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Re-evaluating Things a Bit…

March 29, 2014 3 comments

I think I’m going to need to manage my expectations about my illness differently.

From one perspective I’m very lucky. My lows and highs used to be very extreme and both of them made me pretty dysfunctional. That’s not remarkable, but it’s not pleasant.

Since I’ve been on decent meds the extremes have levelled out and I’ve been able to live a mostly normal life, however saying that things are completely normal is still wishful thinking. I noticed this fact this week when my brain tipped over from low to high (it is a gradual process).

I am a computer programmer and for months I have been having a lot of difficulty at work. I’ve been making all the usual excuses, telling myself I’m a procrastinator, that I’m just bored, that other people are making my work difficult, and so on. Even my psychiatrist told me what I needed was a good kick in the backside.

Then my brain switched into high mode and suddenly how to do all my jobs became so clear and I started working my way through them. I saw my excuses for what they were. It was my brain that was still impaired.

Don’t get me wrong: my meds deal with the worst of my symptoms. However they are not 100% effective, either.

I suppose I need to look at adjusting my meds, which is a scary thing because they do work very well. I certainly don’t want to become less functional again. Still the way things stand when I’m low things at work are pretty hard, so something has to change. No more wishful thinking.

I Need Less Sleep These Days…

February 22, 2014 1 comment

I got up this morning at 4:30 because I was done sleeping, had a coffee, and worked on my household budget for a few hours. I guess I am done needing a lot of sleep for a while. To me, it’s like having a super power. I’ll enjoy it while it lasts because it never does last.

Some day (too soon) I’ll be back to needing eight or more hours of sleep, plus naps.

That’s one thing about being bipolar: no condition lasts for long except for the constant cycle between high and low. Even with effective meds I find some of the symptoms always creep through.

Categories: bipolar Tags: , , , ,

I Do Know that not Everything is About Me

January 29, 2014 Leave a comment

I left a comment on “Look Straight Ahead” today. The main character, Jeremy is having a bad episode of racing malformed thoughts, and another commenter said that he/she wished that there was a cure for mental illness. I replied that my meds worked for me, but that everyone was different. Later I realized that I put things in terms of my own experience a lot when maybe I shouldn’t.

Here’s another example: I was out to lunch with a group the other day and one of the people was Vietnamese. He was telling us about one time when he was crossing the border his passport wasn’t in order and they wouldn’t let him out. I told my story about one time when a friend and I were in Poland in 1992 and his passport wasn’t in order and we had a soldier with a machine-gun screaming at us “No Visa Card!”. (They let us out after a few tense minutes). Again I felt very self-conscious after telling the story that I didn’t need to put everything in terms of my own experience.

In the first instance, I don’t feel that I have any authority to be speaking about being bipolar except through my own limited experience. Unless I’m going to refer to a book or an article, the authority is going to come from my life. I had malformed racing thoughts and my meds made them go away. It seemed like the appropriate thing to say.

In the second instance, I was just trying to hold up my end of the conversation. I don’t know much about the reality of Vietnam (as opposed to what’s in the movies). I suppose I should have thought up questions to ask instead of changing the subject (which at the time I didn’t even realize I had done). The point is, I am aware that I can be self-centred at times. It’s just that sometimes that self-awareness comes too late.

What do you readers think about this topic? What is an appropriate level of self-centredness in comments and conversation?

Excellent Webcomic About Mania

January 9, 2014 Leave a comment

Excellent Webcomic About Mania

Look Straight Ahead is an excellent webcomic about mania. It’s the truest depiction (from my point of view) that I’ve ever seen. Strictly speaking a lot of non-visual things have been translated into the visual medium so that they can be comprehended by readers (I think, anyway). If you’re willing to accept that a lot of it is not literal, however, I think the comic offers excellent insight.

I bought a copy of the graphic novel version on Amazon (it’s virtually sold-out) and I’d love to buy copies for everyone I know and say “This is it. This is mostly what it’s like”.

Categories: bipolar Tags: , ,

Losing my Job (and Lactose for the Last Time)

June 1, 2013 1 comment

Wow, I’m writing again!

