and am back onto the Lithium, so that I am able to blog about being Bipolar (because, honestly, that's what I set this blog up to be about, not to be about my edema and other health problems!). But...that said, I wanted to share this link to another great blog:

I stumbled across this blog by accident, and I found it incredibly interesting and informative. Since it is written by the wife of a Bipolar, you are able to see the "other side" and how difficult it is to deal with a Bipolar on a daily basis. Also, check out the "Triggers" section, which I found very informative (and very correct!).

Hope you all will check it out and hopefully learn something (and give this wonderful woman some support!). We all need the support-both Bipolars/mentally ill, and their spouses, family and friends.

Hope you all are well.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Quick Update


Just wanted to say thanks for all the outpouring of support I've been getting (especially those on Facebook! :) guys are all so wonderful. It's so nice to know that there are people out there experiencing the same things as me, and who have taken the same path. The water pills have been making me extremely sick (plus I'm peeing non-stop, haha) but I'm losing water weight quite quickly-my rings are already too big and the bruising is getting better. I have a bunch of tests coming up, so hopefully we will find out what caused the edema so I can get back to being healthy (and getting back onto the right meds). I feel horrible off my lithium, and really want to go back on it.

The one positive thing through this whole experience (and relapses are always quite the experience) is that it makes you appreciate those around you who love you and support you. I've had support and kind words from people all over the world, and for that I'm truly grateful-those are the words that lift me up when I'm really down. It has also brought my husband and I together even more (we went through a relapse before, but not for this amount of time). The stress is not easy on our marriage, but we have a perfect measure of give-and-take, and it has made both of us realize how much we truly love each other. I truly have the best hubby in the world. :D

We can't wait until I am healthy again so we can start a family!!! :)

So, a more positive post this time...and hopefully the next post will be even more positive with good news (or at least some news!).

Take care!