Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Finding purpose?

The craziest thing about this forced summer break is a complete lack of direction. My first goal is to identify things I want to do with my free time, because the next couple of years I probably will have free time. I have to maintain the ability to keep myself busy. Terry mentioned the other day that I seem tired. Last night he asked why I was sad. The thing is, I don't think I am sad. I know I'm tired. The answer likely is I've lost a sense of purpose with no work or school to propel me forward. Honestly, this is why I would never make a good housewife or SAHM.

So far today I have redesigned my excel spreadsheet for budgeting and begun work on a little book for baby K. I'm going to design a really sweet book of K's first year for Julia, but I don't have the money for that right now. I should by Christmas. Plus that gives me time to ask what she wants included in her book. Birth information, little stories, favorite moments, things like that. In the meantime he's going to get a book about his favorite baby, Baby K!

I'm going to work on stuff for presents too.  My sisters present has managed to get buried in my craft stuff. I didn't tell her about it, just in case I can't find it until Christmas. It'll still be a birthday present, but she's always so angry with me I didn't want to make it worse. My mom's presents aren't ready yet, I have a present for Debbie that isn't ready yet. Maybe I don't need to figure out how to keep myself busy, I just need to figure out how to do the things I already have to do...

Either way, I'm starting with a book for & about Baby K.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Finding Balance in an Unbalanced World?

The move is done. My over reactions from my last post have been calmed for a number of weeks. My sister-in-law & brother-in-law have come and gone, along with the bbq/shower.Terry found a job, which is awesome. He's learning web design with a company where a family friend works. She got his resume last Wednesday and started work today. That's a huge weight off our shoulders now, we have income!  Bills will start getting paid again when he starts getting paid. I had my meeting with the EEOC this morning, which was completely nerve-wracking. I'd worked myself into such a state that I could barely answer the ladies questions. Then GreekTown called about the incident where I was one of 7 people stuck in an elevator at their casino for 40 minutes, people including my claustrophobic mother-in-law, and my pregnant, scared of heights sister-in-law. Not to mention my terror of falling to my death. Yeah, my fear is strangely specific. No big deal. In the meantime I've continued reading mental health stuff.

I've actually been reading mostly about emotions. As always my goal is to be off of medicine. Is it possible? I'm not sure at this point, but I've been researching what kinds of emotions are in the "normal" spectrum and what kinds of emotions need to be dealt with as abnormal. This article from doesn't really have any new information, but it's a great reminder of all the things I forget as I get busy and want to "do it all". This special forced summer break I'm going to spend a lot of time deciding what my "non-negotiable" to do items are. Also, figuring out the routines and the patterns I need to maintain a level of emotional stability. My thought is when I get those things figured out I'll have a much better handle on when things are getting out of control. Hopefully I'll recognize sooner when my patterns are swinging too far away from home base and need less medication and doctors appointments. When I was a kid my mom's patterns were so regimented that I didn't have serious issues, even without medication, until college when all those patterns needed to be held by myself. If I get those patterns back, with all of my new knowledge of bipolar, and my developing knowledge of my needs to be successful, I may be able to live safely, without episodes, minus chemicals & doctors. Time will tell. It's week 1 of new patterns so its way too early to know. Years too early. But it's a nice thought!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Livewire Emotions (Reader Beware)

I try not to live blog episodes because I prefer not to put the wallowing, sniveling, horrendously selfish depressed me on the internet any more than I already have in my late teens & early twenties. I also don't like to share the anger I feel during mania. Because it always is irritable, cranky, and rude. Depressed or manic I'm not a nice person and I never want to subject anyone to that, let alone myself at a later date by reading what I wrote. That's a whole other trigger all on its own. I still get triggered by the ant I tried to kill my freshman year of high school. I couldn't bring myself to kill it with my finger, as I had so many times before and since, so I tried to kill it with the end of my hairbrush. Later that year I became so upset that I tried to shove that same hairbrush end through my forehead. Something I did a number of times when triggered before I got rid of that hairbrush. So, anyway, the point is I like a little distance between me and the emotions before I write. Tonight I don't have that luxury. I need to be coherent and present for the final day before my best friends wedding and deal with her family, who I view as an adopted family, and were the source of this particular trigger in the first place.

Firstly, I was asked to be her matron of honor.  I had a really  busy, awful semester because of the work issues I posted about previously where I was very overwhelmed anyway. She doesn't care. She knew that and chose me anyway.  Because she loves me and wants me to be here. I am really spending a lot of energy in my sleep deprived, angry, triggered state reminding myself of that so I don't run away. The first thing I did wrong was ask (at her request) her mother if she would like the honor of delegating the bridal shower. Again, busy. Overwhelmed already. My best friend loves me and is ok with that. That caused a whole mess of anger from her mother because as the mother she should have nothing to do with that. That was a trigger all by itself that hid in the sea of triggers I already had with school and work. I spent all of April bawling because I felt like she was going to regret choosing me as matron of honor because I wasn't doing what I needed to be doing. I apologized and we talked and, again, she loves me and wants me here. She chose me for a reason. I stepped out mostly until last Thursday because on top of finishing my last semester of undergrad, applying for grad school, dealing with a job that chooses to not follow ADA laws, and MOVING TO ANOTHER STATE, I couldn't handle anything. Not even what was on my plate. Terry is amazing and dealt with so much bullshit, mostly with grace and love. I am so lucky to have him.