Just an update. I was told at work that I’m being given my six-weeks’ notice on September 1st. My boss said that I’m smart, but the time it took me to get my work done was “retarded”. He said I wasn’t the person he hired. Of course when he hired me I was high and I would get up at 3am every night and work, and I’ve been mostly normal or low ever since. He also said I needed to get my meds changed because I was a spaced out all the time.

To be honest, I probably deserve to be let go. Also, I really don’t like working at this place, so it’s a blessing in disguise. Unfortunately it’s scary because I have to find another job and I can’t afford to be even a week without work. I’m one of those people who is one paycheque away from ruin. That’s another story for another time.

In other news, I am back on the normal generic versions of all my meds. I’m off of all the exotic stuff I was taking trying to be lactose free. It turns out it wasn’t the meds that were giving me the problems; it was all the dairy related stuff in my diet despite my best efforts to get rid of it. I found some extra strength lactase enzyme pills (Webber’s) that I take with things that give me trouble, and I’m doing pretty well. Hopefully this is the end of this topic. I know I keep saying that.

Well, I don’t have anything witty or insightful to say right now. I did find a web site that has a pretty witty and insightful look at depression:

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.ca/2013/05/depression-part-two.html

The Post About Nothing…

November 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Unfortunately my literary voice is still gone. Once upon a time I had so much to say and it all seemed so important–so much so that I started a blog. Now, I am silent. I’m sure my voice will return some day.

I can say that I have a new doctor. I think he’s over 70. He has running trophies for men in the 70-75 age class. That’s four for four doctors who have been elderly men since I first started seeing mental health professionals. That doesn’t strike me as a good sign for Ontario if too many of our specialists are close to retirement. Maybe it’s just my luck.

Well I had my hopes up that this post would go on for a while, but it’s puttering out, so I think it’s time to put it out of its misery. Thanks for reading!

Status Report #13 (Lamotrigine and Lactose Ad Nauseam)

May 20, 2012 3 comments

Here’s the latest update: it’s a week since I’ve stopped the standard Lamotrigine and I still can’t drink lactose-free milk. Last time I stopped taking a lactose-bearing drug (Perphenazine) I was almost immediately able to go back to lactose-free milk. Oh well, I’ll be patient.

I saw my psychiatrist (pdoc) and he put me on chewable Lamictal, but it’s a children’s medication and it only comes in 2mg tablets. The therapeutic dose for an adult is apparently 200mg, so it means I’m going to be chewing a lot of tablets (I guess). It’s either that or don’t take the medication.

My pdoc also put me back on Risperdal, but this time on the oral solution–which is also lactose-free. This means I can get off the Modecate and the Amantadine. Again, I am taking the Modecate instead of the Risperdal because it is lactose-free. I am taking the Amantadine to counter the trembling caused by the Modecate. So instead of two meds I’m now going to take one: Risperdal.

Heaven help me if I ever lose my drug plan because all these oral and chewable alternatives only exist for the name brand versions. You can’t seem to get an oral solution or a chewable form of the generic Lamotrigine or Risperidone.

I wonder what lactose-intolerant people are supposed to do with all these meds that make us sick, and the answer is we’re not a big enough share of the market to matter. They just don’t care about us one way or the other. I guess since we’re not dying it’s not a pressing issue.

Well let me get serious for a moment. When I was taking the lactose-bearing meds my bowel was so inflamed that my rectum was prolapsed (part of my butt was outside my body). Let me assure you how painful that is. I had to take a spare pair of pants with me wherever I went in case some dairy slipped by my notice (sometimes the day before) and I didn’t make it to the washroom on time. Sometimes I just had to walk around with an obvious stain and put something under me where I sat. There was no alternative. Do you go home from work just because you’ve had a little “accident”?

I can’t consume anything that doesn’t have ingredients listed on it and I have memorized a long list of ingredients that are dairy but don’t say they are dairy. I have memorized what I can eat at fast food restaurants (nothing at A&W, Taco Bell, or KFC; almost nothing at McDonald’s or Harvey’s). I have learned to eat pizza without cheese, for example.

It’s no different than if I was allergic to dairy, except I won’t die if I mess up. So in that way I’m very lucky. It’s just that to know it’s the side-effect of a medication and that it’s caused by a totally non-essential non-active ingredient, that makes it infuriating.