Saturday, May 24, 2008

7:01 a.m. Spoonful of Sugar

So, up at 7. Taking my meds with a 7 Layer Bar from the batch I made yesterday, which, apparently, Jb doesn't like. He's more a brownie/cookie man. Ah well, more for me, I say. Being good about taking my Lamictal and Klonopin. We'll see if I crawl back into bed this morning or not. Too tired now to be coherent. More to say later.

Friday, May 23, 2008

4:23 p.m. Serration

There's something about the serrated bread knife that brings up thoughts it shouldn't. I almost cut myself with it. Accidentally, of course, while washing dishes. But then, there was that moment of dangerous thinking, come and gone in a blink, and yet, flirtatious and coy. That it was there at all makes me uncomfortable. However, I take the passing thought as a good sign. I no longer obsess about certain objects for lengthy periods of time the way I used to, and I truly have no desire to die right now. While that's an admission that might worry some, for me, it's simply a truth.

Smoking & Mental Illness

Hi, my name is -----, and I'm a smoker. I started 2 1/2 years ago under a period of great stress: a separation from my husband, a new boyfriend, financial stress due to both, my father's bout with a tumor in his colon, and the unexpected death of my wet-headed ninja kitty of 9 years. It didn't help that my boyfriend was also a smoker. I didn't originally know this. He'd been hiding it. Once I found out, I preffered he smoke than continue lying about it. And so, it was readily available. If not the best of options for dealing with my stress.

Before any judgments are made, yes, I know the risks. I've had an uncle who died of lung cancer, a great uncle who died of lung cancer, possibly two grandfathers who died of lung cancer, and a grandmother with empysema. Both my parents smoked for years. I know the risks firsthand. Most people don't need studies to understand that smoking often starts under duress of some sort. But the most interesting thing, in my mind, is the link between smoking and mental illness. According to an article on Bipolar World, 70 percent of bipolar patients smoke. Sixty percent of patients with major depression smoke. The numbers go up for those with schizophrenia and down with panic disorder and Post Traumatic Syndrome (PTS).

Even more surprising is the controversial subject of marijuana use among bipolar patients as a mood stabilizer. Try the following Google search: (marijuana or cannabis) "mood stabilizer" (bipolar or mental illness). There's ample anecdotal evidence on the subject, but no real clinical research. Although, the BBC News might disagree with that. According to a news report based on clinical trials in New Zealand, cannabis doubles the risk of developing mental illness. To slog through the actual report that the BBC story was based on, you can view it for free on Blackwell Synergy's website. Whether mentally ill patients are using smoking or marijuana, the underlying issue is the need for those with mental illness to find some control over their moods, sometimes even over the side effects of other, more popular, and more "accepted," pharmaceutical drugs.

So, do I smoke? I do. I'm around 4-6 cigarettes a day. It's gotten higher since the depression and the hospitalization, though the hospital was a "smoke free campus." For days, I was in nicotine and Cymbalta withdrawal, and no one on the staff educated me to the fact that I could ask for either the patch or the gum, as well as Ativan, which is commonly prescribed for withdrawal from alcohol and substance abuse. Again, it was a case of the patients educating the patients in the hospital, which seemed to happen far too often. Because almost all the patients smoked. And this is perhaps the crux of the problem, when you can't find help and what little help you can find feels far too insignificant for the uncontrollable illness wrecking havoc in your mind, where do you turn?

By the By

Watched National Treasure: Book of Secrets last night, and all I can say is, "Randy Travis playing at the president's birthday part? Seriously?"

9:59 a.m. Morning

Crawled back into bed around 7 and slept until 9:59 a.m. I don't know if this is a good sign, or if it's merely the fact that the phone rang three different times waking me each time. I assume the latter, but I could be wrong. The credit card companies are beginning to call, circling like dogs, hoping to get blood from a stone.

And that's the problem with being mentally ill for a long period of time. You lose almost everything. This particular bout of depression started in June 2008 and was coupled with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), which made the whole thing twice as difficult. I'd have anxiety attacks on the way to work, I'd throw up outside the metro, I'd have to stop halfway to work to use the bathroom, I even had an "accident" once. Sometimes, I couldn't even leave the house. There's nothing more humbling and incapacitating than being unable to control your bodily functions. Then there was the depression on top of it, or wound up in it, and there were days the depression was so thick it was like struggling through deep water, and I couldn't leave the bed.

