mental health

World Bipolar Day 2019

Trigger/Content Warning: Mention of past suicidal thoughts.

Today (March 30, 2019) is World Bipolar Day. Tomorrow (March 31, 2019) I turn 30. These two things may not seem to be particularly related at first glance, but having World Bipolar Day fall the day before my birthday is incredibly meaningful to me. I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 2013, but my struggles with mental health started way back when I was 13. While every birthday is cause for celebration, there were so many times throughout my life that I thought I’d never make it to thirty, so this birthday feels really special to me. There have been many times in my life when I’ve been incredibly depressed and considered suicide. Because of this, I was certain I would never make it to 30.

Today, on World Bipolar Day, I want to reduce some of the stigma associated with Bipolar Disorder. I want to be honest about the fact that I’ve experienced pretty much all of the symptoms classically associated with mania and depression. You know someone who has spent money recklessly, hallucinated, been delusional, and experienced psychosis. You know someone who has been so depressed that I’ve considered ending my life rather than go on in pain. You know someone who experiences mixed episodes, which means I experience all of the heightened energy associated with mania while having extremely negative and harmful thoughts associated with depression at the same time. You know someone who has Bipolar Disorder and, honestly, I’m not so different from you.

I have good days and bad days. Since last May, I’m thankful to report they have been mostly good days. But over the course of the past five and a half years, there have been many days where I could barely get out of bed or where I couldn’t sleep at all. Conversely, my good days look pretty normal. I smile and laugh and hang out with my friends. I read. I play with my dog. I eat. I drink tea. I write. I plan for the future. I have Bipolar Disorder, but that doesn’t mean that I’m violent as is so often stigmatized. People with mental illness are more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators. I have Bipolar Disorder, but I’m still a daughter, a sister, a cousin, a niece, a friend, and a dog mom.

I have Bipolar Disorder and I have struggled with depression and anxiety for 17 years, but tomorrow I will turn 30. I have made it 17 years when there were times I thought I’d never make it for another single day. I’m not usually that into birthdays, but I’m definitely into this one. Tomorrow, I will turn 30 and that by itself is such an accomplishment for me.

To learn more about World Bipolar Day, visit http://www.worldbipolarday.org.

#WorldBipolarDay #WorldBipolarDay2019

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mental health

We’re All Mad Here Part 7/7

This is a seven part series. A new part will be released every Wednesday until all 7 are out.

Disclaimer: As some of you may know, I took a Memoir Writing class in 2017.  For that class, I wrote a lengthy (22 page) story about my first time going inpatient in a mental health facility back in May of 2015.  I utilized a “journal” or sorts that I kept while in the hospital. It was really just a yellow legal pad with notes scribbled all over it each day. I was hesitant to share it here because it’s very frank and may contain details of thoughts I had that some people may find disturbing, but I also feel it’s an important look at what being in a mixed episode can feel like.  In a mixed episode, you experience symptoms of both mania and depression.  So you may have a ton of energy and engage in risk taking behaviors but your self talk may be incredibly negative and scary.  At any rate, I’m now going to share that story with you weekly in several parts.  I’m not sure how many parts yet, but I don’t want to make each post so long that no one wants to read it.  Some parts of this story contain strong language not suitable for children.  I know some of the stuff I have written and write in this part are really off the wall and bizarre, but they are the honest thoughts that I had at the time.

It’s about 12:25AM so it’s technically June 1st now and I’m still pretty wide-awake.  Last night the meds worked so well together, but I was also taking double the dosage of Latuda at the time.  I would really love to be sleepy and be able to fall asleep easily.  My head hurts a bit, too.  I wonder if I’m getting a migraine on top of everything else.  I bet taking 2 Naratriptans would help me fall asleep, but that would be a super off label use for those.  I wonder if every book ever written is really just an autobiography or a biography.  I keep trying to come up with ideas for my books but it really isn’t working, even though I’m manic.  My best ideas for them are at least somewhat based in reality or in someone’s perception of reality.  Monica said she would read these journals as a book.  Changing all of the names would be a giant pain in the ass, but maybe there could be a journal compilation of all of my mental health stuff one day when I’m older.

