Yesterday I was feeling down. Then I realised that I have cold AND HOT running water and I was happy again. We are blessed. There are countless little things that we are blessed to have access to. We do not have a right to anything, we are just lucky to live where we do which allows us a standard of living that many are without. BE HAPPY! No matter how hard things are, or how bad you think you have it, at least you probably live somewhere where you have access to help for you problems. We are rich and we are blessed. We have everything we need and more.
The first signs that I can piece together are memories of myself as a child being repeatedly told that I was born difficult. That I came out of the womb strong willed and opinionated (however an infant can be opinionated). In fact, on one of my first t-shirts my mother had imprinted the words “no way” to display to the world the disposition of her little terror. I was reminded of this repeatedly as a child. For example, my parents, avid church goers, reminded me time and again about how a gentleman approached me to say “hi” after the Sunday service and I, in all my charm and poise as an 11 month old hauled off and slapped him across the face. Of course this was used as an example of how I was born with a difficult and somewhat rotten personality throughout my childhood. I believed it. It hurt.
As young as I can remember I remember feeling a heaviness. A tiredness and sadness that was unrelenting. As young as the third grade I remember constantly fighting the urge to cry, particularly if an adult, like a teacher for example, would talk nicely to me. It was like I was holding in so much pain and sadness that I was always about to explode. Unfortunately, it usually ended up releasing in anger and rage. I was ashamed to cry.
This continued right through high school. I was a high achiever in academics, athletics and music and I remember dragging myself to every single practice, day of school, event, everything! How did I do it!?
There was a lot of fighting every day in my home all throughout my childhood and I believe that might have sparked the illness that I was predisposed to. The depression started early in childhood, and became deeper and deeper as I got older. It became so deep and confusing that I never actually believed that I had friends. I was a very popular teen in high school, but somehow I just never felt like my friends actually liked me. I know better now that I am sorted out, but how strange looking back on it. A paranoid depression where I believed that those closest to me were inviting me out and wanting to be with me just to make fun of me. It was truly delusional, I know now. I feel sad for my younger self. These were many years of turmoil both internally for me and externally in my home life. This life continued until just after I graduated from high school, then something unexpected happened. It was like an epiphany, a revelation! A freedom that I had never felt or experienced. It was what I know now to be my first Manic episode.
More about that in my next story….
Have you ever tried to think back and piece together how you came to that fateful time in your life where things had just become undeniable. There is, for certain something terribly wrong. Be it a first breakdown, hospitalization, or just you dragging your butt to a doctor throughout the surrounding wreckage of your life? That moment where you realize “wow, I always thought I was the problem.” “I always thought that there was a flaw in me, in my personality or self.” “I am not just a screw up for no other reason than that I am a miserable person?” “You mean there could be a reason for this, a medical one?”
This far from erases the guilt and shame that you have collected over the years for being so “difficult” being so “hard to get along with”, a “screw up”. However for me, it was a ray of light and a glimpse of blue sky after years of self hatred and abuse. To find out that this could be medical! I am not Jekyll and Hyde, I am not demon possessed, as some more religious members of my family had concluded, I am not EVIL! Really? Could it be? It took me years to fully believe that I genuinely had an illness that was not anything to do with whether or not I was a bad person. That glimpse of blue sky was my first conception that I might not be a bad person.
Over the years since, I think back to the time before that diagnosis. Through childhood, the rage, the confusion. I try to remember my first signs of mania. I think I’ve pinpointed those times of depression and mania in their earliest stages. The worst mania being the one after my first wrong diagnosis as unipolar depression. The antidepressants sent me into a god like ride that doesn’t’ exist on this earth. Having mostly only felt depression I thought I was acting normally, like a happy person. Um, nope.
In some of my upcoming posts I want to share my stories as I piece together the events that lead to my understanding and acceptance of this disease. Some are tragic, some are (now) hilarious, but I want to get them straight in my mind as a way for myself to piece things together and help me towards completeness, self understanding and acceptance.
This blog was named one of the top bipolar blogs of 2014. And for good reason, take a look!
The thing about Bipolar Disorder is that to maintain any sort of stability at all there is this complex dance between your meds and you. On an upswing, slight medication adjustment, downswing, another, feeling great so not too sure you need meds anymore, self diagnosis of cured and no meds at all, leading us to phase 1 catastrophe and restarting the dance to find the perfect doses, timing and schedule of the perfect medications. Problem is, none of them are perfect, particularly, none of them are perfect all of the time.
For the sake of openness, I am presently on Lamictal 200mg/day in the morning, Seroquel xr 50 mg/2x/day and 75 to 100 mg regular release at night, Abilify 10 mg, Clonazepam .5 mg/2x/day and Cipralex 10 mg 1x/day. My problem? The seroquel is making me fat and tired, and I suspect that the Abilify is making me restless, though I am still not sure about that. If you can imagine feeling exhausted and extremely restless at the same time. A horrible feeling! So off again to the psych doc again next week to discuss another change. I feel I am getting very close to a good regimen, although that is not that reassuring because with this disease they seem to have to be constantly adjusted. That is not the only thing that makes the whole thing not so great. These drugs have crazy side effects attached to them.
The most ridiculously obvious was with the seroquel. It both makes me crave sweets which I never have, and messes with my metabolism making it almost impossible to lose the weight that I am packing on because of the sugary cravings and the slow metabolism. One medication I was on completely thrashed my thyroid, I now have to take thyroid hormone. I have to say, from lethargy, extreme tiredness, weight gain, hair loss, and those are the non-life threatening ones, it is no picnic to manage this disease. This next doctor visit I will request a drug called topamax. It is the only mood stabilizer that I have heard actually helps with weight loss. The trade off? It makes you dumb, apparently, so I’ve heard.
Interestingly, most of the mood stabilizers that are used to treat bipolar disorder are actually anticonvulsants used for epilepsy, or antipsychotics, very powerful medications. I am hoping that with an improvement in my fitness that I will be able to keep my medications to a minimum through taking impeccable care of my body, mind and spirit.
Well, well, that was hell. You know, nobody said this would be easy. You know that feeling when you are at home and you know you have to get to the gym but you just feel like a ton of bricks. Then, you get started with your workout and things start to feel a little better, bit by bit until you feel like you can conquer the world? That isn’t happening to me anymore. Maybe it is because I let myself go so bad and I have to rebuild my strength, because I tell you, I felt like a ton of bricks the whole way through! It is frustrating to go from being highly fit to unfit and then start all over again. I am frustrated with myself, but I will not beat myself up. I’m not sure if anybody has suffered severe depression before, but I think the tail end of that last episode is dragging on me. The only thing left to do is to blow through it. Eventually fitness will win out and I will be back baby back. Sticking with the plan sam!
Anybody else out there ever feel this way? Ever suffered a depression?