Soon enough, I had exhausted my Family Medical Leave, though my doctor supported my need to be out of work intermittently as I dealt with both the IBS and the depression. But work only has so much patience with these matters, and I could see the moment my boss and HR began to treat me as if I was a liar and lazy, instead of incredibly sick. My boss began withholding work from me, and my job satisfaction plummeted. So did my self-esteem. It was cyclic, and only fed the depression. Eventually, she took me down to HR to formally reprimand me for what she called "abuse of sick leave," the terms of which said I was not to miss work or be late for over a month. That effectively severed any ability for me to make follow-up appointments with my PCP or my psychiatrist. I was so overwrought at my loss of control, at how far the illness had taken me, and my inability to live up to my supervisor's expectations that I had my breakdown in the HR office. I went into the hospital that night. It took them nearly nine hours to admit me.

When the psychiatric intake social worker began asking me about how I felt, about whether I had suicidal ideation, if I had a plan, I had to ask Jb to leave the room. I didn't want him to know how far down I'd gone, how very lost I was, how out of control. It was after the Heath Ledger overdose, and overdose was foremost in mind. I remember her asking me, "Why?" And I remember replying, rather bitterly, "It worked for Heath Ledger, didn't it?" She said, chastised, "Yes, yes, it did." And I could tell she took me more seriously then. I admitted to thoughts about cutting, about knives and razors, and fantasies about my sleep apnea machine, my CPAP. I'd lie in bed at night, put my mask on, wait for that first rush of air, and pretend it was a sort of poison gas, an euthanasia of sorts, from which I wouldn't have to wake up ever again.

I was in the hospital for nearly a week, partly because I entered right before a weekend and they don't discharge patients over the weekend, and partly because for the first five days, I didn't even consider going home, much less ask if I could. Instead, I wandered from room to room: the day room, the activities room, my room, the dining room, back and forth, down the halls and back. I didn't speak for the whole first day, and then I couldn't stop crying. I was shaky and in shock. They'd taken me off all my meds, waiting for a diagnosis from the doctor and psychiatrist who made their rounds in the ward. Not everyone knows this, but even patients who go in voluntarily are put in a locked ward. You sign away the responsibility of your life for at least three days. After that, you can make a formal request to be discharged.

The hospitalization was my first, and while humbling beyond anything I'd experienced, it was also freeing -- to be in a place with people who understood, to know I wasn't alone, to know I wasn't even as bad off as some of the patients who'd been in the hospital again and again and again. Being depressed, having suicidal thoughts, it was normal in the ward, and something that us patients often talked about at night before snack and after our meds. Group therapy was a laugh, something I often left to go curl up in my bed, but those late night sessions with the other patients, those helped far more than anything else could have. I'd like to write more about the hospitalization, but I think that'll be another post. There's simply too much to tell.

Anyway, it was three months after the hospitalization that I could even begin to think about a future, and that's when my job forced me into a voluntary resignation. I'd already been on unpaid leave of absence, but without money for all that time, there was nothing to do but let the credit cards go, to batten down and focus on the necessities: food, rent, my meds. And all the while, Jb supported me, even when I lost everything, even when I took him down with me. Now we're on food stamps, the county has me on temporary disability and cash assistance, and that in itself is a coup, as I've found they'd rather not help you than help you.

I've lost my train of thought now, and so I'll end this post here. I know I'll have to write more about the hospitalization at some point, but I think it'll come in fits and starts. My writing is shoddy at best these days, but I am writing, and that consoles me. Still, as I start feeling better and better, I worry about the day when I'll have to retake a useful position in society. And a fear flutters somewhere near my heart, and my stomach clenches to think about it. So not quite yet. Not quite yet. But maybe soon. Sooner than I'm ready for. I can't help but think: What if I can't hack it? What if the anxiety, the IBS, the stomach pain, the depression all come back? I know I'll be nearly manic the first few months: overworking, proving myself, charismatic among the other employees, perfectly charming with the customers. But then there'll come that fall, like a fall from grace, and I don't know how many more times I can handle that.

It reminds me of the Yeats poem, "The Second Coming":

Things fall apart; the center cannot hold

It's lines like that my brain seizes on, repeating them like a morbid mantra, over and over: things fall apart; the center cannot hold; things fall apart; the center cannot hold; things fall apart; the center cannot hold; I fall apart; I cannot hold.