I’m pretty even keeled at the moment, but I did take a whole bunch of medicine two and a half hours ago.  I love that this is a women only unit, unlike anywhere else in the area.  I really miss River Dog and I wish I could see her.  I can’t wait until I get back home to her for an extended period (after Destin, hopefully).  I really hope I can get into the IOP when I get back it town.  It really helped at Mission last time and I bet Park Ridge is even better.  I was so very worried about going inpatient and it has largely been a truly positive experience.  I really wish I had Google here so I could look up some quotes.  I’d like to make a quote collage or quote book.  It really meant a lot to me when Jac said he thought it was courageous to come here.

I’m supposed to wait until 1AM to check back about meds.  I really fucking wish I was sleeping because I really want to go home Friday and go to the beach on Saturday.  Today will be my fifth full day here and I was told 5-7 days but I’m still awake right now so that isn’t looking too promising.  I don’t know whether or not I should lie to the doctor and say I’m feeling better than I really am.  I can always do inpatient again when I get home if I need to.  It’s after 1:10AM and I’m still not tired.  The nurses Kaylee and Zoe gave me 1mg of Ativan, but I take that during the day and it barely affects me.  I wish I could Google Seroquel to see what all the side effects are to see if that’s a viable candidate.  The doctor was mentioning Depakote as the gold standard for people with mixed episodes.

I’m currently hallucinating the instrumental soundtrack for Titanic but I don’t want to tell the nurses because I want to go to the beach so badly on Saturday.  I’m most bummed because Mom and Dad won’t go to Destin without me and I would feel really guilty if they missed seeing everyone and a whole week at the beach.  Nurse Kaylee said that if I’m still awake by 3, she will go ahead and take my vitals.  I don’t want to miss any groups or anything, but the nurses will start waking us up in a little over 4 hours for vitals and 4 hours of sleep to me is basically 2 hours of sleep to anyone else.  I really wish I could call Mom right now and ask her what to do.  I’m going to have to make sure it’s in all my goals and everything that I want to be discharged on Friday.  Maybe the P.A. I see tomorrow will be more sympathetic.  The hallucination has stopped now.  It lasted for probably 20 minutes or so.  Maybe if I stay up all night tonight and all day today, I’ll sleep really well tomorrow night.  Between 1:30-4PM are the only things I really care about tomorrow anyway.  Ugh this not being able to sleep is so annoying.  And despite what she said, I doubt Monica or anyone else would be interested in reading this drivel.  I think I’ll try reading my book or lying down or something that may be more conducive to falling asleep.  This really sucks.

I finally fell asleep sometime after 2.  I saw the P.A. named Jessica and the only change she made was to increase my Ambien to 10mg.  She said the goal is for me to leave by Friday.  I got to go on a walk with Samantha, Evelyn, and Tia.  Katie said someone named Teri called while I was out but I can’t figure out who on Earth that is because my therapist, Teri, is on vacation this week.  I also spoke to the social worker today.  She liked my WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) and discharge plan.  She said the treatment team met today and decided the goal is for me to leave on Friday.

Elizabeth freaked out and slammed the phone and the door and threw her chair earlier.  She was refusing meds and is very paranoid.  They told her she could take the pills or they would give her a shot of her Geodon.  Sometimes I really feel like I belong here and sometimes I feel like I’m much better off than most of the people in here.  The worst is when Evelyn says crazy things that make perfect sense.  I called Sheridan today and talked to her.  I would like a nap but we have a group where we will learn about nutrition in a few minutes and I really want to be able to fall asleep tonight.

Tiffany called me, not Teri.  This is sort of like the time that Katie hung up on my mom because I left the phone hanging for like ten seconds.  She’s real sweet, but not the brightest crayon in the box.  Although, sometimes I get the impression that she is smarter and more manipulative than she lets on.  I’m exhausted.  On some level, I think I should just let my body go to sleep whenever it wants to.  On another, I’m not one hundred percent sure I’m capable of taking a nap and sleeping tonight.  I think I’ll go ahead and read then take a shower before meds so I can go straight to bed after.