Last Thursday I moved into my friends spare bedroom for two weeks. My stuff was on a UHaul and sent off to Michigan with my husband and father-in-law and I was left with 5 or 6 bags and all my makeup & hair stuff. I'm still dealing with work stuff, which will be a whole other post, and on Wednesday the bride's mother (who I have been trying to be patient with) gave me no less than three lectures about how family is family and if someone isn't family they shouldn't be involved. Family is more important than anything, and my friend had moved away and lost track of what family is and what family means. Then there was a near cancellation, and a whole bunch of other mess from the bride's father's side because there isn't a marriage licence yet. There still isn't one. There is a 6 day wait in Wisconsin after the application and the groom had to send off for his birth certificate in California, that HIS MOTHER HAD THE WHOLE TIME. Then, when she gave it to him (at work) she freaked out because she was planning something she never told anyone about and feels like she's not included. The bride's father feels not included because of some other stuff, and everyone is doing things before we have a program, ceremony, or dresses done because those things aren't important apparently.

The real issue for me is all of this is happening around me and I'm trying to not be selfish, while everyone else says that I'm making this whole wedding about me. I'm trying my best to maintain composure when other people are around and help my BFF with what she needs help with, provide an ear when she needs to scream, watch her 10 month old when she needs to run errands. I can't do that at the point I'm at now. Her mother has shattered any sense of composure that I had with the "family is family" speeches. I already felt like I wasn't doing enough and letting everyone down back in April. Now I'm struggling to remind myself that I am here because my best friend loves me enough to make me her matron of honor and I cannot run out on that. So, for the last two nights my Seroquel hasn't done what it needs to do, and since I'm afraid of my Klonapin and the mood swings it causes, I sit awake in the guest room in the basement, alone, and cry. More than I've cried in a long time. Even more than in April when I cried through a whole meeting with my English teacher. Because this time my poor dendrites are overwhelmed with activity AND I feel unwelcome. I really do love my best friend's mother, but I wish she would think sometimes about how her insecurities affect those around her. I might be the selfish one, making this all about me, but I'm not the only one.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Ketamine. Thanks media!

Having not slept last night (in spite of taking my medicine as prescribed...well, minus the Klonapin that I'm currently terrified of...) I am desperate for some control over my world and have a desperate need for productivity. How did I satisfy this? Catching up on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Not the most useful productivity, but it gave me a sense of accomplishment nonetheless.

As I was catching up on Twitter this article caught my eye. This is amazing and wonderful news for bipolar people who are in a lot of trouble and have doctors to watch over them. Sort of. As I've been following Thrive with Bipolar Disorder on Facebook and YouTube there has been a lot of important information about bipolar that I hadn't found through my scientific study. Namely, in bipolar I depression is not only an occurrence for people to live with, it is a necessary recovery time. I have bipolar II, meaning I have never experienced the truly debilitating mania those with bipolar I do, I just get the super fun manic/angry/irritable/impossible fun that I know my husband loves so much. So, this combination of information strikes a question in my mind...while it's wonderful these people are no longer so far down, what happens to that mania recovery time the brain needs? Beyond that, even as a person with bipolar II I have trouble with going too high when I've been low if meds screw with it. That's why I'm so scared of the Klonapin. It sends me into a depression in order to allow me sleep (which I desperately need at this point), but then in the days following I sleep waaaaay too much and then I'm sky high again. This article doesn't touch on that at all. Plus there are different stereoisomers of ketamine. As a chemist who has studied the stereoisomers in drugs and how to separate them for my seminar, as well as made separating agents in the lab many many years ago, I know this means the R enantiomer and the S enantiomer affect people differently. How many other people know that? That means this information is out in the public regarding a population of people who are prone to severe mood swings, impulsive decisions, addiction problems, and suicidal behavior without any disclaimer saying "SPECIAL K AND THE MEDICAL KETAMINE ARE TWO DIFFERENT DRUGS!!!!!!"

The media baffles me. First, they dehumanize mental illnesses like bipolar and schizophrenia by only reporting about people like Pedro Hernandez, who is clearly ill and has needed help his whole life, and the homeless that are implicated in disturbances or worse, then they post an article about a street drug with no regard for the information provided and the population it affects. This only shows how little people know and understand about mental illness and the devastating power they wield over the population at large, as well as the specific population the information is about.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Nothing like a little mainstream media...

I follow a lot of mental health cases in court, sometimes the media boggles my mind with their interviews. This New York Times article quotes a doctor (unrelated to the case, likely brought in as an expert in psychopharmacology) described olanzapine as "not a drug that is usually given to people who are normal". Really? They are "in the scheme of drugs, these are pretty heavy drugs". Shocking revelation there skippy. Speaking as someone who has been on olanzapine, who was warned by many many people that it is an awful drug, and who has experienced the weight gain and exhaustion, and the life disruption that comes with this drug (and many others). As a branch of medicine its super important to talk about a drug given to a bipolar and schizophrenic as "not a drug that is usually given to people who are normal". What drugs are given to people who are normal psychopharmacology expert?