6:03 a.m. Compliant

Up at 6 this morning. Having my breakfast, which I don't want, and taking my 200MG of Lamictal and 1MG of Klonopin. My neck muscles and shoulder muscles and most of my other muscles are sore, like they've taken a good beating. I've read this can be a side effect. My eyes are also bloodshot, which is new, and somewhat disturbing. If I had any dreams last night, I don't remember them. Too tired to say much else.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

11:02 a.m. Stupid, Stupid

Stupid, stupid me. I didn't take my Lamictal or Klonopin this morning. I wonder if it's too late to now. I wonder if I forgot to yesterday, too. I'm not used to taking anything in the morning. And I wonder if this has anything to do with the tireds. I think I took my Lamictal last night without thinking and wonder if it's worth taking two this morning or waiting now.

And speaking of stupid, my morning dreams are coming back to me now. I'm in a college dorm and Jb and B, an old co-worker of mine, are stripping naked and jumping out the window to a snow-covered ledge below to... flaunt their nakedness? I've honestly no idea. It's clear they think it's a good idea, despite the snow. There is some public security officer talk out on the roof, and a little defiance, but eventually, they come back upstairs. I, of course, am only afraid of getting into trouble and don't see the humor in the whole thing. This is typical of me. Everything must be just right, I must be just right, I must not get into trouble, I must keep the status quo, I must be perfect.

Because deep inside I know how truly imperfect I am.

Later in the dream, I'm frying my uncle Frank a salmon sandwich, except the salmon curls up into grey little elephants that talk to each other in the pan, and I'm wondering how I'm going to be able to serve this on a sandwich, and they're certainly not big enough for two sandwiches.

Strange take on the usual pink elephant dream, especially considering I was completely sober this morning. Unless a lack of meds can simulate such things.

10:51 a.m. Wasted Time

Slept again from 8-11 a.m. Unsure why I'm tired and sleeping so much. I don't feel depressed, which means side effects. The sugar cravings seem to have lessened, too, with the halving of my Remeron prescription. I did ask Jb to bring me home some chocolate last night, but it wasn't the jonesing for pure sugar that I'd been having. Too tired yet with waking to say much else.

6:08 a.m. Paranoia Sets In

I wake early from a vivid dream in which I am furious with Jb. Furious. And betrayed. A girl named Kristen is visiting with us, and while I've been away, she and Jb have developed some sort of bond, and I know -- I know -- they've kissed, that Jb has done something to compromise our relationship. When I confront him, he plays arrogant, won't tell me anything, denies everything, and that's how I know it's true. And when his elbow jostles me in bed, waking me, I have an urge to slap him senseless across the face. How could he do that to me?

Vivid dreams like this, where I wake up as furious, or as upset, or as fearful as I would be in the waking world, bleed from my subconscious to my conscious mind. And it's difficult for me to sort through what's real and what's the overwhelming feeling I've woken up to. Jb would say I was paranoid. In fact, he's used that exact term twice in the last week. And I know I am. Except it's getting worse, and this, too, is a sign of bipolar. Hypomania/Mania, I believe.

The paranoia creeps in so that I hardly see it until someone points it out to me. I think the people on the bus are watching me. Marya Hornbacher calls them The Watchers in her book, Madness. And it's one of the sections I can relate too. Everyone is watching me. Everyone is critizing me. Everyone is talking about me. Jb's reading my blog and thinking he's ended up with a nutcase. I constantly question him if I think he's reading this. I'm even paranoid in my dreams. It's laughably egotistical, really. Solopsitic to the nth degree.

But there's some truth to the paranoia, especially about Jb. I constantly worry over the bickering. It's coming more and more. We're a couple less and less. There's constant outside strain on the relationship, and constant stress at home. Nothing is easy with me -- for a million reasons. And I can't fix that. I can only take my meds and ride my moods and hope to see them in some rational way that I can talk about them, get a handle on them. I worry about the day Jb can no longer handle them, or me. I've already lost a marriage. I don't want to lose him.

1:16 a.m. Drained

Up at 1 in the morning. Maybe the lamictal. Psychiatric nurse practitioner mentioned it might mess with my sleep. Will start taking 2 lamictal in the morning and none at night.

Otherwise, woke up from a sex dream, again. Vivid. But I've forgotten it now.

Before bed, Jb and I were at it again. touchy and upset, arguing. Jb has a way of instigating things that makes me want to hurt him. He's the one who started off with the sullen, passive-aggressive shit, but he won't admit to it. So he goads me, which I don't deserve, and I end up confused and hurt and yelling back about what, I don't really know. Sometimes it just drains me.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

2:32 p.m. Feh.

Might be hitting a downswing. Might be the change in meds. Stayed up late last night, got up earlier, around 7ish. First time I've seen Jb before he headed off to work in a while. Played with a "new" pally on WoW for a bit, then went back to bed. Woke up again around noonish when Jb called.

