Relationships

We Need Certain Things in Relationships

Like many others with a psychological and/or mood disorder, I tend to feel shame and embarrassment, but it is who I am. Bipolar II is described as “high episodes of euphoria and low episodes of depression, together known as hypomania.” (I have not been officially diagnosed with BP2, it is just my belief that is the type I have based on the ton of research that I have done) But it is more than having a “good” day and a “bad” day and we are not “crazy”.

When you date someone with bipolar, you have to be ready for a bumpy ride. We can be excessive. We will love you harder than most “normal” people. We could stay up all night kissing and loving you because you are our greatest high. You have just shown someone who thought they are not loveable that they can, in fact, be loved. You have become our saving grace, our world, what we have dreamed of. We want you to feel the extraordinary with us. To go all the way to the top with us and feel your heart race with ours. Our (including my own) love is intense, unsurpassed. But sometimes for our partners, it can be unhealthy and we know this as well, we just can’t help it. It’s who we are.

Sometimes we’ll stew in our solitude and you won’t recognize us. We’ll stop taking care of ourselves and you’ll notice. We feel so empty and you’ll ask what it is that you did wrong. We’ll try to tell you multiple times that it’s not you and we really will mean it. You have to remember, these bad moods aren’t fair to us either. Unfortunately, however, they are part of who we are and it’s all a part of accepting the person you have fallen in love with. These days or weeks or even months where our moods are insanely somber, we just need to know that you are there for us. We need you to be a voice of rationalization. Not anger or venom or hatefulness or disgust. We need to hear “I love you” and that our feelings don’t determine who we are. That you will be there to get us through it even if you don’t understand what we are going through. And you won’t because even we don’t really understand it ourselves.

The biggest problems we face here is sometimes we don’t always know what we need. Most of the time you won’t feel like you are enough to help solve the issue. The reality is, you are not doing anything wrong. The reality is, with our illness, nothing is ever enough. To be honest, that is why we’re on medication. Mood

180301094822_1_540x360

stabilizers for the behavioral aspect and anti-anxiety meds for the anxiety that comes with being in our own head all the time. But you being there for us, supporting us, it does help. I know it helps me. We may not always know how to show it, hell, we may not even realize it at the time but, your support does help.

We really do feel a ton of guilt due to the turmoil that we cause you. Unfortunately, sometimes this turmoil is completely our own fault; it has to do with the fact that we sometimes don’t address our issues ourselves. We don’t always say what we need from our partners (I know I am personally horrible about that because I feel too embarrassed to speak up). We don’t always explain our situation properly or clearly enough and because of that you unfortunately get pushed to the side when we need you the most.

We need our partners to help us out a little when you see us down. Tell us you notice our beautiful heart and soul on our darkest day. Tell us we shine when we’re curled up in our bed unable to talk, touch, kiss, or feel you.

But please, don’t give up on us. Especially if you know our heart is in the right place.

Side effects

Stupidity

Why does it feel as though I’m dumber ever since I hit my catalyst in 2013? That’s when I feel as though my bipolar really “kicked in”. My husband left me unexpectedly and without explanation causing a tailspin into a deep depression that lasted for months, 3 of which I could hardly get out of bed. I’ve slowly gotten back into the swing of things but it’s like a roller coaster, with ups and downs-often feeling like more downs than ups but I suppose that’s how it goes. Ever since then, I feel like I’m getting dumber. I miss what I feel should be the obvious. I forget things very quickly. I just feel stupid. People tell me I’m smart and there are things that I’m good at but overall, I just want to respond with “no I’m not. I used to be, but I’m not anymore”. I dont know what the cause is. I wish I did so I could make it stop.

Uncategorized

Medication and side effects

Since there is no cure for bipolar disorder, life long treatment is my only option. This, of course, includes meds. I used to hate the fact that I had to take medication and when I was younger, I didn’t always take them as I should.

I just have to say this to anyone who has been prescribed meds but thinks they don’t need them, please take your meds. If you don’t like the ones you are on, tell your doctor and have them changed. Try another combination. There’s nothing wrong with being on medication and once you find the right combination of medication, it is my strong belief you’ll feel so much better.

I am currently on 5 different medications. Yes, that’s right, five.

For depression I am prescribed Wellbutrin XL 300mg once a day. I do take this medication as prescribed and have done so for many years. I have to make sure to take it as early in the day as possible because I already have chronic insomnia and one of the side effects is that it can cause problems with sleep. The side effects that I know I suffer from are dry mouth, ringing in the ears, increased sweating – now I don’t suffer from this anymore because my doctor switched me to the XL (extended release) but when I was on regular Wellbutrin I would sweat profusely, strange taste in mouth, blurred vision, and tremors (shaking).

