Posts Tagged ‘meds’

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?

Health Insurance Scams

March 24, 2012 1 comment

In Ontario our doctors are paid through our taxes, but not our drugs, dentists, eyeglasses, hearing aids, etc. I don’t have to pay directly to see my psychiatrist, or for my lithium level blood tests, but I do have to pay directly for the lithium itself. I don’t know how drugs work in the rest of the world, but in Canada when a drug has lost its patent we get access to much cheaper generic versions of it.

Before I got back on a health plan I paid $19.31 for 150 capsules of lithium carbonate; I paid $81.80 for 120 tablets of generic Divalproex; and I paid $45.94 for 1mL of generic Modecate. This is basically a month’s supply of meds (3 weeks for the Modecate). That’s $147.05, which is half of what my husband and I spend on food, but I think the cost is affordable for something so important.

My pharmacist does a lot to make me feel welcome. Everyone there calls me by my first name, and many of the staff know what I need before I even ask, without even looking in the computer. The pharmacist even signed my passport application back when there was a requirement to get someone in a position of trust to do that.

I was very disappointed recently when I got my first big prescription filled with my new health insurance. The pharmacist told me there was no generic Divalproex to be had anywhere in the city, so he had to give me the name brand version Depakote/Epival for $165.41. Most of that was covered by my insurance, thankfully. I don’t buy his story of the generic suddenly being out of stock everywhere in the city, however. That was just insulting. Of course the pharmacist is gouging my insurance plan. Thankfully he never gouged me when I had no insurance, but the incident has changed my perception of how much I can trust him. Our relationship is more profit motivated than I thought, I guess. Live and learn.

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The Darkness is Sneaking Up

January 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Things aren’t going too badly, actually. I can tell I’m depressed in dozens of little ways (with fatigue being a big way) but I’m only a little bit down in the dumps and my concentration is still okay. One day I was a little despondent in the morning, but after a day of hard work I felt great. It’s still early in the cycle, but I can hope things won’t get much worse.

The last depression was pretty serious, but I was also going through a very tough time (I literally had no money). My situation is much better this time (I have a good job), so I’ll see what difference that makes.

I know I keep saying this, but without the meds I would be harming myself and doing all kinds of awful things. I would be so incapable of doing anything it would be like being in a trance, or having an out-of-body experience. These days things never get like that. Even if I think of suicide in the coming weeks, I know I am still so much better off than I used to be. The situation never gets totally hopeless.

I won’t comment on the depression again unless it gets remarkably better, or remarkably worse.

Categories: bipolar, depression, meds, self-harm, work Tags: ,

Things are not as bad as they seem…

November 5, 2011 Leave a comment

I think the last post was in many ways a mistake. It reflected how I felt at the time, and in that sense it is good always to be honest about things. What is the point to have a blog and not tell the truth? However, as a commenter pointed out, my brain was overwhelmed and I was not making good decisions.

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Bipolar vocabulary

April 17, 2011 Leave a comment

There’s a different vocabulary when you’re talking about bipolar.

Mood: normally when people talk about mood it’s to say things like “I’m in the mood for Chinese food tonight”. Even when someone says “I’m in a bad mood” what they may just be saying is “I’m dissatissified with something”. With bipolar people a mood could be something like “I’m in the mood to kill myself” or “I’m in the mood to reveal to the world that I’m Jesus”. When I talk to ordinary people about being bipolar they often fail to see that bipolar moods are far more extreme and consequential than normal ones.

High: my doctor and I speak of my mood as being high or low. He’ll ask me if I’m high, and it has nothing to do with drugs. It’s about my mood. When I’m high I sleep a lot less (3-5h), I have an increased sex drive, I want to buy stuff, I have a lot of creative ideas, and I’m a lot more reckless and aggressive. When I’m under a lot of stress I get very optimistic. Keep in mind that I’m on meds that control about 90% of my symptoms so I don’t have to experience the bad stuff (delusions of grandeur, profoundly reckless behaviour, racing thoughts, psychosis).

Low: when I’m low I need to sleep at least 8h per day (plus a nap), I have no sex drive, I have a hard time thinking at all, I’m very passive and I’ll do anything to avoid conflict. When I’m under a lot of stress I feel deep despair. Once again, the meds keep me from experiencing the bad stuff (paranoia, profoundly impaired thinking, hallucinations, self-harm, suicidal thinking).

Mixed mood: high and low at the same time. No one talks about this one much because it’s scary but this is why bipolar people need to take their meds. For me it means being aggressive, thinking I can do anything, having low self worth, and being in a very bad mood. The meds knock this down to a period of mostly harmless simmering resentment, which is fine by me.

Categories: bipolar Tags: , ,