Actually, now that I think on it, woke up cranky this morning. Jb and I got into it before he left without so much as a kiss and a very meh "goodbye." Was cranky, too, when Jb called around noon. I'm just loads of fun after being woken up and waking up already in a "mood."

Was thinking last night before bed that Jb ought to be a co-author of this blog. It'd be interesting to see what he has to say about how I affect him, and what sort of symptoms he's seeing in me. It'd be helpful to have some of his thoughts down if I have to go for disability. Because I'm not always rational enough to be objective about how I'm acting or what I'm doing. I doubt he'd be into doing something like that, though.

I have been feeling the compulsion to buy things and go places. Luckily, we don't have money, so the trips I used to take spur of the moment aren't possible anymore. When I discussed this with Jb, he took our bank card out of my wallet and took it to work with him and proceeded to tell me that if he ever came home and found me gone, I'd come home to an empty apartment. I vaguely mentioned taking the car to go see my parents for a week or so. This was vehemently veto'd.

I was productive today, but only because when Jb called at noon, he sorta got on my case about needing to pack. So I packed the booze with a winter coat (for cushioning), I packed the binders with our cds, movies, and games, as well as his Magic card binders and transferred his loose cards to a sturdier box with a top. There's some miscellaneous cds in ziploc bags in there, too, as well as my knitting and another winter coat (again, for cushioning). I taped up the box of my Framboise, too, because that's the important stuff (i.e. my favorite).

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Inappropriate Thoughts

The thing about feeling better, however, is that it leaves room for inappropriate thoughts, like the fleeting thoughts about the serrated bread knife. Apparently, people with bipolar are at greater risk for suicide when maniac than when depressed. Often, they don't intend to commit suicide. Usually, it's an accident.

3:59 Productivity, Tally Ho!

I have been productive! I am a genius! I got all my mail sorted and compartmentalized and put into the right flaps of the right folders: medical info, bills, job foo, info from the county. All trash mail was thrown away. I am keeping tabs on all my medical info. I called all the right people, including the utilities for the new apartment, and Jb did some calling and packing, too.

Calls Made:

  • Pepco -- To transfer electricity to new apartment.
  • Comcast -- To get apartment listed in their database so I can transfer cable and internet service in 24 to 48 hours.
  • WSSC -- To get gas transferred to the new apartment.
  • Allstate -- To get renter's and auto insurance transferred.
  • T-Mobile (Jb) -- To figure out why his account was screwed up.
  • Jewish Social Service Agency -- To try to find a sliding scale therapist and psych. (They called back to say it could be 3 months. This is the problem of not having money. You may get help, but not necessarily when you need it.)
  • Benefits -- To get them to resend the info for my insurance premiums from work so I can pay that bill.

Bills Paid:

  • Comcast
  • Allstate

Boxes Packed:

  • All Jb's console gaming foo
  • My jewelry, makeup, misc. from the bathroom and kitchen, and the odd computer part we don't use.

Call me productive and slap my hiney! I'm proud of all that. Clearly, I'm still feeling fine, and focused. In fact, I don't see how I need a therapist. Maybe the meds have kicked in. Maybe I'm on an upswing. Maybe things are looking up. I don't know what it is. But I have a general sense of well-being in the world. The world, in fact, is fantastic! And I am a productive freakin' member of society! (This may be a little more expansive than I should feel, but I like the feeling. It's a little bit like an endorphin rush, and it's been so long since I felt good.)

I say this with a caveat. I did have a fit of anger when, in furiously digging through old mail and correspondence, I found the rent list for a nice community we'd been looking at last year. We couldn't have afforded anything in the new complex, but we could have afforded a "mini" one bedroom, as opposed to the larger-than-average studio we'll be moving into. And after being severely upset about this, and throwing mail around for a while, I've calmed down and have begun to think there were some "issues" with the older part of the complex. I may be trying to placate myself because, in all honesty, the place we're moving to is quite nice, and I've no real reason to be upset. I just was. And Jb and the mail received the brunt of it.

12:20 p.m. Breakfast

I dutifully make my breakfast -- a little bread, butter, and brie -- and eat it. I'm not really hungry, though. I'm also not sure what to do today. There are things to do around the house, but I don't want to do the things I should do, I want to do fun things, and maybe I should call the therapy places, and I should call my primary care physician (PCP) about that blood work. Then there's the gas and electric and cable to move over to the new place, and someone has to call that in. And there are bills to pay, so maybe I should do that, but I can't find the letter about my premium charges for my insurance. And I think I could be very productive today -- if only I could focus.

