Who’s The Culprit?


It’s been 2 weeks since I saw my doctor. I am trying to make it to the 1 month mark which is my next scheduled appointment. I am trying to beak a trend of seeing him every 2 weeks instead of waiting for my 1 month scheduled appointment. Things have not been so great. I have been going in early because things haven’t been right and I want it fixed like right now. The last time I saw my doctor I had a long list of concerns. By this time I’m sure he knew my favorite color and favorite food. As I whipped out my list and asked him if I could read them off he said sure. I was at my 3rd concern as he removed his glasses and started to clean them. The more he focused on getting that one spot clean on his glasses, it became apparent that he wasn’t focusing on me. As I continued to explain what was going on he placed his glasses back on and abruptly interrupted me. He then started to “educate” me on bipolar disorder. Explaining that bipolar disorder,schizophrenia, insomnia, and panic was all caused by anxiety. I could not get a word in and slipped my list back into my purse. He wrapped things up with saying that I’m not giving the new changes time to work. Although I agree that I need to be more patient with the new drug cocktail, I am not sold on the idea that ALL of the diseases are caused by anxiety. He did give me a sample of TMS which is performed in his office. TMS, or, transcranial magnetic stimulation, is supposed to be a game changer for those with depression and recently added, anxiety (look it up). He also claimed that he thinks he had found the “sweet spot” for sleep as well. TMS is basically a series of magnetic pulses, when placed on the correct location of the head, are supposed to stimulate and encourage healing of that location in the brain. Patients claim it has rid them of depression. Always up for new things, I agreed to try it. It was strange and uncomfortable at times but lasted only about 10 minutes. I can honestly say that I did feel pretty good after the treatment. I felt relaxed and wanted to get home so I could enjoy the feeling in my favorite lounge chair. That night I did sleep well and don’t remember waking up at all. By the end of the second day I was feeling like my old self again, miserable. The doctor said that TMS is a 6 week, 5 days a week treatment. According to the doctor, when treatment is completed, most patients need only minimal medications and the benefits can be life lasting with only  annual maintenance. Although excited that there might be an antidote for this disease I couldn’t help feeling like it seemed too good to be true. Over the last 2 weeks I have done a lot of self evaluation coupled with all the research I have done over the last almost 10 years. I already have a pretty good list for my next appointment. How is it that this disease, which has been identified as a chemical imbalance in the brain, be easily written off by anxiety instead? Have you ever seen a side by side picture of the brain showing a bipolar vs. healthy brain? I have and the distinction is clear. As my mom and I have looked back into my childhood the bipolar symptoms were clearly there. With no childhood trauma what was I to be anxious about? These symptoms carried on through my teenage years, my twenties, and now into my thirties. It was in my twenties that I had my “breakdown”. The symptoms were definitely worse before medication was involved. Even after that it has been a long and rocky road until recently. I am not bashing my doctor. I do feel he is educated and has my best interest at heart. He has done well by me and over the course of this last year has gotten me closer to what I feel is the best medication cocktail yet. In fact I thought we had it at one point. That was a good and short lived moment. Although just when I think we are minimizing the amount of meds. administered others are introduced. Like many people with this disease you know that your body gets immune to certain meds. and start to not work. Lucky to get a few months out of it before changes have to happen. I am often left frustrated and helpless with this cycle. Let’s not forget my poor body that has been through highs, lows, withdrawals and glimpses of wellbeing. After my own personal experiences and all the self education on this disease I really don’t think anxiety is the culprit. Now does my anxiety make a lot of matters worse? Sure, but I don’t think it’s the cause of the bipolar and other ailments. If my insurance covers this TMS treatment I will give it a try. What have I got to lose, right? My fear is that I will feel good and meds. will begin to be removed. Only to have to start all over again because the anxiety was treated and not the chemical imbalance. I really don’t want to be at square one again. As much as I respect my doctor he is not bipolar, schizophrenic, or deals with high functioning panic disorders himself. I know my body and can honestly separate the anxiety from everything else. Sure sometimes anxiety cohabitants with bipolar or any of the other disorders but they are separate monsters.

So I will wait to see my doctor 2 weeks from now and when I do see him I have some serious questions for him. After all I am ultimately in charge of my body and have to be my own advocate. I encourage all of you to trust your gut and question EVERYTHING. Seek out truth and do not put your life in someone’s hands simply because they wear a white coat. There are always choices and when able, make a patient, educated decision.

My prayer is that the Lord gives the doctor discernment and wisdom and that He helps me to seek truth to receive His promises to me.

 

Proverbs 17:24   Psalm 30:2

 

Advertisements

Seeing, Hearing, Spending and Sleeping


I want to write about the ugly things, some truthful things, things that people with bipolar disorder/schizophrenia don’t want to talk about and things ordinary people are uncomfortable hearing.