For anxiety I am prescribed Clonazepam 1mg three times a day. I do not take this as prescribed anymore. I found that I was relying way too heavily on the medication to get me through any kind of social interaction and I do know that there are times that this was to blame for some – not all – of my memory loss in the past. So I now only take one in the morning (this will be explained in a minute) and then whenever necessary. But I still suffer side effects such as drowsiness and loss of coordination. I have to be very careful when I take it, what I am doing when I take it and I don’t always get to take it when I want to. And guess what, sometimes it doesn’t even help when I do take it.

My mood stabilizer is Topamax. I take 300mg once a day and I do take this as prescribed. The side effects that I suffer from are nervousness (you read that right, I am prescribed a medication that makes me nervous), numbness/tingling in feet, diarrhea, weight loss, dry mouth, increased thirst, and now get this, it actually can and I sometimes think it does exacerbate my bipolar symptoms: confusion, slowed thinking, memory problems, trouble concentrating, and problems with speech. I take this with my Wellbutrin and Clonazepam and is the reason I take the Clonazepam in the morning (because of the nervousness side effect).

The anti-psychotic I was prescribed was Seroquel, 400mg once a day, as of right now. I have only been taking this medication for a couple of months so this is still fairly new to me. I have to take this at the end of the day because it does make me so tired. The side effects that I have suffered are dry mouth, increased appetite, muscle spasms, and urine incontinence. The incontinence has gotten better the longer I have been on the medication but it was actually pretty bad there at first and a bit embarrassing. My doctor told me that it was very rare and she had heard more about bed wetting than incontinence but really, there was no other explanation for it.

I also am prescribed a sleep aid for my insomnia, Ambien, 10mg. Now I have taken this medication for several years and in the past I have had hallucinations, suffered from amnesia and done weird things while on it, all the weird stories that you have heard about. But I don’t have those weird side effects anymore. I hardly even take it anymore really because it doesn’t work for me that often. If I am in a depressed state it will work, sometimes if I am in a normal state it will work but it’s usually a 50/50 chance. Ever since I started taking the higher dosages of Seroquel, I haven’t even had to try and use it, that medication knocks me out.

I am sure some people are dumbfounded by the amount of medication that I take and/or the side effects that I tolerate. I would do anything to feel sane. I would do anything to feel normal. I would do anything to not hurt the people I love, to not feel like I am at war with myself every day, to be able to make a decision and trust that I am making the right one, to have hope that things do get better and that there is something brighter in my future. I just want to be happy again. I want to feel like the old Amber again. And if that means that I have to carry water around with me everywhere I go and set reminders on my phone to take my medication and crack a joke about my memory recall, so be it. I’ll f’in do it. Because I will not let this disorder beat me.

Uncategorized

I kept my shit together!!

So I bought a car last month and like the procrastinator that I am, I waited until the last minute to worry about the tag (it did sneak up on me too). Only problem is, one of my head lights and blinkers wasn’t working properly. So this guy that I have been hanging out with knows how to fix that kind of stuff and a couple of nights ago he fixed it for me. Wonderful. Plan was I would go get the emissions done the next day and then I could go and get the tag.

Next day, go out to the car, head light isn’t working again and neither is the blinker. Of course it isn’t because that would just mean that things went smoothly for me for once. I go back to his place, he takes a look at it and apparently there is something wrong with the connectors. However, he was able to get them working again (unfortunately it was too late to go to get my emissions done by then) but it was just a temporary fix. So, the plan was I would do the exact same thing that he did the next morning and go straight to get the emissions done before anything had a chance to jiggle loose. Sounds simple enough right? WRONG!

In good ol’ Amber fashion, I screwed something up and instead of getting the headlights to work, I made ALL of the headlights go out. Yep. I fried all of my headlights. I called my friend and he thought it sounded like a fuse and told me to come back over. So he’s looking at it and somehow, I managed to fry the connector to the headlight which meant that it couldn’t complete the circuit to any of the lights.

At this point I can feel a panic attack coming on. Now, he’s seen me researching bipolar disorders (he’s a gamer and I’m not so while he’s gaming I am on my phone and I didn’t realize it until later but apparently he’s peaked over a couple of times and saw what I was checking out. I’m not embarrassed by that at all, I was just surprised when he made a comment about an article I was reading one evening) but I am not sure if he has put two and two together that I, myself, am bipolar. But I think he could definitely tell that I was on the verge of freaking out.