11:58 a.m.Perky!

Didn't wake up until 11 a.m. I could have woken up earlier, but I was having this delicious dream that involved some sort of family business rivalry, and perfume, and sex and seduction. I kept trying to fall asleep and recapture it because my dreams are so vivid right now, but I couldn't. And finally, a lady from 1-800-THERAPIST called me back and woke me up. We talked for a few minutes and she gave me some numbers for a few places with sliding scale fees, medication management, and support groups. The support group is every other Thursday, but downtown. I'm not quite sure how I feel about a support group at the moment, but it's a good resource to know about.

And here's the reason I'm unsure about a support group: I feel perky! I feel awake, I feel fine, I feel... just great, really. I took a Klonopin and more Lamictal this morning, so maybe the Klonopin took the edge off the more out-of-control fine I was feeling yesterday. I don't know. If I do what McMan calls a "systems check," I can still feel a little fraying at the edges.

Yesterday was bad, though. I kept doing a shuffling dance waiting for the bus. Everything was so slooooow, and because I didn't want to miss my second appointment, I got there an hour and a half early. So I sat down on a bench outside to get my 10m of sunlight, like the therapist I broke up with, said I should. In case there was any benefit to the hooey. And I kept calling Jb, like 3 times: "You're driving near home? Oh, hi! -wavewave-," which he didn't get and I repeated many times, then I called him about bumble bees because there was a big one, and he was all up in my space: "Do bumblebees sting? No, the big ones, like at the arboretum, do they sting? Wouldn't their stinger be even bigger than regular ones? Wouldn't that hurt more? Are you sure they don't sting? But you said they don't sting! I don't care if they sting different! Are you suuuure they don't sting? 99.9% sure? Well, okay. I just wanted to know if they sting."

And so on and so on. I already mentioned the fiasco in the office, hands shaking, trying to show the psychiatric nurse practitioner my list, being told things about my medications I wasn't quite sure I'd remember, talking too much. Then not being able to wait for the bus because it was so sloooooow, and the wind was getting my hair in my face, and doing that shuffling, rocking dance again at the stop, and deciding no, no: I'll go wait in the hospital cafeteria, yeah, which was a longer wait, but which also had food, which the nurse said I needed. So I ate a salad with eggs and nuts and cheese for the protein and read more Madness.

When Jb finally picked me up, I couldn't stop talking. He definitely noticed I was a little hyper, a little too happy. In the Subway line, I couldn't stop giggling and laughing. I'd just thought of the funniest joke, and it was so funny I couldn't keep the laughter in. And that was the ride home, giggling, and all the way up in the elevator, where I just wanted to laugh and laugh, and should have put both hands over my mouth to keep it in, but couldn't. He called me "crazy," which I sort of resented, but then, inside, he said, "Hey!" And I asked, "What?" And he said, "I love you." And I asked, "Even though I'm crazy?" And he said, "Unh huh." And I said, "I love you too. ... Even though you're sane." And we were good.

I'm finding that I'm also getting more pokey and wrestley when I'm like this. I antagonize Jb into getting into small wrestling bouts. I'm more touchy, but not in the good way. I poke and prod and try to get him to pay attention, and he ham-handles me back, which I deserve, but then, which I resent, and so it sort of escalates until someone gets pinched too hard and pouts. Sometimes me, sometimes him. And we're mad for minutes at a time. But then, I start up all over again, and it's not something I can help. I think it's a need to be doing something, I want for attention. I'm bored easily, and Jb's the nearest one around.

I take my meds at 9 p.m., but I'm not asleep until almost 12. My new meds as of May 19th, 2008 are:

  • Remeron 30MG taken as 15MG 1x a day
  • Lamcital 200MG taken as 100MG 2x a day, or if it starts messing with my sleep, 2 100MG tabs in the morning
  • Klonopin 1MG 2x a day
  • No Adderall refill
  • Benitar HCT 40/25 1x a day
I see the psychiatrist again in 2 weeks.

Monday, May 19, 2008


So, um, it was good: I took a list. Kinda scattered, very talky. She made me eat a piece of candy 'cause I hadn't really eaten all day. She says I should get blood work to make sure it's manic and not diabetes, but I told her I'd had all that blood work 3 months ago, but she said do it anyway.