This disease is a monster, gobbling you up, chewing you up, then spitting you out to go about life for the rest of the day. When it hits sometimes there is no warning. Other times there are plenty of signs before an “episode” happens. Either way, when it’s all over hours or days later, you are left to pick up the pieces that is your life. Items are returned, a lot of apologies are made, sleep is needed, guilt sets in and reality is back.

I have often found myself looking in the mirror in the aftermath and thinking “what just happened”. Often embarrassed, I try to explain to my loved ones the best way I can and what I remember. The problem is it’s often hard to put into words what you just went through. How DO you explain what you were thinking, feeling, hearing, seeing? Sometimes you can’t and just need a hug and to be told it’s all okay.

The word “crazy” is not allowed in my home. When people say “she’s crazy”, “he’s crazy”, “ugh, it’s been a crazy day”, they have NO idea of the gravity of those words. When I say “I feel like I’m going crazy” or more often said “I feel like I’m losing my shit”, I mean it and that means all hands on deck. Give me a pill to help me calm down, take me somewhere cool and dark, and give me my worship music to listen to.    The kids know to leave me alone and my awesomely supportive husband is at my side holding me while simultaneously holding down the fort. Yes, I have been blessed with an incredible support team and yes, I am aware most people don’t. I honestly don’t think I would be alive if these people would have given up on me. Obviously God wants me alive for a reason and so, I will live.

I have been brutally honest with my kids about what I deal with. They have seen and heard the very raw, uncensored me. They know Jesus is my foundation and I am plagued at the same time. They understand to the best of their abilities that this is life. Shit happens. There are times that I try to hide particular things though. Simply because I think it would frighten them.

After a good few months the easy life was over. If you recall, the doctors had found a wonderful cocktail of drugs and I was feeling better than I have in my entire life. I knew it wouldn’t last forever. All good things must come to an end right? And so as I started to drift away and the old demons were slowly making a comeback, I found myself often in tears. I didn’t want to go back. I loved my new, short lived life and didn’t want it to end. After several weeks of misery, I saw my doctor. Prepared with a long list of symptoms, changes were made and I left with a new game plan. Getting off of this and adding that.  I was supposed to see him again in a month and after 3 weeks, I caved and was back in his office. Things were not getting better. I wasn’t sleeping which was sending me into mania lasting days on end or severe depression also lasting days. Paranoia was slipping back in and I started seeing things again. All of my fears, insects, snakes, monsters, all only I could see but oh so real to me. I was showering one night and as I turned facing my steam covered glass shower door, I saw a very real scorpion crawling on it. I tried to stay calm, as there was a very good chance I was the only one that could see it, and exited the shower. I told my husband and he did his “monster check” and of course, found no scorpion. I used to feel stupid asking for help but realized the only way I could truly be helped was to be honest in my symptoms. After this last visit with my doctor which was last Thursday, I left again with hopefully a better plan of attack. Things have been okay and I know these kind of changes take time. There is no insta-cure. I have overall been sleeping better, but am still dealing with issues. My anger level is through the roof and so I try to just stay away from everybody. When I have to be, I stuff it all in and scream when I am alone once again. Guilt and worthlessness are trying to befriend me. And seeking God is ever so challenging. I know what His word says. I know I am worth a lot to Him and He took my guilt to the cross. I know I’m really not crazy and believe very few people actually are. We all have are plagues in one form or another, just some of us require medication……….a lot of medication. I guess sometimes it’s easier to be in misery then to hear truth. Even truth, when heard, can be a tough pill to swallow, no pun  intended. It’s hard to grasp these things and still have hope. No one can grasp it. It isn’t humanly possible. Even still when I do come to Him I can try to understand to the best of my capabilities what He is trying to tell me.