I was very proud of myself though. I held myself together very well. Oh there was a war raging inside of me but I kept telling myself that I could not lose my cool in front of this guy. We’ve only been hanging out for a couple of weeks and I was not ready for him to see me lose my shit. I was calm and asked him what we needed to do. We called the dealer and found out the part was only a few bucks and my friend knew how to fix it. Oh my god, when he told me that I felt all of the anxiety and panic just melt away. I felt so much better. We even talked about it a little bit and I explained that the situation with the headlight alone was not a big deal but I was supposed to have this car tagged and registered by Friday and that is why I was stressed out about it. I also told him that I was expecting it to cost a lot of money too. I made sure that he knew that I was in no way upset with him and that I appreciated all of his help, I was just frustrated about the situation. He said he completely understood and even teased me about it later.

But I don’t think he has any idea how close I came to really losing it. But I am so freakin proud of myself. I was able to keep myself calm, at least on the outside, for the most part. My hands were shaking and my breathing had picked up but that was it. I kept my voice level, my thoughts did scatter a little bit but I was able to get them back under control while I called the dealership before handing the phone off to my friend (he at least knew what he was talking about when it came to the car lol).

I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal but, trust me, it really is. It could have ended up with me crying in the driver seat of my car. No, I am not kidding. So I just had to give myself a pat on the back for doing a good job at keeping it together.

Now, fingers crossed that things go as well tomorrow too because apparently we need to get the same part tomorrow but this time we have to get it for the blinker. Yea. I am not as stressed out this time. The part was cheap and he had it done on the other one within minutes so, fingers crossed, this one goes as smoothly and I keep my shit together for this one as well. lol

Uncategorized

Memory Loss

It has been a running joke with my friends and I for a long time that I have a horrible memory. I never realized that it was because I was bipolar.

Over the years I have become accustomed to making lists of things that I needed to do. I relied on calendar reminders to remind me of friends’ birthdays, important events, and appointments. Hell, the only reason I remember the exact date of my mother’s death was because it fell on Sept 1st. That would be really hard for anyone to forget. It’s only been a couple of weeks since my father died and I can tell you it was on a Thursday (pretty sure) and it was in July. I used to think my memory loss was the clonazepam that I take for my anxiety (though it can cause memory loss) but I only take it when I really need to these days, I don’t take it every 8 hrs as it is prescribed so it isn’t in my system all the time anymore.

But it is more than just dates and events. I lose whole damn days. I’ll be talking to a friend and they’ll be talking about something that we did together and I will literally have no memory of it what so ever. And there is absolutely no reason for me to have no memory of the event. Sometimes if they provide details of what happened the memory will return, sometimes just pieces of it and sometimes I will remember all of it. Think about that, think about losing whole freaking days of your life where you cannot remember what you did or said or who you interacted with.

I am still learning about bipolar disorder and don’t fully understand why memory is effected. I understand that it is because it is a cognitive skill. It effects both short and long term memory (though mostly short term), concentration, decision making and processing speeds. Basically, this means bipolar causes indecision, memory problems, difficulty concentrating, and disorganization.

When I was younger, these things were not issues. I used to have an AWESOME memory and I used to be hella smart. As I have gotten older though, they have become problems. Big problems. I’ve never understood why, until recently. I learned that because bipolar is a mood disorder, cognition will be affected. It will impact my ability to work, study and forge personal relationships (great, I get this plus social anxiety, thanks cruel world). I also feel like I have gotten dumber. It’s kind of like, I know I am not dumb but I feel dumb a lot of times. The intelligence is there, it is just really hard to access sometimes.

From all the research I have done, a lot if people refer to this as “brain fog”. Whenever you are in the depressed state of bipolar, you brain is moving at a slower pace and therefor does not process and hold information at the same speed it normally would and therefor memories aren’t held/formed like normal. When you are in the manic state of bipolar, your brain is moving at such a high rate, it filters out anything it deems unimportant and same thing, memories aren’t held/formed like normal.

This also explains why I have such a hard time when asked direct questions. I’ve described it as “my thoughts just scatter” and I don’t know what to say. Other people have described it as indecision. I didn’t understand why this was happening, the only thing I could explain was I felt like I was panicking for some reason but I couldn’t explain why. I’ve had people accuse me of lying or trying to be evasive. I can see why they would think that because from the outside looking in, it does appear that I am looking for an answer because, technically, I am. But not to be deceitful, but because my mind couldn’t process the information I wanted it to process. And that caused me to panic.