Med changes. Yes. Of course, always tweaking. Twice the Lamictal I was on. Half the Remeron. She didn't believe me that Remeron made me crave sugar. She thinks I'm making that up, I can tell. That's what the blood work is for. She thinks I could be diabetic. But I was shaky, so she made me eat candy out of her drawer, which was sorta disgusting. It was all dusty with that powder they put on hard candy in tins, and I didn't want it, but she made me.

Forgot to take the Klonopin. Adderall now a definite probably no. Caffeine probably didn't help.

She said I'm supposed to eat three times a day, protein to stabilize my moods. I can't afford to eat three times a day. Jb jokes we'll get me protein bars, which is better than the other joke he could have made. Jb also called me "crazy" in the car. Very clearly manic. Or hypo, really. Up up. To-may-to tah-ma-to. We went to Subway after (Jb picked me up because I couldn't wait for the bus; it was too slow), and that was a great joke. Whitebread! Very funny. Can't explain more, but it's giggly good.

I need to write down my prescriptions, but not now, I can't focus, and I doubt I could read her writing. They use those squiggly things to signify how many and how many times a day. Feh.

3:25 p.m. No Downtime

Note to self: 2 p.m. came and went and no down time today as in the past 3 days. Exhibiting some possible signs of hypomania since Friday. Feels full blown today. Because I have to go to the psych? Unsure of trigger if there is one.

Have also gone from thinking the meds might be kicking in, to thinking I don't need no steenkin' meds, to thinking maybe I need more meds, because I can't quite get myself under control.

Will take a Klonopin and catch my bus on time. Will also not drink any more caffeine. Will not continue to blog or look up studies on Lamictal on McMan's website.

3:00 p.m. Blog Blog Blog

I am blogging again because I can't sit down. No, I can sit down, but I can't sit still. Except, that's not right either. I can sit down, sit still, but my mind can't. So it took me 2 hours to take a shower. One hour, in which, I almost got to the shower, but took a call from my mother instead, because she called, and e-mailed, and sent a package, and was worried. I let my mother talk for a little, saying what I think are appropriate things to say, "Well, that's good," "Okay," "I e-mailed you," "Mmhm, concrete walls," the last because she says her phone connection isn't very good where she works.

Then I'm taking over the conversation as soon as I'm given a chance, and I'm talking and talking and on the edge of my seat with the need to talk. I'm talking over her, around her, only half listening, though I think she needs to be heard, too, like me. We're both unstable in our own ways.

Then it's back to breakfast, to pick at crumbs, and somewhere in there, I turn the shower on, but then I think I'll re-read my blog today, to prep for the psych, and so I do that, listening to the shower run the whole time I'm also looking up the directions on how to get to my psych's office. I find them and think, "Of course! I knew that," and still the water is running, so that has to be attended to, I think, and I'm in the shower. The shower is too quiet, so I put on Paul Simon, which is the only thing in the cd player by the shower, and if I get out to find something else, it'll be another 30m before I get back to the shower, so I'm singing and dancing in the shower, and singing and dancing, and thinking everyone in the hall passing can no doubt hear me, but oh well.

And then I'm out, and right back to the blogging, and can you believe it? I forgot what bus to take to the psych's. So I'm looking it up again. And ping! There's an IM, but it's just a line, and my IMer is off again, but I can't help msg'ing back the ghost of a friend, using too many lines and exclamation marks for someone who isn't there, and if I were talking right now, I know it'd be a touch too loud, and there'd be much gesticulation, but I keep it all in, because I always have, so I talk too loud in my head and prance around like an overactive puppy at my mind's heels.

1:25 p.m. Hm. Breakfast?

Did I mention that this whole time I forgot I had breakfast sitting next to me? I remembered just now, went to pick up a piece of bread so I could butter it, and was surprised to find that I actually already had a piece buttered, and somewhere between having buttered it and eating it, I forgot all about it. Hm. There's a lot of that, too. A lot of "things that have to be done right now, bugger everything else!" And so other things that I should do, like eat breakfast, get forgotten in all the other daily rubble. (N.B.: I am not the stick-thin kind of girl who "forgets" to eat.)

12:57 p.m. Clever & Witty!

I have called the 1-800-THERAPIST line for the local mental health association in hopes of finding a therapist who'll work on a sliding scale. The therapist I am seeing now, or was seeing (we broke up, or well, it's unofficial, but I left her), would make me wait 20-30m for my appointments, then sit me down for 15m, let me barely talk to her, then tell me, "Take everything one step at a time," "Do something for yourself: walk for 10m a day."

Unsurprisingly, I did not find this helpful.