Today started out realitvly good given my night. I didn’t sleep well and had the kids home from school today. The teachers are on strike. So they will be here tomorrow also. My two older ones headed to church this morning for a “fun day”. I had my youngest, my son, who is 10 stay home with me. He is my watchdog and often sees my symptoms before anyone else does. I lucked out today that he stayed home with me. I have a plant, a hyacinth, in a pot in my kitchen. It was doing very well and bloomed beautiful fragrant flowers. After a couple of weeks it started to die off. I looked up what to do and had it written down on my to-do list every day. I never got around to it and every day it looked sadder and sadder. This afternoon I went to the kitchen to make lunch. As I went to the sink next to the plant, I looked at it and something inside of switched on. It looked like death, withering and hanging lifeless. I quickly turned from it. I felt like I was going to vomit. I tried to pull myself together and resumed making my lunch. At the center island in my kitchen mere feet away from it, I started to hear it. It was crying and calling out for help! Recognizing that it wasn’t probably really speaking to me, I still left, trying to distance myself from it. In my mind I could still hear it, begging to be saved from a slow death. That image, those sounds, I couldn’t get away from it. I went outside and tried to calm down, but I coudn’t and knew what was coming. I tried to call my husband for help before I completely flipped out and of course he didn’t answer his phone. My mama was my next call. Traveling home from Colorado, she jumped into action the best way she could from hundreds of miles away. She got my son on the phone and together they made a plan to rescue me from my own tormenting thoughts. My son removed the plant from my kitchen, placed it out of site, and gave me the medication to help me calm down. My son, so young and yet so in tune with his mother. So tender hearted and compassionate. He rubbed my back and calmly assured me that it will all be okay. Everybody’s home now and I’m feeling better. Not 100%, but better.

I know people don’t like to talk about things like this and for others it is just down right uncomfortable to hear. Maybe others don’t know what to do, how to react. I mean it’s got to be pretty hard for the average Joe to understand how a person can hear a plant screaming for help and see things that aren’t really there. Go on spending sprees and then have to go down the walk of shame the next day. To feel so depressed that things like brushing your teeth or showering are hard to think about, let alone do. I often wonder what other people do think of me, not that I care, I’m so over that, just curious. Should I keep my distance and not allow my children over to her house? I’m pretty sure that’s ran through some of the kids parents heads as it has been a steady decline of other children coming to visit. I also know my children feel worried that if they have someone over mom might have an episode. Living with this disease is hard, not for the faint of heart, and warriors only succeed. But we are not “bad” people. If anything I know personally, we try to be extra conscious of what we say and do around other people. Heaven forbid our secret gets leaked.

God’s grace and mercy is why I’m still here. Period.

Psalm 34:17


Just got over 1 week of mania. About a week or so ago it all started. I had gone 4 days on 12 hours of sleep. yuck. Then I crashed……or so I thought. Got 1 night of sleep then back to mania. Eventually it all ended. I was depressed now. But God is faithful and just like every other time, He brought me through it. I am so in love with Him.

I saw my new psychiatrist for the first time since being here in Arizona. I liked her a lot. She was very educated and a good listener. I got a genetic test done, which I think is incredible and wonder why none of my other doctors ever had me do it. She is also doing away with several of my meds. I couldn’t be happier! Of course this will take time, as you can only wean off of 1 at a time. First up Abilify. Down 5 mg a week till I’m off. Friends I am on about 9 meds right now. Many of them, as the doctor pointed out, are duplicates for the same thing. I also lost 10 pounds! WooHoo!

I am adjusting to being home alone. Sleeping a lot. Guess I need it. Eventually I want to get on a good schedule where I am being proactive most of the day.

Oh Lord, when I was in the depths of darkness, you rescued me.

Arizonians?


So here I am in Arizona and loving life. God has done some amazing things throughout this process. We have found some great churches….hoping to pin down a home church soon.

My anxiety level is at an all time low and overall I feel happier. I guess we are exactly where God wants us to be. I still have my struggles though. Just as I pushed my comfort zone last week I ended up with a panic attack. Monday morning I woke up severely depressed. Not sure what caused or triggered it or if there even was one. I just couldn’t make myself do anything, not even eat. This lasted for 2 days…..yuck! This morning I woke up feeling more like myself.

And yes, it’s hot here. But there is so much to do that is indoors, plus aquatic centers everywhere.

I am excited to see why the Lord choose Arizona and what He has in store for myself and my family.

Lily


I have been searching for a therapy dog for some time now. Even had to rehome a couple that didn’t work out. Well 2 weeks ago, Thursday, I picked up a Chorkie. Which is a Chihuahua/Yorkie mix. I have been searching for a while now for the perfect companion, for the right price. I did my research this time and found that Yorkies were on the list for the Best Dogs for Anxiety and Depression. I used to have a yorkie and adored him. So, I named her Lily. She is about 11 weeks old. And has stolen my heart. I think I finally found the right companion. She is full of personality and loves everyone!

For those of you who don’t know you can register your dog online as a service or therapy dog ( I say dog as an example, it can be a cat too.) Depending on which site and what package you choose, you can get your certificate, id cards, and much more. This means your dog can go where you go, fly for free, and stay in any home rental at no additional fee. Here are a few:

http://usdogregistry.org/  and https://www.nsarco.com/nsar-registration-kit.html       and lastly http://www.serviceanimalregistryofcalifornia.com/ . I plan on buying one of the lower packages and than buying her vest from Amazon when she gets big enough.

Check them out!