I don't like to speculate on the outcomes of cases ahead of time, but I'm particularly saddened by this type of case. This CBS News article outlines some of the problems of this particular case. The guy who confessed to the 33 year old case would have been about 18, and presumably murdered the 6 year old boy for no reason and never committed another crime since. There will also be questions of the validity of his confession, not only because he's sick, but also because he has hallucinations. If the prosecution can't find proof or motive a conviction is not certain because the defense may argue that it never happened. If there haven't been other similar crimes he's committed who is to say the hallucinations haven't planted the idea in his head this was his doing, in spite of being innocent?

I hate it that these cases see so much media and other developments don't. I understand why it happens, and if he is guilty I'm glad he came forward. Mental illness does not excuse behavior like that and he should be tried by a jury. Jail is probably not the answer, but time in a locked psychiatric facility for his crime is more than justified. I feel like the public doesn't get a good view of the mentally ill population, and if there was more unbiased information there would be less stigma and fear. Instead we see the guy that claims bipolar disorder after attacking Milwaukee's mayor thinking he'll be forgiven. That's BS. Mental illness does not excuse that kind of behavior and should be punished accordingly.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

10 Ways To Improve Mental Health

This article spoke to me.

In particular #4 was really powerful for me. I have a bad memory because everything I remember is colored with emotional attachment. I know I'm not the only one that has this problem (even within my family), but it's really isolating to remember that way rather than remembering facts.

4. Understand the power of your perception and how to change it. We often make up stories about people and events in our lives that have nothing to do with the facts of the situation. They are simply our interpretation. Your interpretation can cause you great unnecessary turmoil. If your perception isn’t serving you, change it! Make up a better, happier, more generous story.

Rights of Passage

I got to spend last weekend with my family, best weekend in a long time. Worst in a lot of ways too, but that isn't their fault, that's all my brain. There was a lot of people. A lot of people. Some that I was actually a little scared to see and one in particular I was really scared to see, but it turned out ok. I have the best mom ever. Ever. She's so supportive and she knows exactly what to say when I'm really struggling with interacting with people. Plus shes really funny when she drinks. (One drop! That's all it takes! Thank your Grandpa Marv for that knowledge! - Of course, the real funny thing is she does that anyway.) My brother is amazing too. He does the best impressions. (Ule, anyone? You know he's the life of the party!) It's incredible to see what amazing women my little baby cousins are growing into, they're beautiful and really considerate of each other when they think no one's watching. I always felt like I could never share my illness with people, like it was shameful. Society taught me that, my ex taught me that, and my most recent job tried to teach me that. But I got to talk about it this weekend. My mom talks about it. I don't know how much she shares, but that makes me more comfortable being who I am in front of the people I need most. Even though sometimes I feel like an outsider, it's easier to remember that's my brain trying to alienate me from the people I need the most when my family is willing to listen.

Graduation was last weekend, I spent it where I needed to be more than anywhere else in the world. At my cousin's high school graduation. There was a little pang of guilt when I realized I wouldn't have the graduation pictures, but that passes. My diploma will be mailed to me by the middle of summer and I have a cap and gown, I can take pictures then. Photoshop people in around me. ;) I got some pretty sweet presents. My aunts & uncles and grandma gave me money so I get the earrings I've been eyeing. My parents bought me a Kindle. Coolest present ever. I never thought I would like one, but its super awesome.

Now, as I return to reality there is paperwork to fill out about a job that gets more and more distant and heartless by the day. I talked to my boss twice today. It's weird, but the more I read dystopian young adult novels the easier it is for me to pick out the acid behind the smile. Not just with work, but everywhere. Some of that is training from my former coworkers, trying to learn when enough was enough. Not because they were ever cruel intentionally, and some of them never were anything but kind and understanding, even when I pushed the boundaries of acceptable like I accidentally do. But everyone has limits, and I spent a lot of time at my old job trying to figure out how to know what those were. It's not easy, and I would still rather just be me all the time with no filter at all, but I know now that there are people who are intentionally cruel. I can't just be me with no filter at all because those people capitalize on any weakness and exploit it at the first opportunity. I'm really susceptible to manipulation by media, and lately I've been grateful for that. The Hunger Games and Divergent have made me more cynical of humanity, which has allowed me an easier time of picking the snakes out of the crowd.

I'm still having panic attacks so bad that I feel like I'm dying of a heart attack, but it is what it is. I had seven beers last weekend. Three at my friends house, one the night I had so much fun with my mom, and three when we stayed at Terry's cousins. That's a lot for me to handle. Plus I've given in to the sugar and caffeine again. That has to stop. That's more dangerous than alcohol. Time to detox and prepare for the next big event, my best friend's wedding. It's really important to me that I'm there for her no matter what she needs, which means I must be coherent and that will only happen after a good old fashioned detox.