Jac called and I was woken up from a very brief and fitful nap to talk to him.  He sounded really good.  I’m excited to see him Saturday night.  I’m so exhausted.  I can’t wait to go to sleep tonight.  I think I may finally be coming down.  I took a shower and now I’m going to call Mom to ask her about shorts and a swimsuit.  We are going to go get me the shorts and a swimsuit on Friday after I get out of here before we pick River up.  I wish River could just come with us, but that doesn’t seem like something that can happen.  I know I haven’t covered all of the goings on of the day or even the most quotable moments, but I desperately want to get a good night of sleep tonight.

P.S. Katie has a sore throat and if she gives me strep before my one real vacation this year, I will be murderous.

I’m feeling better today and I slept fairly well last night.  I’ve noticed a pattern: many if not most of the people in here are very sick but think they are very well and don’t belong here, including me.  I am irritable today and I’m getting over-stimulated fairly easily.  I think I’ve dipped down into hypomania now.  The P.A. said I can go home tomorrow, so I will get to go to Destin after all.  I just had to take an Ativan because a lady in our group was talking about incest and even though I’m thankfully not a victim of incest, it was triggering and really upsetting to hear about.  I will pack a whole bottle of Ativan for the beach trip, I think.  Mom, Dad, and Tiffany are coming to visit today.  I’m happy I will be seeing them.  I think I’ll write less now that I’m no longer manic.  I think I’ll take a nap soon.  Elizabeth thinks the nurses are always talking about her and was rambling on about how they know about Ingles because they saw her Facebook.  It made literally no sense at all.  I understand now what the doctors and nurses mean about my level of insight and self-awareness.  I think I’ll take a nap now.  Just kidding, it’s ten minutes until lunch.  I’ll eat my chicken fingers THEN I’ll take a nap.

I did nap briefly until a friend called and someone came and woke me up so I could take her call, then Mom, Dad, and Tiffany got here for the group.  Mom and Dad left afterward to drop my prescriptions off at CVS but Tiffany stayed until visitation ended at 4.  I’m so grateful to her for driving all the way out here and coming to visit me.  I know the mental hospital makes her uncomfortable and she came anyway.  She really is my best friend.  I read a little bit then went to Relaxation Group with Samantha at 4:30 then dinner at 5.  Afterwards, I had my blood pressure checked and Nurse Bethany gave me my Propranolol.  She thanked me for being so nice, I thanked her for being so nice, then I apologized for all of my many questions.  She said she would much rather have all the questions than cussing and people saying they hoped she would die.  I said that was fair enough.  I’m going to read until PM group/snack, then take a shower, then take meds, then go to sleep.  Tomorrow, I go home.  This place was so scary to me once, but now I see it for what it truly is, a place of rest and rehabilitation.

If you’re still here, thank you for reading all of my wild ranting and raving.  Some people have told me it’s hard to tell when I’m manic and I think that’s because so much of it goes on inside my head and isn’t visible.  I hope this doesn’t frighten you or change the way you feel about me, but I thought it was time you got a good look inside my head.

mental health

We’re All Mad Here Part 6/7

This is a seven part series. A new part will be released every Wednesday until all 7 are out.

https://accioadventure.com/2019/01/30/were-all-mad-here-part-1/

https://accioadventure.com/2019/02/06/were-all-mad-here-part-2/

https://accioadventure.com/2019/02/13/were-all-mad-here-part-3/

https://accioadventure.com/2019/02/20/were-all-mad-here-part-4/

https://accioadventure.com/2019/02/27/were-all-mad-here-part-5/

https://accioadventure.com/2019/03/06/were-all-mad-here-part-6/

Disclaimer: As some of you may know, I took a Memoir Writing class in 2017.  For that class, I wrote a lengthy (22 page) story about my first time going inpatient in a mental health facility back in May of 2015.  I utilized a “journal” or sorts that I kept while in the hospital. It was really just a yellow legal pad with notes scribbled all over it each day. I was hesitant to share it here because it’s very frank and may contain details of thoughts I had that some people may find disturbing, but I also feel it’s an important look at what being in a mixed episode can feel like.  In a mixed episode, you experience symptoms of both mania and depression.  So you may have a ton of energy and engage in risk taking behaviors but your self talk may be incredibly negative and scary.  At any rate, I’m now going to share that story with you weekly in several parts.  I’m not sure how many parts yet, but I don’t want to make each post so long that no one wants to read it.  Some parts of this story contain strong language not suitable for children.  I know some of the stuff I have written and write in this part are really off the wall and bizarre, but they are the honest thoughts that I had at the time.