When I am like this, I need someone to talk to. I need to talk about things. This is how I gather them in, get a grip on them. I have only one friend who somewhat understands my frame of mind, and so sporadically, I typetypetypetypetype to him, like I do this blog, but it's not quite the same, and a little like drunk IM'ing in that you come down from the hypomania wishing you hadn't said everything you said, or shown that particular chink in your underbelly's armor.

It's the English major and writer in me. I understand things best through words, through definitions, even if that definition is defined by what the definition is not. There is a word for that, I know. Still, I understand these things, as well as ... dammit! And here, the brain dies on me, and I am stupid again. All I have is "discourse communities" and "social epistemics," neither of which is what I want to say. But I remember them because they're the punchline to a great joke I used to tell about my first day of graduate school.

Disjunctions! I meant disjunctions!

Perhaps I'm a little hypomanic right now.

Legal Aid Office

The Legal Aid Office called me back Friday. Since I forgot my appointment and had to make that call, I figured I'd make the Legal Aid Office call as well. I had called about bankruptcy. Apparently, the legal advisor who looks over intake interviews says that I'm eligible for the free class on bankruptcy that they hold for people who are unable to afford real lawyers. But I have to call the Consumer Credit Counseling ... um, place ... to be counseled, so I can receive a certificate to that effect. Just so.

Lucky me, though, since I earn no money, they'll waive the counseling fee! Though what they'll counsel me to do with no money is beyond me. But apparently, the state requires it! Yay for the state!

Note to self: The bankruptcy class is at the end of June, so I must get this done by then. (Where's a whiteboard when you need it?)

Oh! And the Legal Aid Office told me that their lawyers counsel people not to file bankruptcy until you actually have something the creditors could take. If you have nothing, don't file. This makes no sense to me. Either way my credit is shot, methinks. And wouldn't I want to file when they can't take anything from me? Why would I wait until they can? It is a conundrum.

12:17 p.m. Missed Appt. & List of Symptoms

Dammit, I've forgotten my psych appointment. I had to call them to find out because I couldn't find my appointment card among the trash, the bills, the folders of county info and medical info.

The receptionist sounds vaguely amused when she tells me I missed it; it was earlier today. I'm vaguely annoyed and feel as if she's patpat'd me via phone. They have a cancellation for later today, though, so I'll be going at 5:15 p.m. I call Jb to tell him this, to tell him I might not be home by the time he is, so, "Don't worry! Just at the psych's!" He suggests that maybe we should start writing down my appointments, like on a whiteboard that we post on the bathroom door, a cheap one with cheap markers -- since that's really all we can afford. I feel like a child now, who's been talked to like a child, and shamed into looking at her feet as she digs a toe into the ground.

Feeling child-like, and pissed at myself for what I see as continued incompetence, I tell myself I will look at my blog. I will write down the points I would like to discuss with my psych. Better yet, I'll write them down now! Here is what I will tell my psych:

  • I'm am so forgetful I forget appointments and lock myself out of my apartment regularly.
  • I would lick sugar off the floor if it spilled. I think this is a Remeron side effect.
  • I sleep until 10 p.m., then again at 2 p.m., then again at 11 p.m.
  • Sometimes, I cannot sleep because I talk to myself all night long.
  • When I am not asleep, I run a constant dialogue with myself in my head.
  • I obsess over lyrics, poems, my diagnosis.
  • Everything seems dirty to me. I can't touch or eat off certain things until they're clean.
  • I screen my calls and avoid people.
  • I still don't shower for days. My personal hygiene is definitely lacking.
  • I'm writing some, but it's all crap, and I've only begun to read very little bits.
  • My dreams are especially vivid, but often forgotten, except in the morning.
  • I am feeling somewhat better. The peaks and valleys are less extreme, but the rotation seems quicker, and it's exhausting trying to keep up.
  • I saw something the other day that probably wasn't there.
This is what I would ask my psych:
  • Is Lamictal really supposed to be used as a mood stabilizer?I read that a study from the APA said that it didn't work any better as a mood stabilizer than placebos did.
  • Is there something we can try besides Remeron? Something weight neutral that doesn't make me feel like a junky without the benefit of a high?
  • Am I really bipolar? Because I'm not sure I am. Shouldn't I be cycling less if I am? And if I'm not, what the hell is this? Because I'd feel so much better if I could label it. If I could hold it in my hands and work around a definition.
  • And what about work? It's been 3 months. But I still feel too unstable, like if I tried to find another job now, it'd be a month, maybe more, before I'd be hey-ho! for the hospital again. Should I go for disability and will you support me?
I think that's all. I know I have forgotten something. I'm always forgetting something. I just worry it's not a big something. I'd rather it be a small something, like how I've forgotten which bus to take to the hospital to see my psych doctor, though I rode that bus everyday for nearly two weeks. And why is it that I can't get my mind to stop, and yet, I can't get it to function either?

