Where I’ve Been

Yes, I know I haven’t posted much lately. Don’t take it personally; I haven’t been on facebook or anywhere much.

As some of you have probably gathered from previous posts, I have Bi Polar disorder, formerly known as Manic Depression. I was diagnosed about 10 years ago, after my oldest son was. It was one of those situations where, as I learned more about his condition, I read things to which I could easily relate to my own experience.

When I sought a professional opinion, it didn’t take long to confirm what I thought already. The clincher was when I described my reaction to an antidepressant I had been given years earlier for an unrelated condition.

Back in the mid 90’s, I was having what I could only describe as chest pains. Not finding any heart related problems, my doctor prescribed an antidepressant called Elavil. He didn’t tell me what it was, other than telling me it should take care of the problem. After about two days, I was so angry at the world that I was afraid for my husband to leave me alone with my children. I felt that I had no control.

At the same time, I had also been seeing a psychologist to help me deal with some child hood trauma. I had an appointment with him when I was about three days into the Elavil. He took one look at me, and said “What is wrong?” I told him about the Elavil, and he said “Stop taking it right now!” So, I did, and within a few days, I was back to “normal”.

A few months later, we moved back to Missouri, and I saw my mom’s doctor, who was a DO, about the “chest pains”. She said they were deep chest muscle spasms and were caused by some vertebrae in my back being out of alignment. She adjusted my vertebra and gave me some muscle relaxers to take for a few days while everything was readjusting. That worked fine. No more pain.

Fast forward to the early 2000s, when I was learning about Bi Polar. People with Bi Polar have to be careful about taking antidepressants because they can trigger manic episodes, which can also present as a manic rage. You see, mania isn’t always the top of the world happy-go-lucky feelings that people associate with it. Bi Polar isn’t always “high and low”, sometimes it’s “fast and slow”. Sometimes, Its “nail eating furious and numb nothingness” Sometimes it’s “I’m talking and I can’t shut up and I couldn’t speak if I had to.” Most of the time, my mania is better described as agitation. It’s not fun.

I don’t know why the psychologist I was seeing didn’t catch that, but I may have been that he didn’t really deal with prescribed medications. Psychologists can’t write prescriptions, since they aren’t medical doctors.

Anyway, as I said before, the professional (psychiatric nurse practitioner) I saw in about 2005 immediately saw the connection. Then we started to look at treatment options. The short story is that we didn’t find one mood stabilizer (think lithium) that I can tolerate. The side effects just weren’t worth the benefits. I was leery of trying any antidepressants, but she told me there are other, newer, drugs that work better, and we could start with the lowest dose. If I started to feel agitated, I was to stop taking the drug and call her.

So that is what we did. We found one that worked, and I just take the lowest dose. When I feel mania coming (which I usually can), I stop taking the antidepressant for awhile. Since the health insurance I had at the time said I had to, I also got to visit with her boss, who was an actual psychiatrist. I only saw him once, but the one thing he said stuck with me. With his thick Filipino accent, he said, “You must understand that you must sleep! If you do not sleep, you can trigger manic episode, which will make you not be able to sleep.” Since then, I have tried hard to make sure I get plenty of sleep.

Unfortunately, he retired, and my nurse moved to a different practice. I saw her there for a little while, but then the office called and said she was gone and they would schedule me with someone else. I didn’t really want to do that. Then we moved, and my GP here can refill my meds when I need them.

Ed has a lot of experience with Bi Polar from other people in his life, so I didn’t have to explain anything to him. I have given him permission to tell me if he thinks we need to do something different, and I will try my best not to shoot the messenger. I also found a good essential oil blend from Native American Nutritionals, called Attention Assist, that seemed to help with the agitation. Of course, I talk to the Lord a lot too. He knows about it better than anyone! 🙂 There are several scriptures that I refer to that help too.

Fall and spring are bad times for people with Bi Polar. I know that, but I hadn’t been thinking about it. I had backed off the antidepressants last spring because I felt some mania coming, and I ran out of my essential oil. I stayed busy all summer (as you all know), and then we started the Whole 30 and didn’t want to be taking anything with that. Then we went into Fall, and I was trying to do school and about a bazillion other things, and looking at it now, I think I was getting into a full blown manic episode. Then I had the kidney stones, and some other health issues, and James came back home. It’s been crazy and I was getting there.

For the last year, we have been planning for the whole family to be here for Thanksgiving and have been really looking forward to it. Then Ed came home and told me he has to work Thanksgiving, and the bottom just fell out. Suddenly everything was dark, and I realized I was even having trouble praying.

Yesterday, after spending most of the day trying to hash things out, Ed gently asked me if I was taking my antidepressant. “NO!” A little while later I came back and asked him if he thought that I didn’t have any rational reasons for being upset, and the gist of what he said was, No, but that I wasn’t listening to any suggestions or alternatives. Then I realized that he was right, so last night, I started back on the antidepressant, and am ordering some more essential oil. We are also going to take a break from school until after the holidays. We will still have plenty of time to meet our state’s requirements.

I am so thankful to God for giving me this man who tries so hard!  I don’t know when he’ll have time to post. On top of having to work Thanksgiving, he is scheduled for a six day work week next week. He and James also need to rework the dog fence for the fifteenth time, and get wood in. Keep us in your prayers!


6 thoughts on “Where I’ve Been

  1. Thanks for the great description of what happens. I wish I had known more when my daughter, Justine was a teenager. We had trouble getting a diagnosis too. Finding the right medication is hell and it makes sense to go off when feeling mania coming. No one suggested that. You are helping so many people by writing about bi-polar.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I agree Cathy. I believe being open and honest about our struggles is the best way we can help each other. Bi Polar is no joke, and the more people understand that, the better. The severity of the symptoms varies wildly between individuals, so you can’t paint us all with the same brush either.

        One thing I would make absolutely clear. If someone is taking psychotropic drugs (like lithium or other mood stabilizers) don’t fool with the dosage or stopping and starting without being under a professional’s care. The withdrawal symptoms from some of those drugs are worse than what we take them for!

        I saw my nurse practitioner for six or seven years, and we had a really good relationship. I trusted her, and she treated me like an intelligent human being. So when we made drug adjustments, or when I called and told her “I have to stop taking this drug, because it makes me fall down (trileptal)”, the goal for both of us was for me to be better.

        I can’t say this strongly enough. For anyone who has Bi Polar and is taking medication: Never, ever, EVER stop taking your meds simply because you feel better! The reason you feel better is because of your medication!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. As Connie suggested I have had considerable contact with people who are bi-polar. What is different with Connie is that yes, she will listen to me and not decide that I am in league with…. whoever.

    That is important to me. You see I love her and she loves me, silly girl.

    Liked by 1 person

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