Mom came for Samantha’s family group earlier today before Dixie was discharged.  I didn’t really get to talk to her about it, but I felt like a lot of it didn’t really apply to us.  Dixie came in at the beginning and started giving Evelyn’s mom shit about not calling Evelyn at all in the past month.  Evelyn is such a pure sweet person.  I sometimes think she understands things most other people don’t.  Still, it was none of Dixie’s business.  I really worry about myself in the moments when Evelyn makes perfect sense to me.  Like when we were talking about how maybe this is a coma we’re in and it’s not our real lives.  Or her idea that maybe she was stuck inside a Ouija board.  Her brain is just so fascinating.  She is also tremendously kind and just wants to help other people.  She has conversations with people I can’t see and sometimes I wonder if I’m just not enlightened enough to see and hear them, too.  Which is pretty good proof that I definitely need to be in here.  Anyways, it was lovely to see and tease and joke with Mom.

At the end of our group, Monica got here!  It was so great to see her and just talk and laugh about everything that’s happened.  If I couldn’t laugh, I think I’d have to cry.  I just took my first increased dosage of Tegretol and Gabapentin and I have to say, I do feel calmed down and more normal, but that could also be the Vistaril, Klonopin, Ambien, Propranolol, etc.  It meant so so much to me that Monica drove all the way out here to see me.  She brought me books and she tried to bring me Reese’s cups and Coca Cola as well, but those weren’t allowed in as food items are contraband.  I am endlessly grateful for my support system.  I don’t like to use the word often, but I’m incredibly blessed.  I love that the pages and pages I’ve written since I got here are just the same 26 letters rearranged over and over again.  Every book is the same way and it blows my mind!

What if I never get better?  What if I’m just in and out of hospitals for the whole rest of my life?  What would that mean for me?  I know what it would mean, really.  I would rather die than spend the rest of River’s life away from her.  Where does she even think I am? Grandmom and Granddad sometimes come home smelling like me.  Does she think it’s just her I don’t want to see?  Or maybe she can smell the mental illness?  She could certainly tell I wasn’t well before I came here.  She was behaving much better and spending a lot of time curled up next to me.  I don’t know what I’ll do if I’m not released in time for the beach.  I’d be sad about missing it and feel guilty about Mom and Dad missing it and annoyed about not getting to see Jac or Brad and Jeff and the Laurens and Lily and Carson and my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandmother.  I think if at any time anyone starts being negative or invasive, I will just say, “I’m not comfortable with this conversation.”  I think that would be a good way to handle it.

Monica couldn’t believe that we don’t have groups led by LPCs (Licensed Professional Counselors) here but she said it was like the Hilton and I agree.  It’s an all women ward with 11 single rooms.  The food is good, the nursing staff is excellent, and the doctors are ok too even if they do directly contradict each other.  I kept trying to ask Monica about her life but then I’d get distracted and talk about something else.  I know it was only the mania, but I still feel bad.  It’s so hard to focus on only one thing right now and it’s a real struggle to concentrate.  I wonder what River is doing right now.  Probably sleeping in between Mom and Dad on their bed.  I feel so badly for Mom and Dad right now.  I know they must be so worried and scared but I’m really very safe in here and it was bound to happen some time.  I will just be seriously pissed if Mom and Dad miss the beach because of me.

I wonder if people have successfully killed themselves in here and if so, how?  Aside from drowning themselves in the toilets, which I discovered my first night would probably be the only way to do it in here.  Has someone killed themselves in my room?  Is it haunted?  Is that why I wake up during the night?  How old is this building?  How old is this mental health ward?  What would have happened to me if I had been born 50 years earlier?  I would have spent the first 24 years of my life as a normal girl then been sent away to an asylum forever.  Mom and Dad wouldn’t have been able to make it to every visitation, I’m sure.  Would there have even been visitation?  What if Mom and Dad are lying at home murdered in their bed with River in between them also dead?  What if that asshole bear that killed the neighbors’ dog killed them all?  I should try to go to sleep.  What if I don’t wake up from all the pills they gave me?  I love you, Mom, Dad, and Jac.  I love you River.  I love you Asher.  I love you friends.  I love you family.  I love you kindred spirits.