Oh! I did forget. I will take a list of my meds! A list. Not my white bag. The white bag will stay home. I will take white paper instead. Because white paper is more normal. (Only the labels for my posts -- "dosage" -- reminded me that, yes, I'm going to the psych doctor to check the dosage of my meds. How clever. After all, that's what psych doctors are for, yes.)

11:24 p.m. Wake Up Call

In and out of sleep until 10ish. Try to find it again, but my brain is wracked with scenes from the novel I woke up to yesterday morning. I lie in bed and let them play out in my mind. Question them. Turn them over. Is it too much like any other book I've read? Of course, aren't all plots derivative? It's the characters that drive the story, make it unique. I'm unconvinced. Still, the characters seem to live and breath in my head, having their own voices and desires.

I've been reading Madness: A Bipolar Life by Marya Hornbacher. Not the way I usually read, devouring books in a day's time, but in the way I read now, quick, but slow, scanning pages, but only able to ever absorb a few pages at a time. This makes Marya's book perfect, as her chapters are often only a few pages at a time. Sometimes, it's not until I've read some of her book that I understand what is going on in my own head. For example, I am, and have been, screening my calls. Not because I don't want to talk to people, but because I can't. It's exhausting. Similarly, I don't think I'll be going out today. At best, I hope to take a shower. I haven't in days. And I'm not sure if I've missed my appointment with my psych.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

6:20 p.m. Creativity Stymied

One movie later -- Miss Potter -- and I'm feeling more myself. I also gorged on potato chips and Nerds, which may have put the sugar junky monkey at bay for now. It's not something I'm proud of, so we will not mention this again.

Here's the kicker, though, about watching a movie about a creative mind, who talks to her works of art, no less: you begin to wonder if she wasn't a little off in her head, and then you wonder why you, who may have this thing that many creative minds reputedly have had as well, cannot produce a creative work to save your life. Now, you're either substandard in the creativity department -- after all, whole worlds don't run around in your head, only a narrator who proceeds to narrate your entire life at sporadic moments when you should be sleeping -- or you're lazy.

When I think back on it, my most creative moments were at school: (1) at college when I lived by myself in a small efficiency, worked three jobs, and stayed up all hours of the night, just to get up for an 8 a.m. class and (2) in graduate school where I worked incessantly in my office, churning out paper after paper, essay after essay. If the professor wanted 20 pages, I'd write 40. I was mad with the working of it. And toward the end, burnt out, my stomach a wreck, and my digestive system with it.

But then, I had something to show for it.

Of course, there was that brief flirting with a romance novel that got very close to 200 pps. once. Even then, I wrote in long, productive bursts, that suddenly fizzled, as if I'd shot my wad all at once, as did my confidence. So why am I able to start, but never able to finish? Why so abortive? Is it the depression that always creeps in, the lack of self? Was it the inevitable cycling that comes with hyperproductivity, or more to the point, hypomania?

Damn the depression. Where is my upswing?

2:17 p.m. Tired & Cranky, Period.

Annoyed. Bitchy. Cranky. Tired. Crabby. Beginning to dislike Jb just for sitting there and watching t.v. Unreasonable dislike, even hatred. Want to crawl out of my skin. Annoyed with all things slow, dumb, insignificant. Or, at least, what I consider insignificant, which is anything beyond myself or my desires, which is completely ridiculous. And yet, the anger and annoyance are still there. Don't want to make decisions. Want Jb to intuit my wants and needs (good luck with that). Totally unreasonable expectations. Jonesing for sugar like a junky. Again, the Remeron?

Note to self: Noticing trend in mood swings. Mood seems to take a dive around 2ish each afternoon.

11:25 a.m. Full Blown

I wake up with a full blown book plot in my head.

Actually, rewind. I wake up earlier: 6ish. I'm dreaming the plot, so I go back to sleep. I do this several more times, each time dreaming more and more of a plot that I'm beginning to think I can thread together into a story. Not surprisingly, the heroine has bipolar. But it becomes a blessing rather than a curse, and why not?

So I get up and jot everything down in Notepad. We'll see if I manage to do anything with it.