I am learning ways to deal with the memory loss but, unfortunately, there isn’t much I can do except keep lists and diaries. And talk to others about it and explain to them what’s going on and explain how my illness is the reason for my memory loss. Because there’s nothing I can do to stop it from happening. There is no cure for bipolar, it’s not going away. And I am not going to apologize for it. It’s not my fault I’m bipolar. I didn’t ask for this and trust me, I don’t want it. But I’m trying, everyday.

Uncategorized

I am not my illness

One thing that I am struggling with right now is not letting my illness define me. Unfortunately, I feel like with my diagnosis I obsess about it more now than I did before. I am not sure why that is. Is it because I am constantly checking myself to see if I am behaving normally? It’s not like I have a big flashing neon sign on my forehead that says “CRAZY”. And I know, I am not crazy but I feel like the people who do know think that maybe I am, just a little. Part of me wants to be open about it because IT IS NOT MY FAULT! I should not be treated differently because of something that is out of my control. Part of me wants to bring an awareness to the subject of mental health and the stigma that it has and I am taking little steps (like this blog and I have an Instagram account that I created centered around mental health) to bring awareness and also support others like myself. But then there is a part of me that doesn’t want to tell people because they DO look at you differently sometimes when you tell them.

I feel like I am fighting a constant battle with myself. I’m normal but I’m really not. I’m sane but I’m kinda crazy. There’s nothing wrong with me but there really is. The only thing I don’t fight with myself is this isn’t my fault. There isn’t anything that I have done that caused this.

So, how do I keep me just me and not bipolar me? Is there a way to separate the two? Will I ever be able to have another relationship, friendship, job, anything where I won’t have to explain at some point that I am bipolar and this is why such and such happened? It scares me to think that my diagnosis will be a constant shadow, always there waiting for the right time to come out and be seen and there is nothing I will be able to do to stop it.

And while it may not be my fault, I still have to deal with it. I have to deal with all the damn things that come with the illness whether I want to or not. And there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it. And yes that makes me angry. Because it’s NOT my fault yet, for now, this condition defines who I am.

Uncategorized

Manic State

I have felt a manic state coming on for a few days now. I tried talking myself down from it and it isn’t horrible but, it’s there. So I wanted to write an entry detailing what that feels like at least during this manic state – no, they are not all the same.

First my skin started crawling and my body has been really tense. I do this thing with my leg that drives people crazy where I shake it up and down really fast. I don’t even realize I am doing it. Then all of a sudden I find myself wanting to do a bunch of things all at one time and I am finding it hard to just sit down. Right now I am all into my Instagram account, setting up a work station in my room to attempt to be more efficient in finding a job, applying for said jobs, going through things from my storage unit, cleaning my room. Some of these things I am bouncing around doing here and there and others I can multi-task and do at the same time. My mind is moving so fast that I have trouble holding conversations. Not because I am uninterested, I just can’t pay attention long enough. My mind jumps to something else and I struggle to focus on the conversation at hand. I have been more talkative and started speaking very fast again. I have to try and consciously speak slower. I’ll get distracted by movements or sounds very easily. I’m very jumpy and easily startled. I’m not as tired as I should be. I should be passed out asleep right now but I just feel a little tired. If I laid down right now I wouldn’t be able to go to sleep for another hour at least. And I will more than likely wake up in a few hours. That is horribly annoying. I am back to eating very little. The Topamax helped me lose a lot of weight, it is FDA proven to be effective in weight loss. It almost completely took my appetite away. But Seroquel is known to cause weight gain and it had actually brought my appetite back. But I have hardly had anything to eat the last couple of days. I have eaten a little but I just haven’t been hungry.

And those are just the physical symptoms. Let’s talk about the mental ones. I am super self conscious about what people think about me (I don’t know why I care but I do), is so-n-so talking about me, did that upset so-an-so. I constantly over think things. The thinking is one reason that I would rather stay awake and find something to do than lay there OBSESSING over what is probably stupid shit while I am trying to go to sleep (I always have to have the TV or radio on to go to sleep). I could start thinking about something stupid I did 10 years ago and pick it apart like it happened yesterday. I am already socially awkward by nature but it is a lot worse right now. I am constantly saying to myself “Amber, why the f*** did you just say/do that?!” Also, paranoid. Are “they” talking about me. Stupid things like that.

I feel like my mind and body are on a constant loop and it will last for several days sometimes. This one seems fairly minor compared to the ones that I have been having. Which is good, that could mean that the new medication is working. Only time will tell I suppose.